April 21, 2011

Webcam spying on college roommate charged as a hate crime.

The NYT reports on the indictment of Dharun Ravi, the Rutgers student who invaded the privacy of his roommate Tyler Clementi. Clementi, who subsequently murdered himself, was gay, which gives rise to a theory that his roommate was motivated by anti-gay sentiment and — this is much more difficult — the belief that Ravi — who is only 19 years old — ought to go to prison for at least 5 to 10 years. If his behavior were not portrayed it as a "hate crime," the punishment, according to the article, would probably be probation.

Ravi, it should be noted, did not kill Clementi.

Ravi was an ass. He tweeted: "I saw him making out with a dude. Yay." Imagine if he'd used the webcam, caught Clementi kissing a female and tweeted "I saw him making out with a girl. Yay." Would that have been a dramatically different crime, justifying the difference between probation and 5 years in prison? The invasion of privacy is serious, but I don't see the seriousness differing depending on whether or not Clementi was gay. And I don't think people who care about the feelings of gay people ought to play out their politics on Ravi, who deserves what he deserves and nothing more.

179 comments:

Phil 3:14 said...

And if the video caught him masturbating while watching child pornography but with the same ending the crime would have been?

Phil 3:14 said...

I'm waiting for the brave gay activist to declare:

We've gone too far

Peano said...

Clementi, who subsequently murdered himself ...

You are at your least attractive when you carry an emotional chip on your shoulder.

Abdul Abulbul Amir said...

.

Gays are a target constituency for the Dems. More than equal protection applies.

.

Sixty Grit said...
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Ann Althouse said...

"You are at your least attractive when you carry an emotional chip on your shoulder."

I don't care whether it's "attractive" or not (and I regard that rhetoric as sexist, by the way). My aim is to deter suicide by calling it what it is. I want people to take responsibility for their own actions, not to express hostility and escape from consequences, and not to make what is a terrible mistake.

Blizzardlane said...

I also wonder how a person can be charged with crimes for videotaping what goes on in his own dorm room.

Ann Althouse said...

If you accidentally kill yourself, it's not self-murder. If you intentionally do it, it is. You can feel sorry for the person, who is also the victim. You can feel relieved that the murderer had a victim who consented (assuming there are no other victims). But you should no more deflect responsibility onto others than you would for other murders. Somebody hurt the murderer's feelings or made him very angry and he lost control? You can always say things like that about murder. It's still murder.

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)
I also wonder how a person can be charged with crimes for videotaping what goes on in his own dorm room.


Well;
1) It wasn’t just HIS room, it was also the roommates; and
2) He didn’t “film” “his” side…he filmed his ROOMMATE!
I guess had he videoed only his bed or study carrel you might have a point……That sounds harsher than I mean it, by-the-way. Bottom-Line: the film wasn’t just of “his” room.

Crimso said...

Is suicide the only thing it is criminal to attempt, but not criminal to succeed at? I had heard this before, and was curious (not trying to derail the thread).

murgatroyd666 said...

Do gays really want to establish the precedent that outing someone else as gay is a "hate crime"? If that happens, will the Left apply it to their own, if and when they out gay Republicans?

Sixty Grit said...
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TMink said...

This MUST be a hate crime. Gay guys NEVER get upset that they have a straight roomate.

Never.

Gay guys are the epitome of breeder acceptance.

(giggle)

Trey

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)
Suppose one is faced with unbearable pain from an incurable disease - is making a decision to end one's life then self murder or suicide?


Self-Murder….you’re taking the “easy” way out…ask Pope John Paul II, when you can about the nobility of suffering.

Michael said...

Dharun Ravi seems like an ass.

However objectionable the his actions, killing yourself in response to a video of yourself making out with another person (of either sex) is not a reasonable action. I suspect that such a response is so unreasonable that it's not even foreseeable.

Mr. Clementi could have sought counseling, or taken a number of actions in response to the posting of that video.

Mr. Ravi should be charged with crime he committed, irrespective of Mr. Clementi's response.

MisterBuddwing said...
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Sixty Grit said...
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David said...

Agreed. Ravi's punishment should be to roast in hell for eternity. It's a deferred sentence.

MisterBuddwing said...

I'm reminded of the Megan Meier case. However much that case (or this) makes your blood boil, it's a legitimate point to wonder if the law is equipped to intervene, or whether it should. (Criminal law, that is. Civil is, I'm guessing as a layman, another matter.)

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Clementi, who subsequently murdered himself,

So when are we going to put Clementi on trial for first degree murder?

I want people to take responsibility for their own actions, not to express hostility and escape from consequences, and not to make what is a terrible mistake.

It is kind of hard to hold people responsible for their own suicide when they are DEAD. What legal remedy do you propose?

For those who try to suicide or murder themselves and fail. How do you propose to 'hold them accountable'. Jail? Severe fines?

If a person like Ravi can be shown to intentionally and with malice aforethought driven someone into such a mental state that he KNEW or suspected that the victim would be likely to suicide, then there should be some responsibility for causing the suicide's actions.

However, merely being a thoughtless ass and tipping someone over the edge to suicide shouldn't be a criminal action. Who knows what kind of hurt feelings we inadvertently cause as we go tripping lightly through life and what kind of fragile snowflake psyche other people have? How can we be held responsible for their actions.

Ridiculous.

PatHMV said...

I'm no fan of "hate crime" legislation. But, that said, I think that in the real world there is in fact a significant difference between your two examples, showing the hidden camera video of the boy kissing a girl, and of the boy kissing another boy.

We may believe in and support a society which tolerates homosexuals, but the reality is that there is a significantly greater risk of the kid being beaten or harassed or otherwise mistreated in the gay kissing video than in the straight kissing video. Moreover, while there may be a view individuals who are so wrapped up in, say, their religion that they would be despondent if they were publicly revealed to have kissed a girl in college, the reality is that there are many more gay boys and girls who would feel despondent if their gay activities were publicly revealed.

This is not some great secret of the universe, so it's appropriate to hold the jerk who filmed it responsible for knowing and understanding those factual realities of our society.

This isn't really a novel position for the law, either. Heck, in tort law, the defendant must take the plaintiff as he finds him. If you hit a guy with an eggshell skull, you are responsible for the resulting damages, even if the exact same actions by you would have caused minimal or even no damage to a stronger person.

Now, I think 5 to 10 years may be a bit much because college kids are college kids, and often still pretty stupid teenagers, but I don't have a conceptual problem with punishing him more because it was entirely foreseeable that leaking the video of the gay kissing had a much greater risk of harm than leaking a video of straight kissing.

Valerian said...

'If his behavior were not portrayed it as a "hate crime," the punishment, according to the article, would probably be probation.'

The article is just sloppy. First, "hate crime" is not an offense in itself. To my knowledge it is an enhancer that can be added to an underlying offense, in this case "Invasion of Privacy." Also, the article compares Ravi's exposure (heh) based on the enhanced charges to his likely sentence based on the un-enhanced charges. This is an illogical comparison that tells us nothing. The facts are the facts, enhancers be damned. Which I guess is your point.

PaulV said...

I blame anti-Asian bigotry.
Holder should investigate

Alex said...

As usual, special protections and special laws for special groups.

Alex said...

Also why are we persecuting an Indian? Where is Titus!!!

Pogo said...

The reason why this is a hate crime and that is not true of a boy-kisses-girl video is the same reason why gay marriage will be used as a club to bring all dissenters into submission, even if (especially if) for religious reasons.

Peano said...

I don't care whether it's "attractive" or not (and I regard that rhetoric as sexist, by the way).

I don't care whether you regard it as sexist, by the way.

You are at your second least attractive when you flatter yourself that I used the word "attractive" to refer to your appearance, beauty, or anything remotely dependent on your sex.

You might consult a dictionary and learn that one defintion of "attractive" is "pleasing" [an attractive personality; goods attractive in price or quality].

Mary said...

"I want people to take responsibility for their own actions."

In many cases, that's suicide, right there.

Re. comparables here. Until gay citizens get the same legal treatment as straight citizens, it's silly (that sexist to say?) to pretend the resulting consequences of outing a gay and a straight are the same.

