So Katie Hopkins has been reported to the police for using the words “final solution” in a tweet.
Never mind that the tweet was aimed at Philip Schofield. Or that nobody actually asked her to clarify what she meant by the phrase before taking the decision to report the tweet as a hate crime. It seems in our ridiculously PC society, it is not necessary to actually commit or incite people to commit violence, nor is it even necessary to use words deliberately intended to offend a particular race, religion or community. No, all that is necessary is for somebody to decide that their interpretation of a phrase must be that which was intended, and that a tweet calling for a proper solution to an ongoing problem, a real, lasting solution, as opposed to empty gestures, must in actual fact be calling for genocide.
I have written previously about the importance of context – particularly where the internet and social media are concerned. And it seems this is one more instance in which context is critical.
For the benefit of the historically illiterate (of which I was one until this whole debacle blew up) – the term “final solution” was the phrase that was used by the Nazis to justify the holocaust; the “final solution to the Jewish problem”. In that context, the words are clearly abhorrent.
The tweet, however, did not refer to a “final solution” to a problem of any particular race, religion or group of people. In fact the only person referred to in the tweet was Philip Schofield. “Schofield – don’t you even dare. Do not be part of the problem. We need a final solution”.
Why Philip Schofield, you may ask? Well, Hopkins has attacked Schofield on numerous occasions since the Westminster attack, when he tweeted about how he chose to walk across Westminster Bridge the day after the attack in a gesture of “defiance” against terrorism. His “thumbs down” to knife crime in the wake of a spate of knife killings in London, drew further derision.
Hopkins has consistently railed against what she sees as empty gestures such as holding hands, lighting candles, turning off lights on the Eiffel Tower and other public buildings, and changing Facebook profile pictures to express solidarity with the latest victims of a terrorist atrocity. Exhortions from public figures to “carry on as normal” in the face of a terror attack, to show defiance by going about one’s day-to-day activities, incur howls of outrage from Hopkins. She has repeatedly made it clear that in her opinion, if you have to consider going about your everyday activities to be a gesture of defiance, then you are, in fact, cowed by terrorism.
She has for years been using her Daily Mail column and her LBC radio spot to call for proper action from our police and security services to keep us safe from terrorists. She refuses to accept the view of the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, that terrorism is just part and parcel of living in a big city, a part of everyday life. She is absolutely consistent in stating that she will not be silenced by, nor will she participate in, empty gestures and platitudes.
So her tweet is a clear challenge to Schofield and other celebrities – to state that she does not want to see further meaningless gestures but wants to see a proper, lasting solution to the problem. Whether or not she deliberately used the words “final solution” in order to get a greater reaction, can never be known – the fact that she deleted the tweet and replaced it with one reading “true solution” suggests she either did not initially realise the significance of the words “final solution”, or had not expected such a backlash. She is not known for backing down in the face of outrage, however, so I would tend towards the view that the initial tweet was posted in haste, without any great consideration for the individual words used, and that she took the opportunity to correct it once she realised the way her words had been interpreted. The fact that she initially misspelled “Manchester” makes this a more likely scenario.
If any hate crime has been committed, the perpetrator is the person who chose to report the tweet to the police. It is a crime against the laws of common decency – in not giving her a chance to clarify her tweet before making a judgement that it must be an incitement to genocide. It displays a hatred of our democratic values of free speech, a wish to silence and censor those who do not conform to politically correct words and phrases, and to instill in the general populace a fear of expression of any new ideas or any non-mainstream beliefs, for risk of unintentionally causing offence through an ill-judged or misinterpreted phrase. And it is a vile and pernicious means of shutting down any real discussion of the threat that extremist terrorists pose to our society, and our government’s failure to come up with a credible solution to the problem.
It is time to end this PC madness. In the wake of a terrorist attack, we should all be free to express anger and frustration both online and offline. We should all have the right to demand action, rather than platitudes and empty gestures. And our police and security services should be spending their time investigating actual criminals and actual threats – not wasting their time investigating possible historical nuance in a hastily-sent tweet.