Did Dharun Ravi Commit a Hateless Hate Crime?


As Tim Cavanaugh noted earlier this afternoon, Dharun Ravi was convicted today of most of the charges against him, including the "hate crime" of "bias intimidation," which carries a penalty of five to 10 years in prison. Notably, the jury acquitted Ravi of deliberately trying to intimidate his roommate, Tyler Clementi, "because of" his sexual orientation on September 19, 2010, when he used a webcam in his dorm room to watch Clementi kiss another man. But as I pointed out on Wednesday, that was not the end of the matter. The jury instead concluded that Ravi invaded his roommate's privacy "under circumstances that caused Tyler Clementi to be intimidated, and considering the manner in which the offense was committed, Clementi reasonably believed that he was selected to be the target of the offense because of sexual orientation." That count hinges not on Ravi's intent to intimidate but on Clementi's inferred state of mind and a judgment about whether that state of mind was reasonable.

By contrast, the jury concluded that when Ravi tried to watch another encounter between Clementi and the same man two days later, he did so "with the purpose to intimidate Tyler Clementi because of sexual orientation." The difference presumably is due to the fact that the first viewing—which Ravi claimed was motivated by his fear that Clementi's visitor might steal his property, and which he terminated after a few seconds when he saw the men kissing—was less calculated the the attempted second viewing (which did not actually happen, apparently because Clementi unplugged Ravi's computer). Ravi not only planned the second viewing but alerted his Twitter followers to it, daring them to watch.

Still, the prosecution never really substantiated its claim that Ravi deliberately sought to intimidate Clementi because he was gay. The most incriminating statement it introduced was Ravi's joke that the webcam would "keep the gays away," which might have reflected nothing more than his discomfort with the sexual activity going on in his room, a feeling that was compounded by the fact that Clementi's visitor was an older man from off campus who struck Ravi as scruffy and taciturn. A naive 18-year-old's uneasiness is such a situation is not the same as anti-gay hatred, and there is very little evidence that Ravi harbored antipathy toward homosexuals in general or Clementi in particular (leaving aside the point that such opinions should not be subject to criminal penalties). For all we know, Ravi was completely sincere when he said in a note of apology to Clementi (written after Clementi complained about the spying and asked for a room change) that he had nothing against gay people, a point that was confirmed by the prosecution's own witnesses. Certainly there was reasonable doubt on that question.

As for finding Ravi guilty of an unintentional, hateless hate crime, as the jury did with regard to the September 19 incident, the concept only compounds the injustice of imposing extra punishment for crimes motivated by bigotry. Under New Jersey's law, bigotry is not even necessary. Assuming the underlying offense (in this case, invasion of privacy) was intentional, there need not be any evidence that the intimidation was. Surmising how Clementi felt in this situation based on the available evidence—in particular, distinguishing between anger and intimidation—is fraught with uncertainty, and the judgment as to whether his imagined feelings were reasonable is even harder to make. In a case like this, where the victim cannot testify about what he was thinking and no one else knows, these elements have reasonable doubt built into them.

The jury, which deliberated for more than two days, rejected a bunch of counts against Ravi, including the hate crime charges involving Clementi's visitor (who testfied during the trial, identified only as M.B.). Because of this selectivity, one juror told the Newark Star-Ledger, "You feel like justice has been served." I don't. Ravi is scheduled to be sentenced on May 21. In addition to a potentially lengthy prison sentence, he faces the likelihood of deportation to India, where he was born. Reprehensible as his conduct was, he does not deserve either of those punishments. Had Clementi not killed himself a few days after what he dismissively called Ravi's "five sec peep," leading to the completely unproven conjecture that Ravi's spying drove him to suicide (a claim the prosecution never made during the trial), Ravi probably would not have faced criminal charges at all, let alone a possible 10-year sentence. Before the trial the prosecutors offered him a deal that involved no jail time and a chance to avoid deportation, which suggests even they do not believe he should be punished as severely as a violent felon. So in addition to all of the questionable crimes for which Ravi is about to be punished, there is one more: insisting on his right to a trial.

Previous coverage of the case here.

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  1. If I punch a hemophiliac in the nose and he bleeds to death through his nose, I can still be charged with manslaughter, no?

    It’s a dangerous thing committing an act of aggression–you never know what might arise from it.

    1. There is no way you can prove that Ravi is responsible for Clementi’s suicide. It seems like Clementi wrote his suicide note BEFORE he met Ravi and the judge himself didn’t make the contents public because he determined they weren’t relevant to the case.

    2. It’s a dangerous thing committing an act of aggression–

      Fuck you.

      Was that an act of agression?

      If you go slit your wrists, are you suggesting I be held legally accountable?

      The dude ‘violated his roomates privacy’. That’s an “act of agression”?

      Only @#*$& idiotic liberal control freaks can argue that consequences of actions pass backward endlessly between people… *No one* is ever truly responsible for their *own actions*. No = the gay guy didn’t commit suicide because … well we’ll never know will we?… we MUST find a reason, and pin it on Someone Else! It had to have been *caused*! We must safety-proof the World through legislation!

      1. “The dude ‘violated his roomates privacy’. That’s an “act of agression”?”

        Yes, actually, it is an act of aggression. Spying on someone is, in fact, an unwanted and hostile act. Inviting others to spy compounds the crime.

        “Only @#*$& idiotic liberal control freaks”

        This is hilarious. Ravi commited crimes and you guys don’t think he should be held responsible. It is as simple as that.

        1. This is hilarious. Ravi commited crimes and you guys don’t think he should be held responsible.

          We think he should be held responsible for the crimes of which he’s actually guilty (invasion of privacy, maybe obstruction of justice), and not held responsible for BS legal concepts like “bias intimidation.”

          It’s pretty clear that Ravi would not be facing such harsh sanctions if Clementi had not killed himself. So shouldn’t the prosecution have had to argue that Ravi caused that suicide in order for those sanctions to be applied?

          1. Half the people commenting here think he should go scot free, guilty of nothing. jacob is obsessed with the bias charge, when Ravi is clearly guilty of invasion of privacy and the “obstruction of justice” charges (especially witness tampering) and Tim implied that he’s completely befuddled why Ravi was convicted at all.

