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Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Register Your Protest Against Hate Campaigns

Note:  This is a guest post by Penny.  I am presently busy with a truly awesome music project and watching the fifth season of Fringe (priorities, you know?), so Penny has kindly agreed to allow me to publish this.  -- Jay


How many people are aware - when they pop their cash into charity collecting tins or sponsor a pal involved in a fund-raising campaign for some ‘worthy’ cause - that the very charities who ask us to fund them may be actively involved in the hate campaign against the smokers of Britain?

That is certainly the case with the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK and I find it personally offensive that these ‘charities’ should have involved themselves in persecuting the very people who fund them. They create highly emotive adverts, aimed at encouraging us to give to their causes, and then involve themselves in some very high-profile campaigns against the hapless smokers whose money they will still cheerfully take.

I cannot bear such hypocrisy on the part of organisations like CRUK and the BHF and therefore, a friend and I devised some ‘fake fivers’ to put in charity tins proffered by either organisation. In no way do these look real money, but they do state on them that they are intended as a peaceful protest against the coalition between charities and government in the campaign against smokers.

I hope plenty of people will use the ‘fivers’ in the future, as a demonstration to CRUK and the BHF that we strongly disapprove of their hypocrisy.

Well, I am no hypocrite, and today I found myself in the uncomfortable position of having to stand by my principles when friends asked me to sponsor them in the CRUK Race for Life. A laudable cause, by anyone’s standards, and a year ago, I’d have given them a fiver or two and wished them the very best of luck.

But today, something in my water told me that I had to stand by my own principles and the promise I made to register my protest. So, I told my friend (my hairdresser), and the rest of the staff and clients in the hair salon, that I was very sorry but I couldn’t sponsor her. I explained that I have signed up to protest against the persecution of smokers by organisations like CRUK.

As I put my case, even those who had at first scowled and grumbled at me started to see I had a point. “You are right to stand by your principles,” said one, having initially registered her shock and disgust at my attitude.

And I know that I AM. As far as I’m concerned, charities like CRUK and the BHF should either stop persecuting those who fund them and happen to smoke as well, or they should come straight out with it and admit they loathe smokers and don’t actually care if we refuse to donate to them. In my opinion, charities have no business to be involving themselves in politics anyway, unless that is one of the specific purposes for which they were created. Neither Cancer Research UK nor the British Heart Foundation can truly claim that they were inaugurated to spearhead hate campaigns against those whose lifestyles perhaps don’t fit the ‘ideal’ they envisage.

My hairdresser friend, and everyone else present at the salon today, accepted my argument and I didn’t feel hated for standing by my principles. Perhaps this is the way forward (or one of them, at any rate) for the smokers of this country who are so sick of being on the receiving end of such hatred from so many quarters.

My question, now, is whether to email or write to CRUK, enclosing a couple of my fake fivers and explaining that they’ve missed out on a tenner towards their otherwise fantastic cause. Would they care? I wonder. Perhaps not. Maybe my little, one-woman protest in the hairdresser’s today will count for nothing in the greater scheme of things. But for all I know, other smokers across the UK might be taking a similar stance and refusing to donate their hard-earned cash to a charity which uses its influence to persecute them. If enough ‘ones’ stand up to be counted, then eventually, we might make a difference and the powerful charities who contribute to making our lives such a misery might just have to climb down a peg or two.

Consider joining me, won’t you?



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