The young man writing on the gay chat site was torn: he had discovered that his college roommate had spied on him from another room with a webcam as he kissed a male friend. Should he complain to the school? Would officials assign him someone worse? Or would he simply risk angering the roommate?Some of the posts, confirmed as Tyler Clementi's, are below (see, "Tyler Clementi Turned To A Gay Message Forum For Help Before His Suicide").
After all, the man wrote on Sept. 21, aside from some occasional bad behavior, “he’s a pretty decent roommate.”
The next night, Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University freshman, walked onto the George Washington Bridge and jumped over the edge; the authorities said his roommate had streamed a live Internet feed of Mr. Clementi’s encounter with another man in their dormitory room. Mr. Clementi’s body was identified on Thursday.
The messages in the forums of a porn site appear to have come from Mr. Clementi, a talented violinist from Ridgewood, N.J. The postings show a student wrestling with his rising indignation over a breach of privacy and trying to figure out how best to respond.
In one of his last messages, at 4:38 a.m. on the day Mr. Clementi took his life, the person wrote in a post that the roommate had tried again to catch him on camera the previous night, and had messaged friends to watch online.
He decided to act. “I ran to the nearest R.A. and set this thing in motion,” he wrote. “We’ll see what happens.”
At the Rutgers campus in Piscataway, N.J., where Mr. Clementi, 18, shared a cramped room with Dharun Ravi, students mourned their classmate on Thursday, and some questioned the accusations against Mr. Ravi and another freshman, Molly Wei. The two students, both 18 and from New Jersey, have each been charged with invasion of privacy for using “the camera to view and transmit a live image” of Mr. Clementi.
Under a leaden sky, students debated whether the surreptitious broadcast was a thoughtless prank or a crime. Gay and lesbian students demanded that the university re-examine its policies on bias and bullying, and called for safe housing and other programs.
On Wednesday night, after the start of the university’s two-year campaign to foster courtesy and respect, demonstrators for gay rights got into a screaming match with residents of Mr. Ravi’s dormitory, Davidson Hall, who objected to some of their language. Several students had to be physically separated.
In Trenton, Gov. Chris Christie expressed outrage over the suicide and the events preceding it, saying, “I don’t know how those two folks are going to sleep at night.” And a spokesman for the state’s attorney general, Paula T. Dow, said her office was consulting with Middlesex County prosecutors to see if the evidence supported bringing bias charges, based on the victim’s sexual orientation, that would raise the potential punishment from 5 years in prison to 10.
Mr. Ravi had made references to his roommate’s homosexuality in Twitter posts. Even before they arrived on campus, Mr. Ravi sent a message on Aug. 22 that he had “found out my roommate is gay,” and included a link to JustUsBoys.com.
On Sept. 19, he told his Twitter followers that he had set up a webcam in their room and then watched from Ms. Wei’s room, adding that he saw Mr. Clementi “making out with a dude.”
The postings on the gay chat site last week, reported Wednesday on the Web site Gawker, appear to show Mr. Clementi’s reactions as he read Mr. Ravi’s posts about the camera, and the apparent disdain for his homosexuality.
I'm personally horrified by this. I've been reading around at newspapers and blogs. I haven't seen American Pie, so I can't understand how live-streaming a gay love encounter would be considered funny. Ravi is said to have been offended by homosexuality. I'm not going so far as "hate crimes," since that's simply a tool of leftist agit-prop. (See, "Gay Rights Group Sees Hate Crime Behind Student's Suicide After Sex Video," and "Officials Consider Bias-Crime Charges After Rutgers Voyeurism Victim Commits Suicide"). Still, it's harassment at least, and it's evil. I strongly disagree with Doug Mataconis, who writes:
There really isn’t any big take away from this story, other than the overall sadness of the story.Young Alex Knepper goes the other way, practically blaming Clementi for being web-cammed live:
Everything about this case is totally preposterous.Actually, this is deeply tragic. Alex Knepper needs to grow up a bit (he's only 20, so that explains some of this).
First of all: forgive me if my sympathy runs thin for someone who commits suicide over a sex tape. This taping was surely humiliating and shameful — but in the grand, cosmic scheme of things, it doesn’t even begin to rank as tragic. We have got to be realistic when assessing this event and maintain publicly that humiliation is a preposterous rationale for suicide ...
Then there's Vox Populi, "Gay Rights Killed Clementi":
It was obvious from the start that the orientationally-challenged activists would attempt to blame Clementi's death on his roommate. But the surreptitious filming of sexual activity, while an obvious breach of etiquette as well as the law in some states, is neither uncommon nor tantamount to attempting to destroy someone's life. Nor should the online streaming be considered anything but a joke; American Pie is a comedy, not a horror flick, after all. The problem is not that American university campuses are intolerant of the orientationally challenged, as the subtext of the media coverage suggests, but rather that they are much too tolerant.There's more, but you get the gist. Folks should check the whole link, in any case. These are the most offensive comments I've read. And note something here: I'm a long-time opponent of gay marriage, blogging that issue ad infinitum in 2008-09. Yet I've never attacked gay Americans themselves as evil or fundamentally immoral (although the gay hookup culture is bad news, but that's socially behavioral and not intrinsically personal). I've just argued that same-sex marriage is not a civil right. Beyond that I've argued for expansive civil unions and for state-level referendums on marriage equality. There is a consistent minority of gay individuals of between 3-5 percent internationally, so I normally don't go with the "being gay is choice" line. What I do despise is the neo-communist movement that supports the activist gay policy agenda. And that's primarily what I oppose. So when I read stories like Tyler Clementi's --- which reminds me of Matthew Shepard's --- I get angry at the sheer reckless disregard for others, and I'm calling out Dharun Ravi for his evil premeditation.
It is obvious that Clementi didn't kill himself simply because his actions were made public; as a musician, no doubt he had been filmed before and some of those films may have even been put online. He killed himself because he could not live with the shame of knowing that everyone would be aware of his submission to what he apparently believed to be evil desires. While giving in to our desire for evil is something that we all do from time to time, it is also true that some desires happen to be more shameful or humiliating than others. For example, a man's desire for his neighbor's wife is sinful, but few consider it to be as appalling as his desire for his neighbor's child.
There's a symposium on this at New York Times --- and I think this, from Daniel K. Gelb, strikes something of the tone I'd adopt:
The victim of cyberbullying cannot escape the Internet such a major part of modern life, and the technology affords the bully more tools for harassment (email, instant and text messaging, social networks and mobile media, etc.). Worse, bullies can exploit social networking platforms to gang up on victims. Abusing on these forums can lead to extreme emotional stress and mental anguish, even culminating in the victim committing suicide. The law must evolve to address how our society communicates, promoting proper conduct, and deterring future bullying with a legal means to punish those who cause harm.See also Ellen DeGeneris, "It's Time to End Teenage Bullying":