Archive for January 2010
Would it be possible to create a more inflammatory charge against Iranian protesters?
It’s not much of a step up from the old Soviet “enemy of the people” label, and probably worse.
The intention is to prejudge the alleged crimes of the protesters and ensure that they are dealt with harshly.
That is what the ruling elite in Iran wants, protesters beaten on the streets, given cursory trials and locked away, as the BBC reports:
“Iran has put 16 people on trial after anti-government protests in December, when eight people died in some of the most violent clashes seen in months.
Five of the defendants are charged with “waging war against God” while the others are accused of public order and national security offences.
They were all arrested over protests on 27 December when Shia Muslims gathered for the religious festival of Ashura.
Street protests have recurred in Iran since the disputed election in June.”
Understandably so, otherwise he might have to answer why did he use an ex-Royal Marine to try to track down Seismic Shock?
I would recommend that readers take the time to study the comments from Rev. Sizer’s associate, Mordechai ‘Motkhe’ Cohen.
The comments are rather nasty, and whilst my memory is faulty it was one of the exchanges that I remember clearly from Seismic Shock’s site, given the ferocity and venom of the remarks.
Richard Bartholomew has put up a spirited defence of Rev. Sizer. A pity, I expected a bit more.
Contrary to Richard’s assertion, we can see the previous blog or parts of it from the google cache, as I highlighted in this post.
Readers might want to re-read Seismic Shock’s old blog and decide for themselves.
[Use these key words in Google, site:seismicshock.blogspot.com Sizer, about 49 entries are return with a fair few of them cached and readable about 18.]
The Leeds University’s student newspaper covers matters too.
Concluding, so what in fact you had was:
1) an Anglican vicar annoyed at criticism of his strongly held views
2) an effort was made to warn off that critic
3) when it failed a ex-Royal Marine’s assistance was sought
4) when that failed the Police were used to intimidate the blogger
5) said Anglican vicar gloated about his apparent success at seeing off a critic, and then threatened another blogger.
Less of a rose tinted view of events than we are often told, and I am sure more will come out, eventually.
I am not unduly worried that I was not credited. I won’t cry or moan, but what struck me was more what they chose to leave out of the Wiki entry.
I appreciate that Wiki is trying to achieve some neutral point of view. They are up front about it and I can see why that might be a good idea.
The evidence is there for everyone to see, his own comment:
“Stephen Sizer says:
January 16, 2010 at 5:45 PM
You must take a little more care who you brand as anti-semitic otherwise you too will be receiving a caution from the police as the young former student of Leeds did recently. One more reference to me and you will be reported.
[Even if it is subsequently denied, which I would doubt, then the Internet record can be pulled up to verify that Rev. Sizer did, in fact, leave that threat.]
Still, I suppose if Wiki had included that information then it would take the polish off of Rev. Sizer’s halo.
I think there’s a tendency for some of the biographical sections to come out like hagiographies.
Certainly, those of a religious persuasion (or not) would probably see why such an approach is not a good idea, and a bit unlikely under these circumstances, as few of us really have halos and most assuredly they do not need any on-line polishing!
I thought this was an intriguing post, I hadn’t considered it in that light, but it makes a lot of sense:
“In a case of ‘harassment via Facebook’ two years ago, Michael Hurst was brought to trial for allegedly contacting his ex-girlfriend Sophie Sladden online, but he was cleared by Magistrates in Birmingham after the prosecution failed to prove the charge.
The definition of harassment above is deliberately wide-ranging, as it was introduced with the main aim of facilitating action in cases of domestic harassment. Is this law being used appropriately?
For the media and for bloggers, a harassment complaint in circumstances where there has been no documented physical threat or alleged ’stalking’ incident is worrying.”
“Concern is mounting for a Chinese lawyer who is believed to be in detention but has not been seen for nearly a year.
Foreign governments have urged Chinese officials to reveal the whereabouts of well-known activist Gao Zhisheng.
Human rights groups say it is unusual that there has been no formal word on why Mr Gao was taken and what condition he is in.
Officials have so far given only cryptic hints as to where he is. A foreign ministry spokesman said he was “where he should be”.
The lawyer has long been targeted by the government, which has previously stopped him working, put him on trial and kept him under surveillance. “
There is a piece in the Jewish Chronicle suggesting that Dr. McRoy was a member of the National Front, once.
I am not so sure.
I have left a question on Roger Pearse’s blog and I hope that Dr McRoy will clarify the situation, once and for all.
