More and More: The Exploding SPCK / Dave Walker’s Cartoon Church Blog Story

(Cross posted from One Episcopalian on Faith)

I’m reminded of a brief story: Many many years ago, a small political newsletter in Washington D.C. referred  to a certain congressman as the stupidest man in congress. Now, this was back in the days when Washington didn’t have a “Beltway” and when a mimeograph machine was a viable tool for getting the word out. The newsletter, in those days, was a mimeographed and it went out to a subscriber base of about 300 people.

Nobody much noticed the newsletter or what its one writer had to say. Nor had anyone really noticed that the congressman in question probably was the stupidest man in congress. That was, not until the congressman called a press conference on the steps of the Capitol Building. He waited until the Washington Post and the New York Times arrived before demanding a public retraction from the tiny newsletter. He wanted everyone in the country to know that he was not the stupidest man in congress. Now they knew.

So what is this all about? It is about an attempt to censor the blog of Dave Walker. Here is a neat summary by The Wardman Wire (found from a link in Thinking Anglican):

Dave Walker, the official Lambeth Conference Cartoonist in Residence, has taken 75 posts down on his blog after being threatened with Libel Action by the new owner of SPCK – the oldest chain of Anglican Bookshops. He has been reporting the story of alleged mismanagement for two years.

The story had legs. Yesterday, Bishop Alan Wilson reported on his blog:

I was disturbed to come back this afternoon and discover [Dave Walker] has had a “Cease and Desist” order served on him from Texas, arising from blog entries tracing the fate of former SPCK Bookshops. The news itself has now disappeared from Dave’s site — surely not a censorship notice censored?!

Censorship does not work well on the Internet. For one thing most of of Dave’s postings are still lying around in mammoth caches maintained throughout the worldwide web’s network machines. The following Google search will find them: “SPCK site:cartoonchurch.com” Simply click on “Cached” to retrieve them (ever wonder what that was for?).

But censorship also doesn’t work because we are no longer in the world of mimeograph journalism. The blogosphere exploded when the story got out. A sampling of blog entries about this attempt at censorship can be found below. You will note that it is not just about solidarity with Dave Walker, which is warranted. It is about what Dave Walker was writing about. 

Bishop Alan went on to say:

Former Staff had been filing inside stories on Dave’s blog. Now a gagging order has been served and, unable to risk high legal costs, Dave has had to comply. I have only loosely followed the story, but I can’t remember anything remotely actionable on Dave’s site. Now it’s been taken down I wonder what SSG was so ashamed about that it wanted it suppressed? The rapid and pathetic decline of the bookselling business betokens management way out of its depth. Its latest behaviour raises questions also about bullying and free speech. Heavy handed or what?

Or what?  Those who wanted the story suppressed might as well have called a press conference on the steps of the Capitol Building (in Texas) to announce that they wanted to control what was said about them on the Internet.  

The Mad Priest on his blog has collected many of Dave’s posts and republished them (so you don’t need to go to Google). He writes:

It is a load of saved posts that Dave has been bullied into taking down off his blog. PLEASE COPY AND POST ON YOUR BLOGS We will not be silenced by bad people; – there are too many of us.

That’s true. Want to see what others are saying (in just the last 24 hours):

