Why I’m glad Katie Hopkins exists

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I feel a little irresponsible for writing this article, since nobodies like Katie Hopkins dominate our

media, and I’m usually opposed to adding to the white noise. But her critics seem to have ignored

that she’s actually really important for our collective conscience, so it’s worth highlighting the

reasons why I’m glad Katie Hopkins exists.

The ex-Apprentice reality T.V. ‘star’ has made full use of the media over the last few months, most

notably appearing on This Morning to bemoan the stupidity of the working classes. Reactions have

veered between agreement, pity, mockery and hatred. If you haven’t heard of Katie Hopkins (and

well done, you were probably doing your summer reading), I’ll summarise for you. She’s a prototype

snob, reactionary and offensive, and she delights in sharing her views in what she considers to be

class-A comedy. Amongst Katie Hopkins’ recent tweets are these gems:

“It’s not caravan sites that put you off is it? It’s the people in them.”

“Council turning spare beds into bathrooms to avoid tenants having to pay bedroom tax. Why not stick in a sauna for the poor little mites?”

 

“[London] has a higher living wage (load of crap) but employers are not obliged to pay it. I

wouldn’t.”

 

“Young man just gave me a shove for being a stuck up snob. “Better a snob than a yob”. He

ran away. Such cowardice in our uncouth youth.”

 

A quick Google finds that she’s frequently referred to as ‘controversial’, but for me, ‘controversial’

doesn’t fit. Her views are actually incredibly banal – who hasn’t heard someone making fun of ‘chavs’,

a parent who wouldn’t dream of letting her child get a tattoo, or a diet-obsessive criticising fat

people? Yet the nation reacted with surprise, even horror, to Hopkins expressing these common

views.

 

The truth is that we all know these attitudes are generally deemed intolerant. The majority of people

may well laugh along with dodgy jokes or mutter to themselves guiltily on the street, but then they

use phrases like “I’m not racist, but…” because they realise that some views are unacceptable in an

aspiringly democratic society. Katie Hopkins simply gives a voice to widely-held prejudices, coming

out with false facts that the majority of Brits (including Hopkins herself) still consider to be “telling it

as it is”.

 

There’s a tendency of prejudice-denial in some of the media: sexism doesn’t exist, ladies, so

keep hoovering; racism is basically gone, and here’s a black businessman to prove it; class is

entirely superficial – it all boils down to what breakfast cereal you eat. But these trivialisations

are just excuses. I like Katie Hopkins because she’s evidence, revealing British culture’s ingrained

assumptions more successfully than any moralistic newspaper exposé. The level of support she

receives is indicative of the social division which lingers in the 21st century like a bad smell.

Whether or not it’s for show, the views Hopkins has expressed over the last few months have been

infantile – when did you last mock a ginger person for their hair colour? But Katie Hopkins isn’t alone.

Get drunk with a cross-section of the population, and I bet this sort of confessional crap would

saturate the air to choking point, and some of it might even come from you or me. After all, we all

have judgments we’d hide in polite company, and Katie Hopkins acts as an amplifier to society’s

unsanctioned thoughts. Whilst it’s clearly a feeling of superiority that underpins her beliefs, we

all think we’re superior to someone, and whenever we feel ourselves superior, sly thoughts can

creep in: “the reason I’m not that fat is because I have more self-control”, maybe, or “I’m successful

because I worked harder than most people in school”. Sometimes, these self-congratulatory lines

might be true. However, they are based in values that remain largely unquestioned, and sometimes

they pressure us to make spiteful choices – like Katie Hopkins refusing to employ someone

overweight because she thinks fatness equates to laziness.

 

But I live in an aspirational world. Like Holly Willoughby on This Morning, who told Katie Hopkins

that she’d rather be part of the solution than the problem, I believe in trying to face up to the

cruelty and unfairness in our society. If powerful people genuinely assume that fat means lazy,

the tattooed have bad attitudes and poor mothers are scum, I’d like to challenge those fantasies,

because fantasies create reality: relegating the overweight to the benefit office is only going to

add to people’s negative perceptions, just like judging a little boy by his name influences his future

prospects. Step One is seeing society’s ‘common-sense’ discrimination in all its absurdity. Who better

for that job than Katie Hopkins?