4 Apr 2008

Neurodiversity Blogger Unfairly Subpoenaed

Kathleen Seidel, owner of the Neurodiversity website and blog, has been served with a subpoena in what appears to be a craven attempt at intimidation.

The website is one of the best, most extensive online resources on autism and more general disability issues. The blog provides a masterclass on what the very best bloggers can achieve. I choose Kathleen for the Thinking Blogger Award last year, and as I wrote then, "She is clever, dogged, unfailingly polite, thorough, fair, compassionate, dedicated and whatever the highest award available to bloggers is, she should get one. She writes about autistic advocacy and anti-scientific theories of autism causation and 'treatment'."

Kathleen Seidel has blogged about the activities of the Rev. Lisa Sykes and her husband Seth Sykes, who continue to claim, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that their son's autism was caused by mercury poisoning via vaccines. Sykes is suing a several pharmaceutical companies, alleging her son was damaged by their vaccines. Among the lawyers representing Sykes, is Clifford Shoemaker, about whose earning from vaccine litigation Kathleen wrote just before she was served with a subpoena, (issued by Shoemaker) to produce extensive, personal documents and records for the Sykes' suit.

Kathleen has written (what looks to my ignorant-of-law eyes) a great reply to quash the subpoena, detailing the many reasons against it's validity. Among these she writes;

I am not a party to Sykes v. Bayer, and have had no personal acquaintance or contact with any of the parties to it.
http://www.neurodiversity.com is not a legal entity, an organization or a business; rather, it is an Internet domain name that I own. My website is a one-woman labor of love, creativity, conviction and conscience.
I have not otherwise been paid by any person or organization for developing or maintaining the website, for writing, or for my political advocacy or charitable work.
Even if the subpoena were not unconstitutional, illegal and barred by the journalist’s privilege, it is excessively intrusive in its terms. Plaintiffs and their counsel seek not only to rummage through records that they suspect pertain to themselves, but also through my family’s bank records, tax returns, autism-related medical and educational records, and every communication concerning all of the issues to which I have devoted my attention and energy in recent years. I have a reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to this material. It would be wholly inappropriate for the court to compel me, a nonparty to this civil action, to subject myself, my family, friends and acquaintances to the hostile scrutiny of plaintiffs in order to enable them to argue some point that would not even help to prove their case.
WHEREFORE, Kathleen Seidel prays her motion to quash this unconstitutional, unreasonable, irrelevant, excessive, invasive, burdensome, frivolous, and clearly retaliatory subpoena be ALLOWED.

I have glanced over the subpoena, and there is no indication that Kathleen is being accused of having done or written anything in any way illegal. It does ask for all correspondence between Kathleen and “religious groups (Muslim or otherwise), or individuals with religious affiliations,” as well as most of the people whose blogs are on her blogroll, including this one! What purpose could all this possibly serve? And what on earth is that bit about religious groups supposed to mean?!

I find this action against someone who has always been so fair and scrupulous in her activities to be reprehensible. I also think, like every previous attempt to persecute a blogger without just cause, this will go badly against Sykes and Shoemaker. Haven't they heard of the Streisand effect? Why would they want a judge (or whomever is responsible for deciding on these matters) to read all of Kathleen's work which shows their claim for what it truly is. She also details Sykes' involvement in the Griers IRB which approved their "research" on chemical castration agent, Lupron, as one of the cornucopia of supposed treatments foisted on autistic children, among them, the son of Rev. Sykes.

As someone in the comments section of Kathleen's blog wrote, as far as this goes, and in the tone of Kubrick's famous film, when someone goes picking on one of our own, I am Kathleen.

