It’s been some time since I blogged about Pagans and issue framing, but the above video, featured on the Wild Hunt Blog, provides a really nice opportunity for me to point to some Pagans doing good framing. First, the situation in Florida is different from the typical Pagan Pride Day announcement or other instances when Pagans want to publicize an event, a new book, the opening of a new business, etc. In those typical instances, my offer to personally slap anyone who volunteers that, “We don’t worship the devil or eat babies,” still stands.
Here, however, Rev. Dybing and Lady Liberty League are responding specifically to statements that the proposed festival will bring the devil into the town, that it will teach people how to hex, etc. And so it’s necessary to respond to those charges.
I really, really like the way that Rev. Dybing approaches this task in the above video. First, and I know this makes some people angry, but before he even opens his mouth, he’s gone a long way towards positive framing. The message that he wants to deliver is “Pagans are just normal people.” So it’s helpful that he looks just like a “normal” person. (I know; I know. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t judge other people by how they dress or wear their hair. We’d celebrate diversity and personal expression. But in THIS world, embodying the message that you want to send helps.) In fact, he looks more “normal” than the Baptist minister railing about dancing around fires and the stones, hexes, and the devil.
Second, Rev. Dybing starts out not denying the Christians’ charges, but by positively stating what he wants to convey: “I’m a firechief. We’re normal. We’re nurses, doctors, people who deliver your mail, waitresses, etc. We’re peaceful and, just like other people, we simply want to have our religious events without any kind of problem.” He then obliquely refutes the Christians’ charges not by trying to negate negative framing (which only reinforces it), but by suggesting that people who have only gotten their information about Pagans from Hollywood (a favorite target of Christian conservatives, so this is an especially nice bit of ju jitsu) are misinformed. (I might have analogized this situation to people who’ve gotten all their information about Native Americans via old Western movies, rather than analogizing it to the movie Alien, but that’s a small quibble.)
In, out, and done within just a very few minutes. Positive, succinct, and to the point. He avoids trying to be cutsey or make jokes and says nothing that, even if clipped out of context, is going to hurt his message.
All in all, nicely done.
NB: The Wild Hunt reports that Rev. Dybing also said that Pagans would welcome the local Christian community’s prayers and consider all prayer a good thing. I’ve explained in comments at the Wild Hunt my reasons for disagreeing with that statement. IMHO, a much better response to the question of whether Pagans would welcome Christians’ prayers for us would have been to ask the corresponding question: “Would you like us to do magic for you?” And we all know what the answer to that question would have been from this group of Christians.