Friday, March 23, 2012

Dharun Ravi: Rightfully Convicted or Unfairly Sacrificed?

Alrighty, Queermosexuals, I couldn't keep my mouth shut on this one. This is hardly a political blog, but, sometimes, in the middle of this culture war, gay life gets more than a little political for all of us (or rather, it does if you are responsible and doing your part). So, to that end, this blog post will be devoted to the serving of justice for one of our many dearly departed brethren, Tyler Clementi. 

And Yes, I am posting Tyler with his violin, because I want everyone reading this to remember him that way, to remember what an amazingly talented young man we lost. I also want people to see him as a person, not as a martyr or a political pawn. Now, that being said, on to the subject of the title- his Tormentor, Dharun Ravi. 

In what later became known as the Rutgers Spycam Case, Dharun Ravi invaded his roommate's private encounter with a webcam, thus, outing him as homosexual. Anyone who has ever been outed knows what that can do to you, and what it can cost you. Therefore, I personally absolutely believe that the next event- Tyler's jumping from the George Washington bridge in one of the most high profile LGBT suicides ever- had a direct correlation to what Ravi did. 

However, many people beg to differ. They say that Ravi holds no role or responsibility, that what he did was a prank gone horribly wrong, that he holds no responsibility in Tyler Clement's death. I obviously disagree. For one, this was not a "prank." This was a deliberate effort, to, for whatever reason, humiliate his gay roommate. Hence, the bias intimidation charges are definitely legitimate. Anyone with a brain knows that this would never have been an issue at all had Tyler been straight. As almost anyone reading this blog knows, nobody ever humiliates anyone for being heterosexual. 

But Ravi's supporters are calling us a lynch mob out for blood, and trying to paint Ravi as a sacrificial lamb in a situation that has long been out of control. To some degree, that may be true. We rarely have names, faces, and evidence to be able to prosecute these cases. When we finally get one where we know who is responsible and can prove it, we go for the jugular. 

I'll be honest. I sat the fence for a minute. As I participated in Dharun Ravi's digital lynching, I wondered if I was doing the right thing, if this was just a college kid in over his head who could not possibly have known what his moment of fun was going to land him. Then I watched this video.

The kid, even after all this time, paints himself as a victim, deflects blame, and essentially shows zero remorse for what he has done. So, in short, yes, the verdict was right. Guilty on all counts, including bias intimidation. Rest in peace, Tyler. Justice was served.


  1. Any "prank" that violates laws (such as criminal peeping which this did) is not a prank at all but a criminal act. Mr. Ravi got what he deserved just as any criminal who flouts the law for his own perverse fun or pleasure should.

    1. My sentiments exactly. I am glad the jury agrees. While I understand the mob mentality that took this case to the top, I also feel we are more than justified.

  2. I agree with the verdict, but wonder what the verdict would have been if Ravi had been a white boy named Robbie instead of a brown boy with a foriegn name?

    1. I honestly think of this as more of a gay/straight issue than one of race. That could certainly play a role, but we (meaning the LGBT community), have gone after people of all races who have hurt our own. Even those of us who are both racial minorities and LGBT kind of set the LGBT part forth FIRST, because that is the part that gets the most flack, harassment, and legalized discrimination.

  3. Shanon:

    1. Ravi has peeped on his friends before. He wrote a program which would take pictures on a web-cam and upload it to a web-site. He was an equal opportunity peeper.

    2. With regards to Tyler's reaction to Ravi.
    You also need to question your assumptions of how Tyler felt. These are Tyler's own words:

    "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.

    Tyler was in complete control when it comes to Ravi. He complained, got a quick response, asked for punishment, requested the room-mate change, pulled the plug on the computer, and then in his own words "had a great time" with his hook-up, He turned down the RA's offer to sleep in his room and went back for his room.

    To view him as a "lost puppy" being intimidated by his bully room mate, is an over reach. Perhaps you are projecting your own past experiences on Tyler. But Tyler himself did not feel the
    same way (in his own words).

    He was certainly upset, and saw Ravi as a nuisance; but a nuisance he could deal with and WAS dealing with in a quick, and suitable manner. He was getting some excellent advise.

    But what do you see in his actions which shows "fear", the definition of intimidation used by the judge. Fear is supposed to paralyze you, make you afraid of any action.

    Tyler's actions with regards to Ravi, do not show signs of person "in fear". His actions were quick, appropriate, effective, and above all did not hinder Tyler in having a good time with his hook-up.
    And of course there is the whole question of the suicide note.

    If Tyler had written anything incriminating about Ravi, the prosecutor would have been all over it. This is the same prosecution which went over the entire electronic trail with a comb. But they refused to present it as evidence, and kept it away from the defense; and even Tyler's parents.

    Read the last part again: They kept it away even from Tyler's parents.

    Tyler was not the first exposure to a gay child from them. They suspected that Tyler's elder brother too was gay, and actually asked Tyler to investigate. But when Tyler came out his mom acted in a manner which made Tyler tell his friends "basically she has rejected me"; even though the prospect of the gay-child was not new to her.

