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Dharun Ravi Trial: Hate Crime Or Stupidity? 671

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

    by C0R1D4N ( 970153 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @01:01PM (#39164599)
    not quite. The point of hate crimes is to distinguish a heated argument in a bar leading someone to punching the other assault and a guy cornering someone in alley and beating the shit out of him cuz of his race or perceived orientation/religion/etc.

    One of those deserves just having the cops splitting them up and the other jailtime.
  • Re:Hate crimes... (Score:5, Informative)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @01:03PM (#39164617) Journal

    The funny thing is, all crimes against another person are hate crimes.

    No, they're not.
    The difference between a "crime" and a "hate crime" is intent.

    There is an enormous difference between
    A) killing someone by accident (manslaughter)
    B) killing someone during the commission of a crime (murder)
    C) killing someone because they are different from you (murder + hate crime enhancement)

    Again, hate crimes are about intent. They are usually based on skin color, gender, sexual orientation, or country of origin.
    Our legal system does not always apply the law equally to all groups, but the law itself is neutral.
    If you look at the history of hate crime law, these crimes would create tension and cycles of retaliation in neighborhoods.
    There are strong reasons behind enhancing the punishment for certain crimes over others.
    Maybe some day we won't need those laws, but America is still struggling with basic things like equality for all.

  • by C0R1D4N ( 970153 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @01:07PM (#39164651)
    Pretty certain when he put the stream up he said something like "the faggot is doing it again" his motive was well established.

    Also he asked fora new roommate cuz he didnt wanna room with a gay
  • Re:Hate crimes... (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @01:08PM (#39164659) Homepage Journal
    According to Rick Santorum, you can just stop being gay [deathandtaxesmag.com], so this guy brought it on himself!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 26, 2012 @01:20PM (#39164777)

    Oh ThorGod, please don't lie. Ravi didn't make any sex tapes, nor did he post any videos. Read the article before accusing people of such crimes.

  • Re:Commercial (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 26, 2012 @01:54PM (#39165077)

    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.

    There are gay groups that do that everyday - they "out" closeted gays because they think it's the right thing to do.

  • by Foobar of Borg ( 690622 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @02:03PM (#39165153)

    India's views on homosexuality are amongst the most hostile on the planet

    India's views on inter-racial marriage, hell even marriage within the same race (as it is socially defined) but outside of your own caste is the most hostile on the planet. 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.

  • by NEW22 ( 137070 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @02:13PM (#39165239)

    If you read the New Yorker story you will see that there was no recording. Also, the 1 viewing through a camera was of 2 guys making out, not sex. There was never a recording posted on the internet. There was a plan to have some people spy on this guy through a web cam, but they didn't work out because the guy turned off the computer. So, yeah, not that the guy being charged didn't do something wrong, but your version of the scenario is adding more and more outrageous details to the event that don't seem to be true.

  • Re:Commercial (Score:4, Informative)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @03:01PM (#39165581)

    Last time I checked the definition of hate crime had a lot to do with a minority being involved... just saying...

  • by RazorSharp ( 1418697 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @03:12PM (#39165671)

    Motivation and intent are different things. In a hate crime murder and a non-hate crime murder the intent is the same: to kill. In a manslaughter, the intent to kill was not present even though that was the end result.

  • by dadorg ( 941821 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @03:50PM (#39165967)

    Hate crimes are a specific class of criminal action. It deals with the motivation for the act as well as the act. You are not prosecuted for the act of hating but rather for the criminal acts that result from that hate. This is not pandering to special interests. It protects everyone from being targeted based on religion, politics, race, sexual orientation, etc.

    We punish accidental death differently from premeditated murder. Biblical law would require the death penalty regardless of the circumstances, so we've refined it a bit in the past 2000 years. This is just another level of differentiation in the criminal code.

    If this tragedy was the result of accidentally outing a friend it would be different. Before the hate crime statute was applied, he was trying to pass the whole thing off as a "prank" that got out of hand. There are e-mails and text messages that show that Dharun Ravi was actively trying to force his roommate to move out because he didn't want a gay roommate (why didn't he leave instead is another question). His hatred pushed him to act beyond the limits of reason. That makes it a hate crime.

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

    by Lord_Jeremy ( 1612839 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @04:16PM (#39166133)
    The difference between a hate crime and a bar fight is that one is that neo-nazis who have beaten up a black man think that they have some duty to beat up black men. A bar fight is typically the result of intoxication and impulsive emotions. After the incident, the people who were fighting will probably have regrets and remorse, while the neo-nazis will proclaim that the police are being controlled by jews or some such and that they were/are trying to preserve the moral fabric of society by assaulting minorities. Even beyond the simple fact that the neo-nazis are more likely to go back out and organize more attacks, there's a line between what can be considered an accident or a poor decision and a conscious, willful attempt to hurt people.
  • Re:Hate crimes... (Score:4, Informative)

    by thesandtiger ( 819476 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @05:13PM (#39166501)

    If you actually knew what the hell you were talking about, you would know that even members of a majority class can also be considered victims of hate crimes.

    If a black, lesbian, muslim woman murders a white, straight, christian man and makes it clear that she is doing it because her victim is white/straight/christian/male, that's a hate crime.

    See, the reason hate crimes are considered aggravated offenses is because their intent is to instil fear in the entire class of people they target in order to have an adverse affect on that entire class of people.

    So, you're entirely wrong about how hate crimes work - you only need one definition to cover any potential class of victim because potentially anyone can be a victim of a hate crime.

