Thursday, 7 May 2015

My open letter to Katie Hopkins

To Katie,

I've remained pretty tight lipped over your newly found internet stardom over the course of the past few months. Mainly because I'm one not to get infused in debates and/or become argumentative. I've refrained myself until now, so there are a few things I just need to get off my chest.

Why am I writing this you ask? Why am I bothering? If I just keep quiet you'll just leave us alone, right? To be honest, I'm not writing because I want you to stop. I'm writing to let you know that your attempts as a journalist, albeit a successful journalist, have achieved nothing except perhaps maybe some extreme self ego boosting and self-satisfaction on your own shallow part. I'm not entirely sure where that arises from as I'm pleased to know nobody who agrees with the trash that you communicate as 'journalism', but yet here we are. I'm also writing this for those who have been offended by your views, most particularly those which were discriminatory towards mental health illnesses. Offence has been taken but it shouldn't be and I'll tell you why.

Your 'opinions', your judgements, your one-sided nasty views are views characterised into tiny little boxes that can only allocate up to 140 characters at one time (oh, and let's not forget a minute section in a right-wing national newspaper) Let's just all remind ourselves that that is the space where some listen to your views, and most abhor them. We are all entitled to our views and opinions, sure, but before I launch into the main bulk of my discussion can I just remind you that you have no immediate power over anybody else by using language and words as a means of belittling the minorities in the world. Unfortunately, people have been doing that for years. The difference is with you, of course, is that your entire living is fuelled by nastiness. You use language and words to be nasty and awful and horrid because that is your job. People have grown to know you as that person. People now know you not as a journalist, but as a producer. A producer of degrading, useless, drivel. It rings bells with me for sure - in a similar way that the school bully will at first find it fun to pick on those smaller than them until it becomes something of personal gain. The bully enters into a vicious cycle, spurred on by a minority of supporters and constant talk and attention, thus finding it mentally unable to stop their behaviour. The bully is awarded for their efforts, through wealth and prosperity, through the promise of television shows and further expansions on their career. Let's remember however that there always reaches a point where the bully backs down. Where it becomes exhausting to be a role-model for the tormenting of discriminated groups, when eventually one realises that it just isn't worth it.

What startles me is that one in four of your mass market Twitter followers, including yourselves and your family will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives. Whether you are simply too deluded to believe this very true statistic is one thing, whether you will let your children grow up in a household where it is unacceptable to be depressed or anxious or have emotions at all, whether you simply push those closest to you to the side God forbid they ever decided to confide in you about an issue which every single day kills innocent men and women across the country. I am aware that you yourself have a diagnosis of epilepsy. I have known a few people growing up with epilepsy and it is a condition I am aware of. I wouldn't however argue that this mild knowledge provides me with the right to label epileptics as behaving in a certain way, and it certainly wouldn't give me the right to categorise epileptics as separate from any other member of society. The two people I know or have known (and possibly more) who suffer from epilepsy are people that I have viewed as separate from their illnesses. Why? Because their illnesses do not define them. Your illness doesn't define you and my illness does not define me. So why all of the hate? Why mentally place every single person who has ever suffered from a mental illness into one box? Your assumptions are the reason why stereotypes that campaigners have fought so hard to abolish, live on.

This is the 21st century. No individual is the same as the next. I have no right to form assumptions of marginalised groups in society based on individual cases. I have no right to tell somebody they are a certain way or should behave a certain way just because they happen to have a particular diagnosis. I have no right to tell a group of individuals to 'get a grip', even if I wanted to because I don't have the access to anybody elses mindset but my own and thus have no right to lecture them on their actions, thoughts and behaviours. Katie, you accused those with a diagnosis of depression (or any other mental illness for that matter) of being self-obsessed but you forget the huge majority of those with undiagnosed mental health illnesses. Ones that are either too ashamed to seek help, ones who are high-functioning individuals like you and I, or those who simply do not have the access to services that would help administer a diagnosis. Perhaps one of the thousands who go through life undiagnosed is sitting in your house right this second. Is a member of your family. Is a friend of yours. I hope to God they're not but the possibility in this day and age is increasing.

You seem to have this pre-supposed idea that situations just solve themselves. You're fat? Stop eating. You're depressed? Cheer up. For you there is an idyllic life out there which seems to only exist in black and white, simple solutions for not so simple problems. If life were all really that easy we'd be taking your shoddy advice and attributing it to ourselves, but sometimes we just can't. We evidently can't all be as perfect as you and quite honestly I like my imperfections. They make me who I am and not as an example of this perfect society that you dictate we should be.

About a month or so ago, I allowed myself to become offended by your opinions. I realise now that by doing so I allowed myself to be pushed back in time ten years to a time where I let bullies determine the way that I view myself. Many years on from that time and I've learnt not to be that person. I've learnt to be proud of the person I am, mental illness and all, and have enough confidence in my abilities to feel nothing but sympathy for yourself and your actions. I respect the right to an opinion, but when one's 'opinion' is a million miles from the truth, it has to be questioned. When one's 'opinion' is based on nothing but pure judgement and satisfaction of stereotypes, this also much be questioned.  When such an opinion equals to a proportion of fame and power it marvels me. It constantly reminds me that fame and money are two things I'd never want to consume side by side, or even individually. It reminds me of people like you.

However, there is one thing that I will say. The only thing I can argue that you've done correctly is remind me each and everyday of the person I and many others never want to be. So, thank you.

Amy-Louise

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