Rutgers Wore Black On Friday
The students from the Rutgers University wore black on Friday. They want to remember their classmate who committed suicide. The lawmakers proposed harsh penalties for invasion of privacy. The student’s roommate was accused of secretly streaming video of the victim’s sexual relationship with a man.
Friday is called the “Black Friday”. The students from the New Jersey’s largest university were encouraged by the officials to leave flowers or mementoes in the memory of Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old student, violin-playing freshman, who committed suicide. He jumped off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River. The Rutgers football team will have also a moment of silence before the game on Saturday.
Apparently, Clementi’s suicide brought a flashpoint for debate. Before he died, a post appeared on a website catering to gay men that sought advice on what is to do after they learn that a roommate is secretly filming. It is almost impossible to know for sure that the post was made by Clementi himself, they show the same timeline as the supposed filming and it reflects the anguish in such a situation.
Dharun Ravi, Clementi’s roommate, from Plainsboro, NJ, another student and Molly Wei from Princeton, NJ, both 18-year-old students, are being charged with invasion of privacy. This charge can bring serious penalty of up to five years in prison. There is an old law that can sentence them to five years in prison even if the new introduced bill will pass and they will be convicted.
Bruce J. Kaplan, the Middlesex County Prosecutor, says that more charges are possible under the New Jersey’s hate-crime law. “We will be making every effort to assess whether bias played a role in the incident, and, if so, we will bring appropriate charges”, said Kaplan in a statement. The legal question has to do with the motive.
Some people can be found guilty by a jury if they believe that those people committed a crime because of the victims’ belief, being a member of a protected group, such as gays, lesbians or racial minorities. Ravi’s lawyer did not respond to the requests for comment. Also, Wei’s attorney did not respond to the requests. The current sentence is three to five years in prison. Shirley Turner’s bill will increase it to five to ten years and a fine for privacy invasion from $15,000 to $150,000.
“Whether this was a cruel joke or outright harassment of this student, what happened on Rutgers University’s campus was a crime” said the Democrat Turner. “Videotaping someone without their knowledge, especially in an intimate setting, and distributing the images over the Internet is serious. We need to send a clear message that we’re not going to take this lightly”, he added. Apparently, the friends of the suspects say that they have no problem with gay people. “He had gay friends,” said Derek Yan, 16, to The Associated Press. Yan said that he chatted online with Ravi, an Ultimate Frisbee player, about college life in recent weeks. “He said he was lucky to have a good roommate. He said his roommate was cool”, Yan suggested.
Jim McGreevey, the former New Jersey governor, resigned after he announced that he was a “gay American”. He said Friday that he was “filled with great sadness” when he heard about Clementi’s suicide. He also talked about the difficulties of being gay, especially as a teenager. “He was trying to find a community online, but at the same time basically being terrorized online, by roommates”, he told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Websites popped up in the defense of the suspects. People said that they are innocent and said that their alleged actions were actually a prank. Other sites were dedicated to bashing the suspects or calling for stiffer charges, including manslaughter. The comments from the websites are emotional and vitriolic. Some postings call the suspects “sickos” and “cold-blooded killers”. Others display homophobia and racism (both suspects are minorities) and thanking the suspects for their possible role the death of a gay man. The website Gawker reported that someone started a discussion about the gays after realizing that his roommate was “spying” on him.
The last communication from Clementi was on his Facebook page. It said, “Jumping off the GW Bridge sorry”. Friends were shocked to hear that Clementi, a talented violinist, quiet but happy, or would have killed himself. “I would never expect this to happen to him”, said John Shen, a student at the New York Institute of Technology and a friend of Clementi’s who saw him about a month ago. “He’s such a good kid. I’ve never seen him angry”, he added.11