I am sure that someone, somewhere, has probably got an old copy of a National Front membership list, however it would be more helpful if Dr. McRoy could address the issue.
It may not be obvious to everyone, but if someone had been in the National Front they may still have some lingering animus towards Jews. That could be consciously or unconsciously, who knows?
But if it were the case, it might colour their work and how they present a representation of Jews and Israelis in the world.
I simply do not know, but I am sure that Dr McRoy could clear this up quickly enough, if he wishes.
Update 1: It appears that Roger Pearse isn’t what he seems, an advocate of freedom of speech.
Asking the wrong type of question will get your comment deleted.
I asked an innocuous question to Dr. McRoy, merely to deny that he was ever a member of the National Front. It got deleted.
I think it is a time like this, that you see people’s commitment to freedom of speech, or whether or not they use it as a veneer to protect **their** own freedom of speech, but not that of others.
Update 2: Other questions are getting deleted too, this one covers the issue:
People aren’t asking about McRoy’s ethnicity or religion.
They’re asking if he was a member of a particular neo Nazi political party.
That isn’t an improper question to ask, and not at all like asking if a person is a member of a broad and heterogenous faith or ethnicity group.
Comment on Jan 28th, 2010 at 2:26 pm “
“Dr Anthony McRoy has explained why he agreed with Rev. Sizer to ask the police to talk to me – the police visit to my house last November being at both men’s request. McRoy writes:
This brings me to the point of my agreeing to the police talking to Mr Weissman. His comments about me – misrepresenting me as a supporter of Al-Qaida – placed me and my wife and children in physical danger. My children came across Weissman’s comments once when surfing the web. Imagine if there had another major Al-Qaida operation against the UK like 7/7. What if people were killed – and then people in my neighbourhood, or pupils at my children’s school, surfing the web, came across Weissman’s falsehood that I supported Al-Qaida. In the fear and outrage following such an incident, my family could have become the targets of revengeful violence.
I’d like to take a step back.
This is the paragraph which I believe Dr McRoy is referring to:
Meet Dr Anthony McRoy, lecturer at the Wales Evangelical School of Theology. Seismic Shock has already criticised McRoy for his praise of Hezbollah, and now examines his apparent admiration for Al Qaida, and terrorist leaders Osama Bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
The rest of the article consists of a number of sourced quotes from articles written by Dr McRoy which I found disturbing and deplorable. In particular, I found this article from the Muslim Weekly on the “legacy” of Al Qaeda’s Abu Musab Al Zarqawi deeply problematic. In the piece, Dr McRoy compares the ‘martyr’ to Che Guevara, and concludes:
“The next time ‘martyrs’ attack London, or even New York, the people to blame will not only be the mujahideen themselves, nor even just Al-Qaida, but the Neo-Cons and their British lackeys whose deceit and aggression in Iraq allowed Al-Qaida to regroup, win new members and supporters, and gain immediate experience of fighting US security forces in order to both recruit and train the next wave of would-be martyrs to penetrate America and carry-out the next 9/11 or 7/7. Indeed, 10/11 and 8/7 when they happen may well be the greatest legacy of Zarqawi.”
I did not say that Dr McRoy supported Al Qaida. My impression was that he “apparently admired” Zarqawi’s cleverness, compared him to an iconic Left wing revolutionary, and concluded with a condemnation of the “lackeys” who were fighting against him. I strongly disagreed with the argument and tone of that controversial piece, and said so, just as hundreds of commenters do on the Guardian website, every day.
Dr McRoy also criticises my take on his paper given at a messianic Khomeinist conference in Iran, entitled “The solace of the savior and Hezbollah’s victory: belief in the Mahdi and Jesus as an encouragement to resistance”. That conference “enjoys the enthusiastic backing of President Ahmadinejad. He was the introductory speaker”.
Dr McRoy now says:
At the conference I attended, all the Muslims were excited about the outcome of the Hezbollah-Israeli conflict that year. Since the subject of the conference is Mahdism and Messianic expectation, I thought it appropriate to examine the role of Mahdist expectation in the history of Hezbollah, and compare and contrast it with Messianic expectation in Christianity. The linking theme was Justice, since Muslim expectations of the Mahdi are that he will ‘fill the world with justice and equity’. Naturally, after offering an academic description (not endorsement) of this in Shi’ism and more expressly in the Iranian Revolution and Hezbollah, I looked at the Christian approach to Justice – and the means to achieve it – obviously, one that was non-violent.
Frankly, I would have thought it ridiculous that anyone would assume that I somehow believed in Islamic eschatology, especially as it influenced Khomeinist ideas.