            “So shouldn’t the prosecution have had to argue that Ravi caused that suicide in order for those sanctions to be applied?”

            No. Invasion of privacy is a crime in and of itself. he wasn’t charaged with anything to do with the suicide. And quite frankly, I think if you are inviting multiple other people to spy with you, that should be prosecuted everyday. Sullum and others want to make it seem like Ravi saw 5 innocent seconds of shirtless kissing and that’s the limit of Ravi’s involvement. That’s simply not the case.

            1. I agree Ravi should have been prosecuted. I was referring specifically to the harsher sanctions that are going to come from “bias intimidation” which I believe does arise from Clementi’s suicide, even though that’s not what Ravi was charged with.

              Setting aside the bias intimidation charge, what kind of a prison term would someone who sets up a webcam in his roommate’s dorm and invites others to watch on Twitter (and then tries to obstruct a subsequent police investigation) normally get?

              1. I’m unsure of the bias charges myself, but again, Ravi’s own statements (texts, tweets, email, a witness statement or two) all provide ammo for the prosecution.

                I’m unsure what a typical punishment would be, but peeping toms are treated quite harshly, and Ravi was inviting others to watch, he wasn’t doing this solo.

                1. Some of Ravi’s statements provide ammo for the prosecution. And a lot of his others provide ammo for the defense. In fact, a lot of what Clementi said to his friends right before he committed suicide could give ammo to the defense, but the defense was barred from making any arguments that there might have been other reasons he killed himself.

                  Clearly, JUSTICE IS SERVED!!!!

                  1. Yep, the thing about clementi’s posts to his friend that wanted him to go to the resident advisor though, is that they stopped after the first night. They capture his thoughts at that time only. Since he was checking out Ravi’s tweets, I have to assume he saw the post where ravi invited everyone to watch. I honestly don’t know what I would think after I saw that, if it happened to me, and that tweet is the main reason I think ravi is in trouble.

              2. Whatever that punishment is, I’d expect it to have been established in something called the “American Pie Act of 1999.”

            2. Half the people commenting here think he should go scot free, guilty of nothing.

              Again with the hysterics. Aside from RC’s comment on another thread, where do you see this (and he didn’t even state that, just asked a question)?

              1. I just saw two on Nick’s thread — one by Lyle (“I don’t even think he [Ravi] is a dickwad”) and one by DesigNate (who thinks secretly filming women in the dressing room should not be a crime).

                1. Ah, Lyle and DesigNate, H&R regulars, both.

                2. Fuck you I never said that. But thanks for proving what a disingenuous asshole you are just cause I might disagree with you.

                  1. In response to this:

                    I’m pretty sure there are some rights regarding being recorded, regardless of where one is. This is essentially the same as a guy inviting a girl over, and telling his friends they can watch remotely via webcam. Should he not go to jail for that? I think he should.

                    DesigNate wrote this:

                    No he shouldn’t go to jail for that. WTF!?!

                    Should she be able to sue him civilly? Hell yes.

                3. Jackwad, I wrote, jackwad… which was someone else’s non-evidence based assertion.

              2. Oh, come on, what in Jacob Sullums article here, the one you’re commenting on, leads you to believe Ravi actually invaded Clementi’s privacy or was guilty of it?

                Nothing. Its all excuses for Ravi (oh, if Clementi hadn’t died, Ravi wouldn’t be charged at all, boo hoo)

                As for the list of commentators who don’t think he’s guilty let me put my Joe McCarthy hat on and name names:

                Barely Suppressed Rage doesn’t think he’s a criminal, kool seconds that, underpants gnome agrees, loki thinks he was convicted of thinking buttsex is icky.

                I’ll stop there, because it’s rather pointless, and that was just one small thread on Tim’s post.

                1. Oh, come on, what in Jacob Sullums article here, the one you’re commenting on, leads you to believe Ravi actually invaded Clementi’s privacy or was guilty of it?

                  Uh, the part where Sullum writes that Ravi used a webcam in his dorm to spy on his roommate?

                  Nothing. Its all excuses for Ravi (oh, if Clementi hadn’t died, Ravi wouldn’t be charged at all, boo hoo)

                  I didn’t really read it that way, but I don’t know, I’m not jonesing for Ravi to do eight years’ hard time for this crime, so maybe I’m less attuned to excuse-making on his behalf. I will say that — whatever your opinion of the implications of this statement — Sullum is probably correct, Ravi probably wouldn’t have been charged with anything if not for Clementi’s suicide.

                  1. The problem is that many of these crimes are not provable. Most people don’t even know its happening. There was that case in Pennsylvania where the school district was spying on students en masse, and it took time for them to figure that out.

                    Ravi talked about it on the internet and thus documented his actions, there were witnesses, and because Clementi complained to the RA/died, there was an investigation. Ravi was convicted. I don’t have a problem with that at all.

                    Some people get away with murder because there’s not enough evidence, let alone evidence of a crime or a missing person’s report. Others get caught on surveillance cameras stabbing a guy ten times. It happens.

                    And for what its worth, I’m increasingly against prosecutorial discretion, because you have bias there, not to mention things like Mel gibson initially got away with his crap before the public outcry.

                    1. The problem with “bias intimidation” is that it is not provable by its nature, not because of occasional lack of evidence. Even 1,000 tweets from Ravi calling Clementi a “fag” that don’t prove an intent to intimidate. Unless they contained actual threats of harm, which yes, should be and already is illegal.

                      Also, can “bias intimidation” be said to have occurred to any victim who has been disparaged? Or does this only apply to certain ethnic and sexual minorities, and if so which ones, and just how much and how serious an amount of abuse can be said to constitute intimidation? (If a sorority girl calls one of her sisters a “slut” and the sister subsequently kills herself, is that an instance?)

                    2. I don’t see how you can oppose prosecutorial discretion and support laws like NJ’s bias intimidation statute, unless you actually want those statutes to codify all the words and statements which constitute bias, and thereby criminalize them.

                    3. Judicial discretion has come under fire from the right wing over the last 20 years or so. Given the choice, I’d much rather have more judicial discretion (where judges have more control over sentencing criminals) and less mandatory sentencing, and less prosecutorial discretion, where suspected criminals aren’t even given a trial or held accountable at all, because they are well connected, sympathetic, nice church going boys with a scholarship, etc…

                      The prosecutorial discretion and bias really have nothing directly to do with each other, its more a philosphical stance regarding the justice system and the corruption of it. And I certainly don’t want every offending word spelled out in the bias code.

