Reality TV stalwart and newspaper columnist Katie Hopkins takes great delight in causing upset and outrage.
But her most recent remarks went even further. In a series of Tweets she described thousands of people with dementia as hospital “bed blockers”, causing genuine anguish among those who had seen their loved ones decline under the influence of this degenerative brain disease.
Dementia sufferers should not be blocking beds. What is the point of life when you no longer know you are living it? Bang me over the head.
— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) April 6, 2015
Among them was the Rev Stephen Sorby, a York chaplain and YorkMix columnist.
He has challenged Katie Hopkins to a live debate. Here’s the transcript of his open letter to her.
I really do not quite know where to start given the appalling way in which you have behaved recently in the media with regards to people living with dementia. Part of me doesn’t want to feed your desperate, media hungry attention seeking, but I am so incensed, I feel compelled to write the following:
Last February, my darling Dad, a man of real courage and dignity, living with Alzheimer’s, died very suddenly.
Throughout his dementia journey, my Dad always maintained his independence so far as possible, not to mention the love, care and attention he received from my late Mam, myself and many close friends and carers. He was never a block or drain on society (or bed) as you cite many are.
Your despicable and ill-informed arrogance is fast becoming more of a block and drain on society itself, rather than those people living with long term conditions. I would have expected someone such as yourself to work positively within the media platform, using it for the common good rather than the vitriol you clearly spout daily.
I doubt you have the courage to face anyone publicly regarding your comments. So, if you can’t commit to a sensible discussion, I suggest, politely, that you put up and shut up!
I challenge you to sit down with me and listen, converse and understand the complex and at times, unpredictable nature of dementia. Examine how it destroys families at times, yet with advancing treatments and therapeutic care, people now live full and fulfilled lives just like my late Dad.
This is no matter for fobbing off. I genuinely challenge you to engage in conversation around this topic in a public arena with myself (e.g. radio) in the hope you retract your comments and seek to promote positive engagement and reduction of stigma.
As a media commentator myself, I am more than prepared to face and/ or front you on this one. My Dad, like so many others living with/having lived with Alzheimer’s/ dementia, deserve to be valued not vilified.
Many organisations, like the Alzheimer’s Society, work tirelessly to dispel stigma. You do nothing but create it with your misguided choice of words.
I doubt you have the courage to face anyone publicly regarding your comments. So, if you can’t commit to a sensible discussion, I suggest, politely, that you put up and shut up! People living with dementia and their families deserve far more than your ill-informed and prejudicial attitude.
Revd Dr Stephen Sorby