I do not think that this was a ridiculous assumption at all.
There were a number of passages in that paper that worried me. You can read them here. In summary, it seemed to me that Dr McRoy was drawing a provocative – and contentious – parallel between Jesus’s suffering at the hands of Roman and Jewish authorities, the martyrdom of Hussein, and the Hezbollah’s inspiration by the Mahdi to fight Israel:
Just as the Mahdi will avenge the blood of Hussein with the blood of Oppressors, so the Lebanese avenged the blood of their sons and daughters with the blood of Israeli soldiers.
Hezbollah also used one of its own special types of resistance against the Zionist enemy that is the suicide attacks. These attacks dealt great losses to the enemy on all thinkable levels such as militarily and mentally. The attacks also raised the moral [i.e. morale] across the whole Islamic nation.
Thus, we can truly say that Hezbollah’s victory over the Israeli bombardment in 2006 was the Triumphant Jihad of the Mahdi. The fact of the Mahdi’s inspiration of Hezbollah’s jihad was hidden from the eyes of the Israelis.
[L]ike Hussein, Jesus was cruelly murdered by His religious opponents, suffering scourging (Mark 15:15) and Crucifixion at the hands of the pagan Romans (Mark 15:24), incited by the Jewish priesthood (John 19:6).
It worries me that McRoy thinks that here he is merely expressing a dispassionate academic opinion. He must surely have had some idea of how these ideas would be interpreted by his audience in the Islamic Republic of Iran. I also find it odd that McRoy will criticise the apocalyptic drive of Christian Zionism whilst having nothing but kind words for the similarly apocalyptic drive of Khomeinist Islam.
My final criticism of Dr McRoy is one which, at the time, I thought was fair. I now would like to withdraw it for reasons I explain below.
I think that Dr McRoy, in the past, has tended to tell his audiences what he thinks that they want him to hear. In one post, I compared and contrasted a talk to Cheam Baptist Church with his paper in Iran, and concluded:
Anthony McRoy says different things to different audiences, and thinks that, whilst he should tell other people to preach the Christian message to Muslims, when he himself addresses a Muslim audience, the most important thing to talk about is resistance to Israel.
There is evidence of this approach in the paper in Iran, in the Che/”Lackeys” article about Zarqawi in the Muslim Weekly, and in another article which originally appeared in the Muslim Weekly, in which he Dr McRoy says of Ahmadinejad:
Those meeting Ahmadinejad commented how intelligent, humble, charismatic, and charming he was. Surprisingly, the US delegates seemed especially taken with him. Personally, I tend to be cautious of all politicians whatever their nationality, but I could why he worries America – not because of the nuclear issue, but because he is such a contrasting alternative for people in the region to the corrupt, self-interested pro-US despots that litter the Muslim world. Recent polls in the region show that Ahmadinejad is vastly popular. The Sunni Arab delegates lauded him. Certainly, it was wise of Bush to decline Ahmadinejad’s offer a debate. Those who remember the way George Galloway wiped the floor with Senator Coleman will have an idea of what would happen.
Not a word of criticism of the man: only praise for his talents.
Dr McRoy now says in response:
I remember writing a parallel article for Evangelicals Now (which Mr Weissman saw fit NOT to reproduce) where I elaborated on this, expressing disappointment that Ahmadinejad did not address the Embassy hostage issue. Please note that I did NOT say that I found him ‘intelligent, humble, charismatic, and charming’ -rather that was the reaction of others. I then made a descriptive analogy of his ability and manner in answering questions to explain why it would not have been a good idea for Bush to have debated him – but note that I said that Blair could have done so. Acknowledging someone’s debating ability and manner is NOT the same as endorsing his policies.
He makes my point. The article for Evangelicals Now criticises Ahmadinejad, but the one for Muslim Weekly does not.
I now want to explain why I think that my criticism of Dr McRoy is no longer fair. Dr McRoy reveals:
Last year I was interviewed – not so much as a Christian, but as an academic expert – by Iran-based Press TV on the three revolutions in world history – the French, Russian and Iranian. When I addressed the latter, I was asked whether the revolution had been true to its roots. I answered that the Khomenists got what they wanted, but not the leftists, or secular democrats. Moreover, I observed that religious minorities – Jews, Christians Zoroastrians – were all excluded from political office, apart from dedicated seats in the Majlis (Parliament), and that Christian converts from Islam had often either been executed or ‘mysteriously’ disappeared only to turn-up dead. I also referred to the mistreatment of the Bahais.
I then stated that if Iran wanted to improve its relations with the West it would have to redress these issues – and again, I highlighted that people in the West, whatever their religious opinions, or how secular or even atheists they are, will never accept that a person should be killed because he changed his religion. I was recently interviewed by an Iranian state channel on the revolution, where I largely repeated these points, especially the on the killing of converts. Hardly a case of supporting Iranian policy – nor of failing to say to Iranians what I say to Western audiences. I did not compromise my message to one degree. Needless to say, Mr Weissman never referred to this on his website – perhaps he didn’t know. If he had contacted me in the normal way, I could have told him.
That was a very admirable and brave thing for Dr McRoy to have done. I would hope that, in a similar situation, I would have the courage to enter the lion’s den, and to argue against the wicked policies of the Islamic Republic on PressTV. It contrasts impressively with the approach that so upset me in the Muslim Weekly articles, and in the Mahdi conference in Iran. I am not surprised that Dr McRoy now cannot get a visa to enter Iran.
However, I have an open blog. Anybody can read it, and anybody can post on it. Dr McRoy could have posted the story of his courageous performance on PressTV at any time. I would have immediately have published it, and I would have revised my opinion of him.
Instead, he called the police.
Dr McRoy – did you really believe that a short article critiquing your Zarqawi comment piece endangered your family’s safety? You are a man who has now criticized the Islamic Republic of Iran, on its own television channel. Iran sponsors both Hezbollah and Hamas. Surely they present a greater danger than the mere possibility that a classmate of your children might misunderstand my comments on a website?
By contrast with your performance on PressTV, your decision to send the police round to tell me to delete my blog was not a brave response at all.”
The viral nature of the Internet was shown when Iran’s theocracy tried to push through the fiddled election results.
Twitter was seen as a key ally for the regime’s opponents.
Thousands of Internet readers are now aware that Rev. Sizer used the Police in an inappropriate manner, to intimidate a young blogger. On top of that twitter has come alive with users expressing their astonishment at Rev. Sizer’s actions.
All in all, Rev. Sizer’s actions have been counterproductive and unnecessary.
But what I can’t understand is why he felt it necessary to try and intimidate another blogger in Australia with this comment:
Stephen Sizer says:
January 16, 2010 at 5:45 PM
You must take a little more care who you brand as anti-semitic otherwise you too will be receiving a caution from the police as the young former student of Leeds did recently. One more reference to me and you will be reported.
One more reference to me and you will be reported.
Reported, to whom? Presumably the Police?
That strikes me as rather overwhelming and threatening for a blogger, out of the blue to know that if you mention Rev. Sizer again that Policemen will knock at your door.
It is becoming a bit of a habit with Rev. Sizer, intimidating bloggers. Hmm.
Update 1: I thought this was rather good.
Update 2: As far as I can see Vee has not in any way called Rev. Sizer an “antisemite”, yet he is quick to take offence and threaten action.
Apparently there were only three posts mentioning Rev. Sizer at Living Journey and none called him an “antisemite”. So I think Rev. Sizer should apologise to Vee for being unnecessarily aggressive and rather, er, unchristian in his attitudes. make your own minds up, I’d welcome reader’s comments:
Why did Rev. Sizer take offence and threaten to use the Police again?
Imagine, for a moment, that you are a writer, maybe a journalist, a trade unionist, a community activist, a plain letter writer or just a normal person
Imagine that you express your views on politicians and people in the public domain in a vigorous fashion.
Nothing offensive, no swearing, no abuse, just factual comment, backed up by evidence and a few pointed questions.
Suppose you do that.
You write letters, you make comment on society or life, would you expect a knock on your door while you’re still in your night-clothes?
Of course, not.
Still less would you expect to find Policemen knocking on your door questioning you about your writings.
That is unless you lived in a Fascist or Stalinist State.
The Policemen knocking at the door was always dreaded by citizens of those repressive regimes.
Citizens knew they had to watch their words.
They knew they could not express their contempt for their leaders or those in authority. They knew an unguarded word could lead them to a camp or Gulag. So the citizens of these awful regimes do, and have, tended to censor themselves, to be extra careful what they say and what they write, lest Policemen come knocking at their door.
And why should the Police become involved?
They shouldn’t be, unless it is a criminal matter, or there is criminal intent and activity.
The State should not intervened to control legitimate criticism, or intellectual discussions and political activities will become stifled as a result.
We do not want the days of self-censorship and stupefying debate to return, that should not happen in modern democracies.
We should not fear the knock at the door, as Seismic Shock experienced.