That said, the young man still living was guilty of spying here. Not taking a life. If we're gonna have hate crime enhancers on the books -- rather than just legalize/equal out the overall citizen rights/equal protectioin thing, big picture wise -- then it applies in situations like this one, no?

Shouldn't have different penalties, but then we shouldn't have different rights in the first place. Might help avoid some of these situations, where the youngsters see no way out, special treatment, denied opportunities, etc. Keep em equal legally at the offset, and don't try to pretend it's already otherwise. Otherwise, you look like you're ignoring realities, or just ignorant or downplaying the differences.

edutcher said...

If what was done had malicious intent, that's one thing, but where's the evidence of that?

The "Yay" at the end could be construed that Ravi is also homosexual (do we know?) and was glad since now he could make a pass at Clementi.

This thing has a Thought Police smell (and I do mean smell) to it.

Ann Althouse said...

"It is kind of hard to hold people responsible for their own suicide when they are DEAD. What legal remedy do you propose?"

I am performing the remedy here. My remedy is to break the potential suicides' fixation on suicide as their remedy. The dead are dead. Remedies are for the living.

CachorroQuente said...

Oh swell, here we go with suicide = murder again. Althouse claims that she mischaracterizes suicide in an attempt to deter it. Wonder how that's working out.

Suicide is no more murder than masturbation is rape.

Phil 3:14 said...

Pat;
We may believe in and support a society which tolerates homosexuals, but the reality is that there is a significantly greater risk of the kid being beaten or harassed or otherwise mistreated in the gay kissing video than in the straight kissing video.

I will defer to your legal knowledge and abilities but I have to say they called it a HATE crime. In my book hate implies a feeling on the part of the perpetrator. In what I've read Mr. Ravi didn't hate his roommate's sexuality, he was simply trying to embarrass and ridicule as all six year olds love to do.

Again I'll ask if the videotape had shown his roommate having loud sex with a fat girl would that have been a hate crime?

Mary said...

"If you accidentally kill
yourself, it's not self-murder."

Eh, define "accidental". It's semantics really.

Smoking, poor dietary habits, where you live and what you do to/with your body ... we're all making choices to live or die daily. Slow suicides = smokers, diabetics, drinkers, speeders and stressers, over consumers/workers, etc.

(See, this is why it's not right be so judgemental, tossing around the "self-murder" label to try to stimulate behavior change by stigma... Never can be sure where it will end.)

PaulV said...

The prosecutors are guilty of the hate crime of asserting that homosexual acts are wrong. Shame!

Peano said...

Smith, bent on suicide, lifts the cup of hemlock. Suddenly Althorse comes a-cantering to the rescue.

ALTHORSE: Don't drink that! Don't you know that suicide is self-murder?

SMITH: Oh! Well, then. (Pours hemlock down the sink.)

Aye Chihuahua said...

For those of you with legal oriented minds, I have a question:

How is "hate crime" legislation not a violation of the principles of Equal Protection?

In other words, if I choose to murder a straight guy the punishment is "X" but, if I choose to murder a gay guy the punishment is "Y".

How does that not violate the Equal Protection rights of the straight victim?

Don't the "hate crime" provisions show partiality toward one over another?

D.D. Driver said...

This reminds me of that awful Facebook suicide from a few years back. Just horrible and cruel.

But we can't hold people criminally responsible when someone does something irrational and unexpected.

Beep said...

Hate crime legislation attempts to punish people for their thoughts. In this case, alleged antigay thoughts.
But isn't it neccesary to establish that Tyler Clementi was in fact gay, and not merely experimenting a little?

Sixty Grit said...
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Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)
Again I'll ask if the videotape had shown his roommate having loud sex with a fat girl would that have been a hate crime?


Not if you’re the “fat grrrlllll” plus-sized womyn need love, too ya know…..What are you, some kind of Big Grrllll Hat-uh?

PaulV said...

Mary, do you think that democrats who give voters cigaretes to vote are criminals. I would agree.

Mary said...

Personally, I think you need to think less of suicide as the delicate young violinist here, and more the end-of-the-road Hemingway who wanted out, now, and perhaps with good reason.

Do the cheap comparables still hold?

Another blotter test on whether someone really is more pro-choice than pro-life, and who gets to decide what ones own body becomes.

Except, there's usually no internal 3rd party in the case of suicides. (I don't get it; doesn't that word still carry much stigma in and of itself, or have the professional victims' groups made us have to rachet up the verbiage to get the same effect?)

PatHMV said...

@Phil 3:14, that's a fair point. I have not read the particular statute at issue here.

In reality, any sentencing should examine the entire body of facts, including the knowledge the defendant had of his roommate. If he knew that his roommate was very sensitive, not one who could take bullying very well, then I'd support a stronger sentence for the gay kissing video or for your hypothetical loud fat-girl sex video. Likewise, I'd support a higher penalty for somebody releasing a video of a Muslim girl kissing a boy, if they knew that the Muslim girl was from a very strict religious family, who was very likely to harm her if they discovered she had acted unchastely.

CachorroQuente said...

What about the guy the dead guy was making out with? Why hasn't he offed himself?

Because Althouse has deterred him, of course

PaulV said...

Suicide is often intended to punish those who survive. Ravi has already been punished.

buster said...

Ann Althouse said:

"My aim is to deter suicide by calling it what it is [i.e. "
'self-murder']"

If that's the way to approach things, a better description would be self-manslaughter.

ricpic said...

Also why are we persecuting an Indian? Where is Titus!!

Does love of "the other" outrank solidarity with worldwide queerdom? What will I do? What will I do?!

Mary said...

"Remedies are for the living."


Best to right the ship than to keep bailing... (= no need for hate crime enhancers, or after-the-fact remedies if you equalize the situations from the get-go.

Think about it healthwise: you don't need to continue the special "remedies", whether it be by pill or surgery, if you can correct the underlying cause.)

Mary said...

"Mary, do you think that democrats who give voters cigaretes to vote are criminals."

Cigarettes, food stamps, i-pods, soda pops...

It's the practice, not the product, that's not kosher.

~former Cook County, IL resident.

Lucien said...

What should be outed is the identity of the prosecutor(s) who decided to seek the indictment. That way they can be sure that all future potential employers will be given this example of their discretion and judgment -- and know what real aggressive go-getters they are.

TWM said...

I really do hate the concept of hate crimes. Shunning the guy who did the video, booting him out of school, and suing him if legally possible seems enough.

Mary said...

"Don't the "hate crime" provisions show partiality toward one over another?"

Yes. They're essentially a political invention that should be abolished.

Liberals too often love to label, stigmatize, and keep 'em separated, for their own nefarious political purposes.

*debating whether I should stick a comma after the "too", because either way, the thought holds.*

rcocean said...

IMO hate crime legislation is unconstitutional, but of course we don't have a SCOTUS that really cares about that. Its like Grandma O'Connor said, maybe they'll care in 25 years.

Mary said...

"Shunning the guy who did the video, booting him out of school, and suing him if legally possible seems enough."

Agreed.
It's too bad, whether soldiers, taxpayers or students, when we try to shove all the burdens and responsibilities of the failed American social experiments onto our youth.

This roommate didn't create the culture realities we live in -- he just used them for his own immature amusement, and now is holding the bag essentially for years of prejudice and subtle encouragement of stigmatizing queer citizens.

Oh well. It keeps the lawyers employed, I suppose, and you could always say the system's fair if only he chooses the right one to represent him... Otherwise, I guess he pays for choosing poorly, and that's just the way society now chooses to play/officiate the game.

edutcher said...

Aye Chihuahua said...

For those of you with legal oriented minds, I have a question:

How is "hate crime" legislation not a violation of the principles of Equal Protection?


From someone with a Poli Sci-oriented mind: you just broke the code.

Mary said...

Also, how do we know the dead guy's make-out partner hadn't just rejected him, and that's why he chose to commit suicide?

Absent a detailed cause-and-effect suicide note left behind, I suspect the prosecutor's office here is just playing politics too, giving the victims' parents what they see as just (scraps really) and trying for a different deterrent effect than the professor here is encouraging.

(Prosecutor: no "bullying". Professor: toughen up.)

I liked it better when Lady Justice just wore the blindfold, and we didn't specify between this group or that based on legal prejudices. Or at least, we were working toward that ideal.

