Katie Hopkins proves her lack of #intellect in claiming #students have “closed minds”

After a group of 50 students walked out of a debate that featured Katie Hopkins this week, the internet’s most fame-hungry troll has hit back by claiming that UK universities are full of “closed minds”.

Writing in her Mail Online column – where else? – Hopkins opens her piece with the question “was it something I said?” (Well no, Katie. Not one thing you said. Everything you’ve said. Top marks on the deliberate irony, though.)

She then says that she wonders if universities “no longer teach students how to think but what to think.”

There’s a lot to unpick here, but let’s concentrate on the fact that she seems to be confusing a simple, planned protest with being silenced because of her “alternative view.”

She wasn’t silenced, to start with, because as she says herself she “carried on regardless.” So there’s that. Silencing someone, after all, is different to deciding that you, personally, don’t want to hear what they have to say. It’s not like those students who did want to engage with Hopkins’ views – and there were some, the lecture hall wasn’t left empty – were prevented from doing so. She wasn’t banned from the campus; she wasn’t removed from the debate; students weren’t herded out of the hall when she started to speak.

It’s also very important to point out the explanation for the protest, as given by Brunel’s student union President Ali Milani and reported in the Independent:

“It is important to note that the conversation at no point has been about banning Ms Hopkins from speaking on campus, or denying her right to speak. It is instead about saying it is distasteful and incongruous for our university, as part of a 50th celebration event, to provide a platform to someone who adds nothing to the intellectual or academic discourse.”

Seems like a valid reason for protest to me.

Hopkins’ point doesn’t seem dissimilar to suggesting that people should still happily listen to and intellectually critique your music if you start caterwauling whilst deliberately scraping your nails down an old-style blackboard, with zero let-up or consideration for the distaste your horrible noise is causing to our ears.

In the caterwauling mind of Katie Hopkins, the protest came about because “students no longer debate” – but yes, they do. They also protest. And if students make a decision to protest against you because you haven’t displayed any intellectual merit or valid reason as to why you deserve to be part of a debate that is taking part on a campus they pay a hell of a lot to be taught at, well, that’s very much ok.

If you have a platform and you abuse it, if you display ill-though-out yet entirely predictable opinions, people are going to lose interest in – and probably be angered by – what you have to say. You might keep your platform (because hey – websites need traffic, and angry traffic is often the most reliable kind), but it’s not your god-given right that people will engage with you. Even if what you actually want to say, this time, is said “articulately and with humility” (much to the surprise of @_Rob_Jones on twitter.) That one time you say something sensible, I’m afraid, is going to be completely drowned out by the dross you spout 99% of the time.

The whole thing just reeks of irony. Yelling about students denying freedom of speech – whilst criticising their democratic right to protest? Saying that students “conform to one way of thinking” and aren’t willing to have their minds opened up – when you’ve been an unapologetically polemical and utterly right-wing for the entirety of your media life?

There is an argument that shutting speakers from campuses because they have controversial views is closed minded – but that’s a whole other debate and, most crucially, it’s not what happened here.

What a good job the students of Brunel chose to protest Hopkins in this way rather than seeking to have her banned from campus. If they had chosen the latter, she might for once have had a point.

As it is, her lash-out reaction proves the claims made about her lack of intellectual worth are entirely well-founded.

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