Verdict in Rutgers Case Fits CrimeWednesday, June 06, 2012 By Aiysha Ashfaq ’13
Dharun Ravi, the Rutgers student who spied on his homosexual roommate Tyler Clementi engaging in sexual activities with another man, has received his sentence. He is to serve 30 days in jail, three years on prohibition, perform 300 hours of community service, undergo counseling and pay $10000 to an organization that provides assistance to victims of bias crimes. Though I am in no way trying to justify or defend Ravi, the sentence in my opinion was just. There is room for debate over how much time he should spend in jail, but 30 days is much more reasonable than the 10 years that he might have had to serve. What Ravi did was stupid, irresponsible and wrong, and he deserves to be punished for his actions. However, we can’t make an example out of him for something that our society in general is responsible for. Ravi’s actions not only reflect his anti-gay sentiment and his stupidity, but his actions speak louder about the society we live in. To believe that Ravi is a criminal or “naturally bad” is a way of ignoring the bigger picture that this case calls to attention: bullying. No person is born a bully. Nor is bullying part of a person’s nature that just develops out of nowhere. Bullies are formed. Bullies like Ravi are a result of a society that encourages the division of “normal” and “abnormal” people. Regardless of what people say, we live in a society that rewards bullies. Bullies gain acceptance into peer groups, family and the community by the way that they treat others. Anti-gay sentiments lie deep in our society, not just in Ravi. Making fun of the “gay kid” is so common and widespread that Clementi probably had to live a huge portion of his life being judged and ridiculed for his sexuality. His suicide was not just a result of this one event. It was a result of years of torture that he kept bottled up. If Ravi had received a harsher punishment, it would have been ignoring the fact that Clementi was not just bullied by Ravi but by an entire society. We can’t just punish one bully for what could have been the result of countless people. Ravi’s actions also do not seem to have much hatred for gays involved. His actions appear to be that of a stupid kid, fresh out of high school, trying to gain acceptance ny his peers rather than that of a person who strongly hates gays. It is doubtful that he would have still spied on Clementi if he knew that it would be contributing to his suicide. If we just punished one bully after another, not much would change. It might even create more bullying because we are not getting at the root of the problem that lies in our society itself. If we truly want to stop bullying, we must first change the way in which our children are raised. They need to know from a young age that bullying is not acceptable and that they will be held accountable for it. We also need to stop labeling people as if they are not human and realize that our actions can have huge impacts on others. I am not trying to say that Ravi should not be punished because what he did was not the only reason that Clementi committed suicide, NO! He should be punished. However, our focus on this trial should be on how we stop another child from doing what Ravi did. What actions should be taken to stop bullying or how do we get people being bullied to speak up? The empasis should NOT be on how long should Ravi be behind bars. It is almost as if we are directing all our attention to Ravi and his punishment so that the responsibility of society in general can be ignored.