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Lay down your sword and shield / Down by the riverside
September 30, 2010 8:06 AM   Subscribe

Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi committed suicide this week after his sexual encounter with another young man was broadcast online by his roommate via hidden webcam. Afterwards, Clementi probably started this thread at justusboys.com [NSFWish ads] (screencaps here) asking for help in coping with the incident. His last contact with the world was a Facebook status update reading simply: "Jumping off the gw bridge sorry." Many thousands have acknowledged his passing on several different FB tribute pages. Another page cries out for the roommate, Dharun Ravi, and his accomplice Molly Wei, to be charged with more than just "invasion of privacy." Previously, related.
posted by hermitosis (339 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by everichon at 8:08 AM on September 30, 2010


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posted by bastionofsanity at 8:08 AM on September 30, 2010


Thanks hermitosis, I was hoping for a thoughtful post on this
posted by everichon at 8:09 AM on September 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


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posted by notion at 8:09 AM on September 30, 2010


They should be expelled from the dorms at least, and being kicked out of the school wouldn't be wrong in my opinion.
posted by FunkyHelix at 8:11 AM on September 30, 2010 [11 favorites]


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posted by FunkyHelix at 8:12 AM on September 30, 2010


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Echoing everichon, thank you.
posted by Morrigan at 8:12 AM on September 30, 2010


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posted by pointystick at 8:12 AM on September 30, 2010


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posted by wires at 8:13 AM on September 30, 2010


Dharun Ravi, 18, of Plainsboro, and Molly Wei, 18, of Princeton, were charged with two counts each of invasion of privacy for setting up a camera in a dorm room on Sept. 19 and using it to view and transmit a live sex scene, said Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan.

Oh fuck that shit. They weren't exactly listening on on a phonecall here. How is this not, at the very least, manslaughter?
posted by griphus at 8:14 AM on September 30, 2010


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posted by MrBobaFett at 8:16 AM on September 30, 2010


Oh, dammitall.
posted by Zed at 8:17 AM on September 30, 2010


Oh fuck that shit. They weren't exactly listening on on a phonecall here. How is this not, at the very least, manslaughter?

Because they didn't kill him? I mean, I get that these guys were assholes and broke the law, but let's not lose track of reasonability.
posted by norm at 8:17 AM on September 30, 2010 [65 favorites]


Jesus. Why are people such assholes?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:18 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by juliplease at 8:18 AM on September 30, 2010


I remember being a freshman and hating a roommate, and dealing with it in a really passive-aggressive way. This is a terrible end to a rather common story.

I keep hoping that Clementi changed his mind at the last minute, that he took off to a friend or relative's house without telling anyone (like a classmate of mine did when I was a freshman) and that it'll all work out OK in the end.
posted by muddgirl at 8:19 AM on September 30, 2010


Explanation here, griph:
"Under New Jersey’s invasion-of-privacy laws, it is a fourth degree crime to collect or view images depicting nudity or sexual contact involving another individual without that person’s consent, the prosecutor said. It is a third degree crime to transmit or distribute the images.

If the students are convicted on a third degree offense they could face up to five years in prison each under state law. Conviction on a fourth-degree crime could lead to probation or up to 18 months in prison."
posted by hermitosis at 8:21 AM on September 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


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posted by sueinnyc at 8:23 AM on September 30, 2010


I'm trying to make New Jersey's hate crime laws apply here, but I guess it would be a hard case to make.
posted by muddgirl at 8:23 AM on September 30, 2010


I apologize if this opinion is offensive to anyone, but I think that we can only blame the obnoxious roommate and accomplice so much; what's more upsetting to me is that in our culture being gay is still so stigmatized that a young man is made to feel so scared and unsafe (he mentions that people might perceive him as a "fag") and embarrassed by the fact of his sexuality being publicly known that he does something this drastic. That is wrong.

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posted by clockzero at 8:23 AM on September 30, 2010 [107 favorites]


Oh fuck that shit. They weren't exactly listening on on a phonecall here. How is this not, at the very least, manslaughter?

It'll be hard to bring that charge against them. But the Clementi family might be able to bring a wrongful death civil suit against them, and I hope that they take whatever retribution legally allowed. We need to make an example of these two.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:24 AM on September 30, 2010 [15 favorites]


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posted by tuck_nroll at 8:25 AM on September 30, 2010


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posted by yeoz at 8:25 AM on September 30, 2010


How is this not, at the very least, manslaughter?

because there was no reasonable expectation that their actions would result in his death - which is not to say that their actions aren't vile and reprehensible

i do wonder if they could be charge with some form of sexual abuse, but a lawyer would have to look over the laws in question

they should get a severe penalty for this
posted by pyramid termite at 8:26 AM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


clockzero: what's more upsetting to me is that in our culture being gay is still so stigmatized that a young man is made to feel so scared and unsafe (he mentions that people might perceive him as a "fag") and embarrassed by the fact of his sexuality being publicly known that he does something this drastic. That is wrong.

This, a thousand times this.

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posted by jet_silver at 8:27 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


This story horrifies me. It horrified me before I learned that the victim killed himself- how could someone be so cruel as to violate their roommate's privacy this way?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:28 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by rtha at 8:28 AM on September 30, 2010


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Heartbreaking.
posted by thivaia at 8:29 AM on September 30, 2010


Teen suicide by gays, especially after bullying, is shockingly common -- this was the theme of my column today, which was an especially painful one to write. I am not sure what it is about kids -- hoe they go about translating the subtleties of adult prejudice into an out-and-out assault on anything marginalized or despised. Because their parents oppose gay marriage -- and, as I point out in my column, justify that opposition with a series of doctored and manipulated statistics that otherize gays into mentally ill and socially diseased sex fiends -- do children feel this somehow gives them permission to behave as miserably as possible to any child who shows the slightest hint of gayness?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:29 AM on September 30, 2010 [11 favorites]


Clockzero,

we're trying to fix our culture. In the mean time, it would be appreciated if people like Tyler's roommate would stop being disgusting, pathetic pieces of shit and maybe - just maybe! - not commit any crimes either while they're at it.
posted by lydhre at 8:29 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by tommasz at 8:29 AM on September 30, 2010


...let's not lose track of reasonability.

Okay, yeah, sorry. This stuff hits a bit close to home and tends to give me a hot head. Personally, I'd think they should be strung up by their ankles in the middle of the Rutgers campus, but, you know, civilized society and all. By NJ law, a third degree crime is in the same grade as aggravated assault, which would make sense. I still think there should be a revision simply based on the range-increase of the "transmit or distribute" part, what with it being transmitted across the internet.
posted by griphus at 8:29 AM on September 30, 2010


Has the suicide actually been confirmed? I mean, the first link doesn't seem to indicate that a body has been recovered.

/hoping against hope

This is really awful. But I do agree with clockzero - the problem here is much wider than just the asshole roommate (who nevertheless should definitely be charged).
posted by AdamCSnider at 8:29 AM on September 30, 2010


This just broke my heart when I read it last night. This kid was clearly someone with exceptional talents who had a great life ahead of him. That this sort of thing is going on in 2010 is unsurprising, but it has gone to a new level with cyberbullying.

I shudder to think what would have happened to me freshman year at my college if this technology had been around then -- I had a roommate situation very similar to Tyler Clementi's, down to the "Aside from being an asshole from time to time, he's a pretty decent roommate" scenario. The roommate and his male "pals" in the dorm almost drove me insane as it was. The roommate's specialty was long philosophical disquisitions about the wrongness of being gay coupled with punk rock blaring at top volume at all hours. It was a form of torture, although I got my revenge by later not only growing to like the music he expected me to despise, but coming out of the closet, which is exactly what his bullying was designed to intimidate me into not doing.

Thank you for the post, hermitosis.

Has the suicide actually been confirmed? I mean, the first link doesn't seem to indicate that a body has been recovered.

The family's lawyer has publicly stated that it was Tyler, but as far as an official public confirmation from the police, no, there hasn't been one.
posted by blucevalo at 8:31 AM on September 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


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posted by hopeless romantique at 8:32 AM on September 30, 2010


Has the suicide actually been confirmed? I mean, the first link doesn't seem to indicate that a body has been recovered.

In one of the links up there, it's stated that an unidentified body has been found near the bridge.
posted by hermitosis at 8:35 AM on September 30, 2010


And in related tragic news this week: Bullied Tehachapi Gay Teen Seth Walsh Dies After Suicide Attempt.
posted by ericb at 8:35 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by h0p3y at 8:35 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


what's more upsetting to me is that in our culture being gay is still so stigmatized that a young man is made to feel so scared and unsafe (he mentions that people might perceive him as a "fag") and embarrassed by the fact of his sexuality being publicly known that he does something this drastic. That is wrong.

Yeah, exactly. What his roommate and the friend did was very, very wrong, but it definitely wasn't manslaughter, nor do I see any evidence that it was a hate crime. What makes me really sad is that Clementi felt so ashamed and scared of what was a very typical experience to have in college, and that he couldn't see beyond the ridicule to realize that his life was by no means over.

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posted by rollbiz at 8:37 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


The same mechanism that served as a way for the duo to torment this young man ("on the Internet, anything of which you are ashamed or proud will live on as long as these things are cached and searchable") will serve equally well to haunt the pair for years, at the very least. I like the recognizable face shots of each.

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Here is hoping that the Internet can at least keep alive his performances, somewhere, as we will have no more of them.
posted by adipocere at 8:39 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


And just last Thursday: Parents Say Bullies Drove Their Son to Take His Life -- "They claim school district took no action."
posted by ericb at 8:40 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


He has indeed been found and he has indeed killed himself. Picked a good bridge for it, though. Has anyone here ever walked across and looked over the edge? There is a VERY.. VERY strange pull there. Poor kid. I was picked on in the 7th grade when there were no webcams or social networking. Bullying has gotten SO much more humiliating these days.
posted by ReeMonster at 8:41 AM on September 30, 2010


Has the suicide actually been confirmed? I mean, the first link doesn't seem to indicate that a body has been recovered.
"A lawyer for Clementi's family confirmed Wednesday that he had jumped off the George Washington Bridge last week. Police recovered a man's body Wednesday afternoon in the Hudson River just north of the bridge, and authorities were trying to determine if it was Clementi's." *
posted by ericb at 8:42 AM on September 30, 2010


It's a tragedy all round.

The two who organised the webcam will, I imagine, suffer terribly from the guilt and those two are only a couple of years past being regarded as children. I feel sorry for them as well as their victim.

Many people do stupid, unkind (bordering on evil) things in their teens - but most of the time the consequences aren't anywhere near this serious.
posted by selton at 8:43 AM on September 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


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posted by hydropsyche at 8:43 AM on September 30, 2010


The criminal charge seems about right to me, as much as I would like to see their hats nailed to their heads. But civil suits from the family of Clementi AND the whoever he was making out with will be pretty fat. Plus they got their picture in the New York Times and are now famous homophobes.
I don't anything about what they might "deserve", but they are pretty well fucked.
Poor kid, jesus. Shit like this is just so sad, he was surrounded by a community that would have helped, protected, and honored him if only he knew how and where to look. But instead, he finds these two shitstains.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 8:45 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by sonika at 8:45 AM on September 30, 2010


My vote is for Dharun Ravi to be filmed and broadcast online 24/7 for the rest of his life so that he never has another moment of peace or privacy and maybe he won't ever do something like this again. I guess that's why we don't vote on these things, but fuck.
posted by mayhap at 8:47 AM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is awful, haunting and heartbreaking. I hope though, perhaps in vain, that there's a bit of grey area in what we are assigning to the roommate. What he did was despicable, absolutely. But I think it can be despicable and not be a hate crime. To me, I don't see much indication that what he did he did specifically as gay bashing. He says "I saw him making out with a dude. Yay." - is that enough to interpret his motivation as "roommate is gay and making out in the room, I am uncomfortable, I see an opportunity to humiliate him and I take it" instead of "roommate is making out in the room, I am uncomfortable, I see an opportunity to humiliate him and I take it".

TO BE CLEAR: this poor, poor kid is dead because of society's reaction to gayness, a brutal social structure, and his roommates repugnant actions. But I don't know that it is necessarily fair to paint the roommate as if he is a hate criminal.

I don't know. I can see this exact scenario playing out, minus the gay part. Being an asshole to your gay roommate doesn't mean you are an asshole to your roomate because he is gay, I guess I'm saying.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:49 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know it's vindictive but I hope these 2 don't have a peaceful night's rest again for the rest of their lives.
posted by pointystick at 8:50 AM on September 30, 2010


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i don't often have moments were my mouth just keeps hanging open. each new revelation in that post was just horrifying.

i realize that the perpetrators cannot be held responsible for manslaughter, but i certainly hope that every available penalty is thrown at them with great force.

how incredibly insensitive and ... i don't know what other words fit here... inhumane? i just can't think of strong of enough word. vile? were they honestly just not thinking AT ALL? this obviously took planning. at no point did they think, wow this is maybe not a good idea?

just how indescribably awful. i hope they have to attend at the very least many many classes and volunteer hours working with gay and lesbian organizations of some sort. i think the best punishment is for them to really, truly, understand and completely regret what they did and not just because they had to pay a fine or lose a few years of freedom. regardless of who or what the guy was doing whatever with, this is just incredibly depraved behavior on the part of the roommate and his accomplice.
posted by sio42 at 8:50 AM on September 30, 2010


Dharun Ravi, 18, of Plainsboro, and Molly Wei, 18, of Princeton, were charged with two counts each of invasion of privacy for setting up a camera in a dorm room on Sept. 19 and using it to view and transmit a live sex scene, said Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan.

They will walk, with a small fine, probably about the same as getting busted with a joint at a concert, or telling a cop to fuck off. A variation of disorderly conduct.

Expulsion, probably not, because if that happened the lawsuits would start flying and the God Hates Fags folks would be out in full force. Anyone want to do the countdown to the "they are just kids playing a joke, givem a break" defense getting played?

Will they become such pariah on campus that they leave voluntarily? Maybe. But it's New Jersey. They'll likely be heroes, and people will buy them drinks.

There are lots of ways to make a person's life miserable, and the internet takes that to easy, and exponential extremes. Pictures can be shared, addresses can be posted, credit reports can be ruined. Family secrets can be discovered and posted anonymously. It would be a true miscarrriage of justice if either these two, or any member of their family was in the country on an overstayed visa, and that accidentally got reported.

While I'll stay just on this side of the line of advocating it, it would not displease me if the gay activist/hacker community takes every legal or otherwise opportunity to make these sorts of things happen.

If these two people suffer great consequences, and have to spend every waking moment of the rest of their lives dealing with a problem that all comes back to what they did and its end result, all I can say is. "Well bless their hearts."
posted by timsteil at 8:50 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wonder how the person with whom Clementi had the sexual encounter is feeling.
posted by JanetLand at 8:51 AM on September 30, 2010 [14 favorites]


Somewhere, out there, is who knows how many copies of a Polaroid someone took of me in high school, under similar circumstances.

I spent a lot of time contemplating doing something drastic. Even today, 30 years on, knowing my family and friends would stand beside me, the idea that it could still come back to haunt me is depressing and terrifying.

No prison has higher walls than our fears.

My heart goes out to the family.
posted by No1UKnow at 8:53 AM on September 30, 2010 [20 favorites]


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posted by sciencegeek at 8:53 AM on September 30, 2010


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posted by DreamerFi at 8:54 AM on September 30, 2010


They will walk, with a small fine, probably about the same as getting busted with a joint at a concert, or telling a cop to fuck off. A variation of disorderly conduct.

Fortunately you (and I, who assumed the same thing) are wrong. They're on the hook for 3rd and 4th degree offenses:
Third degree criminal offenses:

If found guilty of possession of cocaine, ecstasy, or heroin, possession of a handgun, certain thefts, aggravated assault, or another third-degree crime you may be sentenced to serve up to 5 years in prison.

Fourth degree criminal offenses:

Unauthorized use of a vehicle, some charges involving assault and threat crimes or possession of marijuana, criminal sexual contact, or another 4th-degree crime you may be sentenced to serve up to 18 months in prison.
posted by griphus at 8:55 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is heartbreaking.
posted by amro at 8:55 AM on September 30, 2010


How is this not, at least, manslaughter?

because there was no reasonable expectation that their actions would result in his death


That's why we have "involuntary manslaughter," isn't it?

I agree that there's a wider problem, but I don't think that the two students who did this are therefore blameless for nothing more than invasion of privacy. The are responsible, by some degree, for the suicide. That's simple logic, isn't it? Please, lawyers, correct me, but if someone takes actions with malice aforethought, even if there is *no intent* of physical harm, that lead to death, isn't that a criminal action related to murder, manslaughter, etc.?
posted by tzikeh at 8:57 AM on September 30, 2010


The quote that haunts me is, "This is what it's like to be gay in 2010" and the rest of that article about this needless death bothers me. As a straight ally, I wonder where I have failed. I wonder how I can do more. There has to be something else I can do, right? I just don't know what that is.
posted by micawber at 8:57 AM on September 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


how incredibly insensitive and ... i don't know what other words fit here... inhumane? i just can't think of strong of enough word. vile? were they honestly just not thinking AT ALL? this obviously took planning. at no point did they think, wow this is maybe not a good idea?

Again, it's vile but it's incredibly common, especially if the school does not provide appropriate structures that make students feel safe enough to report such violations. For example, Clementi apparently complained online that he felt that he could not report this to his RA and expect anything other than roommate re-assignment. At other colleges, such a violation would result in housing probation or suspension of on-campus housing privileges (IE, they would be kicked out of the dorms and reported to the police).

This sort of behavior stems from (1) thoughtless anger strengthened by (2) a feeling that there will be no consequences for these actions. Does Rutgers have a social honor code that prohibits jerky behavior? Does it back up the honor code with a strong Honor Board and a culture of accountability? Or do they trust that "things will work themselves out"?
posted by muddgirl at 8:58 AM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


The irrational part of me wants these two burned at the stake. It may be a few days at least before I'm able to really reasonably say that I agree that the invasion of privacy charge is all that's needed. But oh, god. I think that's sort of what the rest of me is consumed with right now, "oh god oh god oh god". It's a little hard to be coherent. I don't usually cry for strangers I only know about from the internet.

That people can be so horrible is just hard for me to cope with, but all I could think about was that time in high school that a couple classmates saw me getting into my girlfriend's car--she was nineteen, not a student--and how awful things were for months after that. And what might have happened if I'd felt at the time like I had a convenient bridge. My life has gotten so much better since then, but it just breaks my heart that the world can't get better, too. God damn it. Can't people just stop being awful to each other just for the sake of being awful?

Have peace, Tyler. And Seth. And Asher. And Lucas. And too, too many others.
posted by gracedissolved at 8:59 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not that this specific violation is common, but similar passive-aggressive humiliations occur between roommates all the time, in my experience.
posted by muddgirl at 9:00 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


...and this is what I get for trying to tell someone IRL what I'm crying about while I'm typing, that last should have been Billy. I was listing the names while I was writing. God.
posted by gracedissolved at 9:00 AM on September 30, 2010


Expulsion, probably not, because if that happened the lawsuits would start flying and the God Hates Fags folks would be out in full force. Anyone want to do the countdown to the "they are just kids playing a joke, givem a break" defense getting played?

