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Blasphemy, rhetoric and profanity

Betsan Powys | 12:05 UK time, Tuesday, 18 November 2008

The (rather beautiful) paintings of naked women hanging in the Senedd some time ago got a frosty reception from some.

The tin-plate portrait of Margaret Thatcher led to three Statements of Opinion and some strong language.

But the planned reading by Patrick Jones of his controversial poetry in Ty Hywel - the red brick building taxi drivers still can't quite believe ever housed the National Assembly - looks as though it might lead to even louder protest and stronger language.

Trish Law, the independent AM for Blaenau Gwent is described by the Blaenau Gwent People's Voice party on their website as "An Assembly Member, free from Party Political Dictatorship guided only by the Views, Opinions and Wishes of the People of Blaenau Gwent." This morning she's made her views - and we must assume their views - on the Patrick Jones reading crystal clear.

She pulls no punches in her letter to the Presiding Officer, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas.

"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."

The line of attack from Conservative Jonathan Morgan is not the same but the upshot of his argument is: the reading - hosted by two AMs, Lorraine Barrett and Peter Black - should not happen.

"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".

Preventing last week's planned reading at Waterstone's in Cardiff was hailed by the national director of Christian Voice, Stephen Green, as a triumph "for the Lord, not for us".

He'll already have realised, I'm sure, that this time round the decision lies in the hands of another Lord - note, a Lord Temporal, not Spiritual.


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  • 1. At 1:41pm on 18 Nov 2008, BLUESNIK wrote:

    "I cannot condone the reading of blasphemous,...and perverted poems in the National Assembly"

    Hey, why not ? It would keep all the (Dozo et Bozo) AMs wide awake...more colourful than litlte Alan Cairn's suits! The 1930s are coming back...Viva Keynes!

    "I meet an AM called Edwina,
    Hungry?, You should have seenA!,
    But she ate all the kid's free lunches (extra chips)...

    Jamie ap Oliver (Valleys) , got any hunches?" (c. Adacemi 2008)

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  • 2. At 3:02pm on 18 Nov 2008, alfsplace1986 wrote:

    This is not about photos of naked women or Thatcher.
    It is about the blasphemy laws of our country being ridiculed and pushed aside and the feelings and beliefs of Christians in this country.
    I am no fundamentalist but there comes a time when we have to speak out.
    Christians have a belief which is instumental in how we live our lives.
    We complain about the way society is behaving today, with no respect for one another and no moral values.
    We forget in the previous generations these values were taught to children from an early age through Sunday School and even if there were children who did not go to Chapel or Church, the respect was there for those who did and the values were passed on even to those children who didn't.
    Today it is accepted and we are supposed to laugh at it and not be so serious if we don't, that it is right to be able to mock Christians and to make blasphemous jokes and remarks about Christianity, God and the Bible, sadly the country is the worse for it.
    As has been previously stated, try it with other Religions and beliefs and see what reprecusions there will be, free speech works both ways.

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  • 3. At 3:27pm on 18 Nov 2008, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    I'm not sure where the truth lies in all this...

    Alf - I feel it only fair to point out that this country has no blasphemy laws..

    That said, the poet has deliberately been very provocative, by sending copies of his poems to a far-right [and, so I understand, racist] organisation in advance of an earlier reading.

    That he did this without informing the hosts of that reading does make me wonder whether his interest is 'freedom of speech' or making some money, and a name for himself.

    It is not as though his work has been censored, as it is, so I understand, freely available in the shops. So I am not really sure why the Assembly are choosing this man as a 'cause celebre' - they are falling into the trap of being part of the marketing and PR arm of Cinnamon Press.

    If he is that worried about being heard, he could just recite his work on their 'Second Life' site in cyberspace.

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  • 4. At 4:03pm on 18 Nov 2008, Crossroads wrote:

    This Poet sure is a whiz at publicity. To buy the coverage he's got from all this Waterstones nonsense would cost a fortune

    His poetry is not up to much either. I know several posters on the BBC forums who could churn stuff like that out all day long.

    (Though of course, the BBC in their wisdom would delete most of it)

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  • 5. At 4:28pm on 18 Nov 2008, Ty Du wrote:


    You (and Trish Law) are too late, blasphemy laws were abolished a couple of years ago - and were effectively dead after Mary Whitehouse tried (and failed) to use them in the 1970s.

    Speaking as a Christian, I believe in free speech and the right of people not only *not* to believe in God but to say they don't believe in God. I believe in a God who is big enough not to be affected by someone's attempted ridicule - it is for us as Christians not to 'cause a brother to stumble', but not for non-Christians. Pray for Patrick Jones to change his mind, but don't think that gives you, or anyone else, the right to stop him speaking because we disagree with him. The exception is where there is 'incitement to hatred or violence', and there is no sign of that in this story

    That said, Mr Jones has managed to create a storm by deliberately provoking a reaction that he wouldn't have otherwise had. Given the press he's gained over the past few days, perhaps Rhodri and Ieuan could ask him for some tips on how to get noticed?

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  • 6. At 5:07pm on 18 Nov 2008, alfsplace1986 wrote:

    Thank you I stand corrected on the blasphemy laws.
    I was not saying that anyone should be prevented from expressing free speech and that Patrick Jones should be stopped. Far from it, I have joined causes that try to stop the right of free speech, such as the road our Government is trying to take us down in curtailing our liberties.
    I was just pointing out the possible reason why our society has degenerated the way it has.
    As for praying for Patrick Jones I stand firmly in personal prayer but praying for others salvation I find difficult. As we have all been given free will. All the prayers for world peace and reconciliation don't seem to get anywhere do they.

