Wed, 4 Apr 2012 20:55:09 -0400
Opinion from Mothers in New Jersey
There is no doubt that what Dharun Ravi did was morally and ethically reprehensible. His actions were clearly an invasion of privacy – however, “hate crime/bias intimidation” should never have been attached to the charges against him. Many legal experts have come forward to voice their opinion that this law is ‘muddled’ at best (even the judge expressed unease with its understanding) and feel strongly that what happened here was not a “hate crime” or a case of “bias intimidation” and that the law itself needs to be reworked because as it stands it is unconstitutional in its confusion alone! The ethics of everyone involved, the prosecutor, judge and our judicial system as a whole are in question when a jumbled law like this one can be ‘piggybacked’ so easily onto a case of invasion of privacy – dramatically increasing the likelihood of a jail sentence for this young man, when the true basis of finding someone guilty of breaking this law hinged on something no one will ever know for sure – “What was Tyler Clementi thinking and feeling?.” This is not justice in any way, shape or form. There is a lot of talk about this being a ‘landmark case’ as well as the associated publicity for the prosecutor, Julia McClure’s victory, etc., when instead there should be scrutiny and outrage.
If the law is questionable (which it is), then the charges were questionable, which makes the verdict questionable as well and therefore unjust.
How can anyone feel peace in their heart about letting this case move forward to sentencing? And after sentencing on May 21, 2012, the attention of the media and coupled publicity then moves on to Immigration and what action they decide to take against Dharun, which will also end up being strongly driven by public feeling or public expectations rather than what is right and just and involves a confusing law . This is a very clear case of the potential punishment not remotely fitting the invasion of privacy or “cyber-bullying” crime and it is not too late for all involved to step back, reassess this case and do the right thing. We all have an implicit moral responsibility to do just that.
Dharun’s lawyer, Steven Altman, stated in an earlier interview, prior to the apology Dharun made to the Clementi family (which I am sure he was prevented from making earlier due to the court proceedings and legalities involved), that
the reason Dharun and the Ravi family felt they could not accept the plea bargain, which so many of us could not understand, was because Dharun “felt no hatred in his heart towards Tyler” and could not say, under oath as the plea acceptance would have required him to do, that he hated Tyler and his actions were based on bias intimidation because Tyler was gay.
Think about that – it MEANS something that this young man could not and did not lie under oath to avoid a trial, a potential jail sentence and deportation.
We were and still are heartsick after learning about Tyler’s suicide and grieved for a family we did not know. But now, we feel such sadness for the Ravi family as their son is facing a possible punishment/sentence that does not fit the crime he did commit in any way and thus is completely unjustified.
Collectively, we cannot permit our anger and sorrow over the multiple cyber-bullying episodes that have so sadly resulted in several suicides over the past few years to enable or make acceptable the reality of what is happening here – the unjustified prosecution of Dharun Ravi as if he were responsible for ALL of these tragedies. HE IS NOT responsible for them nor was he on trial for Tyler’s Clementi’s suicide – yet it has come out to have weighed on the minds of some of the jurors although they stated for the record in court that it did not. Dharun Ravi is guilty of invasion of privacy and the anger and hurt of our country about the sometimes tragic implications of social media cannot and should not rest on the shoulders of this young man– yet that is exactly what has happened and it should not be allowed to go any further.
We all need to wake up and realize that there were many factors which we will never know that likely caused this gentle and talented young man, who had just come out to his family, to commit suicide. The Clementi family is obviously very special and they have said from the beginning that they do not wish to see a harsh sentence applied here. Of course, they also hoped to not have to sit through the heartbreak of a trial and sadly, they had to do just that.
The best outcome we can think of for a tragedy that has devastated two families and made so many people across the country heartsick would be the following – if word of this could just get out to the Clementi family, the Prosecutor, Julia McClure and the Judge for serious consideration. Not a prison sentence or deportation, but instead something of tremendous value not only for a generation of young people but for the Clementi family.
A true “Tribute to Tyler” – a program developed in part by Dharun Ravi with input from the Clementi family, educators and perhaps other families whose lives have been touched by invasion of privacy or cyber-bullying the past few years. Dharun Ravi and hopefully some of the teens on probation in the Phoebe Prince suicide case among others, would literally go as many schools as possible in the state (or several states) for a designated time and talk in an open forum about this case, educating kids and ‘young adults’ regarding how thoughtless decisions and actions can have such tragic and unintended consequences. This program could be filmed, expanded upon in a number of ways and should be made a permanent part of school curriculum so that long after Dharun Ravi moves on with the rest of his life – which he should eventually be allowed to do with his family in the United States, discussion and education on this topic will continue year after year. This would be a powerful sentence that Julia McClure could be proud of recommending and being a part of as it will have a true impact decreasing the chances of something like this happening again – which we all know, given the short attention span of the media, a prison sentence will not.
Dharun Ravi will never be the same person he was before his spying/webcam invasion of privacy action against Tyler, nor will the Clementi family ever be the same. We have no doubt that Dharun wakes up thinking of Tyler and wishes he could go back in time and undo his actions and also goes to bed thinking of him and likely will for the rest of his life – which is a sentence already, just as the Clementi family will wonder forever – “what could have been” for their lovely son.
The bottom line is that our children have so many social media options at their fingertips and receive little to no counsel regarding the serious implications and consequences of what they write, say and do on a daily basis. A tragedy like this will only happen again and again if we do not learn from it and EDUCATE this generation. We think this is a good place to start and that it can have an immensely positive impact going forward and genuine value for the Clementi family by honoring the wonderfully talented and gentle son and brother that they have lost.
I don’t think what Dharun Ravi did was more wrong than dropping a drink on purpose at a formal family gathering for instance. You cannot say turning on a webcam in your own dorm room for a few seconds is worse than that. Done all the time around the world.
Better to counsel people about suicide.
Teenagers with their social quibbles will commit suicide over the smallest things. Someone didn’t remember my birthday, my boyfriend took out another person, my parents wouldn’t let me go to a movie, for the sake of Islam, because my gay brothers get glorification for it and can say they are bullied. Stupid for society to blame anyone than Tyler. A tribute to Tyler is bad taste.
That said to be perfectly honest, some older people, and people with incurable disabilities are justified in being let go peacefully. It is cruel and wasteful to force these people to take their own lives in painful ways rather than presenting the service of having their lives ended peacefully when they request it and which they truly deserve.
I agree with the gist of your argument Emily. Imagine every celebrity on MTV Punk’d committing suicide because of hurt feelings!
Agreed that I do not know all specifics of the case/trial but this is a prank gone wrong. Unfortunately the victim committed suicide and the prankster is punished heavily by the over-zealous legal system Any infractions Ravi has done are minor and at most he should be sentenced to do community service.
Thanks. I find it disturbing how Americans accept new unfair laws and apply them like they are brother superiors in medieval monasteries. Life is long and good people like Ravi should not be held down to other person’s small minded third grade mentality. It also provides me with painful reminder that I’m expected to grow old in a country of stupid laws when I believe other ways of life should be allowed under our constitution. For instance, I totally believe in right to die in euthanasia clinic when a person gets older or severely disabled and no longer wants to live. This is so much more humane than elderly suicides which currently are carried out all too often in gruesome manners in this country. Also I believe prisoners should have a right to euthanasia if they hate prison so much that they would prefer to be dead.