Streams

The Dharun Ravi Trial

Friday, March 09, 2012

Nancy Solomon, managing editor of New Jersey Public Radio, discusses the Dharun Ravi trial she has been reporting on, and what the case has told us about Tyler Clementi's last days before his suicide.

Guests:

Nancy Solomon
News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

Comments [42]

Lou S from Jersey Shore

I would have like to hear more about this case. It deserves more. One important question is, Did the Jury see the Video. How many times was Ravi's privacy violated by his roommate asking for the room? How were deleted tweets recovery?
Where can i find a recording of this Trial. One thing is for sure, Ravi's lawyer was over his head.

Mar. 20 2012 07:47 AM
C from NY Metro

I was dismayed to learn of The New Yorker's Ian Parker’s take on this case during Nancy Solomon’s segment. In recounting and confirming the lack of "evidence" in the case (there was no online posting, for example) Mr. Lehrer asked Ms. Solomon: "then--what WAS there?" Isn’t a dead student, who took his own life, and who happened to be the roommate of the one standing trial enough? If no one had died, would anyone even BE on trial? The very tout on this page for this segment mentions the deceased, touting its content as "what the case has told us about Tyler Clementi’s last days before his suicide". Perhaps a by-product of this case is indeed that of cautionary tale regarding privacy in the digital age, anti-bias, and the other important attending social issues it has raised, but Mr. Lehrer’s "digital footprint" digression during the segment further besmirched the tragic death of young, talented person, IMHO.

Mar. 13 2012 12:26 PM
br1121 from So Orange, NJ

There's no winner here. As a gay man, I have been subjected to a lot of bullying and cruel behavior. I wish, in some way, all those that bullied me knew how it felt and had some idea of the pain they were inflicting.

Having said that, Ravi is being made a scapegoat. No need to destroy another life. I hope he learns from this and perhaps can serve society in a capacity that will redeem him - not to us - but redeem his own self worth.

I also can't help but wonder if Ravi is gay and can't cope with it. Was his spying a way to separate himself from Clementi while looking to fulfill his own secret desire?

Mar. 11 2012 04:20 PM
Political PoP from America

I think all gay people got raped some point in thier lives which is why they all say i was born this way..

Mar. 11 2012 10:25 AM
Andrea B.

Yes, lets turn New Jersey into a combination of Singapore and East Germany.

The most shocking thing about this case is the contempt for civil liberties on the part of people who otherwise claim to be civil rights goodie-goodies. Two seconds of seeing two men kissing! Thats the extent of the webcam viewing. As soon as he saw it was possibly a sex date, not a drug date or a date to rifle through his stuff, Dharun Ravi turned it off.

One thing we know now: There are no civil libertarian homosexuals, they are all totalitarians when it comes to what they perceive as their self-interest.

I live in New Jersey. Our legislature needs to nail down what "bias" is that could result in a "bias intimidation" prosecution. The judge in this case says that being "uncomfortable" with homosexuals is such a bias. This is a dagger aimed at the rest of us, the non-protected people.

Regarding "Invasion of Privacy," the legislature needs to tell us if it is an invasion of privacy to see people kissing and if male shirtlessness is "intimate body parts exposed."

Mar. 10 2012 08:11 PM

As a former adjunct professor who taught mostly boys at a New Jersey university, I have been stunned at the outright vitriol and hatred aimed at this stupid, immature kid. Part of it has to do with how the media functions these days. Those erroneous early reports about how he caught a sex act on camera and then broadcast it to the world, outing Tyler, were what did it, and they were all wrong. The problem is, no one bothers to read anymore, so there are a lot of people who still don't know the facts. A 2-second kiss, seen by about 4 kids. That's what happened.

I just hope this jury is able to look at this case level-headedly.

Mar. 10 2012 01:49 PM
East Sidess indian from 10075

I wish I could auto silence my radio when I dont want to hear something
One key word would be Dharun Ravi

Waste of time. Let us just turn twitter off and turn cell phones off one day of the week. College kids are glued to hand held things so are silly rich adults in NYC.

