This is quite possibly the most reprehensible story I’ve heard all year. Not one, but two clean-cut Rutgers students–DISGRASIANS, rather–Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei have been charged with invading the privacy of their roommate, Tyler Clementi, by secretly broadcasting him “making out with a dude” (according to Ravi’s Twitter page) and possibly other things over the Internet. Three days after the incident, Clementi jumped off a bridge and killed himself.
Ravi and Wei have been charged with two counts each of invasion of privacy, the maximum sentence of which is five years. Now, prosecutors are considering additional charges against Ravi and Wei, based on a statement from Steven Goldstein, chairman of the gay rights group Garden State Equality, who considers the death a hate crime:
“We are sickened that anyone in our society, such as the students allegedly responsible for making the surreptitious video, might consider destroying others’ lives as a sport,” he said in a statement.
A Letter to Dharun Ravi and Molley Wei
Dear Dharun and Molly,
In the words of our collective Asian parents, you are a huge embarrassment and even bigger disgrace. You dishonor the family. Why did you have to go and screw up your college careers for shits ‘n giggles? Do you want to be working at the inmates’ McDonald’s at your local prison for the rest of your life? And, you, Dharun. What do you have against people making out? I read that you twittered, “I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes, it’s happening again.” IT. The magical, mysterious event of sex. It doesn’t make sense that you’d be fascinated enough to broadcast IT online unless
1) You are a big, jealous virgin;
2) You yourself enjoy gay porn and want to voyeuristically experience it.
So, which is it? As for you, Moll, I don’t know what your defense is going to be. Probably something like “Dharun forced himself inside my room and made me stream Tyler’s romp against mah will!” Not gonna cut it, hon. You ain’t no Mayumi Heene. But, maybe you should take a page outta her book and get yourself your own lawyer.
P.S. Why you drinkin’ so much hate-orade?
Thoughts about Tyler Clementi’s Outness and Facebook
It’s immensely sad that Tyler suffered so much at the hands of his roommates that he felt he needed to commit suicide. In college, no less. College is supposed to be the best time of your life. Aside from being a place where you can get a degree that’s supposed to land you a decent job with a decent wage (*cough*), college is supposed to be a place and time of freedom to experience sex, relationships, substances, and your own feelings, attitudes and emotions about the world.
Tyler Clementi was just doing what everyone does, gay or straight. He was being himself. And like a lot of people he felt alone.
It’s ironic, right? That we can have a Facebook page and be “friends” with hundreds, maybe thousands, of people and still feel very much alone in the world. I feel that way all the time. According to the NYT, Tyler was judged on his Facebook page:
Mr. Clementi displayed a favorite quotation on his Facebook page, from the song “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”: “What do you get when you kiss a guy? You get enough germs to catch pneumonia.”
The quotation was apparently evidence to prove Ravi’s theory about his roommate’s sexual orientation. The Facebook quote is all part of a larger issue about how and what we use to judge people in the age of social media. The more clues we put about our real lives on our Facebook pages, the greater the chance we’ll be judged by people who barely even know us.
Whereas before, you might only come out to your immediate friends and family (the people you talk to on a daily basis), you can now shout your sexual orientation/religious beliefs/political beliefs/murderous thoughts to all the people who clicked a button to become your “friend.” And possibly even to the friends of your friends or to the people at your school or to the public at large, depending on your privacy settings. And, well, it’s scary.
I’m not advocating that people never display their personalities or preferences or try to hide their identities online and shut themselves in another form of The Closet. I just think it’s sad and also frightening that words on a computer screen–favorite quotations–can influence how we think about a person and how we end up treating them.
It’s a sobering reminder that social media can be a powerful tool–for activism and compassion as well as for hate. Facebook and YouTube can kill a person. I don’t just mean the literal person. I mean their reputations, their dignity and self-worth, their souls.
And in the end it’s not worth it to die for an illegally obtained streaming video created for immature and ignorant kids to watch.
In the spirit of not perpetuating the h8, I’m vowing not to post anything negative about the subjects for blog posts for at least the next week. Tyler Clementi enjoyed playing music. You’ll be hearing about what I actually enjoy soon enough.
Popularity: 2% [?]