Firstly, I would like to point out that this is a point of principle for me.
I do not believe that bloggers who are conducting legitimate criticism or debate, with no criminal matters connected, should be the subject of State monitoring or visits by the Police.
I do not believe that the Police have any justifiable role in political criticism of blogs.
Of course, if there had been any criminal action or intent that might be another matter, but it is clear to anyone who wants to review Seismic Shock’s old blog that isn’t the case.
Granted, much of Seismic Shock’s criticism is rather pointed and relates to Rev. Sizer’s questionable political judgements and activities.
I am fairly sure that Rev. Sizer was extremely annoyed that someone took the time to analyse his views, point out the intellectual inconsistencies and point out how Rev. Sizer should think before linking up with some of these dubious characters.
But annoyance is not a criminal offence.
Even, as much as I might dislike Rev. Sizer’s views **I** would not want the police to question him over them.
In my view, Rev. Sizer is entitled to hold as many, or as few, obnoxious and detestable opinions as he wants, I would not like the State or the Police to question him, merely because of his views.
But by the same token, I think it is proper to debate the contents of Rev. Sizer’s views, as he makes them public.
I would recommend that readers peruse the remaining cached articles from Seismic Shock’s old blogspot.
Just click on the underlined cached link on the right-hand side of each article. [Or put, site:seismicshock.blogspot.com Stephen Sizer into Google and it will display the relevant posts.]
Please make your own minds up.
I don’t think that any of the criticism was too harsh, which is why I’m happy to repeat them here, to make the point that if Rev. Sizer wishes to attack Seismic Shock then he can take me on too, for I too am Seismic Shock!
Another example of Reverend Sizer’s questionable liaisons can be found in Seismic Shock’s previous post on Martin Webster, ex-National Front leader and his praise for Rev. Sizer’s views. This is taken from the Google cache.
If you believe Martin Webster, then the good Reverend sent him a copy, which would be unforgivable, given the fact that Martin Webster is a committed racist with a record as long as your arm, but also a vile neofascist.
It is hard to know who to believe, I will leave it to readers to make their own minds up:
“Thursday, 25 September 2008
Stephen Sizer & the former National Front leader Martin Webster.
pro-BNP blog called North West Nationalists hosts this article.
The power of the ‘Labour Friends of Israel’ organisation. [Editor’s warning, a link to a neo-fascist web site]
Martin Webster introduces the piece, and has this to say:
The article was sent to me by the Rev. Stephen Sizer, Vicar of Christ Church (Church of England) parish church at Virginia Water, Surrey. Rev Sizer is author of two books which expose “Christian Zionism” and has been hounded by litigation from ‘Christian’ Zionist sympathisers. He is hosting an all-day anti-Zionist conference in his church on Saturday 14th June.
Why is Stephen Sizer in contact with Martin Webster?
How did Martin Webster know about this conference? Did he attend?
Why has Sizer sent out this email?
Posted by The Maverick at 15:36″
I believe that Reverend Sizer will live to regret trying to intimidate a blogger with the police.
Instead of shutting down the debate on his questionable views and why French Holocaust deniers [Warning, a cached copy of AAARGH's material] see fit to recommend his work, instead Dr. Sizer will bring attention to them, with the Barbra Streisand effect.
Previously, Seismic Shock had commented on this very point:
“Stephen Sizer article found in Holocaust-denying anti-Semitic newsletter
The group Aaargh! publishes a newsletter called The Revisionist Clarion every now and then. Now, what is a Stephen Sizer article doing in the November 2004 edition?[Editor's note, warning link to extreme right web site.] Did he contribute it to them? Did they use it without his permission? Or is Rev Sizer fully aware that neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers are using his work? Did he offer the article to Aaargh! or did Aaargh! approach Rev Sizer?
Once again, the Maverick is asking the questions that Stephen Sizer’s readers and parisioners daren’t ask.”
That’s courtesy of the Google cache, Monday, 29 September 2008, which Rev. Sizer can’t intimidate with the police.
As David Hirsh has pointed out Dr. Sizer has form.
Not forgetting this wonderful post from March 2009 at Engage, If I was Stephen Sizer, Christian Antizionist – James Mendelsohn.
Good old Barbra Streisand, an Internet marvel.
Update 1: The following sites have a post covering Rev. Sizer’s antics: Judeosphere, We Are All Seismic Shock at Z-word blog, at the Echurch Christian Blog, Solomonia, Have Me Cautioned If You Can, You Anti-Judaic Twunks! at efrafan days, We Will Not Be Silenced from CiF Watch,
If I have missed anyone off, please just leave a comment and I’ll add you.
