Clever reverse psychology campaign. Risky, but clever, and it worked very well. I would not doubt that in some areas of this country, there are those that think a library roast would be just fine.
What can be learned from this is that a powerful frame – even your opposition’s frame is the most important thing in messaging. All of the publicity was just about the celebration of book burning, not a soapbox of reasons and policy discussion. The discussions happen amongst the people, publicity is about grabbing someone and getting them halfway there – to support your idea. Frames are about evoking imagery we already know. The frame of book burning is powerful and very negative; that frame did most of the mental work for this campaign. Getting the word out about it was just “boots on the ground” (and on Facebook).
Resorting to this type of campaign is not exactly genuine, it is manipulating and using the reactionary state of mind we are constantly in. Our current culture eschews critical thinking in favor of knee jerking. Could this type of reverse psychology be used for other issues? All of the ideas that spring to mind are horribly offensive either in content or concept – which is why they may work.
- A list of debilitating diseases accompanied by a “euthanasia clinic” for those who have them and aren’t able to afford medical care.
- An announcement that a huge tax break has passed with the understanding that instead, your pay will be garnished and directly sent to BP, Bank of America, Blackwater and Pfizer.
- A news story about an obscure town in Idaho who’s school board is majority wiccan and they have required prayer in school and posted the coven’s covenant at the high school entrance.
- A proposal to adjust labor and civil rights laws to allow discrimination based upon how virtuous your romantic life has been, proof of pre-marital sex or divorce is grounds for discrimination and termination.
- An anti-abortion rally that requires each participant to sign up and pay dues to be an adoptive parent and financially support pregnant women.
- A requirement for all newborns to register for military service.
You get the idea. It is a sad state of affairs that these are the tricky tactics we consider to simply secure life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is that difficult to get folks to participate in democracy. Reality TV? Sure. But reality? It moves so sloow! Without some fantastic entertaining, exploitative, or outrageous element, it’s hard to get noticed.