Learning the Lessons

I really don’t think this is the way he wanted it when he started collating stories of the demise of the SPCK book shops, but by capitulating to the heavy handed “remove everythingâ€? approach from Mark Brewer, Dave Walker has indirectly given the underlying cause massively more publicity than they ever had before. By succeeding in silencing the story in such a dramatic way on CartoonChurch, Mark Brewer has blown the story massively bigger than it ever was before, as a growing number of people highlight it on their own blogs. (I don’t know why, but the whole thing reminded me of a rather famous moment in Star Wars…)

For example, the Facebook group in support of Dave Walker is now significantly bigger than the original SPCK Supporters group, and people who maybe had a passing interest in the demise of the SPCK shops are much more focused on what is going on – and I’m including myself in that, if you look back through my site, prior to this I don’t think I’ve even mentioned it.

So what are the latest developments? Firstly, Matt Wardman has started to republish the original posts, starting them off with a quote from Brewer himself, culled from the Internet Archive:

“Thank goodness that we have this one, last bastion of free speech – the Internet. The internet, in particular, is the only truly free �press“ we still have.�

This certainly is a salutary lesson to anybody to be very aware of everything you have said online, as even if you delete the site and the posts completely there are numerous places that the quote can live on indefinitely – for example I can use the same sites to track back to postings I made in the early 1990’s, over fifteen years ago. Here, a quote Brewer made in a campaign eight years ago takes on a whole new light…

The other big development is that whilst Dave backed down, Sam Norton, the Rector of West Mersea, one of at least two others who received a similar e-mail demand to cease and desist has published the whole ongoing correspondence. Matt Wardman has also published it, and will comment in due course. [Update: The Ministry of Truth has a very detailed analysis of the legal and factual inaccuracies in the Brewer threats.]

Perhaps what is driving the campaign, and why Sam Norton and others aren’t backing down is trying to resolve the content of the original posts, with the accusations in the cease and desist. The whole collapse of the SPCK book shop chain over the past couple of years has not surprisingly raised a good deal of emotion, not least amongst the staff caught up in the middle of it all – indeed one staff member took his own life following his redundancy from the Worcester shop. When you read the posts, Dave spent a good deal of time trying to moderate those reactions in order to thoughtfully report events that he believed should be of concern to a wider audience. As a relatively high profile site he primarily acted as a central resource for collecting together information from the geographically diverse chain. Care in what was written was uppermost, even when emotions grew – you can easily find points where he calls for cool heads, and where he removed comments that he himself deemed were close to the line. Certainly an approach from Mark Brewer asking for specific points to be removed would I’m sure have been met with much less of an explosion of anger in the blogsphere than the cease and desist attempt to close down the whole story has produced, (further enhanced when the pages include attempts to financially support redundant former SPCK employees) – to be honest edits to existing posts would be unlikely to be noticed, but seventy-five posts vanishing overnight set the whole snowballing story into motion. And of course, like his quote eight years ago, all of this will live on in the archives…

So any lessons? Watch what you write – once published on the Internet it’s very difficult to remove. Also think before you e-mail – MadPriest has something that he hasn’t posted yet for example. Also, watch what other people write. If you work in PR for any sort of organisation, set up some searches on sites like technorati and Google to monitor for stories – it’s a lot easier to address a story when it first appears, rather than trying to shut the whole thing down months after it has got going. Whatever your opinions on the current situation, and however much you might want a set of posts removed, after this much time it’s too late to close the stable door.

The current list of supportive posts stands at sixty four items:

