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.