Wednesday, March 21, 2012


A young student at Rutgers University, Dharun Ravi, used his webcam to spy on his roommate, Tyler Clementi, during a gay encounter. Clementi committed suicide several days later and Ravi was charged, not with causing his death, but with invasion of privacy and bias intimidation. New Jersey's statute allows a harsher sentence for intimidation if it is based on bias. A jury convicted Ravi last week and he will be sentenced in May. He faces a maximum 10 year sentence and deportation (because he is not a U.S. citizen). He was offered a plea bargain with community service as punishment, but turned it down. The legal principles are complicated, as even the judge admitted. The case has gotten a lot of attention  partly because of the role played by social networking in what is sometimes called cyber-bullying.
PBS's Newshour program has a report after the verdict and several other older stories, one about cyber-bullying (2 min 45 sec, downloadable .mp3), another, at the beginning of the trial, about the standard of proof required for the criminal charges (streaming video or downloadable .mp3, transcript available 10 min). Newshour prepared a special report for students and teachers with links to their news stories at the bottom of the page.
NPR had stories about the verdict on several of its programs - Talk of the Nation (30 min), Tell Me More (9 min 12 sec), All Things Considered (4 min 7 sec), and On Point  (48 min). All the NPR stories except for On Point have transcripts available.
Ravi will appeal, but the question today is about the right punishment for his behavior. Emily Bazelon of Slate has a thoughtful piece about this in the New York Times of March 20 and several, more available pieces about the case on Slate here, here and here.