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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dorm Roommate Scapegoat For Tyler Clementi's Suicide

The reality is coming out. Gradually. Tyler Clementi's parents rejected him when he admitted his homosexuality days before he left for college, and weeks before he committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. Too bad this didn't come out soon after young Tyler jumped, when a virtual lynch mob was demanding the prosecution and incarceration of his freshman roommate (later convicted, sentenced and briefly imprisoned).

Some background: Tyler Clementi was the young freshman at Rutgers University whose romantic encounter with an older man was the subject of a webcam broadcast by Clementi's roommate, Dharun Ravi, using Ravi's own computer on Ravi's own desk and in Ravi's own shared room. Political correctness being what it is, the rush to judgment when Clementi killed himself held that it was Ravi's webcam activities that caused Clementi's death. But the law being what it is, that we don't yet consider societial rejection or hurt feelings a crime, Ravi was considered by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office to be someone they had to "get," someone who just "deserved" punishment -- never mind that this is a subjective judgment and that what he did will likely be ruled (upon appeal) to fail to be a crime. Prosecutorial stubbornness being what it is, Ravi was prosecuted for crimes for which a grand jury indictment and actual conviction could be achieved: amorphous and probably unconstitutionally vague "computer crimes."

Ravi was convicted, sentenced (lightly) and earlier this year served a few weeks in county jail. But make no mistake about it -- Ravi was prosecuted and convicted for failing to be insufficiently, eagerly supportive of Tyler Clementi's gayness.

Now we are gradually learning that Tyler Clementi's parents were probably the strongest "reason" for their son's suicide. Too bad they didn't speak up when it counted. Not when Dharun Ravi was being investigated and pressured by prosecutors. Not when Dharun Ravi was indicted and prosecuted, his reputation already destroyed before he was out of his teens. And not when Tyler Clementi was still alive. When it would have made a difference.  

Eric Dixon is an investigative attorney, radio show co-host and political and business strategist and "fixer."

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