New Jersey prosecutors are weighing whether to charge Rutgers freshmen Dharum Ravi and Molly Wei with hate crimes, on top of invasion of privacy, for allegedly broadcasting live video of Ravi's roommate, Tyler Clementi, having a gay sexual encounter. Clementi leapt to his death off the George Washington Bridge a few days later. Do Ravi and Wei's actions merit a hate crime conviction, which would double the maximum five years they face in jail?
Of course it's a hate crime: Does anyone think Ravi would have "taped and mocked" Clementi if he "was with someone of the opposite sex?" says Steven Goldstein, chairman of gay-rights group Garden State Equality. Of course not. This is "one of the most unconscionable, hate-related deaths of a student" in New Jersey history, and "we can only hope the alleged perpetrators receive the maximum possible sentence."
"Statement on Tyler Clementi's tragic death"
Humiliation isn't murder: Charging Ravi and Wei with hate crimes would be "totally preposterous," says Alex Knepper in The Daily Caller. We don't know their motivation: "Were they out to destroy innocent life for kicks," as some are rashly asserting, or were they just "douchebags"? Just because Ravi and Wei deserve ridicule and punishment doesn't mean they are "killers." Clementi chose to kill himself, over the relatively small shame and humiliation of a sex tape.
"Rutgers sex tape suicide is not a 'hate crime'"
It's a crime, period: Secretly broadcasting Clementi's tryst "was a felony," pure and simple, and it should be treated as such, says Harvey Silverglate in The Boston Phoenix, without subjecting it to "fuzzy, politically correct" analysis. "Are we to punish law violators only after we test them and ascertain that they had hate in their hearts?" If colleges want to make sure this kind of crime doesn't happen again, they should remind students of federal and state laws, and let them face the consequences if they break them.
"Tyler Clementi: What's hate got to do with it?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Russia is stealthily threatening America with nuclear war
- How to be the star of a cocktail party where you don't know anyone
- Why so many Christians won't back down on gay marriage
- The girl who wouldn't die
Subscribe to the Week