Uproar as UK vicar reportedly uses police to intimidate blogger
Whatever the truth about Reverend Sizer‘s political views, calling the police to deal with a blogging spat seems completely absurd – and of course the fact that the police would actually indulge such a request seems even more disturbing.
I’ve contacted the Reverend to hear his side of he story, but he has now got back to me saying that he does not want to comment (see update 4 below).
Update 1 - Just to clarify that what follows below is a direct quote from the blogger ‘Seismic Shock’ writing on the website “Harry’s Place” – I have no direct involvement in this issue, nor do I have a view on the rights and wrongs of the original argument between Sizer and his critics. But I am concerned at reports that the police are becoming involved in a bloggers’ dispute.
Update 2 – Index on Censorship report that West Yorkshire Police say they visited the blogger after receiving a complaint of “harassment”, and that he then “voluntarily” agreed to take down his website. The implication seems to be that writing mean things about someone on the internet is now on a par with prank calls, hate-mail, bunny-boiling etc…
Update 3 - Interestingly there seems to be a pattern here – this is a quote from Oliver Kamm, back in 2008:
“Yesterday morning I got a telephone call from a bewildered gentleman at Abingdon Police Station saying he had received a complaint from a Mr Neil Clark. Mr Clark (pictured) is the author of such essays as “Milosevic, Prisoner of Conscience” and (regarding the Iraqi interpreters in fear of their lives) “Keep these Quislings Out”. He is also an imaginative theorist of global conspiracy… I learned from my interlocutor… that Mr Clark was upset about disobliging references to him on the World Wide Web. Mr Clark had meticulously assembled a file of these, to which presumably this post will be added…. Mr Clark maintained… that he was the victim of a campaign of criminal harassment orchestrated by me.”
Update 4 (30/1/10): Stephen Sizer has now replied to my request for clarification, stating that “I do not wish to comment and am happy to leave the matter to the Police”. This is obviously his business, but it does mean that his critics have pretty much a clear run on this issue. Reverend Sizer must surely must have realised by now that they aren’t going to shut up about it, however many times he threatens them. Equally, I am genuinely interested to know what Reverend Sizer’s perspective on this issue actually is. At the moment all we have is a story about a representative of our state-sponsored Church making a lot of very strident comments about the political situation in the Middle East but then calling the Police when some people who disagree say mean stuff about him on the internet. Surely if Reverend Sizer really has the courage of his convictions he will be prepared to stand by his words, and his actions?
Update 5 – 31/1/10 I’m pleased to say that Reverend Sizer has now got back to me with a detailed response.
From Harry’s Place:
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.
(Context: Sizer has associated with some very nasty terrorists and Holocaust deniers; McRoy has delivered a paper at a Khomeinist theological conference in Iran comparing Hezbollah’s struggle against Israel via suicide bombing with the Christian’s struggle against sin via the atoning death of Jesus, and describes the world’s most prominent Holocaust denier as an “intelligent, humble, charismatic, and charming” man who “gives quick, extensive and intelligent answers to any question, mixed with genial humour”).
The sergeant made clear that this was merely an informal chat, in which I agreed to delete my original blog (http://seismicshock.blogspot.com) but maintain my current one (http://seismicshock.wordpress.com). The policeman related to me that his police force had been in contact with the ICT department my previous place of study, and had looked through my files, and that the head of ICT at my university would like to remind me that I should not be using university property in order to associate individuals with terrorists and Holocaust deniers (I am sure other people use university property to make political comments, but nevermind).
With my research on Reverend Sizer’s associations with terrorists and Holocaust deniers making its way into a publication of the Society of Biblical Literature, I was quite content to hold my peace. However, now that Reverend Sizer is now misrepresenting what has happened in my case in order to intimidate others, now is the time to speak up.
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”.
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.
Sure, Stephen Sizer managed to somehow arrange a police visit to me from within the UK, but does Sizer genuinely think he can use police on the other side of the world to this effect?
Why is Reverend Sizer claiming that I received a police caution, when the police stressed I did not receive a caution?
…Who is Reverend Sizer reporting to, and why does Reverend Sizer genuinely feel he has the power to close down debate by threatening police action? Why call the cops rather than answer his critics?