An Open Letter To Katie Hopkins

Dear Katie,

You describe yourself on your Twitter biography as “the one who said no to Sir Alan.”

Well today Katie, I am saying no to you.

This letter is hard for me to write. I am a feminist and a strong supporter of all women. I believe in freedom of speech and expression. I also believe that anyone should have the right to function in daily life free of censorship. For context, I think women in Saudi Arabia should without question be allowed to drive. This is a human right, not a topic for debate.

Alongside freedom of speech however comes responsibility; and it is incumbent upon all of us to use it wisely and use it well, bearing in mind in some parts of the world many are not allowed to exercise it.

Therefore, I was aghast to see this Tweet appear on your Twitter timeline yesterday.

 “Tanni Grey-Thompson. God I wish there were some carpet tacks lying about between her and the BBC studios.”

James Moore, writing in yesterday’s Independent  for their Voices strand observes thus.

 “She chooses her targets carefully focussing only on people whom it is judged socially acceptable to demean. “

I am always suspicious of anyone who is handed on a silver platter a media career resulting from their ability to say controversial things Katie. The polemic is an art form that you just have not mastered. The polemic is a journalistic art form designed to make people think about a situation a first time, a second time, and maybe even a third. It is to prove that you are in the right, and others are in the wrong.

What made me aghast about you yesterday Katie is this. This is not just a dislike of Tanni Grey-Thompson, nor her personal opinions. You chose the thing about her, that is different from you, the idea that you have a non disabled body and she doesn’t. That is utterly nasty, cruel and beneath contempt.

That was the moment you made it personal and revealed the true face of Katie Hopkins. Or is it indeed the true face? Perhaps the meeja one, where the cameras turn on you, you say contemptible things, receive a nice pay cheque and go home again?

People with disabilities fight extremely hard battles every day. For some they need help to perform the most basic activities of daily living. But naturally The World Of Katie Hopkins remains coldly dissonant to that.

Of course never mind the fact that Lady Grey-Thompson is one of our best Paralympians ever? I thought you of all people would support meritocracy and rewarding achievements.

What I am interested in though is what was going through your mind when you sent that Tweet? Does seeing somebody who doesn’t conform to the archetype of normal on television threaten you Katie?

I would actually like to see a far greater diversity of social commentary on television  for there is a paucity of diversity at the moment.

You must know that people with disabilities suffer greatly due to hate crime and  demonisation in society? I must ask, do you think your Tweet assisted in reducing the impact of that upon people with disabilities.

You see Katie, you have a media platform. A media platform which many would love. Yet you use it to spread this kind of hate speech? I suspect you are a kind of puppet who bubbles with joy over the thought of making a controversial statement.

This time though, I fear you have made a woeful misjudgement. I am sure as a celebrity you receive no end of nasty tweets. I’ve seen you retweet some of them. I expect you feel pretty lousy when they come through? Well I felt lousy when I saw that tweet.

You see in between the QWERTY keyboard and the Tweet button, there are readers and there are feelings.

I have never experienced a carpet tack in my wheel, but I have experienced a thorn. It punctured the tyre, rendering me unable to use it for the day.

I think the meaning behind your “joke” Katie was that if her tyre punctured she would have been unable to grace your television screen with her presence, charisma and wit.

Outside the realms of your pithy joke though, that has real life consequences! It is like somebody taking your legs away for a day. Perhaps you should do your next television appearance in a wheelchair, or spend time in one and see how people treat you.

Knowing you though, you would just dismiss this blog as faux outrage, and maybe tell me I needed therapy.

Do you know why your comment is so shocking Katie?  The decent majority in society have moved on from joking about disability. I mean, we can even joke about ourselves sometimes?

Your joke stinks because it’s hierarchical. It creates a false equivalence, inferring that able bodied people are somehow less inferior  when compared with disabled people. The carpet tack wouldn’t inconvenience you, because you are able bodied, and making the joke from a vantage point where you do not even have to consider disability as an axis of oppression impacting on your life. You take things for granted and it shows.

You have much chutzpah.

But you know, it’s not just a question of “things we are not allowed to say.” Most people don’t say them because they are reprehensible, over privileged and selfish.

Do you think you would have a media career if you were rendered unable to talk or think? My advice to you this time would be to actually apologise, and think about the impact your words have on real people with real lives. Many of those with disabilities make contributions to the world which are just as valuable as yours.

My guess is, you have such rants on Twitter because you know the OFCOM Broadcasting Code wouldn’t indulge them.

After this blog, my life will continue, mine in my wheelchair, and yours not having to give carpet tags a second thought. You are lucky Katie, really lucky.

I’d swap your legs for my chair any day.  Not because I think your legs are particularly distinctive or a piece of high art, but simply because they work.

Also, I don’t want your mouth. I have a conscience.

I must close soon, but I have one more thing to tell you. Pneumatics have come a long way since the thorn. Tyres are puncture proof now.

Oh and if you ever fancy a day off from numerous TV engagements, I’d gladly step in for you. If the studio is wheelchair friendly of course. I can write and talk rather well.

I find it socially unacceptable that you demean those like me.

Best wishes,

Hannah “Chelsea” Buchanan.

PS Pushing my luck here, but do you ever let your children play with children with disabilities? It’s called integration, it won’t leave scars and it is quite healthy.

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10 thoughts on “An Open Letter To Katie Hopkins

  1. Well said Hannah. I disagree with one comment though – you say “many people with disabilities make contributions to the world with are just as valuable as yours (I.e. Katie Hopkins’) – I would say that many people make contributions far more valuable than Katie’s. Whilst I agree with you re everyone’s right to free speech, I don’t necessarily agree with the air and print space given over to the nonsense that Ms Hopkins come out with.

  2. What a beautifully balanced piece of writing. I fear though that it will fail to register on this woman, as she obviously believes she is superior to us all. I feel sorry but disgusted for and by her. She is a disgrace to all Hopkins everywhere. You however have my total respect.

  3. It is sad that one woman can with a click of a button alienate whole sections of the British Public. Of course we are not getting the coverage because good old Katie has also upset a whole nation. You wonder how close to incitement to hate some of her tweets are. Yes I have a wheelchair and I have lost a tyre on the way to the doctors. It is not just a inconvenience it is a whole lot more. I have no issues with jokes, as a double amputee I love the foot in mouth opportunities there are out there. However this is not about anything other than one woman’s ego needing column inches.

    I would never watch the sort of trash she appears on TV but really the controllers of the channels she appears on need to have a serious think.

  4. What a sorry state TV land is in, when it actually pays money to such a consistently obnoxious individual! I hope no one in radio ever hires her or else I will have nothing to listen to!

    If TV land hired more people like you I might give it a second chance :)

  5. Ths is one good reason for social networking, at least we all have a chance to openly show our comtempt and perhaps even pity such sorry individuals

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