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Dharun Ravi Trial: Hate Crime Or Stupidity?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the when-things-overlap dept.

Crime 671

theodp writes "After a 17-month wait, 20-year-old Dharun Ravi went on trial Friday for using a remote webcam to spy on an encounter between his roommate and another man in their Rutgers dorm room. The roommate, Tyler Clementi, killed himself days later, jumping off the George Washington Bridge and igniting a national conversation on cyberbullying and gay teen suicide. Ravi is charged with multiple counts of bias intimidation as a hate crime, invasion of privacy and hindering apprehension; he faces up to 10 years in prison and deportation. Defense lawyers on Friday argued that Ravi's actions were the mark of an ignorant teenager, not a hateful homophobe. 'He may be stupid at times,' said Ravi's lawyer. 'He's an 18-year-old boy, but he's certainly not a criminal.' The New Yorker recently offered an in-depth look at the case and the questions it raises. BTW, this might be a good time for Microsoft to retire that Hallway commercial ('Jason gets stranded in the hallway when his roommate is 'tutoring' lady friends in their dorm room. Luckily, with Windows 7, his laptop can now work like an HD DVR. So Jason can entertain himself while waiting. And waiting. Aaand waiting some more.')."

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first? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164411)

first!!!!

Commercial (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164423)

No question that commercial is moronic, but it doesn't have any relevance to the spying via webcam thing. Timothy's trying a bit too hard to find something to bash Microsoft about this time.

Re:Commercial (5, Insightful)

the simurgh (1327825) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164841)

he admits he set up the webcam to record his roommates sexual encounters to prove he was gay and then set out to tell everyone. he's a guilty of a hate crime as if i were him I'd be glad they didn't put a felony charge on there so they could get try and get him on the victim's suicide.

Re:Commercial (-1, Flamebait)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164895)

He's guilty of a hate crime because he was determine to learn the truth, then told that same truth after he discovered it. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. NOT!!!

FFS, every time a queer sumbitch dies, people find a way to blame a hetero. If two queer lovers committed a murder/suicide, somehow you'd twist it to make heteros responsible.

New classification needed (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164425)

We need a new legal category, Asshole. Beyond Guilty or Not Guilty the Asshole standard would be added after guilt or innocence so we could find someone was Not Guilty but still an Asshole.

Re:New classification needed (3, Insightful)

bhagwad (1426855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164573)

Why should the law or the government get to mandate good manners? Either something is legal or not. The law has to be blind to everything else. The contract I have with society is that I get my rights in return for my taxes and my compliance with the law. There's no mention of "good manners" anywhere.

It's as if two companies have a contract between them and one of them says "Well, in addition to our agreed clauses, it'll also be 'good manners' if you were to do this, this and this. Otherwise you're an asshole" :D

Doesn't make sense.

Re:New classification needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164619)

Why should the law or the government get to mandate good manners? Either something is legal or not. The law has to be blind to everything else. The contract I have with society is that I get my rights in return for my taxes and my compliance with the law. There's no mention of "good manners" anywhere.

It's as if two companies have a contract between them and one of them says "Well, in addition to our agreed clauses, it'll also be 'good manners' if you were to do this, this and this. Otherwise you're an asshole" :D

Doesn't make sense.

Because this is specific to a criminal case. Thus acknowledging that some things may not be crimes but this provides a jury of your peers, or people who couldn't get out of jury duty, to make a finding of assholeness.

Re:New classification needed (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164805)

Filming someone having sex without their consent goes far beyond "bad manners." Bad manners would have been to knock on the door when you knew what was going on, just to interrupt them. Voyeurism, even without filming, is a type of sex crime. Filming makes it worse. Posting the thing on the internet raises it to a whole extra level of violation of privacy and invasiveness.

The amazing thing is that such simple stuff would need to be explained to anyone.

And, "Oh, gee, sorry Officer. I was just being stupid" isn't a defense. It's not a defense when you claim you didn't see the speed limit sign, and it's not a defense when you trample someone's very reasonable expectation of privacy in their own room.

Get a grip, people.

Re:New classification needed (3, Interesting)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164899)

Being an asshole should be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine.

Re:New classification needed (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164695)

The contract I have with society is that I get my rights in return for my taxes and my compliance with the law.

Oh no, you just said that on an American site. You're going to be deluged with strident assertions of inalienable rights and claims that they come from somewhere mystical and not the government. While half the people doing that treat the particular rights listed in their constitution, as interpreted by their courts in conflicting and changing ways down the year, as being, by some strange chance, a perfect representation of those mystical rights that don't arise from laws, oh no, not at all. Let's hope nobody mentions anything about their 'creator'; we could have a complete pileup of Slashdot ideologies.

Re:New classification needed (2, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164919)

In America, we granted the government some rights a couple hundred years ago. Today, government has forgotten who grants rights to whom. The day of reckoning is coming.

Re:New classification needed (3, Insightful)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164723)

I'm fairly certain taking naked video of people in sexual encounters where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy isn't just bad manners, but probably illegal. Especially if you then go and publish said video to the world. I think the only reason this case might be murky is since they were roommates, Ravi had the right to be in the room and didn't have to break and enter to install a camera.

Still, just because you live in a house doesn't, say, give you the right to record people naked in the bathrooms or having sex in bedrooms and pubish that on the internet without their consent. This is illegal by itself. However, I suspect the penalties aren't particularly harsh.

