If nothing else, it’s an excellent way to get publicity. In North Wales next year, there’s going to be a play about Katie Hopkins. Except that’s not quite accurate. It’s about the murder of Katie Hopkins, and what the reaction tells us about our society.
The Assassination of Katie Hopkins isn’t on prime time on BBC1, but it has attracted its share of attention after a Guardian interview with one of the writers. Hopkins herself, of course, isn’t happy.
It may feel as if we’ve been here before, and there was the mini-controversy surrounding Hilary Mantel’s The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher in 2014.
But despite the fact the Daily Mail played its social role perfectly by declaring Mantel’s novel a “warped”, “distasteful fantasy”, that was different: Thatcher had died a year before it came out. You can’t incite someone to kill a person that’s already dead.
Is that what the Hopkins play is? Incitement? One of the fun things about liberal values is that they cover everybody, meaning it’s prima facia just as bad to fantasise about the death of Katie Hopkins (fan of racial profiling, invoker of a “final solution” after the Manchester attack, wisher of death on Mediterranean-crossing migrants) as it is to fantasise about the death of, say, Black Rod, or someone from Gogglebox.
And the fact that her game is being a button-pushing reactionary with scary views means that we can sometimes see her as a manifestation of pure evil, rather than what she is, which is a button-pushing reactionary with scary views.
We’re also in a period where assassination feels less abstract than it once did, and we should therefore be wary of invoking it as a rhetorical device. An MP was murdered, and there are fringes everywhere willing to use whatever comes to hand to make a twisted point. Is it justifiable to draw a target around a specific person,…