FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Barbra Streisand Environmental Hypocrite

by CHRIS CLARKE

In the on-stage preamble to his song “Love Me, I’m A Liberal,” the late Phil Ochs used to describe the classic liberal as “ten degrees to the left of center when times are good; ten degrees to the right of center if it affects them personally.”

Classic liberal Barbra Streisand seems to be offering an update to the line. When a cause affects her personally, she’s fifty million dollars to the right of center.

That’s how much Streisand is demanding in a new lawsuit against the California Coastal Records Project, brainchild of environmental activists Kenneth and Gabrielle Adelman, whose California coastline website contains over 12,000 frames of the California coast shot since 2002. Streisand is also suing layer42.net, the Adelmans’ ISP, and pictopia.com, a firm that sells high-quality prints of photos on the site.

The Adelmans, retired dot-commers formerly known for owning the largest solar electric installation in the state, have provided an absolutely invaluable resource for coastal protection activists. Shot by Ken from a helicopter flown by Gabrielle, the photos cover every inch of the California coastline other than for a few miles along the Vandenberg Air Force Base near Point Conception. The website displays the photos in an accessible, easy to search database: grassroots activists have already used the site to stop construction of illegal seawalls, track changes since historic photos were taken, and promote the natural beauty of our delicate coast. It’s one of the most innovative environmental projects ever to hit the Web, and the Adelmans offer it to the world for free.

Enter Yentl. One of those 12,000 shots of the California coast, visible here, frames her garish Point Dume estate–looking for all the world like a handful of Nantucket crackerbox houses stapled together by a drunken contractor–at a distant enough remove that her poolside chaises longue occupy about twelve pixels each. She’s claiming that the photo, one of dozens available on the web, invades her privacy, and that the rough map available on the site will encourage stalkers, who presumably have missed until now all the mentions of her address on the web, some of them with explicit directions to the estate at the end of Wildlife Road in the hoity toity Mahou Riviera section of Malibu.

It is probably beside the point to suggest this diva get over herself. We’re talking, after all, about someone whose biography on her personal website runs 3261 words sprawled across four pages. (By contrast, the official biography of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, arguably the most important person in the world, runs one page and 1082 words.) This is not a woman who got where she is by having an insufficient sense of self-importance.

But it does seem she’s gotten some bad advice along the way. For one thing, her suit over the photo might be construed as making the photo’s republication on journalistic and diswcussion websites permissible under fair use doctrine. If she succeeds and has the photo pulled down, it’s a safe bet a hundred mirror sites will pop up that day. That photo is out and in the world now, and Streisand may as well get used to it.

More ominously, if Streisand successfully gets her photo yanked from the Adelmans’ site, a precedent will have been set. Every homeowners’ association that wants to riprap their beachfront, every rancher who’d rather not control runoff from his eroding fields, every used car dealer along Highway One will be able to launch privacy suits to shield their activities from public view.

Faultline contributor Mark Massara, the director of the Sierra Club’s Coastal program, is blunt. “It is inconceivable to me that someone who proclaims herself an environmentalist would threaten to dismantle one of the greatest high tech projects to protect the California coast in all time just because they chose to place their backyard on a coastal bluff. At some point, someone needs to sit her down and tell her the public interest is at stake here.”

I wish I thought that would help. Malibu’s upper crust is well known for personifying Phil Ochs’ characterization. Streisand’s neighbor and liberal Democrat David Geffen led the rich folks’ reaction to unfettered public access to the town’s public beaches; the town’s beachfront denizens led the recent campaign to oust environmentalist Coastal Commission Chairwoman Sara Wan when the fight over the town’s coastal plan became too contentious.

Streisand’s suit is frivolous, says Ken Adelman. I’m not a lawyer, but I tend to agree. It looks groundless enough that it may well be thrown out of court, eventually. But the damage will be done. Fortunately, the Adelmans are better off than the average environmentalist web publisher, but wouldn’t it be better to spend those legal fees on something to benefit the planet, maybe? Some liberal. Some environmentalist. Yentl the yeshiva boy would have had the Yiddish readily at hand to describe Streisand the litigant: “Blufferke.” Hypocrite.

CHRIS CLARKE is the editor of Faultline: the magazine of the California environment. He can be reached at: cclarke@faultline.org

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
Libby Lunstrum - Patrick Bond
Militarizing Game Parks and Marketing Wildlife are Unsustainable Strategies
Andy Thayer
More Cops Will Worsen, Not Help, Chicago’s Violence Problem
Louis Yako
Can Westerners Help Refugees from War-torn Countries?
David Rosen
Rudy Giuliani & Trump’s Possible Cabinet
Joyce Nelson
TISA and the Privatization of Public Services
Pete Dolack
Global Warming Will Accelerate as Oceans Reach Limits of Remediation
Franklin Lamb
34 Years After the Sabra-Shatila Massacre
Cesar Chelala
How One Man Held off Nuclear War
Norman Pollack
Sovereign Immunity, War Crimes, and Compensation to 9/11 Families
Lamont Lilly
Standing Rock Stakes Claim for Sovereignty: Eyewitness Report From North Dakota
Barbara G. Ellis
A Sandernista Priority: Push Bernie’s Planks!
Hiroyuki Hamada
How Do We Dream the Dream of Peace Together?
Russell Mokhiber
From Rags and Robes to Speedos and Thongs: Why Trump is Crushing Clinton in WV
Julian Vigo
Living La Vida Loca
Aidan O'Brien
Where is Europe’s Duterte? 
Abel Cohen
Russia’s Improbable Role in Everything
Ron Jacobs
A Change Has Gotta’ Come
Uri Avnery
Shimon Peres and the Saga of Sisyphus
Graham Peebles
Ethiopian’s Crying out for Freedom and Justice
Robert Koehler
Stop the Killing
Thomas Knapp
Election 2016: Of Dog Legs and “Debates”
Yves Engler
The Media’s Biased Perspective
Victor Grossman
Omens From Berlin
Christopher Brauchli
Wells Fargo as Metaphor for the Trump Campaign
Nyla Ali Khan
War of Words Between India and Pakistan at the United Nations
Tom Barnard
Block the Bunker! Historic Victory Against Police Boondoggle in Seattle
James Rothenberg
Bullshit Recognition as Survival Tactic
Ed Rampell
A Tale of Billionaires & Ballot Bandits
Kristine Mattis
Persnickety Publishing Pet-Peeves
Charles R. Larson
Review: Helen Dewitt’s “The Last Samurai”
David Yearsley
Torture Chamber Music
September 22, 2016
Dave Lindorff
Wells Fargo’s Stumpf Leads the Way
Stan Cox
If There’s a World War II-Style Climate Mobilization, It has to Go All the Way—and Then Some
Binoy Kampmark
Source Betrayed: the Washington Post and Edward Snowden
John W. Whitehead
Wards of the Nanny State
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail