Considering Hate: Violence, Goodness, and Justice in American Culture and Politics

Kay Whitlock (Author) Michael Bronski (Author)


A provocative book about rethinking hatred and violence in America

Over the centuries American society has been plagued by brutality fueled by disregard for the humanity of others: systemic violence against Native peoples, black people, and immigrants. More recent examples include the Steubenville rape case and the murders of Matthew Shepard, Jennifer Daugherty, Marcelo Lucero, and Trayvon Martin. Most Americans see such acts as driven by hate. But is this right? Longtime activists and political theorists Kay Whitlock and Michael Bronski boldly assert that American society's reliance on the framework of hate to explain these acts is wrongheaded, misleading, and ultimately harmful.

All too often Americans choose to believe that terrible cruelty is aberrant, caused primarily by "extremists" and misfits. The inevitable remedy of intensified government-based policing, increased surveillance, and harsher punishments has never worked and does not work now. Stand-your-ground laws; the US prison system; police harassment of people of color, women, and LGBT people; and the so-called war on terror demonstrate that the remedies themselves are forms of institutionalized violence.

Considering Hate challenges easy assumptions and failed solutions, arguing that "hate violence" reflects existing cultural norms. Drawing upon social science, philosophy, theology, film, and literature, the authors examine how hate and common, even ordinary, forms of individual and group violence are excused and normalized in popular culture and political discussion. This massive denial of brutal reality profoundly warps society's ideas about goodness and justice.

Whitlock and Bronski invite readers to radically reimagine the meaning and structures of justice within a new framework of community wholeness, collective responsibility, and civic goodness.

Product Details

Beacon Press
Publish Date
January 19, 2016
5.2 X 8.2 X 0.6 inches | 0.5 pounds

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About the Author

Kay Whitlock is a writer and activist who has been involved with racial, gender, queer, and economic justice movements since 1968. She is coauthor of the award-winning Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States and cofounder and contributing editor for the weekly Criminal Injustice series at She lives in Missoula, Montana.

Michael Bronski has been involved in gay liberation as a political organizer, writer, and editor for more than four decades. The author of several award-winning books, including A Queer History of the United States, he most recently coauthored "You Can Tell Just by Looking" And 20 Other Myths about LGBT Life and People. Bronski is Professor of the Practice in Activism and Media in the Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


"A very provocative and enjoyable academic read. This well-researched volume successfully provides intriguing and challenging ideas while remaining clear and concise. Recommended for those interested in the evolving roles of prejudice and violence and the effects on our justice system."
--Library Journal

"Writers and activists Whitlock and Bronski explore what, exactly, motivates brutality, especially in the U.S. But instead of just blaming the same old culprits, the authors of Considering Hate bring readers along on a journey to challenge the so-called conventional wisdom around discrimination, harassment, government surveillance, the criminal justice system, and violence. If the words, 'Steubenville, ' 'Stand Your Ground, ' 'Ferguson, ' 'Eric Garner, ' or 'NYPD' ping some real feelings in you, this book is worth a read."
--The Advocate

"Considering Hate is a wonderfully vigorous and delightfully empowering book that shatters any simplistic notions of hate and violence with a new visionary paradigm of how we pursue goodness and justice with imagination, empathy, and courage. Don't miss it!"
--Cornel West

"By disrupting the punishing impulse of law and order politics, Considering Hate encourages us to move beyond fear and exclusion to imagine social justice as a communal process. Synthesizing philosophy, social criticism, cultural analysis, and scholarship on community accountability, it proposes nothing less than a paradigm shift, moving us beyond simplistic notions of hate and love or good and evil."
--Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, author of The End of San Francisco

"Considering Hate is a provocative, deeply humane, and necessary book for all of us who want to reduce violence and create justice without resorting to supremacist ideas and notions of vengeance. Its unflinching eye, large-sighted vision, and limitless heart provide nourishment for mind, heart, and spirit. Read it!"
--Sister Helen Prejean

"Whitlock and Bronski challenge us to deepen the conversation to include the meaning of civic goodness, collective responsibility, and the pursuit of justice."
--Spirituality & Practice