Here’s a quandary for you:
A woman calls to ask questions about visiting your museum. She’s surprised her friends want to visit, given all the controversy surrounding the place, but is intrigued by their interest. She’s on board, seemingly, but hesitant.
With me so far? Sounds pretty typical if the museum in question is the Wren’s Nest, which would be a fair assumption. Onwards!
The woman, as your conversation continues, is very, very up-front about the fact that she doesn’t like the person your museum honors. In fact, she seems to, uh, hate him. Still, she appears to like the idea of coming in to have a verbal throwdown, if nothing else.
Someone has an ill opinion of Joel Chandler Harris… or, uh, someone else?! Wouldn’t be the first time.
As she goes on, it becomes clear that the things she hates about this historical figure are, you know, completely false. It’s obvious why she would hate this guy, based on the history she knows, but it’s completely misinformed. And she is SURE of its validity.
Do you correct her? Or do you do what it takes to encourage her to come to the house of someone she hates, but on false pretenses?
I have a lot of respect for Joel Chandler Harris and like to defend him. Usually, the easiest way to do that is to give accurate information. “No, Joel Chandler Harris didn’t write Song of the South — he had been dead for 38 years,” and so on.
But her claims were so out of left field that there would have been no defending. Examples:
It would have just been me telling this woman, as nicely as possible, that she was completely wrong.
I want her to come to the museum, not only because we like visitors and the entrance fees they pay (let’s call it like it is, folks), but because the legacy of Joel Chandler Harris is an important one. We take the educational component of our mission for, like, serious.
So what do you do? Throw JCH under the bus to get someone in the door, assuming the tour will set them straight? Or correct them immediately, knowing they may be so put off by your perceived “attitude” that it justifies their stance?
Go on, I’m listening.