No Sex Tape, No Outing in Tyler Clementi Case

One reason some people think Dharun Ravi deserves harsh punishment for spying on a college roommate who later committed suicide is the persistent misconception that he made video of Tyler Clementi's homosexual encounter publicly available. A week after Clementi killed himself in September 2010, The New York Times reported that Ravi "used a camera in his dormitory room to stream the roommate's intimate encounter live on the Internet." The story was headlined "Private Moment Made Public, Then a Fatal Jump." The New York Daily News said Ravi "spied on [Clementi's] gay tryst and streamed it live with a webcam." ABC News claimed Ravi "secretly filmed [Clementi] during a 'sexual encounter' in his dorm room and posted it live on the Internet." The headline: "Victim of Secret Dorm Sex Tape Posts Facebook Goodbye, Jumps to His Death." Presumably based on such reports, Ellen Degeneres declared that Clementi "was outed as being gay on the Internet and he killed himself."

But as testimony during Ravi's trial has confirmed, there was no sex tape, and the images were never available to the general public. On the evening of September 19, 2010, Ravi set the webcam on his computer to automatically accept video chats, then went across the hall to a friend's room, where they saw a few seconds of Clementi and his visitor kissing, fully clothed, before shutting off the feed. The images were not recorded, and they were not transmitted anywhere except across the hall. The New York Times summary of the case, last updated on February 24, nevertheless still says Ravi "secretly used a webcam to stream Mr. Clementi's romantic interlude with another man over the Internet." Technically, I suppose that's true, in the sense that any video chat is streamed over the Internet. But the implication—that Ravi enabled the whole world to see what Clementi was doing in their room—is false.

In his measured and illuminating New Yorker article about the case, Ian Parker also notes that Clementi was not trying to hide his sexual orientation, so it's hard to see how Ravi could have outed him. Although Clementi was upset about his roommate's spying, Parker writes, "there's little to support the idea that he was mortified by the thought that he'd been outed." He suggests "the enduring false belief that Ravi was responsible for outing Tyler Clementi, and for putting a sex tape on the Internet, can be seen as a collective effort to balance a terrible event with a terrible cause."

Look for more about Ravi's prosecution in my column tomorrow.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Objection! Entering facts that counter our play on emotion.

  • Suki||

    Exactly! Besides, who are we supposed to believe. The newspaper with an owner that defended his private property with a machine gun against slavery lovers or a bunch of DC cosmotarians?

  • wtf?||

    Do you mumble to yourself in the park, too?

  • Dead Rex||

    Arf! Ar-bang!

  • ||

    I feel the need to point out that outing a commenter no longer leads to banning. So there's nothing to fear if someone wants to backtrack the griefer and contact his employer.

  • Wait a minute||

    I thought "outing" applies only to someone who is doing something unethical, something to be ashamed of. Is commenting here shameful or dishonest?

  • Frightened Crickets||

  • Bruce Majors||

    It's hard to call for censorship and affirmative action "for" gays unless you get to re-write the story

  • kilroy||

    Technically, I suppose that's true, in the sense that any video chat is streamed over the Internet.

    Technically, this is complete bullshit.

  • ||

    if the connection never left the dorm's local network, sure. otherwise, the internet was involved.

  • kilroy||

    Ever heard of an ad hoc Wi-Fi network? Bluetooth Personal Area Network? Hell, he may have had a private Wi-Fi access point of his own.

    The point is there are dozens if not hundreds of ways to stream video chat that wouldn't put it on the Internet. The statement that "any video chat is streamed over the Internet" is bullshit.

  • ||

    the only vid-chat program i've ever used is skype, and that only sparingly (video-chat is a waste of bandwidth IMO).

    i'm sure there must be alternatives, some of which must allow network configuration, which is why i pointed out below that unless we know exactly what software&configuration; was in use, it's all speculation.

  • ||

    The statement that "any video chat is streamed over the Internet" is bullshit.

    how about we change that to:

    most popular video chat programs stream over the internet

    Better? (and like I also pointed out below, just because a stream travels through the internet, does not mean that stream is publicly available over the internet, which is the real meat of the issue here.)