                    4. When I was talking about the crimes being unprovable I was talking about invasion of privacy, not hate crimes 🙂

                      Hate crimes are even more ambiguous, but I think the people who go off on “minorities get special rights” are completely off base. If you protect people based on race or sexual orientation, that protects white people (who have a race) and straight people (who have a sexual orientation).

                      In areas with the applicable laws, if a gay guy wanted to fire all his straight employees, he’d be just as guilty as a straight guy that fired his gay employees.

                    5. If you protect people based on race or sexual orientation, that protects white people (who have a race) and straight people (who have a sexual orientation).

                      Only if the law is applied equally and they never are. A standard talking point is that blacks can’t be racist because they have no power to enforce their prejudices. A similar argument is made wrt to gays.

                      In areas with the applicable laws, if a gay guy wanted to fire all his straight employees, he’d be just as guilty as a straight guy that fired his gay employees.

                      In principle, but not in practice. The gay guy would never be prosecuted.

                      Gays are assholes politically.

                    6. Well, uulet, it seems like you’re the a-hole. And secondly, if you read that i’m increasingly against prosecutorial discretion, everyone would be charged regardless of your hypothetical angst.

                    7. Nothing hypothetical or angst-ridden in my statements. I’ve watched this shit play out in the real world and it always involves a double-standard. And you are an ignoramus, Benj, if you think you can get rid of prosecutorial discretion. Resources are always limited and decisions must always be made about what cases to pursue. I don’t even accept the premise that a private employer’s hiring and firing decisions should be subject to government scrutiny. The marketplace sorts that type of thing out quite nicely. Letting government get involved only makes for viscous political fights by factions seeking to use the government to beat up their opponents. Ravi happens to be a victim of this folly.

                    8. It does bear repeating: Gays are assholes politically.

                    9. Gays are assholes politically? Love it. I hope your mother chokes to death on her next client’s ten-inch cock.

                    10. Even if it were true that ‘Gays are ** politically” – it’d be pretty understandable IMHO. Few groups of people have to put up with more crap and BS than Gays do. As bad as racial minorities have had it, gays have been beaten up and hassled pretty much everywhere. Racial minorities at least have their families to fall back on for support. A whole lot of gays I know (fortunately it’s changing) have been disowned by their families or portions of their families. Personally, most of my gay friends are pretty hard lefties which I don’t really understand, so I don’t necessarily agree with their politics. I just know if I was disowned by my family, disowned by my church, banned from marrying the person I loved, had people I didn’t know calling me a pervert, and for a while having my sexual activity deemed criminal and/or a psychiatric malady – I wouldn’t just be an a**, I’d be a raging one.

            3. That would be the invasion of the privacy of his own room which he had to leave so his roommate could make out in it. Just want to make sure we’re clear that it is now a crime worth a 10-year sentence to be keeping an eye on your own room.

              1. MikeG, Ravi told twitter to log onto his webcam so they could check out his roommate’s sex.

                Try being less ignorant about the facts in the case next time.

            4. So when truTV shows “Dumbest Criminals” and “Dumbest Partiers” and invites the whole world to see scores of people doing stupid things then they should also be “prosecuted everyday”?

              1. nono, if you commit a crime and record it (and upload it to youtube!) you should be prosecuted. Its not that hard a concept to wrap your head around.

            5. Invasion of privacy is a crime in and of itself.

              In this case it’s a bullshit crime. You have no privacy in a dorm room which you share with other people.

          2. Here is my unease. One gets the impression that the reason Ravi is going to prison is that someone is dead.

            Correct me if I am wrong – but my understanding is if you are speeding to the extent you can expect bad things to happen and someone gets killed that is manslaughter and the speeding ticket is the least of your worries. But if your car made a loud noise because you drove too fast too close to the sidewalk and someone died of a heart attack you can be sure you will get any possible punishment but it wont be on paper enhanced by some other crime like bias because you deserve it and a way will be found.

            The Ravi case to my ear like the latter. But the Bias Enhancement just sounds way too general. Is there not enough with wiretapping and witness tampering.

        2. And you feel that this is an acceptable punishment for intentionally leaving the webcam on in his own dorm room? Christ, what if he had punched him? 25 years to life?

          1. He invited (actually, he dared! that implies extra titillation!) the public to watch his roommate having sex. Punishing him for that is certainly reasonable.

            The bias charge is a toougher sell, but Ravi’s statements incriminate himself. There’s plently of evidence (in the sense that it’s concrete) compared to some he-said she-said scenario.

            And as I’ve stated elsewhere. I think Ravi would have acted completely differently if Clementi brought over a woman.

            1. Punishing him for that is certainly reasonable.

              Ya, with a fine. Not 5 to 10 fucking years.

              1. I can’t realistically comment on the length of punishment, because I don’t know what other people get, but I would punish him more for inviting others to watch. I think I’ve said elsewhere that I’m okay with deportation since he’s not a citizen. Just spitballing here, how does 1-3 years sound?

                1. Just spitballing here, how does 1-3 years sound?

                  I don’t see it as jailable. Probation and a fine.

                  1. Isn’t that what the prosecutors offered him?

            2. Don’t you think maybe it’s a good idea not to base case law and prosecutions on our ideas of how a defendant would have acted in a given hypothetical scenario? I mean, are you actually saying that Ravi should have gotten a lighter sentence if your guess would have been that he *would* have also spied on a straight roommate?

              1. I’m not really talking about “case law” and more about the facts of this case and looking at what I would do if I was on the jury. And looking at the evidence, Ravi’s statements, etc… I don’t believe that Ravi would have spied on his roommate, and certainly wouldn’t have invited others to spy, etc… if he brought home a woman. But, because it was two men this was worthy to be broadcast.

                1. I don’t believe that Ravi would have spied on his roommate, and certainly wouldn’t have invited others to spy, etc… if he brought home a woman. But, because it was two men this was worthy to be broadcast.

                  They would if she was really hot or really fat.

