Lucy Hawking, daughter of renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, who suffers from a rare motor neuron disease, expressed her anger and outrage at apparently insensitive remarks made by Katie Hopkins about people with disabilities.
Earlier in April, Katie Hopkins had accused Ed Miliband of being “on the spectrum” following the Labor Party leader’s performance at the electoral debate – a reference to someone with autistic condition.
On Thursday, Lucy Hawking, who is also the mother of an autistic son, made her feelings known in an open letter published in the Guardian Newspaper addressing Katie Hopkins, a British columnist and television personality.
In the emotionally penned letter Lucy Hawking talked about growing up in the 1970s with a father who had a severe disability. She talked about being mocked in public and in one occasion was even asked to leave a restaurant because sight of her disabled father was “putting off” other diners.
She acknowledged the strides British society has taken with regard to treating people with disabilities, but insensitive remarks coming from a public figure of Katie Hopkins’ stature undo whatever precious little society has accomplished so far. Lucy Hawking lamented, “When someone with your public profile tells others it’s okay to mock people with disabilities, you cause great damage.”
She also talked about her challenges as a mother of an autistic son. Insensitive comments like those made by Katie Hopkings would have deeper consequences, “[they] validate the bullies’ point of view” and for many kids in the real world, “lives just got harder because of [her comments].”
In a strong-worded and passionate call, Lucy Hawking pleaded Katie Hopkings to refrain such antics to remain in public spotlight. People with disability have daily challenges to master, reinforcing negative attitudes towards them makes their lives even more difficult.