|RIP Tyler Clementi|
Dharun Ravi, that former Rutgers University freshman, who used a webcam to spy on his roommate’s same-sex encounter, which then lead to the roommate, Tyler Clementi, killing himself, has been charged with a hate crimes, and accused of deleting tweets and texts to cover his tracks. If convicted of the most serious bias charge, Ravi could face five to 10 years in prison.
See, a hate crime doesn’t always involve a bat or a beer bottle or steel-toed shoes or fists. Sometimes a camera and the internet are the weapons.
Dharun Ravi has already faced invasion of privacy charges, along with another Rutgers student, Molly Wei. Prosecutors believe Dharun Ravi used Molly Wei’s dorm room computer to activate a webcam on a computer in his room in order to view, and live stream, Clementi’s encounter. Prosecutors also say Dharun Ravi did this twice to Tyler Clementi, the last time being the day before Clementi’s suicide.
Charges against Molly Wei weren’t presented to the grand jury, and it isn’t clear if charges will ever be filed against here, or whether she helped prosecutors in the case against Ravi. Molly Wei’s attorney declined to comment.
Dharun Ravi posted a message on his now-closed Twitter account on September 19 that read: “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.”
Two days later, he again Tweeted: “Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes it’s happening again.”
The indictment against Dharun Ravi states that the sexual encounter was viewed by others, and accuses Dharun Ravi of targeting Tyler Clementi and invading his privacy, knowing Clementi would be intimidated because of his sexual orientation.
The indictment also suggests Dharun Ravi tried to cover up his actions; he allegedly deleted his Twitter post in which he let his followers know about the second encounter, and replaced it with a false Tweet. Dharun Ravi is also accused of deleting text messages sent and received by witnesses, and giving false information to police.
Almost worse than all this, is that Tyler Clementi had apparently complained to the university about his roommate, and Rutgers officials have said they did all they could.
After that second video, Tyler Clementi left a note on his Facebook page: “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry.” Clementi was a promising violinist–and out to his parents. He took his own life during his first weeks of college.
So you see, it isn’t fists and boots and bottles, it’s words, it’s actions, it’s Twitter. It’s hate.