The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet — PART SEVEN: Happy Ten Year Anniversary to “The Streisand Effect”!
[Click above to embiggen: The Streisand Effect at work in Chicago law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson]
Editor’s Note: This is Part Seven in our ongoing investigation into “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet”. Parts one through six of the series can be found HERE, on our Mysteries page. What started as a simple letter to the Senior Partners of a Chicago law firm informing them of the filthy and unsanitary conditions of their lobby carpeting and stinky men’s room somehow evolved into a groundbreaking theory on 21st Century economic “canaries in a coal mine” that could be predicting a massive financial collapse on our horizon (or it’s just confirming what many of us already believe: that we’re currently in an economic Depression that the Ministry of Truth that is our national media won’t acknowledge for political reasons). In epistolary fashion, we’ve been reaching out to various experts in the fields of 70s sitcoms, cleaning, legal thrillers, politics, and hospitality for their unique perspectives on the deeper meaning of the stains plaguing the carpets at the offices of Hinshaw & Culbertson.
Today we’re taking a look at a tangential aspect of all of this…which involves “The Streisand Effect”…and what happens when an arrogant entity attempts to censor information it finds embarrassing and its heavy-handed legal tactics end up blowing up in its face.
Oddly enough, this month just happens to be the 10th “anniversary” of “The Streisand Effect”, which is a phenomenon that’s actually taught to first year students in law school. For those unfamiliar with this Internet meme, it involves a vainglorious legal battle that Barbra Streisand waged against a photographer/environmentalist named Kenneth Adelman back in 2003.
Adelman worked on an erosion study of the California coast that involved photographing the cliffs and beaches from a helicopter and then compiling them into one continuous, miles-long panoramic image…which could be compared to later versions of the same coastline survey to visually detect the effects of erosion (in a before-and-after, lapsed time sense). This project had absolutely nothing to do with singer Barbra Streisand…until she made it all about her by suing to censor the photos included in the study that captured her Malibu oceanfront mansion on film.
I found a nice recap of Streisand’s ludicrous legal actions HERE…which notes that before Streisand sued to censor the photos, the images of her home on the California coast had been viewed just six times. After she went after Adelman in court for photographing her estate, a half million people looked at his pictures to see what all the fuss was about. By thinking she was rich and powerful enough to censor something she didn’t particularly like and possibly found embarrassing…she actually ended up creating a public relations nightmare for herself (and, honestly, turned herself into an absolute laughingstock (or, more so than usual)).
Augie Ray, a talented writer who covers brand-management and marketing trends, took the time recently to honor the “10th anniversary of The Streisand Effect” by looking at some other recent examples of various entities not learning a damn thing from what Streisand did to herself by suing that photographer. Some of the examples of recent “Streisand Effect” incidents include:
* singer Beyonce trying to sue to have photos she didn’t like taken down…only to have millions of more people see the photos because she threatened legal action against a website (and thus made the embarrassing photos fascinating to scores of people)
* NASCAR demanding video of a crash be pulled from YouTube…which just caused that clip in question to become the hottest trending YouTube video of the month when NASCAR tried to censor it
* Labatt beer suing to remove a photo of a murderer drinking a can of its product…which only incited the Internet to shame Labatt’s for its heavy-handedness (and drew much greater attention to the photo than if Labatt’s had said nothing and completely ignored it)
* McDonald’s suing a London environmentalist who distributed fliers accusing the company of polluting practices…but this ended up giving that environmentalist more publicity and exposure for the charges than he ever dreamed possible.
I bet you can find lots of examples of “The Streisand Effect” in action, too…now that you’re aware of what it is and can see that arrogant entities often end up creating massive public relations problems for themselves by allowing emotion to influence their decisions when someone in a board room starts revving everybody up to sue. I’d love to hear about your own experiences with this in comments or in a private email about it.
Funnily enough, I seem to find myself in the middle of a “Streisand Effect” situation myself at the moment…which I am documenting for brand-management historians like Augie Ray and others to use in future updates of this better-than-buttah phenomenon in action; this, of course, involves the law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson’s efforts here in Chicago to censor my investigation into “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet”…because the Senior Partners of the firm are seemingly embarrassed that I took photographs of their filthy lobby carpeting and also described the stinky conditions of their third floor men’s room. So, somebody at the firm decided to target me for reprisal and demand I be censored so that none of you reading this would be able to see the filthy carpets in the Hinshaw & Culbertson Chicago offices. You know, these:
[ Click above to embiggen: the photos I keep running every single day because big law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson went to court to stop me ]
Scott M. Gilbert, one of the young partners in the firm, appeared in open federal court last week and demanded I be censored with a court order that would prevent me from writing about the filthy carpeting and stinky men’s room I observed (and photographed, in the case of the lobby) when I came to the Hinshaw offices on 2/20/2013 to meet with Mr. Gilbert as a witness in a major discrimination case working its way to trial at the moment. Mr. Gilbert also asked that I be “strongly admonished” for writing about what I’d observed at the firm. Another lawyer who was there that day later told me I was “admonished”, so ladies and gentlemen…I am officially an admonished person (which I think might actually be homophobic since I’m gay and I know full well it would have been considered racist to “admonish” me if I was black).
