I Hate What Katie Did So Here's a Quid...

I'm a parent of a daughter on the autistic spectrum and I've been through the agonies of being stared at, feeling completely alone, being called a bad parent and the terrible guilty relief of a diagnosis...

Blog posts, status updates, tweets: we're all banging on about something and it seems it's only cool if it gets snarkier and snarlier and nearer the mark. The line of acceptability in the sand keeps shifting.

Tripled-jumped way beyond the line, there lies Katie Hopkins.

I've never previously had much interest in her. She talks utter shit, occassionally funny, mostly not. She does clearly tell people: don't like it, don't read it. As writer of a sometimes-crass blog, I suppose in the past I have broadly agreed with that sentiment.

Hopkins' most recent foray into autism-bashing and 'Born Naughty' name-calling has gone too, too far.

When I watched the documentary, my immediate emotions were sadness and compassion. The first thing I felt when I saw Honey and her family was how broken their spirits were.

However important celebrity, notoriety, money, whatever it is that motivates Katie Hopkins to be so horrible, I still can't believe how a mother-of-three can look at that 9 year old girl and her family, see their pain and feel SO little that she called a 9 year old child a pig and a twat and made general fat jokes?

But I'm a parent of a daughter on the autistic spectrum and I've been through the agonies of being stared at, feeling completely alone, being called a bad parent and the terrible guilty relief of a diagnosis.

I'm also obese - boom! - I'm sure Hopkins would rub her hands together in "I told you so" glee if she got so much as a glance at me...

Pathological Demand Avoidance is a much maligned and misunderstood condition, there are no adequate words. You really have to walk that walk to truly know how difficult a journey that is, as the parent and as the child, bewildered, scared, low in self esteem, resigned to the wrong label: naughty.

Whether you 'get it' or not, autistic kids are not joke fodder.

I am an advocate of freedom of speech but I believe that decency, compassion and moral responsibility outweigh an adult's right to say what they like when they like.

Especially about children and especially because of children.

Apparently Hopkins can reconcile her behaviour with being a mother, a role model to her young family. Being a compassionate human, I can't quite visualise how the scene goes:

"Kids, I take the piss out of disabled children and that's OK. If you want to do that too, I will always support you..."

How can autistic children (or adults, immigrants, people with ginger hair, anyone of minority or difference) ever be safe from bullying and abuse when some infamous celebrity Mum calls one out and a fairly large-sized chunk of society claps their Twittering hands, even more snigger quietly and look at the floor, and the rest of us do nothing about it?

Someone has to fight for the little guys and for principles. You don't have to understand every single plight and difference, but you have to accept it and respect it.

I have sat up most of the last couple of nights, incensed, trying to read up on laws around hate speech, wondering if a private prosecution could be launched...

I'm not sure I'm capable of that but I can do something... it's called:

The idea is that if you hear mention of that awful woman and another terrible or inappropriate thing she said, you can choose to chuck a quid, on her behalf, into this communal swearbox.

If and when there's a bit of money saved up, we can do something nice for someone who needs it, just because, and try to reset the balance a little bit.

To the cynics: no, I've not worked out how it will all be administered, it might very likely bomb. If it takes off, we can see...

Yes, the money is, for now, going into a Fundrazr - so yes, I could just keep it - but unlike Katie, I am not a sociopath, you can check me out here and here and, call me old-fashioned, but you will just have to trust me...

Does that feel awkward? Is trusting me with a quid a scary thought? Welcome to the world that Katie's helping to make.

Hopkins recently posted an open letter to her kids (to the world for more attention) on Huffington Post UK.

As heart-bleeding "I'm gonna die kids, this is the advice that I want you to remember me by" type prose, it's naff and pitifully wan. Self-serving as ever.

I appreciate that her epilepsy struggles are real and very serious but it's hard to see this as anything other than a PR stunt. I wasted a lot of time writing a more detailed and damning critique, now deleted, as I realised I was being a hater too. It's too easy to slide into that mode, I want my (meagre) influence to be positive.

A couple of months ago I also wrote an open letter to my daughter called 'I Stand Quietly' and I also posted it on Huffington Post UK. It was written for autism awareness; to help others, not for personal gain. I raised £14K for the National Autistic Society.

A few who read it gave me lovely little things like this cake and this bag. Just because. It made me really happy. We should spend our time celebrating that side of humanity not discussing Hopkins.

I know that 'I Stand Quietly' did some good but my lasting feeling is how little it has achieved: not enough compared to the media attention that Katie can achieve with one evening of pathetic, nasty tweets.

But I'm going to carry on, championing niceness, and doing something nice for someone now and again, for no reason other than that. You can choose to chip in or not.


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