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Thursday, 11 December 2008

The poet, the politicians and the pain in the arse

Good Christians aim to be out in force today to step on freedom of expression.

The irony is that, had they not kicked up a stink in the first place, the book of poetry they’re so up in arms about wouldn’t have got a tenth of the publicity it has.

But they did kick up a stink. And it did get lots of publicity.

The poetry in question is a collection by Patrick Jones, brother of Manic Street Preachers bassist Nicky Wire, called Darkness is Where the Stars Are (see our feature in November’s G&LH magazine, as well as the blog post linked to above).

Well, today he’s reading some poems at the Welsh Assembly, at the invitation of a pair of AMs (Assembly Members) – an invitation that wouldn’t have been extended had not Stephen Green and his Christian Voice brought about the cancellation by the book chain Waterstone’s of a reading and signing at their Cardiff store last month.

Then, tonight, he gets his reading-and-signing session, but courtesy of Waterstone’s rival chain, Borders. He’s also got this blog post (and probably others), plus a story in Wales Online.

Good old Stephen Green. You can always rely on him to boost sales of something he doesn’t like.

But he’s been rather naughty, in that he’s inviting people to be a little less than honest in getting tickets to the readings. The Wales Online site tells us:

But in a notice to members, which has also been posted on other Christian websites, Christian Voice leader Stephen Green, from Pen-y-Bont, near Carmarthen, said: “Well, Borders are inviting Patrick Jones to read his blasphemous poetry at 8 p.m. on Thursday at their Cardiff store.

“That is on top of Jones doing a reading in the Assembly T Hywel building the same day at noon, at the invitation of Peter Black AM and militant atheist Lorraine Barrett, against the rules of the Assembly itself, which prohibit material likely to cause offence.

“We are holding a Christian witness outside T Hywel from 11.30 a.m. and we shall hold another outside Borders [he gives the full address] at 7.30 p.m.

“Both events are ticket only, but there is scope to apply for tickets by e-mail. I am known, but you are probably not!”

Mr Green provides the Assembly e-mail address to apply for tickets, adding: “Say how much you would like an invitation to the event, but don’t say you wish to protest!

“Say whatever is needed to get alongside and get a ticket without bearing false witness.

“You cannot give a false name for either event as ID will be required.

“So onward, Christian soldiers. Stand up, stand up for Jesus!”

Jones, meanwhile, says the notice is a “worrying one” and “evidence of the tactics used by Christian Voice to disrupt things they object to”.

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