The world has better things to think about like the journalist Daniel Williams and the Syrians who risked their lives getting him out of Baba Amour.

What we in uSA listen to, is so frivolous.....not that the gentleman that committed suicide's life isnt....but not to be dragged out in public.

Mar. 09 2012 08:53 PM
Eugenia Renskoff from Brooklyn,NY

Hi, I think that the room mate did a stupid and mean thing and he should pay for it. I also think that he regrets it because Tyler Clementi died and now he, the room mate, is in deep trouble. Tyler Clementi was very young and he may have felt that fighting society was too much. He may have thought something like: There are others just like Ravi who will be doing the same thing, filming me while I am with another man or calling me names. Had this encounter been with Tyler and a woman, the room mate never would have filmed it. Too tame, nothing to write home about. I am sorry that Tyler will never be back. Eugenia Renskoff

Mar. 09 2012 02:02 PM
O. from Brooklyn, NY

I grew up in a rural, backward area and I know what hateful, intimidating speech and behavior against gay people sounds like and looks like - Ravi did an awful thing - but having seen the text messages and having heard reporting of the trial, this is not a hate crime. These are bratty kids behaving badly. They should get 10 years of community service but a prison sentence is insane.
I'm gay and I am in no way feeling charitable towards Ravi - he was being cruel and mean spirited and he deserves to pay for it - but he is a kid and kids do stupid things and thats where this should end. He did not gay bash someone into a coma or kill someone and use the 'gay panic' excuse. It seems this whole thing has gotten very overblown. Who knows why Climenti killed himself truthfully - I now people who suffered far greater humiliation for years and did not - i've heard about of people who suffered far less and did - to draw a straight line between the two incidents seems simplistic to me. Ravi's actions surly did not help his frame of mind but who knows what else contributed to his mental state when he took his life.

Mar. 09 2012 12:40 PM
Elizabeth

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/02/06/120206fa_fact_parker

Mar. 09 2012 12:33 PM
rachel from brooklyn

According to the reporter one aspect of proving bias is does this kind of spying happen on heterosexual couples in college. I venture to say yes, given how immature and stupid 18 year old college kids can be in general. Would love to hear from college deans on this.

Strange that our culture insists on the room-mate configuration being part of the college experience. Living in such close quarters invites invasions of privacy and transgresson of boundaries.

I'm with John at the Office, below - these were really, really stupid kids, with no idea how to live in a diverse community. (Doesn't say much for Rutgers' student orientation.) But 10 years inprisonment would be scapegoating.

Mar. 09 2012 11:16 AM
Barbara from NYC

Why is Ravi being handled so harshly?
He is not.
He was offered a no jail time plea bargain
with community service, as his codefendant was.
She took that offer;
Ravi turned it down.

There is also the issue of possible deportation.
The plea offer included a recommendation against deportation.

Mar. 09 2012 11:10 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

@Johnathan Marks:
Any on-stand disclosure of homosexuality by Dharun would not absolve him of homophobia, ipso facto. Gays can be homophobic, Jews can be self-hating, blacks can be white-supremacist, etc.

Mar. 09 2012 11:04 AM
Stella from Manhattan

To Truth & Beauty: what's heartbreaking (on top of everything else that's heartbreaking) is that Tyler wasn't yet an adult, he was a young man on the cusp of adulthood trying to negotiate his identity in an often hostile world.
Perhaps the school also shoulders some responsibility for not responding sooner to his request for a room change?
Hopefully, a lot of people are doing a lot of soul-searching...

Mar. 09 2012 11:00 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

The outcome of this case will help establish needed standards for tech privacy and regard/treatment of the "other", specifically gays. Again,

If Dharun was so concerned about Tyler's "older" male friend (I also read he described him as something like "scruffy"), then there must have been some Rutgers policy on roommate company that he should have known and could have leveraged.

In any case, if -- for unfounded reasons -- I'm going to surveil out of concern for my property, then I'm pointing the cam AT MY PROPERTY and not at unsuspecting inhabitants, because I'd KNOW this would be spying on them, in a dorm room context.

