Daily Archives: March 21, 2012


Continuing its headlong rush to insignificance The World’s Worst Newspaper has enlisted Emily Bazelon for an op-ed on Tyler Clementi.

“LAST week, a New Jersey jury convicted Dharun Ravi of invasion of privacy, and for good reason. Mr. Ravi activated the webcam in his room at Rutgers so he could watch his roommate, Tyler Clementi, meet up with a male date. Worse, he broadcast his plans to do it again over Twitter, inviting his friends to watch. That kind of spying should be out of bounds on a college campus.”


“What’s out of whack about Mr. Ravi’s case is the harsh punishment he now faces: as much as 10 years in prison, for a 20-year-old who’d never been in legal trouble before.”

Not a single legal authority has stated that Ravi will be sent to prison for ten years.

Not one.

“Mr. Ravi could go away for years because, on top of spying, he was convicted of a hate crime: bias intimidation, a conviction probably influenced by Mr. Clementi’s subsequent suicide. According to New Jersey’s civil rights law, you are subject to a much higher penalty if the jury finds that you committed one of a broad range of underlying offenses for the purpose of targeting someone because of his race, ethnicity, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation.”

Love the “probably.”

“The idea of shielding vulnerable groups is well intentioned. But with the nation on high alert over bullying — especially when it intersects with computer technology and the Internet — these civil rights statutes are being stretched to go after teenagers who acted meanly, but not violently. This isn’t what civil rights laws should be for.”

Really Emily?

Well we all know treating LGBT people with so much as a modicrum of respect is a fairly new development, and I’m sure the prospect of doing so gives you an uneasy feeling. After all if “they” are given full legal respect who knows where this might end up? What’s at stake here is the fall of what Christopher Isherwood has so accurateyl called “the heterosexual dictatorshop” — identified as such in his emoir Christopher and His Kind, which was made into a super BBC telefilm.

“New Jersey passed one of the country’s first hate crimes statutes in 1981, outlawing the burning of crosses or placing of swastikas to terrorize and threaten violence. In 1990, the legislature added extra prison time for racial, ethnic or religious prejudice. “From now on hate crimes will be serious crimes,” Governor Jim Florio said upon signing the bill, citing “a phone call in the middle of the night or vandalism that leaves hateful symbols in its wake or racial slurs.”


“In New Jersey, cases with bias intimidation charges have typically included an underlying offense of significant violence. People have been found guilty under the civil rights law for throwing punches while yelling a racial epithet, for beating a man with a metal rod while cursing him for being from India, and for threatening to shoot a driver, employing a racial slur and then tailgating him for miles. These are cases in which prejudice twists into ugly and serious harm.
Teenagers have also previously been charged with bias intimidation. One boy was convicted for being the ringleader of a bunch of children who ganged up on a girl, calling her a lesbian. Another teenager got in trouble for shoving a boy, using a racial slur and threatening to hang him from a tree. But as juveniles, the kids in these cases were spared harsh punishment. The boy who did the shoving was ordered to spend 10 days in juvenile detention and read the book “Black Like Me.”
Mr. Ravi was 18 years old when he spied on Mr. Clementi, legally an adult, but he did things that reek of immature homophobia. He told a friend he wanted to “keep the gays away,” and when he set up his webcam a second time, his tweets and texts showed that he was giddily trading on Mr. Clementi’s homosexuality to get attention.”

Like his defense counsel, Emily is promulgating the notion that Ravi is a mere “teeanger” — even though this “teenager” is a legal adult and a Rutgers student, not a “juvenile.” But the “juvenile” lie is necessary in order to pushthe ‘they all do it” meme — which Emily does with gusto.

“Was Mr. Clementi intimidated by Mr. Ravi’s spying? The record is mixed, but inflected by Mr. Clementi’s suicide a day after the second spying incident. Though it’s not clear how much Mr. Ravi’s actions influenced his roommate’s decision to take his own life, the proximity in time is chilling.”

No shit, Sherlock.

“Given how broadly the civil rights laws are written, it’s not surprising that prosecutors turned to them to ramp up the charges against Mr. Ravi, especially because this normally increases the pressure on a defendant to plead guilty. The state then made Mr. Ravi a fair offer: community service in exchange for admitting to invading Mr. Clementi’s privacy. It was Mr. Ravi’s mistake not to take it.”

To an entitled creep like Ravi it wasn’t a “mistake” at all. How dare anyone object to his hounding Tyler Clementi to his death? “Keep the gays away” read one of his more memorable tweets.

It was something the jury — not beholden to the Heterosexual Dictatorship like Bazelon — took particularly to heart..

“And yet, if Mr. Ravi spends years in prison, his case will set an alarming precedent of disproportional punishment. The spying he did was criminal, but it was also, as his lawyer put it, “stupid kid” behavior.”

“Mr. Ravi isn’t the only person caught in this legal snare. After bullying was blamed for the suicide two years ago of Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old in South Hadley, Mass., prosecutors criminally charged six teenagers. That time, the district attorney used the state’s civil rights laws to directly blame five of them for Phoebe’s death. Like Mr. Ravi, they faced a sentence of up to 10 years. Never mind that the Massachusetts law had previously been used against violent racist thugs. Because it was broadly written, like New Jersey’s, prosecutors could seize upon the law because it “sent a message” about bullying, as one of them later said.
The Massachusetts cases ended with a whimper: After the district attorney who brought the civil rights charges left office, her successor dropped the charges against one teenager and wisely resolved the cases against the other five, who admitted some wrongdoing, with probation and community service.”