            3. I used to work with a guy who was arrested for secretly filming women in a college bathroom/shower. He made a deal that (IIRC) involved one year of prison and one year of community service.

              1. Right, so his crime was actually *more* severe than Ravi’s in that he presumably captured his victims in the nude, and made recordings of it.

                1. To compare apples to apples, we should look at the deal Ravi was offered by the State before trial, which I understand did not involve any prison time.

                  1. That’s not quite an apples-to-apples comparison because Ravi was asked to plead guilty to the bias intimidation charges which, I take it, your old coworker was not. And I believe they said they’d “try and help him not get deported,” but weren’t able to promise they’d be successful, which was another major motivation for him to contest the charges.

                    1. Correct, there wasn’t any hate-crime charge in his case.

            4. What if he were taping his roommate’s annoyingly loud snoring and showed that to everybody?

            5. He invited (actually, he dared! that implies extra titillation!) the public to watch his roommate having sex. Punishing him for that is certainly reasonable.

              I don’t think that it actually is.

              If it is, then the only person who could make that argument would be Tyler Clementi. And he never appeared in court to make it.

        3. Spying is not a hostile act. Nor is it an act of aggression. Words have fucking meanings.

          1. So when Iran and China spy on us, that is okay. Damn. All those James Bond movies really are about nothing.

            Notice to all supposed libertarians on this board: people do have an expectation of privacy. Thank you. That is all.

            1. People dont have an expectation of privacy everywhere. Do you think cops have an expectation of privacy while in the course of their work?

              And last time I checked, Iran and China don’t have joint ownership of America. But you are right that in some instances where spying could be considered aggressive.

              FWIW, I didn’t mean to sound absolutist in the other thread. I could be convinced that an expectation of privacy exists. But I believe the threshold for watching your own room is a bit higher than shower facilities and changing rooms.

              1. A dorm room isn’t reality TV. You don’t give consent to have your life, your clothes changing, and your romantic encounters recorded or broadcast over the internet.

                1. Anyone who uses the phrase “broadcast over the internet” in this case is disqualified from commenting on it.

                  1. Its what Ravi tried to do.

              2. But I believe the threshold for watching your own room is a bit higher than shower facilities and changing rooms.

                Dorm rooms ARE changing rooms. And bedrooms. etc.

                You think a landlord has a right to put a video camera in his tenants’ bedrooms?

        4. What?? Being a creepy Peeping Tom gets you Thirty Years? If YOU were on the jury knowing he could get that kind of sentence would you say GUILTY?

      2. Libertarians think only acts of aggression should be illegal, so unless you think it should be legal to tape other people’s sexual encounters without their permission, you think it’s an act of agression.

      3. Even if this had nothing to do with gay sex but some other deeply personal thing, it was still a pretty vile thing to do. Maybe he didn’t know it would result in a suicide, he knew full well the intense personal pain this would cause. And for that I would put it right up next to rape (where the psychological damage is way beyond the physical damage).

        If the court overreacted here, I can live with it. If you do something nasty don’t cry about the consequences.
        And in answer to some of the ad hominem attacks I see here, I can assure you that I’m far from liberal.

        1. Does “nasty” have a legal definition? How can I objectively tell when I’m doing something “nasty”?

      4. This thread is making progress. The subject of aggression has come up and not one bit about all City-Statist being aggressors or that stupid quote asking the officer if he can Gambol. White Dumbass must be trolling some other site today – w00t!

    3. In that case, you directly caused someone’s death, albeit without intent to kill. People who commit suicide have something wrong with them besides people being mean to them. There is probably always some stimulus that sets it off. Should any act that spurs someone already prone to suicidal tendencies be criminalized?

      In any case, none of what he was convicted of had anything (strictly speaking) to do with causing the death.

    4. Tulpa, I once jokingly called a friend “worthless” when he spilled a bong. He killed himself 36 hours later. Should I tried for manslaughter?

      1. wait, for real?

          1. Sounds like it was going to happen sooner or later assuming you weren’t constantly belittling him. Being called worthless myself I know it doesn’t make anyone feel like living especially if other bullshit is harshing one’s buzz. I’ve seen enough nerds lose it and hit others with cars(no shit), brandish knives, and burn down houses of perceived offenders when backed into a corner socially (this doesn’t mean they aren’t responsible, it just means that you need to be careful who you fuck with). It may not be a crime, and everyone has the freedom to treat people like shit via verbal abuse, but that doesn’t mean it won’t drive people nuts with suicidal or god forbid homicidal desires for vengeance. I’m not big on the bible, but the golden rule is pretty valid despite the source.

      2. Yes, getting bong water on your friend’s stuff should be punishable by death.

        1. oops. that should be “No”

    5. Damn Tulpa, that is Tony level retarded right there. I’m not personally convinced that you can invade privacy in a shared dormroom by leaving your laptop on (you might be able to convince me), but that is no where near the same as physical assault on another human being.

      For shame Tulpa. For shame.

      1. I’m not personally convinced that you can invade privacy in a shared dormroom by leaving your laptop on (you might be able to convince me),

        Is it invading privacy to put a hidden cam in the bathroom of a shared living space without everyone’s consent? (retorical, of course it is) This is the same. And he admitted to intentionally leaving it on in order to record sexual acts.

        It’s a crime, just not one worthy of 5 to 10.

        1. Actually he left it on for security purposes…only the second time to record sexual acts ….which were never recorded.

          That’s right…Ravi recorded no sexual acts.

    6. Flawed analogy. The hemophiliac has no choice but to bleed. It’s what hemophiliac’s do. Clementi had a choice about whether or not to kill himself. Ravi should have been punished for violating Clementi’s privacy rights. Nothing more.

      1. *hemophiliacs

    7. If you didn’t know he was a hemophiliac? You ought not to be charged with anything more than assault! That’s like if I eat peanuts around a person with a severe peanut allergy and he dies! Completely unforeseeable. So is this. Shit happens, there isn’t always someone to blame.

  2. You nailed it, Mr. Sullum:

    Did Dharun Ravi Commit a Hateless Hate Crime?

    Best headline I’ve seen so far.

    And since this judge would not throw out the bias charges from the beginning, expect a big sentence.

    This judge was very biased from the beginning.

