Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Dave Walker Campaign: Where Next?

It seems a long time since July 22nd, the day Dave Walker took down the 75 SPCK posts from his blog under the threat of libel proceedings from Mark Brewer. And where have we got to?

- Over 75 bloggers covering the story, including several blogs set up purely to repost some of the Cartoon Church posts.

- The other 2 recipients of Cease and Desist letters, Phil Groom and Rev. Sam Norton, both refusing to be silenced, and publishing their correspondence.

- As well as being salvaged by various bloggers, the entire 75 Dave Walker posts have been republished by Matt Wardman, along with an introduction to the whole business, and a few other useful clippings - available as a free download here. From what I gather it's been downloaded well over 400 times. For a shorter introduction, Phil Grooms account of the last couple of weeks, and what went before, is well worth a read.

- Loads more attention on SPCK, the Society of St. Stephen the Great, and Mark Brewer in particular. The irony of someone threatening legal proceedings when they're facing an employment tribunal in one country, and a dispute over flawed bankruptcy proceedings in another is, well, probably lost on the man at the centre of all this.

- A mass of support for Dave Walker, Phil and Sam, which has possibly deterred SSG from issuing any more 'cease and desist' letters for fear that they'll be plastered all over the internet.

- The attempted silencing of bloggers starting to become a media story in itself.

Dave Walker has now gone on a well-earned break after cartooning at Lambeth, so now seems as good a time as any to take stock.

My original aim in all of this was to help create enough support for Dave Walker that the libel threat would be withdrawn, and he'd be able to restore all the SPCK posts. There's going to be nothing new on that front for a few weeks, but I'm sure the support has given Phil and Sam the encouragement to stand up to SSG's attempts to silence them.

What we've also done is create a network of bloggers, and a Facebook group of around 400, who are on the side of the bloggers in this. Even if things go quiet for a bit, there are a lot of folk who will find out - and find out very quickly - if anything else important happens. It's a group which includes libel lawyers, bishops, prominent bloggers, and journalists for the national UK media. There is also a lot more research now on the internet should any media outlet want to dig more into the SPCK/SSG story.

The main challenges from here on in:
- Mark Brewer retracting his C&D letters.
- Ongoing coverage of the SPCK story in the UK, and the bankruptcy proceedings in the USA.
- Keep nudging the mainstream media, and outlets like Christian Bookseller, so that they don't get spooked by legal bluster, but continue to do their job as journalists, which is to seek out and report the truth.

I've been posting pretty much daily on this since July 22nd, and I'm one of dozens of bloggers who, to be honest, hadn't followed the SPCK story very closely until Mark Brewer tried to censor it. During that time I've had probably over 1,000 visitors looking into the Dave Walker saga, and other blogs have had many more.

But now it's time to let the SPCK/SSG blog do the job it was created for, which is to carry on the coverage of this story, though I'll be posting on anything important as and when it crops up. There's also a SPCK Facebook group which is more focused on the events at the bookstores. And for a daily list of new links, Richard Peat's friendfeed page on Dave Walker is a great starting point.

So it will be back to blogging as usual from next week. Hopefully.

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