Recently this sign appeared in a Cardiff branch of Waterstone’s:
Due to our shameful
cowardice in the face
of pressure from
has been cancelled
Our company has
no guts and no
freedom of expression.
No – wrong sign. Actually it was this one:
What happened is this. South Wales poet and playwright recently published a book with Cinnamon, Darkness is Where the Stars Are. According to Cinnamon’s Jan Fortune-Wood:
This is a sparkling, energetic poetry collection that engages with serious issues including domestic abuse of men, oppression of women, ecological disaster and much more… A few of the poems deal with patrick’s strong views on religion, particularly the way in which it is often associated with military conflict, the subjugation of women or movements that exclude the ‘outsider’. These are issues that art should rightly be pushing to the forefront of debate in a liberal society and there are people of faith who are concerned with such issues as well as humanists and secularists.
You have already guessed the rest. Waterstones managing director Gerry Johnson cancelled Jones’s book launch at Cardiff Waterstones in the face of protest from moron and fanatic Stephen Green and his idiotic sect Christian Voice, which denounced the book as ‘obscene and blasphemous.’ Instead Jones signed copies in the street outside.
You can buy Darkness is where the Stars Are via the Cinnamon site above, or on Amazon.
Yesterday Mr Green also made some contentious comments about the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision that the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead has ‘no case to answer’ after it exhibited a 1ft high statue of Jesus with an erection.
He now advocates destroying art works he dislikes.
‘This decision urges Christians to create public disorder if we want a similar case to proceed in future,’ he said.
‘We are naturally reluctant to do that and it puts us in new territory.
‘On the other hand, there were those at the Baltic Centre who wanted to take matters into their own hands and I have warned Anita Zabludowicz that her statue will not survive being put on public display again.
‘If the CPS wanted to give the green light to blasphemous art their decision may paradoxically have the opposite effect. With the threat of destruction hanging over it, the Zabludowicz statue is now locked away by its wealthy owners and is unlikely to see the light of day again.
‘The same will go for any other blasphemous works of so-called art. Put simply, Christians won’t tolerate insults to Jesus Christ.’
On Patrick Jones, Green offers this classic quote:
‘The Lord had not even showed me what we should do at Waterstone’s, only that it should be Christlike,’ he told the BBC.
‘Just the knowledge that we were on our way has put the fear of God into the opposition.’
I think this passage of Brett’s needs repeating:
From now on Borders and Foyles can have my money. Waterstone’s doesn’t deserve customers if it treats them with such contempt. It has no right to ply its trade selling books either if it isn’t prepared to stand up for the authors who write them.
It really is time that those who value liberal democracy and a free society stand up and tell these theocratic brownshirts to go fuck themselves. We should not tolerate being told what books or magazines we can read, what events we can attend, what shows or films we can watch or what we can say and do by the fundamentalist lunatics drawn from the many religions that enjoy freedom in this United Kingdom. We should stand up, stand tall and stand firm despite the implicit threat of violence and chaos that these groups browbeat and blackmail us with.
And then there’s this from the Beeb:
Siân Preece, a writer from Cardiff said Waterstone’s had failed to support freedom of expression.
‘You hear of countries like Turkey or China oppressing writers and you feel sorry for them.
‘And then you’re surprised to find it happening here,’ she said.
You can also email Gerry Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org – remember, be polite (or at least more polite than I have been in this post).
Stephen Green would do well to remember the advice given by Salman Rushdie: don’t fuck with writers.