All these others are Kathleen too ;-) Let me know if I've missed anyone out.
  1. (There are comprehensive lists at I Speak of Dreams and Holford Watch too; they've most likely got links I missed.)
  2. Autism cranks attempt to intimidate blogger by subpoena from Pure Pedantry
  3. Autism cranks going after bloggers from Denialism Blog
  4. Evidence of Slime from GreyMatter/White Matter
  5. Kathleen Seidel Slapped With unconstitutional, illegal, barred by the journalist’s privilege, and needlessly invasive subpoena from I Speak of Dreams
  6. Vaccine lawyer subpoenas Kathleen Seidel from Overlawyered
  7. Clifford J. Shoemaker and Lisa Sykes: Putrid Lawyering from Whose Planet is it Anyway
  8. Kathleen Seidel's Blog: Influence Means You Get Subpoened
  9. and Olson's Trumpet - Blogosphere Unites Behind Kathleen Seidel from Law and More
  10. Rediculous from Autista
  11. Attempted suppression of Seidel from Pharyngula
  12. More legal thuggery, this time against Neurodiversity.com from Respectful Insolence
  13. An open letter to David Kirby and Dan Olmsted about the Kathleen Seidel subpoena from Respectful Insolence
  14. We are all Kathleen Seidel from Letting Off Steam
  15. Sandy: Blogger on autism hit with subpoena ** from Jack's Newswatch
  16. Blogger on autism hit with subpoena ** from Crux of the Matter
  17. Trusted MD
  18. Another day, another gasket from Poohflingers Anonymous
  19. I am Kathleen from Autism Street
  20. Kathleen Seidel Has Received a Sub-Poena: Streisand, Spartacus, Shoemaker, They Start with S and End the Same Way from Holford Watch
  21. JREF discussion
  22. Anti-Vaccination Parents stoop to new lows from Rev. BigDumbChimp
  23. Aspies for Freedom discussion
  24. Vaccine-Litigant Thuggery: Subpoenaed For Blogging from Popehat
  25. We are Kathleen too from Runman
  26. Kathleen Seidel: "Subpoenaed" from Homo Autistic
  27. Blogger Troubles - SLAPP from Left in Alabama
  28. Kathleen Slapped-Blogs Slap Back from Club166
  29. All for one and one for all from Normal is Overated
  30. Shoemaker’s Witch-Hunt: An Open Letter from dkmnow
  31. How to Treat a Bully from One Dad's Opinion
  32. Rallying the Blogosphere Again from Mythusmage Opines
  33. The Plane! The Plane! from Dr.J's House Calls
  34. Blogger ensared in hotly contested autism-vaccine lawsuit from Strategic Thinking and Execution
  35. Welcome to the "I am Kathleen" Scavenger Hunt from Asperger Square 8
  36. Neurodiversity blogger subpoenaed in "vaccine-autism link" lawsuit from Women's Bioethics Blog
  37. We are Kathleen from The Rettdevil's Rants
  38. Quash this unconstitutional, unreasonable, irrelevant, excessive, invasive, burdensome, frivolous, and clearly retaliatory subpoena from Swiftspeech!
  39. Abuse of Process: Blogger, Unrelated to Action, Hit With Subpoena from New York Personal Injury Law Blog
  40. Neurodiversity blog intimidated by lawyers from Bad Science Forum
  41. Clifford Shoemaker, What a Dick, Plus Other Views
  42. The Mozlems Want You to Have Autistic Babies from Victoria's Corner
  43. Autism-Vaccine / Neurodiversity War Getting UGLY from Axinar
  44. Blogger ensnared in hotly contested autism-vaccinne lawsuit from Ars Technica
  45. Can I Play Sykes Google Hit Too? from Liv's Journey
  46. Shoemaker’s subpoena is a load of cobblers from Action for Autism
  47. Open Letter to Kirby and Olmstead from Action for Autism
  48. Bloggers On The Seidel Subpoena from Autism Street
  49. Autism Lawsuit from Galactic Poolhall
  50. Seidel subpoena a threat to citizen journalism from Junkfood Science
  51. Seidel subpoena a threat to citizen journalism from Kitchen Table Math
  52. Misbehaviour of Behaviorists Discussion Board
  53. Conflicts of interest disclosure from Natural Variation
  54. Flippin' heck, bloody hell, stone the crows! from Incorrect Pleasures
  55. HealthBlawg
  56. Attorney Clifford Shoemaker v. bloggers from Autism News Beat
  57. Bullying Attorney Thug from Skeptico
  58. Legal Thuggery Against Neurodiversity.com from Daylight Atheism
  59. Lawsuits and Autism: A Back-Door Effort to Suppress Facts from Odd times signitures
  60. Emotion and irrationality run amok from A life less ordinary?
  61. Implication by Association? from ASD :Commentary
  62. I am Kathleen from Stranger than you can imagine
  63. You gotta fight for your right to blog from Clotted Cognition
  64. Kathleen Seidel from Left Brain/Right Brain
  65. In Support of Kathleen Seidel And Her Work from The Joy of Autism
  66. Autism, Clifford Shoemaker, and Kathleen Seidel from Autism Street
  67. Thoughts on an absurd subpoena from Women Scientist
  68. Subpoena the Blogger from The Washington Independent
  69. Another Attack on Free Speech and a Science Blogger from Neurologica Blog
  70. What’s is all about, Clifford J. Shoemaker? from Grey Matter/White Matter
  71. In the matter of Shoemaker v. Seidel; Court of public opinion; The Hon. Bugs Bunny Presiding from Graphictruth
  72. Autism Blogger Subpoenaed from Adjunct Law Prof Blog
  73. I am also Kathleen from Stop. Think. Autism.
  74. Because someone had to do it from dkmnow


Kathleen Seidel said...

Thanks very much for the compliments, and for sharing my outrage about this.

Sharon McDaid said...

You are more than welcome Kathleen. It is outrageous and we who value your important contributions, won't tolerate this.

John Best said...

It's about time somebody tried legal means to shut this slug up.

Sharon McDaid said...

Can anyone else smell shit?

Oh sorry, it was just Forseam, I'll open the windows and it'll be back to normal soon.

Anonymous said...

I think Foresam meant Shoemaker ;)

Sharon McDaid said...

Ohhh right Catherina, well if FS is also supporting Kathleen, I apologise most profusely for er, my hasty words.

I'll be expecting Jenny McCarthy to show up any minute to share her outrage too.

jypsy said...

We are Kathleen too

David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. said...

Another Kathleen here.

Anonymous said...

Glad to meet you Sharon and everyone else who has visited my blog. It's not the best way to meet but at least we are meeting thanks to the Internet. What a different world we now live in as the law profession is finding out.

mike stanton said...

The really cool thing, that has just occurred to me is that, thanks to Shoemaker, a judge now gets to read Kathleen's posts about the Geiers.

Sharon McDaid said...

jypsy and Alex's post has been added to the list.

David, I fully expected you to be another Kathleen.

Sandy, thanks for dropping by. Yes, the internet has certainly brought about big changes. I like it!

Mike, that's what I thought too. It does strike me as an action that can only damage them.

Do'C said...

Thank you for writing about this.

Anonymous said...

Good Job!: )