Monday, May 21, 2012

Rutgers webcam "spy" gets light sentence; apparently this is not typical anti-gay bullying

Dharun Ravi was sentenced to 30 days in jail for bias intimidation after a webcam videotaping incident that ended in the suicide of gay Rutgers student Tyler Clementi.  Given the minimal sentence and the apparent belief by the judge that there are unusual circumstances, Ravi probably will not face deportation. He was also sentenced to fines and community service.

Jonathan Capehart commented on MSNBC, that Ravi was held accountable for his actions, but that Tyler’s tragedy was unusual in that he was one of the oldest kids in a wave of bullying cases.

The judge may have believed that Tyler had other issues, and that Ravi actually though that web monitoring of their premises is just something people do.  There may have been questions as to whether the expectations of privacy in a dorm are the same as would be in an apartment.  The judge reportedly said that he did not believe Ravi had experienced real hatred.

The case really is not typical of other bullying cases in middle and high schools. But as noted often, administrators in many school systems seem to have double standards,  having zero tolerance policies for violence and weapons but turning aside on bullying, as if the victims had some unspecified moral responsibility to meet the social “standards” of their group.  The double standard has always been very disturbing to me.

Update: June 19

Emily Bazelon has an article in Slate discussing whether Ravi should have testified, and mentions three computer Word document files and a written note from Clementi that were not introduced into the trial or made public, because Ravi was not charged in the death.  Ravi was released today from jail after 20 days, for work and good behavior.

The private files could shed light on Clementi's mindset, and might suggest that he had issues even before the spying incident.  The Slate story is here.

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