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Weddings Used To Be Sacred And Other Lessons About Internet Journalism (techcrunch.com)
136 points by crapshoot101 1628 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 85 comments

That's quite interesting and enlightening; although the lesson this case seems to be 'beware of the company you keep' since he ended up getting the blame for the poor ecological stewardship and greed of the inn on whose land the event took place.

I'm struck by this quote: Economically speaking, I profited handsomely from the destruction of the media as we knew it. The rest of the world did not make out so well, and society certainly got the worse end of the bargain. The decentralization of media got off to a promising start, but like so many other half-baked revolutions, it never fulfilled its early promise. In its present form, social media may be doing more harm than good.

I think this is rather true. Although there was stupid tabloid media long before social media came along, it's increasingly become the norm on the internet. I know a little of how he feels as I spent years trumpeting the idea f public comments on newspaper articles and so on....and now I use Stylebot to hide them from me, because 99% of what's written in news article comments is hideously stupid. Rather than elevating society, the internet and social media has basically digitized the mob and given everyone a megaphone.

I don't think it's true at all. The media made just as many mistakes before the internet. The difference is there wasn't anybody to call them on it. Recall CBS tried to throw a presidential election with obviously forged documents, something they would have gotten away with a few decades earlier.

The media is not a monolith. Go read some history, and figure that a) people have been pulling stunts like that since the US was founded and b) they were typically exposed by competitors in the media.

Back in 1798, no less a person than George Washington was griping that the Democrats (under Thomas Jefferson - not to be confused with today's Democratic party) were a bunch of malcontents whose primary object was to overturn the government: http://www.pbs.org/georgewashington/collection/post_pres_179...

Well, okay, but this all just buttresses my point that the new media is no worse than the old media. In a lot of ways it's much better.

"The media made just as many mistakes before the internet. The difference is there wasn't anybody to call them on it."

The first part of this statement is tricky to validate. "The media" constitutes a much broader set these days, with lower barriers to qualification as part of that set. When you say that the media made "just as many mistakes," I suspect you're really trying to say that they "were equally susceptible to mistakes" -- lending weight to the second part of your statement, i.e., that Old Media were less accountable for any mistakes they made, simply because the Old Media were a smaller and more exclusive club, exercising proportionally greater control over the message.

I don't think your first statement is easily supported, or even theoretically supportable. But the second statement is interesting, and is worthy of some serious, in-depth study. Basically: we've got more people running around calling themselves journalists these days, and we've got all sorts of platforms that give the voice of the mob a lot more firing power. Is this a net- good thing or a net- bad thing w/r/t accountability? What about quality? Crowdsourcing can cut both ways, for good (scale, scale, scale) and for bad (variance, mob mindset, etc.).

We're trading the tyranny of the minority for the tyranny of the majority, and which tyrant is actually worse? I suspect the answer isn't as obvious as it may appear.

Only because it bit him in the ass, after profiting him greatly. These are not the words of truth and enlightenment he may be representing them as.

Another example of why you should not trust anything you read or see on TV w/o time and/or corroborating evidence.


Summary Points

- The wedding site was chosen because it had been previously developed, so there was no environmental impact. The site was not public property, it was a private, for-profit, campground, which was mostly paved in asphalt and or cleared of all foliage. Development only occurred in cleared dirt and asphalt areas.

- The natural environment was not harmed, despite widespread claims to the contrary. There was no harm done to redwood trees, other plants, or animals. There were no endangered species on or near the property.

- We were conscientious about protecting the environment, locating the site with the help of Save the Redwoods League and soliciting advice about how to avoid harming the redwood habitat.

- Hundreds of articles were written in the days following the wedding, yet only one reporter contacted us for comment. Most of the information contained in these articles was erroneous. No original reporting was done, no interviews were conducted, and no fact checking occurred.

- We voluntarily agreed to cover $1 million in penalties related to the Ventana’s lack of development permits and past violations. We also volunteered to contribute $1.5 million in charitable contributions serving the coastal region of the Monterey Peninsula.

It's always seemed to me that news stories and features tend to be wildly inaccurate when they happen to be on a topic you know a lot about.