    This horrible farce has just begun.

    Let’s hope they are already preparing the appeal.

    This is a disgrace.

    The prosecutor never proved any fear-instilling action from Ravi, nor was Clementi ever shown to be afraid of Ravi.

    What a slap in the face of real victims of serious bullies.

  3. Why was my short post marked as spam???
    what a weird spam filter!

  4. Before the trial the prosecutors offered him a deal that involved no jail time and a chance to avoid deportation

    I was barely managing to abide this bullshit verdict until that. Thanks for the nut-punch.

    1. Yeah, all he had to do was grovel and debase himself, essentially taking a loyalty oath to gay political dogma. Maybe he would have been sentenced to hundreds of hours of involuntary servitude working as a volunteer at an AIDS clinic or been required to watch a bunch of gay porn. Don’t laugh or dismiss the possibility. Watching gay porn was required of anyone seeking to be a residential hall associate at Cornell U. Becoming an RA was a pretty big deal at Cornell because you got to live in a dorm single without paying rent.

      Gays are getting so damn politically aggressive. It’s kind of hard to see them as the victims they pretend to be.

      1. I agree. And they want the government to be the thought police and use coercive force and violence on dissenters. Another reason to hate the government and every special interest fascist that seeks to dominate the minds of their fellow man thru it.

        1. “…they want the government to be the thought police and use coercive force and violence on dissenters…”

          And you and your pal Rick Santorum don’t?

  5. The fact that you can be convicted of bias intimidation based on what the supposed victim believed to be in your mind is so incredibly fucked up. I’m just flabbergasted that such a law exists. If that part of his conviction doesn’t get thrown out, I’ll be… I don’t know sad or something. Invasion of privacy I could buy, but that’s it.

    1. Technical correction:

      You can be convicted of bias intimidation based on what a jury guesses, based on no evidence from the victim the supposed victim believed to be in your mind.

      1. That’s kinda what I was thinking, particularly in the present case. The jury was instructed to infer what Clementi’s state of mind was, a propos of nothing, and then decide of Ravi was guilty based on that inference.

        Dangerous stuff.

        1. seriously. They are a threat to liberty, they should all be taken out before they can deploy the violence of the State against more undeserving victims.

  6. So in addition to all of the questionable crimes for which Ravi is about to be punished, there is one more: insisting on his right to a trial.

    So what’s your point? That defendants who go to trial and lose should be entitled to the same deal that was offered before trial? Sounds like a great way to eliminate plea bargains, if that’s your goal.

    1. Sounds like a great way to eliminate plea bargains, if that’s your goal.

      Yes, it does, doesn’t it? And why not?

      The prosecutor is saying that he thinks the plea bargain imposes an acceptable punishment, is he not? Why shouldn’t he be held to that?

      1. I think the plea-bargain mechanism is good. (You as a lawyer can supply all the supporting arguments.)

        If you think it’s not good, then that’s fine. You’re consistent. My sense was that Sullum isn’t willing to go that far, but maybe I’m wrong.

  7. Too bad they can’t charge him for illegal wiretapping.

  8. “Still, the prosecution never really substantiated its claim that Ravi deliberately sought to intimidate”

    The problem for Ravi is the second tweet. Inviting the world to spy on your roommate’s sex is at the very least on the road to intimidation, and is certainly designed to make your roommate a public laughingstock at the school.

    “For all we know, Ravi was completely sincere when he said in a note of apology to Clementi.”

    I don’t think that is reasonable for a jury to conclude at all. Ravi wasn’t even upfront about what he did to Clementi in the “some of my best friends are gay” note. If Ravi had apologized to Clementi for videotaping/streaming him, and apologized for telling all his friends to spy on his date, that would be completely sincere.

    What Ravi tried to do is evade responsibility and avoid admitting that he videotaped his roommate.

    1. avoid admitting that he videotaped his roommate

      I thought there were no recordings made.

      1. You’ll note above that quote I wrote “videotaping/streaming”. Technically, what Ravi did was stream and attempt to stream Clementi. People also sometimes use the term “videotaped” when they’re refering to something recorded on their DVR, digital camera or phone. Technical terms are somewhat fungible.

        1. I should also note that when Ravi invited twitter to spy on clementi, Ravi lost a certain amount of control over what those would be peeping toms would do with the video feed. Next to nothing would stop them from recording it.

        2. So why is the “videotaping/” part there in the first place? Shouldn’t you just write “streaming”?

        3. THere was never any content streamed and communicated to a third party the second time.

  9. As a gay libertarian, it’s articles such as this (and the previous one) which demonstrate why the Libertarian Party has such difficulties communicating why the gay/lesbian community should get on board with the LP. The barely concealed (if at all) anti-gay comments from the peanut gallery and the tortured logic of the authors gives gays and lesbians extra reason to point at the libertarian movement and say “See – they don’t care about us.”

    (Never mind that “Reason” and its commenters are about as representative of the Libertarian movement as is the Cartoon Network – but unfortunately the broader public doesn’t know that.)

    1. Adamson, what bothers us about this is that we don’t like special rules being made for various sub-groups. We understand that various sub-groups want special rules made for their protection, but we oppose them regardless of who the sub-group is.

      We don’t think this is a bad verdict because we hate gay people. We think its a bad verdict because we don’t like laws that privilege some groups over others.

      Believe it or not, this isn’t about you.

      1. Bullshit. If that was the case, people would focus on the b.s. bias intimidation and not say stuff like, “It shouldn’t be illegal for me to tape people in my dorm room,” even in situations where people have an expectation of privacy.

        1. Those quotes indicate that someone said that, yet I don’t see it anywhere. Care to cite? Or are you just making shit up like Adamson did cause you have no argument?

          1. While not a direct quote, it’s the gist of RC Dean’s comment here.

            Actual quote:

            We’re still struggling with how you can invade somebody’s privacy when THEY’RE IN YOUR ROOM.

            Which ignores that it is also his room. Even if it wasn’t, people have expectations of privacy on other people’s property. If I surreptitiously set-up a webcam in my bathroom streaming my house guests taking a dump, they can press charges for invasion of privacy. Gap can’t stream pictures of their dressing rooms online, without telling people, or their liable for invasion of privacy.