    Now let's talk about why you're wrong about how hate crimes as you imagine them to be are the perfect way to tack a few extra years onto prison sentences:

    What's the conviction rate for offenders of color vs. white offenders? What's the average sentence length, by conviction type, for both offenders of color and white offenders? In your fantasy world, it's only minorities and victimized groups who are able to be victims of hate crimes, and so, according to your theory, we should see sentence lengths for white offenders be higher than for offenders of color for the same offense (if it's so "easy" to tack on and if the overriding goal is to "tack a few extra years onto a prison sentence"), and possibly higher rates of conviction of white offenders.

    Yet we don't. What we see are that defendants of color are vastly more likely to be convicted, and when convicted, offenders of color are given typically longer sentences. When adjusted for other factors - usually economic - the gap is slightly lessened but still quite present.

    So, you're wrong about the intent and effect of hate crimes, too. Everything in your post is incorrect.

    Perhaps you'll take this as an opportunity to re-examine your views on the subject and see if they match up with actual reality rather than what you imagine reality is.

    Actually, you're right about one thing in your post - for-profit prisons are an abomination and should not be allowed in a society that considers itself civilized. There should never be a profit motive for subverting justice.

  • Re:Commercial (Score:5, Informative)

    by yali ( 209015 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @06:15PM (#39166903)

    If you kill a man, you have committed a murder.

    If you kill a man while announcing to a bunch of people, "This could be any one of you, and unless you start acting like I want you to act (or disappear entirely), next time it will be," you have committed a murder. But you have done other things too. You have also threatened a bunch of people with violence.

    The legal theory behind hate crimes is that they are like the second case. When you target somebody partially or wholly because of their membership in a group (not just them as a unique individual), you are making an implicit threat against that entire group. When it is a group that has a long history of being targeted with similar violence, your implicit threat carries an especially large capability to intimidate. Hence the need to give special status to hate crimes.

  • Re:Commercial (Score:4, Informative)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @06:18PM (#39166927) Journal

    I must be a closet gay

    Honey, I understand. ; )

    You do whatcha gotta do...

    But it does get better.

  • by euroq ( 1818100 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @07:41PM (#39167487)

    The gay community needs to get over themselves. I'm starting to hate the gay community not because they're gay, but because they slam out stupid lawsuits like this that try to paint EVERYTHING as "hate crimes" when they're not. The gay community wanted us out of their bedrooms. Fine. They got their way. Now get the hell out of our court rooms.

    This is about as ignorant as saying "the gay community has an agenda to do ". I'm a gay man and, I was not invited to the committee which decided what the prosecutor was going to charge Ravi for. I've never written any legislation which created the idea of a "hate crime" in the first place. In fact, I'm pretty sure that there was no mob of gay people at the court house unilaterally deciding the charges brought against Ravi and "slamming lawsuits" against Ravi.

    Don't blame the gays, asshole. Blame the prosecutor.

  • by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @08:09PM (#39167705)


    The reason we have hate crimes is because a hate-crime isn't a crime against an individual it's a threat against an entire community to restrict their freedom.

    If you murder an African American *because of their race* then you are threatening a group with the same. By the way, Christians are protected too. If someone roughed up a Christian for being Christian then they would be subject to a Hate Crime.

    Hate crimes are to *PROTECT* freedom of speech. If someone was attacking people of a specific political position because of their political position then you are stifling an entire organization's ability to spread their message.

    Standing on the street corner saying God Hates Fags is not a hate-crime. But if they started slashing tires of open gay's cars then they would be intimidating and threatening a community because of their sexual orientation.

    In this instance a crime was committed and it was committed for the sole reason that his roommate was gay. And obviously the invasion of privacy was sufficiently damaging that his roommate committed suicide. The fact that you seem to think that what was done is similar to Jesus being compared to a sky fairy shows just how little understanding you have of the persecution many minorities face. I've never heard of a Christian committing suicide because of inflammatory rhetoric against Christianity. It's not because Christians have thicker skin, it's because as a minority group people are far more *vulnerable* to attack. And the effects are far more dangerous as a result. If you threaten someone like me, a straight white upper middle class man because I'm white I can easily find justice and I'm unlikely to let it intimidate me... after all, just about everyone else I come in contact with is a lot like me. If however though you're a minority then the intimidation is very real since you're far more likely to be discriminated against and you have far less support--people like you to help defend your rights. Now it would be great if we lived in a society where none of that mattered and people defended minorities regardless of their own race but by and large that's not how the real world works outside of a libertarian fantasy land. In the real world people tend to look after people like themselves and aren't concerned with the problems of the "others". So if you're a harassed gay citizen then the number of people who are likely to stand up for you is a small minority. And if people threaten your peers with violations of your privacy and expose you to harassment and intimidation by others--you're going to get even more isolated and distrustful.

    By the way:

    Of the 6,934 identified hate crime offenders, the majority were white (4,317, or 62.3%); 1,286 (18.5%) were black, 61 (0.9%) were American Indian or Alaskan Native, 93 (1.3%) were Asian or Pacific Islander, 741 (10.7%) were of unknown race, and the remaining 436 (6.3%) were of other races or multiple races.

    Note that this isn't "minorities vs whites".
    http://www.partnersagainsthate.org/about_hate_crimes/faq-html.html [partnersagainsthate.org]

  • Re:Commercial (Score:4, Informative)

    by Galactic Dominator ( 944134 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @09:58PM (#39168315)

    Perhaps next time you should actually read the definition given in the article you link to:

    hate crimes (also known as bias-motivated crimes) occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group, usually defined by racial group, religion, sexual orientation, disability, class, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity, social status or political affiliation.

    "Hate crime" generally refers to criminal acts that are seen to have been motivated by bias against one or more of the types above, or of their derivatives. Incidents may involve physical assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or insults, or offensive graffiti or letters (hate mail).

    The crime alleged to have occurred is the very definition of "hate crime".

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan