THEY call it the ‘Streisand Effect’: Ol’ Babs Streisand went to great lengths to stop people writing about her home in Malibu, but all the straining did little more than shine more and more attention on it. The more you try to block from view, the more suspicious and intrigued the audience becomes. Something like that.
In NW2, Hampstead School headteacher Jacques Szemalikowski is said to have fallen foul of this syndrome by blocking the critical student-authored Hampstead Trash blog from school computers and reporting founder Kinnan Zaloom to the police and the universities he had applied to. A site which had a handful of followers on Twitter this time last week has seen its page views rocket as people debate whether Mr Szemalikowski had been heavy-handed or not.
By Friday afternoon, both were stating their case on LBC with Iain Dale as referee. The blogger, writer, radio host tries to deter Kinnan from calling his old headteacher ‘mad’, at which point Kinnan reminds him that he has had his writings described as ‘mad rantings’ by the head. “Tit for tat is not always a good thing,” says Dale. As both claim on air to have the support of pupils and staff, Mr Szemalikowski says people had been really offended by the Trash’s articles and he just wanted to get it checked out. The excerpts make interesting listening: