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Dharun Ravi Trial: Hate Crime Or Stupidity? 671

Posted by timothy
from the when-things-overlap dept.
theodp writes "After a 17-month wait, 20-year-old Dharun Ravi went on trial Friday for using a remote webcam to spy on an encounter between his roommate and another man in their Rutgers dorm room. The roommate, Tyler Clementi, killed himself days later, jumping off the George Washington Bridge and igniting a national conversation on cyberbullying and gay teen suicide. Ravi is charged with multiple counts of bias intimidation as a hate crime, invasion of privacy and hindering apprehension; he faces up to 10 years in prison and deportation. Defense lawyers on Friday argued that Ravi's actions were the mark of an ignorant teenager, not a hateful homophobe. 'He may be stupid at times,' said Ravi's lawyer. 'He's an 18-year-old boy, but he's certainly not a criminal.' The New Yorker recently offered an in-depth look at the case and the questions it raises. BTW, this might be a good time for Microsoft to retire that Hallway commercial ('Jason gets stranded in the hallway when his roommate is 'tutoring' lady friends in their dorm room. Luckily, with Windows 7, his laptop can now work like an HD DVR. So Jason can entertain himself while waiting. And waiting. Aaand waiting some more.')."
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Dharun Ravi Trial: Hate Crime Or Stupidity?

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  • Commercial (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 26, 2012 @11:37AM (#39164423)
    No question that commercial is moronic, but it doesn't have any relevance to the spying via webcam thing. Timothy's trying a bit too hard to find something to bash Microsoft about this time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 26, 2012 @11:37AM (#39164425)

    We need a new legal category, Asshole. Beyond Guilty or Not Guilty the Asshole standard would be added after guilt or innocence so we could find someone was Not Guilty but still an Asshole.

  • Hate crimes... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @11:44AM (#39164461)
    The "great" thing about hate crimes laws is that you can never have too many of them. There are so many minorities and victimized groups out there, and we can always use the media to create new ones. The perfect way to tack a few extra years onto a prison sentence and fatten the wallets of the prison industry's investors.
  • Somehow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bytesex (112972) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @11:51AM (#39164511) Homepage

    I don't think that the action (suicide) is warranted by the crime (published observation). Don't get me wrong - it's a totally creepy thing to do, and it's not up to me to judge what motivates anyone, but if *that's* what it takes for you to commit suicide, well, then you've got other problems ahead of you.

  • by pavon (30274) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @11:52AM (#39164527)

    I've read a few articles about this, and it's clear that Ravi did invade upon Tyler's privacy, and should be punished for it. But I haven't seen any evidence presented that he bullied or intimidated Tyler, let alone did so for homophobic reasons. Either the prosecution is saving it for the trial, or the DA is trying to make an example with bullshit charges (probably to look tough on cyberbulling leading up to an election year).

  • Re:Hate crimes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by digitalaudiorock (1130835) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @11:54AM (#39164545)
    Bull-fucking-shit. The vast majority of crime is all about money or some other gain and has nothing to do with hate at all. These guys outed this guy in a huge public way, knowing full well the stigma associated with all of it, and knowing full well it could ruin his life. "hug and run liberal establishment"??...what the fuck does that even mean?
  • Re:News For Nerds (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThorGod (456163) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @11:57AM (#39164553) Journal

    What does this have to news for nerds whatsoever? I'll tell you the answer: nothing.

    Actually, many of us nerds were bullied in school. I, for one, was bullied and appreciate hearing society put some pressure on bullies. This very egregious example of bullying deserves the light of day.

  • Re:Hate crimes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @11:58AM (#39164563) Journal

    It probably means they hate queers too, and think this guy's actions were just a-okay.

  • by bhagwad (1426855) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @11:59AM (#39164573) Homepage
    Why should the law or the government get to mandate good manners? Either something is legal or not. The law has to be blind to everything else. The contract I have with society is that I get my rights in return for my taxes and my compliance with the law. There's no mention of "good manners" anywhere.

    It's as if two companies have a contract between them and one of them says "Well, in addition to our agreed clauses, it'll also be 'good manners' if you were to do this, this and this. Otherwise you're an asshole" :D

    Doesn't make sense.
  • Re:Hate crimes... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Myopic (18616) * on Sunday February 26, 2012 @12:00PM (#39164591)

    "all crimes against another person are hate crimes"

    No, they aren't. You should stop making that a part of your thinking, because it is wrong.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 26, 2012 @12:03PM (#39164611)
    Knowing the US society at large is still quite homophobic, at least to a great part, do you REALLY think that outting a male making out with anotehr male has no homophobic connotation ? It would have gone nowwhere if it was two hetero, and chance is that the guy would not have published it or the hetere male would simply have garnered brownie point. But you have to be utterly blind to not see that outting homo male , was done with the intention of damage. It usually *always* is.
  • Re:Hate crimes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hey! (33014) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @12:07PM (#39164645) Homepage Journal

    The funny thing is, all crimes against another person are hate crimes. Putting a special label on them is stupid and obtuse.

    Actually, "hate crime" is a serious misnomer, and it leads to misunderstandings like this. "Hate crimes" aren't crimes of passion; they're more akin to *treason* because they're crimes against liberty.

    Suppose you roll into town for the KKK meeting, and you pick out a black family's house at random for a cross burning. You have nothing in particular against the people living in that house. Although you're a racist, it doesn't even mean you can't have *cordial* relationships with individual blacks *as long as they stay in their place*. So the cross burning isn't particularly directed to the people living in the house. It's a message to *everyone*: *I* get to decide who lives where. *I* get to decide how you worship God. *I* get to decide what opinions you can express.

    And anyone who doesn't play by *my* rules had better look out.

    This gets complicated because these crimes often mixed with personal hatred; that's the reason for the misnomer. When you lynch a black guy for dating a white woman, you surely have *particular* hatred directed at that man. But you're also saying "*I* get to decide who sleeps with who," and *that's* the part of your act that's crime against liberty. The intention isn't just to hurt the man you hate, but to strike fear into anyone who doesn't live the way you think they should.

  • Re:Somehow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by metlin (258108) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @12:11PM (#39164699) Journal

    Indeed. Let's be honest -- most of us have done immature and "jerk"-ish things as teenagers. To be honest, I was perhaps a bit of an ass in school and college.

    Now, looking back, while that may certainly have been reprehensible, I would have been appalled if my actions were to push someone over the brink.

    I feel bad for the kid who committed suicide, but it sounds like he had other problems, and this was just one of the factors (one of the proverbial straws, perhaps).

    Reading some of the IMs, it sounds like Dharun wasn't really a homophobe -- if anything, he was just being a curious teenager, and perhaps a bit of an ass. But while you can debate the technicalities of privacy violations (which would be weird, because technically, it's also Dharun's room), tacking on the labels of hate crime and murder is just using the law to set a deterrent, and punishing someone to an extreme (unjustly so) to placate some groups and make an "example" of a poor kid's life. Hell, by that extension, Tyler's mother should be the one tacked as an accessory, because she certainly played a role in making her son feel unwanted.

  • Wrong questions.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pablo_max (626328) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @12:12PM (#39164703)

    I cannot dispute that this guy is a complete asshole and should certainly be punished in someway. Deported at a minimum. Not so sure about prison though. I have a hard time believing he envisioned the room mate killing himself. Either way, he gets to live with that.

    For me, the real question is fundamental. Why, in the modern "free" world does being outed as a homosexual cause one to prefer suicide rather than live with the shame?
    As a society, would it not be better to address such a fundamental social problem than to simply treat the symptoms?

  • by Fnkmaster (89084) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @12:14PM (#39164723)

    I'm fairly certain taking naked video of people in sexual encounters where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy isn't just bad manners, but probably illegal. Especially if you then go and publish said video to the world. I think the only reason this case might be murky is since they were roommates, Ravi had the right to be in the room and didn't have to break and enter to install a camera.

    Still, just because you live in a house doesn't, say, give you the right to record people naked in the bathrooms or having sex in bedrooms and pubish that on the internet without their consent. This is illegal by itself. However, I suspect the penalties aren't particularly harsh.

    This doesn't address the hate crime angle of things here. Any time you take naked pictures or sexual pictures of people without permission and post them on the internet to mock them, it's awful. If the video showed a naked guy with a small penis, or a girl fucking a horrendously ugly guy, that could be every bit as embarrassing for the small-dicked man or the woman in question as this was for the homosexual man. What makes the crime awful is that the man in question was obviously depressed and emotionally disturbed to begin with, and these actions resulted in so much embarrassment that they led to suicide. So really it's bullying an emotionally fragile person that's awful, not anything specific about the sexual orientations that makes it a "hate crime".

  • by Myopic (18616) * on Sunday February 26, 2012 @12:16PM (#39164749)

    "Why should the law or the government get to mandate good manners?"

    Because that's what the law does, of course. What else do you think it does? On the sliding scale of human behavior, from benevolent to benign to malicious, we have a sliding scale of laws from incentives (for benevolent behavior), to no law (for most behavior), to civil fines (for mildly bad behavior), to misdemeanors, to felonies, to capital crimes.

    If you aren't an anarchist, then this should be obvious to you.

  • Re:Hate crimes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @12:16PM (#39164753)

    One of those deserves just having the cops splitting them up and the other jailtime.

    Really? Why does one deserve jailtime and the other does not? Why do only some victimized groups get this special protection? Do you see WoW "nerds" getting special protection from bullying, the way homosexuals do?

    Hate crimes laws are another way to increase our prison population, without being as overt as the war on drugs. The pattern is familiar: first, the media lets everyone know about the terrible things being done to some particular group; then people lobby for that group to be included in hate crimes laws, with the media pointing to the progress being made by such lobbying; then the laws are amended so that another group receive this special protection. Meanwhile, society goes on victimizing other groups, using various slurs and expressions, and ignoring their plight -- people say they were "gypped" all the time, but nobody bats an eye at it (now imagine if someone said they were "nigged").

    Now homosexuals are the victim group de jour, and in 20 years it will be another group. The great thing is that the media can actually seed hatred for a group, then return decades later to talk about the plight of that group (sometimes without even stopping their own encouragement of the hate). While the media was trumpeting the progress of laws to protect black people, it was simultaneously stoking the flames of fear and hatred by portraying black men as dangerous criminals. The media keeps telling us that we should respect homosexuals and treat them like everyone else...and then portrays gay men as particularly effeminate or somehow not being as masculine as straight men.

    If you dare question the special legal treatment of homosexuals, you are a homophobe -- and in a particularly ironic twist, you might be accused of being a closet homosexual (by the same people telling you not to harass people for being gay). Naturally, the opinion of a homophobe on these topics is totally irrelevant, whereas the opinions of someone arguing to lock homophobes in prison for long periods of time are important to the conversation.

    That, in a nutshell, is the problem here. We are not addressing the problem (the victimization of particular groups), we are just expanding the size of the prison population. Hate crimes laws are worse than knee-jerk reactions: hate crimes laws have been carefully planned out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 26, 2012 @12:22PM (#39164805)

    Filming someone having sex without their consent goes far beyond "bad manners." Bad manners would have been to knock on the door when you knew what was going on, just to interrupt them. Voyeurism, even without filming, is a type of sex crime. Filming makes it worse. Posting the thing on the internet raises it to a whole extra level of violation of privacy and invasiveness.

    The amazing thing is that such simple stuff would need to be explained to anyone.

    And, "Oh, gee, sorry Officer. I was just being stupid" isn't a defense. It's not a defense when you claim you didn't see the speed limit sign, and it's not a defense when you trample someone's very reasonable expectation of privacy in their own room.

    Get a grip, people.

  • Re:Commercial (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the simurgh (1327825) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @12:29PM (#39164841)
    he admits he set up the webcam to record his roommates sexual encounters to prove he was gay and then set out to tell everyone. he's a guilty of a hate crime as if i were him I'd be glad they didn't put a felony charge on there so they could get try and get him on the victim's suicide.
  • Whom to blame (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Elixon (832904) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @12:29PM (#39164845) Homepage Journal

    I am sure that he didn't jump because he was videotaped by one asshole. It was most probably that he feared the reaction of others when it leaks... the reason was the homophobic society rather then one particular guy. I would say that the society's attitude killed him. What would be the label for the society then?

