Fait Diver: They Sure Are Blue


Surely the facts are . . . . “in process.”.

“Dozens of Rutgers University students wore black on Friday to remember Tyler Clementi, a freshman who killed himself after his roommate, according to prosecutors, secretly streamed over the Internet his intimate encounter with another man.
But even as students conducted quiet rituals of mourning, a vehement legal debate swirled over whether prosecutors, who have charged the roommate and another freshman with invasion of privacy, should — or would — raise the stakes by also pressing hate-crime charges.”

The most notable being. —

“The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act, is an American Act of Congress, passed on October 22, 2009, and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on October 28, 2009, as a rider to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010 (H.R. 2647). This measure expands the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
The bill also:
– removes the prerequisite that the victim be engaging in a federally-protected activity, like voting or going to school;
– gives federal authorities greater ability to engage in hate crimes investigations that local authorities choose not to pursue;
– provides $5 million per year in funding for fiscal years 2010 through 2012 to help state and local agencies pay for investigating and prosecuting hate crimes;
– requires the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to track statistics on hate crimes against transgender people (statistics for the other groups are already tracked).

The Act is the first federal law to extend legal protections to transgender persons.”

“Though bias charges are generally hard to prove, lawyers and civil rights experts said, New Jersey has one of the toughest state laws on hate crimes. Its so-called bias intimidation law allows prosecutors to lodge separate charges and seek greater penalties against anyone who commits a crime against someone because of the victim’s sexual orientation. The law does not specify that the crime be violent.”

Thus providing prosecutiral “wiggle room” for a case like this, especially as videotaping someone in “an act of intimacy” without their knowledge might well be described as a form of rape.

“The Middlesex County prosecutor, Bruce J. Kaplan, said Thursday that his office was considering whether to press hate-crime charges against Mr. Clementi’s roommate, Dharun Ravi of Plainsboro, N.J., and Molly Wei of West Windsor, N.J. As of Friday, no additional charges had been filed and a court hearing date had not been set.
But on talk shows and blogs, people outraged by the suicide of Mr. Clementi, an accomplished violinist from Ridgewood, N.J., demanded that the defendants face stiff penalties.”

Two of the many thoughtful and sincere responses.

But somehow I prefer Dan Savage ripping off their heads and shitting down their necks.

“In a statement released through a lawyer, Mr. Clementi’s parents, Jane and Joe Clementi, said: “We understand that our family’s personal tragedy presents important legal issues for the country as well as for us. Regardless of our legal outcomes, our hope is that our family’s personal tragedy will serve as a call for compassion, empathy and human dignity.” “


“On Sept. 19, Mr. Ravi messaged his Twitter followers that he had gone to Ms. Wei’s dormitory room and activated a webcam in his own room, showing Mr. Clementi as he was “making out with a dude.” Prosecutors said the images were streamed live on the Internet. “

The exact words were “making out with a dude. Yay.”

“On Sept. 21, the authorities said, Mr. Ravi tried to stream more video and invited friends to watch. But Mr. Clementi apparently discovered the camera and complained to school officials. The next day, he jumped from the George Washington Bridge.
“It is crystal clear that the motive was to intimidate and harass that young man based on his sexual orientation, whether actual or perceived,” said Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, a gay rights group.
Malcolm Lazin, a former federal prosecutor who is executive director of Equality Forum, a national gay rights advocacy group, called on prosecutors to charge the two students with reckless manslaughter. “Clearly, what they did was premeditated,” Mr. Lazin said. “This was not a visceral response. This was something that was well thought out, executed and then put on the worldwide Internet.” “


“But several lawyers said it was hard to imagine that prosecutors could make a case for manslaughter, which would require them to show that Mr. Ravi and Ms. Wei foresaw that their actions would lead to a death.
“I think it would be hard to show that their conduct reached a level of recklessness that caused Tyler Clementi to commit suicide,” said Jay V. Surgent, a criminal defense lawyer in Lyndhurst, N.J.
Instead, these lawyers said, it was more likely that prosecutors would pursue bias charges.
Robert A. Mintz, a criminal defense lawyer in Newark and a former federal prosecutor, said, “What prosecutors will be looking at is whether this is a prank that had gone horribly wrong, or whether this was an orchestrated scheme to intimidate the victim based on his sexual orientation.” “

The way shrinks and the church used to do.

