Flying the Nazi flag will be illegal. (Shutterstock)

Dr Jane Stephens: symbols have the power to inspire hate, but also love

Our surroundings are smattered with symbols and humans are experts at understanding meanings without words.

A few thousand years of practice have honed our symbol-reading skills and given depth to our perceptions of their meaning.

The trademarked shapes such as the Golden Arches and the Nike swoosh, religious symbols like a crucifix or an Ohm or the road signs that keep us all ordered, symbols give meaning to objects beyond spoken words.

Australian Museum Research Institute evolutionary biologist Darren Curnoe says while other animals can learn to recognise and use symbols, creating them is human alone, making it a stand-out feature in our evolution.

Children recognise symbols long before they can read because it is all about the implied meaning.

Symbols provide context, give us information and are used to sell us things.

They can also be a quiet call to the dark and the damaged.

This week, our premier announced that symbols of hate would be banned in Queensland.

She said she was motivated to act after a person last October hung a Nazi flag from their Brisbane city apartment window, which faced a Jewish synagogue.

The Jewish community was naturally horrified and called on state parliament, which was reviewing hate crime legislation at the time, to ban the swastika from public display.

Read the article by Jane Stephens on Sunshine Coast News.