  • by bhagwad (1426855) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @12:30PM (#39164857) Homepage
    If a particular action has no penalty or consequence, then it's meaningless for the government to mention them. And it's arrogance if they do.
  • Re:Hate crimes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Myopic (18616) * on Sunday February 26, 2012 @12:31PM (#39164869)

    You have equated "crimes are motivated by a mindset" with "all crimes are motivated by hate". To do so is to equate thinking, with hating. That is wrong, so wrong that I have to assume you didn't really mean it (except that you've said it twice now). As so many others have pointed out, most crimes are motived by things other than hate, such as greed. So I assume you are trying to equate "a criminal feeling greed" with "a criminal hating a person who has what the criminal wants". Is that what you are trying to do? If so, then I have to disagree strongly. To do so would be to reject many ways of distinguishing hate from other forms of thought.

  • Re:Whom to blame (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ewwhite (533880) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @12:37PM (#39164939) Homepage
    Santorum, Bachman, etc...
  • Re:Hate crimes... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @12:39PM (#39164949)

    Blacks beating up a white should be treated just as harshly as vice versa

    Just like non-nerds beating up nerds. The crime is beating someone up; what difference does it make if it was motivated by hatred of a person's race as opposed to their lifestyle, hair color, academic success, or any of dozens of other reasons that people beat each other up? The problem with hate crimes legislation is that it unfairly labels some forms of hatred as being categorically worse than others, and that this labeling is almost always politically motivated.

  • Re:Hate crimes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cdrguru (88047) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @12:43PM (#39164987) Homepage

    We are starting to get into the idea that there are different sorts of hate and different degrees of it. Hate against a protected class (say, a minority) is a different level of hate under this thinking. Clearly different from the sort of hate that many African Americans have against white people because they have been brought up to believe that all white people are slavers and want nothing more than to re-enslave the black race.

    No, sorry, you don't get to do that. Hate is hate. It is a destructive emotion but it is little more than emotion. Once we start prosecuting hate we are a short way away from prosecuting "conservatism" which to many is far more destructive than hate. Any internal throught process is then fair game regardless of its expression in actions. As much as I would like to prosecute Pollyanna-ish liberals for their beliefs in a "go along to get along" world, it is not the way to organize a society unless one is actively striving for 1984. Because if it were possible to do such prosecutions, you can bet it would be fashionable to prosecute all sorts of undesirable attitudes or the "wrong sort of thinking."

    Once you start prosecuting people for what they believe, trouble is bound to follow. And by definition "hate crimes" are clearly prosecuting someone for what they believe or are thinking.

    If you want to make the world safe for homosexuals, the place to start is not with what people are thinking but what they are doing. Simlarly, if you want to make the world safe for Jews "enhancing" sentances for swastica-painters because of what they believe is not the right way to do it. Instead, increase the penalties for external actions - like painting a swastica - which is something at least everyone can see.

  • Re:Hate crimes... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @12:48PM (#39165025) Journal
    It makes a difference because of the relative danger to society. If someone is beating you up because they don't like you then they are less of a threat to the general public than if they beat you up because you're the nearest available member of a certain group.
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @12:51PM (#39165053)

    If the video showed a naked guy with a small penis, or a girl fucking a horrendously ugly guy, that could be every bit as embarrassing for the small-dicked man or the woman in question as this was for the homosexual man.

    No, actually, and this goes to show how ignorant you are on GLBT issues.

    GLBT individuals don't face "embarrassment." They have to face things like
    "being disowned by their family"
    "fired from their jobs"
    "excommunication from their religious communities", and
    "being a target of physical violence."

    While we should work towards a society where GLBT people don't have to hide - it's still their choice when they come out and to whom.

    You know what this was? This was kid who grew up in a country where being gay is illegal, who found himself living with a gay roommate, was really threatened/offended/bigoted, and decided to "out" the kid to get rid of him. Just spend a few minutes with Google - India's views on homosexuality are amongst the most hostile on the planet.

  • Re:Commercial (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 26, 2012 @12:51PM (#39165055)

    he admits he set up the webcam to record his roommates sexual encounters to prove he was gay and then set out to tell everyone. he's a guilty of a hate crime

    Only if you consider being gay a hate crime.
    It's no different than spying on someone who is hetero, and then producing proof of the actions to the public. Now, if they can show he made certain types of slanderous comments, or can prove he had the intent to do harm because the guy is gay, then you probably have a case for a "hate crime".
    But aside from that one consideration it's no different than a hetero couple being revealed in a 'romantic engagement' and one of them committing suicide because of the revelation.

    Just because a crime involves gay or 'minority' people, doesn't make it a 'hate crime'.

  • Re:Whom to blame (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Elixon (832904) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @12:58PM (#39165111) Homepage Journal

    > I ain't scared of homos, but I don't want them around me.
    First part of this sentence clearly contradicts the other part. You simply say that "excomunication" (not having "others" around) is what you prefer.

    Did you know that for social beings the excomunication from the society is in fact even worse then death? Why would you wish anybody such as horrific punishment if you are not a homophobe?

    To me it looks like you are the typical homophobe. :-) Sorry if I am wrong but there is no other way I can explain your words.

  • by bieber (998013) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @01:06PM (#39165175)
    Regardless of the outcome, I think secretly recording and broadcasting someone else's sexual activities should absolutely get you jailtime. It's difficult to even imagine a worse violation of privacy.
  • by general_re (8883) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @01:09PM (#39165207) Homepage

    For that matter, India's views on just about every social issue are extremely hostile. They make the US look like a bastion of liberal tolerance.

    Comparatively speaking, given the state of most countries, the US is a bastion of liberal tolerance.

  • Re:Commercial (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Sunday February 26, 2012 @01:26PM (#39165319) Homepage Journal

    It's not that "being gay" is a hate crime, but otherwise I'd agree. What if it was a married woman being filmed having sex with her illicit lover who killed herself afterwards? It would be exactly the same thing, yet wouldn't be a hate crime.

    Outing someone is a hate crime? That makes no sense to me. However, the invasion of privacy is horrible in any case.

  • by the_bard17 (626642) <theluckyone17@gmail.com> on Sunday February 26, 2012 @01:30PM (#39165345)

    That'd be an improvement. Being fined sure beats being hung/stoned/beheaded because you said something bad about Mohammed.

  • by 517714 (762276) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @01:35PM (#39165379)
    The whole concept of hate crime is ludicrous. Hate is motive, separate from the crime. If the prosecution can show that the accused hated the person they allege he/she acted against, they have a motive to show the jury which makes their allegation more credible. Making such hatred a separate crime violates equal protection and the basic freedom to think as one pleases regardless of how warped those thoughts may be. Laws are designed to punish actions, not thoughts. Thought crime should be reserved for dystopian fiction. Hate crime laws have been passed to pander to special interest groups and do not serve the public in general.
  • by wmelnick (411371) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @01:46PM (#39165457)
    "The legal system should not be considering thoughts but only actions."

    Really? So manslaughter = murder? You might want to rethink this. The whole idea of "Mens Rea", or what the person is thinking is integral to the entire criminal justice system in the US. If I hit you with my car and you die, it should not make a difference if I was trying to mow you down or you jumped out from behind a car and there was no way for me to see you? Without considering thoughts those two actions are the same.

  • Re:Whom to blame (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 26, 2012 @02:12PM (#39165675)

    Thank you, white heterosexual! You provide insight that otherwise wouldn't be well enough represented in global culture these days!

    The motivation for one's crimes is of the utmost importance, especially when deciding the punishment due. For instance, the difference between first degree murder and involuntary manslaughter is... shit, I already forgot the word... hang on, I know I hat it written down somew... oh, here it is: "intent." The motivation for one's crimes can do almost as much damage as the crime itself.

    A KKK gathering that lynches a black man in a place where the body will be easily found not only results in the death of an innocent black man, but conveys a message to the local black populace: they are not welcome here, and will suffer terribly if they dare to live in the local area. This destroys the morale of the local minorities, creates tension and separatism amongst the populace, and reinforces these negative behaviors while further instilling these values within the next generation. For the white kids it says: "These people are less than human and should not be tolerated." For the rest of the children it says: "We think you are less than human, white people are dangerous and think less of you, and you should be careful and untrusting of them."

    Hate crimes are real. Hate crimes are damaging, and to a far greater degree than crimes motivated out of purely selfish considerations(and say what you will, hate crimes aren't necessarily selfish: the people committing them believe they're doing it for 'the greater good').

  • Re:Commercial (Score:4, Insightful)

    by msobkow (48369) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @02:24PM (#39165777) Homepage Journal

    I don't agree.

    If I try to catch a girlfriend cheating on me and post the video all over the place to show what a slut she is, it's stupid, it's childish, and it's selfish.

    But it's not a hate crime.

    There is no evidence that he had a general hatred of gays or was persecuting the gay community as a whole. Only that he wanted to "out" his roommate. And as despicable as that may be and as terrible as the end result was, that is NOT a hate crime.

  • by Curunir_wolf (588405) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @02:34PM (#39165863) Homepage Journal

    Sure, and that's the goal. This whole "cyberbullying" / "hate crime" meme is all about an attempt to off-limit certain types of speech. The fact that the subject killed himself makes this the perfect storm of a way to promote this idea. And the idea is: "You're not allowed to criticize certain people." Sexual orientation minorities are one of those protected classes that are to get this kind of special dispensation. Heterosexuals and fat people are fair game (as Michelle Obama's campaign has made clear [beliefnet.com]), as are pretty much all white people, and old people, too (ageism is never criticized as hateful or bullying, for instance).

    So in spite of the portrayal of anti-bullying (and especially "cyber bullying") campaigns as an effort to end reduce suffering of the young and adolescent, the rather obvious true goal is only to protect certain groups against criticism. Note that criticism of Christian beliefs, and those of Mormons, Catholics, and often even Jews is defended as legitimate and never considered "bullying", no matter how inflammatory and hurtful the rhetoric used against them.

    Even politicians and law enforcement have started using the terms, claiming that they are being "bullied" by citizens simply for criticizing their public policy actions and decision, and initiating law suits to stop them [muthstruths.com]. This latest movement, to conflate any criticism of government overreach with "anti-government" anarchists or even "paper terrorists" [blogspot.com].

    This is a truly frightening development, that will lead inevitably to the erosion of free speech to such a degree that the only thing recognized as "free speech" will be a narrowly-defined set of "approved speech".

  • Re:Commercial (Score:5, Insightful)

    by countvlad (666933) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @03:47PM (#39166343)

    Why does this have to be a hate crime?

    Isn't the whole point of "equal protection under the law" to give us all the same protections of the justice system? Why should it matter who's privacy was invaded, who was beaten, or who was killed? Shouldn't all of these acts of evil be abhorrent in our society regardless of why they were committed? Isn't it hypocritical to cry for "equal rights" and then write laws which are, by definition, unequal? It's a sad, narrow minded overreaction to the injustices of the past.

    Hate crime law, like the Jim Crow laws of the last century, are a backward and draconian implementation of justice and social regulation that are a slap in the face to equality. The sooner we stop drawing distinctions like these, the sooner we'll progress to a society that is open and accepting of so called "alternative lifestyles."

    Incidentally, what this man did was a horrendous invasion of privacy and fully deserves to be considered a felony. He should be tried in a court of law and regardless of the outcome should be exported (obviously at the end of his sentence if found guilty).

  • by Johann Lau (1040920) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @05:29PM (#39167003) Homepage Journal

    Still though, Clementi obviously believed that what he was doing was shameful and wrong, and he killed himself for it. If anybody "shares blame" for Clementi's suicide, it's the "gay rights" advocates.

    Bullshit. Moron. NEXT.

  • Re:Commercial (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cowboy76Spain (815442) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @05:42PM (#39167103)

    I don't agree.

    If I try to catch a girlfriend cheating on me and post the video all over the place to show what a slut she is, it's stupid, it's childish, and it's selfish.

    But it's not a hate crime.

    There is no evidence that he had a general hatred of gays or was persecuting the gay community as a whole. Only that he wanted to "out" his roommate. And as despicable as that may be and as terrible as the end result was, that is NOT a hate crime.

    The very fact that he wanted to out the guy shows the intent. Would he had do the same thing had the roommate being dating, say, the head cheerleader? I do not think so. I don't think he would have posted the news in twitter, either. He wanted his roommate marked as gay in front of the community, assuming that the community would shun him. That alone makes it a hate crime.