  • kilroy||

    most popular video chat programs stream over the internet

    I have no problem with that statement. For all we know it could have used a non-IP protocol (Netbios?, IPX/SPX?, DECNet?). The blanket statement that any video chat is streamed on the Internet was what I called bullshit on.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I've used NetMeeting to stream a webcam feed and its traffic never touched a public network.

  • kilroy||

    Yep. Lots of large companies with dedicated wide area links do video conferencing on them.

  • Suki||

    Technically correct is the best correct.

  • ||

    Accurate quoting of shows is the best kind of quoting of shows.

  • ||

    What isn't complete bullshit is that prosecutors and the news media are making up evidence to punish someone for something that didn't happen.

  • ||

    they saw a few seconds of Clementi and his visitor kissing, fully clothed, before shutting off the feed.

    Pretty much exactly what they would have seen if they had opened the dorm room door by accident.

    So, there was no sex tape, no publicly available video, and no outing.

    I have to conclude that this whole thing is just an identity politics witch hunt.

  • ||

    Bingo. A good friend is a full-time RA at Rutgers and though she was not on duty that night, she had to handle the complaint paperwork and do a lot of the follow up work as part of the investigation. She had to give a deposition and testimony at the trial and is all for Ravi getting sentenced the max 10 years. She has many gay friends and thinks this is a hate-crime issue.

    What's sad is she is about to graduate from law school and is scheduled to sit for the bar this summer. Her objectivity in this manner is out the window; she will make a wonderful lawyer I think.

  • Suki||

    The best lawyers don't sit at the bar long.

  • ||

    She is a dishonest, sadistic bitch. She can look forward to a career as a judge.

  • ||

    lawyer, judge, elected or appointed official, she has a whole wide range of opportunities available.

  • ||

    She sounds like my favorite kind of adversary: the True Believer. You can drive dumptrucks through their blind spots; they are the easiest to outmaneuver.

    Generally, I just bait them into outrageous overreaching early on. Destroys their credibility, and thus effectiveness. Good times, good times.

  • Red Rocks Rockin ||

    She had to give a deposition and testimony at the trial and is all for Ravi getting sentenced the max 10 years. She has many gay friends and thinks this is a hate-crime issue.

    I'd say that pretty much destroys her credibility as a witness.

  • Alessandra||

    A bunch of homosexuals at LGBT blogs want to send Ravi to prison for life, to have him raped in prison, or to have his sex organ cut off.

    Nothing less than a vicious lynch mob. And what a nightmare to have such people in any position of decision of sexuality issues in society. They are disgusting.

    Time to haul Obama and his pinko crowd out of the administration this November!

  • wareagle||

    She had to give a deposition and testimony at the trial and is all for Ravi getting sentenced the max 10 years.
    --------------------
    since you think she's going to be a good lawyer and all, what wanton act has Ravi committed that demands 10 years of his life? And stop with the hate-crime bullshit. It sounds exceedingly doubtful there was a crime at all. Maybe Ravi's just a horse's ass which is no crime, but it does portend well for a career in politics.

  • ||

    The "great lawyer" comment was snark.

    I like her personally, but I disagree with her politics.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    You have some great good friends, chief. I hope the tits are worth it.

  • jhc||

    If you wanted to get really pedantic about it, it sounds like the images were only transmitted over the LAN (*local area* network) since they only went "across the hall." In which case, they weren't sent "over the Internet" at all.

  • ||

    if they were using skype, for example, the data still traversed a bit of the internet, even just to cross the hall.

    until we know exactly what software was used and how it was configured, the exact path the data took will remain unclear.

  • ||

    (none of which changes the fact that they didn't make the stream publicly available.)

  • ||

    It sounds like it was iChat. So it was over the Internet. Very pathetic attempt at pedantry.

  • ||

    after recently having to reset the password on my brother's macbook, I officially canceled my support of any apple products.

  • ||

    (the SuperDrive SuperDied, which made the process a serious endeavor.)

  • ||

    Oh, I meant "jhc"'s attempt. Yours was quite valiant.

  • Paul||

    So a big iFuckYou to Apple?

  • HLM||

    One fact left out of this column is that Clementi actually requested a room transfer and told university staff that his roommate was spying on him this way, as the reason.

    In addition, other stories have shows the defendant to have urged his friends to create a story that makes him look good. He sent them text messages telling them what to say. If the facts are as Sullum notes, which matching what Ravi claimed, then why did Ravi have to tell his friends that this is his claim and he needs them to say the same thing? Why did he fear they might not say the same thing, if they were telling what actually happened?

  • ||

    Whether Ravi is an asshole or not is irrelevant here. He didn't do anything criminal, yet is being prosecuted anyway.

    If you give a shit about people not being prosecuted for non-crimes, Ravi's assholeness-or-not status is fucking irrelevant.

  • Gojira||

    What if it was a dolphin that outed the homo? And then the police shot the dog guarding the dorm?

  • ||

    I'm assuming you are having a sexual relationship with the dolphin, Jimbo. Am I right?

  • ||

    This is an important point. If Jim is having sex with a nonsentient animal, it's bestiality. If he's having sex with a sentient, it's possibly consensual love.

  • Gojira||

    If you count having been dragged to his rape-cave and penetrated as having a "relationship", then yes.

  • STEVE SMITH||

    STEVE SMITH IS SERIAL MONOGAMIST RAPIST. BEING DRAGGED TO RAPE CAVE AND PENETRATED IS BEAUTIFUL RELATIONSHIP.

  • Hugh Akston||

    [citation needed]

  • ||

    Hugh Akston,
    That was the laziest use of "[citation needed]" that I have ever seen. Sullum posted links to articles that stated as much.

  • SIV||

    Everything most people know is wrong.

  • Hairsplitters Anonymous||

    I find all the scenarios above fascinating.

  • Jerryskids||

    To the extent that "the internet" is the system of inter-connected computers, the webcam itself is part of the internet. You know, the way my lack of insurance is interstate commerce.

    And technically, by defending the perpetrator of a hate crime, I believe Sully himself is guilty of a hate crime. Who do I denounce him to?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    By your lack of knowing who to report his hate crime to, you have committed a hate-crime as well.

  • rather||

    "But as testimony during Ravi's trial has confirmed, there was no sex tape, and the images were never available to the general public"

    Is Reason on the stupid train today? Hmm, just because that little fact was introduced in court does not make it true; they just have no evidence that it was recorded, or that someone didn't take screen shots with their own camera

  • Opie And Anthony ||

    that never happens!

  • ||

    For legal purposes, no evidence it was recorded = it was not recorded.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    RC, we can't go around giving evil bigots like Ravi a reasonable benefit of doubt. If he can't prove he didn't record it, then he must have!

  • ||

    I'm too ignorant about the facts here to comment much, but one thing that has troubled me all along is the zeal that gay advocates have for hate crime laws. They want blood for great social justice and damn the consequences.

  • Paul||

    Hate crime laws are an excellent way of muting any criticism against your group.

  • ||

    They're so clearly unconstitutional, too. "I'm sorry, you were thinking the wrong thoughts when you were otherwise committing a crime."

    What you're thinking is relevant to whether you meant to kill or damage someone, not so much otherwise.

  • Paul||

    You 'othered' her while plunging the knife into her back. TWO LIFE SENTENCES FOR YOU!

  • ||

    It's such a bad idea, too, because there's really no limit to where it could go.

  • wareagle||

    proponents of idiocy only see it as idiocy when it is used on them. Just yesterday, there was the tale of the lesbians attacking the gay guy just because he was gay; more hate crime talk.

  • Gojira||

    I wonder though how different that is from the different ways we punish murder. The distinction between first and second degree murder can be a thought-crime (overcome with passion v. calculating).