This doesn't address the hate crime angle of things here. Any time you take naked pictures or sexual pictures of people without permission and post them on the internet to mock them, it's awful. If the video showed a naked guy with a small penis, or a girl fucking a horrendously ugly guy, that could be every bit as embarrassing for the small-dicked man or the woman in question as this was for the homosexual man. What makes the crime awful is that the man in question was obviously depressed and emotionally disturbed to begin with, and these actions resulted in so much embarrassment that they led to suicide. So really it's bullying an emotionally fragile person that's awful, not anything specific about the sexual orientations that makes it a "hate crime".

Re:New classification needed (3, Insightful)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164749)

"Why should the law or the government get to mandate good manners?"

Because that's what the law does, of course. What else do you think it does? On the sliding scale of human behavior, from benevolent to benign to malicious, we have a sliding scale of laws from incentives (for benevolent behavior), to no law (for most behavior), to civil fines (for mildly bad behavior), to misdemeanors, to felonies, to capital crimes.

If you aren't an anarchist, then this should be obvious to you.

Re:New classification needed (4, Insightful)

bhagwad (1426855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164857)

If a particular action has no penalty or consequence, then it's meaningless for the government to mention them. And it's arrogance if they do.

Re:New classification needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164921)

All actions have consequences. Otherwise they aren't actions.

Said consequences may not be what your fellow human beings feel are appropriate. Since we are conscious human beings, we can make decisions that the universe does not, for reasons the universe does not, as far as we can tell, care about.

Arrogance? Perhaps, but it's a false pride to assume you can't decide what you want...the trick is, so can others, and they do outnumber you.

Re:New classification needed (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164943)

That is interesting. For me to understand what you mean, could you please name some actions which have no consequences? I can't think of any.

Theoretically, all actions have consequences, which is why we use the words "action" and "reaction" in physics. Every action has a reaction, and all of that.

But of course you didn't mean that literally or scientifically -- you meant 'action' and 'consequence' in the human-social sense. Nevertheless, the only "action" I can think of which doesn't have a consequence even in the social, colloquial sense of the words, is perhaps pure thought. Surely you couldn't possibly assert that making an unauthorized sex video of a roommate and posting it on the internet has no consequences, so help me understand what you really do mean.

Re:New classification needed (1)

garaged (579941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164975)

Actually good maners are included in laws too, you are evaluated by a company before you get hired, they have the right to profile you maners and rule you out just because of your maners, and there is nothing you can do legally to force them to hire you.

And that is just an example, many more can be found, even some with cars included on the topic

Re:New classification needed (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164589)

That already exists, its called civil court after the fact. Remember what happened to OJ?

Re:New classification needed (4, Interesting)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164731)

In Scotland we have three possible judgements - Guilty, Not Guilty and Not Proven.

The latter can basically be interpreted as "Not guilty - and don't let us catch you at it again!"

Whom to blame (3, Insightful)

Elixon (832904) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164845)

I am sure that he didn't jump because he was videotaped by one asshole. It was most probably that he feared the reaction of others when it leaks... the reason was the homophobic society rather then one particular guy. I would say that the society's attitude killed him. What would be the label for the society then?

Re:Whom to blame (2, Insightful)

ewwhite (533880) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164939)

Santorum, Bachman, etc...

Re:Whom to blame (-1, Troll)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164951)

I'm more influenzaphobe than I am homophobe. Actually, I'm not very phobic at all, just trying to put things in perspective here. I ain't scared of the flu, but I don't want to catch it. I ain't scared of homos, but I don't want them around me. Now, tell us about your phobias, alright?

Can't be a hate crime (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164453)

He's not the right color.

Hate crimes... (2, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164461)

The "great" thing about hate crimes laws is that you can never have too many of them. There are so many minorities and victimized groups out there, and we can always use the media to create new ones. The perfect way to tack a few extra years onto a prison sentence and fatten the wallets of the prison industry's investors.

Re:Hate crimes... (0, Troll)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164481)

The funny thing is, all crimes against another person are hate crimes. Putting a special label on them is stupid and obtuse. But you've got to make the hug and run liberal establishment feel better over it, feelings have to be considered and guilt reconciled. Instead of treating a terrible criminal act, as a terrible criminal act and applying a harsh penalty.

Re:Hate crimes... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164495)

At the same time, what this evil bastard did needs punishing.

Re:Hate crimes... (2)

Luke727 (547923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164685)

That's ultimately the crux of the situation. This guy is obviously a grade-A asshole, but did he actually commit a crime? If the victim did not kill himself would this situation have blown up like it did? Personally I don't think so. It's a tragic story, and I would like this guy to be punished in some manner, but as far as I can tell no crime was actually committed. Trying to shoehorn it into something covered by hate crime legislation is just a desperate grasp for justice. There was a similar story a while ago about some sick fuck of a woman humiliating a girl on Facebook to the extent that she ended up killing herself. There was no way to fit that into hate crime legislation and if I recall correctly the woman ultimately did not end up in any legal trouble.

Re:Hate crimes... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164849)

At the same time, what this evil bastard did needs punishing.

and what was that, exactly? Record someone having sex and put it online? Charge him for that, and give him an appropriate time in prison. Hate crimes and murder? People commit suicide all the time, should someone's boss face jail time because the guy he fired killed himself?

And this isn't a "hate crime", this is a "WTF MY ROOMMATE'S GAY?!" You're 17, you're in your college dorm, and you suddenly find out the man sleeping in the bed next to you likes men. Mind. Blown.

Misanthrope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164543)

Shhhhhhh! The politicians may add a law that says misanthropy is a hate crime. So any assault, battery, murder etc ... will get an extra charge of a "hate crime".

