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Jon Stewart's 'Rally to Restore Sanity' goes global, sparking events all the way to Mt. Everest

Kittie Brown's gathering in Paris will be one among more than 800 happening in 67 countries as Jon Stewart's 'Rally to Restore Sanity' gains global appeal.

By Staff writer / October 22, 2010

Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity is going global, with "sister rallies" happening in 67 countries.




Jon Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity" has gone global, sparking sister rallies from Tel Aviv to Mt. Everest Base Camp on Oct. 30, the same day that Mr. Stewart will convene a gathering of like-minded cohorts on the Washington Mall.

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"Everyone was getting excited" about the rally in Washington, says Kittie Brown, a marketing consultant and mother of three who lives in Paris. "I thought, 'Gosh, why couldn’t we just do something local?'"

And so Ms. Brown did. Through Facebook she is organizing a gathering in Champs de Mars park, with at least 100 people currently expected to attend.

"We’ll be doing it sanely and calmly and with a sense of humor. Which is a change from what's been happening," she says in a telephone interview, giving a wink to the violent French protests in recent days.

The Paris rally will be one among more than 800 happening in 67 countries, showing the popularity of Stewart and the ability of national topics such as his rally to quickly morph into international events.

Internet amplifies sentiments

Perhaps more importantly, says Archon Fung of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the rally underscores a growing appetite for more level-headed discourse. "It’s weird to see people so worked up for the sake of a more rational political process," says the professor of democracy and citizenship.

Professor Fung points out that even the grassroots coffee party, which lacks a popular leader like Stewart, accrued tens of thousands of followers within weeks of its founding last spring in its call for calm, reasonable debate over the role of government.

The Internet only amplifies these movements, says Philip Seib, a professor of journalism, public diplomacy, and international relations at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. "I would think we’re going to have more and more phenomenon that start national and become global."

Amid all the Internet chatter about Stewart's rally and fellow comedian Stephen Colbert's rival "March to Keep Fear Alive," he says, "It’s a relatively easy matter for someone in Tel Aviv to say, ‘We’ve all been reading about this on the web. Why don’t we do it?’"

Which is exactly what's happening. A gathering at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque will watch the rally live in Washington. “Now is OUR time to join forces and bring the people to the streets,” the event organizers wrote on Facebook.

Stewart's rally, which comes in response to conservative television host Glenn Beck's Aug. 28 rally at the Lincoln Memorial, advertises itself as "for the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard."