Last month, 18-year-old Rutgers Student Tyler Clementi jumped from the George Washington Bridge.Â Described by his family as, “a fine young man, and a distinguished musician,” Tyler ended his life due to a hate crime.
The events that led up to that day started just a few days prior.Â According to Student Activism, Tyer’s freshman roommate, Dharun Ravi, allegedly posted to Twitter about taping Clementi’s sexual encounter: “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.” Two days later, Ravi tweeted: “Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes it’s happening again.”(Gawker has the screenshots of Ravi’s Twitter feed, which has since been deleted. This was done while hanging out with his 18-year-old girlfriend and Rutgers student, Molly Wei.
The trauma of this humiliation caused young Tyler to post, “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry,” then end his short life.
Clementi’s roommate, Dharun Ravi, and Molly Wei were charged with invasion of privacy for secretly leaving a camera in his bedroom on Sept. 19 and posting footage of an ensuing sexual encounter on the internet. Ravi received two more charges for attempting to record another of the Clementi’s encounters on Sept. 21.
Described by his friend to be a very good person that just made a “bad mistake,” Ravi could be the prototypical South Asian kid. Unfortunately, traditionalism still exists within South Asian American culture. Homosexuality is not accepted and being openly gay is looked down upon within the diaspora. Lack of exposure to empathy and tolerance could be what made Dharun Ravi think that blasting his gay roomate’s sex life on a webcam was funny. It could also be why Molly didn’t stop him.
Post September 11th, South Asian Americans experienced many life lessons about tolerance and racism. The xenophobia that erupted against South Asians, Middle Easterners, and Muslims reminded us that we are still the minority. This should make educated minorities examine what we teach our children and our community about the rights of other minority groups.