Tag Archive: Northeast

Legislators set the tone for bullying

Barocas, Legal Director of NJ’s ACLU, suggests our Governor look in the mirror, and our Senate President’s words ring hollow. – promoted by Rosi

It didn’t take long for my feelings of horror and sadness at the suicide of Tyler Clementi to turn into anger – anger not just at the unfeeling young students who so cruelly invaded Tyler’s privacy, but at our state’s leaders who, through their refusal to provide gay and lesbian citizens with full equality, have stigmatized gay and lesbian relationships and set the tone for tragedies like this to occur.

A line from my testimony to the New Jersey legislature during the 2009 marriage equality debate echoed hauntingly in my mind:

“When the state itself segregates people, it grants the rest of society permission to do the same. Through its example, the legislature excuses bigotry and emboldens bullies.”

keep reading below the fold

Tyler Clementi’s body is identified

tyler-clementi_370x278CNN is reporting (via the Breaking News banner) that a body pulled from the Hudson River has been identified as violinist, Ridgewood resident, and Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi, 18, the victim both of an apparent suicide jump off the George Washington Bridge and of two classmates who broadcast a secretly recorded private sexual encounter over the internet.

At Blue Jersey, we’re subdued today, so troubled by apparent cruelty, so saddened by the loss of a talented young man getting ready for the world at our state’s university. More than anything, we want to join you in any efforts toward strengthening our young people – all our young people – so that we don’t miss out on what glory they can bring to us with their hopes, their dreams, and their long, long lives.

Rest in Peace, Tyler Clementi. We’ve got you, little brother.

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.

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#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.)”

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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.

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.  

Global Warming and New Jersey

The Union of Concerned Scientists has released a new report on the impact of global warming on the Northeast — that includes New Jersey.  The AP  newstory is here, but you can see the complete report Climate Choices.  (For lifetime South Jersey residents, you need to click on ‘tri-state area’ to get New Jersey.) 

The report addresses impacts of warming and solutions. We may be experiencing summers like Savannah, Georgia by the end of the century.  The number of days over 90 degrees will dramatically increase in both Philadelphia and New York (Camden and Trenton are not in the report.)  The AP says:

Doug Inkley, senior science adviser at the National Wildlife Federation, said the report was done by top-tier scientists and backs up his group’s research showing a warmer climate in the Northeast will push out temperature-sensitive species from sugar maple and northern pine trees to songbirds and trout.

Why study the Northeast?  Well, for one thing, New Jersey is part of a multistate group that is actually trying to do something about greenhouse gases.