IOW the deal that Molly Wei got and Ravi declined.

“Mr. Ravi, of course, will not be so lucky. States like New Jersey and Massachusetts should narrow their civil rights laws so that he’s not the first of many stupid but nonviolent young people who pay a too-heavy price for our fears about how kids use technology to be cruel.”

You’re breaking my heart Emily.

And so is your unindicted co-cospirator J. Bryan Lowder

“Bazelon’s legal argument is compelling, but there’s an even larger cultural issue at play when discussing just what exactly counts as a hate crime. Everyone agrees that Ravi’s actions were boorish and grossly insensitive, but, in large part because he did not testify, we don’t know what Ravi thinks about homosexuality in his heart-of-hearts (just as, in the final analysis, we don’t really know why Clementi jumped from that bridge).”Bazelon’s legal argument is compelling, but there’s an even larger cultural issue at play when discussing just what exactly counts as a hate crime. Everyone agrees that Ravi’s actions were boorish and grossly insensitive, but, in large part because he did not testify, we don’t know what Ravi thinks about homosexuality in his heart-of-hearts (just as, in the final analysis, we don’t really know why Clementi jumped from that bridge).

We know about both, dear.

” Still, based on the evidence that we do have, the image of Ravi as a malicious homophobe getting his just deserts looks dubious at best, and our eagerness to cling to that simplification betrays an anxiety surrounding issues of bullying and culpability that we’d like to assuage as quickly as possible, even if it means locking up an misguided young man for a decade or more.”

Again a complete LIE. We know he’s not going to go to jail for a decade. That’s only the top number of years he could be sentenced in the worst possible case scenario — whcih this is not. So what’s the “or more” bit? Where did that come from?

Your useless ass no doubt.

“At the core of the hostility toward Ravi—and indeed, of our present preoccupation with bullying more generally—is the question of motive. How could an intelligent, seemingly affable teenage boy be so cruel to a peer? The easy answer is to diagnose a disorder, a “phobia” that drove him to act with such frightening recklessness. But as communication scholar Mary L. Gray has pointed out in the Huffington Post, homophobia isn’t located in individual people—it’s a disease of the culture at large, a vocabulary of acts and words that is used for all kinds of ends beyond just hurting individual gay people.”

At the core of all of this is the LGBT community as a whole — not “hurting individual gay people.”

The heart of “hate crime” laws is a society standing in opposition to the hater’s assumption that he or she can get away with their behavior because the object of their scorn is beneath contempt — and therefore won’t be defended by the state. “Hate Crimes” say “your offense against a seelct group is an offense against all” because “we will not support prejudice.”

That’s what rankles Bazelon and Lowder. They want prejudice sustainted just as much as Tony Scalia does.

“Ian Parker’s exhaustive New Yorker article on the case suggests that Ravi’s relatively mild and often half-hearted forays into homophobic speech were almost certainly designed for self-promotion rather than as vicious attacks against any individual:”

No it does not.

“Ravi certainly appears to have cared a lot more about the reputational value of gossip than about Picone’s [another gay Rutgers student] sexuality. (In witness statements taken for the Clementi case, nobody has recalled Ravi being contemptuous of gay people.) “

And as we know no Rutgers wtinesses were called to testify about that. Only friends of Ravi’s father.

The jury was not impressed.

“If this helps protect him from the charge of extreme prejudice, he might still be accused of lacking empathy: there’s no sign that he was inhibited by the fear that he might cause his roommate embarrassment, or annoyance, by discussing him on Facebook and Twitter.
Now, let’s be clear: I nor Parker nor anyone else uncomfortable with the handling of this case is excusing Ravi for his actions.

Yes you are. That’s precisely what you’re doing.

“He clearly violated Clementi’s privacy and should be punished for that. But the impulse to paint Ravi as some kind of unprecedented, hate-driven monster is a cop-out, considering that his brand of homophobic posturing is pervasive in our culture.”

Again the “everybody does it” defense.

“Exiling him to prison won’t absolve us of our complicity in that fact, and it won’t heal the lack of empathy that Parker mentions”

Who is this “our” you speak of so glibly?

“We live in a world that validates adult bullies all the time. The only difference is that teens don’t have the resources or access to apply the veneer of acceptability to their bullying in the form of press releases, presidential campaigns and entire “news” networks.

Empathy is learned, but adults are not teaching it to teenagers. Instead, they learn that specific kinds of bullying—especially homophobic swagger—are a strong currency with which to purchase attention and prowess.”

Rick Santorum must be a teenager then.

“Some have argued that the Ravi case offers the opportunity to “send a message.” But what should it say? That expressing the kinds of bias that respected politicians and celebrities use to enhance their fame every day will get you demonized, even while they receive praise? That acting in a way that our society trains kids to act is suddenly beyond the pale?
Unfortunately, we can’t lock the bully up, because the bully is in all of us.”

Speak for yourself, creep!

“Dharun Ravi should be reasonably punished for his concrete crimes—preferably in a way that instills the empathy he obviously lacked—but he should not be crucified for a “meanness” that is sadly all but inherent to our culture.”




That will only serve to cheapen true, violent, targeted crimes of hate and to waste another life in a case where one lost is already far too many.”

Mary Sunshine will sing us out