When I originally posed the question ‘should Katie Hopkins be burnt at the stake?’ to my mailing list, I was preparing myself for a small tsunami of articles endorsing the proposition. She’s the perfect subject for mockery: a heartless, classless douche at best, and positively dangerous at her worst. She’s exactly the kind of person we don’t need at the centre of our national media right now, even in the form of Big Brother.
But then some terrible, Kalashnikov-wielding people arrived at the offices of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, and suddenly the idea of suggesting – even in satirical form – that someone should be killed because of their views just didn’t seem remotely funny.
However, I wanted two articles on this headline: one for and one against. So now, in the wake of these terrible attacks, the job of trying to legitimately persuade the readers of Palatinate that burning Katie Hopkins at the stake would, in fact, be best for everyone goes to me.
Perhaps it is first worth noting that Hopkins is not a clever political satirist like those journalists at Charlie Hebdo. She is simply an opportunist. She knows that she can rake in the dollar by simply saying the most controversial thing that comes into her head on a public platform such as Twitter, a tabloid or a morning chat show. It is wrong to assume she actually believes any of what she says – lord knows what her actual views are – whatever they are, they’re irrelevant. The fact is that she is putting on an act to become notorious.
The saying goes that any publicity is good publicity, and in our educated, inter-connected, enlightened age, where the vast majority of us are rational, tolerant, good natured souls, it is in fact the bad publicity which is the best publicity – anything Hopkins says doesn’t just get noticed, it goes viral.
The bottom line is she’s playing us all for chumps; leaching off of our morality to get a public platform. Quite frankly I’ve had enough of her getting money/publicity/any kind of credibility whatsoever by tantalising us with her pre-calculated hateful nonsense, and I’m starting to regret even having commissioned this piece, as in the end it’s just more publicity for her.
But does any of this give us the right to set her on fire atop a large bundle of timber like the witches of old? Of course it doesn’t. Not in any way, shape or form. As Evelyn Beatrice Hall once said – and as is frequently misattributed to Voltaire – “I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Taking into account the inevitable extra CO2 emissions that would arise from burning her, as well as the wasting of precious timber in a time when the Amazon is disappearing faster than a Tab journalist’s dignity, and simply the fact that whilst being burnt alive, we’d probably all be subjected to her constantly tweeting about it, I think it’s fair to say that there’s no way I can justifiably argue that she should burnt at the stake.
Perhaps I should allow myself a little artistic license when interpreting the proposal. There is in fact a restaurant called ‘The Steak Inn’ in the tiny town of Shell Knob, Missouri. The town may only have a population of 1,379 (according to the 2010 census), but I’m sure we could persuade them all to come over one evening to see Hopkins get ‘burnt’. We could fly in Jimmy Carr, Jack Dee, or someone equally quick-witted to perform the actual burning itself. And we could ask Channel 4 to film it.
“Oooh, you’re gonna need some ice for that third degree BURN,” they’d shout, as Jimmy piled on witticism after witticism, and Jack Dee just would just sit there, smirking. She’d blush; she’d cringe; she’d try to escape, but there’d be no way out. It might embarrass her so much that she decides to scuttle back into whatever dark cave she originally crawled out from and leave us alone for good. Whatever the final outcome, it would certainly be a better watch than anything else she’s been on.
Call it a cop-out, call it winning by a technicality, call it scraping the bottom of the barrel, call it what you like: this is my irrefutable reasoning for why Katie Hopkins should be ‘burnt’ at The Steak.
Illustration – Uel McCreary