I think Rutgers has a lot more to lose if they decide to stand up for these douchebags rather than just throwing them under the bus. People have been expelled from Rutgers and other universities for much lesser crimes, let alone the felony charges that they are up against right now.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:01 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by polexa at 9:05 AM on September 30, 2010


This is vile and heartbreaking, but I don't think that the grievous offense in question is improper use of a camera to record sexual images. When this sort of law is used to prosecute Romeo and Juliet "statutory" cases, we're justifiably outraged.

I want to punish these kids for being assholes, but figuring out some way to charge them with a crime is not going to act as a deterrent for other kids to be assholes.

They should be expelled from school, certainly.
posted by desuetude at 9:08 AM on September 30, 2010


Does Rutgers have a social honor code that prohibits jerky behavior? Does it back up the honor code with a strong Honor Board and a culture of accountability? Or do they trust that "things will work themselves out"?

Right after this happened and right before it came out in the media (interesting timing!), Rutgers announced the beginning of Project Civility, "a school-wide event aimed at creating 'a more charitable campus culture.' " A college working to teach grown-ass people manners and values. Because 18 years of being a bigot and a bully can surely be undone by some lectures. It's a noble effort (beyond being too little, too late for Tyler), but I wonder how effective it will be.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:09 AM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


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posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 9:18 AM on September 30, 2010


So it seems in just over ten years, we've evolved our culture a bit. Now instead of being outraged that a young gay man was beaten nearly to death and hung on a wire fence to die, we're finally waking up to gay suicides, when young men are harassed to the point of taking their own lives by social rejection and bullying for either being gay or being perceived as gay.

There certainly has been a rash of such incidents in the national news lately, hasn't there? I suspect that they've been going on all along and we simply haven't considered them newsworthy until recently.

The past two weeks or so have been just horrible for an old hippie faggot like myself, watching report after report flow in about young people who have faced such tremendous hate from their peers and fear the social stigma we still place on homosexuality so much that they feel they must end it all. Dan Savage's video project on YouTube is such a great idea, but for a young gay person who hasn't really had the time or maturity to work through the coming out process for themselves, there is only so much that watching video messages from strangers can accomplish. Especially when they're mired up to their eyebrows in their personal drama of having to survive the hostility of high school.

And high school and college can be hostile enough places for even the most mainstream of people, let alone anyone who is battling the years-long programming of culture with longings coming from within their own selves.

I attempted suicide in high school. I knew I was different, somehow, although didn't have a clear picture of exactly how because the town I grew up in didn't have a gay underground at all and I was too involved with Jesus to even consider sex; despite my own masturbatory fantasy life having to do entirely with men, it was displaced onto "if I looked like him, I'd be getting laid" instead of "I want to have sex with him." Nonetheless, the despair of feeling so completely out of synch with everyone around me, feeling rejected for friendship at nearly every turn, and having no clear line through to self-understanding... It all overcame me and one weekend I took every pill in my parent's medicine cabinet and hoped to just go away.

Thankfully, I was stupid about that, and ended up coming to with my head in the toilet vomiting. I spent 2 days "sick" in bed, and 6 years later (a lifetime at that age) finally realized I was gay and started living life as a full person for the first time. That I went nearly immediately from militant christianity to militant homosexual, voraciously studying the path taken by those before me and trying to learn about how they had struggled to survive and applying that to my own life is probably only a reflection of how hard I felt I was going to have to struggle simply to survive in this hostile place.

That this young man had actually come through enough of that process for himself that he was seeking out same-sex partners... that he was being respectful enough of his roommate to ask to have the dorm room to himself for time with his chosen partner... that he was in college (NOT high school), a time when many young people begin to find clear self-expression for the first time... and that he was violated in such a horrible, sneaky, underhanded way that he felt that suicide was the only way out....

That should be a black mark upon our culture as grave and as deep as the one we all felt when we heard about Matthew Shepard being hung on a fence in Wyoming. It is a reflection on all of us that he didn't feel safe enough within our culture at large to find a way to shrug off the asshole actions of his roommate as a malicious and illegal prank, and instead felt that death was the only solution. Sadly, it's turning into a funhouse maze, where all around us we are seeing this same reflection with different faces, over and over, echoing repeatedly.

We are failing, and this is the mirror in which we see that.
posted by hippybear at 9:18 AM on September 30, 2010 [87 favorites]


They should be expelled from school, certainly.

Rutgers University President Richard McCormick wrote in a letter to the campus: "If the charges are true, these actions gravely violate the university's standards of decency and humanity."

Throw their asses out.

Too bad Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei didn't live in colnial times. A good tar-and-feathering would be appropriate.

They need to wear a 'badge of shame' for the rest of their lives. The Internet Never Forgets. Even if they legally change their names they should feel guilt and shame for the remainder of their lives.
posted by ericb at 9:20 AM on September 30, 2010


Those two kids were products of one of the top public high schools in New Jersey, right near where I live. They were privileged. Knowing they had access to a good education before this makes it feel worse to me; they have no excuse for their ignorant behavior.
posted by amro at 9:21 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by bovious at 9:22 AM on September 30, 2010


God. This just makes me feel sick.

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posted by limeonaire at 9:22 AM on September 30, 2010


>>It's a noble effort (beyond being too little, too late for Tyler), but I wonder how effective it will be.

I went to Rutgers. It will not be effective.
posted by spec80 at 9:22 AM on September 30, 2010


Will they become such pariah on campus that they leave voluntarily? Maybe. But it's New Jersey. They'll likely be heroes, and people will buy them drinks.

What the hell New Jersey are you talking about? We're far far FAR from perfect, but your insinuation is laughably inaccurate.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 9:23 AM on September 30, 2010 [17 favorites]


I just want to add that this is a really great post and discussion. Thanks everyone.
posted by spec80 at 9:24 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by treepour at 9:24 AM on September 30, 2010


Thanks, hermitosis, for the post. I read about this last night and it's been kicking around in my head since. What a heartbreaking story, and what a callous, cruel, and humiliating thing to do to someone.

To elaborate on what clockzero said above, one of the more disturbing things about this is linked in the forum posts above, and summarized in this Forbes post. After Ravi taped his roommate having sex for the first time, people apparently came to his aid, asking him if he was okay after seeing something so deviant and disturbing as two young men hooking up -- as if Ravi were the violated one instead of the violator. Unbelievable.

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posted by en forme de poire at 9:24 AM on September 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


They need to wear a 'badge of shame' for the rest of their lives.

I'm sure they will feel the weight of one on their chests every day. That is enough for me.
posted by hermitosis at 9:25 AM on September 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


because there was no reasonable expectation that their actions would result in his death

That's why we have "involuntary manslaughter," isn't it?


No. This isn't in any way shape or form manslaughter, and the law isn't going to magically conform to your outrage.

I really hope these two see jail time though, even if this situation didn't have such a tragic end, they would still deserve it.
posted by spaltavian at 9:25 AM on September 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


This makes me see red:
Michael Zhuang, a friend of Ravi's for six years, describes the suspect as someone into computer programming and video games.
Zhuang told ABC News he believes Ravi was excited to go to Rutgers and believes the media portrayals of Ravi as possibly homophobic or a serious prankster are not true. "I'm in shock, I didn't expect this to happen and I am just speechless. He's normally very nice and I don't think that this is a representation of him," said Zhuang. "He's very very open minded and he, like if it had been a girl in the room it wouldn't have been any different," he said.
An equal-opportunity asshole, how open-minded! The part I hate is that even if that's true of Ravi—that he would've taped anyone and dared people to watch it online—it makes all the difference for the audience. It's not sick or gross or how could you go back in the room after that?? if he's not gay.

Straight people don't have anything to fear if the world finds out that they're straight.

.
posted by bewilderbeast at 9:27 AM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


From the ABC link, Ravi's friend on the characterization Ravi as a homophobe: "I'm in shock, I didn't expect this to happen and I am just speechless. He's normally very nice and I don't think that this is a representation of him," said Zhuang. "He's very very open minded and he, like if it had been a girl in the room it wouldn't have been any different," he said.

Am I reading this right that dude's friend is saying he would have filmed people in a sexual encounter against their consent regardless of what combination of sexes had been involved? This is one of those rare situations where trying to appear more equitable does not sweeten things...

The kid may not be the type of homophobe that would beat someone to death like the fuckers that killed Matthew Shephard. But he definitely seems like he could be the type that would claim to support someone's right to be who they are to their face, and behind their back make jokes about how they're afraid their roommate will "gay-rape" them while they sleep, or some similar shit. That's certainly the prevailing type of homophobia I tend to see on campus, and it's no less pernicious.
posted by hegemone at 9:27 AM on September 30, 2010 [10 favorites]


Or, what bewilderbeast said. So many levels of shit in that one excerpt.
posted by hegemone at 9:29 AM on September 30, 2010


Heartbreaking. And so ... avoidable? needless? didn't-have-to-happen? The invasion of privacy and surreptitious filming is extremely creepy and all, but if Clementi had been a straight guy filmed having plain vanilla sex with his girlfriend, I doubt he'd have committed suicide. I wonder what kind of social context he lived in where being gay was effectively a death sentence.

I find it odd that, with pictures and videos of people doing all kinds of eyebrow-raising stuff all over the internet, we seem to be getting more prudish, not less. I've seen claims that our society has been desensitized by free porn, but a lot of cyberbullying is based on sex-shaming and the victims sometimes respond tragically rather than shrugging it off. Seems like desensitization isn't happening where it's needed most.

Any serious theories about why we're getting more prudish and conformist, despite evidence that "everybody's doing it"?
posted by Quietgal at 9:31 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I came from a small town with a conservative background. When I went to school in Brooklyn, it was a culture shock. My roommate was from the South, and for him it was also quite the change. He was super quiet and shy, not unlike myself really.

One evening, about two weeks after the start of class, I came home to see him sick in bed, covered in vomit, all down the walls of our bunk and onto my sheets. I asked him several times if he was OK. Clearly he was not, but at age 18, I had no experience how to react. I went to my RA saying I was worried about him and she dismissed the incident saying, "If your roommate has a drinking problem, you need to have a discussion with him." But this kid didn't drink. I'd be surprised if he drank coffee let alone booze. I slept that night in the Lounge and was woken up at 3AM by other students. Apparently he woke up delirious, walking into people's rooms and vomiting along the way. I guess *that* got my RA's attention. An ambulance was called, and he was already on the way to the hospital.

The next day after class I found him cleaning up the mess in our room. I was really concerned for his safety. At the time I thought it was some contagious bug or food poisoning. I didn't mind the that much, I was more confused than anything - and a little worried I might catch the virus. He reassured me that would be impossible.

The next day I found a note with four points that explained why and left me dumbfounded:

1. I am gay.
2. I tried to commit suicide by taking sleeping pills.
3. I have not attended a single class since the start of school.
4. I talked with our RA and I'm dropping out of school and returning home this weekend.

The only thing I could do was to go take a shower and cry. I had never before realized that being gay could be such a struggle that it would make one want to end their own life. I'm happy as hell he failed, and I hope his family embraced his new self. Me being poor at communication never really heard from him again after that weekend.
posted by yeti at 9:31 AM on September 30, 2010 [43 favorites]


Fuck the internet revenge fantasies.

I hope these two wake up one morning with a sense of empathy. And after that I hope they live for a long time, do many good and worthwhile things, and still never quite manage to forget this one.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:40 AM on September 30, 2010 [98 favorites]


From Rutgers' Daily Targum
“Although Vice President for Student Affairs Gregory S. Blimling refused to confirm or deny reports about the case or the students involved, he said there are consequences for such behavior at the University.

‘The [University] Code of Student Conduct has an element that says that students may not do unauthorized videotaping or recording of other students,’ he said. ‘So that would violate the Code of Student Conduct.’

The University's Code of Student Conduct outlines penalties ranging from reprimanding students to permanent expulsion, Blimling said.

Depending on the circumstances, the administrative hearing officer and Office of Student Conduct may determine the punishment, or a student can opt to have a hearing before a committee that will make a recommendation as to how the University should respond, he said.

‘Our goal in dealing with any student who is involved in dealing with any kind of issue of student conduct is an educational goal, is to help them understand how their behavior would have affected other people and get them to change that behavior and learn from other people,’ Blimling said.

But Blimling said no one should draw conclusions from hearsay.

‘So often when reports of any kind surface, that information that comes out initially is misconstrued by the media,’ he said. ‘So I would not believe everything that the media has currently published.’

Some residents of Davidson Hall, who wished to remain anonymous but are close to Ravi, agree with Blimling's idea. They say the media has distorted the story.

‘No one knows [what really happened,]’ one student said.

Neighbors in Davidson Hall said Ravi is a friendly, funny young man with a good heart, who would not purposefully hurt anyone.”
posted by ericb at 9:42 AM on September 30, 2010


‘No one knows [what really happened,]’ one student said.

Huh. Ravi posted the video online and invited others via Twitter to watch another 'encounter' live.
posted by ericb at 9:44 AM on September 30, 2010 [9 favorites]


"Had he been in bed with a woman, this would not have happened," said Lauren Felton, 21, of Warren.

See NYT follow-up here:http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2010/09/30/us/AP-US-Student-Taped-Sex.html?ref=aponline

Sad but true, and all around sad.

.
posted by emhutchinson at 9:47 AM on September 30, 2010


bewilderbeast and hegemone: yeah, exactly. That character defense rang really false. Even if he wasn't some kind of Westboro Baptist, Ravi was, at a minimum, willing to exploit the homophobia of others to humiliate his roommate (otherwise why advertise that his roommate was having specifically gay sex?).
posted by en forme de poire at 9:49 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fuck the internet revenge fantasies.

I hope these two wake up one morning with a sense of empathy. And after that I hope they live for a long time, do many good and worthwhile things, and still never quite manage to forget this one.


Pretty much my thoughts on this. I'm a criminal defense lawyer; I work with people who have done bad things, some of them quite horrible, but none of them do the things they do because no one ever beat them hard enough, and it's not like they would stop doing them if only we made them feel bad enough about themselves.

I'd think the gay community, at least, would understand that a lifetime of shame doesn't help people develop healthy well adjusted behavior.

Empathy is a two way street. The fact that Ravi and Wei did have empathy for Clementi doesn't excuse us from not showing any empathy for them.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:49 AM on September 30, 2010 [25 favorites]


Ah, speculation (indeed!) runs rampant over at the Daily Targum:comments
"I think there is a lot of specualtion and blame going around without the facts. I do not think Clementi jumped because of the video episode. I suspect he was already having a difficult time accepting his sexuality. Perhaps the older guest he had in his room should be questioned. Who was this person? Maybe he was someone who had molested this boy and was trying to pressure him to continue the relationship. Perhaps Clementi was already embarrassed and distressed because of this relationship. He didn't seem to care if his fellow students knew, otherwise he would not have had this guest come to his dorm. What the students did was wrong, but I think the older guest should definitley be questioned. Clementi was a minor not too long ago, so if this relationship had been going on before, then there are some serious questions to be answered. As for the other two students, I believe they have probably learned their lesson, but they should still be expelled."
posted by ericb at 9:50 AM on September 30, 2010


freshman?
God I wish wish wish that just one of the victims of the camming was a few weeks shy of 18.
Then we could see underage porn charges thrown into the mix.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:52 AM on September 30, 2010


A good tar-and-feathering would be appropriate.

Tar (eventually) washes off. The internet is forever. A colonial revenge fantasy would be a drop in the bucket compared to these two having their names and faces - globally, mind you - associated with the needless death of a young man for the rest of their lives. And beyond.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:52 AM on September 30, 2010


micawber, the marriage equality and DADT-repeal movements can always use your help. Striking a blow there strikes a blow here.

AND GODDAMNIT IT'S TIME TO GET MY RANT ON

For years, I've looked at the pictures from the 60s civil rights marches and thought that, had I been around then, I'd be one of those (very) few white people in the crowd. I know most of you good liberals out there have had similar thoughts, that you'd march and face the angry racist crowds and maybe even go to jail for that cause. A lot of you have thought that, haven't you?

Well, here's your fucking chance. Right now, there is a civil rights issue that needs your attention and participation. Right now, people are getting murdered, beaten, denied basic civil rights, threatened, and bullied because of how they were born. Right now, there are marches and sit-ins and congressional outreach programs and what-all. Right now, there are unjust laws to overturn and angry crowds to face. If you think equal rights for blacks is a good and worthy cause, even though you're white, then you should think equal rights for gays is a good and worthy cause, even if you're straight.

You don't even have to do that much. No one's having dogs and firehoses turned on them these days, so you're safe there. You don't have to be a tireless crusader. You don't have to volunteer on any sort of regular basis. You don't have to go to jail, or lose your job, or devote yourselves full-time to the cause. Make a sign, go to a march, write a letter.

Your role here is not necessarily to changes the bigots' minds (though, of course, that'd be swell). What my wife and I found is honest-to-god amazement that a straight person, much less a straight couple, gives enough of a damn to do something. We got an unbelievable amount of praise and adoration and gratitude for maybe 4 hours work. Sure, I know many of the folks who oppose same-sex marriage oppose inter-racial marriage, too, so maybe we didn't open anyone's mind. But we fired up a hell of a lot of people, encouraged them to keep on, and showed them that it's not their issue, but all of ours.

This will trickle down. Get gays accepted into the military, let them get married, and you will see public acceptance of horrific acts against gays go down. Not go away, of course, and it won't happen overnight, but we can—YOU can—chip chip chip away at it.

This problem won't be solved by expelling the two instigators (though that should be done). It won't be solved by impassioned rants on blogs, or internet revenge fantasies. Fuck, it might not ever be solved. But you--YOU—can help.

Goddamnit, children are dying, and you have the opportunity to do something about it, without even going to much trouble. SO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:52 AM on September 30, 2010 [64 favorites]


i'm sure i'm missing something, but i'm not getting the sense that clementi's sexual preference was the driver in this. according to the gawker article, clementi most problably knew that 1) he had been taped at least once (and that the tape was broadcast), and 2) that it was likely to occur again. with that knowledge, he still wrote, i mean aside from being an asshole from time to time, he's a pretty decent roommate.

don't misunderstand; i think this is a tragedy. i think the roommate & his friend were assholes. but i also think it's premature to jump on the gay bashing bandwagon. i don't know anything about coming out, but also according to the gawker article, there's a cam4 account profile [NSFW] for clementi's supposed username that is nsfw, which leads me to believe that clementi might have actually been comfortable with his sexuality.

again: i'm probably missing something. it looks to me that people are pretty eager to make this kid the next poster boy for gay rights, and i just don't see any evidence of that.
posted by msconduct at 9:56 AM on September 30, 2010


Fuck the internet revenge fantasies.