  1. St Aidan to Abbey Manor – David Keen – Vicar (Yeovil)
  2. The Wardman Wire – Matt Wardman (audio of BBC interview from 12/2007)
  3. Gentle Wisdom – Peter Kirk
  4. Bishop Alan’s Blog – Alan Wilson, Area Bishop of Buckingham
  5. Blogula-Rasa – Ginny (detailed – worth a read)
  6. Metacatholic – Doug Chaplin – Vicar (West Midlands)
  7. Of course, I could be wrong – Madpriest – Priest (somewhere in England)
  8. Seven whole days – Scott Gunn – Parish Priest (Rhode Island) and Lambeth Conference.
  9. Thinking Anglicans – Simon Kershaw – Cambridge, England (likely to follow further press coverage)
  10. The Jewish Blog Network – How to recover deleted pages. Firefox Resurrect Pages add-on.
  11. Lingamish – Blogger Bludgeoned by Bozos – David Ker – Mozambique. Kudos for the cartoon above.
  12. [Update: 23/07/2008] SPCK Watch – Gagging attempts by Mark Brewer – SPCK Watch. (Somewhere in Europe). Whole blog devoted to SPCK saga.
  13. [Update: 23/07/2008] Elizaphanian – We are all Dave Walkers now – Sam Norton, Rector of West Mersea, Essex. Suggests that we reposts Dave’s ex-posts from Google Cache
  14. [Update: 23/07/2008]Mad Hare – Solidarity post – SPCK/SSG and Dave Walker (New Mexico : United States).
  15. [Update:24/07/2008 AM]The Cartoon Blog – Cease and Desist Demand from Mark Brewer Dave’s original post – now gone
  16. [Update:24/07/2008 AM]GOD, CHRIST: QUESTIONS & FAITH – More and More on the Exploding SPCK Story & Dave Walker’s Cartoon Church Blog Check out the illustration from the 1950s
  17. [Update:24/07/2008 AM]Saintly Ramblings – Dave Walker Solidarity Post
  18. [Update:24/07/2008 AM]SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info – Comments on Moderation Expect comment when owner returns from holiday
  19. [Update:24/07/2008 AM]PamBG’s Blog – Those Christian Bookshops
  20. [Update:24/07/2008 AM]Scatter Cushions – Nothing like like having an informed debate
  21. [Update:24/07/2008 AM]connexions – Cartoon blogger silenced
  22. [Update:24/07/2008 AM]Turbulent Cleric – Libel law used as censorship Reflections on the Craig Murray case
  23. [Update:24/07/2008 AM]Exigency In Specie – Bullying the Bloggers Southern England
  24. [Update:24/07/2008 AM]Asingleblog – Brewers are challenged in court More detail on the attempt to put SPCK UK into Chapter 11 in the USA
  25. [Update:24/07/2008 AM]Philip’s Tree House – I’m also Dave Walker
  26. [Update:24/07/2008 AM]John Inbetween – Yet another Dave Walker
  27. [Update:24/07/2008 AM]Wormwood’s Doxy – Because there’s nothing I hate more than a bully….Standing up for Dave Walker & SPCK
  28. [Update:25/07/2008 AM]Dave Cole – I’m Dave Walker
  29. [Update:25/07/2008 AM]Ministry of Truth – SPCK owner seeks US bankruptcy protection for UK charity KEY POST – Digging into the Brewer “Legal Manoeuvres in the Dark”, and further posts
  30. [Update:25/07/2008 AM]Blogpower – Defending the Blog – Blogpower Roundup – The Civil Liberties Edition Civil Liberties Roundup – Understand the Wider Issues
  31. [Update:25/07/2008 AM]Brainducks Weblog – Cartoon Church blog target of legal bullying
  32. [Update:25/07/2008 AM]D-Notice – D-Notice: Religious Nuts
  33. [Update:25/07/2008 AM]Back Towards The Locus – “Come Together, Raaaayt Nahahow, Over A Bullying Bookshop Chainâ€?
  34. [Update:25/07/2008 AM]Sim-O Random Thoughts – I’m Dave Walker and so’s my wife
  35. [Update:25/07/2008 AM]Safety Photo – Dave Walker Cease and Desist Notice
  36. [Update:27/07/2008 AM]Around the Worktable – My Name is Dave Walker, and Yours Should Be, Too Text of comment made on Slashdot
  37. [Update:27/07/2008 AM]ASBO Jesus – 519 Dave Walker
  38. [Update:27/07/2008 AM]Rachel North – SPCK Up Shortlisted for Best Headline Award so far
  39. [Update:27/07/2008 AM]Bloggerheads – I support Dave Walker
  40. [Update:27/07/2008 AM]Johny Void – For God’s Sake Cease and Desist Ever so slightly satirical ;-)
  41. [Update:27/07/2008 AM]42 My life, the universe and everything – Dave Walker
  42. [Update:27/07/2008 AM]kneel in wonder at heaven touching earth – Paul Sibley
  43. [Update:27/07/2008 AM]Supersimbo – Dave Walker we salute you
  44. [Update:27/07/2008 AM]Safety Joke – Safety Joke
  45. [Update:27/07/2008 AM]Decloned – William Lehman
  46. [Update:27/07/2008 AM]Squiggle Jones – Silence is not always golden…
  47. [Update:27/07/2008 AM]Chris Luff, discomblogulating – Legal intimidation?
  48. [Update:30/07/2008 AM]Maggi Dawn – Dave Walker and SPCK
  49. [Update:30/07/2008 AM]Tim Abbott – Dave Walker solidarity post
  50. [Update:30/07/2008 AM]Mark Tiddy’s Blog and Website – News
  51. [Update:30/07/2008 AM]SPCK / SSG Bookshop Posts – We are all Dave Walker now
  52. [Update:30/07/2008 AM]A Skinny Fairtrade Latte in the Food Court of Life – Freedom of Conscience – Allegedly
  53. [Update:30/07/2008 AM]http://gafcon.blogspot.com/2008/07/mark-brewer-brewerbplawcom.html – Mark Brewer: Responding to Dave Walker Funny
  54. [Update:30/07/2008 AM]http://andjesuswept.blogspot.com/2008/07/more-spck-bullying.html – More SPCK bullying…
  55. [Update:30/07/2008 AM]Lingapotamus – save dave
  56. [Update:30/07/2008 AM]Program Your Own Mind – Supporting Dave Walker against Mark Brewer and his company’s legal threats
  57. [Update:30/07/2008 AM]Philobiblon – Britblog Roundup No 180
  58. [Update:30/07/2008 AM]Talk to Action – Texas Religious Right Charity with UK Links Tries to Liquidate
  59. The original copy of this list is on the Wardman Wire here.

Any more for any more?

Who’s Reporting Mark Brewer’s Cease and Desist Notice to Dave Walker

  1. [Update:27/07/2008 AM]Bartholomew’s Notes – Blogger Threatened with Libel Action from SPCK Bookshops Owner
  2. [Update:27/07/2008 AM]Liberal Conspiracy – Yet another kicking Liberal Conspiracy “Casting the Net” Roundup
  3. [Update:27/07/2008 AM]High Weirdness Project – 39656
  4. [Update:27/07/2008 AM]Talk Islam – Talk Islam
  5. [Update:27/07/2008 AM]Nobody Important – Blogpower Roundup — JMB style
  6. [Update:30/07/2008 AM]USDAW – Usdaw fights for mistreated bookshop workers Press Release 24 Jun
  7. The original copy of this list is on the Wardman Wire here.