Jesus apprehends the gay Saul, persecutor of Christians, on the road to Damascus
Feedback on what I recently reported seeing on the evening TV news re the Rutger’s cyber-stalking/hate crime case, which ended with the young gay man killing himself:
Sloan– In the interest of accuracy I’d like to clarify the info in your column today regarding yesterday’s guilty verdict in the case of the Rutgers Univ.student. You mentioned the bullying had gone on for a year… in fact, the incidents (the convicted student spying on and filming a homosexual encounter between his gay roommate of 3 weeks and another man; the roommate finding out about the invasion of his privacy and committing suicide 3 days later.)
There were 15 charges of which the perpetrator was found guilty, including bias intimidation (a hate crime), invasion of privacy, and witness tampering, among others.
The victim’s first recourse had been to request a change of roommate. The first time law enforcement or any authorities were involved was after the suicide– again, the time span of the whole tragedy was only 3 days.
A reader learning about Key West
Thanks for writing. I must have been distracted, but I kept hearing for over a year on the TV news report – perhaps that was about something else in the case? And, the conviction seemed to be breaking news – legal experts were interviewed, one prosecutor said she was surprised at the verdict. There was talk of the perp, of Indian origin, perhaps being deported back to India. Can you elucidate the holes in my ignorance?
The reader learning about Key West replied:
RE: the NJ Rutgers hate crime…Good morning and thank you for responding. I followed this case as a former New Jersey-ite with various threads of interest in the case, via the New York Times and several progressive sources online– Alternet.com; Common Dreams, etc. Do not have site-links at this moment– will try to locate them and send in separate e-mail.
To the best of my knowledge:
Perpetrator, a non citizen, came to US as a child with his parents, is therefore now subject to deportation — has surrendered his passport. His defense centered around the childish pranks of a foolish young man-child (have not put quotes around this, as this is the sense of it, not exact words.). He had been offered a plea bargain which would have included NO jail time (just community service, I believe…), as well as assistance from the prosecutor to avoid deportation. He declined the plea bargain, believing he was not guilty of anything. I think that after serving his time– sentencing next month– he could then be deported. I imagine there are some who would favor simply deporting him immediately. Would this be sufficient punishment? How would he fare in India now? Have not given this enough thought to offer an educated opinion…One argument now– an interesting one–centers on the difference between “hate crimes” and the fact that these same offenses are covered by existing criminal statutes. In this particular case, the invasion of privacy and evidence tampering, without the addition of “hate crime” might NOT have resulted in as long a possible sentence– although I am not sure about this, either- it would depend on NJ’s sentencing guidelines.
In any case, this should be a wakeup call to ALL those who have been caught up in the internet’s philosophy that EVERYTHING is EVERYBODY ELSE’S BUSINESS. We need to return to the basics of communication, which include both openness AND privacy!
I replied, after seeing online that the 19-year-old India native never took US Citizenship, which opened the door to deportation:
Hi, thanks for providing more info.
No sentencing, as of yet?
I had just pulled the Huffington Post article, when you sent the link to it by your later email.
Part of another news post, also pretty well done, more extensive than Huffington, I include below the Huffington report, followed by my ruminations.
A timeline of events could be crucial to determining if Dharun Ravi is guilty of bullying and snooping on Tyler Clementi in the so-called “Roommate Webcam Spying” trial. Ravi was hit with a 15-count indictment, including bias intimidation and invasion of privacy, following Clementi’s suicide in Sept. 2010.
Though not charged in Clementi’s death, Ravi’s case hinges on the roommates’ interactions before Clementi jumped from the George Washington Bridge. Ravi used a computer camera to watch Clementi in a romantic encounter with a man, then wrote about it on Twitter. Clementi apparently experienced a range of emotions after he found out about Ravi’s voyeurism. Was it a bad prank, as Ravi’s defense claims, or was it hate crime against a gay roommate, as the prosecution alleges?
A week before the start of his freshman year at Rutgers, Dharun Ravi tries to find his future roommate online, according to the New Yorker. After an in-depth Internet search that leads to gay-themed discussion rooms, Ravi, a talented computer whiz, concludes that his roommate is gay.
Aug. 25, 2010
Three days before Clementi starts at Rutgers, he comes out as gay to his family, ABC News reported. He says to a friend that his father seemed “very accepting,” while his mother seemed “very dismissive.”
Aug. 28, 2010
Ravi and Clementi move into their dorm, Room 30 of Davidson Hall on the campus in New Brunswick, N.J.