Michael Crichton: “Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business.

You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”

Make sure you read the end, it is the best part of the essay:

''' The more we depend on social networks and other online services to share content with friends and family, the more we risk that our content inadvertently becomes public. The enforceability of intellectual property laws around user-generated content — our photos, videos, and other content — is one of the best protections we have. The media has, in many cases, chosen to broadly construe all content shared via these networks as “public” when in fact much of it is private, and the copyright on that private material belongs to the creator. Sharing photos on Facebook should no more constitute a public license to use those photos than sending them over email.

The ubiquitous license agreements and privacy policies that online services force their users to enter into should be scrutinized by the courts around the principle of adhesion, and if the courts are unwilling to reconsider the status quo then congress should intervene with legislation limiting the scope and enforceability of these agreements. We also need to be willing to consider that only Congress can prevent the abuse of governmental power that is used to coerce online services into to turning over data in a wholesale manner.

I am certain that social networks, technology companies, and telecommunications companies would prefer not to kowtow to governments around the world, but operating a service on the scale of Facebook or Google puts these companies in the crosshairs of governmental agencies of all kinds. Once a company has reached this scale, only governments pose a meaningful existential threat. It is therefore incumbent upon the legislature to craft appropriate boundaries that strike a balance between the valid needs of governmental authorities and the equally valid privacy demands of Internet users.

In the end, the lesson learned from my wedding was something much less obvious than the “parable of excess” that was claimed. Rather, the democratization of the media that I idealized in my youth when it was just a distant, blurry dream, suddenly seems much less worthy of idolatry now that it’s become a stark reality. The lesson for me, felt acutely over the past two weeks, ended up being a familiar moral to a familiar story: “Be careful what you wish for — you might just get it.” '''

Using copyright to protect one's privacy is stretching the law, as copyright is not meant for protecting privacy, but rather for protecting against unauthorized distribution. The 2 issues seem related, but they really aren't the same thing and shouldn't be treated as such.

And I'm willing to bet that Facebook's user agreement, in so far as copyright is concerned, is entirely enforceable, because the service couldn't operate otherwise and also because, no, you're not forced to agree to it, you're not forced to use Facebook and you're not forced to distribute pictures from your wedding on Facebook.

This isn't to say that we don't need privacy in the online world. We do need it, but you also can't reasonably expect to be protected by privacy laws, once you distribute your pictures to a big list of people, many of which are probably strangers. Once that distribution happens, your pictures are no longer private, no matter what you think about it.

Even if governments and technology manage to somehow eliminate the unauthorized redistribution of photos (something unlikely because it's a people problem, not a technological one), people can always describe what they've seen in freaking words and other people can always take those stories, flourish them a little and redistribute them further. And what then? Put a ban on freedom of speech?

This is a slippery slope, because really, the need for protecting intellectual property is very, very different from our need of privacy and privacy is totally incompatible with wilful distribution of info to other people.

Calling on the government to monitor and regulate private communications is an odd call to action these days.

Wait, wait, one of the guys who was behind facebook and the creator of napster (both of which use the internet to profit from other people's information or creative efforts) wants us to feel bad that something he held sacred was violated on the internet?

Um, what?

Did you read the article?

In the end, the lesson learned from my wedding was something much less obvious than the “parable of excess” that was claimed. Rather, the democratization of the media that I idealized in my youth when it was just a distant, blurry dream, suddenly seems much less worthy of idolatry now that it’s become a stark reality. The lesson for me, felt acutely over the past two weeks, ended up being a familiar moral to a familiar story: “Be careful what you wish for — you might just get it.”


In particular, we need to consider stronger privacy laws here in the U.S., a basic right to privacy along the lines of the laws enjoyed by the citizens of most Western European nations. We are all at risk of becoming “public figures” in a world where the media has expanded to include nearly everyone. In such a world, our defamation laws need to be updated to provide individuals with the protection from public persecution that they deserve. We also need to reinforce our personal privacy by beefing up the intellectual property laws that govern the personal content that we generate and share via services like Facebook.