Update 2: Shiraz Socialist is as subtle as ever, Simply Jews puts it as We are all Seismic Shock or Rev. Sizer and Big Brother, Zionism Israel see it as Reverend Stephen Sizer and his anti-Zionist Anglican thought police, HP and Rosie’s finely worded Plod and Blogs.
Update 3: Jonathan Hoffman at the JC, and it’s even made it down under, Deadman Turner says “I am Spartacus and so is my wife.”
Update 5: In Spanish from Fabian, Francis is very good, I liked this comment “Sizer is a typical crypto-Baptist Anglican priest.”
Update 6: Francis argues:
“Why, then, does Sizer, who with a doctorate is obviously an intelligent man, think it acceptable to threaten a critical blogger with legal action? For that is what the priest has done in the case of the Christian blogger known as “Seismic Shock”. I shall not repeat the details, but simply explain that Sizer made a complaint to the police about Seismic Shock, following which the boys in blue paid a visit to the blogger’s home in Horsforth, to have an “informal chat”, to use their words.
Libel is a matter for civil and not criminal law, and it is a gross misuse of police resources to have officers intervene as they have in the case of Seismic Shock. I would recommend to the blogger that he make formal complaints to the Chief Constables of West Yorkshire and Surrey, and also discuss the matter with Christopher Hill, the Bishop of Guildford.”
Update 7: David Schraub says “I, too, am Seismic Shock”
Update 9: Red Maria has a nice way of putting it:
“Reverend Stephen Sizer (pictured below) the incumbent at Christ Church, an Anglican parish in stockbroker-belt Virginia Water, Surrey, is a man with strong feelings about Israel/Palestine. Ok, fine, lots of people have too. But what’s not so fine is the way he seems to have reacted to blogger, Seismic Shock’s online polemics.
Seismic shock, who has very different views on Middle Eastern politics to Sizer and has openly expressed his view that Sizer is a disreputable person on his blog, got a seismic shock when he was paid a visit by PC Plod, “
Update 10: Not forgetting the Poor Mouth, who always has such wonderful selection of photos.
Update 11: El Nuevo Pantano says:
“The odious Stephen Sizer is an Anglican priest and is happy to share platforms with Holocaust deniers and mouth off about the evils of Zionism on Iranian TV. He is now attempting to intimidate Seismic Shock.”
Update 12: Possibly more alarming than a visit by the police, is the assertion by Rev. Sizer that an innocuous blogger was monitored by the British police? But why?
I assume that Rev. Sizer instigated such monitoring, as anyone else would naturally see that Seismic Shock’s mild criticism is always backed up with facts and evidence, and not abusive or criminal.
And even if there were dispute, it would be a civil one and not a criminal one.
It is obvious even to the cursory reader that Seismic Shock does not articulate any criminal action or intent.
The plot is thickening, quite frankly I wonder if Rev. Sizer is playing with a full pack of cards?
To deliberately involve the police, as he has, in what is clearly a political dispute is unheard of, outside of China, the USSR and other dictatorial states.
It is certainly not something that should happen in modern Britain, where police have many other pressing matters to investigate and pandering to the ego of a petulant clergyman shouldn’t be one of them.
Update 13: Pub Philosopher argues:
“Seismic Shock has been the victim of censorship by intimidation. Worse still, this was done using the taxpayer-funded forces of the state rather than the civil law. Regardless of where you stand on the Zionist vs Anti-Zionist conflict, or the various Jewish-Christian-Muslim arguments, this is a vicious attack on free speech.”
Update 14: Soccer Dad is supportive.
Update 15: Support is coming from Canada too, Terry Gavin.
Update 16: Flesh is Grass has posted on it too.
Update 17: Adam Holland, one of my favourite Stateside bloggers, covers it as well.
Update 18: Mustn’t forget Vee from Living journey, who suffered from Rev. Sizer bullying.
Update 19: Trawling the Google cache provided more questions in the form of Ex-National Front Leader And Rev. Stephen Sizer.
Update 20: Weggis posts:
“It seems that a UK Vicar has got all hot and bothered under his Cassocks and has engaged the UK Police to pay a visit to a Blogger who exposed that Vicar’s credentials.”
Update 21: The Texas Scribbler is showing Blogger solidarity.
Update 23: The New Centrist is on board.
Update 24: Weggis makes an excellent comparison:
“Let’s see now. There is a difference between “being” an anti-Semitic holocaust denier and giving credence to or associating with anti-Semitic holocaust deniers. I understand it is the latter that our Vicar stands accused of. But I may be wrong.