  • ||

    Yes, but that's different. Why I dislike the person enough to formulate the intent to kill him should be irrelevant. Frankly, doing it for money, for instance, seems a million times worse than doing it because he hates a particular class of person.

  • Paul||

    The crime of passion presumes you weren't in your right head and may have not even intentionally murdered the person. Ie, you swung the knife during the fight, but you didn't have time to consider that the other person's life might actually end.

    Premeditated murder shows intent.

    The funny thing about murder though, is there such a thing as a murder that wasn't a hate crime?

    How many people were planning murders while thinking, "No, I actually really like that guy"

  • ||

    Another thing I have a problem with are aggravated crimes based on the identity of the victim. Not as bad as hate crimes, but pretty bad, especially considering that government workers often get the special treatment.

  • The Commentariat||

    I'm too ignorant about the facts here to comment much, but...

    ...it never stops us!

  • Bruce Majors||

    Actually the professionally gay politicos want hate crime legislation because it creates employment for lawyers and lobbyists. But don't want school choice, which would end anti gay bullying by allowing parents to send a kid to a safr school without even having to discuss their child's sexual orientation, because school choice hurts their job prospects and their political allies by defunding the educrat cartels that donate to them.

  • wareagle||

    so basically, they are as self-serving and intellectually dishonest as any other activists.

  • Bruce Majors||

    Maybe worse, and probably more smug.

  • Alessandra||

    It's part of their strategy to cover up all their crimes and still play little victims.

    Liberals are too corrupt themselves to criticize the pinkos.

  • Paul||

    The absense of evidence is not evidence of absense!!!

  • Paul||

    Technology and journalism should never mix. The results are almost as bad as the local Ron Burgundy trying to explain what kind of firearm was used in a crime.

    Present company excepted.

  • Rhet Orical||

    What do you call a dead dog in a chat room?

  • Paul||

    An unheard mutter?

  • Paul||

    Let me say it again...

  • Paul||

    An unheard mutter?

  • Rhet Orical||

    Not bad.

  • Rhet Orical||

    But I was looking for, "the dog that didn't bark."

  • anarch||

    "Bitch, bitch, bitch [no answer]?"*

    *GLENDOWER: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

    HOTSPUR: Why, so can I, or so can any man; But will they come when you do call for them?

    ~ Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I

  • led||

    What about denying a reasonable request for privacy with intent to view somebody's sexual encounter without their consent? Oh wait, he ONLY set up the webcam to watch his roommate kiss somebody and then turn off the camera immediately. I'm gay and find the whole hate crime aspect of this bullshit, but the invasion of privacy is definitely something Ravi should be charged with to the fullest extent of the law.

  • Paul||

    but the invasion of privacy is definitely something Ravi should be charged with to the fullest extent of the law.

    Has been:

    Under New Jersey’s invasion-of-privacy laws, it is a fourth degree crime to collect or view images depicting nudity or sexual contact involving another individual without that person’s consent, the prosecutor said. It is a third degree crime to transmit or distribute the images.

    If the students are convicted on a third degree offense they could face up to five years in prison each under state law. Conviction on a fourth-degree crime could lead to probation or up to 18 months in prison.

    http://www.nj.com/news/index.s....._ar_1.html

  • led||

    And witness and evidence tampering?

  • Paul||

    I haven't read all the articles surrounding this tempest in a teapot, but what witnesses and evidence secured by the prosection was Ravi tampering with after he was charged?

  • The Commentariat||

    this tempest in a teapot

    This is nothing. Only a human died. Did you know that some dogs were shot? By cops?!

  • Paul||

    This is nothing. Only a human died. Did you know that some dogs were shot? By cops?!

    And someone has to pay for that suicide! Someone has to pay! If they don't, think of the mass 'othering' that will follow!11!!

  • Fluffy||

    The suicide should have no bearing on the other charges here.

    If Ravi can be charged with murder, go ahead and charge him.

    But if he can't be charged with murder, don't try to rig together some other kind of bullshit charge by stretching statutes just because "something must be done". Fuck you something must be done.

