Monday, 17 November 2008

Patrick Jones on the Waterstones/Stephen Green controversy

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Further to Waterstones cancelling a book signing by Welsh poet Patrick Jones, due to provocative comments by Stephen Green of Christian "Lone" Voice, here's what Jones himself had to say in reply to an email from our editor, Caspar Melville, asking for his side of the story:
"Hi thanks for email –

This email [which New Humanist received from Waterstones] is a rather pathetic attempt to get out of their decision to cancel the launch.

I sent a few emails to various groups about 10 days before the launch – to organisations, to religious groups – Christian Voice being one – with a few poems and asking for a debate – that is all– now for that to be seem as a provocation for violent threats etc by Christian Voice is beyond my understanding-

I always do this before – as I do not have a vast PR machine etc and I genuinely wanted to have this debate – now Christian Voice obviously went a stage further and decided to threaten the event and Waterstones cancelled-

nNow the difference between an email with poems that would already be in the book and what has followed is immense – Christian Voice is now threatening every single venue i am reading at!!!

The only other email I have ever sent was in march after a TV programme where he was so vitriolic and hate-filled to openly gay singer and actor Ian H Watkins.

So you make your choice

Thank You

Patrick Jones"
In addition Patrick gave some examples of the poems he sent to various groups, including Christian Voice. If you want to read them, they're all on his homepage.

As I said, I was away all last week so have just been introduced to this story today, so very quickly here's my take. Can people please stop listening to Stephen Green. There's a good reason we refer to his organisation as Christian "Lone" Voice, and for anyone to treat it as a voice of Christianity is an insult to most Christians. Green is the closest thing this country seems to have to Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church. Of course he's a very tame, very British version - no picketing funerals for him, but plenty of other picketing, usually based on his raging homophobia. Yet he gets quoted in the media all the time as "Stephen Green of Christian pressure group Christian Voice", including by the BBC who even invite him on to their radio stations to discuss things, as if he's actually representative of a significant body of opinion. And now Waterstones seem so convinced of his influence that they cancel event because of the man.

I'll say it again – the man is irrelevant and does not represent anything.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Tsk. Crappy poet eggs on nutters to come and have a go at a public event, without telling the organisers, then moans about getting cancelled - now that's pathetic.

freespirit said...

still does not justify Stephen Green and CV's threats and indeed Waterstones' caving in to these threats- where has the spirit of anarchy and attack gone- you cannot blame the poet for the actions of these out of control bigots? where would these lead? today, i had emails from dawkins site, christian voice attacking Welsh Lib Dems- now if the lib dems threatened a CV event who is in the wrong then? I think you need to address the real issue- not how CV and indeed other groups, heard about the book but what they DID how they ACTED>>>> Ok he may not be Seamus Heaney but at least he has caused dialogue and and debate- when was the last time a poet did that in this country?????
after all it is only a book of poems?

freespirit said...

He did not act the victim- He expressed outrage that CV a- did this- no other organisation threatened Waterstones- not even extremist Muslim organisations-

and that Waterstones caved in- wouldn't you?
Also he says that CV continue to threaten all the venues he is doing readings at- and these places have not submitted and will continue to support freedom of speech- doesn;t that diminish your argument soemwhat? if Waterstones had carried on and there had been a CV presence then debate would be served?

James said...

I am a Christian poet and i support anyone who wishes to express an opinion, Even if that opinion offends me. Can Mr Green and co not see that they are turning Mr Jones into a best seller , The publicity will fuel curiosity. Mr Jones book of poems will be flying off the shelf. Let people decide for themselves, Often Christians go about their protests in the wrong way,Often to the advantage of what they are protesting about.