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Rutger's Student Dharun Ravi Sentenced To 30-Day Jail Time 683

parallel_prankster writes "New York Times reports that a judge in New Jersey has sentenced Dharun Ravi to 30 days in jail Monday for using a webcam to spy on his Rutgers University roommate having sex with a man, in a case that galvanized concern about suicide among gay teenagers but also prompted debate about the use of laws against hate crimes. The case drew wide attention because his roommate, Tyler Clementi, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge in September 2010, a few days after learning of the spying. A jury convicted Mr. Ravi in March of all 15 counts against him, which included invasion of privacy and bias intimidation. The relatively light sentence — he faced up to 10 years in prison — surprised many who were watching the hearing, as it came after the judge spent several minutes criticizing Mr. Ravi's behavior."
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Rutger's Student Dharun Ravi Sentenced To 30-Day Jail Time

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  • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @05:20PM (#40069737)

    The invasion of privacy angle I can see. How many times have we had stories of guys taping unwilling sex partners or roommates taping roommates? I just didn't think there was enough meat to the story to push it into the realm of hate crimes.

    • by guises ( 2423402 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @05:30PM (#40069887)
      I'm also surprised, but apparently the judge saw it in more or less the same light - what he did was not deserving of the kind of harsh sentence that the prosecutors were asking for.

      On the other hand, thirty days in jail is not the whole sentence. From the article:

      In addition to jail, Judge Berman sentenced Mr. Ravi to three years’ probation, 300 hours of community service, counseling about cyberbullying and alternate lifestyles, and a $10,000 probation fee, to be used to help victims of bias crimes.

      I'd make some remark about how I feel about the appropriateness of the sentence, but I don't know squat about anyone involved here. I'll presume that the judge, who was much better informed than I, knew what he was doing.

    • by travbrad ( 622986 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @05:36PM (#40069961)

      The whole idea of "hate crime" is pretty ridiculous anyway.

      If you assault someone because you hate gays/minorities/etc, why is that worse than assaulting someone because you hate them individually? It just reinforces the idea that we should treat certain groups of people differently. Is that really the best way to address prejudice in society?

      Does anyone really think some dumb asshole bigot is going to think "there are hate crime laws I better not commit this crime"?

      • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @06:19PM (#40070443) Journal

        Hate crimes were invented during the civil rights era, both out of recognition that certain kinds of crimes were very much intended as attacks against whole communities and, at least so far as Federal legislation goes, to give Federal authorities some ability to prosecute such crimes where state authorities were frequently much less willing to pursue such criminals.

        • And like all other acceptable pieces of legislation, has been distorted to be what law enforcement/the prosecution wants it to mean at any particular time.

          This was clearly not a hate crime. The target was an individual firstly. And the offence would be no different an offence if the guest had been an older man, an older woman, or some young woman in the same school (though the ultimate result may have differed). That Clementi committed suicide is unfortunate, but hardly Ravi's fault.

          That people, especially

      • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @07:32PM (#40071119)

        Hate crimes have a very real distinction. They're intended to intimidate a subset of your community, that's why they're elevated. If that doesn't make sense to you, consider that we have at least 4 standards for the fundamentally same crime of taking a life; accidental death(?), manslaughter, 2nd degree murder, and 1st degree murder.

        And, contrary to popular belief, a hate crime doesn't mean killing a minority. It's a very difficult legal bar to reach.

        • by euroq ( 1818100 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @04:18AM (#40074085)

          +1. "Hate crime" is a very media-tinged description of the law. The actual laws are not based on the "emotion" of hate at all - they are called "bias intimidation". They are meant to address the crimes that are meant to intimidate a large group of people through a smaller crime. The classic example is a burning cross in a yard - a crime which is similar to TP-ing (toilet papering) a person's yard in terms of property damage, but has implications and damage to a community well beyond the personal property damage of the victim.

      • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @07:46PM (#40071227) Journal

        It just reinforces the idea that we should treat certain groups of people differently.

        I'm having serious issues wrapping my head around this backwards logic.
        You haven't even really made an argument at all and blindly asserting a claim is not the same as supporting it.

        Why don't you tell us why assault based on gender/sexual orientation/race is not worse than regular old violence
        Perhaps you just don't understand the history of civil right and hate crime laws?