    There were the three other notes written around the time Tyler came out; there are the words of her mom telling him "Dont hurt yourself...".

    Based on all the information above, would it not be reasonable to believe that there was a lot more to Tyler's death than Ravi's buffoonery?

    Ravi said that till he got to know about all the other evidence, he too held himself responsible as claimed by the media.
    The issue is the hate-crime charge; everything else is quite obvious. His entire peep session lasted three seconds but was portrayed as "recording" "filming" "uploading" "viewing party".

    1. I agree that it was portrayed as much more/longer than what it was. However, his intent to do so, by his own words ("its happening again," "dare you to iChat")mean that this was with cruel intent to humiliate Tyler, and the second he did that, he broke the law.

      And if Tyler were in control as you say, he would not be over that bridge. Furthermore the "making out with a dude" tweet implies that had he been straight, it wouldn't have been an issue. Besides that, that is common sense,as any homosexual knows. Then again, therein lies the disconnect- straight people will NEVER know the pain of being outed.

    2. Shanon:

      Ravi did not out Tyler. That is one of the BIGGEST lies being spread among everything else. Ravi is being tried for actions he did not commit, and the LBG community is being a moral coward in not being willing to admit that they spread a whole boatload of lies about Ravi.

      Tyler attended an on-campus LBG support group. He was bringing 30 year old hook-ups into his dorm, while sexiling his room-mate. He was active on gay web-cam type sites (not sure what they are called) where his pictures were posted. Tyler hooked up again, knowing very well that his dorm mates knew. There is ABSOLUTELY nothing which suggests that Tyler felt that Ravi had outed him or was seriously affected by Ravi.

      BTW, after he came out his mom's reaction was not positive. He wrote "my mom basically rejected me".

      Earlier on he had created T-shirts:

      "He then found Zazzle, a print-on-demand site where Keybowvio, probably years earlier, had created a T-shirt that read, “If Opposites Attract Why Isn’t Anyone Attracted to Me?” Another said, “I Love My Mommy . . . ” and, on the back, “Do You?” Ravi wrote, “I feel bad for him.”

      Read more

    3. What Ravi did was criminal. Do not victimize Ravi and criminalize the LGBT community. We aren't spreading lies. The texts of his "making out with a dude" and "you might see something nasty" are enough for me to believe he is a homophobe.

    4. And being out in some aspects of your life does not mean you are out in all. I know people whose friends know and whose families do not. Or maybe the people at work or school don't know. How "out" someone is is relative. Again, a concept straight folks don't get. Even after being TOTALLY out for nearly 17 years, I still feel violated when someone reveals it without my consent to ANYONE who I haven't told myself. THAT is a violation in and of itself.

    5. Another concept straight people don't get is this: outness is relative. Coming out is lifelong, a process that never stops. Every time I meet someone new, I have to decide do I say anything or not. Will they figure it out? Will they be ok with it? Even after nearly 17 years, that process and those fears continue. I feel violated if anyone outs me to anyone before I have a chance to do it myself. If Ravi discussed Tyler's orientation with ANYONE without Tyler's consent, then he is guilty of an outing.

  4. Shanon:

    I found your posts very thoughtful but even you have assumed that it was Ravi who caused Tyler to kill himself.

    Let me ask you a hypothetical question. Suppose you were an uber-confident gay person. You then find that Ravi is being a jerk. What would you have done? Complain, Ask for Punishment, and then go on with what you were doing without any fear of retribution or ridicule.

    This is exactly what Tyler did.

    Tyler filed a complaint, requested a room-mate change, asked Ravi to be punished, he ripped out the power to the computer, and then went on to have a "a good time" (Tyler's words).

    Where do you see Tyler being in pain by Ravi's action or being bullied by him? He was certainly angry, and he took actions to address the situation.

    Ravi did not out Tyler, he did not record Tyler, he did not broadcast Tyler, he did not have a viewing party (he was at the frisbee practice).

    Remember this is not a trial about invasion of privacy or being a jerk. It is a crime which is convicting Ravi of being a homophobe. Not a SINGLE real living person who has known Ravi has said that he was remotely homophobe.

    1. I simply cannot imagine that ANY of this would have occurred at all if Tyler had been with a woman and not a man, which is bias. That is where I stand on this. This simply would never happen to a straight person. It is unfortunate that Dharun Ravi is the face of something much bigger than this isolated case, but I simply do not believe that he isn't a 'phobe. I've encountered bunches of homophobic bigots who don't see their own bigotry. That is what Ravi is. His behavior is textbook. Throw in the arrogance, lack of remorse, painting himself as a victim, and deflecting of blame..well I just can't muster up any sympathy for a dick like that. Remember: you don't have to be waiting outside a gay bar for a good bashing to be a bigot. Many shades of gray. If you fit even the faintest shade, you're guilty.