There’s a difference between hate speech and comedy

Published 7 August 2020

Anti-Discrimination NSW has joined Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner in strongly condemning Australian comedian Isaac Butterfield after he mocked victims of the Christchurch massacre in a comedy show which recently circulated on social media.

“The comments made by this stand-up comedian were totally inappropriate and hurtful and deeply disrespectful to the victims, their families and the survivors of the horrific mosque attacks in Christchurch,” Ant-Discrimination NSW President the Honourable Dr Annabelle Bennett AC SC said.

“Comedians need to consider the damaging impacts and harm that can be caused by mocking violent events in our history – humour should never come at the expense of other people’s pain and trauma.”

“There is a line to be drawn between hate speech and comedy. Hate speech should never be easily dismissed as ‘just having a laugh’ or justified because it was intended to shock,” Dr Bennett added.

Australia's Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan said, "This may have been ‘just a joke’ and I am absolutely supportive of comedy – but everyday racism like this gives permission for hatred and extremism to flourish.”

"While I don’t want to build this comedian’s platform, it is important to be clear: jokes like this are hurtful, and hateful, and there is no place for them," he said.

Dr Bennett and Mr Tan both expressed their sincere sympathies to the people who lost their loved ones in the Christchurch terror attacks and the survivors who are still reliving one of New Zealand’s darkest days.

Ends

Anti-Discrimination NSW media enquiries email: adbmedia@justice.nsw.gov.au

Last updated:

07 Jul 2021

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