        The law has always been neutral toward crime, but enforcement of the law was not.
        Minorities were being murdered, justice was not being done, and tension would build.
        Communities became embroiled in violence, leading to retaliation, leading to more violence.

        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.

        Is that really the best way to address prejudice in society?

        I can't say for sure that we've come up with the best way to address prejudice in society,
        but nothing else we've tried has worked and I don't see you putting forward any alternatives.

        Does anyone really think some dumb asshole bigot is going to think "there are hate crime laws I better not commit this crime"?

        Not really but it sends a message that, as a society, we will not tolerate such odious behavior in our midst.

      • by Burning1 ( 204959 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @08:33PM (#40071603) Homepage

        If someone gets beat to shit because they are an asshole, I can avoid the same fate by not being an asshole.

        If someone is beat to shit because of their skin color, I cannot change my skin color to avoid the same fate.

      • by Shihar ( 153932 )

        Hate crimes make a lot of sense. It modifies an existing crime. Why the modification? The reason is because you did extra harm to other people. If I beat a relative, for the most part, it doesn't effect the people besides the victim and the person who knew the victim. It might make my neighbor uneasy if he knows about it, but it probably doesn't go much further than that. For a normal crime, I get the normal punishment.

        Now, lets say I go beat the shit out of someone in my neighborhood who is black bec

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It wasn't a hate crime. It was a bias crime. The judge himself made that distinction at the sentencing as part of his justification for being so lenient (compared to the possible 10-year sentence).

  • Wait a minute (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FreedomOfThought ( 2544248 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @05:26PM (#40069829)
    So I can get a year in prison for having a joint on my person, but I can invade someone's privacy and become the cause of their death and just suffer a month? Interesting how that works.
  • Good decision (Score:5, Insightful)

    by N1AK ( 864906 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @05:26PM (#40069831) Homepage
    Seems like a reasonable sentence to me. As stupid, and intolerant, as what he did was and as severe as the consequences were there's nothing gained by excessive punishment. Would a longer prison sentence really act as a deterrent to similar behaviour? Isn't a criminal record, the court process he's been through, a month in prison and having to live with the consequences of his actions enough for doing something stupid and not considering how bad the consequences might be?

    Some poor bastard has already lost his life. Another has pretty much ruined his. Sticking someone in prison longer doesn't make any of that better; it's just an expensive way to cause more suffering.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @05:55PM (#40070185) Homepage

    Prior to 2003, he would have been reporting a crime in Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, or Virginia.

  • My .02 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @06:51PM (#40070785)
    Fight hate the way the Southern Poverty Law Center does it: through civil law. Imposing huge monetary fines and loss of assets actually does a whole lot more to bring down hatred than incarceration. Look at the decimation of some racist and militia-style hate groups where their assets were seized and turned over to the victim. Without a hate pulpit to preach from, these groups dissolve and disband. Anti-hate laws do little to curb the behavior - you have to hit'em in the wallet to stop it.
  • is it just me? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Monday May 21, 2012 @07:31PM (#40071103) Homepage Journal

    or is it whenever i see "legal" analysis on slashdot i see tons of posts by people who don't consider the notion of intent

    is it a psychological thing?

    that is, the relationship between aspergers syndrome and technological inclination is well-established, this is a tech site, aspergers renders one unable to appreciate and take into account other minds at work out there outside of your own. and just because you aren't clinically diagnosed with aspergers doesn't mean you aren't somewhere along the spectrum of a mild inability to have a decreased capacity to have a good working model of "theory of mind" going on in your head:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_mind [wikipedia.org]

    anyway, this is just a long-winded way of saying: INTENT. understand it, please

    if you judge other's actions, or develop an opinion of other's actions without applying or appreciating the concept of intent, at least understand that the rest of the world will consider your opinion invalid, if you can't understand yourself why intent is important

    • Geeks can be overly literal about shit. That leads to an attitude of not wanting to look at context. Something is either right or wrong, period. So if it is ok to do something any time, it is ok to do it all the time. Context and thus intent don't matter.

      Also this absolutist idea leads to trouble with the concept of reasonable doubt. They think if they can come up with any explanation at all, no matter how improbable, that a jury would have to buy that. They think they can explain away anything because even

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein