First the NY Times accused the Masons of entering a "Spin Zone."
Comes now a snarky blurb about the Grand Lodge of New York hiring PR firm Dan Klores Communications on New York Magazine's website.
Freemasons Make a Deal With the Devil
Of the PR variety, that is. After literally centuries of mystery and subterfuge, the Freemasons have done the unthinkable: They've hired a publicist. According to the Times, a flack from Dan Klores Communications has been calling around trying to advertise Masonic locations in New York, in conjunction with the movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets. (Seriously.)
“We’ve gotten a lot of bad press over the years,” explained Thomas Savini, the librarian at the Grand Lodge of New York. “We reached a point we saw ourselves being represented as conspirators or useless old men, neither of which is an accurate representation of Freemasonry. For a couple of centuries, we sat back and stayed quiet and let our actions speak for themselves. But we decided to open up our mouths a little bit more and draw some attention to the positive role that Masons play in the public world.”
The magazine need not go all pissy-bitch about flacks, seeing as how the publishing business depends on those self-same flacks for leads on their hard-hitting coverage of Oscar hopefuls, the Wu Tang Clan, and the Giambattista Valli spring trunk show. Hiring a PR firm scarcely makes us out to be media whores. And as PR agencies go, it's tough to pick a better one than Dan Klores.
But just what is the right balance on the scale between carnival barking and public education for us? On the one hand, we're a bloody secret society! It's no longer like the old Howard Da Silva line about his friend being asked if he was a Communist: "Sorry, we're not allowed to tell." But we are supposed to have a certain discretion - says the guy who wrote a Dummies book about it.
On the other hand, we are living in a time when the world at large doesn't know who or what the Freemasons are. We get our aprons in a bunch worried about anti-masons, when poll after poll shows that the public has NO opinion of the fraternity. They don't know who we are, what we do, what we stand for, or why anyone should join (or how, for that matter). By the early 1800s, virtually everybody in America knew about the Freemasons, and that was true all the way up until about 1975. But it's not true anymore.
Unfortunately, in an age where sophistication is measured by how many cynical welts are raised in a column inch of pithy punches, our message seems anachronistic and creaky to editors and writers desperate to out-hip each other in "knowing" tones. And there's no getting around the fumes of desperation that hang around when a society as storied as ours tries to compete with Ashlee Simpson and Brad Pitt in the PR business. As the troubled Spears family will attest, such attempts at tooting one's own horn can backfire quickly.
And suddenly you're on the 6 o'clock news, strapped to a gurney.