Dharun Ravi on trial for “bias intimidation”

Assuming the Rutgers roommate/consummate jerk should be facing criminal charges in the aftermath of Tyler Clementi’s suicide — a big if — it shouldn’t be over purported “bias intimidation,” argues Jacob Sullum [Reason, more; Jersey Conservative] Earlier on the Clementi case here, here, and here. And a Boston case has prompted questions about the reach of hate-crime law: “Are Lesbian Gay-Bashers Guilty of a Hate Crime?” [Atlantic Wire]

Related: At Psychology Today, Israel (Izzy) Kalman writes a blog critical of the rise of the “anti-bullying industry” and attendant efforts to criminalize for the first time many personal interactions both verbal and behavioral.


  • Thank you Dr Kalman for exposing the anti-bullying hysteria for what it is.

  • There’s three dead kids in Ohio who might have been happier with a little more “anti-bullying hysteria” and a little less “stop whining and get tougher because this is real life”.

  • >DD You seem to assume that an escalation of the hysteria would lead to fewer crazy-homicidal-student episodes. Could you explain why you believe that?

  • yes, DD, please do explain.

  • “Outing” a gay person without permission ought to be a felony, since it enables the bigots to ruin the victim’s life. So if the roommate is convicted, I say it’s justice, even if the actual charges are for political speech that should be allowed.

  • DD, what’s the connection between Ohio and bullying? There hasn’t been any evidence to suggest that the shooter was bullied and the kids who were shot were apparently picked at random. In fact, the media is reporting that the shooter was a fairly average student, albeit with some difficulties at home.

    For example, see the below article:


  • John David Galt,

    The Jersey Conservative article links to a fourteen page article in the New Yorker magazine. There are some misconceptions about this case.

    First, there was no spying on Clementi and a 25 year old man identified only as “MB” having sex together. Ravi did use his computer to “look in” on the two men, for approximately 10 seconds total, but the men were not engaged in sexual activity.

    There was no video posted to the web.

    Lastly, Clementi was already “out of the closet.” Ravi knew Clementi was gay before the two had even met. Clementi had “come out” to his friends and his family. (His mother was less than accepting.) The point is that Ravi “outed” Clementi is not true.

    You have heard of “crimes of passion.” This seems to be a “prosecution of passion.” There is a young man who took his own life for an unknown reason so it is easy to focus on what the internet and groups want you to believe – that he was outed, ashamed, pressured, harassed, etc – so he killed himself.

    Certainly Ravi was (and perhaps is) a jerk and a moron of the highest degree. Ravi and Clementi didn’t like each other much and Ravi was more vocal about that dislike. But I suggest to you that across the country, roommates secretly film the other “using the room” all the time. That doesn’t make it right and it is, in fact, a crime.

    But in this case, there is a large canyon to jump to get from Clementi’s death to Ravi causing the death or “pushing” him in any sense. An incorrect internet meme doesn’t help deal with what happened at all.

  • If kids who felt themselves to be bullied knew that the administration was on their side and would listen to their problems (as opposed to taking the cop-out attitude of “well you should handle this yourself”) then there’d be fewer children who drove themselves crazy over mistreatment.

    But hey, I can understand how the people who were the bullies wouldn’t like the idea of policies aimed at them.

  • @John David Galt: That might make some sense, though I think not on the felony level. Being an A##hole is not and should not be a major crime.

    In this instance, though, the young suicide was not outed by Ravi. He had outed himself prior to Ravi’s acts, both to his family and to various groups of friends.

  • If you read the New Yorker story, it states that Tyler was not “outed” as he had already told his parents, and attended a meeting of the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Alliance at the Rutgers.

  • Kalman:

    “The attempt to outlaw human nature is bound to create more harm than good. If laws could make social and interpersonal problems disappear, all we would need to do is pass enough laws and we would have Utopia.”

    That’s pretty much the essential critique of liberalism.

  • Ah, but Lady Gaga and the New York Times see bullying as a “human rights issue.”


    I look forward to the UN High Commission on Milk-Money Shakedowns and After-School Wedgies.

  • I swear I think this is true: people that got bullied in middle school are the first people to swear bullying is no big deal. It is like the abusers become the abused. Someone needs to do a study on this.

  • Random thoughts:

    -Try as you might, you’ll never be able to legislate courtesy and good manners. Attempting to do so just leads both to oppression and the criminalization of average human behaviour.

    -The webcam was turned on because the visitor was not trusted, not because Ravi was trying to catch somebody doing the nasty.

    -At any rate the roommate had already declared himself. There was no secret about his sexual orientation.

    -If the roommate topped himself, there were no doubt deeper issues at play, and not just that the webcam was turned on or a comment was made on Twitter. If indeed a mere, single Twitter would have pushed him over the edge, then he was prepared to pull his own plug at any rate. In other word, it would have happened regardless, Twitter or no.