If we accept artificial inequality built into the system though, we shouldn't be too surprised when it spreads like a cancer and the result is ... Hate Crime special rules under the law, for special groups of citizens under the law.

Equal it out at the offset, and see if the cultural problems resolve themselves, minus the need for special stigmatization either way.

Freeman Hunt said...

What the hell?

More evidence that hate crime laws are ridiculous.

shoutingthomas said...

I find it interesting that the focus is always and only on gay sex when it comes to this issue.

What if the focus of the spying had been heterosexuals involved in a group orgy?

Believe me, the social approbation is the same if not greater.

So, let's say a woman was having sex consensually with three men and somebody surreptitiously videotaped the event and distributed that video.

Then one of the participants commits suicide in shame.

Would that be a hate crime, too?

I've known people who crave group orgies and believe that their happiness and sexual health depends on getting this type of satisfaction. Should they get the same legal protections as gays?

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)
I've known people who crave group orgies and believe that their happiness and sexual health depends on getting this type of satisfaction. Should they get the same legal protections as gays?


Tough question…do you have any photo’s or addresses?

G Joubert said...

Suicide is indelibly part of the human condition, going back in all of recorded human history. Can't see how semantics could affect it. But you can try!

Ravi did a stupid, highly rude, and vile thing. But he was an 18-year old college freshman. Stupid, rude, and sometimes even vile goes with that territory. Should he "burn in hell" for it? I'll say instead, Christian-wise, he will have to account to his maker, or in eastern parlance, there's karma. But the concept of hate crimes in the here and now is just so Orwellian. Especially when there is no crime without the "hate" component.

Sixty Grit said...
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shoutingthomas said...

The presumption seems to be that Ravi is hetero.

I think that that is open to question.

What if his interest in video homosexual acts, and ridiculing them, is in fact his own awkward attempt to come to terms with his own homosexuality?

Seems as likely to me as assuming he's hetero.

SukieTawdry said...

The entire body of "hate crime" law is an abomination. Right up there with criminal general intent law.

Steve Koch said...

If suicide is murder, then attempted suicide is attempted murder. This means that if you attempt suicide but fail, then you can be prosecuted for attempted murder. It is strange that a lawyer would claim that suicide is murder when legally that is not true.

Once upon a time, attempting suicide was a crime but nowadays attempting suicide is not a crime in any USA state.

"To be or to be, that is the question". We all die, what is so wrong for a person to determine when and how they die? Why shouldn't we have this right?

In the weeks and months before death, a lot of people end up in the hospital either in severe pain or drugged out of their mind. Who wants to spend the last few weeks or months of life in agony in a hospital surrounded and controlled by people who are not your friends and don't care about you (i.e. surrounded by hospital staff)?

shoutingthomas said...

In the weeks and months before death, a lot of people end up in the hospital either in severe pain or drugged out of their mind. Who wants to spend the last few weeks or months of life in agony in a hospital surrounded and controlled by people who are not your friends and don't care about you (i.e. surrounded by hospital staff)?

Despite the efforts of New Agers to make death into just another passage, my experience is that death is almost always a very unpleasant experience.

Joe said...

As Mary said, what is the evidence that Mr. Clementi killed himself because of this incident? Or even because he was gay? What if Mr. Clementi killed himself because he lost a scholarship or wasn't given one or was simply depressed? Why is there a presumption that if a homosexual commits suicide, it must be related to his or her homosexuality?

hombre said...

I was a prosecutor for nearly 30 years. In my judgment prosecution with these consequences for these acts is more than ridiculous, it is shameful.

And a hate crime? Give me a break!

Coketown said...

As a practicing homosexual, I think hate crime legislation does more harm than good. I'm sure a lot of progressive liberals are patting themselves on the back for this triumph of social justice, but what are the actual, instead of headline-friendly, consequences? It ignores the psychological and emotional complexities of young gay people dealing with their sexuality. It says, "As long as you're not the victim of a crime, you'll be fine." So support networks of friends and family are ignored and many confused youth are heading off to college to become distant from their families and emotionally isolated from their peers.

This guy didn't kill himself because he was the victim of a crime; he killed himself because he was dealing with the turmoil of accepting his sexuality while having no friends to help him along the way. A lot of people have severe trouble with this. (Not me personally, though. I had about an eleven-minute panic attack and that was that.) If we continue this fantasy that it's externalities and not internal conflict that is causing suicides like this there will only be more.

Beldar said...

I can't think of anything as detrimental to the cause of civil liberties as the Left's passion for "hate crimes."

Those who promote this notion ought to consider the lines from "A Man for All Seasons":

"William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

"Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

"William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

"Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!"

bagoh20 said...

Some of us seem irresistibly drawn to tyranny, and we can be very creative if necessary. The Constitution is starting to look inadequate to the challenge, or at least our respect for it is. We have decided to put feelings and compassion for select groups above it. When did we decide that freedom from insult should trump all our values?

Juba Doobai! said...

Post hoc ergo propter hoc, Althouse. After Ravi live-streamed him, the Clementi boy killed himself. Had Ravi not violated Clementi's privacy, it is unlikely Clementi would have committed suicide. Therefore, Ravi is the efficient cause of the Clementi suicide; true, the final cause is Clementi's jump, but without Ravi there would have been no jump. Therefore, Ravi should pay a penalty greater than probation.

bagoh20 said...

Beldar,

I'm really unable to decide which is the devil in all this. Is it the "hater" or the laws themselves. especially since many of our laws are starting to be written by haters of one kind to control haters of another.

traditionalguy said...

The underlying truth about hate crimes is that humiliating people for being different from us is never politically correct. Looking askance is a misdemeanor, but taking an action while disrespecting another person is a felony. I can imagine Obama staying awake all night planning a prosecution of Donald Trump for Aggravated Hate.

vbspurs said...

Peano wrote:

You are at your second least attractive when you flatter yourself that I used the word "attractive" to refer to your appearance, beauty, or anything remotely dependent on your sex.

Though it's easier to misattribute something when it's directed at you, I will say that I read "least attractive" as directed towards Ann's personality, not her looks.

In that context, there is nothing sexist about it.

The only way it would be sexist, is that if a woman perceives the mention of attractiveness as being aimed towards women only, and never to a man.

shoutingthomas said...

Therefore, Ravi is the efficient cause of the Clementi suicide; true, the final cause is Clementi's jump, but without Ravi there would have been no jump. Therefore, Ravi should pay a penalty greater than probation.

Is it really true that "there would have been no jump?"

Kid seems a little fragile. He having gay sex in a dorm room. This is going to get around, video or no video. I lived in a dorm. Nothing is secret in a dorm.

So, sooner or later the kid is going to have to face the reality that people know he's gay.

So, maybe it was a question of jump now or jump later.

The actual precipitating factor seems to be the kid's inability to face the fact that he's gay and having other people know that he's gay. Ravi may have hurried up that revelation. But, that revelation was in the works in any event.

Having any kind of sex in a dorm room and expecting that sex to remain private and discreet is a foolish expectation.

SukieTawdry said...

How is "hate crime" legislation not a violation of the principles of Equal Protection?

I think we've learned through the years that the principles of Equal Protection are applied somewhat less equally than many of us would like. For instance, the equal protection clause seems to afford little protection for straight, white, middle-aged, Christian men. (Ah, but are they not the ones responsible for most of the inequity through the ages?)

vbspurs said...

And I don't think people who care about the feelings of gay people ought to play out their politics on Ravi, who deserves what he deserves and nothing more.

So what should Mr Ravi deserve? Well, expulsion from Rutgers, at the very least. But trying him for causing the death of his in-the-closet roomie, with a possible prison sentence of 5-10 years? No.

Let societal pressure sort this jerk out, not the legal system.

shoutingthomas said...

I know that this has been discussed before, but...

Gay activist have often used the tactic of "outing" Republican politicians suspected of being gay when those politicians oppose the gay activist agenda.

Are these gay activists committing a hate crime?

bagoh20 said...

"Therefore, Ravi is the efficient cause of the Clementi suicide"

I would go after the manufacturer of the camera, since likewise it would not have happened had they not sold that devil.

Even better go after whoever invented homosexuality or suicide or bridges or gravity. All necessary for this crime.

SukieTawdry said...

Why is there a presumption that if a homosexual commits suicide, it must be related to his or her homosexuality?

We should never presume, but in my experience with gay male friends, almost everything is related to their sexuality.

vbspurs said...

Shoutingthomas wrote:

Having any kind of sex in a dorm room and expecting that sex to remain private and discreet is a foolish expectation.

Also, an intimate act such as sex is an imposition on your roommate. May not be cool to say that anymore, but it's still the truth.

Leo Ladenson said...

I also wonder how a person can be charged with crimes for videotaping what goes on in his own dorm room.


Well;
1) It wasn’t just HIS room, it was also the roommates; and
2) He didn’t “film” “his” side…he filmed his ROOMMATE!



That's likely wrong as a matter of law. Assuming the roommates to be equal tenants in common, each would have an undivided one-half interest in the whole room. Clementi had no expectation of privacy as against Ravi because Ravi had a right to observe what was going on in his room.

So I fail to see any privacy violation.

vbspurs said...

So I fail to see any privacy violation.

Well, no.

Because he filmed his roommate having sex on the webcam, AND shared it with others on the whole internet. In another, less tech-savvy time, it would be like Ravi cutting holes in the wall of the bedroom, and inviting over a bunch of guys to look in the peepholes.

If it were just Ravi watching, then I would agree, but it's not. That's what merits expulsion in my eyes.

Leo Ladenson said...

So what should Mr Ravi deserve? Well, expulsion from Rutgers, at the very least.


I'm not sure he deserves any punishment at all. What if he had observed Clementi stealing Ravi's prescription medicine on the webcam? Or cheating? Or plotting some other crime?

I think Ravi had a right to observe what was going on in his own dorm room.

Perhaps he violated some gentlemen's agreement, but that's a different matter altogether.

Leo Ladenson said...

If it were just Ravi watching, then I would agree, but it's not.


My understanding of the facts was that Ravi's monitor was the sole viewing point. If the stream was intentionally made more widely available, then I would have to revise and amend.

hombre said...

...it is unlikely Clementi would have committed suicide. Therefore, Ravi is the efficient cause of the Clementi suicide...

Oops! You made a little jump there. It should read:

"Therefore, it is likely that Ravi is the efficient cause of the Clementi suicide."

That is, assuming, generously, that your premises are accurate and "efficient cause" is used correctly.

shoutingthomas said...

@Leo Ladenson

Not sure I agree with this.

Videoing somebody without their consent is some sort of offense. I don't know whether it is a criminal or civil offense.

Videoing somebody having sex without their consent is a little worse than videoing them in some other type of act.

I'm not sure what would be the appropriate punishment.

bagoh20 said...

The young man chose to have sex.
He chose the partner.
He chose the location.
He he chose to be ashamed of himself.
He chose to kill himself.

That's a hell of a lot of choices to make someone else pay for.

Smilin' Jack said...

I am performing the remedy here. My remedy is to break the potential suicides' fixation on suicide as their remedy.

Can someone translate that into English?

Anyway, a lawprof who believes that suicide is murder should be fine with it. The murderer automatically gets the death penalty; in no other crime is justice so perfectly served. So what's the problem?

Peano said...

Smilin' Jack said... Anyway, a lawprof who believes that suicide is murder should be fine with it. The murderer automatically gets the death penalty; in no other crime is justice so perfectly served. So what's the problem?

LOL ... well-said! Of course, suicide isn't a crime, let alone murder, in any state -- an inconvenient truth the lawprof evades.

ic said...

"Imagine if he'd used the webcam, caught Clementi kissing a female and tweeted..."

But would the webcam pervert set up his webcam to spy on and tweet about his roommate if his roommate were not gay? And that would get into "intent", "thought crime", ...

The webcam pervert should be charged with whatever crimes that would draw the most attention from the public and should be ridiculed until he "murdered" himself. On the other hand, the stupid bastard was just a post-high school kid who might be fighting his own gayness and was jealous of his roommate's mate. On the third hand, who knows? A stupid kid made a stupid wile mistake, and caused the death of another kid. Almost like a stupid kid's reckless drunk driving causing a fatal accident that he walked away unscathed.

BTW, what happened to that Jenny Jones case?

SukieTawdry said...

My aim is to deter suicide by calling it what it is. I want people to take responsibility for their own actions, not to express hostility and escape from consequences, and not to make what is a terrible mistake.

We know that attempted suicide is often a cry for attention and help. However, people who survive a seriously serious attempt at offing themselves, one that they're not likely to survive (like jumping from a major bridge) often report their "last" thoughts were "what have I done--I don't want to die."

Revenant said...

magine if he'd used the webcam, caught Clementi kissing a female and tweeted "I saw him making out with a girl. Yay."

It's a college campus, so he probably would have been charged with raping the girl.

Anyway, the charge is a little inflated but I can't say it bugs me too much. Secretly videotaping that kind of thing and putting it on the net is completely inexcusable. Even if Clementi hadn't killed himself I would have been fine with Ravi spending some quality time in prison.

SukieTawdry said...

But isn't it neccesary to establish that Tyler Clementi was in fact gay, and not merely experimenting a little?

For the sake of discussion: Isn't it only necessary to establish that Ravi believed Clementi to be gay? Or perhaps under the law, if the homosexual act itself is determined to be the impetus for the hate crime, it doesn't matter if Clementi was just experimenting or in fact gay.

Leo Ladenson said...

Of course, suicide isn't a crime, let alone murder, in any state -- an inconvenient truth the lawprof evades.


Wrong. Suicide was a felony at common law and, on that basis, remains a crime in many states. See, e.g., Wackwitz v. Roy, 418 S.E.2d 861, 864 (Va. 1992).

Shanna said...

If a person like Ravi can be shown to intentionally and with malice aforethought driven someone into such a mental state that he KNEW or suspected that the victim would be likely to suicide, then there should be some responsibility for causing the suicide's actions.

I don’t think you can “know” that someone is going to commit suicide. Trained mental health professionals have a hard time predicting this, let alone idiot teenage boys.

As a society, how far do we want to go prosecuting people for being jerks? A lesser charge of recording someone having sex without their knowledge would be appropriate (if that is actually a crime. If not it should be).

Beldar said...

@ bagoh20: Your comment confirms that my allusion to Thomas More was unclear.

I conceive of "hate crimes" laws, in general, as an attempt to misuse the existing Rule of Law by loosening its standards, by inserting a wolf in sheeps' clothing.

The secular law of More's day guaranteed individual liberty both against abuse by ecclesiastical law and against mob justice. It is structured, measured, to be resistant to momentary passions from ANY source. (Because it's administered by fallible humans, it can't be made impervious to them.)

Consider, for instance, the murder of James Byrd, Jr., a racially motivated crime that occurred, and was prosecuted, in Texas (where I live). George W. Bush's political opponents regularly tried to beat him about the head and shoulders under the theory that because he'd been Texas' governor, it was his fault that Texas had no hate-crimes enhancement to apply to this prosecution. His response was always that the existing Texas laws had functioned absolutely appropriately in the case: all three perpetrators were convicted of capital murder, and the two of those who were most clearly responsible were sentenced to death. Their appeals are still playing out, but given the evidence and the seriousness Texas displays in carrying out death sentences, those two are likely to be executed. So how much more could Texas have punished them? What's worse than a death sentence?

That people could seriously argue that these sentences needed enhancement illustrates the core truth about hate crime statutes: They're written to enable the process by which popular passion can affect the criminal justice system. And the cruel irony is that the passion exhibited by those who wanted to further punish the murderers of James Byrd, Jr. is functionally indistinguishable from the passion of racist mobs in past decades who've committed lynchings.

Our "regular" laws -- without hate-crime enhancers -- are the trees. Start cutting them down -- start taking short-cuts to empower sentiment and passion at the expense of evidence and due process -- and you undermine the foundations of the Rule of Law for everyone. History teaches that such foundations are rare and hard to build, and that once sufficiently undermined, they collapse and are hard to re-build.

I hope that makes my allusion more clear.

kimsch said...

I agree with Althouse. Suicide is self murder. A long time ago I had to help deal with an attempted suicide. I told her that her attempt could result in attempted murder charges. That scared her enough to be honest with herself. She was crying out for attention, not really planning on actually killing herself (Bic razor, still in the plastic handle, crosswise on the wrists. Really only needed bandaids...)

bagoh20 said...

