In the fall of 2010, Rutgers roommates Dharun Ravi and Tyler Clementi met each other for the first time. It was the beginning of their freshman year and no one could have predicted the disaster that was to happen before the end of the first month in the dorms. Clementi, who had recently revealed his homosexuality to his parents, had yet to discuss his sexual orientation with his peers at college. However, Ravi was already aware of this from forum posts he had discovered of Clementi’s before moving into his dorm.
Ravi was known to pull pranks on friends, but things got out of hand when he used his webcam to spy on Clementi and another man in an intimate moment. This would not have been as damaging had Ravi not tweeted about the invasion of privacy during the second instance. It was these tweets that clued Clementi in on what his roommate had done. It cannot be said what Tyler Clementi was feeling after being outed like that, but it was not long after that he jumped off the George Washington Bridge to end his life.
Immediately, this story became the symbol of bullying and oppression that homosexual youth and children in general often endure. Ravi faced a collection of charges from invasion of privacy to a hate crime against Clementi. He was turned into a demon by the media and everyone who knew of the case. The trial dragged on for over a year and a half, but he was finally convicted this week. Despite the seriousness of the initial charges, Ravi was ultimately sentenced to thirty days in prison.
With everything that has happened and all of the information that was revealed in the trial, it may at first be hard to believe that Ravi will only be spending a month in jail for his actions. There has been outrage over the verdict from a number of groups demanding that he receive a harsher punishment. I am not condoning what Ravi did and it saddens me to see the damage that was done, but I also want to remind everyone that the law has condemned him to thirty days in prison. This does not mean the repercussions stop after he has served his time.
All it takes is to compare pictures of Ravi before and after everything happened. The lack of sleep, the pain, the stress can all be seen in his face and body. He has been suffering long before the jury made its decision. His punishment began as soon as he was informed of Clementi’s death. Having to watch himself created as the epitome of evil when bullying was discussed on the news, in the papers, on the internet, and on the street has undoubtedly played a role as well.
This will not culminate in his prison sentence, but will continue to haunt him the rest of his life. News of this tragedy has spread nationally and internationally making Dharun Ravi a household name when harassment is brought up. “Remember that boy from Rutgers?” will be the phrase that will carry the story for years to come. Good luck to Ravi as he tries to get a job, have a family, or even just order a pizza out in public. His college education has yet to be completed and his entire life has been unhinged by the foolish decision he made.
Again, I do not condone what Ravi has done and think it is awful that Tyler Clementi’s life ended so early and in such a fashion, but I think the public need not seek more vengeance. While thirty days may not seem like much and many want more, think about the real punishment Dharun Ravi is receiving. In a legal sense the verdict is mild, but I believe justice is more than being served.