EDIT: and

Economically speaking, I profited handsomely from the destruction of the media as we knew it. The rest of the world did not make out so well, and society certainly got the worse end of the bargain. The decentralization of media got off to a promising start, but like so many other half-baked revolutions, it never fulfilled its early promise. In its present form, social media may be doing more harm than good. Perhaps we should have expected this — technology always leads the way, society and government inevitably play catch-up.

Yes. I did read it – and I stand by what I said. I find it hugely disingenuous and/or self-absorbed that only now that the shoe is on the other foot, Mr. Parker changes his tune... only after getting rich by exploiting things not so distant from that which he wants to curtail now.

Edit: The additional quote does nothing to change my point. He doesn't dispute what I said about him profiting from his actions – but he still wants personal sympathy.

I agree with his larger point, privacy matters, but I find this messenger to be distinctly self-serving in all of his actions.

I think it's fair, if you're the underdog against the proverbial fatcats and then you realize in a turn of events that you're the fatcat. I think it better he come to his senses than remain ignorant and hold to some naive principle he had as a kid. Let's get off that high moral horse, people change opinions and judgments, it wouldn't be prudent to hold that against them.

Except the revelation rings hollow when he's still sitting with a fortune made by doing so. He's trying to have it both ways and has no qualms getting his and then fighting to keep the spoils (i.e.: his lavish life and the privacy surrounding it are absolutely spoils of his previous actions)

It's hardly (just?) a high moral horse. I dislike the whole do as I say and not as I do attitude.

I'd agree with you IFF he was asking for compensation after being wronged. As you pointed out, he exploited, in one aspect or another, reaping the benefits at the expense of others. Conversely it happened to him.

It is fair to point out the observation post introspection of being on both sides of the equation, exploiter and exploited.

It is not be fair to ask for compensation for exploitation and not willing to give compensation for exploiting.

Sean Parker has as much "wounded private citizen" cred as Mark Zuckerberg's sister who was ousted from Facebook's marketing department and immediately had a meltdown when someone reposted a photo of her from Twitter to Facebook.

General rule: if you possess millions of dollars because of your association with Facebook, your sudden personal revelation that people can talk about you on Facebook in ways that might hurt your feelings makes you sound like an entitled idiot circa 2006.

For the most part, I agree with him, he was essentially violated by a sensationalist online media that spews cut-and-paste drama with absolutely no due diligence ("viral" is particularly evocative here).

That said, it does sound like a pretty extravagant over-the-top wedding, if a more tasteful one than your typical Kardashian affair. I suspect people latched onto that bit and just ran with it. I can't reconcile his talk of nature and sanctuary with the extremely manufactured and "faked" nature of the event. Why not have a low-key ceremony in an actual beautiful natural area?

It bothers me that this is the highest voted comment to this thread thus far.

Why should anyone have to subject their ideals of what their wedding, a deeply personal experience to them, and basically nobody else, ought to look like?

Why should the extravagance of their wedding be cause for anyone to criticize them? It wasn't tax dollars being spent, nor was the money stolen from any of the complainants. The cost of the Parker wedding doesn't affect anybody else, and could arguably seen as a beneficial set of activities as pertaining to trickle-down economics.

> Why should the extravagance of their wedding be cause for anyone to criticize them

Because self will, opinion and free speech are VASTLY more important and sacred then someone's feelings. The internet is the MOST public medium imaginable. When talking in public expect the public to respond.

> When talking in public expect the public to respond.

I'm confused - how exactly was anything they did talking in public?

> We chose a remote location (Big Sur), invited no press, and did our best to conceal that location from the press. We didn’t court attention — quite the opposite, we asked guests to check their cell phones and cameras at the door and we didn’t sell our photos to tabloids.

I'm not suggesting that anybody doesn't have the right to express their opinion so much as I am lamenting that people's opinions are so childish and petty.

> lamenting that people's opinions are so childish and petty.

Fair enough. Perhaps I'm overly cynical and jaded but lamenting that is like lamenting rain is wet.

I can dream of a better world at least.