"History teaches that such foundations are rare and hard to build, and that once sufficiently undermined, they collapse and are hard to re-build."

That is what's truly at stake. I think we underestimate how dangerous the ground is where we already are stepping.

Thanks Beldar

DADvocate said...

Some of us are more equal than others.

kimsch said...

Beldar, I agree about "hate" crimes. All the "hate" part does is go to motive. A murdered person isn't any more dead because the perp "hated" the victim (for whatever reason). All "hate" crimes do is add to victimization.

Shanna said...

I also don’t agree with the premise that outting someone on a college campus was likely to get him harrassed. It’s been 10 years since I was in college and nobody cared then. They probably care even less now.

Steve Koch said...

The laws about suicide in the USA have changed over time. Here is a summary from wikipedia:

"Historically, various states listed the act of suicide as a felony, but these policies were sparsely enforced. In the late 1960s, eighteen U.S. states lacked laws against suicide.[8]

By the late 1980s, thirty of the fifty states had no laws against suicide or suicide attempts but every state had laws declaring it to be felony to aid, advise or encourage another person to commit suicide.[9]

By the early 1990s only two states still listed suicide as a crime, and these have since removed that classification.[citation needed]".

In the last 10 years in the USA, has anybody been prosecuted for breaking an unwritten common law for attempting suicide?

It seems wrong to me that you can be prosecuted for breaking an unwritten law. If the law is unwritten, how do you know when you've broken it? How do you know what the penalties are?

Anyway, there is no longer any written law passed in an American legislature that prohibits suicide or attempting suicide.

Peano said...

Leo Ladenson said...Suicide was a felony at common law and, on that basis, remains a crime in many states. See, e.g., Wackwitz v. Roy, 418 S.E.2d 861, 864 (Va. 1992).

It is no longer in the criminal statutes of any state. Thus you will search in vain for anyone being charged with the crime of attempted suicide.

Regarding Althorse's hobby horse, you certainly won't find a case in which a person who attempted suicide is charged with attempted murder. That is the gaping hole in her parroting that "suicide is murder." If she means suicide as a legal concept, then she is manifestly wrong. (If she means it as a moral concept, she hasn't offered any argument whatsoever to support her bald assertion.)

From Wikipedia:

"Historically, various states listed the act of suicide as a felony, but these policies were sparsely enforced. In the late 1960s, eighteen U.S. states lacked laws against suicide. By the late 1980s, thirty of the fifty states had no laws against suicide or suicide attempts but every state had laws declaring it to be felony to aid, advise or encourage another person to commit suicide. By the early 1990s only two states still listed suicide as a crime, and these have since removed that classification. In some U.S. states, suicide is still considered an unwritten 'common law crime,' as stated in Blackstone's Commentaries. (So held the Virginia Supreme Court in Wackwitz v. Roy in 1992.) As a common law crime, suicide can bar recovery for the late suicidal person's family in a lawsuit unless the suicidal person can be proven to have been 'of unsound mind.'"

Peano said...

kimsch said...A long time ago I had to help deal with an attempted suicide. I told her that her attempt could result in attempted murder charges.

You could have just as truthfully told her that her attempt could get her banished to the planet Neptune.

Try to find a case in which a person who attempted suicide was charged with attempted murder.

Penelope said...

Let’s take the suicide out this. Ravi obviously could not have foreseen that Clementi would kill himself, and I daresay that had he known, he would not have videotaped his roommate. So in the absence of a suicide, what would the crime be? (Would there have even been a crime?) That’s what Ravi should be charged with/prosecuted for, it seems to me. Nothing more.

Rit said...

Every problem that Clementi had, as well as every problem he was ever going to have, ended with his death. Now, if someone else had murdered him it would be the Will Munny quote from Unforgiven (1992) that was applicable: "It's a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he's got and all he's ever gonna have."

kimsch said...

Did I say she was? This was over 20 years ago and in Germany. She could have been. And since she wasn't serious about it in the first place, it helped deter any future cries for attention of this type.

I still agree with Althouse that suicide is self murder.

Michael said...

Seems as if it would be awfully hard to prove that the roommate (1) knew Clementi was gay, and (2) set up the webcam because Clementi was gay (or because the roommate suspected he was gay).

Hell, it seems to be an open question whether Clementi knew Clementi was gay.

Leo Ladenson said...

It seems wrong to me that you can be prosecuted for breaking an unwritten law. If the law is unwritten, how do you know when you've broken it? How do you know what the penalties are?

Anyway, there is no longer any written law passed in an American legislature that prohibits suicide or attempting suicide.



Good luck with that argument in front of a judge! The point of the common law is that it is not written down but is general law of the land--derived from the natural law--as interpreted by judges.

The lack of a written statute is no defense, but several of the states give notice by explicitly incorporating the common law by reference into their statutory law.

CachorroQuente said...

Suicide is not like murder in either the legal or moral context. Just compare the way those who attempt murder and those who attempt suicide are discussed in these comments. Imagine kimsch counseling someone who has just attempted murder to not do it again as it might get them in trouble. And, if you know someone who is contemplating suicide, piling on the shame is probably not a good way to talk them out of it.

Leo Ladenson said...

It is no longer in the criminal statutes of any state.


I don't know why that matters. And in fact that's wrong strictly speaking. The statutes of several of the states specifically incorporate the common law, including the criminality of suicide, by reference. For example, Virginia's code says: "The common law of England, insofar as it is not repugnant to the principles of the Bill of Rights and Constitution of this Commonwealth, shall continue in full force within the same, and be the rule of decision, except as altered by the General Assembly." Va. Code s 1-200.

bagoh20 said...

Just curious. Is burning down your own home still illegal even when there is no cost to anyone else, i.e. you own it, it's not insured, you have no debtors, it's in the desert with no danger to the surroundings and nobody calls the fire department?

Peano said...

Leo Ladenson said...I don't know why that matters.

Try to find a case in which a person who attempted suicide was charged with attempted murder. Then you'll see why it matters in the current context.

Peano said...

kimsch said...This was over 20 years ago and in Germany. She could have been.

And this is today in the United States. A person who attempts suicide cannot be charged with attempted murder.

Leo Ladenson said...

It is no longer in the criminal statutes of any state. Thus you will search in vain for anyone being charged with the crime of attempted suicide.


Wrong again. In State v. Willis, 121 S.E.2d 854 (N.C. 1961), the Supreme Court of North Carolina reversed a lower court's quashing of an indictment for attempted suicide, holding that attempted suicide was in fact a crime. In the same case, the Court referred to suicide as "selfmurder."

CachorroQuente said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revenant said...

If the law is unwritten, how do you know when you've broken it?

Show of hands -- who here needs to consult their local law library to figure out that there just might, MAYBE be legal repercussions to secretly broadcasting someone else's private private sexual encounter over the Internet?

Leo Ladenson said...

When was the last time in the US that a person was convicted of a common law crime that was not also a statute law crime?


Umm, last year. In Hickman v. State, 996 A.2d 974 (Md. Ct. of Spec. App. 2010), the Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld a conviction for common-law affray, which is basically public fighting.

CachorroQuente said...

Umm, last year.

You're right, I'm wrong.

rcocean said...

Suicide is "Self murder" - absurd. Suicide is an example of free will. I choose to kill myself. Murder is the exact opposite. Its the unlawful TAKING of a life against their will.

I doubt trying to "De-glamorize" suicide by calling it "self-murder" will accomplish anything - except murder the English Language.

Kirk Parker said...

Beldar,

I thought your original reference was clear enough, but Bagoh20 performed a real service here, as your clarification was nothing short of superb. Thanks!

Leo Ladenson said...

[Murder is] the unlawful TAKING of a life against their will.


Sorry, that's not the legal definition. The "will" of the victim has nothing to do with it. There can be no consent to homicide.

Geesh, I thought this was a bLAWg--you know, a law blog. Suicide, although differently denominated, does seem to me to have the elements of common-law murder: the taking of the life of a human being with malice aforethought (i.e., with the intent to commit a wrong and without justification).

Peano said...

Leo Ladenson said... Wrong again. In State v. Willis, 121 S.E.2d 854 (N.C. 1961), ...

