So I waited pretty much all day before deciding how I felt about the sentence handed down to Dharun Ravi.
He’s the Rutgers student who used a webcam to watch his roommate kiss another man. The roommate – Tyler Clementi – killed himself a few days later.
The judge sentenced Ravi to 30 days in jail and gave him three years probation. According to an Associated Press article, Judge Glenn Berman said he would not recommend Ravi be deported to India, where he was born and remains a citizen. But Ravi was ordered to get counseling and to pay $10,000 that would go to a program to help victims of bias crimes.
According to the AP article:
The case began in September 2010 when Ravi’s randomly assigned freshman-year roommate asked Ravi to stay away so he and a guest could have privacy.
Ravi went to a friend’s room and turned on his webcam remotely. Jurors at his trial earlier this year heard that he and the friend saw just seconds of Tyler Clementi kissing the guest, who was identified in court only by the initials M.B. But they told others about it through instant messages and tweets. And later, the friend, Molly Wei, showed a few seconds of the live-streamed video to other residents of the dorm. Wei later entered a pre-trial intervention program that can spare her jail or a criminal record if she meets a list of conditions.
When Clementi, an 18-year-old violinist from Ridgewood, asked for privacy again two days later, Ravi agreed — then told friends how they could access his webcam.
But this time, the webcam was not on when M.B. came over. There was testimony both that Clementi unplugged it and that Ravi himself put it to sleep.
The next night, Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge. Jurors learned that he checked Ravi’s Twitter feed repeatedly before his suicide.
After the suicide, gay-rights and anti-bullying activists held up Clementi as an example of the horrible consequences of bullying young gays. Even President Barack Obama spoke about the tragedy.
It seems to me that Ravi has some deep issues of his own. Perhaps he struggles with accepting that some men (and women) are gay and felt some sort of satisfaction out of using the webcam to point it out to others. That’s a bit outrageous to say the least and I think the judge should have (and maybe did) order him to get some sort of counseling.
However, having said that, it seems to me that Clementi likely had some issues as well. It’s understandable how upset he was when his roommate decided to tape his personal encounters with the other man. It’s none of Ravi’s business.
So it seems like this was a roommate pairing that probably never should have happened. But the question is should Ravi be held criminally responsible for Clementi’s death? If so, then it seems like 30 days is somewhat of an insult.
And if not, then give him nothing.
To me it sends a strange message that Clementi’s death is worth only 30 days and probation. People get more than that for stealing gas or shoplifting video games at the box store.
I am guessing that the choice was to send a message without putting the guy away for years.
It was definitely bad judgment on Ravi’s part. No argument.
But either hold him really responsible or not. I think the sentence does more harm than good.
— Andy Hachadorian