            1. Not a bathroom or a private area. Just because you think you are alone somewhere doesn’t give you an expectation of privacy. Ravi could have walked in the door at any moment revealing to any passerby in the hallway the scene within. If he had in fact done that, instead, put out a tweet to folks on the dorm floor saying lets rush the door and surprise my roommate and see what he’s up to in there, he could have done that, and then what would these rabid prosecutors have charged him with, eh? Would they make up a law on the spot that makes it a hate crime to enter any room where a homo is getting it on? WTF is the world coming to?

          2. Sugarfreed the link:


            1. I stand corrected.

              1. Though one comment doesn’t indicate “people”. Person, maybe, but words have meanings.

                1. I’m not going to link to every comment in there that either implied or agreed with the sentiment. Episiarch and others agreed with it.

        2. There’s two completely separate issues here:

          Was there a (criminal) invasion of privacy?

          And, what Adamson raised, are we anti-gay because we oppose “hate crimes”?

          I’m struggling with the first, and quite sure the answer to the second is “no”.

          1. I think Adamson and Benj are implying that many commentators’ answer to the first question hinges on the fact that Clementi was gay. I.e., that if Ravi had similarly invaded the privacy of a straight roommate (spying on him kissing a “cougar” for example), they would be more likely to find the act criminal. I don’t see it, though.

          2. And I’m not struggling with the first because of the gay. This story could (easily) have been about an insecure girl committing suicide after her nasty roommate Dahrened her, and I would think the same.

          3. How the hell can you be struggling with the first? You think it’s OK to video people using the bathroom and undressing in a room by themselves when they’re on your property?

          4. I can totally agree with the first.

            But what really strikes me here is how disproportionate the punishment is. He’s probably looking at a decade-long sentence. A year? Sure. But the hate crime formulation alone carries at least a five-year sentence.

            And, to me, it has nothing to do with the victim being gay. Maybe that’s what you need to validate your views on how people are responding, but it’s 100% untrue for me.

    2. The barely concealed (if at all) anti-gay comments from the peanut gallery

      Cite that shit or shut up. I’m really tired of people who disagree calling others racist, sexist, homophobic or whatever, just to win a supposed moral high ground when they don’t have an argument.

      1. I figure he’s probably referring to Tulpa’s hemophiliac remark.

    3. The barely concealed (if at all) anti-gay comments

      Enlighten us.

      1. Adamson ,

        This is not a “warm and nurturing” environment.

        Get used to it!

        (I do seem to recall a fair degree of support for gay marriage here though.)

    4. Aside from the gay thing, an even larger problem is lhe fact that many here don’t think that people in a dorm room don’t have an expectation of privacy when they ask for the room for a night.

      You put your tie on the doornob fellas, its not that hard.

    5. I don’t detect any anti-gay in the comments on this article. Nor do I detect “twisted logic” in the article. You made those claims but didn’t offer a single example of what you meant. Perhaps if you took the time to identify some examples, it would occur to you that there really aren’t any.

      1. Not tortured logic. More like the confused meanderings one sees so often when the non-legally-trained talk about law.

    6. Adamson,

      Stop the bias intimidation act.

    7. Bear in mind, probably half the commenters here aren’t libertarians, but trolls them.

      But still, I think being a libertarian pretty much by definition means you are against things like hate crimes and are freedom of speech absolutists.

      Is making fun of someone because he’s gay bigoted and ignorant? Yes. But people have a right to be bigoted and ignorant, even if people’s feelings are hurt. Really, really hurt.

      We’ve essentially crossed into thought crime territory. We’ve reached the point where any sort of thought beyond the PC groupthink is instantly pounced on. And now the government is prosecuting people for it. That scares the hell out of me.

      1. Is making fun of someone because he’s gay bigoted and ignorant?

        Neither. It just means that you are willing to make fun of people. The fact that you, JR, have suggested that making fun of someone because they are gay indicates bigotry and ignorance clearly indicates that you are a slave to the very PC groupthink that you condemn.

        Think deeper, my friend.

        That scares the hell out of me.

        It should scare everyone. What is happening to Ravi should terrify everyone.

      2. Bias intimidation only applies when there is an illegal act involved. In this case, the invasion of privacy which you’d have to be daft to dispute (though several here appear to be daft).

        That said, I don’t like the bias intimidation law, but it’s not quite 1984 territory.

    8. I think we care about the fact that the gay agenda sometimes seems to have fascist overtones to it.

    9. “See – they don’t care about us.”

      You’re right, we don’t. Why should we? The homosexual community has co-opted government to subvert the rule of law to conjure up and confer special rights to queers for their alleged ‘victim’ status, placing the rest of society at a distinct disadvantage when the so-called law and subsequent punishment can be arbitrarily defined and adjudicated.

  10. Certainly there was reasonable doubt on that question.

    I can’t imagine that this won’t be appealed, so we’ll probably be getting more input on this issue from another court (unless Ravi makes a deal before then).

  11. Where do we send money to support an appeal?

    1. I believe he was convicted because he is Indian. A white man committed suicide so they want to to crucify his Indian room mate. His lawyers did a really poor job. I don’t understand why they didn’t subpoena Clementi’s parents. I would also like to donate money for his appeal. Please email me.

  12. So basically, looking into someone’s room is an invasion of privacy, but trying to look into someone’s mind isn’t.

    Also, when this story first broke, an asian woman was reportedly involved. What happened to her?

    1. She reached some kind of deal with prosecutors that I think keeps her record clean, but she has to attend sensitivity training and do something like 100-200 hrs community service.

      1. She also testified for the prosecution.

        1. on each other instead of whitey. At least that’s an encouraging trend.

  13. Oh the irony: You can’t get deported for being an illegal immigrant – that would be “racist” – but you can get deported for being mean to gays.

    1. Actually in this planet Earth those here actually live on, you can indeed get deported from the USA for being an illegal alien. It happens alot and it’s even done by black Presidents. And if you are mean to gays in a way that constitutes a significant crime, you might be deported if even a LEGAL alien.

