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.


7 Responses to “Borders stands up for free speech”

  1. marc says:

    As Carl Sagan pointed out, the cure for a bad argument is a better one. Shouting and screaming in the defence of some dude who (allegedly) died 2000+ years back is a bit petty.

    And won’t someone point out to these fucking bufoons that the UK has not been a Christian country for some years; the Christianity badge is largely symbolic: most people couldn’t give a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys about it; I rather suspect it gives them comfort that while we’re a Christian nation, Islam isn’t likely to take significant hold.

    I’d rather we were officially secular for precisely the same reason.

  2. BSE says:

    So birdshit is threatening to sue…. maybe he should follow up on the threat so when he loses this one he will be even more bankrupt…

  3. jr says:

    Birdshit can still afford a solicitor? Anyway maybe Borders can stock the scientology book as well.

  4. Stuart W says:

    ‘I implore you to put a stop to this reading on December 11th in the name of decency and humanity’.

    Oh, PLEASE! Anybody would think lives were at stake. It is a bit of poetry, albeit not to everybody’s taste.

  5. jayh says:

    While this is a positive step for free speech, I would be more convinced if Borders had not folded when Free Inquiry reprinted the infamous Muslim cartoons. Apparently they are less afraid of Christian nutters than Muslim ones.

  6. Stuart says:

    Don’t these people realise that the more they complain, the more publicity the book gets?

    No-one would have heard of Patrick Jones and his poems if there hadn’t been a fuss. Now his books are flying off the shelves of the biggest bookselelrs in the country.

    Bet he can’t believe his luck :)

  7. marc draco says:

    I’m a bit short of money – perhaps I should write a short book of poetry about Jesus having anal sex with a donkey and other assorted andragogy – course in saying that, we’re assuming that Bird Shit is an adult…