Aug. 29, 2010
Ravi messages Jason Tam, a high school buddy, saying, “I think my roommate likes his privacy so I’ve been out of my room.”
Sept. 16, 2010
Clementi texts Ravi to ask for privacy in their room at Davidson Hall. He invites a 25-year-old man, known so far only as “M.B.,” to the dorm.
Sept. 19, 2010
Clementi, expecting another visit from M.B., texts Ravi asking for private use of their room.
After playing ultimate frisbee, Ravi returns to Room 30 in Davidson Hall. He realizes after a short exchange with his roommate that Clementi wanted the room for the entire night.
Ravi goes to the room of Molly Wei, a friend who lived just across the corridor.
Using Wei’s computer, Ravi connects to his computer via iChat. He activates his webcam to see what’s happening in his dorm room. The camera reveals Clementi kissing and embracing M.B. Wei says later they watched for just a few seconds.
Ravi posts the following message to his Twitter account: “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.”
Soon after, Wei IMs her boyfriend, Austin Chung, regarding Clementi:
“He’s NICE but he’s kissing a guy right now / like THEY WERE GROPING EACH OTHER EWWW.”
After 10 p.m.
With Ravi out of the room, Wei — now with four other young women — turns the iChat back on. They quickly see Clementi and M.B. with their shirts off and turn the program off again.
M.B. leaves Room 30.
Sept. 20, 2010
During an IM session with Yang, Clementi reportedly indicates that Ravi tweeted about his date with M.B. “But its not like he left the cam on or recorded or anything,” Clementi wrote. “He just like took a five sec peep lol.”
Sept. 21, 2010
Clementi’s mood changes and he posts a message on gay discussion forum Justusboys, asking for advice on how to handle the situation with Ravi:
“I feel like the only thing the school might do is find me another roommate, probably with me moving out…and i’d probably just end up with somebody worse than him…I mean aside from being an asshole from time to time, he’s a pretty decent roommate.”
Clementi requests a room change on the Rutgers housing website.
Ravi receives a text from Clementi, asking to have the room to himself from 9:30 p.m. to midnight. Clementi invited M.B. over again.
6:39 p.m.Ravi tweets, as reported by the Smoking Gun: “Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes, it’s happening again.”
In another student’s room with several other people, Ravi checks the iChat connection to his computer.
Later in the evening, Ravi texts a friend from high school, telling her to connect with his computer through iChat. “People are having a viewing party,” he wrote.
Clementi reads Ravi’s tweet from earlier that evening and meets with a resident adviser. He unplugs Ravi’s computer.
Clementi texts Yang, saying, “I was afraid he might have hidden another webcam so I also shut down and turned off the power strip.”
M.B. arrives at Davidson Hall.
Clementi texts Ravi to let him know he can come back in the room, saying “we’re done.”
In a formal email to the resident adviser he spoke with earlier, Clementi summarizes the incidents on Sept. 19 and 21 and quotes Ravi’s Twitter account. He writes, “I feel that my privacy has been violated and I am extremely uncomfortable sharing a room with someone who would act in this wildly inappropriate manner.”
Sept. 22, 2010
Clementi takes a university bus to a train station. He heads into New York City, toward the George Washington Bridge.
Clementi posts a status update on Facebook from his phone: “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry.”
Ravi texts Clementi to explain: “I’m sorry if you heard something distorted and disturbing but I assure you all my actions were good natured.”
Ravi sends another text: “I’ve known you were gay and I have no problem with it. In fact one of my closest friends is gay and he and I have a very open relationship. I just suspected you were shy about it which is why I never broached the topic. I don’t want your freshman year to be ruined because of a petty misunderstanding, it’s adding to my guilt. You have a right to move if you wish but I don’t want you to feel pressured to without fully understanding the situation.”
Sept. 28, 2010
Middlesex County prosecutor’s office charge Ravi and Wei with invasion of privacy for the Sept. 19 viewing, and Ravi alone for the Sept. 21 viewing.
Sept. 29, 2010
Clementi’s body is discovered in the Hudson River.
April 20, 2011
Ravi is indicted on charges of bias intimidation, invasion of privacy, witness tampering, and evidence tampering.
May 6, 2011
Wei accepts a plea deal to avoid jail time in favor of 300 hours of community service and some sensitivity counseling. She agrees to cooperate with prosecution in their case against Ravi.
October 20, 2011
Ravi turns down a plea bargain for a three- to five-year sentence.
December 9, 2011
Ravi rejects a second offer: six hundred hours of community service, no jail time.Feb. 21, 2012
Ravi’s trial begins in New Brunswick, N.J.He faces 10 years in prison.