“Mr. Mintz said that prosecutors would likely review the students’ e-mail and Twitter messages, read any essays or blog entries, and interview friends about what they might have said. “If there’s an accumulation of circumstantial evidence, that can be very powerful,” he said.
If the students are charged and convicted of a hate crime, they could face up to 10 years in prison, instead of 5 years for the privacy charge alone. State Senator Shirley K. Turner has proposed legislation to raise the top sentence for invasion of privacy to 10 years.
Student vigils are planned over the weekend for Mr. Clementi.”

And that’s not to mention the football game.

“PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers University has paid a public tribute at a football game to a student who committed suicide last week after his sexual encounter was secretly streamed online.
Most in the crowd bowed their heads after a public address announcer requested a moment of silence for 18-year-old freshman Tyler Clementi before the start of Saturday’s homecoming game against Tulane.
Clementi’s name was shown on the stadium’s huge scoreboard, and the crowd applauded politely after the observation ended.
Prosecutors say Clementi’s roommate and another student used a webcam to broadcast on the Internet live images of Clementi having an intimate encounter with another man.
Clementi, a promising violinist, jumped off the George Washington Bridge three days later. His body was identified Thursday.”

And nothing reasserts Heterosexual Omnipotence in the face of gay corpse better than football.

Hey kids, don’t forget after the game there’s dancing!


  1. FreeFox October 3, 2010 2:07 am 

    Do you have a theory what makes peeps so homophobic? There is the religious argument, but we all know that that is bollocks. The Bible forbids a lot of things, like shellfish and wearing clothes made of two different sorts of fabric. Nobody is harassing patrons of lobster restaurants. There’s the icky-factor… some peeps equate queer sex with anal sex, it makes them think of poop, and they are grossed out. But where is the equal crusade against str8 anal sex? Or the same hostile reaction to peeps who have to wear colostony bags? There is the “kids hate everything that’s different” point of view, and I guess they have a point, but when is the last time you heard that someone killed himself because he was being teased over, say, a funny nose, or a strange birthmark? And of course the perennial fav snide put down by queers: They are all self-loathing closet queers. Which may well be, but it just begs the question, why do they loathe themselves so much and hide? I don’t know any self-loathing closeted clam-chowder-eaters. Or self-loathing closet str8 anal afficinados. Do you?
    I have known a lot of homophobes. From the jeering highschoolers to the painstakingly tolerant teacher that has to push herself everytime to take the word ‘homosexual’ into the mouth. From the muslim neighbor that is totally okay as long as you allow him to ignore your faggotry to the fervent Christian that is salivatingly eager to talk with you all night about your sin. This one goes deep. It affects us, too. Do you really think all those gay suicides only snuffed themselves because they couldn’t stand the animosity any longer? I am convinced that a lot of them caved in because inside a part of them accept the taunts as justified. Because they were ashamed of having been found out. Because even queers who are not in the closet have a hard time not to loathe themselves on some level.
    I remember a day in school, I was 12, when our teacher for religious instructions showed us an old movie about two boys who run away from home. On their wandering they meet a pedophile who has a train set to lure boys to him. He’s not violent or anything, not going to rape or murder them. Just a lecherous old goat. Heavy, sweating, with thinning hair, a slick leather coat and a men’s purse. The film wasn’t about that, it was about domestic violence, and poverty, and having no perspective as a youth. I suppose I might have liked the film, hadn’t it been for the queer boylover. But all I could think was: So that is what I will turn into. That is my fate. Lonely, disgusting, lusting after flesh that despises me for my desire. And through all that has happened since, I have never entirely been able to shed that self-image. Even when I was noble, upright, honest, and belligerent, a part inside of me knew that I was being all that solely to prove to myself and the world that I wasn’t a disgusting slug. The poison of that image still festers in my soul.
    This poison, this vile, vicious hatred that swells up in people in the face of the utter beauty of two blokes or two gals snogging each other passionately, do you have any idea where it comes from? Who poisened our wells, and why, and how? I want to understand. Can you help me?