I mostly (at least try to) ascribe to the Thomas Jefferson ideal of "if it neither breaks my leg, nor picks my pocket, then it matters not to me" style of involvement with other people's business.

Aside from that, I worry about the growing perception of a media/government encouraged class war, which feeds mostly on people's completely unjustified jealousy.

I feel the same way, and I think you conflated my comment with a lot of other people being angry and caring a lot about this. I didn't even explicitly criticize the cost or extravagance, and you've read a lot into that. My point was mostly about the dissonance between his own framing of the event as a "natural" "sanctuary", and the rather un-natural reality of it. If he had said "we just wanted an all-out, spare no expense, Disneyland wedding," I would have moved right along. I thought it would be interesting to discuss, but I don't really care what he does, especially since he did make an effort to be socially responsible about it.

Fair enough. For what it's worth, my own value judgements only allowed me to complain, but I couldn't quite get far enough along in even my own vitriol to actually downvote your comment.

Apologies for unfairly representing your message. Perhaps I, too, was oversensitive to the subject - though not being a rich white guy with a history of opulent marriages, I don't know what specifically I reacted to.

So why does it matter that his wedding sounds like an extravagant affair to you? There are plenty of people who want to spend a lot of money on their weddings or other events and have a vision of it that pleases them.

I think we should all expect the right to spend our money the way we choose (within legal and ethical boundaries) without being second guessed and attacked by a public mob.

Now, if you had wanted to, you could have penned an editorial exploring whether there's hypocrisy in his decision to "manufacture" the scenery. But the real issue is why so many people who call themselves members of "the media" get to publish scathing blog posts that they pass off as news articles without doing any actual journalistic research.

At some point, when you become famous enough (or infamous, in Parker's case), things like extravagant weddings are going to get attention from the media, whether you like it or not. I would not be entirely surprised if Zuckerberg took this into consideration when he planned his surprise, low-key backyard wedding. In the wake of the great recession, which most of America is still slowly recovering from, fancy cars and nice suits aren't going to win you sympathy from the American public. If you care about the public's perception of you, then adopting a low-key lifestyle would be a prudent effort in managing that. If you don't care, then feel free to live extravagantly, and be prepared to either tune out the blogs and trolls, or have some thick skin and learn to deal with them.

The public is simply jealous that they don't have them money to have a wedding like that and so they feel like they have a right to complain about it.

It doesn't "matter," I was just putting in my two cents. Penning a micro-editorial on a bit I perceived to be inconsistent, if you will. I'm trying to post a hopefully discussion-provoking comment on a small forum community; I'm clearly in agreement on the media and their knee-jerk public lashings.

Ostensibly, a "a low-key ceremony in an actual beautiful natural area" (that can support 360 guests) would have a far greater ecological impact than manufacturing such a place in an already developed campground.

To make such a suggestion, you'd have to claim that they shouldn't have invited nearly so many people, which is an uncomfortable claim to make.

I;d say, it's his wedding. The answer to "Why not do it this way?" is that as a couple, that's not what they wanted. This only looks "faked" is because we have no personal connection with the couple.

I'm with you on the sensationalist bit, and would take it the additional step of assuming we have no right to barge in & opine over someone else's wedding... so long as they're not hurting anyone (or any trees). I'm guessing that last bit is the sticking point :)

Yeah, I tried not to be overly judgmental, it is his wedding and his money, but it's pretty common for people to react poorly to opulent displays of personal wealth. I said "faked" because they literally trucked in a fake castle and forest, among other things to the tune of a few million dollars. It just seems inconsistent with a professed love of nature, and hardly "the antithesis of the technology-infested world we live in."

Sounds like solid logic to me. Glad to have that one explicitly worked out :)

While HN isn't responsible for the content of the articles it linked to, the community here sure took the opportunity to write, and upvote, some awful things.

I wish there was a sort of pinned story feature to offer a community retraction that stays on the front page for a substantial amount of time. Sort of a group apology for promoting comments like "I disagree. To me, this is the story of a single a-hole." and "Fuck you Sean Parker."

Why? Naval gazing? Proving someone wrong?

