If you have been even minimally attentive to the papers over the past few days, you cannot have escaped noting that Rutgers student (now ex-student) Dharun Ravi has been indicted (charged?) for having contributed to the very tragic suicide of Tyler Clementi.
As you must be aware, Ravi secretly videotaped a gay encounter of his Rutgers' roommate (Tyler Clementi)... and posted that video on the internet for all to view.
Is it reasonable to assume that Ravi knew with absolute certainty that his invasion of Clementi's privacy and the subsequent publishing of that video would result in extreme mental anguish for his roommate?
The only reasonable answer is a resounding YES... He had to know!
Would he have undertaken a similar videotaping and publishing had his roommate's encounter been heterosexual? Probably not... Ravi likely thought it would be great fun to see his gay roommate humiliated.
Does this act qualify as a "hate" crime...? Dunno... Categorizing the crime in this manner (or otherwise) will not help Tyler Clementi!
The question arises: Has one committed a punishable crime if his actions result in the victim being so traumatized mentally that he chooses suicide? What if, instead, the victim was being physically tortured... and suicide was chosen as a means of escape. In this latter circumstance wouldn't the perpetrator be guilty of murder... or, at least, (negligent) manslaughter?
Should there be a distinction?
It seems that the papers are divided as to exactly how Ravi should be prosecuted.
One article (in today's New York Post) seems to argue that this case should be treated as something similar to a "prank" which just, unintentionally, went horribly wrong. How was Ravi to have known that Clementi would have succumbed to taking his own life?
I am exceedingly angry with the such as Dharun Ravi. I abhor torture (both mental and physical)... but I'd really like to see Ravi suffer some form of anguish for this totally distasteful act... and the suicide that resulted.
Tyler Clementi should not be portrayed as having shown weakness for his suicide... but I'm fearful that this is the direction that some editorialists would have us go.
What do you think the verdict and punishment should be for Dharun Ravi?