  • The Mark Brewer Saga … Dave Walker, SPCK and Saint Stephen the Great  Of all people Dave Walker – the Artist in Residence at the Lambeth Conference – has been sent a cease and desist letter at half-a-day’s notice to take down all posts (75+) relating to the reporting of the new management of the SPCK …
  • The Wardman Wire: Lambeth Conference Artist in Residence threatened  ALARMING STORY – WILL THEY ALSO SUE GOOGLE? Here is a simple search parameter to use with Google to retrieve removed pages.
  • Solidarity post – SPCK/SSG and Dave Walker  Dave Walker is a well-know cartoonist and blogger who’s been following the developments and was recently serve with a cease & desist order by the new SPCK/SSG chain owners, which forced him to take down all posts relating to the …
  • Dave Walker, Cartoonist of Lambeth: Injustice Is Not Funny  Dave Walker, Cartoonist of Lambeth, received a “cease and desist” letter from a current owner of the British SPCK chain of Christian bookshops. He has removed all content from his blog pertaining to the odd and ongoing story of how an …
  • Dave Walker capitulates on ex-SPCK bookshops  Dave Walker, cartoonist and blogger extraordinaire, blogger for the Church Times, friend of bishops (he’s the one on the right) and hanger-on (when they let him in) at the Lambeth conference, has shown what he is made of – that it is …
  • dave walker – cartoonist and martyr  From the very beginning, our friend (and provider of many laughs), Dave Walker let his own blog become the centre of the campaign against the closures and ill-treatment of SPCK staff. Now, Dave is a nice, middle-of-the-road, …
  • Dave Walker Threatened with Libel by SPCK Bookshop owners  Dave Walker, who has been flying the flag for the beleagured SPCK bookshop chain, has been threatened with libel by the St. Stephen the Great Charitable Trust (SSG), who took over the chain last year. Since then, most (if not all) of …
  • Dave Walker: from the sublime to the ridiculous  Dave Walker, the official Lambeth Conference Cartoonist in Residence, has taken 75 posts down on his blog after being threatened with Libel Action by the new owner of SPCK – the oldest chain of Anglican Bookshops. …
  • Dave Walker Solidarity Post  … Walker Solidarity Post: It is a load of saved posts that Dave has been bullied into taking down off his blog. PLEASE COPY AND POST ON YOUR BLOGS We will not be silenced by bad people; – there are too many of us. SPCK / SSG Bookshop …
  • SPCK Bookshops — Gags & Gimcrack  The funniest thing in the exhibition area today was this card by Dave Walker. I was disturbed to come back this afternoon and discover he has had a “Cease and Desist” order served on him from Texas, arising from blog entries tracing the …
  • Dave Walker: Empty threats and fear of libel Dave Walker has been threatened. The person doing the threatening is Mark Brewer. The basis for the threat is Dave’s “people’s journalism” exposing and highlighting the awful saga of SSG/SPCK and the slow destruction of a much respected …
  • Dave Walker: Empty threats and fear of libel  Dave Walker has been threatened. The person doing the threatening is Mark Brewer. The basis for the threat is Dave’s “people’s journalism” exposing and highlighting the awful saga of SSG/SPCK and the slow destruction of a much respected …
  • We are all Dave Walkers now  Dave Walker is the Cartoon blogger, and currently cartoonist in residence at the Lambeth conference. He’s also a really good bloke, who has been, over the last several months, exposing the incompetence and injustice of the people who …
  • Comments on Moderation  As Phil Groom is on holiday he has asked me to look after the site (I am an officer so have some rights). In the light of the threats made to Dave Walker by the Brewers I have set all comments to moderation. As yet I have not heard from …
  • former SPCK bookshops  Dave Walker of CartoonChurch fame has on several occasions reported on the saga of the former SPCK bookshops, subsequently owned by SSG. Today he has removed all his blog entries on the subject after receiving a ‘cease and desist’ …
  • ‘Cease and desist’ demand from Mark Brewer  This morning I was sent a ‘cease and desist’ demand from Mark Brewer relating to the posts I have made about the former SPCK bookshops. The demand says ‘Confidential – not to be redistributed or posted’, so I am not posting the text. … 
  • Those Christian Bookshops A number of Methodist bloggers have already reported about the silencing of Dave Walker on the subject of the decimation of the former ‘SPCK’ bookshops. The blog ‘Connexions’ provides a number of links here. Dave Walkers’s posts on this …
  • Web censorship and the Google cache  Following up on a note from David Ker, here is a post from Dave Walker that was removed from his blog but is still in the Google cache:. July 22nd, 2008. ‘Cease and desist’ demand from Mark Brewer. This morning I was sent a ‘cease and … 
  • Nothing like like having an informed debate  Dave Walker has removed all the SPCK closure related stuff from his blog – obviously some people (not Dave!) believe that silence is the best cover for their actions and have taken legal steps to try to ensure this. … 
  • Cartoon blogger silenced  Our friend the amiable Cartoon Blogger (aka Dave Walker) has been received a “cease & desist” order from SSG, the (not very) charitable trust that took over the SPCK chain of bookstores. For some while Dave has been faithfully blogging …
  • Libel law used as censorship  Now in the spirit of Christian love these devils have threatened one of the finest Christain bloggers, Dave Walker who happens to be Cartoonist in Residence at the Lambeth Conference. Daave has been threatened with legal action for …

Remember the effect of the printing press, the mimeograph machine . . .

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6 Responses to More and More: The Exploding SPCK / Dave Walker’s Cartoon Church Blog Story

  1. brainduck says:

    My small contribution: http://brainduck.wordpress.com/2008/07/23/cartoon-church-blog-target-of-legal-bullying/

    The rest of my blog is not about religious stuff, but I have to blog anonymously or it’s a near-certainty I’d get shut down by lawyers too, and I’m a long-time fan of Cartoon Church. Much sympathy to DW, & I hope the Brewers realise that reaching for the lawyers just shows that you have a rubbish argument.

  2. Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.OscarWildeOscar Wilde

  3. Iraq War says:

    Generosity enjoys the happiness of others, as though it were responsible for it.TheComtedeLautr%E9amontThe Comte de Lautr?amont, Po?sies

  4. Steve says:

    Not only is the story spreading, but it’s getting worse and worse as time goes by.

  5. Pingback: My Name is Dave Walker: Posts on the Cease and Desist notice | The Wardman Wire

  6. Pingback: SPCK Bookshops Weekly Saturday 9th August 2008 | The Wardman Wire

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