The death of privacy

All over my “real me” facebook, my liberal friends have been treating Tyler Clementi’s tragic suicide by framing him as a victim of an anti-gay crime.  I saw it as him being the victim of the total loss of sexual privacy.  I was going to blog about that, but IBD got there first and did a better job than I could have.

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  • Mike Devx

    The IBD article stated:
    This shy young man turned suicidal not because of homophobia against him, but because society has come to think “all the bedrooms are a stage.”

    Under no circumstances do I think what happened to him was a crime.  At worst it was a practical joke gone terribly wrong.  But I don’t think you can automatically attribute this suicide to a case of ultimate shyness.  The boy was likely secretive and hiding his sexuality, and that is *not* at all the same as shyness.  He was the victim of the combination of two things that are precisely his own fault:
    1. his own shame and
    2. despite his sense of shame, his intent of going through with acts he found shameful.

    He set himself up for his own tragic fall.  To live a congruent life, he really had two choices:
    A. End his sense of shame, so that if he’s going to go ahead with these sex acts, they won’t destroy him
    B. Keep the shame, and ditch the sex acts.  He’s not capable of both the sex and the survival

    But being young and naive, he didn’t realize the cliff’s edge he was dancing along.  And he paid a terrible price.  The practical joker – or vengeful or envious idiot, whatever HIS motivations were – ought to feel a great deal of remorse, but nothing beyond that.  This falls under the category of accident, not crime.  My sister’s boyfriend’s nephew died this summer from a swimming pool accident when a friend swiped at his legs while he was diving off the edge of a pool.  Off balance, he lost control of the dive, hit the bottom and broke his neck.  An accident causing remorse, nothing more – and nothing less.  Terrible tragedy.  This suicide seems in line with that to me, a terrible tragedy, an accident.  They’re terrible to those they happen to, but they have absolutely no meaning or consequence beyond that.


    The roommate (m) I don’t recall his name set the camera up for the ‘sexual sting’. Can’t help but think that  Tyler’s roommate knew that he was gay and not ‘out’ so to speak. There is more than one level to this horrific story, but the one thing I take away from it are the blurred lines of the younger generation. This is the same generation that has no problem with ‘sexting’. Not sure about the spelling, but I am quite sure modesty and a modicum of decency are not at the top of their agenda. In an era of  faux ‘citizen journalists’ along with anyone who has a camera and a computer are looking for their 15 minutes of fame.
    Mike, practical jokes are neither practical nor funny and can end badly.

  • Ymarsakar

    So the Left when they promote sex in media, now think it isn’t their fault that sex in the media kills people?
    These people are too invested in doublethink, making them stupid.

  • suek

    Mike, I agree with you.  It was a Judas act…that is…an act that is offensive to oneself, with an inability to see any hope for forgiveness or rehabilitation.  As a Catholic, I was taught that the ultimate sin of Judas was not that he “sold” Jesus to the pharisees for 30 pieces of silver, but that he despaired of being forgiven – and that was the motivation for his suicide.
    Sort of along the lines of “it wasn’t the original act, it was the cover up that was the problem”…

  • Charles

    For what it’s worth, Sadie, the two “pranksters'” names are Dharun Ravi and Holly Wei; friends from high school.  I’m calling them pranksters when in reality there are several other choice” words that I would like to use to describe them; but Bookworm’s site is a “family” site and I wouldn’t want to use such language here.

    The local TV news (NJN) was reporting that Tyler had asked his RA (Resident Advisor) to change his room a short time before this all happened. (NJN has since dropped that claim from their reporting, no recanting of it, just not saying it again).  Why did Tyler make such a request? What was his RA’s reaction to Tyler’s request?  How did he (or she) treat Tyler?  How lost Tyler must have felt! So, there is, undoubtedly, a whole lot more to this story then we, the public, will ever know. Even sadder is that Tyler’s family will never know the answers either. Also sad is that their son’s death may also have been when they first learned that he was gay.

    In my opinion, this is beyond just a “practical joke.”  As Tyler was in his first month at college, I cannot help but imagine that this was Tylers’s first (or at least close to being his first) sexual encounter. And these two jerks broadcast it for all the world to see?!  That is beyond a “practical joke.” Way beyond.

    This was, and is, a deliberate act of cruelty.

    Whatever Ravi and Wei’s motives were does not matter.  What matters is that they showed a depraved indifference to how their actions would affect Tyler.  That indifference is what makes this a crime. It doesn’t matter that Tyler was enagaging in a homosexual act or a hetrosexual act (although it being a homosexual act would make Tyler’s shame that much greater if he wasn’t “out”).  Also, I suspect that Tyler’s being gay made Ravi and Wei think it would be that much more of a “joke.” Two truly sick individuals.

    BTW, a true practical joke is one that is played on friends who will receive it as a joke; practical jokes are not played on those who are not friends or who would not receive it well.  That is what makes this NOT a joke.

    P.S.  There is a lot more that I would like to say; but I’ll  stop since my comments are getting longer than Book’s original post.


    Just a quick p.s. to your post, Charles.  I had heard the identical report about Tyler and the RA. There was also a in/out and not repeated report that this was the second suicide of a student from campus. I am sure the freeze on details and information on both suicides may be attributed to what will become a ‘legal’ matter.
    When I said that there is more than one level to the story, I was referring to the ‘pair’ Ravi and Wei, who by name and published photos were most probably ethnic minorities in high school. They victimized (what an understatement) another minority.

  • jj

    Got to go with Mike.  It’s one thing to be humiliated; and it’s often enough a big thing – but it’s also a temporary thing.  If your solution to it is to kill yourself, then there’s a larger issue, and it’s mostly with you.
    College kids are routinely into pranks, jokes – call them what you will.  Are they occasionally cruel – sure: kids are occasionally, even gratuitously, and quite cheerfully cruel.  But I am unable to believe that these two supposed at any time it would end in this kid’s going off the GW bridge, or in any other way arriving at the same conclusion.
    Sick joke/prank?  Yeah – but at no time did they want him dead.  That he ended up so is much more about him than it is about them.  I don’t condone what they did, but I’m unable to condone what he did, either.  They started it, but he took it right over the top.  That’s about him, and his issues.
    And the idea that there is apparently being some consideration being given to the idea of calling this a “hate” crime (my favorite third grade locution, I cannot believe an adult came up with that phrase to describe anything) is just witless.

  • Don Quixote

    Got to go with Charles.  As he says, this was “a deliberate act of cruelty.”  The poor boy’s right to privacy was violated in the cruelest way possible.  If they had simply outed him, without the evidence, we would have considered it cruel, and no joke at all.  What they did was far worse.

  • esurio

    FWIW, Ravi and Wei most likely did not feel themselves to be ethnic minorities. Their high school, West-Windsor/Plainsboro North, has a large Asian/Indian population; as of the 2000 census it was approximately 30+% (and 2010 will show an increase).   Rutgers also has an Asia/Indian population of ~30% with a white population of only 48%.