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Tyler Clementi gets no justice

Tuesday, May 22, 2012
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Tyler Clementi was bullied to death and the Judge heard guilty 288 times, yet sentenced his convicted antagonist to 30 days, 300 hours of community service and a $10,000 donation.

A New Jersey judge on Monday handed down a sentence of 30 days in jail for the former Rutgers University student convicted of committing a bias crime for using a webcam to spy on a dorm room liaison between his gay roommate Tyler Clementi and Clementi’s boyfriend.

Tyler Clementi

Clementi took his own life days later by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in September 2010, creating an uproar among gay activists and attracting international media attention over the issue of anti-gay bullying and harassment.

Many believe the action by defendant Dharun Ravi, 20, was responsible for Clementi’s suicide.

A jury convicted Ravi on several felony counts, including invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness-tampering and hindering efforts by police to investigate the case. He faced a possible sentence of ten years in prison.

Middlesex County, N.J., Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman said in court on Monday that Ravi should not be held responsible for Clementi’s death:- “I do not believe he hated Tyler Clementi,” Berman said in explaining his sentence. “He had no reason to, but I do believe he acted out of colossal insensitivity.” Berman said the bias crime to which Ravi was convicted is not the same as a hate crime. He called the sentence he imposed “measured” and “balanced.”

I have yet to see the actual sentencing transcript for myself, but relying on the accuracy of media reports, I see nothing but excuses and contradictions from the Judge.

Apparently Garden State Equality, the statewide LGBT lobbying group had called for a “balanced” response, issued a statement suggesting that the sentence was too lenient.

Perhaps our activists groups should keep their noses out of this type of pre-sentence call, given that the Judge may well have over tipped the scale “balancing” it toward its own homophobic sense of justice.

“We opposed throwing the book at Dharun Ravi,” said chairman Steven Goldstein. “We have spoken out against giving him the maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and against deporting him. That would have been vengeance beyond punishment and beyond sending a message to the rest of society.

“But we have similarly rejected the other extreme that Ravi should have gotten no jail time at all, and today’s sentencing is closer to that extreme than the other,” he said. “This was not merely a childhood prank gone awry. This was not a crime without bias.”

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has a vacation home in New Jersey with her new spouse Kim Catullo, slammed the sentence and said that the “system of justice has failed.”

Dharun Ravi, seated during sentencing

What surprises me is the fact that Ravi showed no remorse, did not apologize and yet received such leniency. In fact
he failed to stand up while being sentenced which shows that he has yet
to succumb or take responsibility for his crimes. Surely the Judge should have taken this into account?

This is an outrage and a slap in the
face, not only to the judicial system by
the Judge, but to all who have experienced homophobia under the
cloak of mere and apparently what the Judge now considers an acceptable
bias. This goes a step further by
actually endorsing bias. The Judge has said, in effect, “commit a crime with
bias, do not say sorry, defy judicial authority, and we will apologize for having to sentence you!”

Indeed apparently the judge told the convicted Ravi that his words were not meant to demean Ravi. Why not? It is clear that Ravi had every intention of demeaning his victim. Is a criminal not expected to be reprimanded in a demeaning way by a Judge?

The Judge seems to have contradicted himself:

Prior to issuing the sentence, the judge said that he did not believe that Ravi, who has no prior record, would commit another offense and that he would respond to probationary treatment. However, he said that the sentence was necessary to deter others, “even if it isn’t a deterrent to you.”

While I do not doubt that Ravi was put through a measure of hell, knowing that he could be sentenced to a maximum of ten years and be the subject of deportation, I ask why this Judge even bothered to sentence him, at all – he may have well tickled him under his armpit and sent him home laughing, legitimating an attack on the next victim, whomever and however!

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