There was a case recently where one of ours, Peter Tatchell, was libelled in a book. He did not issue threats or engage the Police or the Lawyers. He stood up for himself and argued his case.
The point here is that if our Vicar has a case he should be able to articulate and argue the point, not issue threats via the Police.”
“Blogger Seismic Shock, a Yorkshire-based student, received an alarming visit from local police late last year. Seismic, a Christian, had been heavily critical of Anglican vicar Stephen Sizer on his blog, alleging that Sizer associated with Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites.
On 29 November, he received a visit from local police, who advised him to remove certain posts from his blog. The police officers maintained that this was an “informal chat”, but the blogger, understandably intimidated, agreed to remove his original Blogger site, while maintaining his WordPress blog.
Index on Censorship has made numerous attempts to contact West Yorkshire Police in order to clarify a) under what authority the blogger was visited by police and b) what potential breach of law had been commited by the blogger that warranted such a visit.
So far, no explanation has been offered.”
Update 26: The Index on Censorship has managed to get a statement from the West Yorkshire Police:
“UPDATE: This just in: “A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “As a result of a report of harassment, which was referred to us by Surrey Police, two officers from West Yorkshire Police visited the author of the blog concerned. The feelings of the complainant were relayed to the author who voluntarily removed the blog. No formal action was taken.”
This begs a question; was any attempt made in the investigation to establish whether any material posted on Seismic Shock could conceivably be construed as harassment? And was any consideration given to free expression and critical debate?“
Those latter questions need answering.
“Let’s be clear – we have no idea what views the Rev. Stephen Sizer actually holds or whether there is any basis at all for the position taken by Seismic Shock, but we can take it from his reported comments that Sizer completely refutes the accusations made about him.
That is beside the point that we’re making here.
If Seismic Shock has defamed Sizer then that is a civil matter and not a criminal matter. Why the police are involved is consequently baffling. The statement issued by West Yorkshire Police refers to a complaint of harassment. This presumably means that they had in mind the Protection from Harassment Act (1997), which defines harassment as a course of conduct that causes alarm or distress.
Even that doesn’t make it any less baffling.
Does this mean that any course of conduct (i.e., doing something more than once) that causes anyone alarm or distress is going to result in a visit from the police? Not if it’s a course of conduct reasonable in the circumstances – see the Act (1 (3) (c) – emphases added below) for that:”
Update 29: The Blogspotting Anglican Episcopalian is rather questioning.
Update 30: The Online Journalism Blog asks some simple but pertinent questions:
“Forget about the specifics. Here are the questions:
Why are police getting involved in a libel issue ? Update: West Yorks police say it was a claim of “harassment”. Is that all it takes?
Why are they ‘paying a visit’?
Why are they approaching an educational institution to gather information on that person?
Why does that educational institution then get involved?
Extremely worrying. Watch this one.”
Update 31: Support even coming in from non-religious types, the New Humanist blog. [btw, I am an atheist.]
Update 32: For the sake of balance, Roger Pearse admits “I could still be wrong. But I have this bad feeling…” The problem, however, is that Mr. Pearse does not really engage with the evidence, or provide any cogent answers to the obvious questions
1) Shouldn’t a member of the clergy be alarmed when neofascists in Europe use his work?
2) Isn’t that a legitimate question to ask?
3) Why is Rev. Sizer apparently on first name terms with a well-known anti-Jewish racist, Israel Shamir?
4) Why is the ex-National Front leader, Martin Webster so complimentary to Rev. Sizer.
They are just four questions and I haven’t even bothered to hunt around for more, yet.
I think if someone was as obviously intelligent as Reverend Sizer then they should be sensitive to these issues and avoid **any** association with semiprofessional antisemites, either directly or indirectly.
Update 33: Tony Hatfield’s Retired Ramblings sizing things up.
Update 34: VirtueOnline – The Voice for Global Orthodox Anglicanism is covering the issue as well.
Update 35: Mike’s Musings exchange with Rev. Sizer is revealing, I’d even say in many extraordinary, read Seismic’s cut on it.
Update 37: The Church of Jesus Christ blog is debating the issue.
Update 38: I would like to thank Barbra Streisand and the readers, it certainly has worked. WordPress informs me that the blog had some 3,943 unique visitors yesterday, up from its normal couple of hundred.
The Itunes feed is here.
The open source Juice feed is here.
Thanks Babs! This is her singing Ave Maria on YouTube.
