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Friday, November 14, 2008

Poetry reading at the Assembly

I was most probably a bit harsh on Waterstones yesterday. After all it was not their fault that a group of fundamentalist Christians were poised to descend on their store and disrupt a poetry reading.

I can understand that they would not want their staff and their premises subjected to the sort of disruption that this fringe group were threatening. Christian Voice's actions on the other hand amount to the sort of moral bullying and censorship that has no place in a democratic society.

Stephen Green and his supporters have every right to object to the contents of Patrick Jones' book, but they do not have the right to prevent other people buying it, reading it or listening to its author read from it.

In the end I got in touch with Patrick Jones and offered to organise a poetry reading for him in the Assembly. I felt that it was important to make the point that artists should not have their voice stifled irrespective of whether one agrees with them or not.

The reading will take place in the Assembly on Thursday December 11th at 12 noon. Stephen Green is not invited.
“Christian Voice's actions on the other hand amount to the sort of moral bullying and censorship that has no place in a democratic society…”

But Peter, we aren’t living in a Democratic Society. We are living under a constitutional monarchy, and that monarch is the head of the Church, we have been since Tudor times, nothing particularly democratic about that.

Not that our constitution is worth the paper is ISN’T written on!

America has a constitution (written 17th Sept. 1787, 221 years ago) and the anniversary of the amendments to the constitution (known as the “Bill of Rights”) is coming up on the 15th December.

We have an unelected Upper House (House of Lords); until recently, being able to sit in the Upper House was handed down like some family relic, which goes to the eldest son, the transformation has been far too slow for my liking!

We don’t elect our Prime Minister, the mechanism for electing the leader of each of the political parties differs, the Trade Unions still have a big say on who becomes leader of the Labour Party, ditto, I understand that it’s the Tory MPs who elect the leader of the Conservative Party, not its grass roots members.

With the Lib Dems, its leader is elected on the premise, one member one vote and the elections are Single Transferable Vote not First Past The Post.

Our parliamentary terms aren’t set, the PM can go to the country when s/he sees fit, within a Five year term.

The monarchy can turn around and say, that she doesn’t want the Leader of the Political Party in power to be Prime Minister and ask for another MP to come forward (in the words of Michael Cane, “Not many people know that”) and I understand that she has done this.

Our Local Authorities Elections are fundamentally flawed; the party or parties that can make up the most Councillors get to control the Council. Attempts were made back in June 2002 with the publishing of the Sunderland Commission on Local Authority elections in Wales, which proposed amongst other things the introduction of Single Transferable Votes (STV); however our own Welsh Assembly Government chose to ignore these recommendations.

Not that the election process for electing Assembly Members is any better, a hotchpotch of Regional Lists and Parliamentary Consistencies, designed to give Labour overall control in all circumstances.

We now have the situation with Bridgend CBC (County Borough Council), where Labour has control of the Council with just 42% of the votes cast. In Neath Port Talbot CBC, Labour has 58% of the seats with just 49% of the votes cast.

We’ve got a government that is looking to introduce Identity Cards, We are living in a surveillance society; we have one of the highest rates of CCTV per head of population in the World, one camera for every fourteen people.

An estimated half a million people (573,639) with no criminal record (conviction, caution or warned) have their genetic fingerprints stored on a genetic database, 40,000 of these are children. Around 5% (one in twenty) of the population are on this database, in the USA this figure is around 0.5% of the population being on a similar database.

Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 allows the police to stop and search anyone in a specific area. Before Section 44, the police could only stop and search individuals if they had 'reasonable grounds' and certain criteria were met (like listening to Bob Marley).

Attempts were made by our current Labour Government to introduce detention without trial for 42 days, the highest number of day’s detention in the western world; fortunately, the House of Lords overturned this proposed legislation.

The government is looking to introduce legislation that will require us to provide documentation of our identity to buy a Mobile Phone or gain internet access; ditto the state also wants to be able to monitor any mobile phone electronic conversation it chooses.

