I think we are having the wrong conversation on the Rutgers University "spy cam" trial. In fact, I think this wrong conversation, which was started a long time ago, has led to this tragedy on both levels. A young man is dead and another is on trial for his freedom.
The young man who jumped off a bridge in New York and killed himself to avoid public humiliation is ironically getting what terrified him the most: lots of publicity and everyone talking about his homosexuality. He is receiving in death what he feared in life.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the case, here is a synopsis. Nineteen-year-old Dharun Ravi taped his roommate kissing another man in their dorm room at Rutgers University on September 19, 2010, then shared it with friends on Twitter. The roommate, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, distraught and ashamed, later committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington bridge on Sept. 23, 2010, only days after he found out of the webcam broadcasting his intimate life.
Ravi is now being tried in a New Jersey court on 15 criminal counts which include "invasion of privacy, witness tampering, evidence tampering and bias intimidation."
This is such a tragedy for Clementi's fear drove him to choose death over being outed as a gay young man. What does this say about our society? The New Jersey court is attempting to punish Ravi for a "bias" crime, yet the governor of said state,recently vetoed the same-sex marriage Bill.
These were two young men, still in their teens who have obviously learned society's intolerance and penchant for prejudice then mimicked them in their lives. One thought it was hilarious to out his friend and the victim felt so ashamed and utterly desperate, distraught and alone, that he plunged to his death rather than embrace who he was.
So who is responsible? Is it young Ravi, who thought that Clement's intimate life was fodder for his friends or is society partly to blame for vilifying homosexuality--making outcast of our fellow human beings for loving who they love? Ostracized, teased-using God, religion and the Bible as a weapon to castigate, label, punish.
The word gay is now used as a curse word. "You so gay" or "that is so gay" is the new phrase to measure all things negative. Young folks today also use a phrase "No Homo" as a sort of protection to ward off any perceived homosexual tendencies or implications. They don't see anything wrong with this scenario and this language has become second nature.
Adults have their harsher brand of judging, taunting and ironically, some religious folks are among the most intolerant of them all. Then there are the worst kind--the ones who do not have an opinion, who see and hear wrong but do nothing to stop it. There is a quote that goes and I'm paraphrasing: "The surest way for evil to prevail is for great men to remain silent."
We have a rash of GOP candidates who are thumping the Bible in one hand to justify bigotry and others whose ideology arrive at the same conclusions just via different routes. The common theme is intolerance.
Who is to blame? Ravi, or does a little bit of blame lay at all of our doors? Are you one of those "greats" who remain silent in the face of injustice, prejudice, bigotry, bias, child sexual abuse, bullying or are you on the judgemental side of finger pointing, negative labeling or worse condemning?
Follow the case here:Former defendant in Rutgers webcam spy case says she never recorded, broadcast video