Monday, May 21, 2012

Judgment Day in Rutgers Spycam Case For Dharun Ravi

Dharun Ravi will find out today just how long he will spend in prison for his complicity in videotaping his Rutgers University roommate Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide shortly after Ravi posted the video online showing Clementi getting intimate with another man.

Ravi was found guilty of bias-intimidation and invasion-of-privacy against Clementi, but curiously some gay rights groups and some notable gays have gone on the record as being opposed to a harsh sentence. Some are rationalizing that what Ravi did wasn't nearly as bad as what others would consider to be hate crimes. They're urging leniency, despite the fact that the prosecution was able to show that Ravi's actions led to Clementi's suicide.
With Mr. Ravi scheduled to be sentenced on Monday, many of them have argued against the prison term prosecutors have recommended. They say that Mr. Ravi is being punished for the suicide of his roommate, Tyler Clementi, although he was not charged in it, and that pinning blame on him ignores the complicated social pressures that drive gay teenagers to kill themselves.

As repugnant as his behavior was, they say, it was not the blatantly bigoted or threatening actions that typically define hate crimes. Some fear that a sentence that overreaches might provide tinder to antigay sentiment — a New Jersey talk-radio host complained soon after the verdict of the “gay lobby” railroading Mr. Ravi.

While Mr. Clementi’s suicide in September 2010 galvanized public attention on the struggles of gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers, the question of how to punish Mr. Ravi has revealed the deep discomfort that many gay people feel about using the case as a crucible. “You’re making an example of Ravi in order to send a message to other people who might be bullying, to schools and parents and to prosecutors who have not considered this a crime before,” said Marc Poirier, a law professor at Seton Hall University who is gay and has written about hate-crimes legislation. “That’s a function of criminal law, to condemn as general deterrence. But I think this is a fairly shaky set of facts on which to do it.”

In an op-ed article in The Star-Ledger of Newark this month, Jim McGreevey, who resigned as New Jersey’s governor after declaring himself “a gay American,” argued that Mr. Ravi’s conviction “showed how far we have traveled from the hateful, homophobic past.”

“The criminal justice system worked, this time for a gay victim,” Mr. McGreevey wrote. “But there was something disquieting about the prospect of retributive punishment being meted out on behalf of a gay young man.”

Mr. McGreevey, who now counsels prisoners, argued that jail time would neither rehabilitate nor send a message. “Perhaps the long trail of gay history inevitably leads to this call for punishment,” he wrote, “but it need not.”
I'm sorry, but this is precisely the kind of case that warrants sending Ravi to prison. He knew, or should have known, that his illicit taping of Clementi would harm Clementi, and that it might have negative repercussions.

McGreevey's response is more than a little troubling. Punishing Ravi is absolutely warranted, and yet McGreevey thinks that this is a retributive punishment to send him to prison that wouldn't send a message nor rehabilitate.

It most definitely sends a message - warning others that the state does not look kindly upon violating the civil rights, and that it will act as a deterrent to others who might consider similar actions.

Ravi's legal team is asking for a retrial, but I really doubt that there are grounds on which to find for Ravi. None of the judge's actions rises to the level warranting a retrial.

The fact is that Ravi has to bear responsibility and culpability for his actions, and he will be spending a good long time wondering how he could do so much wrong.


12:34 p.m. - Dharun Ravi will serve a 30-day jail term, beginning on May 31.

I think that's pretty lenient considering that the judge noted that Ravi showed no contrition at any point for his acts; he never apologized.

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