Stephen Sizer, The Police And The Barbra Streisand Effect
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.