    The difference between hate speech and being just an asshole is when being an asshole is so common place that it becomes a social problem. Lets say that this Dharun guy was not worried about his roommate being gay, but by him wearing Star Trek costumes. So he spies on him and "outs" him as a Star Trek fan. Ok, a little weird but there is no really social opinion against trekkies. Nobody would care / gossip / harass about that.

    The trouble is that outing him as a gay, in an ambient where homophobic bullying is allowed(*) can really cause a problem. Think that he was not filming a 30 something adult who might give a shit about what his coleagues might think, but another teenager who probably wanted to blend in the crowd. It is really a very different thing.

    * Note that I don't say that bullying from a majority or else, but even a very small vocal minority can cause really problems if the rest of the population does not stop them(think of the Scottsboro nutcracks). And we know that bulliers are rarely opposed by those who do not want to become targets.

  • Re:Commercial (Score:4, Insightful)

    by snowgirl (978879) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @06:00PM (#39167221) Journal

    Outing someone is a hate crime? That makes no sense to me. However, the invasion of privacy is horrible in any case.

    ... So you're argument is that this was clearly an invasion of privacy to prove that the guy was gay, and that if the guy were not suspected of being homosexual, that Ravi would not have had any motivation to film him.

    So, it's a crime that is based on a perceived sexual orientation of the victim.

    And you don't understand how this is a hate crime?

  • Re:Commercial (Score:5, Insightful)

    by realityimpaired (1668397) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @08:58PM (#39168313)

    When said invasion of privacy is done with the explicit purpose of humiliating the target, and leads to their suicide days later, then yes, it is an assault (psychological), and should be considered a hate crime. He's lucky he didn't get charged with negligent homicide: he should have known that his actions had consequences, and "not thinking" about those consequences is not an excuse. He's above the age of majority, and can be held legally responsible for his actions, regardless of whether he considered their effect.

    Consider: this kid was away from his family, and his parents for the first time. He was just beginning to understand himself as gay, and quite likely had a very conservative family (most gay kids with liberally-minded parents come out long before they go off to University, at least in my experience). His roommate decided to film him having a homosexual encounter for the purpose of outing him, at a time when he was very likely only beginning to understand it himself. Coming out is not a question of waking up one day and saying "dad, I'm gay". First you need to come out to yourself, which can itself be very traumatic, and very difficult, especially if you've lived your whole life being taught that homosexuality is wrong. He was not ready for that kind of realization, and to have it happen in a public forum, on film and quite possibly his first ever, pushed him too far. Left to his own devices, he probably could have come to grips with his homosexuality or discovered a way to deal with it, but he was denied that chance by an act of bigotry. As a reasonable adult, particularly one who is aware of the situation with gay rights in the US, can you possibly tell me straight-faced that this couldn't possibly have had anything to do with the suicide?

    Psychological abuse is still abuse, and this was motivated by the fact that he was gay. Whether it was done "for the lulz" or to humiliate him or to cause him actual harm is irrelevant, as the main reason behind it was the fact that he was gay, and that is somehow wrong.

  • Re:Commercial (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jbolden (176878) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @10:36PM (#39168819) Homepage

    Perfectly legal acts combined with illegal acts can be consider actions in furtherance of a crime. For example driving the car with the money away from the bank is still a crime even though taking that exact same route for another purpose isn't.

    The prosecution is going to have to prove a lot here. I'd rather they stop playing games and charge people engaged in bullying that leads to a death with involuntary manslaughter.

  • Re:Commercial (Score:2, Insightful)

    by msobkow (48369) on Monday February 27, 2012 @12:01AM (#39169225) Homepage Journal

    Actually, if you read the article, he did not "tape them" and post the video as some are assuming.

    He twittered that his roommate was gay.

    The problem I have with the gay community lately is that they want special protections and special priveleges and special treatment. They're no longer content to be merely accepted by society, they want to be special.

    And that can NOT be allowed in a society that values equality.

    If you told people your roommate was a drug dealer, a drug addict, an alcoholic, a slut, a whore, a thief, or any number of things, you would not be charged as this fellow is being charged. He's being charged solely because he flagged the fact that his roommate was gay.