I disagree. Yes, there is a bigger issue here and no they did not push the kid off the bridge. But little would be lost if they were, in the first place, terrified to commit such an act to any human being. There is a place for empathy, sure. They should even be considered with it. But they must be punished for beyond the guilt they feel, if not for the acts they've committed but to put the fear of such a punishment into the hearts of anyone else who sees this as a harmless prank.
posted by griphus at 10:00 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


just because I didn't kill myself, doesn't mean I didn't feel like I was dying, a post about being bullied by college roommates that, thankfully, doesn't end in suicide. But talks about what it's like to be queer and in college. (not my post)
posted by stoneweaver at 10:02 AM on September 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


God, that's ugly. I have always despised "pranks" like this but in the old, pre-internet days it would be things like hanging a mic outside the room of two people shagging, and either recording it or putting through a speaker. That was mean and inexcusable. But this... filming and putting it on the net? Horrible. I hope the nasty little jerks who did this suffer endless battering piledrivers of guilt. And they should probably be charged with harassment and whatever the US equivalent of hate crime is, if there is such a thing.
posted by Decani at 10:02 AM on September 30, 2010


... which leads me to believe that clementi might have actually been comfortable with his sexuality.

True, but it is likely that he wanted the fact that he was gay 'private' and had not yet 'come out.' He had sexual desires like everyone else, but may have likely not come to terms fully with being 'gay' and comfortable enough to share his identity/sexual orientation with others. The 'coming out' process is complicated, long and arduous for many LGBT folks.
posted by ericb at 10:03 AM on September 30, 2010


What my wife and I found is honest-to-god amazement that a straight person, much less a straight couple, gives enough of a damn to do something.

Derail: I agree with your entire comment, MrMoonPie, but I wanted to highlight this part in particular. I've found that in the MA marriage equality fight, the people who were truly amazed that I was there were the bigots. 9 times out of 10, it would BLOW THEIR FUCKING MIND that I was there. I don't think it ever changed a single one of their minds about marriage equality, but I think it at least shook up their mindset that the only gay activists are gays, and making them uncomfortable about their worldview is enough for me.
posted by rollbiz at 10:10 AM on September 30, 2010 [10 favorites]


I disagree. Yes, there is a bigger issue here and no they did not push the kid off the bridge. But little would be lost if they were, in the first place, terrified to commit such an act to any human being. There is a place for empathy, sure. They should even be considered with it. But they must be punished for beyond the guilt they feel, if not for the acts they've committed but to put the fear of such a punishment into the hearts of anyone else who sees this as a harmless prank.

Except that this doesn't actually work. The failure here is not the wrong action, but the lack of empathy, and you can't build empathy by instilling fear.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 10:10 AM on September 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


Or, to be a little less soundbitey about it: I think one lesson here is that thoughtlessness is a moral hazard. Okay, let's say Ravi isn't a homophobe — not openly, not secretly, not subconsciously, not anywhere. Let's assume there was no criminal malice on his part either. Say he's just a prankster who doesn't think shit through. Still, a guy died. And though of course Ravi isn't legally culpable for the death, and probably isn't even fully morally culpable, he still ought to be feeling some regret about that.

Kidness, it seems to me, is a sort of ethical due diligence in dealing with strangers. Either you can take it upon yourself to understand what makes a person tick, and what sort of jovial assholery they can tolerate, and maybe you guess wrong and you wind up awake at night wishing you'd known better — or you just play it safe and treat them decently. I suppose if someone chooses plan A and always guesses right, then more power to them. Me, I like plan B.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:11 AM on September 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


Suicide is a tragedy, and I don't really mind this incident getting big publicity as another wake up call to pay attention to the people-- especially adolescents-- that are hurting and need some help. To the extent that any suicide can be used as a public incident to help draw attention to that I think it's probably helpful, even though the actual truth may be far more complicated than the story. The first person I knew that killed herself was 14, and the rumor was that she had just found out she was pregnant. This was not widely publicized, but I sometimes wonder if that could have done some good in my community if it had been. Then again, the young man who was her partner in conception might then have had a lifelong shaming incident to hang on his conscience.

Again, I know that these guys here were big time assholes, but the more I think about it, the more I think about how easy it is that stupid adolescent pranks gone too far could very well turn into some kind of lifelong "you killed someone" red mark on someone else. Who hasn't made fun of someone else, or had a younger brother that you hazed, or whatever? This incident is only one or two steps up from a routine freshman prank. One of the last people I knew that killed himself was supposed to come over to my house and drink 40s of Mickey's the night he died. WHAT IF I HAD MADE HIM GO DRINKING WITH ME? I mean, the chain of causality that survivors come up with can be a real bitch sometimes.

None of this bit of open-ended speculation diminishes what a tragedy this was, and one of the worst things about suicide is that you can never tell exactly why someone hurts that bad that they're willing to check out. Poor dude. Keep your eyes open for your friends, people. It always seems so obvious afterwards.
posted by norm at 10:11 AM on September 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


Griphus: FWIW, if I were on the jury, and one of these kids came up on felony charges for wiretapping or invasion of privacy or whatever, I'd be perfectly happy to convict 'em.

But I see no need to go all vigilante on their ass. The last thing these two fucks need is some sort of martyr complex. And the last thing the rest of us need is to cultivate the habit of fucking with people we dislike. You cultivate that habit, you run the risk of ending up like Ravi.

posted by nebulawindphone at 10:12 AM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


True, but it is likely that he wanted the fact that he was gay 'private' and had not yet 'come out.'

I seem to recall an incident a couple years ago, where someone posted still photographs of a hetero couple having sex in front of the window of their dorm room. People were able to identify the girl, and her life was pretty thrashed, at least for a time. Even without the homophobia angle, having a public sex tape is not something most people are keen as making the starting point for their college career.
posted by nomisxid at 10:16 AM on September 30, 2010


again: i'm probably missing something.

Yeah, I think you are.

Even if Clementi seemed (to you, an total stranger) like someone who was comfortable with his sexuality, that's not necessarily true. And if it WAS true, that comfort was likely the byproduct of a long struggle that included who-knows-what forms of traumatic bullying in the past. In high school, people tell you, "Just wait till you get to college, where people don't give a shit about this stuff." And then you go to college, and in your first semester someone you barely know broadcasts video of you hooking up with someone onto the Internet and invites people to come laugh.

This roommate's actions would be unconscionable even if Clementi had been straight, but because of what homosexuality is and how it's regarded in our culture -- something Ravi had to have been aware of -- the consequences are much steeper. When a straight student does this to a gay student thinking it's just a prank, it exposes the utter dangerous depths of his own privilege and ignorance. His crime is compounded by that privilege and ignorance to the point where it burns white-hot and is nearly unforgivable. He failed to recognize Clementi as someone who has struggled, someone who may currently be struggling, someone who is a persecuted minority targeted for his sexuality -- that very quality which Ravi sought to exploit. If you don't see how such a colossal fuck-up could be a significant example of the horror that young gay people face every day, then you are definitely missing something.
posted by hermitosis at 10:20 AM on September 30, 2010 [26 favorites]


But I see no need to go all vigilante on their ass.

Oh, I'm not supporting that at all and I hope it didn't sound that way. They deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of and within the law.
posted by griphus at 10:21 AM on September 30, 2010


i don't know anything about coming out, but also according to the gawker article, there's a cam4 account profile for clementi's supposed username that is nsfw

The fact that he was seeking sexual outlets and may have consented to exposing himself to consenting adults (probably anonymously: the head is cropped in the Gawker version, anyway) does not make it OK for his roommate to expose him in a decidedly non-anonymous way to random people.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:25 AM on September 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


.

My heart is breaking for Tyler's parents and family. We just dealt with a minor incident of thoughtless unkindness directed at my 7-year-old at school, and it has left me so sad for her; that someone could be this cruel to my child - to anyone's child - makes me unable to imagine the pain Tyler's parents must be feeling.

If I were the parent of the two who did this ... the consequences from the police and the university would be the least of their worries. Of course, I have to wonder about their real parents ... how did they raise two people who thought any of this behavior - the recording, the broadcasting, ANY of it - was OK? How do they feel now? Are they ashamed of their children, or of themselves? I can only hope so, because the alternative is too awful to contemplate.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 10:25 AM on September 30, 2010


When I was in college, a rumor was going around the school that a female pre-frosh (a prospective student on an overnight visit) had given someone sexual favors in the middle of a dorm common area. She got a rather nasty nickname after she enrolled, and although she seemed really game about it at first (the way women are wont to act game in predominantly-male living situations), after awhile she realized it was really quite terrible and asked people to stop (futile) . She eventually quit and attended another college.

I really regret calling her that nickname, both behind her back and to her face. It doesn't matter whether the rumors were true or not - she didn't deserve to be treated that way. I'm glad she just transferred and didn't feel that she had to resort to something more drastic.
posted by muddgirl at 10:27 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


When a straight student does this to a gay student thinking it's just a prank, it exposes the utter dangerous depths of his own privilege and ignorance. His crime is compounded by that privilege and ignorance to the point where it burns white-hot and is nearly unforgivable. He failed to recognize Clementi as someone who has struggled, someone who may currently be struggling, someone who is a persecuted minority targeted for his sexuality -- that very quality which Ravi sought to exploit.

This is exactly what I was thinking but didn't quite have the words for. Thank you.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:30 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, I'm not supporting that at all and I hope it didn't sound that way. They deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of and within the law.

Ah, then we agree.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:30 AM on September 30, 2010


QuietGal: I wonder what kind of social context he lived in where being gay was effectively a death sentence.

Well, I'd say it's the social context of the atmosphere across the country in which it's okay for kids to hound and bully other kids until they kill themselves. This isn't the only recent situation in which a gay kid has killed himself because he was bullied, and it's not specific to any one region of the country.

msconduct: with that knowledge, he still wrote, i mean aside from being an asshole from time to time, he's a pretty decent roommate.

As I mentioned above, I had a roommate freshman year in college who knew I was gay and never let me hear the end of it. I, too, would have felt comfortable writing, "i mean aside from being an asshole from time to time, he's a pretty decent roommate."

That doesn't mean that his constant and merciless bullying about my sexual orientation didn't make me want to kill myself sometimes.
posted by blucevalo at 10:36 AM on September 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Again, I know that these guys here were big time assholes, but the more I think about it, the more I think about how easy it is that stupid adolescent pranks gone too far could very well turn into some kind of lifelong "you killed someone" red mark on someone else. Who hasn't made fun of someone else, or had a younger brother that you hazed, or whatever? This incident is only one or two steps up from a routine freshman prank.

Well a lot of the victims of this kind of bullying have to deal with the aftermath for the rest of their lives, so I don't see a problem with perpetrators of bullying having a nagging feeling of having done something terrible and irreversible. Instead, most bullies downplay their own actions and are surprised if their victims hold grudges for what in their minds were "harmless pranks." The fact that in many cases these kinds of behaviors are dismissed as normal stupid adolescent behavior is a major problem.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:38 AM on September 30, 2010 [10 favorites]


It makes me more than a little sad to be reminded we live in a world--in reality and in our own heads--in which one socially acceptable justification for suicide is not so much the act itself, in this case a violation of privacy, but the perception of what other people will think about us, that people will find out about us, and that overwhelming and utterly demoralizing fear of being rejected and ridiculed for who we truly are.

As a heterosexual male, I often say "That's gay" when referring to something frilly, girlie, or otherwise feminine in relation to other males. I've been doing it so long, it doesn't really even register as something that my brain realizes is inconsiderate or derogatory in the least. However, it's one thing (of many) that recently has begun to bother me. This article has reminded me of that. I will stop doing this.
posted by Debaser626 at 10:41 AM on September 30, 2010 [15 favorites]


I've come out of this feeling confused and sad. On the one hand, I am surprised that a gay kid at Rutgers would have so much difficulty with his homosexuality. But then I remember how much of a fucking struggle it was for me and how I, literally, ran half way around the world and back again so that I did not have to deal with it. I remember a guy in my graduating class at High School - who killed himself when he came to the realization that he was gay. Fucking shit - it's hard to get yourself together at that age. So perhaps my assumptions of progress were more hope than reality.

As for the two fuckwits who taped Clementi - I'd like to give the benefit of the doubt that they did this out of a misplaced idea of what would be funny. But the very assumption that a private gay relationship should be made fun of is pretty disheartening. In this case - when they were playing with that web cam, they might as well as been playing with a loaded gun. Fucking kids.
posted by helmutdog at 10:41 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am not sure that shaming people who are rightfully angry at the roommates for not being empathetic enough is going to do much. I do appreciated being sympathetic to those who commit crimes, and have worked with prisoner support groups in the past, but it's not as though people using an online forum for expressing their distaste for this heartless act is going to cause the roommates to say, fuck it, I'm NEVER going to develop any empathy.

Sometimes you have to step back and let people get their angry out. And this is something worth being angry about.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:42 AM on September 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


When a straight student does this to a gay student thinking it's just a prank, it exposes the utter dangerous depths of his own privilege and ignorance. whoa, there. maybe i'm not the only total stranger supposing things about people known only through news articles. your comment makes it sound that you know for a fact that the two assholes doing the taping/broadcasting are straight. if i missed that, too, then apologies. if not, then let's discuss
When a straight student does this to a gay student thinking it's just a prank, it exposes the utter dangerous depths of his own privilege and ignorance. probably misreading, but it sounds to me that you're saying straight people are privileged? wtf does THAT mean? and then
He failed to recognize Clementi as someone who has struggled, someone who may currently be struggling, someone who is a persecuted minority targeted for his sexuality -- that very quality which Ravi sought to exploit. again, you have more information than i have. the essence of my comment is that there is no evidence that ravi was exploiting sexuality, only that a 19 or 20 -something who may or may not be straight & may or may not be comfortable with his own sexuality, was exploiting the act of two people having sex. the subtext of my comment is that you, most of the news media, and certainly the majority of commenters on this post, are exploiting clementi's sexuality.
posted by msconduct at 10:47 AM on September 30, 2010


but it sounds to me that you're saying straight people are privileged? wtf does THAT mean?

Well, I imagine that means that straight people are privileged. If this is news to you, a little self-education might be in order before we continue with this discussion.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:49 AM on September 30, 2010 [40 favorites]


probably misreading, but it sounds to me that you're saying straight people are privileged? wtf does THAT mean?

It means they're the default, non-ostracized, fully-righted orientation that does not have to fight to get the same basic civil rights as the default orientation.
posted by griphus at 10:51 AM on September 30, 2010 [9 favorites]


This should pretty well sum it up for you: Straight people are privileged.
posted by hippybear at 10:51 AM on September 30, 2010 [17 favorites]


IMHO, outing somebody against their will should be classified as a form of assault. Possibly a hate crime.
posted by tehloki at 10:51 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


timsteil: But it's New Jersey. They'll likely be heroes, and people will buy them drinks.

What the hell is that supposed to mean? I live on Rutgers campus. Everyone i know is horrified about this, and there was just a huge protest last night in front of the campus center. Care to rephrase that stereotyping?
posted by Mach5 at 10:55 AM on September 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


My heart goes out Tyler Clementi's loved one and I hope he is at peace, but I also hope that Ravi and Wei learn from this and grow to become better people. What they did was awful, but they aren't Nazi zombie robots, they are people. People who screwed way the fuck up, but people.
I don't hope for more pain and suffering to come out of this for anyone.
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:55 AM on September 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


This detail really bugs me:
"A month-old tweet from Ravi indicates he discovered his roommate’s sexuality based on comments Clementi made on a gay message forum. Ravi tweeted on August 22, 'Found out my roommate is gay,' and linked to a post he said was Clementi’s on JustUsBoys."*
What was Ravi doing on JustUsBoys?

How did he know Clementi's alias on the website?

Did he surreptiously go through Clementi's web history -- and/or monitor his roommate's web browsing illicitly?

Was Ravi on the "prowl," basically stalking Clementi to expose his sexual orientation?
posted by ericb at 10:57 AM on September 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


but it's not as though people using an online forum for expressing their distaste for this heartless act is going to cause the roommates to say, fuck it, I'm NEVER going to develop any empathy.


Everything that's said here is completely accessible to Ravi and Wei, so we can't really speculate on what sort of effect the words said here will have on them. If I were them, I don't think a hundred comments of people describing how badly they want to see me suffer would help me develop much empathy.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:59 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm writing a novel in which surreptitious video-recording is a major plot device.

I expect to see more and more of this sort of "privacy invasion." I'd better start writing faster ...


outing somebody against their will should be classified as a form of assault

I feel lots of sympathy for the victim, the family and the perpetrators here. The family the most, but no one escapes unscathed.

outing somebody against their will should be classified as a form of assault

Only homosexual outing? What about bondage enthusiasts? Hypnofetishists? Furries?

I support "hate speech" (language intended to start violence) laws in general, but you're slipping down a slope there.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:00 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


probably misreading, but it sounds to me that you're saying straight people are privileged? wtf does THAT mean?

If you think that saying "straight people are privileged" is a WTF moment, and you think that people in this thread are "exploiting clementi's sexuality," I really don't know what to say to you.

your comment makes it sound that you know for a fact that the two assholes doing the taping/broadcasting are straight.

Yeah, if nothing else, if the kid was writing that he was feeling as though his roommate was saying "Look what a fag my roommate is" behind his back, I think it's safe to assume that Dharun Ravi is straight.
posted by blucevalo at 11:03 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


NBC/TODAY video [07:41].
posted by ericb at 11:03 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wasn't a suicidal gay teen, and really, it was just luck.

I was raised in a household where gay people were the norm - my mom was a Gertrude Stein scholar; many of her colleagues were gay, and several of them were my babysitters - I called them aunt and uncle, though they were not related by blood. I was not one of those kids who never heard of homosexuality until I got to college.

In high school, I ran with the choir/lit magazine/hippie crowd, and there was very little pressure to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Same-sex affection was not stigmatized in our group; boys could hug boys, girls could hug girls. This was the 80s, in a public school.

And I still didn't come out to my mom until my junior year in college. I was so afraid of being thrown out of the house (totally irrational fear), so afraid of being stigmatized and hated (rational) that I was afraid to trust my own mom, in spite of the unbelievably ample evidence that she would not kick me out or hate me or anything like that. I didn't learn this fear at home, and I didn't learn it from my friends (all of whom were like "Yeah, we knew," when I came out to them). I learned it by osmosis, from everything I read or saw or heard on TV or the radio or Time magazine or whatever.
posted by rtha at 11:04 AM on September 30, 2010 [33 favorites]


What was Ravi doing on JustUsBoys?

How did he know Clementi's alias on the website?


It's possible that Ravi found out Clementi's cit2mo handle through some normal means (like it being Clementi's AIM handle or something) and found the forum posts from just googling it. Otherwise if Clementi was keeping that alias a secret yes it would be odd for a roommate to just happen across a forum like that and recognize him.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:11 AM on September 30, 2010


If I were them, I don't think a hundred comments of people describing how badly they want to see me suffer would help me develop much empathy.

It might cause me to rethink a few things.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:14 AM on September 30, 2010


.
posted by cazoo at 11:18 AM on September 30, 2010


probably misreading, but it sounds to me that you're saying straight people are privileged? wtf does THAT mean?

Holy fuck, is this for real? Yes, straight privilege is a very real thing. As is male privilege, white privilege, cis privilege, able bodied privilege.
posted by kmz at 11:22 AM on September 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


IMHO, outing somebody against their will should be classified as a form of assault. Possibly a hate crime.