    -This is really about validation. Any number of outside parties have seized upon this to validate their own agendas, enhance their careers, or salve their sense of guilt and loss.

    -The only real victim here is Ravi, prey as he is to the vicissitudes of political correctness and the sensational headline.

    Just a thought.


  • In regards to him being “outed”, it`s something I believe straight people will never full understand. Yes he had told people, but that was by choice and it was a select group.

    For example, imagine you did something embarrassing and you told your mother or best friend. Does that mean it becomes open to the public? One can follow your line of argument and say “I should be allowed to tell everyone and post it online because you told someone”.

    There is still so much negativity in the media on homosexuality. The fact that it is an issue whether they can marry or not, is ridiculous. With all sorts of news on bashings and bullying, hearing that someone posted your privacy online to any number of people (given the limitless potential of the internet) and risking your safety, the stress is unimaginable.

    Something as trivial as someone tweeting about how small a certain part of your body is, can become something that damages you mentally.

  • Nick,

    Tyler Clementi invited the 25-year old in question over for sex on more than one occasion in his dorm room, a room he shares with a fellow freshman, Dharun Ravi, a few weeks into college. That is not the “closet” in any meaningful sense of the word – and I say this a gay man myself.

    This whole case got so overblown it was ridiculous. So much of it got distorted beyond all recognition. There was no closet, there was no bullying (alienated roommates – yes. Bullying – I don’t see it), there was no sex video, etc.

  • If kids who felt themselves to be bullied knew that the administration was on their side and would listen to their problems (as opposed to taking the cop-out attitude of “well you should handle this yourself”) then there’d be fewer children who drove themselves crazy over mistreatment.

    I’m sorry, DD, I’m still not seeing the connection to the Ohio shootings, where no one is suggesting that anyone was bullied – not the shooter, not the victims, not the bystanders, not anyone.

    But hey, I can understand how the people who were the bullies wouldn’t like the idea of policies aimed at them.

    Nice. Who are you aiming this barb at?

  • So let’s see if I’ve got this: In the ’50s, we mostly expected people to toughen up and take it, or else punch a bully’s lights out; a more fair expectation in some cases than in others, to put it mildly. In the ’80s (when I was a kid), we tried to break the cycle of violence by punishing the bully and the victim equally, if the victim fought back. And this generation’s fad theory is that we’re going to combat the underreporting and under-deterrence of bullying by requiring schools to report each and every instance of bullying, so that kids get something close to criminal records for getting in schoolyard fights. (I’m referring here to legislation that’s currently being rammed through in Delaware, where I live, specifically.) There are things that can be said about the new approach, I suppose, but “it is likely to solve the problem” is not among them. “It is likely to have a lot of negative unforeseen consequences” is.

    Such as, two third graders get in a fight and one uses a racial slur and the other uses a slur referring to homosexuality. They both get reported to the school district and the state for bullying. The social workers who visit the kids’ houses (what, the powers that be aren’t supposed to *investigate* incidents of bullying? then why are they being reported?) then find that their parents have some, er, less than respectable views on the subjects of race and homosexuality respectively. Local news media frenzy ensues. Permute victim groups at will, throw in piquant details (the gay-haters are fundamentalist Baptists, the black-haters own guns, that sort of thing), sit back and watch the group grievance marches. Which is funny until it’s your kid and social workers coming to your house to check up on you.

  • […] mistreatment of eventual suicide victim Tyler Clementi [Independent Gay Forum; earlier here, here, here, […]

  • We are free to choose our associations in most areas of life. A most intimate association, the dorm roommate, is not one where most youth get a choice.
    Find out that your roommate is interested in men the same way you are interested in women, and suddenly the atmosphere is charged for disaster. A university would never randomly assign males and females to the same room for exactly this reason, yet somehow we are supposed to overlook the fact that a very similar sexual dynamic had been created with the gay roommate.
    Could Ravi have received a rapid no fault room mate exchange from the university? Doubtful. Is it any surprize that a juvenile whose hundred closest associates are like minded teens would resort to juvenile behavior.

    Impulsive, reckless, and with little thought for future consequence; Clementi and Ravi are equally well described by this assessment.

  • Makes one wonder if all of these anti-bullying/anti-gay(-black, etc.)-bashing laws really do any good….or are really unconstitutional under not only the right of free speech but also the right of freedom of association (& by extension, the right of freedom FROM association).

    By the way: Was it ever established if Clementi ever met his partner at the partner’s home, or always at Clementi’s dorm room; and/or did Clementi ever ask Ravi if it was all right for Clementi to have the partner stay over night in the dorm room? As was pointed out in at least one article, simple etiquette seems to be to ask the roommate beforehand and not present it as a fait accompli .