From the other news report:
Although Clementi may not have noticed the webcam that night, he did see Ravi’s Twitter post the next day. Yet his chats with friend Hannah Yang indicate that he was largely dismissive of the incident:
Yang: I would feel seriously violated
Clementi: like wtf [what] did he think was gonna happen?.
Oh yah I gotcha
When I first read the tweet
I defs felt violated
When I rememberd what actually happened
Idk [I don't know]
Doesn’t seem soooo bad lol
Yang: You guys really need to talk?
But its not like he left the cam on or recorded or anything
He just like took a five sec peep lol
He also sought feedback from the online community at Justusboys.
“I feel like the only thing the school might do is find me another roommate, probably with me moving out .. and I’d probably just end up with somebody worse than him … I mean aside from being an a**hole from time to time, he’s a pretty decent roommate,” Clementi wrote in his post.
My goodness, almost right away, Clementi ousted his new roommate (Ravi) from his home (dorm room), so Clementi could have at it with a gay man he’d apparently just met? That just seems wanked out to me. What was Clementi thinking, bringing that man into his dorm room? And what was Clementi thinking, enrolling at Rutgers in the first place, if he was so adverse to having a roommate?
In no way do I condone what Ravi did. I probably would have gone to the administration, explained the situation, and asked for a new roommate, or a single room. Otherwise, I was going higher up.Both of my daughters attended an upscale New England college where boys and girls lived in same dormitory, and I was okay with that. But what do I know? College kids today do whatever they darn well want to do in their dormitories, including group sex, videoed sex parties, cam spying on each other?I wonder how this case would have been decided by a jury of 12 Rutgers freshmen students?I wonder if something more than Ravi was bugging Clementi – he had only just come out, his mother did not seem terribly pleased.
Clementi did not seem terribly displeased with Ravi, or upset, after learning of what Ravi had done.
Clementi seemed to be enjoying coming out.
I think just as important as what might have been Ravi’s state of mind, the other critical issue in this case was Clementi’s actual state of mind, as revealed in his online comments about Ravi. Clementi did not come across as someone who felt intimidated, bullied, afraid.
Seem to be missing, crucial pieces.
Based on what I now have read about this case, I don’t care for the jury verdict, because it looks to me the jury blamed Ravi for Clementi’s death, and I see nothing in Clementi’s online comments about Ravi that justify the jury, or anyone, blaming Ravi for that.
However, I may be mistaken and am going to sleep on this and see what comes back from my dream maker.
My dream maker indicated I should go with this.
When I wrote the one brief comment about the Rutgers’ case, I likened it somewhat to the gay-bashing case at Key West High School, which pretty much got swept under the rug by the school administration, Superintendent of Schools and the School Board. What those kids said to that gay boy in class one day, and it seems what was said to him at other times at that school, was in no way social, invited, playful. It was mean-spirited. It was meant to cause harm. His mother said he had suicide ideation over it. It clearly was a hate crime and should have been prosecuted, but wasn’t.
This person from New Jersey learning about Key West would do well to seek out alternative information sources to the Key West Chamber of Commerce, the Tourist Development Council, the Key West Ambassadors program, The Key West Citizen and The Keynoter, to learn what Key West really is like. Make no mistake, Key West is not at all like what the powers that be paint it to be, as anyone who lives there with eyes and ears that work can see and hear, if they want to see and hear.
Key West is nowhere close to being the gay paradise it is billed to be. As the Key West High School gay-bashing case proved, prejudice against homosexuality runs very deep in Key West. All the way back to Leviticus. As if Jesus never existed. By comparison, my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, situated in the Bible Belt, has a gay communty that probably exceeds Key West’s entire population, and seems quite gay friendly.
I sometimes write about the group of gay men, in their late thirties and early forties, I persuaded to attend an electic Sunday School class at Southside Baptist Church, which I was sure would receive them warmly. What seemed to turn them toward giving the class a try was my telling them St. Paul was gay and every woman near him knew it, and God and Jesus knew it and it didn’t bother them.
The gay men came to the Sunday School class, were warmly received, and became valued members. I can’t imagine any of them behaving as I have read Tyler Cleminti behaved at Rutgers. They were circumspect, respectful and civil. They were gentlemen. Never once did I hear or see them be aggressive about gay rights. All I saw was men, who happened to be gay, being good citizens. One was a Southeastern Conference Commissioner . The Conference to which Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Georgia, LSU, Florida, Tennessee, among other colleges, belong.