Tyler Clementi: A Talented Young Man

Old Queens, at Rutgers University, on a wintry...
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Tyler Clementi: A Lovely Young Man


Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University, jumped off the George Washington Bridge on September 22nd, and was labeled a suicide by local authorities. The day before this event Tyler’s roommate, Dharun Ravi and his friend, Molly Wei, used a secret video cam to record a sexual encounter between Tyler and a male friend in Tyler’s dorm room. They not only recorded this encounter but broadcast it over the internet and advertised that fact to the Rutgers community as well as the entire world. The two have been arrested and charged with invasion of privacy and using a camera to broadcast a private encounter over the internet. I think they should be charged with murder.

Why did this happen? What would motivate two young people to spy on another in so public a manner? What kind of sick mind-set is at work when someone decides to publicly broadcast sexual behavior and sexual preference at the age of 18? Yes, 18! The two people who set up the camera and advertised the episode were also 18 and classmates of Tyler’s.

I would also like to know why this happened. Why was Tyler’s sexual episode deemed worthy of a secret camera and an internet video? I thought we were beyond the days of condemning sexual behavior that did not happen between a man and a woman in the missionary position. I wonder what the parents of these two young people are thinking about tonight. I hope they are thinking about why their children were motivated to do this terrible thing. I hope these children are remorseful and desperate and terrified about what they have done to the life of another human being.

The sexual preference of anyone should be their right and their choice to either share with the world or not share. I have relatives who are gay and many friends and most of them have shared with me the difficulty of deciding when to “come out” and the pain that came along with that decision. The pain came from fear of not knowing how the news would be accepted by family and friends. It is not an easy thing to do for some and it was particularly difficult in the past. We are supposed to be living in a time of openness and acceptance. Obviously Tyler did not feel this way. We will never know how Tyler felt but we can know with great certainly that he would still be alive today had none of this happened. He might have spent time at college enjoying his musical talent, discovering what he wanted in life and following his bliss. Instead he was ridiculed and belittled to such an extent that he felt he had to end his life.

Every day I read in the news stories about bullying behavior in school. I read about parents having to defend their children from bullies and how schools are trying to prevent this behavior. I wonder where it comes from and hope very desperately it will stop. Haven’t we spent enough time in this world hating everyone that was different from what we are? Haven’t we spent enough energy fighting prejudice and hate and war and murder?

I feel so sorry for Tyler’s parents in their terrible grief and anger and frustration at what happened to their son. I hope this case gets a lot of publicity and people who read about this tragic death resolve to never allow this behavior to happen. I hope parents resolve to work more with their kids at the first sign of prejudice and I hope the world takes notice of the passing of a sweet and gentle young man who loved music and life.

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