Ok, gay and lesbian community, you can put away the torches and nooses, you’ve got your lynching. Dharun Ravi could go to prison for ten years. From what I have heard and seen, that is what will satisfy the blood lust of the GLTC. But is it right? No, it is not. Let’s flip it on its head. If an 18 year old, computer savvy, supremely confident, outgoing, relatively well off gay man had a shy, unassuming, somewhat depressed, devoutly Christian room mate whom he filmed kissing an older woman and then tweeted about it (without posting the film), and then the shy room mate killed himself, would you have your nooses and torches out then? I think not.
Is Ravi an ass? Yes. An idiotic insensitive young man? Yes. Did he kill Tyler Clementi or even drive him to a tragic suicide? No. There is absolutely no evidence that Tyler killed himself because of this incident, other than timing. One wonders what a Psychiatrist would say about the likelihood that these tweets, which Tyler had in fact confronted and discussed with Ravi, caused a person to become suicidal in the few days that elapsed before his suicide. In fact, the case was not at all based on the idea that Ravi caused Tyler’s death. The “hate crime” was invasion of privacy, not manslaughter, not bullying, not harassment. Now it is true that Tyler knew of the invasion and was upset by it and asked for a change in room mate. But it is also true that he knew how to take care of it, he had already said something about it to Ravi. When he invited his boy friend back to his room again after he knew of the filming, he did what most intelligent people would do. He turned off Ravi’s computer and unplugged it and he searched for other cameras. He had already requested a room change, but had refused the offer of different accommodations in the mean time. Does that sound like the actions of someone so upset by the incident that it would cause suicide? No. Everything one hears and reads indicates that Tyler was not a happy young man. His suicide is tragic. Does that mean the Ravi drove him to it and is to blame? No it does not.
Lisa Bloom will tell you that Ravi showed his “anti-gay animus” by his famous tweet – “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay” I am not so sure that you can get that from the tweet, unless you have already decided it is true. And in any event the tweet was not directed at Tyler or even alleged to be directed at him, but Tyler found it and knew of it. At that is why Ravi is going to jail. Did he intend to intimidate? No, and the jury did not find him guilty of intentional intimidation. He didn’t publish the video which was about 2 seconds, he didn’t go on a campaign of harassment, he didn’t invade somebody’s Facebook page with animosity and meanness. They say he showed this “anti-gay animus” through some tweets, and Tyler knew about it and he felt intimidated and that (coupled with the webcam invasion of privacy) is a hate crime with a punishment of imprisonment for up to 10 years and likely deportation, despite the fact that he has lived here virtually his entire life (one wonders, incidentally if he was from Mexico not India, if people would now be outraged about the deportation). Beware all, if you don’t agree with your roommate's religious beliefs, sexual orientation, don’t tweet it, don’t say anything about it, and don’t let your roommate find out about it. Keep it to yourself or you could go to jail for 10 years. And that presumably goes for everyone. If you are Gay, don’t complain about being in a room with a right wing Christian. He or she might be intimidated, and you could go to jail, especially if you tweet about observing him constantly reading the bible or something weird like that, Yay.
Ravi had a lousy attorney and New Jersey had a good one. Ravi arrogantly refused a plea deal with no jail time and “assistance” against deportation. A very good deal. But if all you did was tweet about an incident, in the same way you have tweeted forever about everything, why would you think you committed a hate crime?
No doubt, if anyone actually reads this, I will be subject to vitriol for defending Dharun Ravi, but I don’t think lynchings (either literal or figurative as in this case) are good no matter who is the victim or the perpetrator, and really no matter how heinous his or her crimes. Read about the case, take a look at the facts not what the talking heads say, but the facts. You might change your view.