Viral because the BBC and many others picked it up. Here is the lede from the Guardian News Blog:
An attempt to silence a student blogger who accused a vicar of associating with Holocaust deniers has backfired spectacularly
And here is the story from the Paul Lewis:
Nothing infuriates civil libertarians more than the notion of thought police – least of all the bona fide, uniformed variety. So it should be no surprise that a visit by two cops to the home of a Leeds student over comments he posted on his blog is causing an online, or Twitter-fuelled, controversy. (Is Twitterversy a word yet?)
The story begins last year. It is 10am on 29 November – a Sunday morning – and Joseph Weissman, asleep in bed, receives a knock on the door from two West Yorkshire police officers. Weissman, a 23-year-old graduate student at Leeds University, runs a blog, Seismic Shock, which he says seeks to expose anti-Jewish religious attitudes. It gets about 50 hits a day.
Weissman pulls no punches on his blog, where he accuses an Anglican vicar from Surrey, Stephen Sizer, of associating with terrorists and Holocaust deniers. Sizer, it seems, took objection, and relayed his concerns to police.
This resulted in the Sunday-morning visit from police, which ended with Weissman taking down his blogspot site. (He says he agreed to this, in part because he knew that most – though not all – of his controversial postings were duplicated on another blog, hosted by WordPress.)
To read West Yorkshire police’s statement, some might wonder what the fuss is about. The force portrays the incident as a benign chat after a report of harassment: not a huge deal.
"As a result of a report of harassment, which was referred to us by Surrey police, two officers from West Yorkshire police visited the author of the blog concerned," the statement says. "The feelings of the complainant were relayed to the author, who voluntarily removed the blog. No formal action was taken."
Weissman, of course, sees things differently. He told me that during the course of the 15-minute chat, which was friendly enough, one officer specifically told him to remove the blog from the internet.
"I was told to remove the blogspot," he said. "The whole entire blog. They said Stephen Sizer … objected to being associated with terrorists and Holocaust deniers. I didn’t want to argue with the police. I just wanted to acquiesce. I did say ‘Can you tell me what is specifically the problem?’ He just said he didn’t want to get involved in the argument."
We can’t know what was said, or what wasn’t. But if they were seeking to avoid controversy, the police may now reflect that they could have approached matters differently. Among the many to cover Weissman’s story are the BBC, @bengoldacre, Index on Censorship and, with typical gusto, Melanie Phillips. Loads of others are weighing in, too.
The result? Weissman’s blog, and allegations against Sizer, have received 6,500 views in the last 48 hours. Rather optimistically, perhaps, the blogger has started calling the saga Sizergate. Which all goes to show: try to silence critics, and they just get louder.