1961. Fifty years ago, yes. Today, no. Nice try, no cigar. The claim is that suicide IS a crime and IS murder. "Was" won't do. Next time, read the entire post:

"Historically, various states listed the act of suicide as a felony, but these policies were sparsely enforced. In the late 1960s, eighteen U.S. states lacked laws against suicide. By the late 1980s, thirty of the fifty states had no laws against suicide or suicide attempts but every state had laws declaring it to be felony to aid, advise or encourage another person to commit suicide. By the early 1990s only two states still listed suicide as a crime, and these have since removed that classification."

Mary said...

"Geesh, I thought this was a bLAWg--you know, a law blog."


It's primarily an public art-performance piece, despite the New Media/protest rally coverage of the past months, I think.

At least, that's how the authoress used to define it.

Today's about crusading to stigmatize suicide, it seems. Taking something with a legal angle, and hanging baggage on it to solicit other viewpoints.

At least, I think that's how it's supposed to work around here. Maybe we need to poll whether readers think "suicide" is stigmatizing enough, or we have to heap self-murder rhetoric on top of that, to enhance the shaming effect. (?)

Kirk Parker said...

Juba,

Somehow you left out the part about this being a logical fallacy.



Peano,

What is your problem???!?

Synova said...

I don't know how many suicides would be prevented by people being just a bit more harsh about it toward the person who did it, but I do think that a whole lot more of surviving loved ones would be able to deal with the violence, deliberate and hateful violence, done to them by the person who decides to die if we stopped being so insistent on insisting that suicide isn't a willful act.

By refusing to put the blame on the person who actually takes that action, people end up putting the blame every where else.

Amartel said...

My roommate freshman year at college had a live-in boyfriend. They bonked all the time including and especially when I was in the room. It was gross and I get why Ravi was pissed off and took action. If that's what was happening, if he couldn't study or have friends over or sleep due to the sexcapades going on across the room, well, game on. It's axiomatic that you are responsible for your own actions and should have a care for the people around you. Apparently some people want there to be an exception for delicately-dispositioned homosexual gentlemen. Special rules for dainty fools. I say no.

Synova said...

And maybe a person who attempts suicide should be charged with something. Consider how expensive an attempt could be?

Jump off the bridge in San Francisco and if you live, what is the cost in emergency response? What is the risk to your rescuers? What are your medical bills? Slit your wrists and live and what is it going to cost by the time you're out of the hospital?

And that doesn't even mention the cost to your family. Of course, killing the family with you seems common enough. Men kill everyone and then themselves. Women kill their kids first.

A grand, romantic gesture to make them all sorry... Why should we as a society go along with that?

bagoh20 said...

What about self robbery, self fraud, and the ubiquitous self rape that is rampant?

It seems the offense of murder is the ultimate taking of that which belongs to another and "all they ever will have".

How can you take what is already yours. It seems that abortion would be closer to murder than suicide.

Mary said...

"By refusing to put the blame on the person who actually takes that action, people end up putting the blame every where else."


???

These are class lessons, perhaps. Meaning, in real life anyway, it's more classy to express sympathy to a dead person's family after the fact than it is to make certain that everyone understands that the dead made the wrong choice, and took the wrong action, thus causing untold pain to the family and survivors.

Gee, I wonder if we could just somehow re-write the facts here... instead of shaking our heads at the stupidity of the callous college roommate who taped sex going on, and thinking sadly at the fragility of the dead young violinist, why not use this very public death as a TEACHING MOMENT!

You know, to crusade against bullying, unequal treatment of gays and straights, and especially, to warn of the ill effects of suicide so that we can HELP the CHILDREN -- all the future children who are currently living and might be dissuaded if only we used our words and thoughts to communicate to them how wrong it is.

(I remember when it was preachers and religion -- not professors and academic campuses -- where these discussions primarily took place and moral lessons were taught.)

I get your point Synova, but sometimes, bad things happen and there's not a damn thing after the fact to be done to PREVENT such things from happening again.

Ravi was a stupid immature fool for taping someone sexually whom he needed to build a basic bond of trust with -- his assigned roommate. And the other boy was stupid for letting others have so much control that their actions allegedly dictated whether he wanted to live or die.

Here's an idea: let's bring back mandatory military service for these American kids, so they can learn a bit about which difference matter, and what group loyalty means under pressure. Sheltering them from reality on college campuses, where they're often led by ideological teachers of those not in the professions anymore themselves, seems a recipe for the crap concoctions we see spewed out daily.


Enough already. Grow up kiddos ... and your sons and daughters too.

reader_iam said...

Interesting discussion of terms.

I can remember it being hammered into my head (for reasons related to avoiding libel, for example) that homicide is the legal term for killing a person; that manslaughter is homicide without malice or meditation; that murder means homicide with premeditation and malice. The distinctions were critical.

This is why, for example, one would write something like, "John Doe was arrested on charges of murder" as opposed to, say, "John Doe was arrested for murder." And you weren't supposed to say someone murdered someone else or that he or she was a murderer until a conviction took place.

Even all homicides aren't technically murders, though I understand people use "homicide" and "murder" interchangeably in the vernacular. So I'm not sure I'm comfortable with using "self-murder" interchangeably with "suicide."

To the degree that Althouse is responding to a certain romanticizing of suicide, or at least that its victims are helpless against its pull as a "solution" to almost anything**, I'm sympathetic to her cause. However, I'm not so jazzed about the method, in terms of the use of language.

**I say almost anything, because in certain cases--such as hopeless, terminal illness--I think a decent argument can be made that it CAN be a reasonable "solution."

Mary said...

"By refusing to put the blame on the person who actually takes that action, people end up putting the blame every where else."

Besides, if suicide isn't the ultimate in "accepting responsibility" for ones own mistakes, and paying a verrrrry high cost for them, I'm not sure what more some of you folks want.

The blame game is pretty much over for the successful suicides, as someone pointed out upthread. Shaming the dead just to penalize their families kinda misses the point, in more classy or genteel circles anyway.

Mary said...

"And maybe a person who attempts suicide should be charged with something. Consider how expensive an attempt could be?"


A most excellent example of why people hate lawyers!

(If you see a nail, and laws are all you think you have as tools ... hammer away! Keeps 'em employed!)

Mary said...

A final thought:

Let's get something on the books to categorize masturbation as self-rape too. Imagine the charges, fines, and fees you could bring in!

Mary said...

"And that doesn't even mention the cost to your family. Of course, killing the family with you seems common enough. Men kill everyone and then themselves. Women kill their kids first.

A grand, romantic gesture to make them all sorry... Why should we as a society go along with that?"


Or maybe... it's not romantic so much, just fiscally conservative. Not wanting to stick the tab of providing for your family after you're gone on the taxpayers.

(See, once you start thinking rationally about what obviously mentally ill or unhealthy people choose to do to harm themselves, the game's up. It's clearly an irrational act, which is why casting about logically for an easy solution, or comparables, is pretty much a waste.)

rcocean said...

Sorry, that's not the legal definition..

Who said it was? No one. And don't let Trooper know this is a Blog about Law - he hates lawyers.

Peano said...

Kirk Parker said... Peano, What is your problem???!?

Not my problem, but our problem. All the fuss was stirred up because The Althorse keeps parroting the bald assertion, "Suicide is self-murder."

Does she mean that suicide is defined in criminal law as self-murder? She doesn't say.

Does she mean that suicide is morally but not legally murder? She doesn't say.

I think she is just ventilating some buried emotion that even she doesn't understand. If it were anything more, she would have presented an argument by now.

reader_iam said...

Synova said:

And maybe a person who attempts suicide should be charged with something.

I sincerely don't get how this would be helpful, either to the individual who attempted suicide or as a deterrent to any other individual who might consider suicide.

What penalties would you propose, upon conviction? Jail time? You mentioned "costs." Well, it's not cheap to incarcerate someone (or even to try someone in the court system, with or without appeals). Having a loved one in jail is not emotionally cost-free for his or her family (and in the case of attempted suicide, it seems me this would ADD costs, not offset them). I'm not sure the "cost" approach is particularly helpful here. I could be wrong about that, but the case hasn't been made, in my opinion.

reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reader_iam said...