I know a guy who punched out someone who got nose to nose to him and was yelling obscenities at him. Long story short, for every punch that he landed, it was a separate assault and battery charge. He landed quite a few.

He "cut a deal" where he was charged with only one assault and battery.

With that mentality in the "justice" system, if you unloaded a clip of 9mm into someone, you'd be charged with 15 counts each of assault, battery, attempted murder, murder, homicide, disturbing the peace, discharging a weapon in city limits, etc .....

Re:Hate crimes... (4, Insightful)

digitalaudiorock (1130835) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164545)

Bull-fucking-shit. The vast majority of crime is all about money or some other gain and has nothing to do with hate at all. These guys outed this guy in a huge public way, knowing full well the stigma associated with all of it, and knowing full well it could ruin his life. "hug and run liberal establishment"??...what the fuck does that even mean?

Re:Hate crimes... (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164563)

It probably means they hate queers too, and think this guy's actions were just a-okay.

Re:Hate crimes... (2, Informative)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164659)

According to Rick Santorum, you can just stop being gay [deathandtaxesmag.com] , so this guy brought it on himself!

Re:Hate crimes... (3, Insightful)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164591)

"all crimes against another person are hate crimes"

No, they aren't. You should stop making that a part of your thinking, because it is wrong.

Re:Hate crimes... (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164757)

You should really go study your criminology. Your thinking is wrong. Crimes are motivated by a persons mindset? Yes. All crimes against a person are motivated by their hate against another person, the only differences are how aggrieved they are against the other party.

Re:Hate crimes... (4, Insightful)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164869)

You have equated "crimes are motivated by a mindset" with "all crimes are motivated by hate". To do so is to equate thinking, with hating. That is wrong, so wrong that I have to assume you didn't really mean it (except that you've said it twice now). As so many others have pointed out, most crimes are motived by things other than hate, such as greed. So I assume you are trying to equate "a criminal feeling greed" with "a criminal hating a person who has what the criminal wants". Is that what you are trying to do? If so, then I have to disagree strongly. To do so would be to reject many ways of distinguishing hate from other forms of thought.

Re:Hate crimes... (4, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164987)

We are starting to get into the idea that there are different sorts of hate and different degrees of it. Hate against a protected class (say, a minority) is a different level of hate under this thinking. Clearly different from the sort of hate that many African Americans have against white people because they have been brought up to believe that all white people are slavers and want nothing more than to re-enslave the black race.

No, sorry, you don't get to do that. Hate is hate. It is a destructive emotion but it is little more than emotion. Once we start prosecuting hate we are a short way away from prosecuting "conservatism" which to many is far more destructive than hate. Any internal throught process is then fair game regardless of its expression in actions. As much as I would like to prosecute Pollyanna-ish liberals for their beliefs in a "go along to get along" world, it is not the way to organize a society unless one is actively striving for 1984. Because if it were possible to do such prosecutions, you can bet it would be fashionable to prosecute all sorts of undesirable attitudes or the "wrong sort of thinking."

Once you start prosecuting people for what they believe, trouble is bound to follow. And by definition "hate crimes" are clearly prosecuting someone for what they believe or are thinking.

If you want to make the world safe for homosexuals, the place to start is not with what people are thinking but what they are doing. Simlarly, if you want to make the world safe for Jews "enhancing" sentances for swastica-painters because of what they believe is not the right way to do it. Instead, increase the penalties for external actions - like painting a swastica - which is something at least everyone can see.

Re:Hate crimes... (3, Informative)

C0R1D4N (970153) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164599)

not quite. The point of hate crimes is to distinguish a heated argument in a bar leading someone to punching the other assault and a guy cornering someone in alley and beating the shit out of him cuz of his race or perceived orientation/religion/etc.

One of those deserves just having the cops splitting them up and the other jailtime.

Re:Hate crimes... (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164753)

One of those deserves just having the cops splitting them up and the other jailtime.

Really? Why does one deserve jailtime and the other does not? Why do only some victimized groups get this special protection? Do you see WoW "nerds" getting special protection from bullying, the way homosexuals do?

Hate crimes laws are another way to increase our prison population, without being as overt as the war on drugs. The pattern is familiar: first, the media lets everyone know about the terrible things being done to some particular group; then people lobby for that group to be included in hate crimes laws, with the media pointing to the progress being made by such lobbying; then the laws are amended so that another group receive this special protection. Meanwhile, society goes on victimizing other groups, using various slurs and expressions, and ignoring their plight -- people say they were "gypped" all the time, but nobody bats an eye at it (now imagine if someone said they were "nigged").

Now homosexuals are the victim group de jour, and in 20 years it will be another group. The great thing is that the media can actually seed hatred for a group, then return decades later to talk about the plight of that group (sometimes without even stopping their own encouragement of the hate). While the media was trumpeting the progress of laws to protect black people, it was simultaneously stoking the flames of fear and hatred by portraying black men as dangerous criminals. The media keeps telling us that we should respect homosexuals and treat them like everyone else...and then portrays gay men as particularly effeminate or somehow not being as masculine as straight men.

If you dare question the special legal treatment of homosexuals, you are a homophobe -- and in a particularly ironic twist, you might be accused of being a closet homosexual (by the same people telling you not to harass people for being gay). Naturally, the opinion of a homophobe on these topics is totally irrelevant, whereas the opinions of someone arguing to lock homophobes in prison for long periods of time are important to the conversation.

That, in a nutshell, is the problem here. We are not addressing the problem (the victimization of particular groups), we are just expanding the size of the prison population. Hate crimes laws are worse than knee-jerk reactions: hate crimes laws have been carefully planned out.

