a conversation about dharun ravi and his case

I first heard of the Tyler Clementi suicide almost two years ago. He had been a freshman at Rutgers University when he was caught on video having sex with another man and he subsequently committed suicide over it.

A case against the person who initiated the video recording ensued, and I am writing about this now because I have just come across news of the court verdict: the person responsible, Dharun Ravi, Tyler Clementi’s roommate and fellow freshman at RU, is being sentenced to ten years imprisonment for 15 counts of sentenceable behavior, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation.

I told Clyde and Anj about it. I sketched the situation a little and then I said, “It’s just that nasasayangan ako about it eh. Kasi the person (Dharun Ravi) was only 20 – ”

“18 is the legal age, Cor,” Clyde said.

“Yes, but…let me explain what happened. Tyler had requested Dharun for use of the room and then he brought a man over. Dharun said yes, but he was agitated. He was like, what does he need the room for? Why am I being shut out of my room? And Dharun was a computer whiz and he had this created program where he could activate the webcam of his computer using another computer. And he had his computer facing Tyler’s bed (and this was already the setup even before the incident), and then in another room, he used a computer to turn on his computer’s webcam and view what was going on. And so he saw his roommate Tyler kissing another man. And then he tweeted about it: I saw my roommate kissing another man. Yay. Now, his twitter was public, and so Tyler read about it.”

“Tyler complained to a friend about it and he even googled what he was to do about the situation. He was told that he should do something about it as it was an invasion of privacy. And then, Tyler invited the man again to his room and requested Dharun for its use again. This time, Dharun sent out a tweet inviting others to a viewing session of his room. But Tyler had made sure to unplug Dharun’s computer that time to avoid such a viewing. Afterwards, he complained again to a resident assistant about these actions of his roommate and he asked to be transferred to another room. Shortly, however, in just a few hours, or in a day, he decided to jump off the George Washington Bridge.”

”A case followed after that, and now, Dharun Ravi is being convicted of what is being considered as a hate crime (against homosexuals).”

“And you think that he shouldn’t have been convicted for what he did?” Clyde asked.

“Well, what he did was insensitive and crass…” I began.

“It wasn’t just insensitive, Cor. Insensitive is an understatement,” Clyde said. “I’m looking for the right word.”

“Insensitive?” I offered again.

“Crass?”

“Boorish? Like it’s having fun at an expense of another person? Like it’s a trampling all over another person?”

“Malicious,” Clyde pronounced. “The fact that he tweeted about it was malicious.”

“Yes, but you know, he’s just young, and young people can engage in that behavior, unwitting of the consequences. And as for Tyler, why bring a man to a room that you share with a roommate in a dorm?”

“It’s culture, Cor,” Clyde and Anj said.

“And Tyler was being weak about it,” I said. (I’m not saying that as a sort of indictment or scorn directed at weak people. Lord knows I’m not the strongest of persons either. I’m saying that more as an observation from reports I have read of the case and the character profiling. I guess if anything, Dharun Ravi’s actions might have been a case of the strong oppressing the weak.)

“What he (Dharun Ravi) did was bad, Cor,” Clyde said. Anj agreed with her. “Tweeting like he did – what does that say about the kind of person he is? What sort of person comes to a level like that?”

“He was young, Clyde,” I reasserted.

“Yes, but what becomes of people like that?” Clyde said. “What sort of message would it send to society if we were not to act on things like what he did?”

“Well, yeah,” I said. “Actually, for the courts, they realize that it is a kind of momentous or landmark decision because it sends out the message that youth is not immunity.”

“What does that mean?” Clyde asked.

“It means that you are not exempted from being held responsible for such actions based on youthfulness,” I explained.

“With regard to the whole thing,” I said, “what I mean is just the idea that you know, Dharun Ravi had come from good schools, and he was going to a good university. It’s like, he’s just like us. We too have come from good schools all our lives. And then, I kind of understand a sort of youthful innocence (or ignorance) wherein you don’t imagine that what you are doing, though it may not be good, could lead to the consequence of you going to jail. And then, what with this ten-year imprisonment hanging over your head, you have this whole idea of a spotless future suddenly ruined. It’s a ruining of a life. How do you get employed with a ten-year imprisonment on your resume? And he’s a greencard-holder – he’s Indian, so there’s the possibility of him being deported from the US back to India.”

“And his parents,” I continued. “Can you imagine? The shame of it. I guess it’s just that when you’re young, you just really do not imagine this sort of thing happening to you.”

“Yeah,” Clyde said thoughtfully. “What would going to jail be like noh? I once had a nightmare that I went to jail.”

“I’ve dreamed of Taylor Swift several times,” I rejoined. The remark was totally unrelated but the idea of it made me and Clyde laugh.

“I just hope that this experience doesn’t lead to Dharun Ravi becoming bitter. I hope that he learns from it but that he could rise above the situation,” I said.

“Well, if he goes to prison, he can read all the books that he wants,” Clyde said, because obviously that would be something that would make her happy. (Hehe)

I’m writing about Dharun Ravi and the Tyler Clementi case because of the sympathy that I feel. The Clementis lost a son and we are understandably very saddened for them. But in my heart, I feel saddened for the Ravis as well, because I can imagine a good, upstanding family simply not foreseeing how this could happen to them and I can imagine Dharun Ravi having started college without any anticipation whatsoever of landing in jail, let alone entertaining the possibility of it. He wasn’t a murderer. But his unkindness led to the death of someone and...that's why.

I feel like wanting to take his hand and tell him, I’m sorry this happened. Please be strong. You made a mistake, that’s undeniable. But please learn from it and rise from the situation, no matter what happens. If something bad happens to you, then learn from your mistakes and show the world how to be strong and turn your life around. I imagine you must be receiving a lot of hate right now. And your friends might be deserting you. And you feel miserable for a future now aborted. I’m really sorry. I still wish that God will bless you.

In any case, the Ravi case in court is still pending appeal, and people then will have to wait with baited breath for the higher court’s decision.

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