While Katie Hopkins has forged a career out of being a professional contrarian on subjects she really doesn’t have the authority to speak about, Sky News enlisted her opinions on their morning show to discuss “internet trolls”, a topic which sees her fall on both sides of the spectrum.
Hopkins has used her Twitter account as a vehicle for her “honest” and usually misguided opinions, and it has allowed her to maintain a living as the media’s go-to individual whenever they are looking to hire someone that fills the “bilious and hate-filled talking head” slot of their programming. Her remarks have led to her maintaining a recurring role on the popular This Morning breakfast show, and recently landed her in the Celebrity Big Brother house. However, on the other hand her opinions have inevitably led to her receiving her own barrage of hate, and as the UK government looks to enforce harsher punishments for those who partake in online bullying and abuse, Sky News turned to her to find out what her thoughts are on the matter.
Online abuse is a bigger concern than ever. With numerous suicides being pegged down to the verbal harassment victims have received at the hands of online trolls, and last year in particular seeing many individuals speak out against the anonymous bullying they’re forced to endure on the internet, it’s a hot topic which the government is seeking to address by proposing sentences for those found guilty of online harassment four times longer than what the government currently allows.
When asked whether the UK should impose tougher laws, Hopkins replied: “No, and I absolutely push back on this term “victim”. I don’t see myself as a victim at all. Look, Twitter’s there for people who want to use it, if you don’t like it, get off Twitter. It is only vanity that keeps people using the damn thing until their eyes fall out of their head… and I have no time whatsoever [for people contacting the police regarding online abuse].
“The police currently don’t have the time nor the manpower to visit people who have their garages broken into, or their cars broken into. I really don’t think the [police] need to worry about a couple of boys who still live at home with their moms… writing a few nasty things. I’m man enough to get over that myself, I’m not worried at all.”
Though the debate over whether harsher legal restrictions should be placed upon those who harass others online is one which I am torn on, the suggestion that online harassment is something which everyone can simply get up and walk away from is ludicrous. Last year saw a number of individuals receive death threats through Twitter and other mediums, which makes ignoring these messages a difficult task. There’s also the small matter of many jobs these days requiring a constant internet presence, with those who have embarked upon these careers able to leave Twitter, but unable to leave the other various avenues in which they can potentially be harassed.
This issue isn’t as black and white as Katie, and others who decry the notion that online abuse is as real and threatening as harassment in “real life”, make it out to be. To suggest that everyone who is a victim of harassment can and should ignore it, and that it is their fault for not doing so, is a dangerous and harmful opinion to have.