  14. College sure has changed since I attended. Living in what are sometimes tiny dorm rooms with 1-2 other people frequently results in one’s business being not so very private. I knew of people who were so immodest that they would have sex with their (hetero) partners without embarrassment while their roommates were in the same 12′ x 14′ room. I knew people who were constantly kicking their roommates out in order to have privacy and everyone in the nearby rooms could easily hear their very loud lovemaking with the same kind of giggle-giggle reaction that Ravi and his fellow voyeurs had. There was no notion of anything being criminal. It was just accepted as part of dorm life. If you didn’t like it, you found housing off campus.

    Reprehensible as his conduct was

    Reprehensible? Sorry, I don’t accept that. Ravi’s behavior was no big deal.

    1. Gay people didn’t yet exist when I was in college.

      1. Well, they existed when I was in college and when there was friction between roommates, for whatever reason whether involving sexuality or not, the friction was alleviated by changing roommates, transferring to a different dorm or moving off campus.
        Amazingly, people back in the old days just solved their problems in simple, common sense ways.

    2. What you describe is very different from this case. In this case Ravi WENT OUT OF HIS WAY to view what he expected to be a sexual encounter. It’s not like sitting in the next room and hearing sex noises because the walls are thin.

    3. Here here reasonable man!

      Why can’t we go back to the good old days? Shit, there was a time when you could go into a nice restaurant and not worry about seeing niggers, ‘less of course if they were cleaning dishes or what not.

      Now it’s niggers and queers all over the place! And, then even expect to be treated like everyone else!

      Things was much better back then.

  15. The very words “bias intimidation” indicates how terrible this law is.

    My “bias” intimidates you and that makes me a criminal. EVERYONE has biases, but conveniently, progressives get to define which biases constitute criminality.

    How did the lunatics manage to get so much power?

    1. This is part of the New World Order. Thought crime.

    2. And now they must be stopped, and removed from any positions of power over free people. By force if necessary.

  16. This case is a maddening example of why Prosecutors deserve little respect.

    They would have given this young man a very light sentence, but instead prosecuted him like a Mob Boss, charging him with enough serious charges to land him in jail for a long period of time and then deported.

    I am a liberal and I condemn Hate Crime LAWS. It is absurd to think of all this money and power used because a hapless young man had a male lover and then killed himself, and another hapless young man said and did stupid things.

    If EVERY time a college kid passed around a photo he snuck from someone else’s camera or computer or phone, he was charged with invasion of privacy, we would need millions of more spots in prison.

    I am disgusted with juries, prosecutors and
    Hate Crimes”.

  17. I believe he was convicted because he is Indian. A white man committed suicide so they want to to crucify his Indian room mate. His lawyers did a really poor job. I don’t understand why they didn’t subpoena Clementi’s parents. I would also like to donate money for his appeal. Please email me.

  18. I am hoping his family and friends start a fund-raiser to start hard-ball defense.

  19. In addition to a potentially lengthy prison sentence, he faces the likelihood of deportation to India, where he was born. Reprehensible as his conduct was, he does not deserve either of those punishments

    Yep. Deportation to India is indeed a Punishment …..that’s how his whole family is going to feel! That alone is going to make his family fight hard to appeal against this decision if not anything else.

    I am afraid that this is going to make Indian American families think a little harder about having their college aged kids live in dorms. There is a big Indian American community in New Jersey and this ruling will most definitely send shock waves..

  20. Based on the twisted logic of the jury, Bill Maher should be found guilty of a hate crime towards Sarah Palin; It is obvious he hates her, but enough of hate as a special crime!

    1. Exactly. If Sarah Palin committed suicide, would Bill Maher be held responsible?

  21. Just out of curiosity, what exactly is the expectation of privacy in a dorm room? I believe, both people occupying the room have keys to the room. And although it’s usually considered a sign of a good roommate to go sleep on a couch in the lobby, so the other one take care of their love life; a don’t recall seeing that requirement anywhere in the dorm regs when I was in college. So. What happens if the roommate says no, an refuses to trade their bed for the lobby couch? Can one roommate then have sex in front of the non cooperative roommate? And if nothing would come of having sex in front of the non cooperative roommate, how exactly is this any different? I would think that if one felt complete privacy were an issue, they would have rented a motel room.

    1. The Clementi’s companion was 32 years old. I must reasonably assume that he lived with considerably more privacy than a kid in a dorm room. They could and should have gone to his place. Good dorm manners states that the person with more access to privacy is the host. If you have a single, you are the host. If you are off campus, you are definitely the host (if your companion is a dorm rat, even if they have a single). While I don’t make excuses for Ravi, there was definitely something “off” with this relationship. And Davi, jerk or not, had every right not approve of Clementi’s in-room behavior (gay or straight).

  22. Let’s build a raft of rights, special privileges, and fill it with an angry mob of people responding to any injustice against the next aggrieved group of victims. All in the name of freedom!

    Sorry Ravi, you’re no saint (and maybe even criminally liable) but this angry mob needs fresh blood now that it has power.

  23. “My “bias” intimidates you and that makes me a criminal.”

    I hate to break this to you, but you are already a criminal as is everybody on this board. The fact that you aren’t already incarcerated is most likely due to ignorance of the prosecuters in your area or possibly ‘discretion’ on their part. There are so many laws on the book, most of which are nonsensical, that unless you’ve been in a coma since birth you are guilty of violating some of them. We are a nation of criminals as defined by our justice system.

    1. Most of these authorities should be mouldering in a mass grave where we can pee on them on national holidays commemorating our victory over fascism.

  24. I can’t help but wonder if the trial outcome had been different if Ravi was from one of the preferred minority groups. Could a physically handicapped lesbian African American female get convicted of a hate crime for the same actions? If the roommate wasn’t gay, would Ravi have been prosecuted?

  25. “Bias” is not a crime. Crimes are crimes. If a white man kills a black man, it’s a crime. If a black man kills a white man, it’s a crime. NEITHER IS WORSE THAN THE OTHER, unless the physical assault itself is worse. (Shooting someone in the head from behind, versus torturing them to death.)

    5-10 for essentially “mass peeping tom’ing” in your OWN DORM ROOM is completely and utterly insane. Peeping is not a felony, and should not be in ANY world, no matter how crazy that world is.

    That he was convicted of “driving someone to suicide,” except, not really, wink wink, is a travesty of justice. The jury should hang themselves.

