Freedom2Choose Blog

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The Freedom2Choose blog argues that it is a “blog supportive of the organisation called Freedom2Choose. Any resemblance to that organisation is purely coincidental.” It adds that “The opinions expressed by the authors on this blog and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Freedom2Choose organisation or any member thereof. Freedom2Choose is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the blog Authors.” 1
Despite this disclaimer, the wallpaper for the blog includes the Freedom2Choose logo. The blog also includes an embedded link to the Freedom2Choose Twitter feed and links to Freedom2Choose’s Facebook site. 2

Death Threat Against ASH and Others

A screenshot of the article

In March 2012, the blog carried a post by an anonymous blogger, entitled “Snipper the Flappers!”. Written in response to a completely bizarre and ridiculously stupid comment piece in the Luton Herald & Post 3, arguing that smokers could be shot, the blog argued that certain tobacco control activists could be killed, writing that “Snipers could soon snuff out prohibitionists”.
In a sinister posting, the author also linked to websites about different types of automatic weapons:
“This is a very simple game indeed. All you need is to write to our extremely friendly billionaire who will furnish you with an “FD-200” or a “7.62Tkiv85″ (both highly effective at distance)” and then argued that “smaller arms are available if you fancy ‘seeing the whites of their eyes’; more personal thus more satisfaction guaranteed.”
The blogger also gave details of the offices of ASH, ASH Scotland, and ASH Wales, and denigrated them by calling them “termites”, “ASHites” and “Zealots”.
To make the post more intimidating it included pictures of ASH’s Chief Executive Deborah Arnott and Policy Director Martin Dockrell, Sheila Duffy the Chief Executive of ASH Scotland, the MSP Shona Robison, the Dragons’ Den star Duncan Bannatyne and others.
It also suggested someone be rewarded with points for killing people. “There is a scale as well, a hierarchy scale actually so if you bag a mere secretary you only get 2 pts but if you bag Arnott or Dockrell you get 25 pts … £250 for two ‘pops between the eyes’, it’s better than “You’ve been framed”! 4
Although the post was by written by “anon”, the person who posted the piece was John Baker, who is given as the main contact for Freedom2Choose. 5

Atherton Distances Himself

In response to the blog post, Dave Atherton, the chair of Freedom2Choose, was concerned enough to write:

“Assuming the blog has not been hacked I would like to make the following statement: As the header to http://freedom-2-choose.blogsp… says “A blog supportive of the organisation called Freedom2Choose. Any resemblance to that organisation is purely coincidental.” The Committee of Freedom2Choose and I, Dave Atherton its Chairman neither endorse nor condone the contents of this blog. I will go as far as saying I also criticise the contents too.” 6

However, the death threat was not removed from the website. 7

But Blog Agreed by Freedom2Choose, Say Members

Despite Atherton’s pronouncement that the blog is not endorsed by the organisation, members of the Freedom2Choose openly disagreed with this stance on an internal discussion forum, saying the blog had been approved by its coordinating committee, which had had a “major” say in its formation.

The Freedom2Choose forum

“Light-Hearted” Blog Post Removed

Days later, the blog post was removed with the following explanation: “A recent post entitled ‘Sniper the Flappers’ appeared here. The purpose of the post was to be satirical and the author meant it to be light hearted. If some readers took the post seriously and were offended then it is a matter of regret. Some of the offence can only be described as faux … Any offence is regretted, but similar regrets would be welcomed from the anti-smokers for the appalling way they have treated and are still treating people who smoke.” 8

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  1. Freedom2Choose Blogspot, Blog, Accessed March 2012
  2. Freedom2Choose Blogspot, Blog, Accessed March 2012
  3. Referred to by Simon Clark, Snipers Could Soon Snuff Out Smoking, Taking Liberties blog
  4. Anon, Sniper the Flappers, Freedom2Choose blogspot, 9 March 2012
  5. Freedom2Choose, Contacts, accessed May 2012
  6. Dave Atherton, Sniper the Flappers!”, Accessed March 2012
  7. Freedom2Choose blog, Sniper the Flappers!”, Accessed March 2012
  8. Freedom2Choose Blog, Much Ado about “Snipers and Flappers!”, 17 March 2012