Viciousness Goes Viral with Deadly Consequences

As details of the Rutgers University cyber/voyeur/bullying tragedy continue to emerge, a nation comes to grips with the shocking suicide of Tyler Clementi.

Screen shot 2010-09-30 at 8.18.36 AM
#TylerClementi Twitter feed

Evidence suggests the harassment by his roommate was chronic and that Clementi possibly reached out for advice about the invasive bullying just hours before his apparent suicide. Gawker:

Though not as bothered with his roommate’s actions as he likely should have been (Clementi) is clearly disturbed by the disregard for his privacy-and the bigoted disgust-shown by both his roommate and the people commenting on his roommate’s Facebook page “with things like ‘how did you manage to go back in there?’ ‘are you ok?'” He says he’ll file a roommate change request form, and “see what [the school] can offer” him.

Clearly it’s a ghoulish intersection of voyeurism and cyber-bullying at play here. After all, “Being brave on the internet is one thing-facing a privacy-free dorm full of bigots, day in, day out, is another thing entirely.”

NJ Senator Loretta Weinberg suggests that, ” 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 (like this.)”

Students at RU: “stunned, angry.” Photo courtesy Santiago Melli-Huber

I awoke to 100+ email messages about this incident (see sampling below the fold) and the “seizure of conscience” it evoked feels reminiscent of Matthew Shepherd’s murder in 1998.

It’s too early for the blame game or for silver linings, I can’t help but hope this incident spurns our own legislature in Trenton to renew their commitment to anti-bullying legislation to protect youngsters from the viral viciousness which led to Tyler Clementi’s death.

Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality wrote:
We are heartbroken over the tragic loss of a young man who, by all accounts, was brilliant, talented and kind. And we are sickened that anyone in our society, such as the students allegedly responsible for making the surreptitious video, might consider destroying others’ lives as a sport.

Sean wrote:
I cant seem to get this story out of my head, it blows my mind how sad it is. its like a bad movie plot that youd never expect to acually happen to someone.”

Shannon wrote:
Why is stuff like this STILL happening in 2010?!? Why can’t people just live their lives??? Sadly this is just part of the downside of social networking, immature & disrespectful room-mates, and intolerance.”

Ben wrote:
Totally sucks

Mizell wrote:
fourth degree privacy violations my ass! this was a hate crime!”

Cheryl wrote:
horrible – so sad. so young. so unnecessary.

Danica wrote:
These two should be charged with invasion if privacy and a hate crime, and be required to do community service of some sort that would educate others about the consequences of thus type of ignorance and malice. And the state should have a better legal term and sentencing guidelines for this sort of thing, one for illegal taping of the sexual activity and another for distributing it. Oh, and they should definitely get expelled from school.”

Comments (6)

  1. Rosi Efthim

    The Michael Daly column you link to in the Daily News just lays me out. I hadn’t seen that. Thanks too for the Rutgers picture via Santiago and the account in Gawker. The death of any kid is terrible. This death is infuriating.

  2. lfurman

    This shows the harm in “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” It institutionalizes hypocricy and tacitly accepts this kind of bullying.

    The idea is not that gay people would serve with less honor or distinction, but that gay people would be in fear of being humiliated, and this anguish could inhibit a gay person’s ability to serve.

  3. Winston Smith

    I don’t think so.

    Can you say “targeted because he was gay” like your Wiki link to the Mathew Sheppard case does?

    Homophobia clearly drove this sick  crime – that aspect warrants far more than a link.  

  4. Hopeful
  5. firstamend07

    I really hope that there is a push to prosecute under the hate crimes law.

    Even if it is not successful it will send a message that might resonate.

    Prayers are all I have so prayers are what will be given…  

  6. gary stein

    and what a shame this candidate won’t dislodge my very anti this and that Congressman in the 2nd. Please go to my new site.  Half way down, clear as can be, I’m for gay rights.  These terrible stories- like what happened to Mr. Clementi-  happen like clock work every few years.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *