In 2003, famous rich person Barbara Streisand went to court to try to stop an obscure photographer from completing an obscure project documenting the obscure topic of beach erosion in California.
Because her house butted up to and overlooked one of the public beaches the photographer was photographing, the famously private Streisand thought that by documenting erosion on the public beach below her house would cause her dozens of fans to invade her privacy because her house would now be in the photos.
She went to court to stop the project. However, the photographer was simply identifying the beaches, not the owners of the homes above the beaches. No one, or very few people, would have known that Streisand was the owner of the one of many hundreds of mansions that occupy space along the hundreds of miles of public California beaches.
By going to court however, by writing cease-and-desist letters, Streisand and her lawyers had to publicly identify her address, identify her house, identify exactly where she lived and exactly where her house stood above the eroding beach below.
In doing so, the attempt to suppress had exactly the opposite effect of what Streisand was trying to do: It drew the public’s attention to an obscure photo project; something that probably would have been ignored, had she had not said something.
No one cared about beach erosion or where Streisand lived before her lawyers demanded that the project be halted.
Thus was born “The Streisand Effect.” The Streisand Effect happens whenever one group tries to hide information and in doing so creates so much publicity that the thing trying to be hidden comes blindingly into the light.
The Streisand effect is an example of psychological reactance, where once people are aware that information is being kept from them, they are more likely to access and spread that information.
You probably have seen the Streisand Effect in your lifetime. Whenever a group tells its followers not to see a movie for instance, it actually has the opposite effect by generating publicity for the movie, and hence a bigger crowd seeing it than would have seen it originally.
Entertainment acts have forever tried to get parents to disapprove of their lyrics or stage acts because they know that if your parents tell you NOT to like something, there must be something TO like about it.
Alice Cooper, KISS, and Ozzy Osborne surely understood that in the past as does Cardi B. and Megan Thee Stallion do today.
Surely, the Streisand effect can be applied to the current Right-Winged tempest-in-a-teapot about Critical Race Theory (CRT). You probably had never heard of CRT just a few months ago. And rightfully so.
CRT was an obscure academic field of study that looked at how laws and systems affected people of color. Now, red states across the country, which just a year ago were complaining about the lack of academic freedom in the country, are racing to enact legislation that would “ban” the teaching of anything that might be construed as being critical of the traditional “white washed” history you probably grew up with.
However, in doing so, these conservative politicians have drawn a lot of attention to Critical Race Theory. Now, History teachers nationwide that would have, in the past, never even considered teaching how laws and systems are perhaps inherently racist, are looking at their teaching through the new lens of CRT.
Students in places that would have never looked at History other than just another class, are now wondering aloud wether they are being given only one side of a story.
A recent book “Forget the Alamo” by Burrough, Tomlinson, and Stanford, paints a picture of the founders of the Republic of Texas as scoundrels, murderers, and slave traders escaping the law from the United States, not the heroes we all were taught about or that John Wayne portrayed.
Our Texas students won’t hear about in class because, well, there are now laws in our Lone Star State banning the teaching of anything that contradicts that very white, very false, very heroic mythology. SO much for academic freedom eh?
Too bad of course, because our students need to know about those things. But just maybe they will start exploring for themselves. Because the Streisand Effect is a powerful thing.
Not just for uncovering millionaires mansions, but historical truths as well.
Author: Tim Holt
Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback.
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