30 days in jail, probation for former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi

Have you been following this case? Are you feeling a little outraged at the outcome? I’m pretty shocked… and also conflicted.

For those not familiar: Back in 2010, Dharun Ravi  used his webcam to spy on his roommate, Tyler Clementi. Ravi set up the webcam to capture Clementi’s sexual encounters, which happened to be with another male. Then, Ravi used Twitter to encourage other students to watch said encounters. Tyler Clementi killed himself shortly after. He jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge on September 22, 2010.

A couple months ago a jury convicted Ravi on 15 criminal counts including invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, and witness and evidence tampering.

The jail sentence is set to begin May 31. Ravi was also sentenced to three years of probation, 300 hours of community service, and counseling regarding cyber bullying and alternative lifestyles. Ravi must also pay a $10,000 fine, which will go to a facility dedicated to victims of bias crimes, The Star-Ledger reports.

I took a media law class this past semester and we talked about this case. It enraged me then and it enrages me still. Bullying isn’t limited to the playground and if anything I’m glad this case has forced people to pay attention to just how severe it can be.

Do you really think 30 days of jail is justice? I’m not sure it is. I mean, Ravi did not even speak in court when given the chance. Why not say sorry to the family? Why not take the stand and show how much the experience has taught you? Why not express interest in speaking to other young people about what happened and use it as a teaching tool?

Instead his crying mother took the stand and asked the judge to give her son a chance to live a normal life. But what about Tyler and his life?

It’s hard for me to feel for Ravi when he hasn’t expressed any remorse. However, the optimist in me wants to believe that the whole thing went way beyond his comprehension.

He’s still only 20 years old and would have been an impressionable 18-year-old when he committed the crimes.

And yes, crimes. Invading someone’s privacy is just that. But the Internet has blurred the lines of privacy. Facebook and Twitter make people, especially young people, feel entitled to know the intimate details of other people’s lives. Hell, people share nitty gritty details about themselves all the time – and willingly.

However, I knew better when I was 18. But I knew better before the webcam even existed. So should age even be an excuse?

I’ve never been to jail, so I’m not sure what those 30 days will be like for Ravi. He needs to be punished and live the consequences of his actions. But it’s the counseling that I think he really needs. Or a wake up call… some time to mature.

Is this type of thing preventable?

I really think we should have a class in middle school dedicated to embracing diversity. We need a class or seminar on bullying and how to use the Internet and teach how to respect someone’s privacy.

What do YOU think? Have you been bullied on the Internet? Does the sentence match the crimes?