Why Katie Hopkins should not go to prison, and why her column would never make it in Charlie Hebdo, though she contributes to the unaffiliated Vive Charlie.
Katie Hopkins was questioned by police last Thursday, regarding a complaint of inciting racial hatred in her Sun column on immigrants and asylum seekers last April. A reminder of what I wrote at the time:
Katie Hopkins has written in the The Sun that she does not care about bodies floating in the water in the mediterranean. Immigrants trying to get here are “like norovirus”, and some via trucks at Calais are a “plague of feral humans” attempting to “steal their way into the UK.” Rather than rescue boats in the med, “what we need are gunships sending these boats back to their own country.” Because unnamed towns in the UK “are festering sores, plagued by swarms of migrants and asylum seekers … Make no mistake , these migrants are like cockroaches.”
Like norovirus and cockroaches, they make up a plague of feral humans making towns into sores. This is not just dehumanising immigrants. Britain has become humanised in this piece – it is under attack by a virus leaving it with blistering sores. It needs protecting, to regain its health, by use of gunships as the ultimate antibody. You wipe out a virus. By the time Hopkins suggests we scupper anything boat like that they could use, her imagery has done the work of a simpleton far right spouter who would just come out and say it.
Ignoring is no longer an option – you need to be proactive if you feel such views do not belong in mainstream print media. However, I would hate to see such an article deemed illegal or for her to be sent to prison. Free speech allows us to hear what people want to say. It allows us to know who wants to listen and support such views. It forces us to realise as a country that we have still a long way to go in being the civilized society we can be. In short, we have to confront reality when people can speak their minds.
The press regulator rejected that their code of conduct had been breached, because no individuals had been targeted. The Guardian reported in May “An Ipso spokesperson confirmed that the regulator does not have the power to pursue complaints about discrimination against groups of people if no individual is specified.” and quoted ipso stating:
“Many complainants said the column breached clause 12 (discrimination) … while we noted the general concern that the column was discriminatory towards migrants, cause 12 is designed to protect identified individuals mentioned by the press against discrimination, and does not apply to groups or categories of people.
“The concerns raised by the complainants that the article discriminated against migrants in general did not therefore raise a possible breach of clause 12.”
Despite my writing there should be no legal repercussions for what Katie Hopkins wrote, because free speech is nothing if it does not allow foul mouthed people from being able to expose their own views so civil society may respond, The Society Of Black Lawyers made a report to the police under the public order act. The Society themselves acknowledged (my emphasis):
The Society of Black Lawyers (SBL) therefore requests that this matter is investigated as a matter of urgency under the Public Order Act 1986. I am aware that this section requires some intention but given the scale of the tragedy currently unfolding, the likelihood some some of these migrants may already be in the UK having fled during previous months or likely to land here in due course these comments can amount to incitement to racial hatred.
I still think that the best response if you are outraged about the column is not buying The Sun newspaper, and denying Katie Hopkins a platform. Her new show on LBC Radio was cancelled following her column.
I shared my piece from April today, and one of the responses I received was this:
As Katie Hopkins is questioned by police for allegedly inciting racial hatred, a reminder of her Sun article https://homoeconomicusnet.wordpress.com/2015/04/18/katie-hopkins-on-immigration-shock-columnist-needs-a-response/ …
Their profile reads: “Co-founder/Illustrator at
@ViveCharIie. He draws, he knits, he writes, he shits.” The patreon page for Vive Charlie states:
Following the horrific events at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, satirist @jihadistjoe and illustrator @noisykafir joined forces to create Vive Charlie. By bringing together artists and satirists to produce a weekly online satirical magazine we will be exercising our rights of freedom of expression and freedom of speech. We will be mocking and ridiculing politicians, celebs, sports personalities, religion, global leaders and topical events.
The millions which poured into Charlie Hebdo to ensure that murderous islamic extremists could not kill a magazine are not quite matched here, with patreon contributions at around £1,600 per month. Even with Katie Hopkins on board as a contributor to the magazine. Still, that is impressive as patreon contributions go. I would rather support Charlie Hebdo and what they stand for.
Katie Hopkins would never be able to get Charlie Hebdo to run that Sun column on immigration. The magazine was unabashed in their vilifying of the far right and the violence and intimidation they used on racial minorities:
This cartoon by Cabu depicts and quotes the racist demagogue politician Jean-Marie Le Pen of the Front National party (with the eye patch). The caption reads: “We want to be able to go out in the evening without being afraid.” The armed thugs in the background are racist skinheads and their ilk. The cartoon leaves little doubt as to who is afraid.
Cabu was one of the murdered cartoonists at the office of Charlie Hebdo, and you can see more cartoons of theirs along these anti-racist lines here.
I mentioned in a recent post that Vive Charlie will be hosting a Mohammed cartoon exhibition. Free speech is a wonderful thing. But if you believe in what Charlie Hebdo stood for – not just ridiculing the pomposity of religion but standing against institutionalised racism such as immigration policy in France, then you might want to have second thoughts at an online magazine that fully supports what Katie Hopkins said, rather than just her right to say it.
I will end with what I wrote when Charlie Hebdo was being criticised for a cartoon depicting immigrants drowning in the mediterranean, one widely misunderstood let alone that they had not printed it:
Rather than the outrage directed at Charlie Hebdo for a cartoon they did not publish, or misunderstanding the one they did, how much better to use our anger at such deaths at the EU that has not done enough to prevent the humanitarian disaster that has befallen Libya and Syria. Let alone the cutback in rescue operations in the Mediterranean, as a “deterrent” for people facing far worse than a perilous journey on the cruel and deep blue sea. It was predictable the deaths at sea would increase.
Let us talk about the racism which is killing people – our EU government’s response to conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa and the people killing one another in the actual conflicts causing the refugee crisis. Oh wait, someone drew cartoons which offended you. How dreadful – but at the last count the people killed by them were the cartoonists.
A Katie Hopkins column can be tragic, but do not lose sight of the real tragedy still going on.
There you go – a co founder of Vive Charlie supports what Katie Hopkins said above about immigrants, and the magazine account admits that while they trade on the name recognition of Charlie Hebdo, they do not attempt to aspire to the anti-racism and political values which made Charlie Hebdo tackle anti-immigrant parties..
Which is why Charlie Hebdo makes fun of far right politicians, while Vive Charlie invites them (Liberty GB’s Paul Weston and Dutch politician Geert Wilders) to their forthcoming event – which you can read more about here.
[Update: 7/ August 2015 Via twitter it has been made clear to me that Vive Charlie assumed only Geert Wilders would be the guest speaker. They claim to have neither invited Paul Weston, nor to have pre approved him for speaking at an event, which according to adverts, they are presenting with Sharia Watch UK, and which they confirm they are co hosting. Apparently, it slipped anyones mind to make their co hosting dependent on approval of guest speakers for the event.
So, all that makes supporting an event as co host where someone says this sort of thing on “Preventing White Genocide” by Muslims alright then, presumably …]
When it comes to Charlie, stick with the real thing if you support the values they lived for, and not just the ones they died for.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog
Facebook: John Sargeant