Re:Hate crimes... (1)

C0R1D4N (970153) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164821)

Hate crime prosecution may be applied unfairly but the law itself is not. Blacks beating up a white should be treated just as harshly as vice versa. Motive for crime should absolutely be considered when deciding sentencing. Stealing bread to feed your family doesnt deerve the same punishment as shoplifting a louis vatton purse.

Re:Hate crimes... (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164949)

Blacks beating up a white should be treated just as harshly as vice versa

Just like non-nerds beating up nerds. The crime is beating someone up; what difference does it make if it was motivated by hatred of a person's race as opposed to their lifestyle, hair color, academic success, or any of dozens of other reasons that people beat each other up? The problem with hate crimes legislation is that it unfairly labels some forms of hatred as being categorically worse than others, and that this labeling is almost always politically motivated.

Re:Hate crimes... (1)

superdave80 (1226592) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164795)

So, some drunk idiot decides to punch me at a bar because he just likes to start fights, but since I'm white, it's not so bad? My nose is just as broken as the gay guy that got punched for being gay.

Re:Hate crimes... (1)

C0R1D4N (970153) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164885)

The drunk and you should be separated and he should be liable for the damage. Color is irrelevant in the situation. My point is that motive is important to determining sentencing and a targeted hate attack is a worse degree than being a drunken idiot.

Re:Hate crimes... (4, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164617)

The funny thing is, all crimes against another person are hate crimes.

No, they're not.
The difference between a "crime" and a "hate crime" is intent.

There is an enormous difference between
A) killing someone by accident (manslaughter)
B) killing someone during the commission of a crime (murder)
C) killing someone because they are different from you (murder + hate crime enhancement)

Again, hate crimes are about intent. They are usually based on skin color, gender, sexual orientation, or country of origin.
Our legal system does not always apply the law equally to all groups, but the law itself is neutral.
If you look at the history of hate crime law, these crimes would create tension and cycles of retaliation in neighborhoods.
There are strong reasons behind enhancing the punishment for certain crimes over others.
Maybe some day we won't need those laws, but America is still struggling with basic things like equality for all.

Re:Hate crimes... (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164739)

Those are aggravating circumstances. Not intent.

intent is often important (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164803)

You do have a good point, murder/manslaughter is a good example. Hate crime legislation is one of many examples of considering the offender's intent. some people who oppose hate crime legislation seem to be confused on this point.

Re:Hate crimes... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164621)

First, I suspect that you are wrong and most crimes are motivated by greed rather than hate. Someone robbing a store doesn't usually hate the owners, he just wants their stuff. The point of a hate crime, however, is not that it is motivated by hate, but that it is motivated by hate of a group, rather than an individual. The question that determines whether something is a hate crime is whether the criminal would have committed the same crime if the victim had been another member of the same group, but would not if it had been a member of a different group. For example, if you beat up a gay person because you hate him, this is not a hate crime. If you beat him up because you hate gays, it is. In the first case, the victim was chosen because of your personal relationship. In the second, you could have substituted any other homosexual and the crime would still have taken place. It's not a difficult concept to grasp. Well, unless you are a member of the judiciary, apparently...

Re:Hate crimes... (5, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164645)

The funny thing is, all crimes against another person are hate crimes. Putting a special label on them is stupid and obtuse.

Actually, "hate crime" is a serious misnomer, and it leads to misunderstandings like this. "Hate crimes" aren't crimes of passion; they're more akin to *treason* because they're crimes against liberty.

Suppose you roll into town for the KKK meeting, and you pick out a black family's house at random for a cross burning. You have nothing in particular against the people living in that house. Although you're a racist, it doesn't even mean you can't have *cordial* relationships with individual blacks *as long as they stay in their place*. So the cross burning isn't particularly directed to the people living in the house. It's a message to *everyone*: *I* get to decide who lives where. *I* get to decide how you worship God. *I* get to decide what opinions you can express.

And anyone who doesn't play by *my* rules had better look out.

This gets complicated because these crimes often mixed with personal hatred; that's the reason for the misnomer. When you lynch a black guy for dating a white woman, you surely have *particular* hatred directed at that man. But you're also saying "*I* get to decide who sleeps with who," and *that's* the part of your act that's crime against liberty. The intention isn't just to hurt the man you hate, but to strike fear into anyone who doesn't live the way you think they should.

Re:Hate crimes... (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164691)

It really is just brownie points for voters to notice. The absurdity of a hate crime is that it can/will be relegated to every violent crime.Picture:
"I F**KING LOVE YOU [stab,stab,stab] We don't spend enough time talking{ Biff,Kick} Let's get a beer{shoots kneecap] ". Doesn't work does it.
Literally any thing/one you attack in an overflow of anxiety is going to end up a hate crime. Then hate will be a crime. Doubleunplusgood ,quack.

Re:Hate crimes... (-1, Flamebait)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164509)

My favorite new minority is dickhead internet posters who make absurdly broad generalizations which don't even have the benefit of being premised on a nugget of truth.

Re:Hate crimes... (0)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164747)

My favorite new minority is dickhead internet posters who make absurdly broad generalizations which don't even have the benefit of being premised on a nugget of truth.

And how fucking delicious that you have been modded "FlainBait" by the /. Group Think... Perfect!

Re:Hate crimes... (0)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164787)

/. has no shortage of people stuck in group think mode. What's worse is they haven't figured out that -1 flamebait isn't "I disagree" rather it's "-1 I'm an intellectual coward."