Apparently, Dharun has a history of using technology to spy on human beings. It seems clear that he was spying, especially when he invited his friends to join in, and did it a second time -- after his property went unharmed and knowing what he'd see.

He also displayed an inclination to deride poor/"scruffy" people and gay people. Here, his devaluing of these people seems to have manifested in a willingness to humiliate them.

Hopefully, this case will underscore how HATE DOESN'T ONLY MANIFEST IN PHYSICAL VIOLENCE OR OVERT, ABUSIVE LANGUAGE, but includes the derision, social alienation and humiliation that is so very painful and too often fatal (though Dharun is, correctly, not being charged with Tyler's death).

Mar. 09 2012 10:56 AM
Stella from Manhattan

Thank you, Brian, for keeping the focus on this trial - and the larger issues it involves. Ravi is a homophobe and a sadist - he knowingly invaded not only Tyler Climenti's privacy but his life, but the lives of his family, his lover, and any children or teenagers who identify as gay. The question is not if Ravi should be punished, but how. Instead of incarceration, I hope the jury can consider (a ten year sentence of) community service and sensitivity training. It has to get better... Tyler's death must not be in vain.

Mar. 09 2012 10:50 AM
Jonathan Marks from Brooklyn

The New Yorker piece left me with the impression that Ravi might himself have a prurient interest in gay sex. Far from being homophobic, he himself may have a gay inclination. How ironic it would be if this is the case. Were he to admit to it on the stand, he could very well avoid being convicted of the hate crime charges. It would take considerable courage and clarity of mind for him to do it.

Mar. 09 2012 10:49 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I disagree that bias charges are about "thought crimes." If there's just thought & no crime, there's no bias charge. Intent does matter in the law; that's why the penalty for attempted murder is greater than the penalty for assault & battery.

Mar. 09 2012 10:47 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

From what I heard on yesterday's news, there is more than overwhelming evidence against Ravi and his activities were indeed illegal according to statutory law. In addition, he committed moral violations and, while he may eventually be released from prison, Tyler Clementi will never be back. I'm only sorry that Ravi's partner in crime managed to worm her way out of prosecution by turning state's evidence.

This whole issue is quite disgusting. Intimate relations between CONSENTING ADULTS need to be kept intimate and private and dorm rooms are really not ideal for that; nevertheless, NO ONE should be broadcasting someone's else's activities without his/her/their voluntary WRITTEN consent.

Mar. 09 2012 10:45 AM
Ella from NYC

Must read: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/02/06/120206fa_fact_parker

Mar. 09 2012 10:45 AM
dc from west orange from West Orange NJ

the caller who said Ravi is being victimized by the media needs to ask a basic question, Does Ravi ever become responsible for anything? it was his camera, he broadcasted it. School dorms are small, always have been, get over it, join the military it's smaller and less privacy

Mar. 09 2012 10:44 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

Beth, right on.

Mar. 09 2012 10:43 AM
William from Manhattan

Again, I have to ask, Why is hatred of gay people called "homophobia"? We don't say "Semitophobia".

Mar. 09 2012 10:43 AM
Seth Allen from New Jersey

Hi! Everyone please check out this new software that protects your Webcam and prevents spying.

It's at webcamsafe.com

Mar. 09 2012 10:43 AM
ash from west village

would this trial be a big deal if clemente did not commit suicide? ravi is being charged with invasion of privacy. is he also being charged with manslaughter? and if not, should he be?

Mar. 09 2012 10:42 AM
Susan

Remember Ravi was offered a plea that would have given him no jail time, which he refused. And trying to spread the blame from Ravi, who actually set up the web cam and planned the "viewing party" to those who watched just doesn't pass the smell test. My sympathy is reserved for Tyler Clemente.

Mar. 09 2012 10:42 AM
h l

Wnyc is guilty of the excessive media coverage. And they, wnyc, provide details as if they're trying to peak our interest in the sexuality of it. Admit it.