I think we can honestly say that the Terrorists have won, and we no-longer have free speech in the United Kingdom.
A missed opportunity Peter, surely you should invite Mr Green along and invite him to debate what he perceives is wrong with the work.
(the following is my personal opinion only, and does not reflect the views of Peter Black, The Welsh Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, or the Welsh Assembly Government)

That religious guy on the show yesterday was a nutter. I can't believe people exist like that in the 21st century. The Bible was written hundreds of years after Jesus, by Romans who never even met the guy. Therefore, it's just their version of his life, their OPINION, with all the bias of their age. Patrick too, is just writing his version, his OPINION. Why is one valid and one not?

You did the right thing stepping in. To have the reading in the Assembly shows that Wales in the 21st Century is a modern progressive democracy, where freedom of thought and speech still applies. Even though I don't particularly like his poetry , I'll defend his right to write, print and read it with my last breath. That's what previous generations fought and died for, wasn't it? Freedom?
Peter R

You obviously didn't hear the "discussion" on the Radio Wales lunchtime news programme the other day. Green does not believe in the give-and-take of debate. He persistently spoke over the other participants and misrepresented Peter Black's position. I'm sorry the presenter did not allow PB to correct this, and I turned over in disgust.

When the Tories left the final decision about the leadership to the members, they got Iain Duncan Smith instead of Kenneth Clarke. It's a good job they were unelectable anyway.
Glad to hear about his invitation to the Assembly - a very appropriate move, well done.
It's just a shame that the poetry of Patrick Jones is so poor. He must be loving all this attention and will sell a few more books.
Why are you saying these dreadful things about Lord Jesus? Why do you hate Jesus so much - He is so gentle and kind and does not hate you, Mr Black - exactly the opposite.

Jesus Christ defended me in the secret family court - which is more than your political party was prepared to do. A rapist had taken me to court for 7 years, to get his "parental rights" and I was bullied and threatened with prison and told that "rapists have rights" - evidentally that means that their victims do not.

I begged for help from everyone in Parliament - including the Lib Dems, your party. No-one would help me and I was bullied so much that I ended up seriously ill with pneumonia and nearly died. That did not stop the bullying houhgh.

I was do depressed that all I could think of was getting on my knees and begging Jesus Christ to help me, as no-one else would. I won my case, in spite of just about everyone being against me.

Jesus is kind and only does good. Please, think about why you hate him - what has he done to you? Don't muddle up the "Church" with Jesus Christ - the "Church" rejects Jesus, it is taken over by Freemason leadership - not all of them are Freemasons - but the "Church" rejects Jesus - if this were not so, then maybe the "Church" will explain to me why they are not furious about a pedophile psychologist influencing the secret family courts?

Jesus hates the poetry you are writing, but he certainly does not hate you. You don't know Jesus, or else you would not say those things about him - you've been decieved.
Well done, Peter!
Last night's Dragon's Eye was a great watch (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00fl96z/Dragons_Eye_13112008/). Quite how Patrick Jones restrained himself in the way he did suggests he has the patience of a saint, or a sinner depending on which side of the argument you stand :)
This is great news, hope it goes well.
its time this christian voice organisation was put in its place, thye follow a man who would have not acted as they did, whats the bit about love thy neighbour Iam fed up of fundamentalist minorities speaking for me
Thank God you've done this. Whoever the person was who posted the emotional piece about Jesus helping him/her through bad times has clearly found strength to continue with her/his life through bad times.

I think those of us who are religious can all appreciate how may people take strength from their faith.

But really now, people, that's as far as it goes. Do you really think Jesus is in Heaven with a civil service bureaucracy dedicated to reading poetry and deciding whether or not it is worthy of hatred?

I mean, maybe Jesus does have a department of poetry going on in the great upstairs, but if it is, its about to be scaled down to save budget. Jesus is far more concerned with world poverty, disease, war, lies, violence, and the like, rather than poetry.

Also, can fellow strongly religious people stop appropriating Jesus' name to fulfill and endorse their own campaigns? I'm Catholic, strongly so, but if I get into an argument I never say Jesus told me, because quite frankly people, he didn't.

Anymore than he contacted Stephen Green, anymore than he contacts the Pope (who, I have to say, is NOT a Freemason - I believe Freemasonry and the Church have been opposed for centuries with many Catholic Orders being set up to combat their perceived influence).