No sorry. The phrase "hate crime" shouldn't even exist.

As reprehensible as this whole situation is, trying to classify outing as as crime creates a slippery legal slope. Just use your imagination to try to think of every possible way that could interpreted.

If I walk up and shoot someone in the head I am guilty of murder. If I called them (insert your favorite perjorative here) right before I did it, I am still guilty of murder and nothing else.

When you start penalizing people for what they THINK? I mean you read 1984 right?

What mrgrimm said, where do you draw the line on what is considered outing? Fine, I like to shove a doorknob up my ass while I am having sex with an armadillo. Does that make me protected under this interpretation of the law. Yes I know that is both stupid and extreme, but why wouldn't it fit the scenario? I mean, you would be denying the rights of armadillo fuckers everywhere right?

The minute gay folk ask for protection of this sort under the law, is the minute they make a concession that they are a helpless underclass needing special consideration, which I think might play into the hands of all the bashers and whackjobbornagainteabaggers out there who try to say the same thing -- there is something wrong with gay folk, and we need to help them, (albeit with drastically different opinions on how to do so.)

This is not hate speech, this is a douchebag with a douchebagess and a webcam who drove a guy to suicide by humilating him. As frustrating as it is that the law is so fuzzy about what they can be charged with and convicted of, I feel it dangerous to try to start enacting laws to fit the crime.

I totally agree that this situation is completely horrid, and the two people who did it are monsters, but I am not ready to give up my right to think what I want when I want, or be subject to criminal penalties if I choose to do so.
posted by timsteil at 11:37 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


probably misreading, but it sounds to me that you're saying straight people are privileged? wtf does THAT mean?

To completely pile on: You're kidding, right?
posted by rtha at 11:44 AM on September 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


When you start penalizing people for what they THINK? I mean you read 1984 right?

Ugh.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:45 AM on September 30, 2010 [21 favorites]


Hate crime isn't about thoughts. It's about outward expression of bigotry. Think anything you want, that's never against the law. Act on bigoted thoughts in a way which causes intimidation or harm, in a way in which it is provable that you were being driven by bigotry, and you're not simply committing a crime, you're enacting upon an individual your prejudices against an entire class of people. Such actions create a sense of fear within that class and transcend the individual act.

This wasn't a hate crime, I'm sure of it. But to claim that hate crime is somehow connected simply with "thinking what you want" is a blatant misunderstanding of why we have that class within the criminal code to begin with.
posted by hippybear at 11:48 AM on September 30, 2010 [15 favorites]


Sometimes you have to step back and let people get their angry out. And this is something worth being angry about.

There are plenty of examples of blind wrath wreaking havoc in the world. It is a lot better that people learn to be patient with their emotions so that they will advocate well-reasoned things that make sense. Passion does not make up for thoughtlessness.

And isn't this ironic advice given that the event that was caused by someone's unthinking expression of base emotion?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 11:50 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, then what emotion do you think is called for in this circumstance?
posted by blucevalo at 11:52 AM on September 30, 2010


And isn't this ironic advice given that the event that was caused by someone's unthinking expression of base emotion?

Not really. We are, after all, merely having a conversation online, rather than broadcasting somebody's sexual encounter to mock them. I am not sure why this distinction isn't self-evident.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:52 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ugh, a hint to the idiots on Facebook and elsewhere spouting racist shit against Ravi and Wei: YOU'RE NOT HELPING. Using bigotry to fight bigotry is just... total fail. Please read up on intersectionality and kyriarchy.

(See also: Prop 8 and race blame game.)

For Tyler:

.
posted by kmz at 12:02 PM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


What was Ravi doing on JustUsBoys?

homophobia=closeted homosexuality/ideas/feelings/longings, more often than not, at least so says my husband, and I'm beginning to see the light.

I have no statistics to back me up, but methinks boys point fingers and laugh at one another about supposed "gayness" way too much. We womensk tend to be nicer, sometimes, but then there are those like "Wei," who seems to have been all too ready to go along with the fatality producing "prank."

And yes, straight, white, blue-eyed married people with U.S. passports are privileged to the extent that we can just forget about it. (It's true; I'm not male, but being female has other advantages. Avoid tangent.

My third son turned eighteen today. I am so grateful, just that he is alive. Fuck those two fuckers who made another woman and man's son reach that point on the bridge. This makes me sorry not to believe in any kind of afterlife, because I know it provides solace to some, when otherwise there is nothing but grief, sadness and time.
posted by emhutchinson at 12:06 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like to shove a doorknob up my ass while I am having sex with an armadillo.

Armadillos can't give consent. Bestiality is not OK, and therefore that's a a completely ridiculous and frankly offensive analogy.

I am not ready to give up my right to think what I want when I want

Sure, just don't firebomb houses, murder people, assault people, etc then.
posted by kmz at 12:07 PM on September 30, 2010


Fuck the internet revenge fantasies.

I hope these two wake up one morning with a sense of empathy. And after that I hope they live for a long time, do many good and worthwhile things, and still never quite manage to forget this one.


Yes yes yes. I wish this could be auto-posted to every thread with a villain. Just because a person does something horrible (HORRIBLE) doesn't mean that they are pure evil or subhuman. Life isn't a cartoon -- people are complex and multifaceted and capable of enormous generosity and thoughtless cruelty at nearly the same time. This goes quadruple for teenagers.
posted by callmejay at 12:10 PM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Only homosexual outing? What about bondage enthusiasts? Hypnofetishists? Furries?

Let me rephrase that. [Deliberately and publicly disclosing information (with proof acquired without consent) about somebody which they would prefer to keep secret and will in all likelihood impact their life in a severely negative way if made unintentionally public ] should be classified as assault. [If this information is disclosed because of the perpetrator's negative opinions towards victim's race, gender, sexual orientation, etc] it should probably be a hate crime.
posted by tehloki at 12:11 PM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


And yes, straight, white, blue-eyed married people with U.S. passports are privileged to the extent that we can just forget about it.

What?
posted by John Cohen at 12:19 PM on September 30, 2010


Wrote this on my blog -- similar to what others have already said here:

I'm interested in how an incident like this becomes a major story in both the mainstream media and blogosphere, even though it might seem to be a strictly local story that's affected a relatively tiny number of people. What is it about this story? Suicide? Homophobia? Using internet technology to bully and invade someone's privacy? Don't all those things happen all the time?

Well, none of the elements are new, but they intersected dramatically enough to grab our attention. So it's understandable that the news and blogs are covering this so widely.

But I wish the shaming of gays weren't something we passively accepted as just-the-way-young-people-are, until something like this happens. It shouldn't take a death to make homophobia temporarily worth expressing concern over. Virulent homophobia -- especially among youths, who tend to have low inhibitions about broadcasting their bigotry and a strong interest in building up their reputations by tearing down their peers' -- is a huge, national problem whether or not it ever kills anyone.
posted by John Cohen at 12:20 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Everything that's said here is completely accessible to Ravi and Wei, so we can't really speculate on what sort of effect the words said here will have on them. If I were them, I don't think a hundred comments of people describing how badly they want to see me suffer would help me develop much empathy.

Actually, re-reading through this thread, I mostly don't see the types of comments that you're talking about here. There are lots of people who are depressed and angry about what happened, some of whom shared affecting stories from their own lives that relate to the current situation. Several people hoped that they would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and/or expelled. A few people called the perpetrators jerks and assholes. Only a couple of comments seem to delve into retribution fantasies. Aside from these last couple, I think people's responses have generally been pretty fair-minded.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:20 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fine, I like to shove a doorknob up my ass while I am having sex with an armadillo. Does that make me protected under this interpretation of the law. Yes I know that is both stupid and extreme, but why wouldn't it fit the scenario? I mean, you would be denying the rights of armadillo fuckers everywhere right?

The minute gay folk ask for protection of this sort under the law, is the minute they make a concession that they are a helpless underclass needing special consideration, which I think might play into the hands of all the bashers and whackjobbornagainteabaggers out there who try to say the same thing -- there is something wrong with gay folk, and we need to help them, (albeit with drastically different opinions on how to do so.)


You might want to look into the concept of protected classes and how it is necessary for any kind of anti-discrimination law in the US. Courts can and do determine what groups are considered protected classes, so your slippery slope argument regarding armadillos is not really a valid concern. And I would not characterize other protected classes, like racial minorities, people with disabilities, and other groups as being "helpless underclasses needing special consideration" just because courts have made laws designed to prevent the very real and damaging prejudice they face every day. Having sexual orientation recognized as a protected class at a Federal level would be key in, among other things, helping strike down laws that unfairly deny gay people basic rights such as the ability to marry the people that they love.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:24 PM on September 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Sadly, tehloki, if such a law were written, Woodward and Bernstein would have been tried for assault for their reporting on Watergate. Etc, etc. I understand what you're trying to express, but I don't think I really support it. If nothing else, it would make exposing public-eye anti-homosexual ranters as bigots when they've been, say, doing meth with a male hooker in a hotel room while preaching against such things on Sunday in their church. (To name one example.)

Ultimately, this is why the closet is so destructive. It leads people to live lives of shame and fear, often reinforced by the dominant culture around them, and causes people to feel they have been ruined forever if facts about their personal lives are made public. The only way to combat the closet is through openness and living without shame. Even here in the year 2010, coming to that point about who one is when one is homosexual is a long journey for many which requires years of self-examination and trial and error. It would be much better to foster a world where such secrets are not necessary than to criminalize exposure of secrets (and thus encourage the secrets to continue).

Someday perhaps we will have moved beyond this two-faced culture, where gays are "celebrated" in various ways but there is still so much stigma attached to homosexuality that young people who are just beginning to process their being find it unbearable.
posted by hippybear at 12:31 PM on September 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


.
posted by essexjan at 12:31 PM on September 30, 2010


If I walk up and shoot someone in the head I am guilty of murder. If I called them (insert your favorite perjorative here) right before I did it, I am still guilty of murder and nothing else.

If someone calls somebody a [favorite pejorative] before murdering someone, that is like sending every single [pejorative] in the neighborhood/town/city a death threat and should be treated as such.
posted by windbox at 12:32 PM on September 30, 2010 [17 favorites]


The minute gay folk ask for protection of this sort under the law, is the minute they make a concession that they are a helpless underclass needing special consideration, which I think might play into the hands of all the bashers and whackjobbornagainteabaggers out there who try to say the same thing -- there is something wrong with gay folk, and we need to help them, (albeit with drastically different opinions on how to do so.)

Right, because prior to any laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation (which covers straight people too, dontcha know), bashers and homophobes were all "Well, since they don't have a law protecting them, I guess they are strong and powerful and therefore I should leave them alone! I should not try to take away their kids or their jobs or their housing! Or their lives, either!"

Pointing out one's status as a second-class citizen and working to change that is not being all "poor me I'm a victim and I'm so weak and helpless!" Seriously. What planet are you from?
posted by rtha at 12:35 PM on September 30, 2010 [11 favorites]


.

If somebody could have only been there for him in the way that he needed. Assholes do horrible shit, people despair, and that's when need other people to be there. To catch us before we fall.
posted by angrycat at 12:41 PM on September 30, 2010


If I walk up and shoot someone in the head I am guilty of murder. If I called them (insert your favorite perjorative here) right before I did it, I am still guilty of murder and nothing else.

When you start penalizing people for what they THINK? I mean you read 1984 right?


We've hashed out the hate crimes issue here before, but the law takes into account people's mental state all the time. For example, there's a distinction between hitting someone in a brawl not intending to kill them but they die from their injuries (probably involuntary manslaughter) and hitting someone in a brawl intending to kill them (murder). A piece of evidence in that case may be the defendant yelling "I'm going to kill you!" while hitting the victim.

But we can get even more on point. What about laws against terrorism? If someone, for example, blows up a bus in order to strike at the Great Satan, should that be prosecuted as a particular kind of crime (i.e., terrorism) or should it simply be the sum of the individual murders and property damage?

Most people would say we should be able to treat terrorism as an enhanced offense because the victims are not just the direct victims. It harms everyone that the defendant wanted to terrorize. Hate crimes are no different.

The minute gay folk ask for protection of this sort under the law, is the minute they make a concession that they are a helpless underclass needing special consideration

Actually hate crime laws are always written neutrally. They will say, for example, 'extra punishment for committing a crime because of the victims race' not 'because the victim was black.' Thus, hate crime laws also protect straight people. If you try to argue that that's a hollow distinction because straight people are virtually never attacked because of their orientation, then you've kind of proven the need for hate crime laws that include sexual orientation, haven't you?
posted by jedicus at 12:43 PM on September 30, 2010 [13 favorites]


Wait...so hes not confirmed dead?

Hes just not in his dorm after posting a public cry for help...

Seriously, lets wait till we start yelling about manslughter charges.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:47 PM on September 30, 2010


Sigh. I was all optimistic after reading that Oak Reed post. All these kids! Supporting someone different! Take that, adults, the next generation's gonna rock your boat!

And then this.

.
posted by twirlypen at 12:51 PM on September 30, 2010


During my first month at Rutgers one of my classmates killed himself. We didn't know exactly what happened and I suppose even when there is a note, they don't publicize its contents. But we were in law school together - the same section - so word travels fast among a small community like that.

We hadn't been there long, so nobody really knew each other yet. But we gays (and lesbians and allies) had sniffed each other out during orientation in order to re-found the LGBT student organization, which I ended up heading for the next three years. Adam was a gay guy from the deep south, and Jacki was his new straight girlfriend from LA. They had befriended Matt, and one night through the haze of alcohol he admitted to them that he was unsure of his sexuality. Moreover, he worried that he risked being disowned if he came out to his family.

And then he was dead.

This news story - as well as the contemporaneous death of Asher Brown right here in Houston - is absolutely devastating to me. I actually don't have words. I keep getting overwhelmed by my memory of these feelings. It takes me immediately back to class that morning, when the Dean told us not to take out our things, that class wouldn't be held, and that there had been a terrible tragedy and that there were counselors available to speak to us if we wanted. It was horrible then, made all the more horrible later when the reasons became clearer. And then made worse by the fact that I had felt so damned positive about choosing such a gay-friendly school as Rutgers. I felt guilty for being so naive about how bad some people still had it, and for having such a relatively easy life.

My law school class lost three people in as many years. Matt's death started our time at Rutgers. A year later, another friend died of lymphoma. And in our third year, a young father was killed in an auto accident. There's a tree in the courtyard of the new Rutgers law school building in Camden that was finished just after we graduated, dedicated to these three people.

I don't have anything wise to say about the despair that gay folks live with (even the happy, healthy, well-adjusted ones). I don't have a cure, and even if I did, MetaFilter wouldn't be the place to share it because the vast majority of you are so right-on already. I guess I just wanted to share that this story was eerily reminiscent of a very sad chapter in my own life.
posted by jph at 12:53 PM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


CNN is now reporting that the body had been identified as Clementi.
posted by exogenous at 12:53 PM on September 30, 2010


Wait...so hes not confirmed dead?

His family has confirmed that they believe he is dead. A body was found but no word yet as to identity.

Seriously, I expressed a small amount of hope up-thread that he just disappeared for a bit, like an acquaintance of mine did when I was in college, but the fact that he left his wallet, his cell phone, his car, and his lap top behind... he would have contacted his family by now.
posted by muddgirl at 12:54 PM on September 30, 2010


never mind.
posted by muddgirl at 12:54 PM on September 30, 2010


His family has confirmed it (NYT), and so has their lawyer (NPR). Apparently now the medical examiner has also confirmed that the body was Clementi's.
posted by questionsandanchors at 1:08 PM on September 30, 2010


Okay, then what emotion do you think is called for in this circumstance?

Well, I only advocated being patient with one's emotions. Here is my experience:

I am profoundly sad for Tyler's experience, and his family's experience. I think it's unfortunate for Durhan and Molly that what I imagine to be a lapse of empathy motivated by the promise of self-importance came with such a huge penalty. I agree with clockzero that the principle culprit is our culture, which entitles people to judge the sexual lives of others— something that I believe is the domain of the individual.

I was upset by the suicide. Regardless of how trying the road ahead looks, I always root for courage in the face of adversity. I liked Dan Savage's project, which I'd never heard of: "It gets better." Well, maybe he could have called it: "You'll get better, more courageous, more assured in your self-knowledge."

The thing that stung me the most about the story was the "sorry" on the end of the note, like he knew the impact of what he was doing on the people who cared about him, but was nevertheless compelled. Did he write the note so that he would not back down?

I read some comments on other websites, and I was disappointed in people's obsession with revenge, their unthinking rage. Metafilter was, as usual, more lucid.

The common thread here is to be a little bit more patient. To be patient before you use language that is sexually demeaning because you prop up a culture of sexual shame. To be patient before you broadcast your roommate's private life because you think people are going to think you're someone special for it — if you just wait, I'm sure your sense of shame will catch up. To be patient before you advocate a lifetime of internet humiliation, or five years of jail time, because that is ridiculous and unproductive. And, for heaven's sake, be patient before you try to kill yourself, however bad it seems, for the love and the hope are all in the waiting. The common thread throughout all this is not to just express whatever feeling, but to be a little more patient.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 1:25 PM on September 30, 2010 [15 favorites]


What it's like to be a gay teen.
posted by blucevalo at 1:28 PM on September 30, 2010


esprit de l'escalier, I think that was very well-stated. Thank you.
posted by blucevalo at 1:29 PM on September 30, 2010


The thing that I can't stop thinking about is that it's only a few weeks into the school year. Tyler must have been waiting YEARS as a confused, scared gay teen to finally get away from his hometown, out from under his parents roof. He must have been so excited to go away to school, to figure himself out, to experiment, to confirm his suspicions about himself, to have sex, to find a partner, to be free.
And inside a month his roommate does THIS. And Tyler doesn't feel like he has any power to fix it, does not trust the school authorities to make it better, is resoundingly humiliated at having his personal moments displayed, viewed, and mocked.

Fuck Dharun Ravi, and fuck Molly Wei, you insensitive fucking evil goddamn heartless monsters.
posted by 8dot3 at 1:55 PM on September 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


I guess there are some lessons to be learned here for college freshmen:

1) always monitor your roommate's twitter account

2) examine your roommate's computer closely, see if it has a webcam attached (built-in or not), and cover it with a throw whenever you're in the dorm room alone

There maybe others, but those two come to mind immediately. If I had a child entering college this year, I'd be calling them right now to tell them about taking these steps.
posted by hippybear at 1:59 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


maybe = may be. Jeez.
posted by hippybear at 2:15 PM on September 30, 2010


Fuck Dharun Ravi, and fuck Molly Wei, you insensitive fucking evil goddamn heartless monsters.

They're even worse than monsters - they're human beings.

It's important to remember that we're all capable of this kind of cruelty: that someone you know is being subjected to this sort of torment right now and you don't even realize it. It's comforting to think that it takes a special sort of person to do this, but that ignores the millions of Tylers and the millions of Dharuns and Mollys who aren't making the evening news.
posted by muddgirl at 2:19 PM on September 30, 2010 [12 favorites]


Tyler must have been waiting YEARS as a confused, scared gay teen to finally get away from his hometown, out from under his parents roof. He must have been so excited to go away to school, to figure himself out, to experiment, to confirm his suspicions about himself, to have sex, to find a partner, to be free.

There are a bunch of assumptions there (we have no idea what his parents knew or how supportive they were of him in high school), but it sure does ring true, which makes this episode even more heartbreaking. I hope the two jerks who pulled this stupid, heartless garbage feel suitably guilty for a long, long time. They deserve at least some jail time.
posted by mediareport at 2:40 PM on September 30, 2010


Set aside sexual orientation. Set aside gender. Other teens have committed suicide after explicit images of them have been posted and circulated online.

The emotional trauma of being "outed" and/or branded a "slut," etc. is likely a (prime?) motivator in one's decision to kill one's self -- especially when being a teenager and trying to find one's way in the world.

Two other examples:
Her teen committed suicide over ‘sexting’ -- "Cynthia Logan’s daughter was taunted about photo she sent to boyfriend." (July 2008).

‘Sexting’ bullying cited in teen’s suicide -- "13-year-old Hope Witsell hanged herself after topless photos circulated." (September 2009).
posted by ericb at 2:45 PM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


I guess there are some lessons to be learned here for college freshmen:

1) always monitor your roommate's twitter account

2) examine your roommate's computer closely, see if it has a webcam attached (built-in or not), and cover it with a throw whenever you're in the dorm room alone

There maybe others, but those two come to mind immediately. If I had a child entering college this year, I'd be calling them right now to tell them about taking these steps.
posted by hippybear at 9:59 PM on September 30 [+] [!]


This is like telling your kids to be careful around knives when you read about someone having been stabbed.

Young people do stupid, nasty things to each other and they always will. Nowadays they've got webcams and twitter. 20 years ago they would have been stuck with polaroids and gossip.
posted by selton at 2:50 PM on September 30, 2010


But it's New Jersey. They'll likely be heroes, and people will buy them drinks.

Uh, yeah. Just to pile on here. I'm from New Jersey and I'm an undergraduate student at Rutgers right now. I became aware of the story when I saw all the news vans on campus on Tuesday, and it came out that evening. No one I spoke to thought the perpetrators were "heroes" even before it became known Tyler had killed himself, and certainly that's not what everyone's saying now that it's confirmed. Everyone is talking about this in my classes, and most seem to think the two kids were heartless assholes and the whole thing is fucked up and tragic.
posted by lullaby at 2:52 PM on September 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


There are lots of ways to make a person's life miserable, and the internet takes that to easy, and exponential extremes. Pictures can be shared, addresses can be posted, credit reports can be ruined. Family secrets can be discovered and posted anonymously. It would be a true miscarrriage of justice if either these two, or any member of their family was in the country on an overstayed visa, and that accidentally got reported.

Well, what can I say? You assume because they're Asian that they or their families are immigrants? And your mind runs to illegality? And you think revenge upon the innocent makes up for this sickening behavior by these two idiots?

I've got a teenager ready for college next year. I can't imagine her reaction to being taped under these circumstances. To me, the initial outrage is the taping, regardless of this young man's sexuality. This isn't the Shepard case, as far as I can tell, where he was targeted for being gay. That's not to take away from the anger I see gay people legitimately expressing. But the core behavior is, to me, the issue.

Most stupid teenager behavior is spur of the momet, one-act stuff. This is not. That is what adds an extra touch of vileness.
posted by etaoin at 2:56 PM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


This wasn't a hate crime, I'm sure of it. But to claim that hate crime is somehow connected simply with "thinking what you want" is a blatant misunderstanding of why we have that class within the criminal code to begin with.

Indeed. This wasn't a hate crime.

BTW -- having sexual orientation deemed a 'protected class' also includes ... STRAIGHTS! Yes ... if you are discriminated against because you are heterosexual, you have recourse! Novel concept, huh?
"Every act of violence is tragic and harmful in its consequences, but not all crime is based on hate. A hate crime or bias motivated crime occurs when the perpetrator of the crime intentionally selects the victim because of who the victim is. A bias motivated crime affects not only the victim and their family but an entire community or category of people and their families. A study funded by the Bureau of Justice Statistics released September 2000, shows that 85 percent of law enforcement officials surveyed recognize bias motivated violence to be more serious than similar crimes not motivated by bias.

Hate crimes are destructive and divisive. A random act of violence resulting in injury or even death is a tragic event that devastates the lives of the victim and their family, but the intentional selection and beating or murder of an individual because of who they are terrorizes an entire community and sometimes the nation. For example, it is easy to recognize the difference between check-kiting and a cross burning; or the arson of an office building versus the intentional torching of a church or synagogue. The church or synagogue burning has a profound impact on the congregation, the faith community, the greater community, and the nation."*

"According to FBI statistics, of the over 113,000 hate crimes since 1991, 55% were motivated by racial bias, 17% by religious bias, 14% sexual orientation bias, 14% ethnicity bias, and 1% disability bias.

The [Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention -- aka Matthew Shepard] Act is supported by thirty-one state Attorneys General and over 210 national law enforcement, professional, education, civil rights, religious, and civic organizations, including the AFL-CIO, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the NAACP. A November 2001 poll indicated that 73% of Americans favor hate-crime legislation covering sexual orientation." *
posted by ericb at 2:58 PM on September 30, 2010


When you start penalizing people for what they THINK? I mean you read 1984 right?

History 101: Hate crime legislation that has been in place since 1969 has never punished anyone "because of their speech or beliefs."

The Free Speech argument is old, lame and specious.
"Social and religious conservatives generally oppose the bill. Many ignore the protections that the bill would give to women, men, the disabled, and heterosexuals. They appear to be concerned almost exclusively with protections given to persons of one sexual orientation: homosexuals. They are concerned that a person who verbally attacks gays or lesbians could be charged under the act if any violent or criminal act resulted from the speech. This appears to be a misinterpretation of the bill, because it could only be applied to a person who has actually committed a crime. Speeches attacking gays and lesbians are not a criminal behavior; they are protected speech under the First Amendment."
posted by ericb at 3:02 PM on September 30, 2010


Rutgers Students After Clementi Death: 'Civility Without Safety, Over Our Queer Bodies'
More than 20 people lay down outside of the Rutgers Student Center in New Brunswick Wednesday night with signs proclaiming, "Civility without safety, over our queer bodies"—a protest prompted by the death of Rutgers University freshman and Ridgewood High School graduate Tyler Clementi.
And if any other RU folks are reading this, there's supposed to be a bigger thing outside Brower tomorrow morning.
posted by lullaby at 3:20 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Having sexual orientation recognized as a protected class at a Federal level would be key in, among other things, helping strike down laws that unfairly deny gay people basic rights such as the ability to marry the people that they love.

Sexual orientation is now recognized as a protected class!

Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention -- aka Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act -- passed on October 28, 2009. It expanded the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
posted by ericb at 3:20 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Most people would say we should be able to treat terrorism as an enhanced offense because the victims are not just the direct victims. It harms everyone that the defendant wanted to terrorize. Hate crimes are no different.

And the FBI agrees! They consider hate crimes to be terrorism!

The FBI on 'hate crime:
"A hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, Congress has defined a hate crime as a 'criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.' Hate itself is not a crime—and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties."
More from the FBI:
"Investigating hate crime is the number one priority of our Civil Rights Program. Why? Not only because hate crime has a devastating impact on families and communities, but also because groups that preach hatred and intolerance plant the seeds of terrorism here in our country."
posted by ericb at 3:32 PM on September 30, 2010


BTW -- I prefer the term 'bias crime' to 'hate crime.'
posted by ericb at 3:33 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:36 PM on September 30, 2010


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posted by freshwater at 3:41 PM on September 30, 2010


But it's New Jersey. They'll likely be heroes, and people will buy them drinks.

You really need to stop watching Bravo. Alternatively, you can try thinking.
posted by spec80 at 3:44 PM on September 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't know if these two were homophobes, but they were acting immaturely homophobic and, moreso, just plain mean. My gut says they would have done this to this awkward looking nerdy kid if he had been straight even.

It would be a true miscarrriage of justice if either these two, or any member of their family was in the country on an overstayed visa, and that accidentally got reported.

There's a really racist assumption underneath that and it's not appreciated. It makes me think that these two probably dealt an awful lot with being "the other" in a white society and enjoyed picking on a white teenage nerdy type who happened to be gay as a vent for that pent up frustration of never belonging, so they passed it forward.

But I'm just guessing. I don't know.
posted by anniecat at 3:50 PM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, I feel really sorry for all of the families involved. Those stupid kids have made life harder for their parents, who had no idea that their kids could do these kinds of awful things to people. I'm sure someone will take this as an opportunity to do something hateful to the Ravi and Wei families.
posted by anniecat at 3:59 PM on September 30, 2010


Groups: Prosecute Rutgers Case as Hate Crime -- "New Jersey law among strictest in country; federal charges unlikely."
posted by ericb at 4:02 PM on September 30, 2010


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posted by genehack at 4:49 PM on September 30, 2010


This is pretty intense and awful and I don't wanna hop into a debate here, but lots of people are shouting OH MY GOD WHAT VILLAINOUS BASTARDS SENT BY SATAN WHAT HATEFUL MONSTERS.

What did you do in college? I did a zillion stupid fucking things. No one opted to jump off a bridge as a result, but they could have. We all make stupid decisions at that age, it wasn't like they knew the kid was suicidal and they tried to push him to the brink.

It was creepy and poorly thought out, but I don't think these two are Natural Born Killers material, either. A situation like this is what the word tragedy signifies.
posted by GilloD at 4:56 PM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


The stupid things I did in college didn't involve me going out of my way to harass, embarrass or publicly humiliate anyone. TWICE.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 5:01 PM on September 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


This fits into the classic narcissistic behavior so prevalent in our culture. I seriously doubt they are capable of remorse our empathy. What they did was a gross violation of someone's boundaries. Straight up cruel and viscous. I do feel sorry for the parents of Ravi & Wei. I am sure they are devastated by their children's behavior. But at this time, I don't have it in me to feel much sympathy for Ravi & Wei. They made their own bed, and it sounds hot and uncomfortable.
posted by tarantula at 5:23 PM on September 30, 2010


Yeah, I can't relate to Ravi and Wei at all. In college, my attitude (and the attitude of my closest friends) was pretty laissez-faire about sexuality. Do you want, I don't care, dude, really. Of the many stupid things I did, publicly shaming someone would not have crossed my mind AT ALL. I don't really think I was exceptionally broad-minded, either. Why should I expend energy on someone else's personal life when my own was so much more interesting?

So yeah... Ravi and Wei... fuck 'em. I hope they're exceptionally uncomfortable for a long time.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 5:42 PM on September 30, 2010


This fits into the classic narcissistic behavior so prevalent in our culture. I seriously doubt they are capable of remorse our empathy. What they did was a gross violation of someone's boundaries. Straight up cruel and viscous.

If they're freshman, then they are right out of high school. I think they are capable of empathy, but only after the fact did they realize what they'd done. I don't think they expected him to kill himself.

The stupid things I did in college didn't involve me going out of my way to harass, embarrass or publicly humiliate anyone. TWICE.

I don't think that they thought the roommate would become aware of it and they were being passive aggressive in their meanness, the way a lot of kids are to each other, and the way a lot of adults are. It seems that publicly humiliating someone would have required the person knowing about it, but Ravi and Wei never humiliated him to his face.

I seriously don't think they knew what they were doing and they obviously were not thinking. It's disgusting the way they were trying to leverage this kind of thing into improving their own popularity and ego and relevance.

I was originally assigned a roommate my freshman year and we didn't really like each other. She was obnoxious and rude to me. I talked about her behind her back (I still talk crap about people I don't like, very passive aggressively, mostly to vent), not caring whether she found out or not that I was telling all of my friends what a horrible person she was and all her ridiculous habits. Incidentally, she'd wanted her boyfriend to stay the night in her bed in our tiny room and not having been used to that kind of thing as a 17 year old from a pretty conservative country and religion, I couldn't stomach it. I had to leave and sleep on the couch in the common area, no access to my things or my stuff or anything unless I made sure they weren't going at it and I had to knock. This is the kind of thing that pisses people off when they have to share a space.

I don't know if that was why Ravi was being passive aggressive, or why he was being hateful. Maybe kids today are more okay with exiling their roommates, making him just a horrid person.
posted by anniecat at 5:45 PM on September 30, 2010


What did you do in college? I did a zillion stupid fucking things. No one opted to jump off a bridge as a result, but they could have. We all make stupid decisions at that age, it wasn't like they knew the kid was suicidal and they tried to push him to the brink.

So what they did was hunky dory since they didn't know he was suicidal? What the hell are you saying?
posted by blucevalo at 5:51 PM on September 30, 2010


This is the email that went out to students and faculty the evening of 9/29/10.

Members of the Rutgers Community:

I deeply regret that today we learned from the family of one of our students that they believe their son has committed suicide. We are profoundly saddened by this report, and our hearts and prayers are with the parents, family, and friends of this young man, who had started at Rutgers this semester as a first-year student on the New Brunswick campus.

While there is a lot of information being communicated, we don’t have all the facts in this case.

This young man was reportedly the victim of an incident that took place in one of our residence halls last week. Two fellow Rutgers students have been arrested and charged with invasion of privacy for their actions in that incident. If the charges are true, these actions gravely violate the university’s standards of decency and humanity.

The case is being investigated by the Rutgers University Police Department. The students—like all who are accused of a crime—must be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The case is also being investigated by the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs under the code of student conduct. Please know that while Rutgers does not comment publicly on the specifics of cases involving active criminal investigations and allegations of student conduct, the university is taking this case very seriously.

We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the family during this most difficult time. While I did not have the privilege of knowing this young man, I have learned that in addition to his academic abilities, he was a gifted musician. Our university community feels the pain of his loss, and I know there is anger and outrage about these events.

Rutgers is a community that is extraordinarily proud of its diversity and the respect its members have for one another. In fact, we have just launched a two-year dialogue focusing attention on civility in the context of one of the most culturally and racially diverse research universities in the nation. I ask that all members of the Rutgers community honor the wishes of the family by providing them with privacy during this painful time and by committing to the values of civility, dignity, compassion, and respect for each other.

Richard L. McCormick
President
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
posted by fightoplankton at 5:51 PM on September 30, 2010


These kids may not have known what they were doing would result in Tyler killing himself.

However, they knew damn well what they were doing was wrong. Period. The fact that they did it behind his back doesn't somehow make it better or okay (in fact, it makes it worse to me.) I don't care if they were being passive aggressive about how they went about this bullshit. They are old enough to know that broadcasting someone doing something private is WRONG. And yet they still did it TWICE. These kids are old enough to know you shouldn't be an asshole just because you have the ability.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 6:05 PM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


I read that Just Us Boys thread Clementi was writing in. It seems he reported Ravi to the RA and two people above him and knew that his sexual activities were being livestreamed. Why didn't Rutgers do something sooner?

so the other night i had a guy over. I had talked to my roommate that afternoon and he had said it would be fine w/him. I checked his twitter today. he tweeted that I was using the room (which is obnoxious enough), AND that he went into somebody else's room and remotely turned on his webcam and saw me making out with a guy. given the angle of the webcam I can be confident that that was all he could have seen.

so my question is what next?

I could just be more careful next time...make sure to turn the cam away...
buttt...
I'm kinda pissed at him (rightfully so I think, no?)
and idk...if I could...it would be nice to get him in trouble
but idk if I have enough to get him in trouble, i mean...he never saw anything pornographic...he never recorded anything...

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...


I guess there's more to this story than Clementi finding out that he was recorded and killing himself because of that. He seemed to know that other people knew what he was doing over a week ago. I'm confused now. He seemed to be aware that Ravi was using a webcam in his room before the second encounter, and he seemed to want to get Ravi in trouble for some revenge.
posted by anniecat at 6:05 PM on September 30, 2010


Oh crap. I'm an idiot. I forgot what date he went missing was. I'm sorry. Never mind.
posted by anniecat at 6:07 PM on September 30, 2010


So what they did was hunky dory since they didn't know he was suicidal? What the hell are you saying?

That's a really extreme way to frame what several of us are saying. I've already admitted that I thoughtlessly harassed at least one person in college, and if I thought really hard I could probably remember more. I'm obviously really ashamed of what I did, and it was incredibly wrong, but I can't think of myself or my friends as a monster. There's no excuse for their behavior or for my behavior, but instead of calling for their heads, I think of what I can do to prevent those cruel tendencies in myself.
posted by muddgirl at 6:23 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


So what they did was hunky dory since they didn't know he was suicidal? What the hell are you saying?

Absolutely not. They violated a kid's privacy, absolutely and utterly failed to show basic empathy, didn't think it through and did a creepy, weird thing to a person they figured they could push around for sport.

It was mean -spirited and awful, but it was not a conspiracy to try and get Tyler to kill himself. Do you honestly think that if they knew this would be the result that they would have done it? Human beings will do a lot to feel popular, to feel included, to feel a bit of power. We often get carried away with it. We stab friends in the back, we shove aside those we think we can shove aside. And as you get older some of your insecurities mellow out and you stop being so mean about it, maybe. But these kids are 20. And I very much doubt that meant this to go the way it did.

To them, it was probably a chuckle-worthy subplot of a teen sex rom-com. Not a hate crime. Not a suicide. It was not 'hunky-dory', as you put it, but it's also not at the extreme that a lot of the comments here and elsewhere seem to say it is. I think we're losing a lot of our common sense on this one.
posted by GilloD at 6:34 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:44 PM on September 30, 2010


To them, it was probably a chuckle-worthy subplot of a teen sex rom-com. Not a hate crime. Not a suicide.

This rings true to me, as well. I mean, maybe it will emerge that the roommate had been making anti-gay statements and trashing Tyler's stuff all term or something like that, but I went to a college populated by frat boys who thought is was hilarious to secretly tape pledges or brothers hooking up with girls. Technology was a lot more primitive then - no wireless, hell, no web as we know it - but still, they managed.

They didn't do stuff like that because they hated their pledges/brothers, or even the girls they were hooking up with. They did it because humiliation was funny to them.
posted by rtha at 6:55 PM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wish such rotten people could be forced to marry each other - forever.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 7:10 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes -- I could have put that much better than I did. I don't believe that the two harassers knew that they were driving Tyler to suicide. It's also impossible to know that his suicide was not related to something in addition to and apart from the harassment.

I don't think these two harassers are monsters, as angry as their conduct makes me. I do believe that there should be consequences for what they did. It's not my place to opine about what those consequences should be.
posted by blucevalo at 7:29 PM on September 30, 2010


It's very strange that he does not sound all that broken up about the whole thing in those posts on the gay website. No hint that he's so upset that he could kill himself.
posted by Mid at 8:24 PM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by SPrintF at 8:25 PM on September 30, 2010


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posted by Vibrissae at 8:42 PM on September 30, 2010


I don't want to start with conspiracy theories, but those posts did not sound like something from someone who was suicidal.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 9:42 PM on September 30, 2010


I don't want to start with conspiracy theories, but those posts did not sound like something from someone who was suicidal.