If the NY Times wrote an article claiming that Sergey Brin dumped raw sewage from his yacht, the responses would be based upon the assumption of accuracy of that story. If the story isn't accurate, it will quickly be corrected (and legal avenues should be exercised, such as libel lawsuits), which has to some degree happened in this case.

But what are people really supposed to do? For every story everyone must stay quiet? Let claims bake for a period? Put a disclaimer "If this story is accurate..." before every statement? That should be presumed.

In the end, though, while I had no comment on the original story (it seemed like a classic "they're rich...get 'em!" kind of story), I certainly don't find Parker a more reasonable chap after this 10,000 word outing. His argument is essentially-

a) Steelhead trout are stupid anyways. I'm humorously paraphrasing, but they are an endangered/threatened species, and you can't simply lump them in with Rainbow trout and pretend it's all good regardless.

b) Ignorance of the law is no defense. Saying that a group was formed before you were born makes one sound a bit like a jackass (maybe that's what the NSA is claiming? The various rights were written before they were born, so...)

c) He's good because he leveraged someone else's significant mismanagement of the forest, therefore he has no culpability. This is a bit of a tragedy of the commons thing, but his argument seems to be that all of this development happened in a vacuum and he just happened to be a sad passerby who might as well make use of it.

I don't think he needs to apologize to anyone, and it sounds like the land was horrendously mismanaged by the company that owns it, however this doesn't get sympathy.

I'm so happy somebody brought up his wacky paragraph about steelhead trout that classified them as a "fancy" rainbow trout, which is like exactly how Glenn Beck would have put it. It's exactly the kind of equivocating BS that a professional editor would have caught and cut.

Also, there's some irony that Parker chose to publish this rant about click bait (and other journalistic sins) in Techcrunch.

> If the NY Times wrote an article claiming that Sergey Brin dumped raw sewage from his yacht, the responses would be based upon the assumption of accuracy of that story.

You should not assume the news is accurate. Read the news for entertainment, not facts.

In EVERY single case where I have been involved in something that later got on the news it was reported incorrectly. Every single time.

The news is not accurate because they don't care about that. They care about being interesting, and that's how you should read it.

It gets really sad when wikipedia editors force incorrect information to stay in an article because a news source said so. Even when it's wrong.

People should be taught from a young age: "The majority of what you hear and learn will be wrong."

To paraphrase you... what was Parker really supposed to do? Every time he wants to have an event on private property, he has to check that the owner isn't violating any of a myriad regulations imposed by countless regulatory bodies? That doesn't seem feasible.

Everyone commits 3 hypothetical felonies a day - he just has more assets he's risking and does things that draw more attention.

This is why very wealthy people have to have lawyers to circumscribe their actions, and security guards to protect them, and ... Not a wonderful way to go through life, I suppose, and unfortunate that we live in a world that requires things like that.

Yes, those poor rich people.

Please don't be so dismissive. Rich people tend to have it better than others. But that doesn't mean they don't in some ways have it worse, it doesn't mean they don't deserve sympathy for those things, and it doesn't mean that we shouldn't talk about those things.

I don't really fault him. He was the beneficiary of someone else's mismanagement of protected lands, however.

Every time he wants to have an event on private property, he has to check that the owner isn't violating any of a myriad regulations imposed by countless regulatory bodies?

He had a multi-million dollar event. Yes, in such cases -- especially where the use is atypical -- the event planners do perform significant legal and liability checks to ensure that the use is compliant with all laws and regulations.

Given that he had rented the facility from a hotel that had done that in the past, and the atypicality was mainly in the secrecy and set design they wanted, I don't think that it's unreasonable to expect that the hotel had all of its permits in order. It's a reasonable mistake -- though one that, as you point out, should have been caught by his wedding planner.

I really hate how the American legal system lets the guilty get away with things.

In this case that hotel was very guilty of years of violations, and got away free. Didn't cost them a penny. You see those settlements all the time where the guilty party made a payment but admitted no guilt. And of course the government has unlimited deep legal pockets and can make life hell for people. It is in their interest to overreach which makes it even more expensive and threatening for the innocent or those guilty of only a little bit.

