Humiliation and Death of a Rutgers student

Update: a body has been found.

Tyler Clementi, a violinist and student at Rutgers University, is the man police believe jumped to his death off the south walk of the George Washington Bridge last Wednesday night. His body has not been found, but a wallet was left. He was 18 years old.

Tyler: The story is still developing, but all signs point to Clementi’s suicide, and tie his death to his humiliation by two fellow students, who police believe set up hidden cameras in his dorm room on the Davidson campus, recorded a sexual encounter, then broadcast it widely via the internet. The students, Dharun Ravi of Plainsboro and Molly Wei of Princeton, have been charged with invasion of privacy.

Asher: Last week, Houston 8th-grader Asher Brown shot himself in the head after what his parents say was relentless bullying. Picked on because of his size, his religion and because he didn’t have the fashionable shoes. Some kids also said he was gay, and performed mock sex acts on him in gym.

Chris: This week, at the University of Michigan, the school’s first openly gay student body president – Chris Armstrong – is the subject of a breathless, angry blog written by alumnus Andrew Shirvell, a Michigan Assistant Attorney General who describes himself as a “Christian-American.” Chris Armstrong Watch is creepy as hell. CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewed Shirvell last night and nailed him as “obsessed with this young gay man.” The video is must watch, a view of “Christianity” full of sick obsession and – my read – terrifying sexual jealousy.

The stakes: These are the stakes in all equality questions. It’s why life and death are tied by advocates to such docile domestic issues as “marriage” and “kids.” We look at people and decide they’re allowed only so much of what we think is ours to dole out as we please. If you don’t see people as equals, it’s easy to depersonalize them, reduce them  to losers, or to jokes. Not for you – you’re not worth it. Stealing from people’s humanity, you may not know how much you take. High price. Tyler Clementi may have paid that for us. And Asher Brown, 13. That crazypants in Michigan wants Chris Armstrong to pay it, or he wants something else entirely. But this shit isn’t funny. It never was.  

Comments (10)

  1. Bill Orr

    “Man’s inhumanity to man

    Makes countless thousands mourn.”

  2. Jay Lassiter

    “The loss of this young life is devastating. Our hearts break for the

    family and friends of Mr. Clementi, whose life was cut short because of

    a senseless and heartless act by his peers.

    “We will withhold judgment of the accused, whose fate is now in the

    hands of our justice system. We are confident they will be held

    accountable for the actions that led to this tragic loss of life.

    “But this terrible tragedy demonstrates a bigger problem. Despite

    anti-bullying laws and efforts to teach children tolerance and

    acceptance, unprovoked acts of cruelty continue to take place, resulting

    in tragic deaths of youngsters across our country.

    “We must do more. In the days ahead, we will revisit our bullying and

    anti-harassment laws to ensure that we are doing everything we can to

    educate our students, and to make sure kids recognize the serious nature

    of harassment.

    “That a young person could be so distressed that he could be driven to

    suicide demonstrates that we must do more to teach children from a very

    young age that this kind of act toward another human being is

    unacceptable. We have to teach our children to have respect for our

    differences, whether they are racial, ethnic, religious or gender-based.

    But we have to start with ourselves in order to achieve real change.”  

  3. tunghoy

    Republicans think that multinational corporations deserve basic human rights, but real, American people who are gay, Latino or Muslim don’t.

  4. William Weber (WjcW)

    laws are invented to prosecute these two.

  5. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    A good friend of mine – and of Blue Jersey’s – said elsewhere that in my use of the word “humiliation” someone might infer I meant that being gay is humiliating:

    What that roommate and his friend did was bullying but Mr. Clementi being gay is not humiliating.

    It’s a really interesting point, and certainly my use of the word humiliation referred to a private sexual experience being made public as some fools’ idiot idea of funny, and not to his sexual orientation. That said, words matter, and terms matter, particularly in sensitive situations. And I wouldn’t want mine hurting anyone. So I’m glad to have the opportunity to clarify what I meant, and I’m glad she let me know.

  6. Winston Smith

    compare it with the far more compassionate Bergen Record story.

    And the Ledger printed the cover story, as well as video interviews of a “like clueless” young woman:


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