This time the term Seismic Shock doesn't have anything to do with the tragedy of Haiti. It is about less shocking (but still amazing) story of a blogger being muzzled by a strange synergy between a religious cleric and the gendarmes of the state where both the blogger and the cleric reside.
You may not believe (or want to believe) it, but the state in question is not China, Burma, Cuba or any other of the long list of places where blogging is a risky business. It is United Kingdom - the motherland of modern democracy and freedom of speech. The blogger in question goes under a moniker Seismic Shock and the cleric with the awesome powers to deploy the British police at will is Stephen Sizer, "the vicar or pastor of Christ Church, the international community church of Virginia Water". We'll delve later into more details related to the Reverend, let's discuss the case.
Seismic Shock has done a research into some questionable activities of the Reverend. Apparently, the activities include (but not limited to) dissemination of emails from Holocaust deniers, sharing platform with Holocaust deniers, and shamelessly flaunting his anti-Zionist theology before Iran’s apocalyptic Holocaust-denying regime. You can read more about the "Christian" deeds of our good pastor (or vicar, whatever the heck it means) in this post (thanks to Engage).
While United Kingdom is known as a welcoming place for outrageous litigations (frequently successful) against bloggers, this time pastor Sizer has chosen a novel way to intimidate and silence the blogger: he unleashed on him the local constabulary. Again, it may sound unbelievable for the time and the place, but here it is:
At 10am on Sunday 29th November 2009, I received a visit from two policemen regarding my activities in running the Seismic Shock blog. (Does exposing a vicar’s associations with extremists make me a criminal?, I wondered initially). A sergeant from the Horsforth Police related to me that he had received complaints via Surrey Police from Rev Sizer and from Dr Anthony McRoy – a lecturer at the Wales Evangelical School of Theology – who both objected to being associated with terrorists and Holocaust deniers.WTF? An "informal chat"? Is it how the Big Brother designates its (hardly lawful) activities these days? Is it an acceptable practice in UK (granted, formally an Anglican kingdom, but we are so used to this designation being a somewhat funny lip service to a sacred British penchant for tradition) to deploy police force on a mere whim of an Anglican cleric? Is it just another facet of freedom of speech we, unwashed non-British heathens don't grok?
The sergeant made clear that this was merely an informal chat...
Meanwhile, the good pastor is quite happy with the result of his shameful police action. So happy that he even considers to expand his synergy with the gendarmes to other countries of the Commonwealth:
A Christian blogger – “Vee” of LivingJourney, who is based in Australia – linked to my blog as a resource for Christians to learn about anti-Semitism in the Church, including “lots of info on Stephen Sizer and Sabeel”.Hard to believe, isn't it? But true, nevertheless.
Rev Sizer left her this comment:
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.
Now a few words about the pastor. He appears to be a person with strong opinions, including quite an attitude toward Israel. He is also a blogger, and his blogs Stephen Sizer and Stephen Sizer (and his other Internet tentacles) reflect his preoccupation with Israel: for example, the second Stephen Sizer blog contains roughly 40% of Israel-related posts. Well, you may call it obsession or something else, but let's leave it to psychiatrists. He is also an extremely pious and kind man, meeting any criticism of his views or actions with verbiage so full of saccharine that it makes one want to barf: just read his opus on what he calls "calumnious blogging". But he is not too clever in defending the indefensible: see his comment to the Melanie Phillips' (oh well...) article:
I have never knowingly, to use her words, "given interviews to, endorsed or forwarded material from American white supremists and Holocaust deniers".I have rarely seen a more pitiful retort from a person of (supposedly) such an intellectual caliber. This "knowingly" crapola doesn't work in a court of law or in a court of common sense for any normal person. Should it work for a pastor?
Well, our good pastor boasts a few hobbies besides his direct church-related duties: "In his spare time, he enjoys photography, painting, golf and karate, although not very well." As you can see, he is exceedingly humble. And forgetful, omitting "intimidation of critics" as another significant item on this list.
So, dear bloggers, let's make pastor Sizer's life more interesting. Let's make him deploy his friends on the Commonwealth police force all over the world. What say?
Update: Two other blogs on the same subject.