    You cannot prove intimidation if the person being intimidated is *dead*, and cannot testify, and you have no record whatsoever of their state of mind. Inferences are just that: inferences.

    We do not send people to jail for being assholes.

    1. That he was convicted of “driving someone to suicide,” except, not really, wink wink

      This is what I find so reprehensible about the case. A lot of my old gay classmates from college are gloating on facebook about how Ravi is “being forced to account for driving someone to suicide,” despite the fact that the prosecution was EXPLICITLY PROHIBITED from arguing or even discussing that idea.

      1. Husbands get the death penalty stare from wives all the time for saying things that sound perfectly normal, but apparently cause everlasting emotional harm for reasons completely unknown to them.

        You are not responsible for the actions of others through your own words, except if those words are INTENDED to cause a crime, such as yelling “fire” or threatening someone with words for blackmail.

        We are two steps from a world where you can be put in prison for telling someone that you wish they’d drop dead, REGARDLESS of what harm they have potentially caused YOU.

  26. What about all the gay people who get embarrassed, or intimidated who do not commit suicide? What makes the difference here. Why does someone have to be punished in this case.

  27. What Ravi did was utterly contemptible and he got what was coming to him. Let’s deport him and be done with it. He can spend the rest of his life living with his conscience, if he even has one.

    1. …and when someone arbitrarily finds you guilty of some specious act of whatever, will you be so cavalier then?

  28. Some citizens deserve more protection under the law than others. Especially those of the protected classes like gays.

    The PC crowd does not believe in equal protection.

  29. For years the homosexual community, in its quest to find and enforce its legitimacy upon society, has sought to punish detractors and dissenters through intimidation and coercion. By re-defining disagreement and/or dissent as ‘hate’ then proclaiming themselves victims of said hate they, with considerable help from elements of both the private and public sectors, have formulated hate-crime ‘laws’ which are nothing more than end runs around the equal protection clauses of the Constitution.
    This is not to say violence hasn’t and does not exist but the mere mention of hate now conjures up physical acts against ‘aggrieved’ parties who’ve claimed their ‘preference’ warrants them extra-constitutional protections.
    Today it’s ‘hateful’ acts, tomorrow, speech.

    1. You want hate crime laws to go away? It’s easy: Leave us alone! Respect our persons, property and privacy as you would want yours respected and stop using the apparatus of state to persecute us and coerce us – and preferably don’t turn a blind eye when you see it happening, but that’s optional – and the problem will be solved.

  30. Ravi is about the “gotcha” culture where outing intimate details about people is part of the everyday game of being cool and socially proactive. According to Google’s Ed Schmidt, the world has every right to peer into every aspect of everyone’s life and good citizens should want to live in glass houses for the greater good, because if you fear having something exposed, you shouldn’t be doing it. Privacy in Ravi’s world is an indication of abnormality. Privacy in Clementi’s world is a self-evident right. Ravi’s “win” was all about Ravi’s “gotcha” uber-coolness, not about Clementi. But the courts and MSM are not about to let this be a critique on the “socializing” culture that actively promotes this “public openness”. The consensus narrative dictates that Ravi is a gay-bashing “video-intimidator”. So what does that make CCTVs now?

    1. “What do I care? I’m 73 years old. I find it fascinating that people are interested in my sex life at age 73. It’s rather complimentary! But as I say in my book, my answer to questions on this subject is simply “Fuck off”. There have to be some private matters left.”

      (fmr NYC Mayor) Edward Irving “Ed” Koch

  31. This is so wrong.

  32. It is going to be a glorious future, GLORIOUS KOMRADES!!!

    1. to a chance to kill some of these fascists in a revolution. And it should be a public spectacle, so as to be a powerful deterrent to future would-be fascists who think that people are the property of the STate and that our very thoughts are theirs to be controlled and punished.

  33. Just curious. Will the same legal system prosecute OWS for hate crimes and “bias intimidation” for class warfare tactics and riots against people whose crime is being of a different socioeconomic class? Are only some groups or classes protected under these laws or is anyone who is offensive a criminal?

  34. I have libertarian leanings, but before I implemented any of them, the first order of business for any sane state would be the summary execution of those who openly gloat about Dharun Ravi deserving to get raped in prison by ‘Bubba’ for 10 years. Libertarianism is a great recipe, but you’ve gotta throw out the irretrievably rotten ingredients first.

  35. “Had Clementi not killed himself…Ravi probably would not have faced criminal charges at all, let alone a possible 10-year sentence.”

    Is this so shocking? If I get roaring drunk and drive home and kill a pedestrian along the way, I’m far more likely to be charged with a crime than if I manage to make it home without incident.

    I guess I’m supposed to find it chilling that bullies now have reason to fear that they’ll be charged with crimes they’d otherwise get away with if their victims commit suicide, but I have to admit that I don’t find this as horrifying as many of the other commenters here.

  36. Ravi was without a doubt guilty of the crimes charged relating to invasion of privacy, witness tampering, and hindering arrest. Unless one is simply homophobic, or thinks special dispensations should be given under the law to 18 year old college students, there is nothing to argue about there. If you don’t like the penalties for those crimes, address your concerns to the legislative bodies who set them. Otherwise, why not wait until a sentence is actually imposed before offering opinions on whether it is too strict for the circumstances of these particular crimes?

    1. The bias crime convictions involve a law which many oppose for political reasons, and which some oppose on constitutional grounds, which concerns may have some merit. I think the law is constitutional, but it may be a close question. The evidence was also a close quesiton, but supports the verdict. The sad fact is that Ravi’s attempts to avoid criminal charges by covering his tracks, influencing Wei, and destroying evidence tainted his apparent tweet of remorse and provided circumstantial evidence of his motivations sufficient. People claiming htat Clementi’s metnal state can never be known are essentially arguing that circumstantial evidence should never be considered sufficient to prove a fact in a court of law. Such a rule would be a radical departure from longstanding American jurisprudence and would make prosecuting criminals very difficult.

      1. really? all circumstantial evidence is just diving another’s mental state?
        the binary choice is to accept psychic powers, or to entirely discard the concept of circumstantial evidence?

  37. If he had been Muslim, would he been charged with a hate crime? On the “Some animals are more equal than others” scale, Muslim seems to top even Gay.

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