Once more, Katie Hopkins has the internet in an uproar; once more, I fail to understand what all the fuss is about, but this time I’m going to write about it and explain why as best I can.
The cause of all this outrage and indignation is another opinion piece, written by her and published in the Sun newspaper a few days ago. Entitled “Rescue boats? I’d use gunships to stop migrants”, it’s little more than a list of her supposed thoughts on the people trying to make their way into Europe and how she would stop this ongoing armada. She also justifies her supposed opinions and she attempts to appeal to British truck drivers, Australians and anyone else she thinks will make her look good by praising them.
Before I continue, my immediate thought on seeing the headline, above, was that Katie came across as a female version of Ted Nugent, that woeful, draft-dodging specimen of humanity who was full of bravado when talking about what he would have done if he’d ever gone to Vietnam to serve his country. In an interview with the Detroit Free Press that was published on July 15th, 1990, Nugent said of his hypothetical tour of duty in Vietnam “… if I would have gone over there, I’d have been killed, or I’d have killed, or I’d kill all the hippies in the foxholes … I would have killed everybody….” Indubitably, Ted.
By the same token, it is impossible for me to picture Katie Hopkins standing on the deck of a gunship in the Mediterranean, gazing at close quarters at some wretched, listing hulk overflowing with her fellow human beings who are terrified, dehydrated, vomiting, screaming and holding out babies as pathetic bundles, pleading for deliverance from the living nightmare they’ve found themselves in. A few years ago, Rupert Murdoch spoke privately with the family of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and while I can’t find the BBC link right now, I clearly remember the Dowler family’s lawyer explaining to the waiting media how desperately contrite Murdoch had been when face to face with these human beings who had endured agonies for reasons that are too well known to need explaining here.
So, Katie wouldn’t lob cans of Castlemaine at a boat containing refugees, nor would she order a ship to fire on these people; she certainly wouldn’t be filmed on such a gunship encountering refugees, nor will she have herself filmed reading her latest column for the Sun out loud. This isn’t because she lacks the courage of her convictions – it’s simply because what appears in print aren’t her convictions, but just a selection of words calculated to bring her attention and thereby ensure that she continues to be paid.
If she or anyone else said this kind of thing down the pub, then they’d either be laughed at, ignored or thrown out, but either way, it would be over with and forgotten in minutes, as everyone else has far better things to do. As it is, with the power of the internet and the way everyone’s guided towards her utterances by the media and by other celebs, her ‘prints of darkness’ assume a potency and standing they’d never possess in what I think of as real life. For now, they’re an echo of the Two Minute Hate in Orwell’s 1984, wherein otherwise sane and rational people are completely caught up in some kind of contagious madness and the only person to profit from all this is Katie herself.
As we both live in Exeter, I sometimes see her around the city and it’s crossed my mind to speak to her before now, although it’s a temptation I’ve resisted and I can’t see this changing. Aside from anything else, I find it embarrassing to read what she has to say because her writing is so poor, and I say this as someone who’s been an avid student of the vituperative arts for decades. Her latest column, for example, is pretty much just a list of insults, with a not overly impressive or ingenious metaphor for one aspect of Sharia law thrown in, when she imagines Australian naval personnel lobbing cans of Castlemaine at a boat crammed with hapless refugees.
In this respect, she reminds me of Anjem Choudary, a man who has not a great deal to say that’s of any use or interest, and who long ago exhausted his vocabulary and the patience of a wider audience by banging on interminably about his pet subjects with little if any variation on a theme. As far as I can see, Choudary, Katie Hopkins and Ted Nugent were all cast from the same mould and I long ago lost interest in anything they had to say, because it’s all a tale of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
In the mid-seventeenth century, Katie had a namesake and a predecessor by the name of Matthew Hopkins, Witchfinder General, a man who rapidly amassed a small fortune by the simple expedient of pandering to humanity’s darker side by preying on society’s defenceless outcasts. According to Francis Hutchison, Vicar of Bury St Edmunds and later Bishop of Down and Connor “…..Hopkins went on searching and swimming the poor creatures, until some Gentlemen, out of Indignation at the Barbarity, took him, and tied his own Thumbs and Toes, as he used to tye others, and when he was put into the Water, he himself swam as they did. That clear’d the County of him; and it was a great deal of Pity that they did not think of the Experiment sooner”.
With this in mind, the only thing that genuinely surprises me about Katie Hopkins is how stupid she seems to be. Her only currency consists of bile, venom, humiliation, mercilessness and victimisation, so when she does everything she can to air her deliberately provocative wares on radio, television, the press and the internet, I just fail to see how it can end anything but badly, with either the police knocking on her door, a would-be intruder not bothering to do so and not being concerned about her famous panic button, or else her various employers deciding she’s reached the end of the road, leaving her high and dry with an unenviable CV. Whatever she’s done or said, I wouldn’t wish any of this on her, so I will conclude by echoing Russell Brand’s generous exhortation to her to rejoin the rest of humanity before she wears herself and everyone else out.