Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A few websites have more details on the Tyler Clementi tragedy

The Website gawker has an interesting story giving more details about a series of postings on a site called “Just us boys” by a mysterious user with id “cit2mo”, which appear to match the details of the forced outing of Tyler by the privacy-invading webcam in his dorm room. The gawker link is here, and the JUB link is this.  The gawker link asks if this was TC's "last call for help", and JUB refers to "roommate spying." There is a provocative picture on gawker and reference to “cam4.com” which Webroot/Spysweeper advises me not to surf (and it did find a couple spy cookies to quarantine after the warning).

The analysis on the gawker piece is comprehensive, but a few other questions remains. They are sensitive. What was Tyler’s own belief system, and that of his family? Who were the partners in the room, and would the outing be significant because of that? Did Rutgers have any particular policy regarding having visitors in dorms for intimate purposes? (When I went to college in the 1960s, it would never have been allowed, but of course things are different today.) Most web sites talk about shame and homophobia and make “the usual arguments”; a few go into legal analysis of culpability of the current defendants. A few (like Huffington) do go into the dangers of the Internet and cyberbullying.

The “cit2mo” posts tend to show an attempt to get some sort of solution and even justice from the university, and that somehow his expectation for that had failed; he appears not to have had a lot of confidence that the University would ultimately be able to handle this kind of problem fairly. Reading between the lines, one could suppose a sense of a lack of respect from others for his autonomy, not only from his roommate but others in the dorm environment. This is a difficult matter, but we know from all kinds of problems around the world (I don’t won’t to be too specific) that shame (or the feeling that others will not respect you regardless of the legal or overriding moral system supposedly in place, and that in practice there are intolerable “double standards”) can be a most unacceptable emotion, and that sometimes one’s own end is the only way to force others to deal with the harm they have done. Here, one can only go into some of the basic ideas of Christian faith particularly: that forgiveness is an important component of freedom, because society can never be perfectly fair or just by human standards, but must be a work in progress. Christianity (the concept of Grace) seems to do more with this problem than either Judaism or Islam, but that’s only my own personal perspective.

WJLA (Channel 7) will deal with anti-gay bullying further at 5 PM Thursday, Oct. 28.

I did have roommate issues my first (and lost) semester at William and Mary in the fall of 1961, with very different outcome, which would set the course of my life; the details of that are on the "BillBoushka" blog Nov. 28, 2006.

Picture: from the Navy Memorial, where a two films dealing with “don’t ask don’t tell” were shown Friday Oct 22 (see my movies blog that day). Repealing DADT would help with the bullying problem. The picture rather calls to mind Benjamin Britten's opera "Billy Budd" which would anticipate today's debate on DADT.

Update: Nov. 1: Lawyers for the Rutgers defendants are saying that Clementi's encounter was seen only on a single computer, not broadcast (Today show). Not sure what sense this makes yet.

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