Sexual predator Dharun Ravi and his pal Molly Wei really piss me off. I posted Student Who Was Secretly Filmed Having Sex Commits Suicide to Facebook. If you haven’t already joined our conversation, do it now. Reading about Tyler Clementi’s death, one of my readers asked a wider question: “How are we going to keep the cyber community a safe place for our children?” Rabidly online since coding my first website in 1995, I know we need to strengthen laws and get our courts up to speed with technology.
For a moment, pretend the internet doesn’t exist — because, quite frankly, that’s when most laws were written. I could be wrong, but I’d be hard pressed to believe Dharun would’ve placed an ad in his local newspaper, thus broadcasting his plan to create a secret porno of his unwitting roommate. Also, I don’t necessarily believe Dharun would’ve hid in the closet with an old fashion camcorder, filming his roommate so he could burn the tape to DVD, CD or VHS and distribute it. That’s not to say people haven’t done shit like that in the past. My point is this: Had Dharun Ravi done those things, people might more readily consider him a sociopathic sexual predator. Further, criminal punishment might be more stringent and the hard evidence against him would be stronger — that is, a copy of the paid, printed advertisement instead of a deleted Twitter confession. Judges and juries understand newspapers, camcorders and spying. They don’t always understand ustream, iChat and “the Twitter.”
When you strip away the bullshit, what we’re left with is this — Dharun Ravi sexually violated Tyler Clementi by forcing him to unwittingly star in gay pornography, then actively promoted and distributed the footage. I can only imagine Tyler felt raped and violated by the betrayal. Though they haven’t pulled the body from the water yet, his family and witnesses say Tyler Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge. Read Virtual Homicide, Real Suicide. Dr. Keith Ablow is both right and wrong. No, technology isn’t the problem — dehumanizing another human being is. However, he’s correct when he says, “If guilty, Wei and Ravi are killers, though they will never be charged with murder.”
Let’s talk about Dan Savage’s latest project. While I appreciate what he’s done to push sex information out to the public, I disagree with his blame-black-people views on the very real problem of American homophobia. Having said that, I totally commend him for launching his deeply touching It Gets Better Project to combat LGBT teen suicides. LGBT youth are up to four to eight times more likely to consider suicide than their straight peers. In recent years, kids such as 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover and 13-year-old Ryan Halligan have hanged themselves simply because their schoolmates thought they were gay. I give a damn about Tyler Clementi and LGBT youth because I write about sex for straight, gay and otherwise-oriented people. Professional terrain aside, I’m saddened whenever any child or young person kills themselves. What decent fucking human being isn’t?
Image of GW Bridge by Mary. Excerpts of this post originally appeared as a Facebook conversation.
Shout out to Nicky for reminding me to post the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number 1-800-273-8255 as well as info about the Trevor Project for LGBTQ youth in crisis.