Is the idea that those who attempt suicide owe a debt to society, in the way that those convicted of homicide or attempted homicide do? But that seems to me to put us on very shaky philosophical grounds given that this IS suicide--the killing of one's own self, one's own person. Society ought to have more say in that than the individual, to the point that it (society) is owed a debt by the individual? I find it a little scary, myself, to contemplate the implications of that.

[deleted and reposted]to correct typo that critically affected the meaning)

shoutingthomas said...

They bonked all the time including and especially when I was in the room.

The technically correct term is boinked. This euphemism was coined by Bart Simpson and should not be bastardized.

bagoh20 said...

The fact that you need to put "self" before the word "murder" is all the difference in the world. As it would be with virtually all crimes. Aren't crimes primarily established to protect us from one another, not from ourselves. Well, the proper and constitutional ones anyway.

Lucien said...

Crimes in general should be considered hate crimes, and a small portion should be carved out as "love crimes" -- for example, when your spouse is in the process of dying from ricin poisoning and she asks you to shoot her to shorten the process, and you do. That really shouldn't get the same class of punishment that the poisoner deserves.

BTW: one should not proclaim "post hoc ergo propter hoc" unless it is clear that one is doing so ironically.

Gene said...

TWM: I really do hate the concept of hate crimes. Shunning the guy who did the video, booting him out of school, and suing him if legally possible seems enough.

Well, you're absolutely right. Hate Crimes are concepts thought up by liberals to punish people who commit thought crimes. It isn't enough for them to punish you for what you actually did. They also want to punish you for what you thought while you did it.

Furthermore, in their mind, the thought crime is actually worse than the actual physical crime. When the president of Duke University was presented with evidence that his lacrosse team did not rape Crystal Mangum, his rely was, "well, what they did do was bad enough."

He was referring to the fact that one of the strippers had called the lacrosse team members "short dicked white boys." In response, one of the lacrosse players subsequently told her to "thank her grandfather for my nice cotton shirt."

In the minds of the Duke president that racial slur (essentially a thought crime) was actually worse than Mangum's alleged rape. That's why the president had Duke help the cops and DA prosecute the lacrosse team, fire the coach and cancel the season--"what they did do was bad enough."

In short, having bad thoughts are just as bad as committing real crimes.

William said...

Barracks life: A favorite practical joke was to light a newspaper on fire and then throw it into the stall of someone taking a crap. Such humor could easily have had unintended consequences.....I had a roommate who, in a similar vein, came back from the bar late at night and lit up a Roman Candle in our room. He thought it would be funny to wake me in such a way. Now, if I had died of a heart attack or, better yet, had beat him to death, would the law hold him responsible for my or his own death.....I share these remininscences of days gone by to detail how adolescents are jerks. This was a prank. Cruelty was part of it, as it is of every prank, but, absent evidence to the contrary, it does not seem extrordinarily malicous or mean spirited.

reader_iam said...

In the case of crimes related to killing, it seems to that our laws already provided for issues of intent. See "murder=homicide with premeditation and malice vs. manslaughter=homicide without premedition or malice". Layering the "hate crimes" stuff on top of that thus strikes me--has always struck me--as primarily a political move, and I do agree that it dangerously nudges our society toward a "thoughcrimes" stance.

reader_iam said...

"thoughtcrimes" stance

kimsch said...

I think suicide is the ultimate cop-out, not "the ultimate in "accepting responsibility" for ones own mistakes". Sure the person is dead, but no more problems for them. They leave all their problems behind for others to deal with. Whatever debts were left behind and the cleanup from the mess that is invariably left as a result of death, especially the more violent versions.

WoW Lawbringer said...

There is another important reason to criminalize suicide -- the prosecution of accomplices.

For example, suppose my husband is sleeping with the single gal and my best friend next door and I'm suicidally depressed. She doesn't just want the half of our assets that he'd get in the divorce, so she encourages me to kill myself and I do so. Where suicide is illegal, she has just become an accessory to the crime and can be prosecuted as such. Where suicide is legal, my remaining family has no recourse. What crime or tort as been committed? Even establishing the necessary proximate cause for the crime of assisted suicide might not be possible, assuming the local jurisdiction even has such laws on the books.

Amartel said...

Suicide is self-murder. Maybe it's the charitable thing to do, to be un-PC and call it what it is. Suicidal people are not in their right mind. They are emotional and get caught up emotionally in the notion of "suicide," and all the dramatic cultural detritus that has attached to this notion, without thinking what it really means until it's too late. For instance, people have reported changing their minds after jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Well, the ones that lived reported. Deromanticizing the notion may lead to less incidence of self-murder/suicide.

Also, bonking/boinking=same thing.
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bonking

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

rcocean,

I doubt trying to "De-glamorize" suicide by calling it "self-murder" will accomplish anything - except murder the English Language.

IIRC, in German the word for "suicide" is "Selbstmord." So it's not as though there is precedent, and in a major European language that shares roots with Modern English to boot.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

rcocean,

Aaargh. Isn't precedent. Sorry.

wv: agingstr. I can think of a number of those.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Amartel,

For instance, people have reported changing their minds after jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Well, the ones that lived reported.

And there are very, very few of those, though oddly enough one happened just a few days ago.

By pure coincidence I was rereading an Edmund Crispin mystery this morning in which a teenager throws herself off Waterloo Bridge into the Thames, and lives just long enough to have serious second thoughts.

vbspurs said...

Leo Ladenson wrote:

My understanding of the facts was that Ravi's monitor was the sole viewing point. If the stream was intentionally made more widely available, then I would have to revise and amend.

See if this changes your opinion. This is what is claimed that Dharun Ravi did.

NEW YORK (LALATE) – Dharun Ravi (photo below) is the Rutgers student charged with sending a live stream of his gay roommate Tyler Clementi (aka Tyler Clemente) online via a webcam while Clementi had relations with his boyfriend. When Dharun Ravi was told by his roommate that he wanted their dorm room for himself for a few hours so that he could have relations, Ravi’s reaction was “yeah”.

Ravi soon decided to allegedly become the roommate from hell. Ravi left behind a webcam connected as he exited the room, claim police. He ended to another Rutgers room. There he remotely accessed the webcam, put Tyler online via live streaming video, captured pictures, posted the pictures, activated a chat room for discussed, and tried to promote his endeavors via social networking on Twitter, claim police.


http://news.lalate.com/2010/09/29/dharun-ravi-rutgers-photo/

He is also charged with deleting evidence, since he sent out a Tweet to his friends advising him he would be webcaming the encounter via a live feed so they can watch.

This guy is scum. Maybe he doesn't deserve gaol-time, but I for one won't be crying.

vbspurs said...

Re: the topic of suicide, if you guys are able to stomach it, I can recommend a documentary (available on Netflix) called "The Bridge".

It's a harrowing film about real-life suicides who jump off the Golden Gate Bridge in Frisco. You see real footage, since the documentarists positioned a camera there and filmed several people committing suicide (this led to a lot of criticism, of course).

And would you believe it, they interview one guy who actually survived.

Apparently, it hinges on how you enter the water: if straight in, you die. If angled, you may live...this goes counter to what I always learned about diving.

vbspurs said...

...the most amazing part of the interview with the Golden Gate survivor was the moment he jumped off the Bridge -- he immediately thought, "Wow, this is a bad idea".

This surely is what every single suicide has thought, when jumping off that Bridge. In their case, it was their last conscious thought.

Kirk Parker said...

reader_iam,

Intent, sure. But "intent" =/= "motivation".

Beth said...

I won't cry for Ravi, either, VB. If there's no real penalty for broadcasting on the web the personal activities of an unknowing person with whom you share a home, or whose home you have access to, then we might as well all just give up any notion of privacy. That he set up a discussion, a video stream, used social media to publicize it shows he intended to humiliate his roommate.

Take the death entirely out of the picture, and this man - not boy! - should still be serving some time. If the hate crime enhancements are being used to ensure that, it's because the existing laws against privacy violations, impeding an investigation and destroying evidence are too weak.

I'd point out to those calling Ravi a boy, or a kid, that if he were in uniform serving abroad, most of us here would be insulted to hear him called a kid and his actions written off as a youthful prank.

David53 said...

