Seminar on hate speech hosted at university’s Luton campus

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Hate speech and how to tackle it will be addressed at a special seminar at the University of Bedfordshire’s Luton campus on Thursday, April 26, from 9.30am-2pm.

The event, called A word in your ear: tackling hate speech and its consequences, will examine how language, especially on social media, is being used to vilify individuals and divide communities.

A number of expert speakers from Luton and beyond will join hosts Professor Noha Mellor and Professor Jon Silverman, from the university’s School of Culture & Communications, to examine what activities like trolling, verbal harassment and cyber-bullying say about our society and the damage hate speech can cause to both perpetrators and victims.

Prof Silverman, a former BBC Home Affairs correspondent who is now a professor of Media and Criminal Justice, said: “Controversy about free speech and comment is one of the year’s hot topics. This seminar, embracing a range of perspectives, is a timely opportunity to discuss the implications of ‘speaking one’s mind’ and I’m looking forward to a stimulating event.”

Prof Noha Mellor, an expert in pan-Arab media, said: “In my contribution to the event, I will show how Islamist movements depend on hate speech to deepen the sense of alienation from the dominant culture. This is topical given the UK security service’s recent warning that terrorism, whether Islamist or far-right, would remain at its current level of ‘severe’ for years to come.”

Guest speakers include professor of Political Journalism at the University of Sussex Ivor Gaber, Public Health Project manager at Luton Council Elizabeth Bailey, Carl Miller, research director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at think tank Demos, and Prof Dennis Hayes, director of Academics for Academic Freedom.

The event is the latest in the university’s Beds Talks series, designed to bring together the public with researchers and practitioners on topics of mutual interest.

To find out more and to register for the event, visit: bedstalks-hatespeech.eventbrite.co.uk