I'm starting to get that vibe after reading his postings on the jususboys website too. It seems he was well aware that Ravi had done what he'd done and was trying to get Ravi to do what he did the first time (setting up the web cam) the second time he asked for privacy in their shared quarters.

I feel like I'm missing something though. Have they investigated Clementi's laptop and emails? Maybe his boyfriend/lover broke up with him? Maybe someone who wasn't Ravi was harassing him? Maybe he didn't take his medication? It seems really strange that Clementi got support from his RA and had the will to file reports and such and start the process of getting Ravi into trouble for violating policy, but then decide he would commit suicide.

I think something else must have happened. I also wonder if Rutgers is trying to do some blame control at this point, fearing litigation from parents (I m sure Rutgers will be sued for not acting quickly enough) because they did not act fast enough to kick Ravi out of the dorms or communicate to Clementi that they would take care of it. I'm sure at this point, a number of Rutgers students have dropped out or withdrawn and either Ravi or Clementi could have been moved/temporarily housed elsewhere. Or Ravi could have been warned immediately that they would kick him out.
posted by anniecat at 10:06 PM on September 30, 2010


Anger, depression and/or suicidal thoughts don't always follow your idea of a logical or rational timeline, people.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 10:06 PM on September 30, 2010


Anger, depression and/or suicidal thoughts don't always follow your idea of a logical or rational timeline, people

But the thing is, they do. Only one of the two boys involved in this case seemed to be behaving in any way bizarre or irrational, and it wasn't Tyler. It's not that he was happy - happiness often precedes suicide; it's called manic depression - it's that he was very, very calm. Frustrated, but calm.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 10:23 PM on September 30, 2010


Anger, depression and/or suicidal thoughts don't always follow your idea of a logical or rational timeline, people.

We also don't exactly know what happened and if A actually led to B, but the media is really driving this story as such and lumping it in with stories of teenagers who were really harassed and tormented for being gay. It sounds like Clementi thought his roommate was okay or "decent" to some extent and tolerable even after the invasion of privacy occurred.

Rutgers should have acted more quickly. I'm getting the sense that they're putting more burden on Ravi and Wei because it's convenient for them. Did Rutgers try to tell Clementi that nothing would come of his complaint? Clementi didn't confront Ravi either, even though he didn't feel threatened by Ravi.

Also, if he was so afraid of being outed, why did he ask Ravi for privacy time in their shared room until midnight when he brought his lover in? It didn't seem like he was ashamed and in the closet. He knew what connections people would make.

I hope they find out what else happened, if the rumor spread and some people unrelated to Ravi and Wei were making threats or something. But it seems unfair not to wait and see if they release more information about what happened between filing the complaint to the RA and two people above the RA (Clementi seemed to really want to get revenge on Ravi somehow instead of confronting him or following the suggestions of his friends on the website) and seemed okay after doing so.

I don't think it's wrong to ask, what happened between being proactive and then resigning yourself to suicide, and just deciding it was 100% due to what Wei and Ravi did.
posted by anniecat at 10:25 PM on September 30, 2010


I don't know. I watch too many movies.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 10:29 PM on September 30, 2010


I thought that Clementi sounded very calm on his posts also on JUB. But then - I wondered how I would have sounded if I was in complete turmoil about things - and you know what? I would have tried to sound like I was in control too - because that is the opposite of how I was feeling.

I thought about if someone did something as silly as webcast me in the shower in the morning - perhaps I even would have done something embarassing. I would be completely and utterly humlilated and horrified. But I would not show it - I would not let my tormentors know how they had gotten to me. I would not let them rob me of my dignity, even if I felt like there was only one path left to me.

God, I feel for these poor kids. All of them. And the heartbreaking decisions they made.
posted by helmutdog at 10:35 PM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Only one of the two boys involved in this case seemed to be behaving in any way bizarre or irrational, and it wasn't Tyler. It's not that he was happy - happiness often precedes suicide; it's called manic depression - it's that he was very, very calm. Frustrated, but calm.

You're diagnosing him with manic depression based on the little information we have so far? I realize everyone is itching to make this into some kind of full explanation of what happens when straight people victimize gay students because straight students in high schools have been evil to their classmates. I'm not Tyler's doctor, tons of men in college do really vile and horrible stuff to college women and friends and peers, and no one is wondering if maybe Tyler was assaulted by someone or threatened by someone? I don't think it was the streaming that did it. Something else must have happened and I'm surprised you guys would sweep it under "he was probably a manic depressive so of course he would post a mild post about being pissed with his roommate, file complaints, and then decide in a frenzy of mania that he'd jump off a bridge because that's what manic depressives do." I didn't even read anything about him being a manic depressive or bipolar or schizophrenic. How is it fair that you're creating this backstory?
posted by anniecat at 10:41 PM on September 30, 2010


I'm not diagnosing him with manic depression. Just decipher the literal text. I don't feel like explaining.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 10:49 PM on September 30, 2010


"only one of the two boys seemed to be behaving in any way bizarre or irrational, and it wasn't Tyler," i.e., from what I've seen, Rav manifests more signs of having psychological problems than Tyler. But I don't know.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 10:51 PM on September 30, 2010


This is pretty intense and awful and I don't wanna hop into a debate here, but lots of people are shouting OH MY GOD WHAT VILLAINOUS BASTARDS SENT BY SATAN WHAT HATEFUL MONSTERS.

Is that what you see here? Who are the ones doing this shouting?

Oh yeah, it's just something you made up so that you wouldn't have to try and understand anyone else's feelings.

What I see in this thread are a lot of very angry and sad people dealing with -- as you say -- an intense and awful situation. Aside from a few commentors' hyperbole-bombs *AHEM*, I think that under the circumstances it's downright civilized in here.

I do think it's amusing to see people try and trace backwards through Clementi's words and actions and logically sort it all out, looking for reason in the midst of purely irrational thinking and emotional reactions. You won't find it. He took it all with him.
posted by hermitosis at 11:09 PM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just as both those who distribute or possess child pornography are prosecuted equally, it seems that those who accepted the offer to "watch" the event should at least be made to explain their willingness to do so.

Without an audience to consume it the motivation to produce it diminishes.
posted by pianomover at 12:13 AM on October 1, 2010


i think it's a heartbreaking story. though this year in particular has me wanting to start up a gay vigilante group, i can imagine that the people who did this were not doing so specifically because he was gay; they were likely doing it because they thought it was funny.

what gets me about the coverage and the online reaction to this story, though, is that they had plenty of reason to believe that broadcasting such a video online would be fine. video of unwitting victims captured in potentially embarrassing situations is one of the internet's major food groups. absent the tragic outcome, this guy had as much a chance of any at being the butt of some passing internet meme. i'm sure there are as many teens who would be suicidal over being, say, the next star wars kid--whose humiliation didn't at all diminish his entertainment value, much less lead to some huge outcry over privacy and bullying.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 12:40 AM on October 1, 2010


When you start penalizing people for what they THINK? I mean you read 1984 right?

Ugh.

Sorry, I agree that "hate crime" is basically a modern-day twist on thoughtcrime. Certain actions should be criminalized (assault, murder, violation of privacy, etc.) but the intentions of the perpetrator are irrelevant. Actually, I'm totally disgusted by the idea of criminalizing a person's motivations, no matter how abhorrent. There does not need to be a separate category of hate crime; crime is crime.

For Clementi and his family:

.
posted by ms.codex at 1:04 AM on October 1, 2010


For the record, and because people here in the thread expressed doubt or hope that it would turn out not to be so, the remains pulled from the Hudson have been confirmed to be Clementi.
[New Jersey Governor Chris] Christie grew emotional when discussing Clementi's death.

"As the father of a 17-year-old…I can't imagine what those parents are feeling today, I can't. You send your son to school to get an education with great hopes and aspirations, and I can't imagine what those parents are feeling today," he said.

The governor also wondered about the two students accused of taping Clementi, bragging about it online and then trying to catch him on video a second time.

"There might be some people who can take that type of treatment and deal with it, and there might be others, as this young man obviously was, who was much more greatly affected by it," Christie said. "I have to tell you, I don't know how those two folks are going to sleep at night, knowing that they contributed to driving that young man to that alternative."

The governor said he would not push to have the case prosecuted as a hate crime and would leave that up to the prosecutor, and Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan today indicated he would consider bias as an aggravating factor in bringing charges against the two students.

"Now that two individuals have been charged with invasion of privacy, we will be making every effort to assess whether bias played a role in the incident, and, if so, we will bring appropriate charges,'' Kaplan said.
I sincerely hope that at some point in the not too distant future that, even here in the Deep South, it will be Okay to be Gay. Marginalizing talented, sensitive people like Mr. Clementi does considerable harm to our culture and our civilization and it has got to stop, goddammnit!
posted by ob1quixote at 1:15 AM on October 1, 2010


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posted by Wilder at 4:43 AM on October 1, 2010


I would be completely and utterly humlilated and horrified. But I would not show it - I would not let my tormentors know how they had gotten to me. I would not let them rob me of my dignity, even if I felt like there was only one path left to me.

I had a roommate deliberately plan to drive me crazy. If she'd succeeded and I'd killed myself, she would have probably found it hilarious and bragged about it for the rest of her shallow, hateful life.

Through the whole process I was completely impassive. Because if you let them know in the tiniest detail that they've gotten to you, it is like blood in the water. You don't show fear, you don't show embarrassment, and when your heart is breaking you smile in the bastards' faces, because if they know they've hurt you they have won.

Who is 'they'? At a certain level of pain, everyone is 'they'. And then there is nowhere else to go.

There have been enough publicized cases of people committing suicide over this kind of thing that I simply refuse to believe that the two didn't have any idea this was a possible outcome. They knew and they didn't care. And I hope they wake up in the middle of the night for the rest of their lives and hate themselves, but I know perfectly well that the kind of people who could execute this kind of stunt twice will regret the consequences, but they'll never regret the act. Once the furor dies down, they'll be telling it as a joke.

.
posted by winna at 6:49 AM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


There have been enough publicized cases of people committing suicide over this kind of thing that I simply refuse to believe that the two didn't have any idea this was a possible outcome.

what are those cases? 'this kind of thing' is a rather celebrated these days. if this guy had been videotaped having sex with paris hilton, under the same circumstances, not only would we not be handwringing over privacy and humiliation, but many would be asserting their ISP-given right to talk about what a dork loser this guy is. if he were being filmed with a woman who didn't happen to be his wife, not only would we not be talking about appropriate punishment for those making the video, but jezebel would give them some kind of award. if the filmmakers were named borat, we'd be talking about how it's edgy comedy and justifying the entertainment by finding excuses the guy deserved it.

this story had a horrible outcome, without which the issues or people involved would have gone unexamined beyond some single-day-cycle 'news-of-the-weird' chuckle. the shock and outrage are understandable here, but the denial is getting a bit deep. where have you people been?
posted by fallacy of the beard at 7:19 AM on October 1, 2010


Certain actions should be criminalized (assault, murder, violation of privacy, etc.) but the intentions of the perpetrator are irrelevant.

The problem is that intent is a central characteristic we use to define crime. Murder isn't just homocide, it's homicide with the intent of killing a person or the intent of committing another crime like robbery.

Hate crime laws are not about thoughts they're about the legal concept of intent. The burden of proof is on the prosecution to show not only that the defendant had an internalized bias, but that the defendant deliberately planned the crime around the status of the victim. Punching a person who just happens to be black isn't a hate crime. Assaulting black voters on their way to the polls on election day as part of a plan to suppress voter turnout is.

So on one end of the spectrum, hate crimes recognize that a swastika painted on Jewish graves on the anniversary of Krystallnacht is different from a guerrilla art piece on a dumpster. At the other end of the spectrum, hate crime laws allow the prosecution to argue that Lawrence King and Angie Zapata were victims of a planned and premeditated murder rather than tragically violent but spontaneous reactions to difference.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:31 AM on October 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


Ellen DeGeneres On Gay Suicides: 'We Can't Let Intolerance And Ignorance Take Another Kid's Life'.
posted by ericb at 7:48 AM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anderson Cooper: Tyler Clementi Story 'Sickening' -- video | transcript.
posted by ericb at 7:50 AM on October 1, 2010


.





am i the only disturbed by the racial identities of the victim and his alleged aggressors?
posted by liza at 8:02 AM on October 1, 2010


Because if you let them know in the tiniest detail that they've gotten to you, it is like blood in the water. You don't show fear, you don't show embarrassment, and when your heart is breaking you smile in the bastards' faces, because if they know they've hurt you they have won.

Some people are better at being impassive and not showing fear than others. Not all people can successfully conceal fear or other strong emotions. For my part, in college anyone could read my face like a book, no matter how impassive I thought I was being.
posted by blucevalo at 8:03 AM on October 1, 2010


An employee of BluMedia, which owns JustUsBoys.com, writes:
"JustUsBoys.com does not collect much information when someone creates an account and begins to post, so we cannot confirm cit2mo was Tyler Clementi. However, the IP address for cit2mo does appear to resolve back to Rutgers which reinforces the other evidence that cit2mo and Tyler are the same person."*
posted by ericb at 8:04 AM on October 1, 2010


Matthew Shepard's Mom Speaks On Clementi Suicide.
posted by ericb at 8:09 AM on October 1, 2010


Video of Tyler Clementi Playing Violin.
posted by ericb at 8:11 AM on October 1, 2010


Rutgers students plan remberance of Tyler Clementi today.
posted by ericb at 8:18 AM on October 1, 2010


"It's important to remember that we're all capable of this kind of cruelty..."

The worst thing I ever did to my least favorite roommate was rearrange some things on her desk. No, I don't think we're "all" capable of this kind of cruelty. I think something is wrong with someone who does this kind of thing.
posted by Evangeline at 9:02 AM on October 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


In related news ...

URI student faces charges
"An anti-gay threat written on a dry-erase board on the door of a University of Rhode Island dorm room has resulted in the arrest of a freshman from Massachusetts, URI officials said Thursday.

Christopher Hagen, 19, of Scotland Road in Reading, Mass., was charged with misdemeanor vandalism and disorderly conduct after university police were called to Barlow Hall at 1:44 a.m. Sept. 24 on a report that someone had tagged several doors with offensive remarks, URI spokesman Dave Lavallee said.

One student reported feeling threatened, Lavallee said.

The message, Lavallee said, was accompanied by a drawing of a male anatomical part and said: 'You are gay, get out of Barlow before you regret it.'

The investigation led to a resident who admitted to writing on the door, Lavallee said. Hagen was held overnight by university police and released on his own recognizance, promising to pay $1,000 if he doesn’t appear in District Court, South Kingstown, to answer the charges. He is scheduled to appear Oct. 6, Lavallee said."
posted by ericb at 9:05 AM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


I didn't say we all commit this sort of cruelty, just that the capacity to be cruel is a human capacity, and we are raised in a culture where it is generally acceptable to be cruel to those we perceive as weaker than us. Melissa McEwan probably says it better than I do:
Where larger context is being discussed, the scenario is frequently being misrepresented as "cyberbullying," but this case does not appear to be about two people who set out to hurt another person with malicious intent; it appears to be about internalized biases making them regard evidence of homosexuality as "funny" and socialized indifference to consent making them regard broadcasting that evidence as acceptable...

Good kids can do terrible things.

Frankly, given how comprehensively our culture is steeped in virulent homophobia (and other biases) and antipathy to consent, it's shameful that we act surprised when they do.
posted by muddgirl at 9:07 AM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


It sounds like Tyler was living two totally separate lives, one on the internet where he was out and comfortable with his sexuality, and one in "meat space" where he never discussed it with anyone. This is speculation, but the intersection of the two must have been hard to deal with. He might have expected college to be more like the internet - open and accepting. Instead it was like high school - cruel and mocking. Thinking he was in for another four years - if not a lifetime - of this... well, it's not a very comforting thought, is it?

I also wonder whether Ravi was the only one who knew about Tyler's internet history. He probably told all his friends, right? Being outed is one thing, having everyone in a new place - and your parents and their church - connect your face with a lot of sexually explicit videos online is something totally different.

Also - and this is total speculation - as a gay teenager looking for a group that would accept him, Tyler might have been better served if he'd found a discussion board or something before he found a site for sharing pornographic videos... (I'll also note that he lied about his age and place of residence on that site - sounds like a very careful guy.)
posted by subdee at 9:13 AM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just Hours After News of Clementi's Suicide Broke Homophobic Rpper 50 Cent Uses Twitter to Call on Gays to Commit Suicide
"If you a man and your over 25 and you don't eat pu**y kill your damn self. The world will be a better place. Lol"
posted by ericb at 9:15 AM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


subdee -- well said!
posted by ericb at 9:16 AM on October 1, 2010


I didn't say we all commit this sort of cruelty, just that the capacity to be cruel is a human capacity, and we are raised in a culture where it is generally acceptable to be cruel to those we perceive as weaker than us.

And I'm only saying that even if we all have the capacity, many (I hope most) of us don't go this far. So there's something different about these two. And I can't empathize with them, because I don't understand it. I can empathize with someone who steals because he needs money. I can even empathize to someone who commits a crime of passion. I can't empathize with someone who practices this degree of cruelty for no other reason than cruelty itself.

Yes, I do think it's that bad.
posted by Evangeline at 9:34 AM on October 1, 2010


Wait, are we sure that 50 cent isn't just criticizing men who won't reciprocate orally? I mean, I GUESS you could read it as homophobic, but then the "over 25" makes little sense.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 9:59 AM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, a later tweet (ugh) was "Some how they turned a simple joke about oral sex into a anti gay statement. I have nothing against people who choose and alternative life"

There's enough real prejudice in the world that maybe we shouldn't start fabricating more, no?
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 10:03 AM on October 1, 2010


Click through the link (above) about 50 Cent. He has a history of making homophobic statements on Twitter:
"Not the first time 50 cent has been an asshole. He also used Twitter earlier this month to announce that he conspired in the commission of a felony - having one of his 'homies" open fire on a gay wedding.'
So, with his reputation for making homophobic remarks before, it's a fair assessment that some might read (mis-read?) his most recent to be homophobic, as well.
posted by ericb at 10:16 AM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


50 Cent Responds To 'Anti-Gay' Tweet Controversy
"Rapper 50 Cent caused a stir yesterday, when he sent out a questionable tweet about oral sex.

Many, including this editor, read the missive as homophobic, and the LGBT group Truth Wins Out demanded 50 Cent explain himself. Well, now he has. Here's the musician's response, condensed, yet unedited, from three tweets:
'The other night I made a joke about a blow job. My male followers enjoyed it. So I then went on to joke about women receiving the same….Some how they turned a simple joke about oral sex into a anti gay statement. I have nothing against people who choose and alternative life...Style in fact iv publicly stated my mom loved women.'
Glad it was all a misunderstanding, Mr. Cent, although, just a note, LGBT people don't 'choose' a 'lifestyle.'"
posted by ericb at 10:23 AM on October 1, 2010


@ericb but that was opportunistic bullshit by the people who published that rumor. the context is totally there on his previous tweets but the people who screamed "bigot" totally glossed over the fact he was talking about wanting a blowjob and maybe eat a little pussy. seriously, go read his damn twitter stream.

