I always thought hate crimes were much more serious, but I found out later that my state's hate crime laws do not apply to crimes committed against people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In Alabama? Go figure.
By now, it seems that everyone has heard of the Russian female punk collective Pussy Riot. Yet the band's prosecution is but an episode in Russia's ongoing misuse of antiextremism laws directed against dissenting voices.
It is appropriate that during this time the U.S. Senate will address ways in which all communities can flourish in America. In light of the recent and horrific hate violence, it is in solidarity that I welcome the U.S. Senate hearing on hate crimes and domestic extremism.
Purely psychological answers are not enough to promote long-term recovery in communities after hate crimes. The media needs to talk about the role of education, advocacy and activism as ways that communities can heal after traumatic events that involve hate.
The first step to undertake in an event such as this is to determine in an unbiased manner whether the incident falls under the objective definitions promulgated with regard to hate crime and terrorism, irrespective of how the crimes are eventually charged.