Borders stands up for free speech
The New Humanist blog carries news from Patrick Jones, the poet whose reading at Waterstones was cancelled because of threats from Christian fundamentalists.
Borders bookshop has stepped in and will be launching Jones’s latest collection of poems at its Cardiff branch on Dec 11th, followed by another reading at one of its London stores. The venues are reportedly being bombarded with email and calls from Christian protestors.
Also, Welsh AMs Trish Law and Johnathan Morgan are trying to get the reading at the Welsh Assembly cancelled. Law has written to the presiding officer:
While I uphold freedom of speech I cannot condone the reading of blasphemous, obscene and perverted poems in the National Assembly. We are still a Christian country, yet one that acknowledges and readily accepts other religious beliefs and values. So while we would not tolerate other religions and religious leaders being insulted through verse or deed neither should we expect Christ and Christianity to be subjected to a tirade of anti-Christian rhetoric and profanity.
I implore you to put a stop to this reading on December 11th in the name of decency and humanity.
Morgan’s argument is different, and self-refuting:
Patrick Jones seems to think that the freedom of speech is a convenient shield to be used when under attack for being offensive. In exercising that freedom, and in respecting it, we should do so responsibly. I do not believe that AMs should be wading into the debate by hosting a reading. It is a mistake and opens up the institution to the accusation that it is siding with one opinion without giving the other the same chance of expression.
Thereby expressing the other opinion.