*smh*

and yes i do know his previous history of homophobic remarks, but have you read Fiddy? he's an equal opportunity hater who flaunts his money to totally cover his shortcomings. he's an asshole, but like he says, if we're so smart, how come he's the one worth half a billion dollars? the man is a fountain of haterade for EHRRRRYBODY and it this case his hose wasnt aimed at the gays.


just sayin'
posted by liza at 10:23 AM on October 1, 2010


Well, 50 Cent was certainly expressing an extreme view there, no? And certainly gay men fit in the category he was including in his suicide wish.

Probably just another person who doesn't really think about what he's saying and how Twitter is actually a world-wide microphone and not just something your friends will see, but his expression, no matter what he meant, is pretty reprehensible.
posted by hippybear at 10:25 AM on October 1, 2010


I don't think anyone has to empathize, but we do have to admit that we live in and perpetuate a culture where this behavior is rewarded right up to the point that someone dies, at which point it becomes a "shocking" national tragedy. I admit that I am as guilty as anyone else.
posted by muddgirl at 10:26 AM on October 1, 2010


...that was opportunistic bullshit by the people who published that rumor...

I agree. I was merely pointing out what was viewed by some as a controversial comment by 50 Cent. That's why I use quotation marks around other people's statements, etc. and provided context for why they interpreted his tweet(s) the way they did.
posted by ericb at 10:26 AM on October 1, 2010


...if we're so smart, how come he's the one worth half a billion dollars?

So, the measure of one's intelligence and success is the size of one's wallet?
posted by ericb at 10:28 AM on October 1, 2010


Just saying that it's lying and intentionally misinterpreting someone to make political bonus points, which is sleazy. Yeah, he's a jerk, but the context made it clear that that interpretation was a lie. His earlier comment? Yeah, bigoted and offensive, but the description you quoted made it seem like a factual assault instead of the obvious stupid, unfunny joke it clearly was.

And playing the "I put quote marks around my misleading statement, so it's okay" card is disingenuous at best as well.

Like i said, there's plenty of legitimate bigotry to assault. Pick on him for offensicd statements, fine, pick on him for saying "choose" which demonstrates his ignorance, sure, but when you start saying " oh, and he paid a friend to shoot up a gay wedding and told all gays to kill themselves" and you're really not part of the solution here.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 10:38 AM on October 1, 2010


And playing the "I put quote marks around my misleading statement, so it's okay" card is disingenuous at best as well.

Once again those weren't my words or interpretation. They were AMERICAblogs'. A siginificant number of gay websites, organizations, etc. interpreted 50 Cents untimely tweet to be homophobic. It was misread. Fine. We now know that.
posted by ericb at 10:42 AM on October 1, 2010


... but the description you quoted...

Exactly. Quoted. NOT MY WORDS!
posted by ericb at 10:46 AM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


.


....and setting up a monthly donation to The Trevor Project...
posted by schmod at 11:06 AM on October 1, 2010


I have a hard time seeing a broad social acceptance of my sexuality as a privilege, but I can easily see the opposite being a severe and debilitating disadvantage. Feel free to hastily WTF me.
posted by vbfg at 12:25 PM on October 1, 2010


It's about time both Degeneres and Cooper stand up and SHOUT. The gay movement needs CREDIBLE COHESIVE LEADERSHIP. Mr MoonPie's comment is eloquent and right on, but the lack of leadership is crippling this effort. Please, step up and lead us.
posted by thinkpiece at 1:03 PM on October 1, 2010


The "hard time" you have is the invisible nature of privilege that is often the subject of derision. Or, to put it another way, one of the privileges of privilege is that you don't have to think about it very much and so you don't notice its presence without effort.

This has shades of the denial trap about it, to wit "I say you're an alcoholic, and if you say you're not, you're obviously in denial", so I'm not really surprised when people resist the notion (not that you are doing so here). I think you're right on when you try to imagine the case of not having that privilege; it is most conspicuous in absence and that throws the hierarchy into sharp relief. So, no WTFs here, at least from me.
posted by Errant at 1:04 PM on October 1, 2010


I have a hard time seeing a broad social acceptance of my sexuality as a privilege, but I can easily see the opposite being a severe and debilitating disadvantage.

You're just pussyfooting around the term "privilege" (perhaps requiring the condition "beyond the advantages of most"?)

What you are describing most people would consider privilege, i.e. an automatic major advantage.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:09 PM on October 1, 2010


Hi vbfg, I think this link is a good example of the ways that the broad social acceptance of my sexuality is a privilege.

From the link: There are 1,138 benefits, rights and protections provided on the basis of marital status in Federal law.

But please don't consider this a hasty WTF. I think it's a good discussion to have.

I know HRC isn't everyone's favorite place to link for these issues, and I understand why. It was just the first link I found when looking for this list. I think I came across it originally in this thread.
posted by juliplease at 1:11 PM on October 1, 2010


Only a couple of comments seem to delve into retribution fantasies.

Slight derail, but wishing for someone to go to an American prison is a retribution fantasy. Well, more like retribution reality, but you get the point.
posted by ymgve at 1:21 PM on October 1, 2010


I have a hard time seeing a broad social acceptance of my sexuality as a privilege,

Well, for one thing, you probably wouldn't have your prom canceled out from under you (and then rescheduled for a time and place and not be invited) because you wanted to bring an opposite-sex date.

Were you afraid to tell your parents that you liked people of the opposite sex romantically? Ever been afraid to walk down the street holding the hand of your opposite-sex date because you might get beat up? Ever lied about what you were doing over the weekend because you were afraid to tell a co-worker or boss that you were going out with your opposite-sex partner? Ever had to think carefully about how safe or unsafe a place might be because you're going there with an opposite-sex partner? Ever been lumped in with child molesters and perverts because you date (adult! consenting!) people of the opposite sex? Ever had it assumed that because you date people of the opposite sex, you're going to get AIDS and die (after infecting as many people as you can, of course)? Ever had millions and millions of dollars in political campaign money spent in order to deny you the right to marry someone of the opposite sex?

The list can go on. One of the hallmarks of privilege is that we often don't know we have it. You can have privilege in some areas and not others.

If your sexual orientation falls within what society considers the norm - that is, if everyone assumes you are straight, because that is the default - then that is an area in which you are privileged. It doesn't make you a bad person. Denying that it exists (not that I'm saying you're doing this, or will continue to do this) when it patently does is problematic.
posted by rtha at 1:30 PM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have a hard time seeing a broad social acceptance of my sexuality as a privilege, but I can easily see the opposite being a severe and debilitating disadvantage.

Imagine growing old with your partner, saving money, paying a mortgage, maybe even owning a home outright, and then being kicked out of the home that you both own when your partner dies (or your partner being kicked out when you die) because federal laws don't recognize same-sex couples as anything but strangers to each other. Things like that don't happen to married couples.

Oh, you're in Britain. Never mind. But the reality is that in many ways being gay in many places in Europe (and in Canada) is a lot different from being gay in the United States. One huge way is the protection of the law.
posted by blucevalo at 1:30 PM on October 1, 2010


Seems strange to link something twice in the same thread, but since this discussion is happening again and people obviously aren't reading the entire thing: Daily Effects Of Straight Privilege.
posted by hippybear at 2:17 PM on October 1, 2010


Zachary Quinto Takes On 50 Cent
"Rapper 50 Cent attempted to clear up confusion over his ambiguously anti-gay tweet earlier today. His efforts may not have been successful, for actor and gay activist Zachary Quinto just sent out a message taking on the musician's 'hate.'"
posted by ericb at 2:29 PM on October 1, 2010


Johnson And Wales Student Commits Suicide, Fifth Gay Youth To Take Life In Three Weeks.
posted by ericb at 2:42 PM on October 1, 2010


There are 1,138 benefits, rights and protections provided on the basis of marital status in Federal law.

Hence the website: Project 1138
"Project 1138 is designed to increase public awareness of the 1,138 federal marital benefits and protections denied to same-sex couples as the result of marriage inequality."
posted by ericb at 2:49 PM on October 1, 2010


And here's a small subset of the 1,138 benefits, rights and protections provided on the basis of marital status in Federal law.
"Filing joint income tax returns with the IRS and state taxing authorities.

Creating a 'family partnership' under federal tax laws, which allows you to divide business income among family members.

Inheriting a share of your spouse's estate.

Receiving an exemption from both estate taxes and gift taxes for all property you give or leave to your spouse.

Creating life estate trusts that are restricted to married couples, including QTIP trusts, QDOT trusts, and marital deduction trusts.

Obtaining priority if a conservator needs to be appointed for your spouse -- that is, someone to make financial and/or medical decisions on your spouse’s behalf.

Receiving Social Security, Medicare, and disability benefits for spouses.

Receiving veterans' and military benefits for spouses, such as those for education, medical care, or special loans.

Receiving public assistance benefits.

Obtaining insurance benefits through a spouse's employer.

Taking family leave to care for your spouse during an illness.

Receiving wages, workers' compensation, and retirement plan benefits for a deceased spouse.

Taking bereavement leave if your spouse or one of your spouse’s close relatives dies.

Visiting your spouse in a hospital intensive care unit or during restricted visiting hours in other parts of a medical facility.

Making medical decisions for your spouse if he or she becomes incapacitated and unable to express wishes for treatment.

Consenting to after-death examinations and procedures.

Making burial or other final arrangements.

Filing for stepparent or joint adoption.

Applying for joint foster care rights.

Receiving equitable division of property if you divorce.

Receiving spousal or child support, child custody, and visitation if you divorce.

Living in neighborhoods zoned for 'families only.'

Automatically renewing leases signed by your spouse.

Receiving family rates for health, homeowners', auto, and other types of insurance.

Receiving tuition discounts and permission to use school facilities.

Other consumer discounts and incentives offered only to married couples or families.

Suing a third person for wrongful death of your spouse and loss of consortium (loss of intimacy).

Suing a third person for offenses that interfere with the success of your marriage, such as alienation of affection and criminal conversation (these laws are available in only a few states).

Claiming the marital communications privilege, which means a court can’t force you to disclose the contents of confidential communications between you and your spouse during your marriage.

Receiving crime victims' recovery benefits if your spouse is the victim of a crime.

Obtaining immigration and residency benefits for noncitizen spouse.

Visiting rights in jails and other places where visitors are restricted to immediate family."*
posted by ericb at 2:54 PM on October 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


Being a straight married couple in this country provides that couple with a lot of privilege.

Since May 2004, in Massachusetts we, gays and lesbians, have been allowed to get married since 2004. We now receive the same benefits, rights and protections, as do straight couples. But those are only 'state' privileges. We're still second-class citizens in the eyes of the Federal government. But, our state leaders are now challenging that!
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley filed a 32-page lawsuit Wednesday [July 8. 2009] against the U.S. government, seeking federal marriage benefits for 16,000 legally-wed gay and lesbian couples. At issue is the constitutionality of Section 3 the Defense of Marriage Act, recently notoriously defended by the Department of Justice.

The suit states that DOMA, termed "overreaching and discriminatory," interferes with the state's "sovereign authority to define and regulate marriage."

"We view all married persons equally," Coakley said at a press conference today.

The basis for the suit is the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Section 8 of the Constitution. Along with the United States itself, defendants include the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs.

Another suit by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) targeting DOMA is also in the works. GLAD's Janson Wu says, "We applaud the Commonwealth's decision to seek to protect its married citizens from the harms caused by federal discrimination."
posted by ericb at 3:02 PM on October 1, 2010


Johnson And Wales Student Commits Suicide, Fifth Gay Youth To Take Life In Three Weeks.

Jesus fucking christ. Just stop it! It gets better! Life doesn't suck like that always!
posted by hippybear at 4:58 PM on October 1, 2010


The Werther effect may be alive and well. These kids should be too. I can't watch that violin performance without tearing up; what a loss all of this is.
posted by Errant at 5:15 PM on October 1, 2010


I appreciate the considered responses.

When I read hippybear's link what I see is things that ought to be so fundamental and true for everyone that they ought not to be worth mentioning. Obviously they aren't true for everyone, and that's a truly terrible injustice. But privileges? That implies riches to me. In relative terms, and on all kinds of fronts, that's certainly true. Surely though in any civilised society having those things would be simply be not being forcibly impoverished? To refer to them as privileges rather than fundamental rights just seems like strange framing of the problem to me.

Maybe we just have different definitions of privilege. I'm British if it makes a difference. There might be a bit of old class war arguments tainting my view of the word.
posted by vbfg at 5:19 PM on October 1, 2010


Heartbreakingly tragic. Another reason I am so glad to teach at my current school, a downtown high school for the arts with numerous "out" teachers on staff that is the safest place I can imagine for a LGBT teen. It makes me so sad that technology that ought to bring us all closer can be used with such cruelty.
posted by Go Banana at 5:23 PM on October 1, 2010


To refer to them as privileges rather than fundamental rights just seems like strange framing of the problem to me.

They ought to be fundamental rights, but they are demonstrably not. Those who enjoy them because they were born with them, or are not prohibited by law or strong social sanction from enjoying them, have privilege.

That you yourself do not see heterosexual relationships as better than homosexual relationships is neither here nor there, though it's an admirable and sensible attitude. But believe me when I say that you have privileges that I cannot enjoy. You are never going to get a funny look - let alone a slur shouted from a speeding car, or a fist to the face - when you walk down the street holding hands with an opposite sex partner.

But privileges? That implies riches to me.

Yes. That's what they are. The privileges I enjoy - class/education and economic, mostly - enrich my life in ways I can hardly count.
posted by rtha at 5:55 PM on October 1, 2010


But privileges? That implies riches to me.

Material wealth does confer privilege, but so do other things. In some contexts, "privilege" refers solely to material wealth or class status. This conversation is using a different context.
posted by muddgirl at 6:04 PM on October 1, 2010


Neil Patrick Harris Has A Mesage For Bullied Gay Youths.
posted by ericb at 10:35 AM on October 2, 2010


Tyler Clementi: empty seat at suicide student's orchestra debut.
"It should have been the night that Jane and Joe Clementi proudly watched their teenage son Tyler take his place for the first time with his prestigious college orchestra.

Instead, his seat will be left empty for the Saturday evening performance of Beethoven and Berlioz as the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra dedicates its performance to the talented violinist."
posted by ericb at 10:54 AM on October 2, 2010


That Telegraph link (above) is one of the best summaries of the entire story and the issues surrounding it that I've read. Thanks for posting that, ericb.
posted by hippybear at 11:45 AM on October 2, 2010


As More Bullying Victims Commit Suicide, Right-Wing Groups Decry Anti-Bullying Policies As ‘Gay Agenda’ Ploy.
posted by ericb at 3:05 PM on October 2, 2010


Raymond Chase not just a number.
posted by infinite intimation at 3:36 PM on October 2, 2010


The problem is that intent is a central characteristic we use to define crime.

Indeed- thanks for this very eloquent explanation. I guess I'm just very uncomfortable with a legal system that cares about intent. I personally see no difference between, say, successful premeditated murder and killing someone out of spur-of-the-moment passion: at the end of the day, someone is dead, and someone else is directly responsible.
posted by ms.codex at 9:42 PM on October 2, 2010


LGBT activist Sherry Wolf:
But behind the salacious background to Tyler’s suicide... is a more banal and deadly crime. It’s not technology’s grip on youth. Or even the inhumanity of two insipid 18-year-olds playing a savage 'prank.' The crime is that LGBT people continue to be held in an official state of civil inequality that foments a soulless social pathology toward sexual minorities in this country.... The two who sought to publicly humiliate Tyler will be human pariahs for some time, as they should be. But they’re young and maybe can reclaim some portion of their humanity. What about those who control our institutions of power? What will they do? How will they reclaim their humanity?
posted by scody at 2:44 PM on October 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


ms.codex, how about if the death were caused by an accident? Surely you see a difference between someone accidentally hitting a child who's run out into the street, and someone who deliberately ran a child down. Again, at the end of the day, someone is dead, and someone else is directly responsible, but the intent of the driver is critical to determine.
posted by MrMoonPie at 3:57 PM on October 3, 2010


> They ought to be fundamental rights, but they are demonstrably not.

Maybe rights was the wrong word to use, bound up as they are is in concepts of law as well as justice.

Others have obviously thought longer and harder than me about these issues, but in terms of pressing the argument to the wider audience I'm really not convinced by the use of the word 'privilege'. It has long had connotations of an unfair surpless of the things that are said to be privileges, but if what the political / social argument is really about is an unfair defecit is it ultimately helpful to frame it in that way?
posted by vbfg at 3:22 AM on October 4, 2010


Surpless? That should have been surplus.

Also, here's the entire sentence that I missed out: The injustice isn't that there are "haves", it's that there are "have-nots".
posted by vbfg at 3:25 AM on October 4, 2010


Community holds vigil for Clementi - in the Rutgers Daily Targum
posted by lullaby at 6:30 AM on October 4, 2010


The injustice isn't that there are "haves", it's that there are "have-nots".

I agree that is the central problem.

The use of the word "privilege" in this context comes from discussions about race relations, specifically from Peggy McKintosh's excellent "Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack" paper [PDF]; the link I've provided twice in this thread is a bit of an echoing of that, only through a GLBT lens.

In her paper, Peggy writes, "I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was "meant" to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools , and blank checks."

In this case, privilege is being used according to the dictionary definition: "A special advantage, immunity, permission, right, or benefit granted to or enjoyed by an individual, class, or caste." The use of the word to describe something which the vast majority of the culture has, often without thinking about it, may in and of itself be a bit inflammatory, but I think it's intended to be. It's meant to draw attention to the fact that the outside group is unable to participate in life the same way that the inside group does. In fact, the inside group (in this case, heterosexual society) is completely oblivious to exactly what life is like for those on the outside, because the size of the inside group is so large and the influence so pervasive that it is often forgotten that there even IS anyone on the outside.

Peggy McKintosh again:
One factor seems clear about all of the interlocking oppressions. They take both active forms, which we can see, and embedded forms, which as a member of the dominant groups one is taught not to see. In my class and place, I did not see myself as a racist because I was taught to recognize racism only in individual acts of meanness by members of my group, never in invisible systems conferring unsought racial dominance on my group from birth.

Disapproving of the system won't be enough to change them. I was taught to think that racism could end if white individuals changed their attitude. But a "white" skin in the United States opens many doors for whites whether or not we approve of the way dominance has been conferred on us. Individual acts can palliate but cannot end, these problems.

To redesign social systems we need first to acknowledge their colossal unseen dimensions. The silences and denials surrounding privilege are the key political surrounding privilege are the key political tool here. They keep the thinking about equality or equity incomplete, protecting unearned advantage and conferred dominance by making these subject taboo. Most talk by whites about equal opportunity seems to me now to be about equal opportunity to try to get into a position of dominance while denying that systems of dominance exist. [emphasis mine]
In much the same way that Peggy refers to white privilege, being a member of heterosexual normative society has distinct palpable advantages which are keenly felt on nearly a daily basis by homosexual and transgender persons, advantages which are truly only felt by those who are outside the advantaged circle. To speak of such advantages as "rights" can lead to difficult problems of ignorance and assumption for the advantaged group, because the cultural norms are so vast and so unspoken that it turns into the societal equivalent of saying that "breathing is a right", an obviously land-dwelling privilege, as any water dweller can attest.