Re:Hate crimes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164775)

I have several issues with hate crime legislation:

1. It's not clear what the rationale is for punishing crime motivated by a certain list of characteristics far more severely than crime motivated by other things. Specifically:

1.1 Why this list? Is it because they are "born" and not "chosen"? That's an extremely anti-deterministic viewpoint. If you're born into an upper middle class suburban family, you can say that getting a nice car is "born" as well. If someone stabs you because they hate your car, aren't they stabbing you because they hate something you're born into?

1.2 Why punish them more harshly? Is it because the pain felt is stronger? In that case, base all sentences on the pain felt more than anything. Or is it to discourage crime? So the rationale everyone agrees on is that more strict punishment leads to less crime?

2. The process of determining whether characteristic X was a motive must by necessity be highly arbitrary. The only thing you can really base it on is the words being spoken. So whether someone is guilty of a hate crime or not depends completely on whether someone overheard one of the magic words during the incident. Then a subjective view by the judge whether this word was just incidental: "beat up the guy, oh by the way, he is catholic" or "beat up the catholic guy" or "beat up the guy because he is catholic".

3. A big part of the rationale seems to be that minority groups must be protected. But that's completely flawed. The way they determine a "minority group" seems to be on a national basis, according to some astral karmic theory of adding together everyone in each group and their respective resources, and anyone who have lived in the past, and then pitting the groups against each other to see who is strongest.

But in reality, which group is strong or weak depends _extremely_ on the individual situation. In big schools the only determinants of strong and weak is numbers and ability to beat up people. If an area is primarily inhabited by people of one ethnicity, then anyone else is by the same definition a weak minority that needs protection. Sure, you can agree racism is institutionalised, but if you don't have any of those resources available to you, then they count for absolutely zero. Applying a nation-wide minority calculation on any individual micro-situation is therefore totally wrong. If it matters whether someone is a minority, then you need to assess each situation to see who the minority was right there and then.

Re:Hate crimes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164791)

This case has a new level. People are destroyed in public over the internet. I hope that guy gets a hard punishment. He is responsible for the death and did it intentionally.

So he's a kid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164469)

But you gotta teach him that kinda spying isnt really cool bro, you are gonna have to teach him to give something back that's hard work, so there isnt a next time na i mean ?.
make him help his community, make him look after the kerb edges in his neighbourhood, make him realize doing good is usually easier than doing bad.

Rutgers alumni here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164489)

I was around when this happened. His main offense was not that he spied on his gay roommate, but that he posted the video on twitter.

Re:Rutgers alumni here (1)

Jiro (131519) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164635)

According to TFA, he didn't post the video on Twitter. He posted a message.

At any rate, I would say that if you want to punish him for causing the death, then do that. If you don't think you can prove he's guilty of that, then don't punish him for it.

It seems like what the court is doing is officially claiming they are trying him for spying and not for causing the death, while in fact they're trying him for causing the death. That's an end run around the fact that they can't prove him guilty, and doing so is a perversion of justice, even if he is a creep.

Nope, he's a criminal. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164497)

'He may be stupid at times,' said Ravi's lawyer. 'He's an 18-year-old boy, but he's certainly not a criminal.'

Even if you drop the hate crime part, he's still nailed for invasion of privacy and hindering apprehension. He'll still go to prison and then he'll be deported. Alas, your client has screwed the pooch and will now be screwed in return.

Somehow (4, Insightful)

bytesex (112972) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164511)

I don't think that the action (suicide) is warranted by the crime (published observation). Don't get me wrong - it's a totally creepy thing to do, and it's not up to me to judge what motivates anyone, but if *that's* what it takes for you to commit suicide, well, then you've got other problems ahead of you.

Re:Somehow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164679)

When that person spreads video of you engaging in a sexual activity in what is assumed to be a private sphere, then it is not just 'published observation'. He explicitly set up a camera to spy on his roommate in order to catch him engaging in sexual activity and then distributed it.

Re:Somehow (2, Insightful)

metlin (258108) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164699)

Indeed. Let's be honest -- most of us have done immature and "jerk"-ish things as teenagers. To be honest, I was perhaps a bit of an ass in school and college.

Now, looking back, while that may certainly have been reprehensible, I would have been appalled if my actions were to push someone over the brink.

I feel bad for the kid who committed suicide, but it sounds like he had other problems, and this was just one of the factors (one of the proverbial straws, perhaps).

Reading some of the IMs, it sounds like Dharun wasn't really a homophobe -- if anything, he was just being a curious teenager, and perhaps a bit of an ass. But while you can debate the technicalities of privacy violations (which would be weird, because technically, it's also Dharun's room), tacking on the labels of hate crime and murder is just using the law to set a deterrent, and punishing someone to an extreme (unjustly so) to placate some groups and make an "example" of a poor kid's life. Hell, by that extension, Tyler's mother should be the one tacked as an accessory, because she certainly played a role in making her son feel unwanted.

Re:Somehow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164913)

Where he stops being a curious teenager and starts being an asshole is the point at which he decided it would be okay to post the video he made.

Re:Somehow (2)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164801)

Most of us agree that suicide is rarely warranted by any but the most extreme circumstances. Of course, suicide is especially terrible because it is obviously unwarranted, from the viewpoint of those of us who aren't suicidal. I think that's the crux of the issue: some people taunt and bully the suicidal, because they don't share the human empathy the rest of us feel for that kind of person. Thus, to drive a suicidal person to suicide is so disgusting, that we have crimes for it.

News For Nerds (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164515)

What the fuck does this have to news for nerds whatsoever? I'll tell you the answer: nothing.

Stay in your lane, slashdot. This site is turning to shit with irrelevant articles like this.

