Event Report: "Against Hate Speech: Streets / Schools / Universities"

published: 2015-10-13

On July 19th (Sunday), 2015, “Against Hate Speech: Streets / Schools / Universities”, an event organized by Ritsumeikan University's Research Center for Ars Vivendi, was held in room 301 of Jukokan Hall on the Kinugasa Campus. It was co-organized by the Ritsumeikan University Institute of Human Sciences “Translational Studies for Inclusive Society” (Fundamental Research on Social Inclusion and Human Support), and was attended by roughly 60 participants including those from outside the university.

The first part of the event featured a screening of Hate Speech, a documentary film made by director Koya Sasaki and producer Atsushi Hiraki as their Osaka University of Arts graduation project. What was screened at this event was actually a “complete version” of this documentary with extra footage and editing having been added to the original graduation film. It offers a clearly presented depiction of the current state of affairs surrounding “hate speech”, featuring hate demonstrations in the street and interviews with the people who organize and participate in them, footage of people who conduct “counter” demonstrations shot over a six-month period, and the narratives of the victims of hate speech and those who support them.

The second part of the event featured talks by filmmakers Sasaki and Hiraki, Takanori Yamamoto (Shizuoka University), a scholar who studies discrimination and who provided support during the Kyoto Chosen School attack incident trial, and Yoshitaro Hotta (Tokyo University of Science), who has studied the campus codes concerning hate speech at American universities that have advanced ethical considerations of this issue.

Mr. Sasaki and Mr. Hiraki spoke directly about the motives and principles that guided the making of their film. In particular, while filming the participants in the demonstrations featuring hate speech, the participants seemed “normal” when making small talk. However, they would repeat hate speech about Korea and China without any sense of guilt or shame. During the talk of the filmmakers I was particularly impressed with their episodes in which hate speech was uttered not with any sense of guilt but on the contrary with a feeling of righteousness, which made the filmmakers feel “chilling”.

Dr. Yamamoto spoke about the fact that while the Kyoto Chosen School incident trial resulted in a victory, the Kyoto Chosen No.1 Elementary School closed down, relationships with local residents were destroyed, and overcoming injuries incurred by hate crimes and restoring normalcy remains difficult.

Dr. Hotta discussed incidents of hate speech at American universities, attempts to deal with them through speech codes, and the differences between harassment and hate speech.

During the question and answer session there was vigorous debate on topics such as the film having been praised for including footage of the people who engage in hate speech, and how we should think about regulating this kind of speech.

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank speakers Sasaki, Hiraki, Yamamoto, Hotta, all of the participants, and everyone who assisted in the staging of this event.

(Dr. Tomonori Nakakura, Senior Researcher of the Research Center for Ars Vivendi)