Please, please, please, stop hiding behind a conveniently malleable Jesus and find your own courage to speak your mind as an individual.

I'll look forward to enjoying Patrick's compassionate poetry, much of which is dedicated to challenging the poverty of Wales - something all Christians should applaud, given that we are called to "give the good news to the poor".

Again... focus on important things. Not a blimmin' poem.
There's a lot of 'look at me' from the religious fundies, isn't there?
Fancy inviting Patrick Jones to read his blasphemous poetry in our Welsh assambly. We know there is freedom of speach in this country,but we still have values to uphold and our Christian heritage which we are proud of in this land. I bet you would not invite someone to speak against the prophet Mohammed.
Margaret Elward.
All I'm saying is that I was desperate for someone to help me and no-one would - the politicians, the newspapers, the church - they all turned their back on me and my family.

I was abused, just like those children in Jersey, but in Staffordshire instead (Lichfield, the Wissage Assessment Centre) and they covered up the abuse, just like they are trying to do in Jersey - and I got raped and the rapist actually took me to court and i was me who they threatened with prison - even though the rapist apologised twice for what he hasd done to me, in court, under oath - the judge said "draw a line under it now" and "you have the upper hand now" so I had to forgive and forget - or else!

No-one would help me, and I asked Jesus to help me and he did! Who was it then if it wasn't Jesus? They were all ganging up on me like a pack of wolves and sneering at me, saying I had no chance of winning the court case - but I DID win, and they were all moaning about it then! They hadn't got a shred of pity for me and my family - but Jesus looked after us all anyway!

I know Jesus is alive and I do not think people ought to be insulting him - people are treating him as if he is dead and he isn't!
Margaret, you have no more right to speak for me than you do to prevent me or others speaking out. In similar circumstances of course I would invite someone to read his or her work if it criticised Mohammed. That is the basis of our free society.

I have not read Patrick Jones' book but I understand that he does criticise Allah in it.

You have my absolute support on this, well done on allowing it to happen.

Will you be renting the Assembly for the reading? Oh will Joe Public be paying for this?
Will the room be provided FREE for this Poetry Reading? If so, can you get our Community action Group the use of a FREE ROOM?
I wonder whether you would give the platform to someone who would criticise muslims.After all, everyone seems so keen to avoid upsetting THEM, but they don't mind upsetting Christians.
In the same circumstances yes I would. In fact the poem that has caused all the upset is equally as critical of Islam.
Yeah, right......You and all the PC brigade don't mind making our Lord Jesus the butt of jibes and jokes, but you wouldn't dare criticize mohammed. This is still a Christian country and yes, you have the right to believe what you wish but don't expect Christians to stand idly by. If it was a member of your family that was being abused Mr Black, would you stand by and let it happen in the 'name of free speech?'
What is the point of me responding to your comments if (a) you do not read my answer and (b) you question my integrity by suggesting that I am lying.

I am not making Jesus the butt of anything I am facilitating free speech because I actually believe in and am willing to defend the democracy we live in and take for granted.

You have the right to protest, I would expect no less, but you do not have the right to prevent somebody else speaking out. As for my defence of free speech in the face of militant islam then read this: http://peterblack.blogspot.com/

I do not claim any great bravery on my part but I think it shows that I am consistent.
I beg to differ. http://paswonky.blogspot.com/2008/12/poet-protest-and-freedom-of-speech.html
I hold no candle for evangelical fundamentalists but you support gratuitously offensive and from brief view such lousy 'poetry' devoid of artistic merit ----why not send me a catholic selection of P. Jones oeuvres to decide if there is any merit otherwise?

Perhaps my intellect is too addled after listening enraptured again to this week's R3 broadcast of John Milton's 'Paradise Lost'

The bet is on that you will not do likewise against the virulently anti-christian [ and anti-Moslem and by extension the world goyim of also other faiths and none ]jewish Talmudic execrations congruent with Jones'bile regarding J and M.

What say/do you?

I think John that your points have already been answered in previous comments to this post and on other posts on this blog. This reading was in support of the freedom of expression and as I have said and demonstrated I would have done the same whichever religion was involved. Freedom is the freedom to offend. If you want to acquire Patrick Jones' poems then you will have to buy the book.
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