I’ve waited awhile before I commented on this because the media almost always gets the story wrong originally….That is a story becomes a sensation and the news media in their struggle to frame a message pick a convenient black and white storyline and then shoehorn all the information so it fits this.
An example of this would be Phoebe Prince who committed suicide we are told because and only because of bullying….However, it has been revealed that she had emotional problems dating back to her schooling in Ireland and was disturbed prior to the bullying incidents that occurred in the US.
I say this not to belittle the dead but to show how the narrative gets big stories such as the Kennedy Assassination wrong too all in the quest to make the narrative simple that can fit the viewer’s short attention span.
In the case of Tyler Clementi’s sucide due to this outing allegedly because of the illicit webcamming done by his college roommate Dharun Ravi, the question here is one of intent.
Was Ravi a homophobe who wanted to indulge his hate through this actions or was he just a practical joker? I think the evidence shows the latter….Granted it’s an evil practical joke but according to his friends he always did things like this and would have taped his roommate even if he’d been heterosexual.
The punishment for such a crime should be whatever the appropriate sentencing is for filming someone surreptitiously which is a crime in New Jersey….I don’t believe that this is homicide….Such claims are overreaction….It seems when events like this happen, Americans always look for someone to be guilty, someone to blame and throw their anger at….Sure Ravi is a jerk but I don’t believe he is a murderer.
As for Michelle Wei in whose room he watched the video, I’m not sure what her crime is at all other than giving a friend a place to stay when he was chased out of his room by a roommate seeking to use the room for a tryst.
There is also talk of this being a hate crime which means they will need to show Ravi had a pre-disposition for hating homosexuals as well as the desire to do that….I think that’s going to be very hard to prove
Myself, despite being fairly liberal in a lot of ways, oppose hate crime laws….Why? well any crime against another person meant to be covered by this law- violence, threats etc. is already covered by existing laws that don’t specifically mention race, gender or sexuality….In effect, more punishment is being created for these crimes…. I’m not sure someone being killed for their wallet is any less of a crime than someone being killed for who they are.
But most importantly hate crime laws often have built in restrictions on free speech….For example in Canada one cannot challenge the veracity of the holocaust….Do I support challenging the veracity of the holocaust? No but I certainly believe in someone’s right to so just as I believe the right to burn the US flag, sell pornography showing consenting adults etc.
Hate Crimes are an overreaction for past ills that went uncorrected during less enlightened times in American history….The answer in a country where the staggering ignorance of the tea party gather members steadily is not legislation it’s education and a lot more of it.