Preventing LGBT Violence: Thoughts on the Tyler Clementi Case

maltampi HBHE 680 4 Comments

Widespread isolation and rejection of LGBT youth by family/friends and the popularity of homophobic culture corrodes the moral fiber of the country’s social structure, and contributes to suicide within this young population. Should we blame LGBT youth’s suicides on the victim and/or perpetrator, or do we as a nation share blame for the death of these youngsters?

LGBT youth suicide was highlighted in social media with the 2010 suicide of Tyler Clementi and the consequent arrest and trial of his college roommate, Dharun Ravi. Ravi used a webcam to “check on” Clementi while he was entertaining another man in their dorm room, and then further broadcast his distaste for the situation via Twitter.

Ravi is facing 5 to 10 years in prison and deportation to India for participation in a hate crime, and invasion of privacy directed toward Clementi, which lead to the suicide. Many are left wondering if the trail was fair, and if Ravi was made a scapegoat in this whole ordeal. Was Ravi different than any immature, young man raised in a  homophobic society? Did he have the education or guidance necessary to realize that his public expression of thoughts/feelings would constitute cyber-bullying?

Often times, teens are given judicial leniency for their actions as they are deemed to not fully know how to deal with uncomfortable situations; except in this case. The harshness of Ravi’s sentence is shocking to many, while just as many feel it deserved. What is not really mentioned in media coverage covering this case is all the other judgment and pain Clementi may have carried with him from past experiences, and not necessarily inflicted by Ravi.

One such experience includes the rejection of his homosexuality by his mother. Also, those in the dorm building who knew about this abuse did nothing to stop it. What if someone had talked to Ravi about the consequences of his actions? What if society was more accepting of LGBT youth? If Clementi felt this to be an isolated incident, he might not have made the decision to jump and end both his life, and Ravi’s future.

Comments 4

  1. You bring up a lot of interesting points. Though bullying certainly can aggravate risks for suicide and depression, it is definitely fair to question if in this case, the punishment fits the crime. As a society we have a long way to go in order to promote equal rights for LGBT youth as citizens, and there certainly is a lot of homophobia that pervades our culture. Cyber-bullying is a relatively new phenomenon and the media has highlighted some of the drastic consequences, such as suicide. I agree that it is possible that Ravi’s case was used to set a precedent for future cases of using technology to bully gay youth. It seems that there need to be many more prevention efforts implemented in order to educate youth on the possible consequences of bullying- not only for the victims, but also the potential criminal implications.

  2. You bring up a good point, should the blame be placed on the victim/perpetrator, or should we as a society take the blame? I watched a 20/20 news exclusive this weekend about the Tyler Clementi case, and it seems like there was a lot more going on in Tyler’s life than just Dharun’s ridicule. I agree that what Dharun did was wrong on multiple levels, however, as a society we should have more resources available to people like Tyler, who feel so lost and lonely that suicide seems like the only option. Tyler had few friends and his family was not accepting of his sexual orientation, in my opinion this had to have played into his suicide, and it was Dharun’s ridicule that pushed him over the edge. According to the 20/20 episode, there was a suicide note in Tyler’s backpack that was not allowed to be used in the court case. Who knows what the jury’s decision would’ve been had they known what the letter said, who knows how the public’s opinion of the case would change if we knew what the letter said.

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