  • Fluffy||

    Kissing isn't sexual contact.

    If Ravi had snapped a photo of two heterosexuals kissing, it would be seen as just a goof.

    The only reason they decided to bootstrap the "sexual contact" element here is because of the suicide. But the suicide should be completely irrelevant to the charges in court right now.

  • Alessandra||

    MB's lawyer and the prosecution CLAIMED: it's because MB has a little homosexual dysfunction, that he must not testify, that he doesn't need to follow the law like everyone else, that the defense can't talk to him and find out what he knows.

    He was given a green light to withhold any key information he might have, until the judge finally allowed Ravi and his lawyer to know his identity, but still prevented them to talk to the man.

    he was blatantly given a special privilege.

    If it had been a heterosexual, none of this EVER.

    SPECIAL, disgusting unequal rights for homosexuals.

  • Bruce Majors||

    Invasion of privacy is a form of trespass and a breach of contract withnthe landlord.

    Recording or photographing or outingpeople is not in itself criminal. Trespassing on their property to do it is.

  • Paul||

    If I read New Jersey privacy laws, it seems pretty clear that Ravi violated them.

    By the way, still wearing the track suit?

  • wareagle||

    By the way, still wearing the track suit?
    ------------
    that's Lee Majors, last seen flogging bionic hearing aids on tv.

  • Paul||

    that's Lee Majors, last seen flogging bionic hearing aids on tv.

    Oh. Right. *embarrassed*

  • Bruce Majors||

    I am the secret love child of Lee Majors and Bruce Lee. And the video of that is for sale.

  • Robert||

    Check the fine print in Rutgers' dorm agreement. There might be a waiver of privacy in there.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    I hope the jury realize how much their own time as well as taxpayer resources are being wasted on this horseshit. This is in need of some fucking nullification.

  • Paul||

    But a human died!!11 And Someone Has To Pay!1!!

    Or... so I'm told.

  • Bruce Majors||

    So if a gay man or lesbian dumps someone who then commits suicide should they be sent to prison for 10 years for an anti gay hate crime?

  • Paul||

    Was the gay man a white male capable of gazing?

  • wareagle||

    of course not, Bruce. A better solution would be any prosecutor/politician/activist who supports a hate crime case should get ten years for a hate crime against sanity.

    Once again, this is a case of some self-righteous blowhard seeking political gain, with a dash of refusing to hold anyone accountable for any actions they take. Ravi may be a class-A jackass but Clementi did not have to kill himself.

  • Paul||

    Again, not having read every detail on this case, did Clementi leave a note? Is there any evidence whatsoever that he killed himself because of Ravi's actions? My limited reading of the case has Clementi writing (on his Facebook page)"jumping off the gw bridge, sorry".

    If I ever commit suicide, I'm leaving a note saying that everyone on Hit&Run; "othered" me, and should be prosecuted for a hate crime. You know, for larks.

  • RyanXXX||

    The PATRIARCHY!!!!

  • ||

    I once streamed a few minutes of Ellen through my TV by mistake and had the urge to do harm to myself and possibly others.

  • Killazontherun||

    She is an incredibly boring person for a comedian. Comedians tend to be train wrecks of abnormality, and the good ones suck you into their world without trying. She has no world.

  • Bruce Majors||

    She's funny. She may also be a borderline alcoholic, have a dark childhood, and a penchant for dating troubled gals. Portia was an anorexic, and then there is Heche aka Celistina.

  • Alessandra||

    Ellen is a retarded lesbian, so she's the perfect entertainer for retarded liberals.

  • ||

    This is clearly a witch hunt to put the blame on someone and close the case. The fact that Ravi is Indian makes it really easy to blame. If he were a Moslem or Black, it will be a different story. there would have been so much support for him. They just want to scapegoat this Indian boy for Clementi's death and feel good about it.

  • Amber Dawes||

    This roommate is a bully. He has asked to be punished and re-educated on being a human being. http://kissingup2.blogspot.com/#!/2012/03/to-tyler-clementi-with-love.html

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