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Rutgers student press blames Clementi’s suicide on ‘inability to deal with the hardships of life’

Wednesday, October 6, 2010
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The Rutgers student newspaper, The Daily Targum, on Tuesday published a blistering editorial attacking the national media and gay-rights activists for “exploiting” the suicide of Tyler Clementi, referring to the incident as “a boy’s inability to deal with the hardships of life.”

An on-campus memorial for Tyler Clementi

The Rutgers University freshman jumped to his death on Sept. 22, just days after his college roommate broadcast live images on the internet of him having a sexual encounter with another man.

Following are a few excerpts from the editorial:

The death of University student Tyler Clementi might have been properly mourned if it were not for the massive rallies and aggressive news coverage that altered the nature of the situation. The truth is that an 18-year-old boy killed himself – he was a student just like the rest of us, someone just trying to receive an education. Yet people’s relentless agendas took his death and turned it into a cause based on false pretenses.

The mistake was that Clementi’s death should not have been turned into a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender protest for gay rights and safe spaces at the University … We have these spaces, and the University community is diverse enough to provide students with whatever it is they need.

The focal point of Clementi’s tragic death should have been a boy’s inability to deal with the hardships of life. And yet the news and certain organizations picked this up and carried it into the ranks of general causes for major social groups – for their profit.

It is disappointing that everyone from news to celebrities picked up the story…

Turning his death into a push for gay rights is a fallacy. Homosexuality is not the only reason for which people kill themselves … These groups want to be heard. They want the attention. They want their agendas to shine in the limelight.

Since yesterday’s post, the Targum website has logged more than 200 reader comments, overwhelmingly critical of the newspaper’s opinion. Here’s a sampling:

“You should be ashamed of yourselves. If this is how you really feel, it would seem like Rutgers is less of a safe space than you think.”

“This editorial is saying that we as a society should mourn suicides, but we should not use them as an impetus to effect change in the system that let the tragedy happen in the first place.”

“This editorial is so insensitive and sanctimonious in blaming the victim, it portrays your university as the type of culture where such a terrible thing could have happened.”

“This is an example of the ignorance that allows homophobia to destroy peoples lives.”

“Homosexuality itself is not a reason for suicide – it’s the bullying and insensitive treatment that comes from idiots like you.”

“What an insensitive, ill-informed, callous editorial. The media (both Left & Right) have been giving adequate coverage to the overwhelming response to a tragic situation. This writer of this editorial is hijacking the newsworthiness of this young man’s death to push an intolerant and typically anti-gay agenda and falsely criticize ‘activists’ honestly trying to prevent more deaths.”

You can read the entire editorial, and comments, here.

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