Re:News For Nerds (5, Insightful)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164553)

What does this have to news for nerds whatsoever? I'll tell you the answer: nothing.

Actually, many of us nerds were bullied in school. I, for one, was bullied and appreciate hearing society put some pressure on bullies. This very egregious example of bullying deserves the light of day.

Re:News For Nerds (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164607)

Yup, I was bullied too. I'll wager a fair proportion of us were. There have been a number of examples over the last few years in North America of bullying leading to suicide. I've seen others who weren't just bullied, but were subject to campaigns of abuse and violence, and all the while school administrators turned away and let it happen.

Re:News For Nerds (0)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164767)

Actually, many of us nerds were bullied in school. I, for one, was bullied and appreciate hearing society put some pressure on bullies. This very egregious example of bullying deserves the light of day.

Perhaps you should lobby for an expansion of hate crimes laws, so that they cover "nerds" as well.

Re:News For Nerds (1)

NEW22 (137070) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164773)

Does it deserve 10 years in jail for spying on 2 guys kissing? I'm not even sure I would call this incident bullying. Possibly it could be, but it sounds more like someone was shocked and curious, like someone who comes across a juicy diary that shows entries to their friends. It sounds like something that probably deserves a punishment a little harsher than whatever a peeping tom gets, but less than you'd get for passing a non-consensually recorded sex tape around.

Re:News For Nerds (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164615)

"What the fuck does this have to news for nerds whatsoever?"

It was a crime committed on the internet having to do with themes important to nerds, such a free speech and bullying. Have you been reading Slashdot long enough to remember the Hellmouth series? I assume you have not, because if you had you would instantly know why this is news for nerds.

Re:News For Nerds (1)

ewwhite (533880) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164837)

I think it's relevant because the story played itself out on social media (Twitter, Facebook) and involved *scary* technology like webcams! Note how many people still use the term "videotape" in describing the events of this story...

Of course (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164517)

Of course he's a criminal. The "invasion of privacy" charge is as obvious as it gets - it doesn't matter that it was his room as well, if he wasn't there and he hadn't told his roommate about the camera it is invasion of privacy.

Re:Of course (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164925)

So had he walked in in an intimate moment, that would have been an invasion of privacy as well?

Where is the evidence of hate-based intimindation? (1, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164527)

I've read a few articles about this, and it's clear that Ravi did invade upon Tyler's privacy, and should be punished for it. But I haven't seen any evidence presented that he bullied or intimidated Tyler, let alone did so for homophobic reasons. Either the prosecution is saving it for the trial, or the DA is trying to make an example with bullshit charges (probably to look tough on cyberbulling leading up to an election year).

Re:Where is the evidence of hate-based intimindati (0, Flamebait)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164577)

He posted the video of Tyler having gay sex on a website "for all to see and mock", and did (in fact) see and mock the video himself.

Re:Where is the evidence of hate-based intimindati (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164777)

Oh ThorGod, please don't lie. Ravi didn't make any sex tapes, nor did he post any videos. Read the article before accusing people of such crimes.

Re:Where is the evidence of hate-based intimindati (2)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164601)

Yeah, that's my take on it too; the invasion of privacy charges ought to be a slam-dunk, but the bias intimidation charges are there only because Tyler killed himself and Something Must Be Done.

oh pelase are you blind ? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164611)

Knowing the US society at large is still quite homophobic, at least to a great part, do you REALLY think that outting a male making out with anotehr male has no homophobic connotation ? It would have gone nowwhere if it was two hetero, and chance is that the guy would not have published it or the hetere male would simply have garnered brownie point. But you have to be utterly blind to not see that outting homo male , was done with the intention of damage. It usually *always* is.

Re:Where is the evidence of hate-based intimindati (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164633)

"I haven't seen any evidence presented that he bullied or intimidated Tyler"

Well, you and I aren't jurors for this trial, but the evidence is (will be) that he posted a video of the kid having sex, on a public website. You haven't heard about that? I'm surprised to hear you say you haven't heard about that, seeing as how it's sort of the entire point of the story.

Re:Where is the evidence of hate-based intimindati (4, Informative)

C0R1D4N (970153) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164651)

Pretty certain when he put the stream up he said something like "the faggot is doing it again" his motive was well established.

Also he asked fora new roommate cuz he didnt wanna room with a gay

Re:Where is the evidence of hate-based intimindati (1)

walkerp1 (523460) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164969)

I haven't seen any evidence presented that he bullied or intimidated Tyler, let alone did so for homophobic reasons. Either the prosecution is saving it for the trial, or the DA is trying to make an example with bullshit charges (probably to look tough on cyberbulling leading up to an election year).

Perps will often be charged with a core set of charges accompanied by any BS that can be loosely tied to the case but not proved. The BS is useful for scaring a plea and will ultimately be dropped as an incentive. The hate crime charge here appears to be BS from TFA. I predict a swift plea accompanied by a swifter deportation.

I know they're defense lawyers, but... (2)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164565)

18 years old != "boy", except in the colloquial sense.

Re:I know they're defense lawyers, but... (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164655)

So... what you are saying is that 18 years old means "boy", colloquially. So then, what is your complaint? Do you think people should stop using colloquial speech? That's a pretty tall order.

Privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164567)

Forget the sexual orientation issue for a moment. If one person can violate another person's privacy like Mr. Rhavi did, then any person (Google, etc.) can. We need laws to protect our privacy.

I think Ayn Rand would have gone absolutely (and impotently) batshit if somebody would have done this to her.

