The insult, popularized last year by an internet meme, broadly refers to an entitled White woman who is unafraid to use her privilege to make unreasonable demands.
But the proposed changes have been sharply criticized by opposition parties, who argue it would infringe on freedom of speech and that existing laws are sufficient.
Collins reiterated her opposition to the law in parliament Wednesday, arguing it would “shut down debate on hate speech.”
“I disagree with that statement,” Ardern replied. “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 apologize, that means these laws will not protect that member from such a claim.”
The statement was met with laughter and scattered applause from other members of parliament, and a tight-lipped smile from Collins.
The use of “Karen” to signify a certain stereotype of Whiteness isn’t new, or even singular — there was also “BBQ Becky,” the nickname given to a White woman who called police over a group of Black people barbecuing in a public park in 2018.