New Jersey has more than its share of idiots and assholes. Dharun Ravi is one of them – I’m just not sure which. Probably both, and then some.
Today’s newspapers are filled with the filtered information from the trial and the spin from the Ravi family lawyer but this New Yorker piece published before the trial started gives an in-depth picture of Dharun that reveals him to be an obnoxious adolescent. No, that’s too mild – he’s actually a creep who meant at the very least to make fun of Tyler Clementi for the amusement of others. Then he lied to the police, tampered with evidence and witnesses and then refused a plea bargain because he “was innocent.” Bob Rixon sums it up this way:
He either received bad legal advice or, my guess, he got good legal advice & didn’t take it. He should have taken the plea bargain. I would have said, “Kid, you don’t seem to understand, but they’re going to try to make you the LAST teenager in Jersey who pulls a nasty stunt like this. You alone are Tyler Clementi’s justice.
The kid was convicted on almost everything he was charged with. There’s something off about the charges, though and I’m not the only one who thinks so. I don’t disagree with the idea that he acted in an unwholesome, antisocial manner but I’m not totally on board with all this bullying and cyber bullying focus that everyone is forced to listen to now. This arrogant, unpleasant ass chose the wrong place and the wrong time. Bam – poster boy for hate crimes and bias.
Was he an unmitigated asshole? A Grade A jerk? Yes. Not only did he set up a spy cam the first time Clementi asked for a few hours of privacy, but then a few days later, he scheduled a “viewing party” on his webcam for a group of fellow students and issued an open invitation for his entire chat list.
Was it a hate crime of anti-gay bias? I doubt it. I can see exactly the same behavior if his roommate happened to be a fat girl. If it was a hate crime, it was a non-discrimianting hate crime. This wasn’t the first time he set up remotely activated web cams and not the first time he realized his roommate was gay. The way I see it, he’s guilty of unethical conduct, inhumanity, arrogance, a little bit of technology knowledge and of being a member of a society that is all too eager to hang labels whenever possible.
He’ll pay a price the same way Al Capone paid a price – convicted of a crime but not for the worst thing he actually did. He’ll get 4 hots and cot for a few years and then a free trip back to India where he’ll have plenty of time to ponder the irony of being judged.
This is not meant to minimize in any way the tragedy of Tyler Clementi’s death. I think about his family. How they gathered around a dinner table together and then set about their evening cleanup and relaxed into comfortable chairs in a warm house, unaware of the desperate mental state of their youngest son. That could be any of us. Lots of lives damaged here – Tyler’s family, the unidentified dorm visitor who at the time of the incident was still closeted, the female acquaintance of Ravi’s who turned state’s evidence against him, the Ravi family and Dharun Ravi himself who must live forever with the consequences of the decisions he made.