Australian television sports presenter Erin Molan denied that her imitating Asian accents and mocking the mispronunciation of Asian names was casual racism during court proceedings, The Guardian reports.
Molan is currently suing the Daily Mail for defamation over an article and two tweets that she says falsely portray her as racist.
The news organization published an article in June 2020 characterizing comments she made on a 2GB radio program as racist. The article stated Molan appeared to mock Pacific Islander players’ names in a segment on The Continuous Call Team show on 2GB by using the phrase “hooka looka mooka hooka fooka,” The Sydney Herald reports.
The Daily Mail claimed she refused to apologize.
In June 2020, Molan denied that the comments she made were racist and that she refused to apologize. She announced she was working with a specialist defamation law firm.
Molan explained in court on Tuesday that she wasn’t mocking the players’ names. Instead, she said she was making fun of the commentators who couldn’t pronounce the name.
Bruce McClintock SC, a lawyer for the Daily Mail, played several clips from the court in which Molan appeared to imitate accents, The Guardian reports. Molan denied that the clips and the comments discussed in the Daily Mail’s article were casually racist.
In one instance, McClintock told her she engaging in casual racism when she imitated a Chinese accent with the comment “I wuv you very long time, very handsome man.”
“I don’t accept that I was engaging in casual racism,” Molan said, according to The Guardian. “No, I was doing a Chinese accent, absolutely, that’s been part of the humour on the show for 30 years and I quoted a movie, a line from a movie, a very famous line.”
Molan’s lawyers have said that the Daily Mail article characterizing their client as racist turned something that was “silly” and “frivolous” into “something which was sinister and immensely damaging to [her] reputation,” The Guardian reports.
Molan told the court the article caused her great emotional distress.
“I was worried that people had read the articles and the stories, and would think that I was a racist,” she said, according to The Guardian. “And I was worried that people might berate me in the street. I was worried that the multiple threats that I got of physical violence, including from someone who is a convicted criminal and plenty of others, that they would seek to find me and hurt me and my daughter.”
Many Asian Australians have criticized Molan’s comments in court. Writer Dhanya Mani pointed out the racial privilege Molan holds as she is able to protect herself from being accused of racism while victims of racism remained disenfranchsied.
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