Alex Blaze

Clementi Parents Don't Want 'Harsh' Punishment

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 22, 2011 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Dharun Ravi, images, Molly Wei, privacy, rutgers university, sex, Tyler Clementi

Six months ago Rutgers student Tyler Clementi committed suicide shortly after he was taped engaging in sexual acts with another boy. Dharun Ravi, Tyler_Clementi.jpgthe student accused of doing the taping, and Molly Wei, the fellow student whose computer Ravi used, are being charged with multiple counts of violating Clementi's privacy and transmitting sexual images of him, which carries a possible five year sentence. The prosecution hasn't decided if it'll pursue bias crime charges (I wonder how they still don't know six months out - I'm not sure if they have the evidence to prove that Ravi and Wei did what they did because Clementi was gay), but if they do they could get ten years prison.

And the parents are saying they don't want a harsh punishment for Ravi and Wei:

"We feel it is important to establish accountability and to further establish that Tyler was subject to criminal acts, not merely a college prank as some may argue," said Paul Mainardi, the lawyer representing the family.

Indeed, writing it off as a trifle only encourages further bad behavior. On the other hand, punishing Ravi and Wei for killing Clementi vicariously through privacy violation charges is an inappropriate use of the criminal justice system - since there's no have proof that Clementi committed suicide only because he was recorded and not because of other stuff going on in his life and since there's no way to prove any intent, premeditation, or knowledge of his suicide on Ravi and Wei's part.

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I think the parents are making the right decision. As you note above, it's hard to determine why Tyler decided to jump. We only speculate. If we did move forward with charging Ravi and Wei, then their lives may also be ruined more than they already are. Our justice system doesn't counsel homophobia...or teach tolerance, which is what these kids suffer from. I'd like to see these kids punished by committing 5 years of volunteer service to LGBT organizations....

I was thinking the same thing - if they really are homophobic (I don't have all the evidence and the prosecutor's office is signaling that they don't), then will sending them to prison help? Do prisons make people more homophobic or less homophobic?