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  • 7. At 5:26pm on 18 Nov 2008, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    "The exception is where there is 'incitement to hatred or violence', and there is no sign of that in this story"

    You may well be right 'MadWelsh', but the problem is that there are allegations [yet to be proved one way or the other] that the poet tried to bring his poetry to the attention of a racist group, who I won't name because of the risk of libel magubbins..

    Of course, the poet doesn't share their views, so isn't himself guilty of incitement, but it does rather raise the question of whether he is risking such inflammatory behaviour from them - although I have no idea what the legal view is on all this.

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  • 8. At 6:51pm on 18 Nov 2008, alin-elena wrote:

    I have checked my calendar and location were 2008 and UK. For a moment I thought I was in 1500 or UAE.

    I can bet that some of the people who complained about Patrick Jones' poems would easily join a support manifestation for Salman Rushdie in the name of: freedom of speech.
    Some people do not get that the job of artists and scientists is to question everything. That's evolution. (s***t this is blasphemy too)

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  • 9. At 8:20pm on 18 Nov 2008, John Henry wrote:

    Well, I have read one of the poems, US blog with Welsh links, and It's not worth discussing.

    The prose is obviously designed to offend, presumable to promote sales from the gullible.

    It's a little like TV, if it offends my sensibilities I switch it off.

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  • 10. At 09:25am on 19 Nov 2008, jsloco100 wrote:

    Dear dear Trish!

    "While I uphold freedom of speech...",

    sounds like the old 'I'm no racist but... ' line to me...

    "... I implore you to put a stop to this reading..."

    Ah, I was right. Nothing quite like religion to dull logic and the critical faculties.

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  • 11. At 3:33pm on 19 Nov 2008, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    It might be worth noting that while England may be constitutionally a Christian Country Wales isn't. It has no national church, there for no established religion.

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  • 12. At 3:48pm on 19 Nov 2008, stevemac50 wrote:

    Free speech or censoreship?
    A famous person once said
    "All things may be permissable
    but not all things are beneficial"

    Who decides what is acceptable and what is not?
    If I were to promote work on the wonders in paedophilia or bestiality would I be tolerated in the interests of free speech?

    And in answer to jsloco100...
    Yes there is truth that 'Religion can be the opiate of the masses'
    But please do not confuse this with the life
    transforming truth of a risen saviour found in the Lord Jesus Christ...i.e not man made religion but a vital relationship found to be true through a testing and proving of all things. It was only because I could excercise some "critical faculties" I sought and I found the Truth. In actively setting out to disprove the validity of the Bible the opposite happened!
    So I would encourage you to sincerely seek and you will find .

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  • 13. At 11:37am on 27 Nov 2008, mapexx wrote:


    As there is no such a thing as a god, there, by extension, there CANNOT be blasphemy.

    There can be offence, especially towards those who are so minded as to believe in the fairy tales and mythology of religion, whom holding their belief in good 'faith' have a right to be NOT offended.

    But as someone else has said, if it offends, turn away, switch off, and ignore.
    This is something we, who have no cause to believe, or have faith, have been compelled to do for over the two thousand years of Christian dogmatism.

    Now the shoe is on the other foot , sort of, it's the turn of the religious to cry foul, but who the hell cares what they think, they steadfastly refuse to acknowledge what we think, so to blazes with them.

    BUT still, they should not be deliberately offended, for fear of extending their offence into physical reaction.

    For example, look at the performance of the Islamic fundamental mental deviants.

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  • 14. At 12:16pm on 27 Nov 2008, brynt41 wrote:


    "As there is no such a thing as a god..."

    In your opinion.

    This is the first post of yours which I could actually understand. I don't sympathise with your views, at all.

    Some 60 million or more people died in the former Soviet Union because of Marxist-Leninist and Stalinist dogma, many as the result of religious persecution. Thank goodness the world has seen the end of that malign political philosophy. It seems it may still be alive among the feeble minded.

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  • 15. At 10:59am on 02 Dec 2008, mapexx wrote:

    re message 14...

    I do not do 'opinions', I state as I find, and I have yet to see any proof, evidence or realism in the 'belief' in a divine entity.

    I will however complain about your stupid reference to the Soviet Union.

    I suppose the millions who have been wiped out in the name of religion are discountable in your FEEBLE mind.

    As far as I am concerned, religion based on the belief in a non existent 'god', is more than adequate proof of feeble mindedness.

    But to compound the mistaken idea that we are all something manufactured by a god, for absolutley NO rational reason, and then to roam the world killing whole races of people because they fail to accept the religion of the invader, I find to be worthy of a serious cull of the religious, and that has nothing to do with dogma or political expediency, just a demand for plain and simple JUSTICE.

    Why you religious nuts attempt, at every turn, to link non acceptance of a belief in a god as some sort of idea that we are all minded to eradicate believers, just goes to show a serious mental setback.

    No doubt at all that is is nothing more or less than a guilt, or persecution, complex.

    Much to do with the indoctrination suffered from the cradle.

    I am sure you understood that also.

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  • 16. At 05:46am on 27 Dec 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    true topic and i have no comment; since, it will be deleted by the moderators!!

    but, the title says a lot of words...

    --Dennis Junior--

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