“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 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.”
“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!