Re:Privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164789)

Ayn Rand would have stood up for the owner's right to use his own laptop's camera to whatever the Owner desired. The Owner's right is A, and A is A. Thus, John Galt spoketh.

Commercial? What? (1)

guises (2423402) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164585)

In what way is that commercial related to this story, and why was that included in the summary? Is it the fact that teenagers have sex? Or that people have roommates? Or that computers... exist?

Re:Commercial? What? (1)

Ironchew (1069966) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164697)

My guess is that the submitter felt a non-sequitur about Microsoft was necessary to get this submission accepted on Slashdot. Either that, or it was some not-so-clever shilling.

Cyberbullying is not OK. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164643)

Most of the arguments defending the accused, Dharun Ravi, center around the point that "yes, he was insensitive, but was he really homophobic, and in any case, it was just a prank gone too far---is it really worth it to ruin his life?"

But people, wake-up, Tyler Clementi's life is OVER. His family's life is DESTROYED.

Yes, he was perhaps overly sensitive---gay kids usually are, because it's still not easy to be gay.

The simple fact is that today, teenagers are not mature enough to handle the nuclear bomb that is social networks---bullying is bad, but cyber-bullying takes it to a whole other SCALE. Mistakes are not acceptable when you're dealing with someone's life. What needs to be clear is that cyber-bullying, whether it is based in homophoby or just out of some misguided idea of what fun is, can have DIRE consequences. So it should be strongly discouraged.

Parents should raise their kids to never, ever, cyber-bully, because they might get to jail. Right now, it's just a "it's not my problem", and "it's just kids having fun", and it will continue to be so as long as we don't put the foot down.

Cyber-bullying has got to be consistently convicted before people, parents especially, wake up and educate their children. You can't eternally pass the buck.

Get over yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164831)

" Tyler Clementi's life is OVER. His family's life is DESTROYED."

Yeah, well, he was screwed up in the head.

If it wasn't this, it would be his double espresso wasn't prepared properly.

"Yes, he was perhaps overly sensitive---gay kids usually are, because it's still not easy to be gay."

No, he was just screwed up. He was 99% ready to off himself. This was just the other 1%. The final nudge. But like I said, it could be that somebody cut him off in traffic that would've been the final trigger.

Sad Story (1)

wes5550 (1911966) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164661)

I read the entire New Yorker feature, and it left me feeling sad for both of them. Yes Rhavi is an asshole, but I pity him too. The saddest part of the whole story is that had they just talked to each other a couple of times, the whole thing would have been avoided. - also, I think everyone on this board would benefit from reading that New Yorker article, the amount of digital records the author had access to is disturbing.

Egads (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164663)

Way subtle to slip in a windows ad there, boyo. Nevermind the blatant lies; software (and certainly theirs) doesn't magically a HR DVR make. New hardware implied needed with the software? Class action! Require new hardware subsidy. Instead of a vendor tax. Sheesh.

Wrong questions.. (4, Insightful)

pablo_max (626328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164703)

I cannot dispute that this guy is a complete asshole and should certainly be punished in someway. Deported at a minimum. Not so sure about prison though. I have a hard time believing he envisioned the room mate killing himself. Either way, he gets to live with that.

For me, the real question is fundamental. Why, in the modern "free" world does being outed as a homosexual cause one to prefer suicide rather than live with the shame?
As a society, would it not be better to address such a fundamental social problem than to simply treat the symptoms?

Re:Wrong questions.. (-1, Troll)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164873)

I cannot dispute that this guy is a complete asshole and should certainly be punished in someway. Deported at a minimum. Not so sure about prison though. I have a hard time believing he envisioned the room mate killing himself. Either way, he gets to live with that.

For me, the real question is fundamental. Why, in the modern "free" world does being outed as a homosexual cause one to prefer suicide rather than live with the shame?
As a society, would it not be better to address such a fundamental social problem than to simply treat the symptoms?

because it would be cruel to put blame on the parents and educators of the teen who killed himself. apparently.

Color of Jason's eyes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164719)

Color of Jason's eyes?

Beer bottle brown.

Too much rimming for that guy.

Fine line... An examination of online culture... (5, Interesting)

ewwhite (533880) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164817)

I've followed this case with interest mainly because it seemed to be a perfect storm. The timing coincided with highly-publicized teen suicides and increased focus on (cyber) bullying. The initial media reports implied the existence of a "sex tape", an outing and broadcast video. There was a terse suicide status update posted on Facebook. It tapped into people's fears about and unfamiliarity with technology. The mystery surrounding the older hookup, M.B. (that part of the story really didn't seem to be examined) Perhaps the story resonated with me because I remember pranks like this in my college years... It's interesting to see lives ruined today over something I would have potentially done or experienced when I was younger.

Reading through the New Yorker article and other accounts since the incident, it seems that Dharun Ravi's actions and tone were consistent with how kids interact with each other these days. Being jackasses online, boasting to his peers and just juvenile behavior. But isn't that reflected in popular culture (Reality TV, Tosh.0, TMZ, etc.)? He and Tyler did not communicate well, and I think those soft-skills are missing among today's youth. In a world of tweets, Facebook, blogs and other online communities, we also leave quite a trail... Maybe that's the biggest lesson here. Neither of them seemed to have a filter. Unprotected Twitter accounts, posting openly in webcam/porn/sex communities, bringing an older hookup back to the dorm... I think there needs to be more education about maintaining your online identity.

