In a case that’s gained national attention, a New Jersey judge Monday sentenced former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi to 30 days in jail and three years’ probation for spying on his roommate’s encounter with another man with a webcam in 2010. His roommate, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide shortly after the incident.
A jury found Ravi guilty of 15 counts of bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and related charges, but not a hate crime, and he faced up to 10 years in jail. That Judge Glenn Berman determined that 30 days in jail was fair punishment has perplexed lawyers, activists and Clementi’s family.
During sentencing, the judge noted that Ravi hadn’t apologized — and he still hasn’t. Instead, he comes off as aloof and cocky, as though he is the victim in this incident.
While he didn’t cause physical harm to Clementi, Ravi’s actions certainly had an effect on his roommate. To conclude otherwise is naïve.
It’s apparent that Ravi hasn’t experienced discrimination based on an immutable trait such as sexual orientation. (He may perhaps, justly or unjustly, be discriminated against because of his actions.)
Following his sentencing, it was reported that Ravi didn’t apologize because he thought it would fall on deaf ears and wouldn’t make a difference. Again, this is naïve.
While some, such as Clementi’s brother, might have felt the apology wouldn’t have mattered, wouldn’t have prevented Clementi’s suicide, it would have demonstrated that Ravi understood the impact of his actions.
Whether Ravi’s actions were insensitive, childish, a prank or something more sinister, failing to see that one’s behavior can affect others is troubling. To wit, Webster defines psychopathic personality as “a person whose behavior is largely amoral and asocial and who is characterized by irresponsibility, lack of shame or remorse, perverse or impulsive (often criminal) behavior ... ” Dictionary.com defines psychopath as “a person with a psychopathic personality, which manifests as amoral and antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationship, extreme egocentricity, failure to learn from experience.”
It’s that last phrase that is perhaps the most disappointing about Ravi’s public comments, and the statements his parents have given. Whether or not he realized it or meant it, Ravi’s actions contributed to the suicide of a gay college student. After he serves his jail and probation sentence, he’ll go on to live the rest of his life. Tyler Clementi won’t.