@Beth
the personal activities of an unknowing person with whom you share a home

I never thought of my dorm room as a "home", it was just a place I could live while I attended college.

Privacy violations my ass, that's just bullshit. When you share a room with a stranger it's sort of a Caveat emptor thing.

Revenant said...

Take the death entirely out of the picture, and this man - not boy! - should still be serving some time.

From a moral perspective I quite agree with Beth. Legally, I'm not sure what his liability is -- but this is exactly the kind of thing that *should* merit prison time.

David53 said...

@Rev
but this is exactly the kind of thing that *should* merit prison time.

So I guess you're OK with prison time for people who video tape cops "subduing" suspects.

Sofa King said...

I really, strongly disagree. Privacy violation is a wrong against the person whose privacy you have violated, not an offense to civic order. It is properly a civil, not a criminal offense.

Revenant said...

So I guess you're OK with prison time for people who video tape cops "subduing" suspects.

Why would I be? Explain your reasoning.

Eric said...

It would be outrageous to send Ravi to prison for what he did. This represents little more than the rule of the mob. If we're going to bend and twist the law like this to "get" people we don't like, we may as well dispense with the judiciary and just keep a supply of pitchforks and torches on hand.

Revenant said...

It would be outrageous to send Ravi to prison for what he did.

There are a lot of laws on the books that outrage me. But never once have I found myself thinking "the world would be a better place if only it were legal for people to secretly film me having sex".

Maybe it's just me, I dunno.

David53 said...

But never once have I found myself thinking "the world would be a better place if only it were legal for people to secretly film me having sex".

ButI have found myself thinking "the world would be a better place if only we put people in jail who secretly film me having sex".

Heh.

Synova said...

I wouldn't mind stronger and more explicit laws protecting privacy. The government has some limitations but private citizens really do not.

Filming someone in a private situation or recording them in a private conversation and publishing it or publishing their home addresses or other private contact information or even publicly available contact information... I can see making that illegal, and not in a way that excuses people for doing it to someone who did it themselves, first. If I publish my phone number or a nudie picture of myself it should not imply permission given to others to do the same. (I might even go so far as supporting it being illegal to invade someone elses privacy through exposure... like a flasher or someone emailing a picture of their privates or other thing that can't be unseen again.)

I can't really see jail time for privacy violations, though. But a permanent criminal record and a fine paid to the victim... that ought to work.

If the idea is that people don't understand when they've transgressed and they ought to be made to understand... it might work pretty well.

I suppose it would end up a bit like the Philippines and how defamation of character was explained to us at in-processing there. That the truth is not important and not a defense if other people might not have known what you revealed.

That was sort of odd because they tended to apply it to charges that someone was a criminal and cheat. In the US the facts would be a defense against slander.

Focused on privacy, though. It might work. And I can get behind enforcing privacy issues.

reader_iam said...

David53:

When you share a room with a stranger it's sort of a Caveat [E]mptor thing.

I realize things have changed on campus since my days. But aren't people still *assigned* to roommates sometimes? And most likely to be *assigned* roommates as freshman, meaning they get accepted to a college, they sign up to live in a dorm and then are assigned a roommate if they don't have someone to request a shared room with? (Hell, back in my day, tons of schools REQUIRED freshman to live in dorms, and also either specifically or by default, required them to accept an entirely unknown roommate. But that was then. What is now?)

I'd want to know ALL of the circumstances, David53, and all of the context. Wouldn't you? If it was anything like what I just referred to, you bet your ass I'd like there to be a very strong expectation indeed, at least, that certain assumed norms and rules with regard to privacy be observed, and most particularly at the freshman level. That goes both ways, by the way, in terms of roommates.

How clearly and specifically have you thought through all of the implications of what you said? This:

"When you share a room with a stranger it's sort of a Caveat [E]mptor thing.

"Sort of" is pretty much right, and no more, if you've been assigned to an unknown roommate (maybe your first ever) whom you perhaps meet your very first week at college. Not exactly, is closer to it--especially these days, when, apparently, no one can assume or expect anything in terms of respecting privacy or basic decency.

--

I'm considering this as a new tagline:

No one who fails to understand the importance of accepting the idea of boundaries as a matter of free will can truly grasp the idea of a free country. Those who fail to embrace the former will surely degrade and eventually betray the latter.

What do you all think?

reader_iam said...

So I guess you're OK with prison time for people who video tape cops "subduing" suspects.

The police are public safety employees, employed by the public to help manage the safety of the public (though not to guarantee it, of course) in a more efficient manner than willy-nilly.

The point of your analogy is...wait! Does your analogy even make sense?

(By the way, I don't think the roommate should be held responsible for the suicide. That is too much of a stretch. Nor do I agree with the "hate crime" thing. I do think he made an awful choice, is likely someone whom people hereafter should treat with great caution and suspicion, and ought to be charged with what he could have been charged had his roommate NOT killed himself.

And I further agree that if there was nothing with which he could be charged had his roommmate not killed himself, there probably ought to be *something,* however mild, toward which side that charge ought to lean, at least upon first offense.

Better yet would be a society which judges *streaming-video-roommate" as way more of an asshole than "engaging-in-sex-in-a-shared-dorm-room guy." I mean, they're both assholes in their own way, but the former is far more arrogant and, more important, far more pernicious in terms of a free country than the latter.)

reader_iam said...

I had a freshman-year roommate who lost her virginity, one night in the spring of 1980, in our shared room (though not a dorm room). To this day, I consider it a miracle that I slept through that, given my lifelong, from early childhood, sleeping issues (which continue to this day).

She did tell me the very next day. I told her that very same day that if I ever woke up and found myself unwillingly privy to her personal sex life, I'd keep silent during and wouldn't even gossip about it after, but that would be the end of any relationship we might have--and I'd expect her to be the one to move out and bear all related financial costs (hers and mine).

Here it is, 31 years later, and she is still, to this day, one of the two best friends I've had in my entire life and still have, to this day. (Likewise, she called me out and set boundaries, too, though not on any issue like that. All for the good, I say.)

vbspurs said...

Reader_Iam wrote:

Likewise, she called me out and set boundaries, too, though not on any issue like that.

U-huhhhhh. Suuure. ;)

Republican said...

Ravi may be an ass, but he's not a dumb ass like the dead guy.

reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reader_iam said...

Blogger vbspurs said...


Reader_Iam wrote:

Likewise, she called me out and set boundaries, too, though not on any issue like that.

U-huhhhhh. Suuure. ;)

---

One of the issues on which she called me out (though in a slightly later time frame than the anecdote I shared) was that my personality as she experienced it sometimes earliest on sucked the oxygen out of the room.

I never put her in a position of unwittingly being a third party to a private sexual (or other) encounter.

And.

To this day I always take into account what she might think about what I might say and do say.

---

Uh-huh AND for sure, Victoria. : )

Cheers!

RIA

; )

Mian said...

Prosecutors are over-reaching on this. If this goes to a trial it's unlikely a jury will see it as a "hate crime."

People have more common sense than that, even in the blue state of NJ.

Mary said...

Re. "I think suicide is the ultimate cop-out, not "the ultimate in "accepting responsibility" for ones own mistakes". Sure the person is dead, but no more problems for them. They leave all their problems behind for others to deal with. Whatever debts were left behind and the cleanup from the mess that is invariably left as a result of death, especially the more violent versions."


If Bernie Madoff had voluntarily put himself down after his crimes, would you say that's more "accepting responsibility" and self administering the punishment. (thereby nudging us toward acknowledging proper societal values after the fact at least, akin to Asian corporate leaders)?

or did he "cop out" by taking the soft easy prison landing?


(If we could ask Madoff's dead-by-his-own-hand son, I think I know how he'd answer. The son got it, I think. Maybe because by being out in society when the crimes consequences were coming in, he say all the unfixable damage his father and the family allegedly had done to others.)


And say what you will about the delicate violinist jumping, he didn't leave a young kid in the other room potentially to find the body or a messy scene... Mentally ill and irrational maybe doesn't think empathetically toward others on the details.

Mary said...

fixed:
he saW all the unfixable damage his father and the family allegedly had done to others.

His father -- safe in jail -- probably still doesn't see it.

And the banking world and businessmen like him haven't much changed the tune they're dancing too. So much for that.

Copelandweb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.