    This is not evidence of hatred at all. It's evidence of an intent to publicly humiliate him. And the only reason he would have felt humiliated is if he was ashamed of being gay, and the onus for his resulting suicide is on him and his choices.

    The molly-coddling theory that people should be immune from harassment, embarrassment, humiliation, and generally being picked on by individuals just because they happen to be gay is insane, and that's what I see being done with this case. Someone is being prosecuted because he didn't like his roommate.

    Not because he hated gays -- because he didn't like his roommate!!!

  • by Omestes (471991) <omestes @ g m a il.com> on Monday February 27, 2012 @01:09AM (#39169533) Homepage Journal

    This whole "cyberbullying" / "hate crime" meme is all about an attempt to off-limit certain types of speech

    I doubt there is a conspiracy lurking here. Don't get me wrong, I'm generally against hate crime laws, or special protections for minorities, but I can see where the advocates for such things come from. We Americans have a very bad track record (and still generally do) at treating anyone but white, male, straight, Christians as equals. We have a strong history of being assholes to anyone not like us. We have a very strong trend of not recognizing the rights people slightly different than us (and the 51% of the population who aren't men). This is coupled with out history of being, and glorifying, idiotic, bigoted, rednecks, and endorsing old-boy networks and turning our backs on some truly heinous things. So we DO need to be vigilant, and we should be very careful to NEVER tolerate bigots, racists, homophobes (which is a bit silly of a term, since it isn't fear that's the problem, its violence and hate), and we, as a society should go out of our way to make these people feel unwelcome.

    This, again, doesn't mean I agree with these laws, or especially their applicability here.

    Also our society has pretty much proven that we can no longer be expected to be civilized to one another, which does make some people desperate for any solution, including legal ones. I don't agree with them, at least on the solution, but again I can see why they want it. I think society, not the government, should make these people's lives a living hell.

    Heterosexuals and fat people are fair game (as Michelle Obama's campaign has made clear [beliefnet.com]), as are pretty much all white people, and old people, too (ageism is never criticized as hateful or bullying, for instance).

    Oh yes, my life as a hetero white male is SO TOUGH, especially compared to those privileged gay people. Just the other day I had a bunch of nice Christian fundies scream at me that I'm going to hell because I live with a woman. I hear that the gays, the blacks, the Mexicans, and a coalition of skinny Muslim women are about to throw all the straight white Christian men into camps!

    Xenophobia is stupid. No one is out to get you. As a straight white guy, I can't even recall the last time I was discriminated against. I'm not aware of any time in my life, actually. Sure, I've had issues with people (socially, not legally), but that was 100% because of choices I made (which is why I don't feel too bad about obese people, though I'm not aware of any actual discrimination there either), so I'm at fault.

    Note that criticism of Christian beliefs, and those of Mormons, Catholics, and often even Jews is defended as legitimate and never considered "bullying", no matter how inflammatory and hurtful the rhetoric used against them.

    Actually I can criticize anyone's faith I damn well want to, it isn't' a crime, and no one has ever been prosecuted for it. Sure, it might not be socially acceptable, but that is different. As an atheist, I've gotten plenty of flack for criticizing Christians. Hell, there is around 100 fundamentalist churches within a mile of my house (no exaggeration), and my girl friend has been threatened with physical assault for having a bumper sticker saying "honk if you think I'm Jesus". Poor Christians.

    This is a truly frightening development, that will lead inevitably to the erosion of free speech to such a degree that the only thing recognized as "free speech" will be a narrowly-defined set of "approved speech".

    How many people have been arrested for stating "I don't like Gays/Women/Blacks/Mexicans/Hindus/Muslims"? You can be a bigot and a xenophobe vocally all day long, and no one will knock down your door. Our society, to its credit, will look down on you, and people will ostracize you... but to me that is called progress. It makes hopeful, actually.

  • Re:Commercial (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Monday February 27, 2012 @01:35AM (#39169655)

    Well, to be fair, intent plays a big role in many crimes involving people. Wanting to kill someone changes manslaughter to murder. One could argue that the distinction also serves as adding a "thought crime" element to the fact that a person died.

There is no opinion so absurd that some philosopher will not express it. -- Marcus Tullius Cicero, "Ad familiares"

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