Mar. 09 2012 10:42 AM
Beth from Putnam County, NY

re: caller who feels badly for Ravi because it's the culture's fault, not his: But shouldn't we make an example of Ravi, rather than telling youths (and homophobic adults) that bullying of minorities is not okay?

Mar. 09 2012 10:42 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

All crimes reflect societal breakdown. This doesn't make them less criminal, just as immaturity and ignorance don't make crimes less criminal.
Such phenomena need to be addressed socially AND criminally.

Mar. 09 2012 10:41 AM
JM from Manhattan

To accuse a young college student of aggravated manslaughter because another young student decided to take his own life instead of owning up to and being proud of his own behaviour is fascist. This was a prank and if the tragic young man had neer taken his life but instead had owned his sexual choices and just defended himself rationally , we wold not have these sorts of ridiculous overkill vilification of a young man (Ravi) who had no intent of driving the deceased man to suicide. To extrapolate in the fashion of those who want to make this somehow a hysterically greater wrong than it is is indicative of some sort of bias in the accusers that render them ":untouchable" . We are all open to being pranked.

Mar. 09 2012 10:41 AM
Dan from Nj

Is there evidence the defendant actually broadcast any content outside of just video chat from pc to pc? Also, does clementi's overall mental state (normal or abnormal) factor into the trial?

Mar. 09 2012 10:39 AM
john from office

Wow, people who would pour their hearts out for any other defendant, want to hang this stupid kid. This is a kid, in college, doing stupid things. Yes it was wrong but he did not intend to kill his roommate. Have a heart for a very stupid kid that must live with this forever.

I do feel for both parties here.

Mar. 09 2012 10:39 AM
fulana from Brooklyn

You keep saying Ravi "recorded" the video—but nothing was recorded. He connected through video chat, which as far as I understand does not record the video. I think it is a very important distinction, and a much stronger word to say he "recorded" video of a sexual encounter.

Mar. 09 2012 10:38 AM
Eve Sheridan

All colleges should do a better job of choosing roommate pairs- often roommates are very incompatible.

Mar. 09 2012 10:37 AM
Karen from NYC

I don't agree that Ravi should be convicted for anything other than, perhaps, invasion of privacy. I rely in part on an article in last week's New Yorker. Tyler had emotional problems prior to being spied upon by Ravi (he'd asked his mother to take him an a tour of area bridges the previous summer); both of them were young; neither was respecting the other's space.

Nor I do not think that Ravi was acting maliciously, or intended to bully Tyler; rather, he appeared to be uncomfortable about having a gay roommate and not able to handle those feelings in a mature way. Instead, he enlisted his friend's support; immature and dumb, but not evil.

Also, what did the school do to help these kids adjust to one another's lifestyles. They are kids, not adults. My own son -- hetero -- told me that if his straight roommate brought girls from outside the school community up to a small dorm room, and kicked him out, he'd be upset.

I wish that the court system had stayed out of this one. Tyler's death was tragic; Ravi's spying was wrong; but destroying Ravi's life would be another wrong.

Mar. 09 2012 10:37 AM
Smokey from LES

Who knew that IMs and texts were so easily retrieved? Who's saving these and why?

Mar. 09 2012 10:36 AM
Tom from Toronto

Anyone else sick of all the coverage on this trial?

WNYC has felt like HNN the last week.

Mar. 09 2012 10:35 AM
Dan from Nj

Is there evidence that the defendant actually broadcast any content, outside of just a one to one video chat conversation?

Mar. 09 2012 10:34 AM
Juliette from NYC

considering the forethought and malicious intent that went into Ravi's plan to deliberately do this to Tyler, why can't a charge of agg manslaughter at the very least be brought?

Mar. 09 2012 10:33 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

What Ravi did is disgusting. Having thought crimes is even more disturbing.

Mar. 09 2012 10:31 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

This trial is definitely disclosing details Tyler apparently wanted to keep private. But the case could be a tech-privacy and anti-homophobia milestone. And so society is indebted to that young man.

Mar. 09 2012 10:30 AM

Tabloid ?

Mar. 09 2012 10:00 AM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.