Verdict in Tyler Clementi case sends message to bullies

Carly Yamrus, Opinion Editor

“You do the crime, you do the time.”

Former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi is no exception to this rule after being found guilty of bias intimidation- a hate crime, invasion of privacy, and 13 other counts in the recent webcam suicide case. Ravi could potentially be imprisoned for up to 10 years and may even be deported to his native India. The trial used Ravi’s text messages and “tweets” as evidence, which he tried to delete after hearing his convictions.

Was the sentence too extreme for this young man’s actions? I think not. This particular case was a real eye-opener for today’s teenagers who use social media and text messaging as a way of expressing their every thought, opinion, or reaction.

Immature tweets and text messages are one thing, but the real crime in this case was the carefully calculated webcam spying that Ravi broadcasted not once, but twice. Ravi undoubtedly had no idea of the effect his so-called “prank” could have had on someone. Only after hearing that his roommate, Tyler Clementi, was contemplating suicide did he make an attempt to apologize and make amends.

Dharun Ravi was 18 years old, a freshman in college, at the time of Clementi’s suicide. At the age of 18, we are considered to be adults, and should possess some knowledge on bullying and the effects it has on others. Cyber bullying has been increasingly detrimental to the reputations and self-esteem of high school and college students. Clementi had asked his roommate for several hours of privacy in their shared room. Ravi responded by broadcasting the encounter to several friends and Twitter followers on multiple occasions. Clearly he did not act foolishly on a whim, as the spying occurred over the course of several days and required the setting up and testing of a webcam.

Ravi committed an adult crime, and should be responsible for accepting the adult repercussions. Whether he was actually homophobic or not, the deeds were done and they are assumed to have been the motive for Clementi’s suicide, although it is not confirmed that this was the cause. Too many instances of bullying go unrecognized and without punishment. Ravi’s conviction sends a clear message to teenagers about accepting consequences for their actions or words. This trial lets teenagers know that bullying can have serious effects on the lives of other people as well as the bully himself. Dismissing Ravi of his actions would send the message that bullying is okay, and that it is fine to embarrass others and invade their privacy.

After reading other opinions on the topic, I was actually surprised that several people believed that Clementi did wrong in the situation by bringing a man into their shared dorm room, and that Ravi’s actions were pranks. These people must have forgotten what it is like to live in a dorm room in college. That dorm room is essentially your house. As long as the actions are legal, I don’t see how having a visitor in the room was in any way wrong.

Many comments suggested that Ravi was only fooling around as college kids often do by playing a prank on his gay roommate. But since when is spying on someone with a webcam and knowingly violating their privacy a prank? Just because a dorm room is not private does not mean the students occupying it have no privacy. If Ravi was that uncomfortable with his gay roommate, he should have gone to student housing and requested a different room.

I am disgraced by the comments that excused Ravi for doing what he did. I cannot believe that people have the audacity to call this trial a promotion of homosexuality. Clementi killed himself because he was the target of homophobic bullying his entire life, a problem that many homosexual men and women face. No, Ravi did not think of the long term effects of his immature actions, but just because he did not see it coming does not mean he wasn’t wrong.

There is no reason why our tax payers dollars should be spent keeping someone who influenced a suicide in jail for 10 years. We have no room in America for more homophobes or bullies. Send him home.