Barely has the year begun and already the battle lines have been drawn with the Enemy plain in view.
Either you’re on the side of Katie Hopkins – in which case you’re one of the good guys who, seventy-five years ago would have been fighting the Nazis, and two and a half thousand years ago would assuredly have been with the Greek city states at Salamis.
Or you’re not, in which case you’re with Xerxes, Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, and Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot and the rest.
And yes, it really is that simple.
Some of you, non-British readers especially, may be at best dimly aware of exactly who Katie Hopkins is, let alone of why the future of Western Civilisation might depend on her.
So let me explain, briefly. Katie Hopkins was one of the finalists on The Apprentice (UK version) and has since gone on to carve out for herself a very successful niche as arguably Britain’s premier wind-up merchant, everywhere from daytime television and Twitter to her column in the Sun. She has made many enemies – Islamists; fat people who think their condition is a disability over which they have no control; people who think its a good idea to christen their children Tyler – but it really doesn’t matter whether you agree with her or not, or whether you think she’s gratuitously offensive, or whether you find her irritating or brash or unfanciable or whatever.
All that matters is this: do you support Katie Hopkins’s unalienable right to go on annoying the hell out of whoever she chooses? Or are you on the side of all those people who have been campaigning at the hideous lefty pressure group Change.org to have her arrested by the police for being “racist” on Twitter?
Hopkins’s alleged racism was, apparently, to be found in the following tweets – in which Katie responded with her usual delicacy and sensitivity to the news that Scotland had recorded its first suspected Ebola case and that the victim was being treated across the border in the hated Sassenach territory of England.
Sending us Ebola bombs in the form of sweaty Glaswegians just isn’t cricket.
Glaswegian ebola patient moved to London’s Royal Free Hospital. Not so independent when it matters most are we jocksville?
According to Police Scotland [no. Me neither. But I’m presuming it represents the trendy rebranding of the Scottish police], which has received an unspecified number of complaints, this perfectly harmless banter has placed Hopkins in potentially criminal territory.
DI Glyn Roberts said: “We have received a number of complaints regarding remarks made on Twitter. Inquiries are ongoing into the nature of these tweets and to establish any potential criminality.
“Police Scotland will thoroughly investigate any reports of offensive or criminal behaviour online and anyone found to be responsible will be robustly dealt with.”
I’m glad I don’t live in Scotland, otherwise I’d be paying DI Glyn Roberts’s wages. Oh, no, wait: I do. Like all taxpaying Englishmen, I am forced to subsidise the Scots through something called the “Barnett Formula” – a piece of state-enforced injustice which means that Scotland’s Mickey Mouse parliament has more money to spend per capita bribing its electorate than the proper government in Westminster is able to do with people who live in England. So, presumably, DI Roberts owes me a fraction of his living, for which I hope he is properly grateful.
But really I must stop myself being sidetracked by my Hopkins-like urge to goad DI Roberts and get to the point of my piece, which is this: we really have travelled very, very, VERY far down the road of exceptional left-wing stupidity and intolerance if we’ve reached the point where the police seriously imagine it’s their job to investigate someone for using the terms “jock” and “sweaty Glaswegians” to describe Scottish people on social media. In any sane world, the people this Roberts person would be seeking to be arrest would not be Hopkins but all those nameless complainants for having wasted police time with such a wet, fatuous, self-pitying, professional-offence-taking gripe.
Some commenters will say, as they always do on these occasions, that they really don’t care what happens on social media because they don’t use it, or, perhaps that they don’t care what Hopkins says because she is a professional controversialist. But they’re missing the point.
Free speech is one of the bedrocks of our civilisation. Either you’ve got it or you haven’t. And the way you can tell whether you’ve got free speech or not is precisely through apparently trivial incidents like this one. Those of us who do what Katie Hopkins did in those mildly provocative tweets don’t do it for fun. (Well, not just for fun – though obviously, driving vacuous, vindictive liberal-lefties to self-righteous apoplexy has to be acknowledged as one of the job’s perks.) We do it for the same reason that Jeremy Clarkson makes his jokes about “eating beaver” on the Top Gear Christmas Special, and the same reason I sailed close to the wind in my jocular item about a black James Bond in my recent “predictions for 2015”. It’s the equivalent of sending an ice-breaker through the North West Passage to keep the shipping lanes open.
We want to live in a world where everyone is free to say what they like, regardless of how much offence one or two braindead, culturally indoctrinated, kill-joys choose to take because their half-baked, dumbed-down education has persuaded them that that is the reaction they’re now supposed to have. Once that freedom is lost, it’s game over. So whether you like Katie Hopkins or you hate her be damned grateful for what she’s doing. While you sleep safely in your bed at night, she’s out there standing in the pass at Thermopylae telling the Persians just how small their willies are…