NEW YORK – We lost our minds about the Dharun Ravi verdict. Seriously, we’ve lost our minds. Let me make this simple. What Ravi is and should be guilty of is violating the privacy of Tyler Clementi, a human being. Not a gay man, a man, a student or roommate. But a human being. Judge Glenn Berman was dare I say solomonesque in his 30 days plus paper sentence. The issue should be simply this: did Tyler Clementi have a reasonable expectation of privacy and was his privacy breached by Dharun Ravi?
Dharun Ravi is a jerk. A mean, hateful jerk. But he’s a kid and believe me that means something. But let’s get down and back to reality. First, it matters not whether Ravi hated Tyler because he was straight, gay, zoroastrian or bespectacled? His thoughts, his motivations, his likes, dislikes, phobias, biases and yes, hate, none of that should make any difference in criminal law. Why? Because likes, dislikes, phobias, biases and yes, hate are protected speech, ideas and feelings. If you allow these cases to stand, the next step is to remove the acting out part, the actus reus for you crim 101 fans and just criminalize the idea.
The thought police are ready for their close up, Mr. Demille. Next, to show how absurd this hate and bias and intimidation statute is, let’s look at this situation. Assume arguendo that Ravi wanted to embarrass Tyler Clementi who was straight and was about to be deflowered or lose his virginity with his girlfriend? Same horror and embarrassment, but under this silly pc, touchy-feely statute that would not have been actionable as bias or intimidation. Breach of privacy, eavesdropping, sure. Next, none of this would have gotten the attention it received had Tyler Clementi not committed suicide. And are you telling me that the notion of foresee ability plays no role in this? Did this jerk Ravi ever think for a moment that Tyler would jump off the GWB?
Please, with all due respect to this young man, I realize that suicide is becoming more and more a part of our news and we’re I hate to say perhaps habituating to it, just look recently at Mary Richardson Kennedy hanging herself, but is the suicidal and emotional predisposition of a victim germane at all? Of course it is. But prosecutors will say that Tyler’s suicide played no role in the degree of aggressive pursuit of this case. And I understand why they’d say that.
Next, why would Dharun Ravi ever go on 20/20 and why would his lawyer ever ok that? That was arrogance mixed with insanity mixed with that siren call of the lens. So let this be a lesson to you kids, actions have repercussions. Let’s also revisit and rethink thought crimes and let’s get serious about the suicide pandemic. Nobody won in this case.