The use of the word, "privilege", therefore, is deliberate. It is designed specifically to try to draw attention to what one group has that the other does not, and to do so about things which remain generally unconsidered or disregarded by the "haves", who can live their lives often entirely without having meaningful contact with the "have-nots". The vast divide between the daily experience of life as being somehow fair or egalitarian as perceived by heterosexual society and the experience of GLBT people could never be somehow legislated away by a system of "rights" bestowed upon them by a government. It is truly only by recognizing that there is a system of privileges in place, and discussing exactly what those are for the in-group and what that implies for the out-group, that we begin to dissect our culture in a way which begins to make room for change.

[This is a separate discussion from the rights and responsibilities conferred by marriage. That marriage itself remains a heterosexual privilege IS part of this discussion.]
posted by hippybear at 8:52 AM on October 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


It would help if I got her name right. Peggy McIntosh. Sorry about that.
posted by hippybear at 12:14 PM on October 4, 2010


Cyndi Lauper On Gay Teen Suicide.
posted by ericb at 12:55 PM on October 4, 2010


How To Help Kill Gay Kids.
posted by ericb at 12:57 PM on October 4, 2010


50 Cent, The Gay Community, and the Big Black Boogeyman.
posted by ericb at 1:44 PM on October 4, 2010


An open letter to religious leaders on gay youth suicides: it's time to act out loud.
posted by ericb at 1:45 PM on October 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dan Savage, "Letter of the Day: Almost Sorry": "The religious right points to the suicide rate among gay teenagers—which the religious right works so hard to drive up (see above)—as evidence that the gay lifestyle is destructive. It's like intentionally running someone down with your car and then claiming that it isn't safe to walk the streets."
posted by scody at 3:50 PM on October 4, 2010


Fuck the internet revenge fantasies.

Indeed. "He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee."
Friedrich Nietzsche, "Beyond Good and Evil," Aphorism 146, 1886
posted by daniel_ at 3:56 PM on October 4, 2010


Dear America,

Fuck you. This is your fault.

Love,
Sarah Silverman

posted by schmod at 7:58 PM on October 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


> The use of the word to describe something which the vast majority of the culture has, often
> without thinking about it, may in and of itself be a bit inflammatory, but I think it's intended
> to be.

Well, it's certainly made me think about these issues a lot more than I otherwise would have. I suppose by that token it's mission accomplished.
posted by vbfg at 3:35 AM on October 5, 2010


The Glee Cast: Let's Tackle Gay Suicide Right Now
posted by hippybear at 9:57 AM on October 5, 2010


Rutgers University Paper Blasts Media Coverage, Activist 'Agenda' Surrounding Tyler Clementi's Suicide
"Have the media and activist groups been exploiting Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi's suicide? According to the University's paper, The Daily Targum, 'yes.'

The editors published a letter yesterday claiming 'massive rallies and aggressive news coverage' turned Clementi's death into something it wasn't*:
'The death of University student Tyler Clementi might have been properly mourned if it were not for the massive rallies and aggressive news coverage that altered the nature of the situation. The truth is that an 18-year-old boy killed himself - he was a student just like the rest of us, someone just trying to receive an education. Yet people's relentless agendas took his death and turned it into a cause based on false pretenses.'
The paper goes on to chide 'an angry mob fending for their rights turned the death of a young boy into a cause for "safe spaces" for gays across the University,' and explains that these spaces already exist on the campus. They continue:
'The focal point of Clementi's tragic death should have been a boy's inability to deal with the hardships of life. And yet the news and certain organizations picked this up and carried it into the ranks of general causes for major social groups - for their profit. Did Tyler really feel unsafe after all? Do we know the reason behind his suicide? Do we know if he, himself, would take part in the movement behind his death - the push for safe spaces?'"
Really, editors at the Daily Targum? "Properly mourned." "Properly." What the fuck is that?

His death was exploited by the media activists? Really?

Tyler's suicide was one of 5 involving LGBT teenagers to occur in the past few weeks. What about the outpouring of anger, etc. from PEOPLE all over the world concerned about this trend?

* -- I suggest taking a look at the comments at the foot of the Targum article.
posted by ericb at 6:58 AM on October 6, 2010


Rutgers' Student Paper Honors Tyler Clementi's Death With An Attack On Everybody Fighting Bullycide.
posted by ericb at 7:26 AM on October 6, 2010


Molly Wei's lawyers say her reputation was 'unjustly tarnished' by Rutgers suicide tragedy.
posted by ericb at 7:39 AM on October 6, 2010


* -- I suggest taking a look at the comments at the foot of the Targum article.

Thanks for the heads-up - I wasn't sure I wanted to read the editorial at all, and I try to avoid reading newspaper comments altogether (unless I'm feeling particularly masochistic that day). But those are heartening.
posted by rtha at 8:39 AM on October 6, 2010


Dharun Ravi's Lawyer Speaks Out: 'This Is Not The Time For Explanations Of Defenses'.
posted by ericb at 10:28 AM on October 6, 2010


Tim Gunn Talks About His Teen Suicide Attempt.
posted by ericb at 10:48 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


ericb: I don't know to be heartened that Ravi's lawyer is deferring comment, or sickened that I'm so used to defense teams going on the immediate offensive in this sort of case that I'm setting a low bar for decency.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:56 AM on October 6, 2010


Homophobia Hurts Straight Men, Too.
"The suicide of college freshman Tyler Clementi painfully spotlights the dire consequences of homophobic bullying on gay men. But a homophobic culture that condemns male affection and emotion as 'gay' hurts all men – and our culture at large.
posted by ericb at 1:19 PM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Rutgers Should Expel Tyler Clementi’s Tormentors.
"Not long ago, a foreign visitor to our shores asked me whether there was anything anyone could do on an American college campus that assured automatic expulsion. I thought for a minute. 'Plagiarism,' I said. 'And falsified transcripts and other application records. And possibly "sexual harassment."' I wanted to add the proverbial 'high crimes and misdemeanors,' but knew of cases where students were re-admitted after having completed prison sentences.

... Rutgers University is in a position to exert extraordinary leadership by adding to the list one infraction that assures perpetrators a one-way and permanent ticket out: bullying."
posted by ericb at 1:22 PM on October 6, 2010


A new documentary, Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case that Made History, premiered last night (October 5) in Washington, D.C. It is part of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project. The film and an educational kit are being made available – free of charge – to every school in the country.
"Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case that Made History chronicles the powerful story of a student who stood up to his anti-gay tormentors and filed a federal lawsuit against his school district. The suit led to a landmark federal court decision holding that school officials could be held accountable for not stopping the harassment and abuse of gay students.

Despite that ruling, anti-gay bullying continues to be a severe, nationwide problem. In Massachusetts, for example, 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover hanged himself with an extension cord in 2009 after being bullied by classmates who perceived him as gay. In Indiana, another student hanged himself earlier this month after being subjected to anti-gay bullying. In the Anoka-Hennepin school district in Minnesota at least four gay students [as of Monday, it's now up to a count of six] have committed suicide in the past year alone."
Trailer [02:28] for the documentary.
posted by ericb at 1:40 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kate Harding On Good Kids and Total Fucking Assholes.
posted by lullaby at 1:48 PM on October 6, 2010


The subject of the documentary that ericb linked to is Jamie Nabozny. The tl;dr version of his story:
For four years Jamie Nabozny was subjected to relentless antigay verbal and physical abuse by fellow students at his public high school in Ashland, Wisconsin. Students urinated on him, pretended to rape him during class and when they found him alone kicked him so many times in the stomach that he required surgery. Although they knew of the abuse, school officials said at one point that Nabozny should expect it if he’s gay. Nabozny attempted suicide several times, dropped out of school and ultimately ran away. But he wanted to make sure that other students didn’t go through the same kind of nightmare. He sued his former school, but a trial court dismissed his lawsuit. Lambda Legal took over his case before a federal appeals court, which issued the first judicial opinion in the nation’s history finding that a public school could be held accountable for not stopping antigay abuse. The case went back to trial and a jury found the school officials liable for the harm they caused to Nabozny. The case then settled for close to $1 million.
(emphasis mine)

That was in 1995.
posted by rtha at 1:53 PM on October 6, 2010


I continue to read the comments at the Daily Targum regarding reaction to their controversial editorial.

After reading this comment:
"Neil Kypers is the editor and Aleksi Tzatzev is the opinion editor. Neil just told me on the phone that there is no evidence that the video was even illegally obtained. He doesn't even acknowledge violence against gay people at Rutgers or anywhere. Again, he blamed the victim in our conversation. This is way beyond the pale.

Targum 732.932.2012 x 110 Kypers, x 107 Tzatev."
I called the newspaper (732.932.2012) and had a conversation with a representative, asking if the paper had any intention of addressing the controversy over the editorial. She was polite and responded that they were considering such, but would not reveal whether or not they would be responding publicly.
posted by ericb at 2:32 PM on October 6, 2010


Neil just told me on the phone that there is no evidence that the video was even illegally obtained.

what
posted by rtha at 2:49 PM on October 6, 2010


There's apparently a rumor going around Rutgers that someone called on Skype and the video camera 'accidentally' turned on. You know, despite the fact that Ravi narrated exactly what occured via Twitter...

I think I am somehow more discouraged by the assholes who are supporting Ravi and Wei than by Ravi or Wei themselves.
posted by muddgirl at 2:52 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


*bangs head on table*
posted by rtha at 3:07 PM on October 6, 2010


There's apparently a rumor going around Rutgers that someone called on Skype and the video camera 'accidentally' turned on.

Nobody who has ever used Skype believes this. 1) you have to actually answer a call, 2) you have to then turn on your video (it auto-answers to audio only), 3) Skype is 1:1 communication -- there is (as far as I know) no way to do multi-way video.
posted by hippybear at 4:11 PM on October 6, 2010


Didn't the news articles say he was using iChat, not Skype? Which does have multi-way video, but I don't think it auto-answers. Well, mine doesn't. Maybe there's an option. But also that is not how he described it.
posted by lullaby at 9:57 PM on October 6, 2010


CNN: Christian group pulls support from event challenging homosexuality

Admittedly, I'd never heard of the Day of Truth, which, as a response to the Day of Silence seems incredibly distasteful no matter which way you spin it. Evidently, Exodus International seems to have come to realize the same in light of recent events.
posted by schmod at 10:03 PM on October 6, 2010


Rutgers University Emails Subpoenaed In Clementi Case
"The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office has subpoenaed Rutgers University to obtain copies of e-mails detailing how the school handled freshman Tyler Clementi’s complaint that his roommate used a webcam to spy on him, officials who have been briefed on the case said today.

Prosecutors asked for the subpoenas after investigators felt some at the state university were not fully cooperating with the investigation into the high-profile suicide, said two officials who were briefed on the probe. The officials asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak about the ongoing inquiry.

Campus officials denied they are obstructing the Clementi investigation. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act — a federal law that protects the privacy of student records — requires the university protect certain student documents, said E.J. Miranda, a Rutgers spokesman.

'The university is cooperating with the investigation. In some instances, a subpoena is required before the university can release information protected by federal law,' Miranda said."
posted by ericb at 9:23 AM on October 7, 2010


Senator Lautenberg to Introduce College Anti-Harassment Bill.
posted by ericb at 9:49 AM on October 7, 2010


Rutgers President Defends School's Handling Of Clementi Case.
posted by ericb at 8:44 AM on October 8, 2010


Tributes to a Young Suicide Victim at a Hometown Forum.
posted by ericb at 9:31 AM on October 8, 2010


A column in yesterday's Rutger's The Daily Targum:
Engage in Intelligent Debate

"Earlier this week, The Daily Targum published an editorial, 'Media exploits University tragedy,' concerning the suicide of University first-year student Tyler Clementi and the media outbreak surrounding it. While I do not entirely agree with the content of the editorial, I still feel the need to defend the paper's right to print the stories they choose and the writers' liberties to express them.

The backlash from the editorial has been incredible, and I speak specifically of the slew of online comments posted at dailytargum.com. In no uncertain terms I will stand by my view that the backlash against the article was more disgusting than the crime it discussed."
"... the backlash against the article was more disgusting than the crime it discussed." WTF?

Editors and writers at The Daily Targum, keep digging!
posted by ericb at 9:49 AM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Is the Targum a satire paper? Because saying that having people tell you that your editorial sucked and here's why is worse than your roommate secretly recording and broadcasting your private sexual encounters is just...I mean, this is the kind of thing I expect from the Onion.

Otherwise, I am forced to assume that the paper is run by extremely stupid and non-empathetic people, or robots.
posted by rtha at 9:54 AM on October 8, 2010


Gay teen endured a daily gantlet -- a profile of 13-year-old Seth Walsh, the hanging suicide who spent a week in a trauma unit before he was declared brain dead.
posted by hippybear at 9:42 AM on October 9, 2010


Friend: Charged Rutgers Student Molly Wei Feels Attacked.
posted by ericb at 11:58 AM on October 9, 2010


Suicide Surge: Schools Confront Anti-gay Bullying.

Has There Been An Increase In Gay Teen Suicide Or An Increase In Reporting The Issue?
posted by ericb at 4:03 PM on October 9, 2010


And ... another tragedy: Gay Oklahoma teen commits suicide following ‘toxic’ city debate over GLBT history month.
posted by ericb at 3:53 PM on October 10, 2010


Homophobia Kills "Die In" at Grand Central Terminal/NYC (October 8, 2010).
posted by ericb at 3:56 PM on October 10, 2010


Isaac Katz, son of Jonathan Katz, the Washington University professor whose essay, "In Defense of Homophobia" got him booted from the government's oil spill team, has come out of the closet:
/snip/

"In the past month, a 13-year-old Minnesota boy named Seth Walsh, who had been taunted for being gay, died in the hospital days after hanging himself from a tree; a 13-year-old Houston boy named Asher Brown shot himself after repeated homophobic bullying; 18-year-old Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after his roommate secretly filmed him having sex with another man (though it is not clear that the roommate was specifically homophobic or would have done the same if Clementi were with a woman); and a 15-year-old Indiana boy named Billy Lucas hanged himself in his barn after being tormented by classmates.

After Lucas' death, advice columnist Dan Savage launched an online campaign entitled 'It gets better.' Countless gay men and women have now posted videos on YouTube, telling — and demonstrating — that life does get better for gay teens.

More than a decade has passed since my brother used that notorious homophobic slur [faggot]. I am now 22, and, as it happens, I am gay. Further, I, personally, was depressed throughout much of my adolescence. Although anti-gay bullying was never a problem for me as a student at Clayton High School, being in the closet hardly helped my mental well-being. I was hospitalized for depression the summer after my sophomore year in college and tried to overdose on pills later that fall.

My father is a physics professor at Washington University. Years ago, he wrote an article on his personal website in which he justified homophobia as a 'moral judgment' about a person's actions. Even if one does not accept Judeo-Christian morality, he wrote, gays should be shunned because they are physically and morally responsible for the AIDS epidemic. Any person 'cursed with unnatural sexual desires' should suppress those desires. Further, even if gays are thoroughly safe and monogamous, they are still morally culpable for the promiscuity that spread AIDS in the past, just as people who join the Ku Klux Klan without physically engaging in violence still share the responsibility for past Klan actions. Though one should 'not engage in violence against homosexuals,' my father argued, one should 'stay away from them.' The last line of the essay is as follows: 'I am a homophobe, and proud.'

It is harder to stay away from homosexuals, I would imagine, when your son is one. When I told my dad I was gay, his immediate response was, 'No, you're not.' (My mom, by the way, was and is more supportive.) When my insistence finally overrode his denials, he echoed his online essay that I should deny who I am rather than to engage in an act so abhorrent as to love another man."

/snip/
posted by ericb at 2:13 PM on October 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


I pine for the days when ericb gets to post happy addenda to the ends of LGBT-related threads.
posted by schmod at 7:07 PM on October 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


American Family Association Blames LGBT Suicides On Gay Rights Movement.
posted by ericb at 5:26 PM on October 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


"A host of young Broadway stars came together to record a song in the hopes of calling further attention to the problem of suicide among LGBT youth. The song, written by composer and lyricists Jay Kuo and Blair Shepard, embraces the theme of 'It Gets Better' and will be available for download via iTunes on October 19th. Proceeds will benefit a terrific cause - The Trevor Project. What's just as good is that is the fact that the song is actually catchy"*
posted by ericb at 11:38 AM on October 17, 2010


Group walks across George Washington Bridge in memory of Tyler Clementi; drop roses in Hudson.
posted by ericb at 2:34 PM on October 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


National Organization for Marriage's Maggie Gallagher: Don't blame me for gay teen suicides.
posted by ericb at 12:41 PM on October 20, 2010


And that's exactly what the Youth Risk Behavior data also shows: In 2001, gay teens in Massachussetts were almost four times more likely to have attempted suicide (31 percent versus 8 percent). In 2007 -- after four years of legalized gay marriage in that state -- gay teens were still about four times more likely to attempt suicide than non-gay teens (29 percent versus 6 percent).

Whether you are looking at their faces or looking at the statistics, one thing is clear: These kids need help, real help. They should not become a mere rhetorical strategy, a plaything in our adult battles.


Yeah, because when gay marriage become legal in Massachusetts (that's the correct spelling, btw, Maggie, and editors - are there any of you left? - at the NY Post), homophobia magically evaporated! It fixed everything!

And you're right about them needing help. Like, it would be helpful if you could stop contributing to an atmosphere in which gay people are less than, not good enough for, are coming for your kids, are out to wreck the Traditional Family, etc. etc. In other words, stop using us as rhetorical, political punching bag and all-purpose boogeyman. Stop lying about what the lives of actual, real live glbt people are like. Just stop.
posted by rtha at 2:06 PM on October 20, 2010


Survey: 2/3 of People Believe Churches Facilitate Gay Suicides.
posted by ericb at 7:57 AM on October 22, 2010


Family Research Council President: Gay Teens Resort To Suicide Because They Know They're 'Abnormal'.
posted by ericb at 11:13 AM on October 27, 2010


Midland School Board (Midland, Ark.) member Clint McCance has created a firestorm with comments (now deleted/disabled) he posted on his Facebook page:
"Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers killed themselves. The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed thereselves because of their sin. REALLY PEOPLE."
After being challenged by a commenter, this was Mr. McCance’s reply:
"No because being a fag doesn't give you the right to ruin the rest of our lives. If you get easily offended by being called a fag then dont tell anyone you are a fag. Keep that shit to yourself. I dont care how people decide to live their lives. They dont bother me if they keep it to thereselves. It pisses me off though that we make a special purple fag day for them. I like that fags cant procreate. I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other aids and die. If you arent against it, you might as well be for it."

"I would disown my kids they were gay. They will not be welcome at my home or in my vicinity. I will absolutely run them off. Of course my kids will know better. My kids will have solid christian beliefs. See it infects everyone."
Facebook page: Fire Clint McCance.
posted by ericb at 12:39 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Students Who Used Webcam to Broadcast Tyler Clementi's Encounter with Man Withdraw from Rutgers University.
posted by ericb at 7:50 AM on October 29, 2010


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