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Is Gay Bullying a Crime?

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This blog is not about social issues, and I'm not going to touch with the proverbial ten foot pole the swirling controversy about gay marriage and President Obama's recent change of position.  But issues related to homosexuality are much in the news, from gay bullying in middle school to the notorious case of a Rutgers student, Dharun Ravi, who was convicted on 24 (of 35) counts of secretly recording his roommate erotically kissing another male.  Ravi thereafter had a "viewing party," inviting a few buddies over to laugh at his lovelorn roommate.  The roommate, Tyler Clementi, didn't take it so well.  Overcome by the shame and humiliation Ravi intended to produce, he killed himself.

It's highly unlikely that Ravi could have anticipated such a horrible outcome  --  but that's not the point.  The invasion of privacy and the go-to-hell attitude  --  anywhere from mind-numbing callousness to outright malice  --  is recognizably criminal.  Ravi is facing up to ten years, but the prosecutor has not asked for that much, saying merely that Ravi deserves a period of incarceration.

Some on the defense side have said that, in all likelihood, no criminal case would have been brought at all absent the suicide.  I'm in no position to evaluate that claim, as I do not know the local prosecution standards.  One may assume it's true, and still believe, as I do, that when you laughingly assume the risk of such gratuitous and cruel damage to a fellow creature, you assume the risk of jail for yourself.  And if that's where Ravi winds up, no one should lose any sleep.  


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