TL:DR The media is a bunch of haters, our wedding wasn't as ecologically devastating as it was played out to be. Why'd you people use so many expletives about us?

The wedding wasn't where the stories said it was (private land not a public park), there were no endangered species that were put at risk, and only one reporter out of 100 stories that ran bothered to call them for comment, so it's a bit more than that.

But, as one comment said, if that story were printed on paper it would have needed a redwood to make the sheets. Probably longer than it needed to be.

Also, "almost none of the journalists bothered to ask us for comment". That was the one part that surprised me; I would have expected better.

I'm sure that if they had all called for comment he would have been outraged that people couldn't leave him alone on his honeymoon.

That's a typical smear tactic. Raise a hypothetical as a certainty that is impossible to disprove, but makes the person look terrible.

The proof lies with the people making the extraordinary claims. Reporters could have easily waited to get all of the facts and if that means waiting to their are back from their honeymoon, so be it. Why give a pass to incompetent reporters?

Try: the wedding had essentially no ecological impact.

About wedding costs:

The median cost of a wedding is somewhere around $18,000 according to TheKnot.com while the median net worth is around $57,000. In other words, the median wedding cost / net worth ratio is around 1/3.

Mr. Parker's wedding costs were around 1/168th of his net worth. It wasn't extravagant by that measure.

>Mr. Parker's wedding costs were around 1/168th of his net worth. It wasn't extravagant by that measure.

That's a silly measure, thought, because it would imply that a $1 billion dollar wedding for a $3 billion dollar net worth guy would not be "extravagant".

The costs are not tied to the net worth, they are about sitting so many people, feeding them, closing the venue, the flowers, photographer etc. Poorer people make do with less expensive restaurants and venues, and richer people go for more expensive. Still, there's only so much you can spend of a venue, food, wine, etc before it becomes extravagant.

Similarly, a guy that makes $100 million per year does not eat meals that are 2500 times more costly than those of a guy that makes $40.000 a year.

If he did, that would put those meals in the 25.000-50.000 dollars per meal region. Which would be extravagant by any measure.

a guy that makes $100 million per year does not eat meals that are 2500 times more costly than those of a guy that makes $40.000 a year

According to the receipts posted to rich kids of instagram, many actually do!

I'd say those are special occasions -- that's why they post the receipts too. Do they eat $30,000 dollar meals daily? I doubt it.

Agreed, though I suspect that the median net worth of the general population and the median net worth of people when they are married are likely different.

Wait when were weddings ever sacred?

How willfully ignorant of humanity do you have to be to think that a wedding like that was going to just go without comment?

>Wait when were weddings ever sacred?

As for Catholicism, since it's a sacrament, I'd say since the inception of that religion which was some time ago.

>How willfully ignorant of humanity do you have to be to think that a wedding like that was going to just go without comment?

Victim blaming, but to answer your question at face value, somewhat ignorant.

"I have known the media to be irresponsible at times, but this represents a new low."

Actually, I doubt that. I'm willing to concede that it has become more prevalent recently, but it seems more likely that this level of irresponsibility has always been present in the media to some degree.

"I was backed into a corner and had no choice but to give in to any demands made of me by the hotel or the commission."

The California Coastal Commission waited until 20 days before the wedding to blackmail him for one million dollars, simply because he could afford it. How on earth do they get away with this abuse of power?

It sounds like they were not aware of the wedding until late in the game. If you follow the arc of culpability throughout the post, Parker assumed that the Hotel was adequately permitted for such activities. When it turned out that they were not, the Hotel forced Parker into a indemnification agreement (presumably by threatening to cancel the wedding), which means he can't sue the Hotel. Then the Hotel refused to pay the CCC fine, preferring to cancel the wedding instead. So his only option at the point was to pay for the fines himself.

My take away from this is that the hotel is to blame. They did not have the required permits (despite an assumption on Parker's part that they did), and they refused to rectify the situation when it was discovered that there were issues. Parker seems to go easy on them, my guess is because he has some connections to the owners (in my opinion, his best defense would be to turn around and point fingers at the Hotel owners).

