I was quite surprised. You are quite right. Should I want to know something about a Texas attorney named Mark Brewer, I probably would search in Google for TEXAS ATTORNEY “MARK BREWER,” being careful to put his name in quotes so as not to get a bunch of micro-brewers in the mix. Google returned 1350 possible pages on the web.
Most of the first several entries and about half of the first 30 dealt with the SPCK story. If I add SPCK to my search, I get 100 entries and they ALL deal with the story. There are hundreds more that Google has still to index. [That is obvious when you check out friendfeed: DaveWalker/SPCK: Free Debate Not Libel Threats which has identified over 300 blog posts on the story.]
As I understand it, Dave Walker, a cartoonist in England, was blogging about the demise of the SPCK bookstores after they were acquired by SSG, a charitable organization (technically speaking) set up by Houston, Texas attorney J Mark Brewer. Dave, who opined about management, was trying to get people to pay attention. Mark Brewer didn’t like what Dave was saying and sent him a threatening cease and desist letter. Dave complied and removed about 75 blog postings from his web site. This provoked an immediate reaction because Dave had not said anything that was libelous or slanderous.
It seemed but minutes before vicars, bishops and ordinary bloggers were jumping to Dave’s defense. Atheists, Evangelical Christians, Conservative and Liberal Anglicans, Catholics, Southern Baptists and people of no known religious persuasion were jumping to Dave’s defense. Because some people had copies of Dave’s posts, as did the Google cache machines, those 75 blog postings were reposted on several web sites. They will become increasing visible to Internet users when Google completely indexes them. The are indelible.
More significantly, others bloggers picked up where Dave left off by digging into and reporting on other details of the SSG/SPCK story. Five postings at a blog called the Ministry of Truth are particularly revealing. They include copies of many legal documents and interesting commentary about the documents:
- J Mark Brewer revisited (updated)
- Questions for J Mark Brewer
- SSG/SPCK Bankruptcy Filings
- SSG/SPCK motion to dismiss chapter 7 application
- SPCK owner seeks US bankruptcy protection for UK charity
There are some particularly entertaining postings:
- Peddling Smut for Jesus with J. Mark Brewer
- Poor Mark Brewer – He’s not Dave Walker.
- J Mark Brewer: Still Seeking to Serve Dave Walker
- The Great SPCK Scandal: Bloggers Stick it to the Man
Bishop Alan in his blog, in a posting SPCK shops — Wet Fish rotting, wrote that “It’s an almost perfect example of the Streisand Effect named after the attempt by Barbra of that Ilk to prevent her house appearing on the internet.” Indeed! Wikipedia offers this definition:
The Streisand effect is a phenomenon on the Internet where an attempt to censor or remove a piece of information backfires, causing the information to be widely publicized. Examples are attempts to censor a photograph, a file, or even a whole website, especially by means of cease-and-desist letters.
Writes Bishop Alan:
It should be mentioned that Phil Groom had also been posting stories about SPCK. He, too, had received a cease and desist notice but had not complied. An excellent piece that summarizes what is going on is his posting: SPCK/SSG: My Story, by Phil Groom.
I am not sure what the emailer meant by Texas Two Step. But I like the ring of it. There must be a metaphor in it.
NOTE: All references to attorney J Mark Brewer within this blog posting pertain to the lawyer by that name in the law firm of Brewer & Pritchard in Houston, Texas.
Cross posted from One Episcopalian on Faith