With the conviction of former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi this past Friday on all 15 charges he had faced for using a webcam to spy on his roommate Tyler Clementi having sex with another man, this descision not only helps to broaden the definition of hate crimes in an era when laws have not kept up with evolving technology, it shines a light on the pervasive culture of denial in almost every aspect of our society.

Long-standing policies and behaviors of “look the other way” within many of our rooted communities are vastly coming into question. From the recent defamation of Sandra Fluke, to the Boy Scouts of America’s and Catholic Church’s blind eye to systemic pedophilia, to bigotry within structured competitive school sports, to the overall sophistication of bullying.

Criminalizing these enduring behaviors are the slow, methodical steps necessary to transform social order. I applaud the verdict by the Middlesex County jury to hold Dharun Ravi responsible for his willful and ignorant actions, and am hopeful that it’s evidence that we are evolving as species, that we are saying that these belief systems have no place in our modern world, and that the rule of law — the main value that this great country was founded on — is what will get us there, one step at a time.

Pam Alster, former stand-up comedienne, Lifetime TV writer & suburban mom brings a decade of living on the dark side to light in her forthcoming debut novel Robin’s Blue. www.pamalster.com

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