Jacinda Ardern Suggests Opposition Leader Is A ‘Karen’ During Hate Speech Debate

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Jacinda Ardern Karen debate: During a heated debate on hate speech Wednesday in New Zealand’s Parliament, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared to suggest opposition leader Judith Collins is a ‘Karen,’ reports said.

‘Karen’ is a pejorative title used to denote a privileged white woman, popularised through social media memes.

Leaders in Parliament have been exchanging words on the imposition of laws against hate speech, centred largely around the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings in the country. Ardern, of the ruling Labour Party, showed support for stringent measures to deter discrimination-induced crime, with the opposition pushing back on the claim instituted laws were enough.

Jacinda Ardern Karen Debate: What You Should Know

On Twitter, Collins, leader of the opposition National Party, hit out at Ardern’s proposal June 29, writing, “Will calling a middle-aged white woman a ‘Karen’ now be a crime under Jacinda Ardern’s law?”

As per CNNresponding to Collins in Parliament on Wednesday, Ardern said she didn’t agree with her statement, adding, “I also, as it happens, disagree with (Collins’) statement on Twitter, that somehow it will become illegal to call someone a ‘Karen.’ That is absolutely incorrect, and I apologise, that means these laws will not protect that member from such a claim.

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Ardern’s remark, which evoked laughter in the Parliament, has split listeners and netizens. ‘Karen’, though widely used by marginalised groups as a retort to perpetrators of oppression, is deemed to have sexist and ageist undertones. The term has even been slammed by American feminist icon Gloria Steinem.

Karen Chhour, member of the ACT New Zealand party, lashed out at Ardern for her remark, asking, “My question is whether the nation’s Karens will be deemed a protected group? Would, for instance, erasing Karens by carelessly merging them with the nation’s Judiths amount to hate speech?”

The new proposed plan for hate speech penalty raises the $7000 fine and three months imprisonment to a $50,000 fine with the same imprisonment. The changes also call for the law to look into inequality on the basis of gender and sexual orientation.