One day before the world celebrated St. Patrick, and in the middle of March Madness, a very important and perhaps historic verdict was handed down in a New Jersey courtroom.
The death of a Rutgers college student named Tyler Clementi made national news in September, 2010, for a lot of reasons. For one, Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. For another, he was an openly gay student.
But the biggest reason Clementi’s death became known worldwide is because his freshman roommate at Rutgers, a despicable kid named Dharun Ravi, used a webcam to secretly videotape Clementi having sex with another man. Ravi also sent out messages on Twitter and texted his friends to encourage them to watch.
Disgusting and deplorable, Ravi’s actions sparked nationwide outrage, a wonderful “It Gets Better” series of videos aimed at helping young gay teens, and a criminal prosecution of Ravi under New Jersey laws.
Friday, Ravi was convicted of all 15 charges, ranging from invasion of privacy, tampering with evidence, and bias intimidation. He faces up to 10 years in prison.
I’m sorry but I have ZERO sympathy for Ravi. He knew exactly what he was doing: he wanted to humiliate Clementi, and hold him up to ridicule for all to see. Because Clementi wasn’t like him, and therefore he should be mocked and laughed at.
I’m not naive enough to think that one verdict in a New Jersey courtroom will stop gay bashing in America, or on college campuses. But I am glad that a major cause of Tyler Clementi’s death did not go unpunished.
I am glad that hate-crime laws are being enforced more and more strongly across the country. And I am glad that maybe, just maybe, one verdict may go a long way toward tolerance in America.Z
If you want to know some more background about the two boys involved in the case, including some harrowing details about Ravi’s mindset in doing what he did, the New Yorker magazine’s Ian Parker did a wonderful story about them recently. Check it out here.
**It was a great weekend of NCAA Tournament games, except for a few hours Friday night when I had to watch my beloved Dukies go down to No. 15 seed Lehigh in its opening game. To say I was stunned is an understatement (ask the people at the NYC bar who were watching with me, as I yelled at the TV and paced behind the bar). It’s not that I thought Duke was going to win the national title this year, but to lose in the first round is unacceptable, and fairly inexplicable.
Just one of those years where it just never clicked for Duke, I suppose.
A few other thoughts from a fascinating weekend of games:
— So great seeing Norfolk State score its enormous upset on Friday as well, beating Missouri. And then, after 48 hours of hearing how great they were, they sorta got demolished by Florida. Still, the faces of joy of Norfolk after the win Friday is why I love the Tournament so much. And an interview like this from Norfolk State’s star, Kyle O’Quinn.
— Hell of a weekend for Lehigh. Not only beating Duke, but coming awfully close to beating Xavier on Sunday night, too. Terrific effort from those kids, and I’m wondering how in the world C.J. McCollum, Lehigh’s star, didn’t go to a bigger basketball school.
— Only one true “Cinderella” left in the tournament (VCU nearly pulled off another upset Saturday night, but couldn’t quite do it.) Ohio U. is for real. Two great wins this weekend, and now they play North Carolina without the Tar Heels’ engine, Kendall Marshall, who broke his wrist Sunday. Awful injury and a terrible blow for the Heels.
— Finally, that shirt above was worn by a Kentucky fan this weekend. Dude, it’s been TWENTY years since the Laettner shot. Time to get over it. Y’all have won plenty since then.
**Finally today, sometimes you just have to stop and admire a guy doing what he loves and enjoying himself. I give you this Rutgers University band member… Look at that kid go!