Webinar - Hate speech during COVID-19 - (With Monash University)

Thu 30 Jul 2020 3:00pm4:30pm


Via Zoom

Alongside its public health and economic costs, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has also resulted in a broad range of social harms. Prominent, among the latter, has been a sharp increase in incidents of hate speech targeting members of various ethnic and religious minorities, both offline and online. This panel seeks to explore why we are witnessing this increase in hate speech.

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Hate speech has been described in terms of basic disrespect and as an assault on dignity and human rights; as inciting violence, criminality, public disorder and creating an intolerant climate of hatred; as expressing insulting, offensive, abusive, vilificatory and/or contemptuous messages; as degrading, demeaning, humiliating, subordinating and/or stigmatizing its victims; and as exacerbating the discrimination, marginalization and everyday harassment suffered by members of vulnerable groups (e.g. Brown 2015; Strossen 2018; Waldron 2012). While people of Chinese origins/East Asian origins have often been the main targets of hate speech during the current pandemic,1 other minorities have not been unaffected. For example, Islamophobic incidents have also become more widespread, and the UK Government’s Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group commissioned a study analysing the spread of Islamophobia via social media.2

All of this raises pressing questions for both academics and policymakers: why are we witnessing this increase in hate speech? Is this phenomenon unique to the current pandemic, or does it reflect a common trend in emergency crises? More importantly, how can Australia and other societies respond to this increase in hate speech, via both legal regulation and other means? This webinar will bring together academics, policymakers and other key stakeholders to address these questions. By providing a knowledge exchange forum, it will aim to draw on rigorous scholarly research to inform proposals for policy decisions.

1 https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AsianAustralian?fbclid=IwAR1NOQMeSPDMGw3mrBe_4DHKOxvqTz2rJ_1Zfx1oPk6M_8z2bbWFXnO05lQ

2 https://antimuslimhatredworkinggrouphome.files.wordpress.com/2020/04/research-briefing-report-7-1.pdf