Thursday, September 30, 2010

Secret sex video linked to NJ student's suicide

It is just completely unacceptable to me that any college-age student would think they have a right to invade someone's privacy this way. A life is lost, and for what? The students responsible need to spend time in jail thinking about their actions, and as a society we MUST stop passing judgment on people because of their sexual orientation, or ANY characteristic that cannot be changed.
The death of a Rutgers University freshman stirred outrage and remorse on campus from classmates who wished they could have stopped the teen from jumping off a bridge last week after a recording of him having a sexual encounter with a man was broadcast online.

"Had he been in bed with a woman, this would not have happened," said Lauren Felton, 21, of Warren. "He wouldn't have been outed via an online broadcast and his privacy would have been respected and he might still have his life."

Gay rights groups say Tyler Clementi's suicide makes him a national example of a problem they are increasingly working to combat: young people who kill themselves after being tormented over their sexuality.
A lawyer for Clementi's family confirmed Wednesday that he had jumped off the George Washington Bridge last week. Police recovered a man's body Wednesday afternoon in the Hudson River just north of the bridge, and authorities were trying to determine if it was Clementi's. [...]

Clementi's roommate, Dhraun Ravi, and fellow Rutgers freshman Molly Wei, both 18, have been charged with invading Clementi's privacy. Middlesex County prosecutors say the pair used a webcam to surreptitiously transmit a live image of Clementi having sex on Sept. 19 and that Ravi tried to webcast a second encounter on Sept. 21, the day before Clementi's suicide. [...]

Collecting or viewing sexual images without consent is a fourth-degree crime. Transmitting them is a third-degree crime with a maximum prison term of five years.
The Court should throw the book at these two students.

"The notion that video of Tyler doing what he was doing can be considered a spectacle is just heinous," said Jordan Gochman, 19, of Jackson, who didn't know Clementi. "It's intolerant, it's upsetting, it makes it seem that being gay is something that is wrong and can be considered laughable."

Other students who did know Clement were upset that they didn't do more to help him. "I wish I could have been more of an ally," said Georges Richa, a freshman from New Brunswick.

About 100 people gathered Wednesday night for a vigil on campus. They lay on the ground and chanted slogans like, "We're here, we're queer, we're not going home."

Several gay rights groups linked Clementi's death to the troubling phenomenon of young people committing suicide after being harassed over their sexuality.

On Tuesday, a 13-year-old California boy died nine days after classmates found him hanging from a tree. Authorities say other teens had taunted the boy, Seth Walsh of Tehachapi, for being gay.

Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, said in a statement that his group considers Clementi's death a hate crime.

"We are heartbroken over the tragic loss of a young man who, by all accounts, was brilliant, talented and kind," Goldstein said. "And we are sickened that anyone in our society, such as the students allegedly responsible for making the surreptitious video, might consider destroying others' lives as a sport."
Newspaper columnist and gay rights activist Dan Savage has launched a YouTube channel in an effort to reach out to gay and lesbian youth. His "It Gets Better Project" features video's by lesbian and gay adults who share their stories about harassment and how it does (eventually) get better.

I've been fortunate in that I've not faced a lot of harassment, but then I didn't come out until I was an adult. It's tough for boys and girls who are struggling with coming out. Often they are shunned by their families and friends, and become targets for abuse. Even someone perceived to be lesbian or gay can face harassment and violence. And imagine the challenges faced by transgender women and men.

As I've said before, it's all rooted in sexism. If our culture didn't try and place individuals in such rigid roles it wouldn't matter if a boy wanted to be a cheerleader, or a girl wanted to play on the school football team.


Fran Langum / Blue Gal said...

Amen to everything you said. I wish this would make everybody on Facebook, Twitter, and everywhere else on the internet think about what privacy IS and why we as humans NEED it. So tragic.

Fran said...

What @Fran/BG said... Horrifying beyond words.

Jay said...

This entire story gives me chills. I've read bits and pieces where the victim was thinking of asking to be moved because he didn't feel comfortable with his roommates but felt nothing would be done.
The laws need to change, the bully cowards who did this are facing, at most, five years in prison while the victim leaves people whose lives he touched and people who loved him that will never see him again.
Where's the justice?

BAC said...

Jay, thanks for stopping by. It's been a tough few days for LGBT people. As Ellen said on her program, the death of one gay kid is a tragedy. The death of four in such a short period of time is a crisis.


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