More on Tyler Clementi

Richard Kim at The Nation has the smartest take on the conviction that I’ve seen, combing carefully through the evidence and thinking about the conclusions. Please do pop over and read it (and then come back here, of course!). Some excerpts:

The cell phone and social media evidence … suggests a more complicated picture than the initial caricature of Ravi as a cyber-armed, homophobic bully…. Ravi expresses horror when he discovers online that his new roommate is gay (“FUCK MY LIFE/He’s gay”), but he later texts “I don’t care” and characterizes Clementi as “gay but regular gay”—a term he also used to refer to the month of January (“what a gay month”)…. Clementi, for his part, expresses some alarm that his new roommate’s parents are “soo Indian first gen americanish” and so “defs owna dunkin’ [donuts].” Had the roles been reversed, it’s not impossible to imagine a scenario in which that text would be used in court as evidence of Clementi’s racism….

There are all too many cases of gay teenagers whose lives have been made intolerably miserable by the harassment and violence of parents, family, fellow students, teachers and other authority figures and who are driven to suicide. This is not transparently one of them. And the trial and verdict to one side, there is another kind of injustice done when a life is crudely forced into becoming a symbol of social wrongs, when it is made to carry the burden of a composite reality—anti-gay hate crimes—to which it bears but a schematic and hasty relation.

(Full disclosure: I know Richard, and I have an article in the hopper for him. But I don’t praise unless I mean it.)

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