  2. David E October 3, 2010 7:20 am 

    Thanks for your response. You bring up a number of important points. Homophobia takes many forms, and consequently is operative for different reasons. To begin with it all gets back to human sexuality as a whole, and whether you’re gay straight bi or trans dealing with it is no simple thing. Religion seeks to regulate and control all human sexuality — as a direct result of its main mission, the worship of Death. Heterosexual intercourse is potentially the beginning of life. It is also a source of pleasure. Religion despises sexual pleasure. It gives the individual satisfaction over which authoritarian structures have no control. The sway the church has held over society as a whole makes the rational teaching of basic information about even something so bland as heterosexuality exceedingly difficult. As for same-sexuality, fugetttaboutit. Read Jonathan “Ned” Katz’s invaluable The Invention of Heterosexuality for a complete review of gayness in history. So much has happened within my own 63 years I scarcely know where to begin. But one place I might start is the fact that today same-sexaiulity is discussed openly and far more honestly than in the past. In my day being “openly gay” was highly avant-garde. It is fast becoming the norm. Certainly with today’s generation of kids. And this openness enrages enemies who doubtless see — and fear — themselves when see same-sexuality makes itself known. Maggie Gallagher, Eddie Long and Tony Perkins are clealry the hirs apparent to J. Edgar Hoover, Roy Cohn and Francis Cardinal Spellman.

    Regarding Tyler Clementi, leave us not forget he had just entered college. This is precisely the age when all of us — gay and striaght — beging to enter the waters of human sexuality and start figuring ourselves out. Straights get tons of support for this. Gays do not. We’re on our own. Clementi apparently wasn’t out yet to his family, but cwas oming out at school. He asked the roomate if he could have the room for the night as someone was coming over. Perfectly polite. But then the rommate and his accomplic bug the room with a webcam and later take the footage they shot and broadcast it everywhere.

    This is rape.

    That Tyler Clementi spiralled into depression and suicide as a result of this is not surprising. How can anyone be expected to brush off such an overwhelming personal attack?

    As for the perps their story is yet to be told and I am most interested. Perhaps it will give us new insight into the sick and swist minds of homophobes and the way contemporary gadgetry has geiven them leave to commit acts of extreme violence in total passivity and preening smugness.

  3. Timbo1952 October 3, 2010 1:03 pm 

    One of my favorite scenes in movies is the famous M.A.S.H. scene where two hypocrites are exposed when their sexual intimacy is broadcast camp wide; it is a particularly delicious scene because of the condescending superiority of Hot Lips and the Major Frank Burns (Robert Duvall). So perhaps I am self contradictory in hating these two Rutgers students so much. What makes it worse is that one of them was a roommate and presumably knew the personality of young Mr. Clementi, and how humiliated he would be. That is a perverse betrayal of privacy which cannot be forgiven. In another context I am aware of lawsuits involving callow young men who secretly film their sexual activities and without the knowledge of their sexual partner, show the results to their friends, and frat brothers. Equally unforgiveable; I cant explain the difference but it is tangible to me.

  4. David E October 3, 2010 1:59 pm 

    Thanks for bringing up the M*A*S*H scene. That of course was a movie, and in context the broadcast was a prank. As both parties were heterosexual there was no real damage. But leave us not forget anohter key scene involving an officer who thinks he might be gay because of what’s ever-so-politely referred to today as “erectile dysfunction.” Apparently no one in that unit was gay — which in light of what we know today about WWII makes Altman’s film science fiction.

    WWII brought all sorts of men from all over the country together, and as Alan Berube shows in his great book Coming Out Under Fire there was no “unit cohesion” problem when it came to gay soldiers. As anyone of them could be dead tomorrow, worrying about the “strange twilight urges” in the foxhole never arose. Berube relates an incredible scene of an Air Force officer kissing his lover goodbye before a mission to almost certain death in front of his entire company. Now wouldn’t THAT make a great movie! Call Spielberg.

    Anyway the fact that the early gay rights orgs like The Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis started up right after the war came as a direct consequence of the war.

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