As to the case, it seems as though Tyler was troubled long before college. There was a mention of his fascination with the G.W. Bridge, as well as issues coming from a conservative family life. Maybe Ravi's actions had no influence on Clementi's suicide. There's a bit of immaturity on both sides as well. I think "sexiling" your roommate multiple times so early in the school year, is extremely disrespectful. That goes regardless of sexual orientation. I had roommates in college who brought questionable partners home for hookups. But we at least had an understanding, and it was certainly after we had a chance to get to know one another. But maybe Tyler was experimenting and taking advantage of his relative freedom? There's no harm in that, but it illustrates more about his home and family life than anything else.

The webcam angle also seems overblown. Dharun was most-likely venting about being booted from the room, but relishing the fact that the drama provided a attention/bragging opportunity. He may have also been trying to demonstrate his tech-prowess. But as the New Yorker article referenced, there was "no posting, no observed sex, and no closet."

Homophobic? Hate crime? I don't think so. I just think there was an extreme lack of respect and understanding between the two. But the case has been politicized and we'll have to see how it plays out...

Beware of kneejerk thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164827)

There are two issues here. The most important is individual responsibility – should a person ever be held responsible for another's suicide? If you believe in individual rights and responsibilities (as do most in the West), you should surely be against this in all circumstances.

The other is homophobia. And here is seems that things are changing, fast. A recently published book [oup.com] finds that school students are now more likely to lose popularity by being homophobic than to gain it.

True, this was in the UK (the author says the US is "10 years" behind). But the study concerns high-school students. It is reasonable to expect that college students – especially in elite places like Rutgers – would be ahead in this trend of tolerance.

Homophobia has been a terrible plague but it seems at last to be fading. In our hurry to condemn it we should not forget that the alleged perpetrator has rights which need protecting too.

Hate is certainly in the eye of the beholder (1, Interesting)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164865)

There is clear evidence that the political correctness movement of society demands that when something that can be considered to be "hate" it must be so. There is no room for interpretation here - if we are going to criminalize hate then it must be done forcefully and completely with no options for wiggling out through supposed ignorance. This makes for a very uncomfortable legal environment for a lot of people, myself included. I believe the idea of a "hate crime" is nonsense and trying to enhance penalties for ordinary crimes because of "hate" being a factor is a bad idea. This clearly is delving into the area of trying to decide what people are thinking internally and externalizing it in some way. What does it matter what someone is thinking and why should we increase penalties for certain thoughts?

The legal system should not be considering thoughts but only actions. Unfortunately, that is not the direction we are going.

In the US today we have "protected classes". These are classes of people that must not be assailed in any way. Women are a protected class and any treatment of them that singles them out because of their gender is illegal today. Similarly, minorities are a protected class in this manner - if you treat an African-American male as an African-American, that is illegal. However, if you treat an African-American male as a male, well, that isn't a protected class. It can get pretty confusing.

The idea of a protected class apart from others is not how one builds an equal society but one where some are more equal than others. There is no condition that I can agree with that says minorities should receive treatment under the law that is different from anyone else. Especially because they are a member of a minority. The law should be minimizing the fact of their differences from the "rest of us" rather than attempting to maximize the differences.

It is somewhat an open question how much homosexuals are a protected class. There are some states having laws that offer blanket protected class status to homosexuals and make it illegal to consider sexual orientation in any manner or for any purpose. Other states have less clear laws and there may only be certain situations where sexual orientation is forbidden from being considered. For example, while many would consider it to be inappropriate for a gay male to be teaching a sexual education class to young girls. In some states it is illegal to bar them from this activity whereas in others it may actually be forbidden by law for them to do it. Very confusing, especially when you get into transsexuals. Court cases are beginning to pop up where it starts to become necessary to discuss what sort of anatomy the is present and what sort of anatomy is desired regardless of what is present.

In the US we are clearly moving into some very interesting territory, one that encompasses the outer edges of what consent can be considered to be. In the US we have been conditioning ourselves to think of unequal power relationships as bad between men and women. But when you get into sexual behaviors where one party is clearly dominant and the other (often permanently) submissive we are supposed to throw all that conditioning away and embrace "the new way". For a lot of people this is very difficult to absorb and they are going to consider unequal power relationships - where one party is clearly in control and the other just has to follow along and do what they are told - as a bad thing. The fact that the US has just gone through, and is still going through, efforts to establish women as equal to men with bra burning, effective birth control and significant changes in the legal framework makes it even more difficult.

a different approach (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164887)

you can't entirely stop abuse or pranks, how about making sure that behavior doesn't lead to suicide?

as for the Microsoft reference in TFS: maybe Dharun was also fed up with being sexiled (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=sexiled)

Its a hate crime (1)

erexx23 (935832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164889)

Its a hate crime. This guy obviously had something against him being Gay. No matter how his reasoning is wrapped, in the end its still Hate and Ignorance, plain and simple. Gays will always be a minority. Gays will always be a minority. Gays will always be a minority. There can be no equal Rights for Gays unless the Majority of Straits can empathizes with them as equals. Their lives and life styles -will always be- in the control of the strait majority. Try to imagine how that marginalization would warp your life. As long as there are those who marginalize Gays, there will be enough Hate for them to allow the average person to think it OK to destroy their lives. Human Empathy Test Fail = Human Rights Fail

lesser charges? (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164941)

I figure Dharun should get lesser charges for taking and posting the video; that was dumb but the suicide seems like a unexpected result.

If the shoe had been on the other foot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164995)

And the gay guy had filmed his ultra-Christian roommate's heterosexual encounter for the purpose of embarrassing him in the religious community, to the point he committed suicide, nobody would be talking about it as a hate crime.

Just sayin'

The faggots have the full force of our ultra-leftist tyrannical regime behind them... bet they enjoy it, too.

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