Bob McCoskrie loves the Streisand Effect


via 3 News

Hayden Donnell at 3 News has noticed that Family First frequently boosts the publications or events they protest against due to the Streisand Effect.   He had an email exchange with Family First director Bob McCoskrie:

“Hi Hayden. The problem with your thesis is that you’re suggesting that if we just stay silent, the problem will go away.

Anything but!

It’s when these events happen that we can raise the concerns that so many have about, for example, the harms of porn and the pornography industry,” he wrote.

I put it to him that by raising those concerns, Family First was giving helpful publicity to the products and events that earn its ire.

“Yes – There’s always a balance on whether we should speak up or stay silent,” he wrote.

“At the end of the day we can either stay silent or speak up. We won’t stay silent.”

He conceded his protests can make the things he objects to more popular, but insisted the tradeoff was generally worth it.

Into The River would be widely read, but the protest was about “setting a precedent”, he said.

“We believe the censor was getting it wrong and has lowered the threshold to a dangerous level… That issue is far bigger than whether Ted Dawe gets a few extra reads.”

Meanwhile, Boobs on Bikes was about starting a conversation and warning porn-averse families to avoid Queen Street.

“There may be a few more watchers at the porn parade. But we set out to achieve a couple of things. Challenge the police and council on their stance to offensive parades. Fail :-) Warn families to avoid the area. Success. Get a discussion going in media about the harms of pornography and should we be exposing children to it. Success.”

Then McCoskrie remembered his own fight with the Charities Commission.

It deregistered Family First as a charity in 2013. McCoskrie’s legal team recently won a two-year court battle to overturn the decision.

The threat of being penalised paid off for the organisation, which saw an upswing in attention and support during its court battle. It turns out being on the receiving end of Family First-esque persecution has its benefits, even for Family First.

“I must admit that when the Charities Commission comes gunning for us, it’s great media :-),” McCoskrie wrote.

So it appears Family First don’t blunder into these things at all, and are quite aware that raising concern has frequently been commercially positive for whatever they are protesting against.

Which means that their perceived benefit isn’t so much to stop what they are drawing attention to, but to validate and increase support for their organisation.



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  • Really?

    I might be being overly kind to him, but I got the feeling he was saying … that Despite the fact that the one event we protest about might get more publicity and viewing we may at the same time be influencing how many future (similarish) events take place, so that there are less of them in the future.
    So, there MAY be some merit in that approach for his organisation.
    I’ll think about it some more as I watch the Boobs on Bikes event.

  • Mrs_R

    Firmly in Bob’s camp here. Some things are more important than money, and while he admits one side effect of speaking out is that those he opposes may make an extra buck, ultimately the outcome he is after doesn’t involve the almighty dollar. If Bob is a lone voice out there drawing attention to the things that are destroying the fabric of our society based on his biblical perspective, then good on him I say.

  • XCIA

    “The end justifying the means” has been around for a long, long time.

  • Damon Mudgway

    As an aside, would good ol’ Bob be upset if the event was ‘blokes on bikes’ with their tops off? Since when are female nipples so much more offensive than their male counteparts?
    I find the moral crusaders to be the ones with the issues.

    • Mark

      Female breasts are different to male chests. They are sexual in our culture. In other cultures they’re not, but I don’t envy those cultures, it seems like they’re just missing out.

  • Whitey

    So in fact the purpose of McCoskrie/Family First protesting and calling for things to be banned is actually to get attention and support for Family First. Call me a cynic, but I wonder whether Family First sees an increase in donations when they increase their visibility in this way.

  • Doc45

    I am puzzled that a group of women can pass through a public area free from apprehension but a lone woman walking through the same area undressed to the same extent would be, and have been, arrested and fined.