Mr. Gilbert is, apparently, incredibly interested in articles I’ve written here on HillBuzz.org about a prominent gay bar in Chicago that’s been accused of persecuting its Christian employees…which is the height of hypocrisy, considering the fact that this bar’s owners routinely take to any media available calling Christians bigots and accusing religious people of persecuting and hating gays. Since I’ve been documenting the terrible things this bar often does towards Christians, women, black people, the disabled, and other minorities, Mr. Gilbert believes all of my writing on this matter will be important when this particular discrimination case goes to trial.
In my opinion, it’s going to be the Trial of the Century when it comes to Boystown…so buy stock in Orville Reddenbacher while you still can. I will no doubt take the stand as a witness and Great Merciful Zeus only knows what will happen. I’m hoping that Jake Gyllenhaal plays me in the movie, but I’ll settle for Joaquin Phoenix. That guy who played the gay brother on “Brothers and Sisters” and is in “The Americans” now is also good.
For reasons unclear, Mr. Gilbert has claimed that he and the other law school graduates at Hinshaw & Culbertson couldn’t work the search function that’s available for free here on HillBuzz.org (which you can find in the right sidebar just under the ads at the top) and were not able to use it to find the articles I’ve written about the bar that’s been charged with multiple counts of discrimination and other harassment. I think that’s just stupid, because the search box is so easy to use…but maybe I just know more about computers than Mr. Gilbert and his colleagues (who I just can’t help imagining furiously hitting TAB whenever they’re thirsty…and then sadly staring at the USB ports in the back of their laptops, wondering why the diet soda’s not squirting out).
Bizarrely, Mr. Gilbert also demanded every article I’ve ever written about Hillary Clinton…which pretty much amounts to the entire first two years or so of HillBuzz’s existence (back when the “Hill” in the site’s name was a reference to Mrs. Clinton and the site itself was written by and geared towards supporters of her 2008 presidential campaign and early days as Secretary of State). There’s probably 3,000 or so articles that would fit those parameters, with an average of around 5,000 words an article. I told Mr. Gilbert through counsel that he could use the search function to find articles on Hillary Clinton that I’d written by typing “Hillary Clinton” into the search box…but Mr. Gilbert insisted he and the other law school graduates at Hinshaw & Culbertson couldn’t figure out how the search box worked for that either. And so he demanded I print out all articles I’d written on Hillary Clinton…which would have cost me hundreds of manpower hours and something like $6,000 in printing costs (which I just don’t have available to spend on something like this when I’m just a witness in this case and not even one of the parties). Meanwhile, all of this material was available to him (and to all of you) anytime he wants it by just using that search box or the monthly archives feature that’s found on the sidebar.
That meeting with Mr. Gilbert at the Hinshaw firm on 2/20/2013 was supposed to be a chance for me to teach Mr. Gilbert and his fellow law school graduates how to type search terms into the box and then find the articles they want on the results page the search generates. In my opinion, this was like asking me to come all the way down to the Hinshaw offices to teach these people how to use the Internet in general (because it’s the year 2013 and search boxes are pretty standard-issue on websites). I’m baffled by the thought of these people being able to use LexisNexis to find cases to cite in their briefs and arguments…but the search function on a political website like ours stymies them. The nuns who taught me in Catholic school instilled a zeal to help the hapless whenever possible…so I gladly came down to the Hinshaw offices to be of service to Mr. Gilbert and his associates and teach them how to do whatever they needed to learn on the Internet. That was a pretty long trek for me, since it’s rare these days for me to ride the Red Line all the way into the Loop, but if Mr. Gilbert wanted to learn how to use the Internet better and be able to find things in search boxes then it was the Christian thing for me to meet him at his office and help him.
When I got there, it turned out the law firm was having a big party for some guy named Don Bozo…and everyone was so distracted by this that it was impossible for Mr. Gilbert to find a conference room in which we could meet. There’s something about free food, drinks, and the possibility of there even being cake that makes office workers ridiculously excited. Mr. Gilbert couldn’t take me to his own office (for some reason), but I could have shown him how to run searches for “gay bar” or “Hillary Clinton” on HillBuzz.org there. I don’t know why we couldn’t just go to his office, but I have since come to wonder if it’s because his office wasn’t any cleaner than the firm’s lobby (which was strangely the place they were having the party for Don Bozo, even though its carpets were filthy and its men’s room looked like Stephen King decorated it).
Mr. Gilbert left me alone in the lobby for a long time while he ran around trying to find a meeting room for the computer lesson I expected to give him…which left me staring at the filthy carpeting for so long I got the idea to photograph it, since I started thinking about how bizarre it was that these people would let their lobby get so dirty when their clients would have to sit there while waiting to see their attorneys. And that made me wonder if maybe the firm just couldn’t afford to keep the lobby clean anymore…and if that was true, then what did it mean for the state of our national economy (and how many other businesses were so on the ropes in the Obama Regime that they, too, had to skimp on the basics like carpet cleaning just to keep the lights on these days)?
Well, Mr. Gilbert didn’t like that I started writing about this and got very upset with me. He went before a federal judge and asked for that order to censor me, because he claimed it was “harassment” for me to write about Hinshaw & Culbertson’s filthy carpets and stinky men’s room. This is very similar to Barbra Streisand claiming it was harassment for that photographer to snap shots of her mansion along the California coastline and publish them to his website. I didn’t wake up on the morning of February 20th with any desire to write about Hinshaw & Culbertson…and I certainly had no prescience that I’d encounter filth in their offices on my visit…but I’m a journalist and essayist who finds inspiration for stories wherever I go in Chicago. If Mr. Gilbert and his superiors at Hinshaw & Culbertson don’t particularly like ‘The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpets” then maybe they should think about whether it was penny-wise-but-pound-foolish to cut back on the carpet cleaning and washroom maintenance, since I never could have written about any of this if the carpets weren’t honest-to-goodness filthy (as you can clearly see in the photos).
I don’t think that a law firm can censor embarrassing photos of its lobby (or unflattering descriptions of its men’s room) any more than Barbra Streisand could yank photos of her home that she didn’t particularly like. I know that Mr. Gilbert’s first attempt to get a court order to silence me failed…and that the judge had to instruct him that he couldn’t even ask for something like that verbally, but had to write his request to censor me up in a proper motion (which Mr. Gilbert didn’t seem to know to do); it’s a week later and I haven’t heard about any other attempt by him or the Hinshaw firm to use a federal court to come after me for talking about their filthy carpet and dirty men’s room…but I think it’s pretty endemic to supporters of Barack Obama that these people would even try.
I think Mr. Gilbert and Ms. Streisand seem to have a lot in common…in thinking that just because they don’t particularly like something that they can have it censored…just because they said so. That’s just not how America works, though, even with the Left now in full control over the country. This is all remarkably topical because today the Drudge Report has been running story after story about the Left vowing to come after Bob Woodward and silence him because they don’t like recent criticisms he’s made of Obama. I really need to write to him later tonight and let him know I’m kind of experiencing the same sort of censorship push from Hinshaw & Culbertson that he’s now getting from the Ministry of Truth that serves Obama.
This really is the Left in action…lashing out, trying to abuse power, and going for the jugular whenever anyone says anything they don’t particularly like (or that embarrasses them). Using various databases to inspect the political contributions made by members of the Hinshaw & Culbertson firm in recent years, I am not surprised to find so many maxed-out supporters of Barack Obama in its Chicago office in particular. It just seems to be in these people’s DNA to behave the way the Left always behaves when confronted by someone who speaks the truth and embarrasses them.
The funny thing is, I would have probably lost interest in the filthy carpets and stinky men’s room if Mr. Gilbert hadn’t tried to obtain that court order to censor and silence me.
By coming at me like that in open court, he made me realize that the dirty carpets in a big law firm really was a 21st Century canary in the coal mine for our economy…and that if Hinshaw & Culbertson wanted to go to such extremes to keep people from finding out it had filthy carpets in its lobby and a feculent swamp of a men’s room, then maybe there was a much bigger story here than I first realized.
Which is, of course, what happened.
Much like what Barbra Streisand herself did ten years ago that turned a little-known erosion study into a longstanding Internet meme. Just imagine what possibilities thus await “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” as this investigation continues to pick up speed.
Check back later for my letter of solidarity to Bob Woodward about all of this, as soon as I’ve finished it.
© 2013, Kevin DuJan. All rights reserved.
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