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Friday, November 21, 2008

Another day, another letter

This morning's Western Mail publishes another letter critical of my decision to invite Patrick Jones to read his poetry in the National Assembly building, this time by a Brian Churchill of Abergele.

Mr. Churchill thinks that he knows my writings and publications inside out, hence his assertion that he does not 'remember these brave outraged defenders of free speech saying anything in support of Tom Wellingham when, in 2006 he was suspended after the student newspaper he edited, Gair Rhydd published the infamous Danish images of Mohammed.'

Alas, he has not carried out much research. As anybody who uses the search facility on my blog will be able to see I was equally as outspoken on this act of censorship as I have been in defence of Patrick Jones' right to free speech.

On 8th February 2006 I wrote: 'although the re-publication of this cartoon may have caused offence, it was used in a perfectly legitimate way and the paper's editor had every right to publish it. The actions of the student union run contrary to basic rights of freedom of expression and of the press.'

I also endorsed the words of fellow blogger Oliver Kamm when he commented: 'The cartoons are indifferent, crude and unfunny, and ought not to have found editorial space when submitted. Now that they have caused widespread offence, it is imperative that they be widely published and circulated. The defence of a free society is the defence of its procedures, not its output. Some of that output will be offensive and much will be valueless. We have a right to criticise it, and a moral obligation never, never to complain that our hurt feelings require its suppression.'

On 12 February 2006 I criticised a Liberal Democrat MP who labelled the publication of the cartoons as racist. At that time I said: 'There is nothing racist about these cartoons. They may be poorly drawn, unfunny and offend religious sensibilities but they do not single out any race for criticism. Indeed, given the reaction against them it would be an afront to freedom of speech and liberal values if newspapers did not republish them.'

Perhaps correspondents to the Western Mail and others who have e-mailed me should check their facts before making goundless assertions in future.
Perhaps Media Wales should do some research of their own before publishing such letters.

Next thing we will see is the Western Snail repeating the Waltham Forest Slur
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