It is hard to feel much sympathy for a woman who has made a career – though clearly not enough money – out of writing and broadcasting some of the most abhorrent views imaginable
We must all take some responsibility for the monster that Katie Hopkins has become
“It’s all very sad, actually.” Those were the generous words used by the food writer Jack Monroe after it was revealed that Katie Hopkins, who was once described as “Britain’s most controversial columnist”, was on the brink of bankruptcy and has been forced to apply for an insolvency agreement. Hopkins has been ordered to pay £24,000 (Dh116,000) in damages and much more in legal costs after she wrongly accused Monroe, in 2015, of supporting the defacement of war memorials.
In truth, though, it is hard to feel much sympathy for a woman who has made a career – though clearly not enough money – out of writing and broadcasting some of the most abhorrent views imaginable.
Where to start? In July 2016, following the terrorist attack in Nice, Hopkins tweeted, “Islam disgusts me”; she has described Sadiq Khan as the “Muslim mayor of Londonistan”; and in 2017, she was forced to leave the radio station LBC after calling for a “final solution” in the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing. I selected those three examples almost at random. Pick one of her tweets, find any old article she has written – it’s the same, revolting stuff. This is a woman who wallows in hatred and division.
So while Monroe deserves enormous credit for writing such a measured, magnanimous response to the news of Hopkins’s financial ruin, it would be a great shame if the rest of us didn’t find the time to celebrate the demise of this “cockroach” (the word, lest we forget, that Hopkins used in 2015 to describe migrants trying to reach the United Kingdom).
It is particularly satisfying to know that Hopkins could have avoided all this if, as Monroe originally demanded, she had simply donated £5,000 (Dh24,000) to a migrants’ charity. But obviously, the 43-year-old would rather go bankrupt than do such a thing.
Where once there were regular television appearances, weekly newspaper columns, and radio shows, Hopkins is now reduced to posting grainy videos on a far-right Canadian political website called Rebel Media. I wonder how many of those she has to make before all those pesky legal bills are settled up? And make no mistake, Hopkins would be the first to crow if this was happening to someone else. As she tweeted in 2014, “The only thing people in debt have in common, other than bad money management, is an ability to blame anyone but themselves.” Isn’t that right, Katie?
And yet, to a certain extent, we must all take some responsibility for the monster that Katie Hopkins has become. Her spectacular rise and fall demands a moment of self-examination. From the minute she appeared on The Apprentice in 2006, Hopkins realised that the more offensive her outbursts, the more notorious she became. And it was this notoriety that secured lucrative slots on reality television shows, such as I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! and Celebrity Big Brother. Better than anyone, Hopkins understood that her currency was controversy and television producers quickly capitalised on this. As viewers, we too must accept our role in this Faustian pact.
Whether Hopkins will alter her views – or the ways in which she expresses them – in light of this libel case remains to be seen, of course. As Monroe says: “I hope this is an opportunity to regroup and reconsider how best to provide for her family without ending up in court or being pushed further to the margins. I don’t know if it’s a fire that’s burning out or a fire that we’re pouring petrol on.”
I suspect it’s the latter. And if that is the case, we must remember what role we played in her rise to prominence the first time around, and make sure we don’t allow it to happen again.