Update 39: Over at New Appeal to Reason, Stuart argues:
“Seismic Shock is a valuable UK-based site by a theology student which has featured well-informed critiques of anti-semitic tendencies about certain Christian theologians. Now, it seems that one of those he criticized has retaliated by apparently using his position as a pastor to get the police to intimidate the young blogger into removing his blog.
The minister in question is Rev. Stephen Sizer, a prominent critic not only of “Christian Zionism, “but of Jewish self-determination. Like many other critics of “Christian Zionism,” Sizer has a pre-Holocaust theology, which revives many of the age-old anti-Semitic memes of Christian theology.”
Update 40: Paul Bradshaw at the Online Journalism Blog has more.
Update 41: Seismic Shock comes out of the closet at HP.
Update 42: The BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones has picked up the incident and covers it in typically moderate language:
“But the whole incident raises interesting questions about the limits of free expression on the web, and the role of the police in pursuing complaints about the contents of a website.”
Update 43: Matt Wardman makes some excellent points:
” I don’t think that a published author and controversialist will cover himself in glory by complaining to the police about hostile articles by somebody else. I hope that authors would pay more attention to the principle of freedom of expression. If material is defamatory, then the action should be for defamation. If it is a vigorous argument, then argue back. Note: I have not of course – since it has been deleted – seen all the original content of the Seismic blog.
I think we have a problem with a nebulous definition of harassment, which is being assessed too heavily on the basis of the statements of the victim; some reform is needed.
And, I’m reluctant to say it, but I think that there are so many petty interferences and use of laws to intimidate individuals by different varieties of policemen – the most topical example is photographers – that I think we need to make it almost a principle not to give in to “a quiet word from a Constable”; we need to make our police justify their actions at every point.
I think that it is important to keep the principles of law at stake here separate from the arguments about Middle East politics and religion.”
Update 44: Kellie sees it as The priest, the policeman, and the blogger.
Update 45: Mystical Politics comments:
“I’ve tried to read Sizer’s blog and his other online writings, but since everything he pens is smothered in a thick flannel of ostentatious piety, it’s rather hard to get through.”
Update 46: Simon Rock at the JC comments.
Update 47: Not forgetting Carl in Jerusalem.
Update 49: Sergey Romanov at Holocaust Controversies says:
“I guess it’s a “sleep with dogs, wake up with fleas” situation.”
Update 50: Rather appropriately Calvin L. Smith comments:
“However, leaving aside the manner in which he has gone about expressing his views (to the detriment of Christian unity), nonetheless Sizer has every right to express those views as he pleases. Likewise, given how and where he has chosen to express them, he must be prepared for and expect his foes to react and respond equally forcefully and brusquely. “
“And neither will it end there, I suspect, because the issue goes to heart of a debate already taking place in this country concerning diminishing freedoms and police powers.
People are already asking why the police became involved in what appears to be a civil issue. Is criticism of someone’s views a crime?
Can it really be considered harassment?
Also, did this issue progress through the police’s proper complaints chain, and on what basis? Meanwhile, given how Sizer has blogged about his involvement and relationship with the police, I wouldn’t be surprised if at some stage someone will want to know if this has had any bearing at all on how the complaint was handled.
For his part, one wonders why Sizer is not prepared to take on his critics in the very arena he has himself entered and subsequently been challenged – the blogosphere – or else simply ignore the issue, which is what politicians, academics and others debating in the public square do on a daily basis. “
Dr. Smith’s contribution is measured, lucid and brings up pertinent questions, please do read it in full.
Update 51: A final few additions, one from the JC Police question blogger over anti-Zionist ‘harassment’
Update 53:Richard Silverstein has managed to get the wrong end of the stick, which is a shame. He often comes over as an intelligent articulate man, but in this instance is using unnecessarily inflammatory and inaccurate language.
“The point is that Joseph Weissman does not have the right to engage in acts that may be illegal against anyone including Stephen Sizer. “</blockquote"
They were not illegal, they were probably rather annoying but not illegal, which is why the Police's involvement was wrong.
Update 54: Again, Richard Silverstein confuses himself with another obsessive post attacking Seismic Shock, WEISSMAN: HITLER ‘HEARTS’ SIZER:
“And here are some other choice steaming bits of hyperventilation served up by Mr. Weissman:”
The only problem is it wasn’t written by Mr. Weissman, and anyone with the ability to click on the mouse about three times would find that out. I feel sorry for Richard Silverstein he seems to be fighting shadows and hyperventilating at the same time. Poor man.