Monday, May 21, 2012

Tyler Clementi: Dharun Ravi Gets 30 Days in Jail

I posted about what happened to Tyler Clementi here.

And this is what transpired today:

Dharun Ravi was sentenced to 30 days in jail as part of a probationary sentence today for spying on his college roommate with a webcam and writing about what he saw on Twitter.

New Jersey Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman could have given the ex-Rutgers University student up to 10 years for the most serious charges related to the cyber-bullying of his gay roommate Tyler Clementi in September 2010. He was ordered to report to Middlesex County Jail on May 31.

What surprises me about Judge Berman's sentence is the significance of this case in setting a precedent for future cases, especially with respect to online bullying. In other words, will the bullying continue now that the bullies know they won't get a stiff sentence?

I can't help thinking that Martha Stewart got a tougher sentence for doing far less.

And this surprises me the most:

"I do believe he acted out of colossal insensitivity," Berman said.

There are plenty of other insensitive people out there. I hate to think about the message this sentence sends to them.

Do I believe he should have received the full 10 years? No.

But I do think the sentence should have been strong enough to deter others from doing what he did.

And, for the record, this isn't just a gay issue. This kind of bullying is across the board on a much broader scale. I have seen people online bully others to the point of psychological melt downs, on twitter and other social media.

I can't help but wonder if Judge Berman "gets" the magnitude of what happens online nowadays, and how social media like twitter can affect people.


Nithu said...

As a parent, I try to teach my children that their actions have consequences - sometimes far beyond what they intend. It seems to me, that 30 days isn't much of a consequence. Probably, this young man didn't intend for his actions to have such awful consequences, but the fact is, they did; he saw his room-mate as an 'easy target', someone he could humiliate because he was gay. That's never acceptable.

My daughter endured years of bullying at secondary school (not due to her sexuality, btw, she has severe eczema) and it was heart-breaking to watch her self-confidence being eroded, to see my out-going, extrovert girl become withdrawn and introverted. I spent 5 years trailing back and forth to the school trying to get something done about it, terrified that it would break her and I will never stop being grateful that she was strong enough to endure.

Maybe, Dharun Ravi was the straw that broke the camel's back, but if I was his mother, I would be feeling very cheated.

ryan field said...

Bullying comes in many ways, and this goes beyond being a gay issue. It was wrong. And when you reach a certain age you should know the difference between right and wrong. If this guy had shoplifted, or robbed a bank, I'm sure the sentence wouldn't have been this light. I hope the prosecution appeals this ruling as long as it can.

The one thing that really bothers me is this is a fairly new thing. And it's sending the wrong message to other offenders. Right now, as I reply to this comment, someone, somewhere, is being bullied the same way Tyler Clementi was. I don't think the judge was up to date on all aspects of society. I doubt he even knows what twitter or social media is. Because if he did, he wouldn't have ruled this way.