Katie Hopkins: Misogyny and Women-Hating 101

According to the Huffington Post, a 14 year old boy called Harvey Cuffe asked Nick Clegg and asked him if he could have Hopkins killed or arrested. Nick Clegg suggested this was a “brilliant question”.

The Huffington Post is under the impression that this is also a great question. Because threatening to kill a woman for having offensive and criminal opinions is completely normal.

Clegg is already on record suggesting that Hopkins would make the best Bond villain, despite telling Cuffe that the best response to Hopkins is to ignore her. I disagree with this: Hopkins article on migrants was a hate crime. But, she wasn’t the only person to commit a hate crime in that incident. The editor of the Sun, which published it, should also be investigated for a hate crime. Every single media outlet that gives Hopkins to spew hatred is responsible for disseminating her opinions.

Hopkins also isn’t the only mainstream figure to hold such views. Hell, Nigel Farage holds similar opinions and he’s on the BBC so often they might as well hire him. Our current government ended rescue services in the Mediterranean to prevent migrants from drowning on over-crowded and unsafe boats. People actually died from this policy but I don’t very much Cuffe would have asked to have the people who voted for these policies killed. Nor, would Clegg have called it a “brilliant question”.

There is no way Cuffe would have asked a politician if he wanted to kill a man who made similar statements. And there are a whole load of men writing horrendously racist shit every single day: Brendan O’Neill, Richard Littlejohn and Milo Yiannopoulos spring to mind. I don’t see exhortations to have them killed or arrested. This is without addressing the misogyny these men also spew.

The very same people blathering on about free speech and #JeSuisCharlieHebdo are the same ones haranguing Hopkins. I have to wonder if the Charlie Hebdo staff were mostly female would we have seen the mass protests in support? Or, if there staff were non-white? Because, I sincerely doubt the Cameron and Clegg would have travelled to Paris for a march in support of the free speech of journalists in Saudi Arabia arrested for being critical of the government. Frankly, I don’t believe they’d celebrate the free speech of journalists and bloggers in the UK who are critical of ConDem policies.

Focusing on Hopkins is an easy scapegoat. It challenges nothing. All Clegg has done is tell a 14 year old boy that it’s acceptable to want to kill women he disagrees with. That’s misogyny. Not a discussion of free speech or an attempt to end systemic racism within UK media.

Katie Hopkins should be investigated for committing a hate crime, as should David Dinsmore and Hopkin’s direct line managers. But, 14 year old boys wanting her killed is as serious a problem as her statements about migrants are.

There is nothing brave about exhorting the death of a woman who writes criminal and offensive statements in the media. It’s just woman-hating 101. And it allows the structures of racism and misogyny to remain in place.

Real bravery would be holding the media accountable for publishing these statements.

Free Speech for ALL … except for Feminists

Julie Bindel has canceled her appearance at a University of Manchester Debating Union event on pornography and “empowerment”.  Bindel was invited to participate in the debate due to her long career of campaigning on women’s issues, feminism, lesbian and gay rights and against the sex industry. She has withdrawn after receiving rape and death threats; 3 of which she deemed serious enough to report to the police. 

In 2004, Bindel wrote an article for the Guardian using language that many deemed transphobic. Bindel apologised. Yet, Bindel has been forced off a panel by a campaign of harassment which included rape and death threats. 

Another feminist campaigner has been silenced by rape and death threats because people dislike what she has to say. And, somehow, this is Bindel’s fault. Bindel is being blamed for being the victim of rape and death threats.

The standfirst of the article in the Independent says it all:

The high-profile feminist writer and campaigner has dropped out of a student-run debate at the University of Manchester after allegedly receiving hate mail.

Bindel did not “allegedly” receive hate mail. Bindel was sent hate mail that included rape and death threats. She then handed it over to the police.

There is no “alleged” crime. A crime was committed and referred to the police for investigation. Whether or not this results in criminal prosecution is irrelevant to the fact that a crime was committed. I hope a criminal prosecution follows since the silencing of women by using threats of rape and death is becoming standard fare.

Rape and death threats are male violence. They are attempts to control and silence women. 

There are no excuses. No valid reasons.

Using rape and death threats to silence women just proves that free speech is only the preserve of men.

If your activism involves sending abusive or threatening messages to women you disagree with, you aren’t just doing activism wrong. 

You are doing humanity wrong.

Free Speech: The Right to be a Jackass?

Free speech is a fallacious construct which is designed to keep the masses in denial of their lack of power.

It doesn’t actually exist. It never has, but, if it did, it wouldn’t be the right to be a jackass.

There is no guarantee to free speech in the UK. There never has been. People who insist we do have free speech are confused or watch way too much American television. The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America is technically the guarantee to free speech, you know, in the United States of which the UK is NOT a part [in case anyone remains confused about that tidbit]:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Originally, it only applied to laws enacted by Congress but this changed with the Gitlow v New York case wherein the Supreme Court of the US applied the First Amendment to all states via the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. Obviously, this is only interesting if you’re a history nerd like me. The real point here is that the US, supposed protector of Free Speech, has enacted numerous laws which limit free speech. These are the obvious exceptions like child obscenity, incitement to hatred or violence and the much repeated axiom of not being allowed to shout fire in a crowded theatre. Limits to free speech exist because some people are simply arrogant arseholes lacking both empathy and intelligence.

Even if we had the legal right to “free speech”, [or believed that “free speech” actually existed] it doesn’t mean we should use it. The right to free speech isn’t the right to be a jerk. Free speech shouldn’t mean that people get to use misogynistic, racist, homophobic or disablist language because they want to without any consideration of the hurt caused to others. It doesn’t mean that comedians like Daniel Tosh should be allowed to make jokes about rape just because they can [and this is a brilliant critique of Tosh’s arrogance]. The right to free speech is the right to criticise and challenge. It is not the right to be a jackass because you want to be a jackass.

I have to say the only people I ever hear going on about the right to free speech are those privileged self-entitled nincompoops who want to silence the opinions of others. It’s the rape apologists who whine about the right to call rape victims liars who demand “free speech”. It’s the racists who insist on the right to use the words “Paki” and “Chink”. It’s the homophobes who think “Gay” should be an insult and those disablists who want the right to use “spaz” and “retard”. Those of us with empathy and critical literacy know that the theory of “free speech” is something that is the preserve of the powerful and the ignorant; we know that it is used to control the people.

Those of us who use the social construct of free speech in order to critique and challenge do so without behaving like a bunch of abusive nincompoops. That is the real challenge in a civilised society: using the theory of free speech whilst recognising that we will always need to limit it because of the arrogance and ignorance of a few. We will always need to limit “free speech” to prevent the abuse and objectification of vulnerable people. We always need to limit “free speech” when there are nincompoops like PETA running about.

Turns out, the real theory of “free speech” is just the preserve of the powerful who use it to silence those who demand basic human kindness.