Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Crime and Punishment (UPDATE)

Ian Parker's expansive reporting in the New Yorker on the Tyler Clementi case is definitely worth a read. The friend who pointed me to the piece said it would change my opinion about Dharun "Worst Roommate Ever" Ravi: "This case has taken on a life of its own that isn't based in reality. There was no sex tape! There was no broadcast over the Internet! There was no outing!" But perhaps she oversold his lack of culpability to me. Because while it's clear that things are never as black and white as a juror might want them to be -- and I agree that only the person who takes his life is responsible for killing himself -- I came away thinking he was not only a major douche who had broken the law, that he was arrogant for refusing to take a no-jail plea deal that also helped to ensure he would not be deported. Decide for yourself HERE.

UPDATE: I deliberately left my main point out of this post as I wanted to leave it to the reader to decide for himself. But given some of the comments, I will say this: The defense would like us to now believe that Ravi is being swept up in some "anti-bullying" backlash that does not really fit this situation, but I'm not so sure I agree. He has not been charged with violating ome reactionary anti-bullying statute. He's been charged with invasion of privacy (which he clearly did), witness and evidence tampering (which he clearly did -- and I don't even blame him; he was scared and tried to get his story straight with friends and delete tweets), and bias intimidation. The ONLY part -- and admittedly the most serious part -- that is debatable is the bias part, which a jury can decide. But even if you believe his defenders who say he did not have hate toward gays, can you really see ANY situation where he would have done what he did -- setting up the camera to spy, tweeting about how gross it was, setting it up again and inviting others to come watch -- if his roomie had a chick over? I can't, so isn't that kind of the definition of a bias?


Ron Buckmire said...

It's a truly astonishing article, blowing away the misinformation that everyone thinks they know about this very (in)famous case.

Dharun definitely comes across as an asshole and narcissist. What I found the most interesting was the writer's ability to trace all the online activity of all the principals in the drama, and reconstruct the series of events.

The use of social media and Web 2.0 technology in so many intimate ways (Tyler clementi apparently installed the Facebook app on his phone a mere hours before he posted his suicide note as a facebook status!) is jawdropping.

£¥~STU F. NYC said...

I started reading it last night, and could not put it down. Everything you said is true. There has been so much disinformation out there about this tragic story...but there is still some level of responsibility that Dharun has. Yes another rich, arrogant kid who thinks he can do and get away with anything and still hasn't shown any remorse.

Tom Chicago1 said...

I read over the weekend and it was engaging and enlightening. To be honest, I did not find either of the roommates very likable. Also, being an asshole is not a crime. Over the past year the effects of bullying has been justifiably highlighted, but I am not sure if this is one of those cases.

Anonymous said...

I am not that surprised that Ravi rejected the plea bargain -- the prosecutor could not guarantee that he wouldn't be deported. No state has that power. All they offered was to try to prevent it. I'm not defending him in general -- far from it -- just pointing out that he is between a rock and a hard place, and really his only option is to gamble on a trial and hope the jury acquits him. Only that would ensure that he's not deported.

But just to stress it: I don't defend him at all, and I think his actions were despicable.

Hall Monitor said...

The problem with trying to minimize Dharun's culpability, is still his planning a viewing party for his friends. It displays a certain level of meanness and to my way of thinking should be punished. As someone said, if it were a "chick" he was bringing back, it seems doubtful that he would have wanted to tape it. Therefore, the fact of it being a gay encounter was a deciding factor to the invasion of privacy. Also, consider, that his claim that he'd changed his mind and called off the viewing party made him look as if he was only saying that to save his skin.

IMHO, he still should take responsibility for the meanness, and his deliberate act to hurt another human being.

martymartymarty said...

The part that made me gnash my teeth about this whole thing was his comments about Tyler being "poor". It's an arrogance that is repulsive, to belittle his roommate for some income status that he lacks. I really think he would not have done such a prank if his roommate were his "peer", I don't think it had as much to do with his being gay as with his being poor. Either way, it was a stupid attempt to be demeaning.

swine said...

Would Ravi have done this if Tyler were straight & was banging a chick? Clearly not. He did this cuz Tyler was gay & was having sex w/a man. He wanted to embarrass him, harrass him or just "get" him cuz he was having gay sex in Ravi's room. He seemed to say this so many times to so many people in so many texts. They seem to have more than enough to prove his motive for gay bias.

On the surface Ravi seems arrogant & a wise-ass. Really, he's quite insecure. He had no girlfriend & he's not particularly attractive. As much as he was calling Tyler's family poor, his family is by no means wealthy. He's certainly intelligent but basically he's a dork. So was Tyler. I think he was jealous Tyler was getting laid and he wasn't.

Hate to say it but Tyler was pushing the situation -- probably cuz he was a horny kid. Can't blame him for that. But he was pushing it. Maybe he shoulda been more upfront bout what he was doing & made sure that his straight roommate was really OK w/it. Obviously Ravi should never have done what he did. He's totally deluded for not taking the deal.

Cinesnatch said...

If the chick was fat and ugly, then, yes, I see a situation where a Ravi-type would set up the same scenario.

If the chick were a little person, then, yes, I see a situation where a Ravi-type would set up the same scenario.


Miche Rutledge said...

I found the fact Dharun's friends never remember him having a girlfriend illuminating. Perhaps he was deflecting his own concerns about his own same-sex feelings by focusing on Tyler. He wouldn't be the first closet case to over-compensate.

Sad said...

The whole time I was reading the New Yorker piece I felt sick to my stomach. The real tragedy seemed to be that Clementi was just so damn alone. I really don't know what the law should do about Dharun; I'm grateful I'm not on that jury.

Kenneth Walsh said...

@Miche: YES! The friend who recommended the article mentioned that quote too -- and also something about his gay friend and him having a "very open" relationship.

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