California's multitude of agencies are ... litigious and looking to justify their keep, all the time. We've discussed this before at Hacker News, (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5567206), but CA is regulator heavy.

By being broke and needing money, and by representing a voter base that doesn't want to pay any more taxes?

A lot of people are judging the personalities involved, the event itself, and the media behavior, but few objective facts are revealed. More worrisome is that objective facts are seemingly being covered over with weasel words.

First off, I am not at all impressed how Mr. Parker shifts the blame onto the property owners and others. I did see some of the inflammatory comments on early stories where people assumed it was public land. But even as private land, its use is still restricted by regulations because it is in the coastal zone. Just because it is private land doesn't mean owners and their renters can do anything they wan with it--thank goodness. California recognizes the fragility and ecological value of the coastal areas and regulates them. I don't care whether he knew about that or not, he, his hired staff, and the owners he worked with are all to blame for not knowing and following regulations.

He also tries to dodge blame for the campground issues and the owners' responsibility, then get sympathy for being strong-armed by the owners into paying up or getting cancelled. All I can say is that he could afford the lawyers, and if you want grandiose, you have to deal with ALL of the issues. His failure to do that does not garner my sympathy.

I would also take issue with "It was an homage to the natural environment," when he admitted the whole scenery and costumes were fake. In other words, it was quite literally the Hollywoodization of the natural environment, not an homage. What he fails to understand, ultimately, is that a an all-night costume party for 350+ people is not compatible with the natural environment--no matter how much he wants the reader to believe so or how much he has paid to make it so.

A lot of HN commenter also seem bowled over by all these words, and just because someone says they didn't harm the redwoods, they believe him.

I'm holding out for a scientific assessment of the situation. I do know redwoods (and sequoia) have shallow roots and can be harmed by trampling. So, were the root areas (usually within a 20-30 ft radius) of the trees properly protected during the decoration and the event?

One of the first stories I saw about this had pictures of the fake walls right up to a tree. So, in the opinion of an arborist specialized in these trees, is that damaging or not?

Same for the trout and other riparian species. Are they present or is this potential habitat? Did the setup or the event or the dissasembly impact the streams or drainages? One original article said they diverted streams; was that accurate or not? Mr. Parkers explanations about different kinds of trout and what's endangered or protected are not very clear--in fact they seem intentionally confusing. He does say that biologists inspected the streams and found no sedimentation. OK, what about immediately before the event (since decorations weren't finished until the last minute) and after the event, and again during the tear-down.

I'm totally willing to believe the environmental damage was minimal. The campground had been recently repaved and bulldozed in places. The set-up crew was at least aware of environmental concerns, regulatory agencies were keeping watch, etc. And yes the media reaction was totally overblown, but doesn't that go with the territory of being rich and somewhat famous, especially when pulling off high-profile events? But I'd still like to see the official report about the damage before believing this one-sided argument.

Regardless of the actual damage in this instance, the CCC is empowered to restrict the use of public lands when they reasonably think environmental damage might occur. Parker/Ventana violated their rules, so the CCC sent a Cease and Desist, and they settled with Parker paying fines and Ventana agreeing to restore the area a bit. As a matter of public policy, the system worked as far as I can tell. As a matter of actual wrongdoing, I don't think we'll ever know — as you say, that would require a scientific study to discover.

As for Parker's absurdly long article, I dug into one of his more verifiable defenses and found that he's full of it:

"The media reported that this fish was an “endangered” species whose spawning ground was a creek near our wedding site. Yet a simple Google query of “steelhead trout” reveals that this fish is not, as the media had reported, a truly “endangered” species, but rather a fancy variant of the common “rainbow trout” that is abundant across North America — so abundant, in fact, that it is sometimes considered a pest species. "

Steelhead/Rainbow Trout is listed here on the NOAA website:


This web page says that 1 "distinct population segment" is endangered, 10 are threatened, and 1 is a species of concern. And they kindly point to a report listing which is which:


Lo and behold, the Steelhead along the Northern and Central California coasts are on the "threatened" list. So the "pest" bit was just empty rhetoric.

