In My Opinion
Dharun Ravi: An Unapologetic Bully
Dharun Ravi, the former Rutgers student convicted of using a webcam to spy on his roommate's encounter with another man, has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years of probation. But Ravi didn’t just use a webcam to spy on his roommate, Tyler Clementi. He tweeted about what he saw. He invited friends on campus to a “viewing party” when Tyler and his partner had a second date. He sent a letter to school housing officials. He behaved like the homophobic bully he is. His actions led to the torment and suicide of Tyler Clementi, 18, who jumped off the George Washington Bridge in NYC.
And despite Ravi’s mother’s plea to the judge to consider her son and the sad life she says he now leads, not once since the events, since the bullying, since the death of Tyler Clementi, has Ravi apologized to his family or anyone publicly for his actions. Nor have any one of the people who participated with him in it all.
And so, it is not the sentencing that has me upset over this - 30 days versus 10 years - or the fact that it was questioned whether or not Ravi should be at all held responsible for the actual death of Tyler Clementi, but instead it is the lack of remorse, the inability to say “I’m sorry” to Tyler’s parents, or family, or community. This inability to demonstrate any sense of regret for his actions and how they caused harm to someone else is what makes this case feel like a failure to me.
No one can make Ravi feel regret for his actions, much less express it, but I would hope that he would be sentenced to endure a situation beyond the inconveniences of not “meeting his friends for pizza”, as his mother testified. I would hope he would be sentenced to counseling, community service working with the gay community, something more than just 30 days and 3 years probation.
Kids do stupid things, and often times those stupid things can be insensitive. But Ravi wasn’t just stupid. He was mean and calculated again and again. This wasn’t something he did one night, this was something he celebrated and planned repeatedly. Youth is no excuse for being cruel. In my eyes he is the worst of bullies and his inability to show any remorse for his actions makes me feel zero sympathy for him. One would think that a child of immigrants parents, an immigrant himself, would have endured enough teasing and racism, bullying and torment at some point in his life to have formed some level of empathy and tolerance from those different from him. But it seems someone along the way failed him miserably and guided him poorly, and now his cruel behavior led to the death of another.
As a mother this case serve as two of my greatest fears: 1) where my child would be a victim of bullying, or worse a victim of bullying that would have such devastating consequences or 2) that my child be the bully, or even worse, the unapologetic bully.
My heart goes out to Tyler Clementi’s family and all others who are so deeply affected and harmed by bullying. It is our responsibility as parents to raise more compassionate, tolerant, and kind members of this world. The conversation starts now, at home so that our children are neither the bully, nor the victim.
Photo Credit: Mel Evans/AP