> I would also take issue with "It was an homage to the natural environment," when he admitted the whole scenery and costumes were fake. In other words, it was quite literally the Hollywoodization of the natural environment, not an homage.

These are not mutually exclusive, you know.

Literally the whole point of the hollywoodization of a natural environment was to prevent the damage done to an actual natural environment of having 350+ people there for a wedding, something both recommended by a conservation group and then gone over in the article.

Who gives a fuck about trampling roots, some species of fish you've never heard of before, or manufactured outrage in general?

In the words of Jeffrey Lebowski: "What are you, a fuckin' park ranger now?"

From TFA: "I strongly believe that redwood forest should be a protected ecosystem, but that is not true today."

So, even if he did damage these things on private land - he's not breaking any laws. Take it up with the legislature if you're so inclined.

well, I give a fuck about trampling roots, but perhaps you need to go back and read the OP's writing. "sequoia roots CAN be harmed when trampled".

Fact is, these roots go 5-6 feet deep and no amount of people walking on them is going to harm them, with the possible exception that if you scrape the surface of the root, you can get an infestation (disease or pests).

But when you go back and look at SP's article, the entire wedding was held on cleared (or paved) ground. No roots.

Game over. Insert quarter.

People don't like SP because he's rich. Fuck them.

If you've ever been up against the wall with one of these little fiefdoms of government, the ones with nearly unlimited resources, who perpetuate themselves with 'fines', you don't know the meaning of terror. (Unless you're in the military, or one of the relatively few terror incidents on US soil.)

I sense that the backlash, well-informed or not, was fueled more by the extravagance of the event than its environmental impact.

When last were weddings sacred, in the sense of not open to public comment? In Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence the mother of the bride is horrified at the notion that reporters might take a picture of her daughter and put it in the newspapers; and surely they would have. There is the folk tradition of the "shivaree".

Second, "Our wedding was the antithesis of the technology-infested world we live in; a world that I have played a role in creating." No, not really, any more than Marie Antoinette was a milkmaid. In a world insufficiently infested with technology, rich people don't get married in the woods. In fact, apart from the men going there to hunt, they don't spend much time in the woods.

All in all, I was surprised/impressed that he was willing to acknowledge that he's been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the media disintermediation he helped to bring about, in many ways - and now he's finally seeing a backlash from it. The standard point about clickbait and the Buzzfeedication of media is a reasonable one, but until stories / media can earn online by maximizing for something other than CPM, this will continue. I don't have any solution, just acknowledging the problem.

I have to wonder how much of a backlash would've been created for someone other than Sean Parker. I don't think this would've been much of a story if not for 'The Social Network' portraying him as an egotistical, asshole, pseudo-con man (which he very well might be, I don't know). But then comes along a story of him doing what seems like egotistical, asshole stuff and it's too much to resist for the media. The narrative is already there so it writes itself.

The remarkable thing is, everyone had already forgotten about how much they hate Whoever Parker until he wrote this. If he really wanted to be left alone he would have just shut up about it. This is just attention grabbing and trying to re-write history, painting himself as a sympathetic figure that shouldn't be picked on for living an extravagant life while the majority of his countrymen are getting kicked out of the middle class.

I'm not going to read his article - but why is he still fanning this fire? People get worked up over things, then they move on. This is likely to just extend the time-period over which this will fade.

You don't think that if that you were subject to a torrent of abuse you'd want to fight back about it, especially when additional evidence suggests that the abuse was based on bullshit / a desire for linkbait?

Maybe so, but to what end? He knows what he believes. Who really cares what "a mob of Internet trolls, eco-zealots, and other angry folk from every corner of the Internet" think? I wouldn't.

9600 words!

The very rich are different from you and me... no one dare edit them for length.

That said, I am sympathetic to Parker's point that social media/journalism has, with all its benefits, also introduced certain pathologies for which we haven't yet evolved countermeasures.

I'd happily read 9600 words written by anyone with thoughtful, interesting and captivating opinions.

57kb of raw text without the images -- text is cheap. :)

I like Sean but I think he could have headed off a lot of criticism with way fewer words, probably sooner.

This dude needs something to do!

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