Tyler Clementi was a college student at Rudgers University in Piscataway Township, New Jersey, who allegedly committed suicide after his sexual encounter with another person was exposed to the public over the internet by his two friends, Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei.
The online broadcast took place without the knowledge of the eighteen-year-old freshman in college and it made him to jump to his death from the George Washington Bridge on September 22, 2010. Ravi, through his Twitter feed details, had hinted that he was to broadcast another live video of Clementi’s gay relationship with his boyfriend (Pilkington, para. 8).
However, this did not happen as Clementi was outraged at the continued exposure of his privacy and he went and committed suicide. Because Ravi and Wei are responsible for invading the privacy of Clementi, they should be severely punished due to the fact that through their selfish acts, someone died.
Every American deserves his or her right against unsanctioned invasion of privacy, and Clementi was no exception (Baniser and Davies, para. 2).
More so, since he was eighteen years of age, he is a fully-fledged citizen of the United States of America. This fundamental human right has been the value of the American way of life and the so-called technological inventions of this century should not try to contravene this fact. The legacy of respecting other people’s privacy has been an essential ingredient in the maintenance of the American culture that started over four hundred years ago.
Some young people who violated this essential virtue that has held the American people together for years caused the suicide of Clementi. Therefore, should they be allowed to go scot-free because of technological improvement? No, the tenets of a society are timeless and Ravi and Wei, who are all eighteen years of age, were old enough to judge that their actions were likely to make someone feel irritated.
Currently, many young people are violating the rights of their friends, just as Ravi and Wei did. This has caused many damages as many of the affected have ended up killing themselves in order to avoid the ensuing humiliation.
Should we allow this trend to continue? If such habits are allowed to continue, especially among the American youth, how will our society be in the next ten or twenty years? As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure, the severe punishment of Ravi and Wei will serve as an example that such kind of habits cannot be tolerated in the modern American society as they are likely to break the very fabric that has maintained it for many years now.
More so, since this incident has received increased media attention, the whole nation is watching the outcome of the case. Therefore, the severe punishment of the offenders will serve as a lesson to prevent the future occurrences of such violations of law that have far-reaching consequences. This can teach the significance of civility, with special emphasis that the misuse of modern means of communication is not allowed.
In the first place, broadcasting a live video over the internet of the sexual encounters of Clementi is a societal evil that could have not occurred. Besides breaching the privacy of someone, the offenders did a horrible mistake of letting the public know of the habits of their friend.
Friends are supposed to guard the interests of one another, and instead of doing this, Ravi and Wei went contrary to this very basic tenet of friendship and washed their friend’s dirty linen to the entire public, an action that regrettably caused his premature death. Due to this, the offenders are supposed to be in big trouble because of their uncaring attitude of failing to think of the consequences of their actions.
Clementi, a gifted violinist, was someone who had a good-looking future. And, for his friends to joke with his private life in public is horrible. Instead of minding their own business, Ravi and Wei put up cameras to catch the actions of Clementi for fun and they should bear the blame for his death.
The circumstances surrounding Clementi’s eventual death began when Ravi posted a Twitter message that read, “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay” (Foderaro, para. 1).
On the same day Ravi posted the message, Rutgers University had started a campus wide initiative to teach its students on the ethics of the use of new technology. However, disregarding this initiative by his college, Ravi went ahead and posted the damaging information on the private life of his roommate.
The actions of Ravi and Wei “gravely violated the university’s standards of decency and humanity” and the efforts of the institution to encourage “civility within the social life of the campus” (Foderaro, para. 13). Therefore, because of the catastrophe that followed the violation of the rules of the university, severe punishment should be given to the offenders so that others may not repeat the same mistake.
Within the state of New Jersey, it is considered a criminal offense to invade the privacy of someone with the intention of gathering or seeing images portraying another person’s nakedness or sexual encounter while he or she is not aware of such actions.
This fourth degree crime can make one serve a potential prison sentence of up to ten years, if other charges are also included in the crime. In addition, the dissemination of such pictures to the public is a third degree criminal offense that can make one to serve a prison sentence of up to five years.
More so, within the regulations of Rutgers University, collecting images of someone without his or her consent is an outright violation of the student code of conduct. As a result, Ravi and Wei are likely to be thrown out of the institution. Therefore, being students at the university, Ravi and Wei cannot prove to be ignorant of the repercussions that were awaiting their action of invading the privacy of someone.
Before the advancement in technology, schoolchildren bullied one another, especially by the use of physical force. However, with the invention of modern technology, things have changed and the physical altercations are rarely used as schoolchildren bully one another by the use of the power of the technology.
Notable is the use of the internet to send derogatory comments of someone. This is even worse as someone’s reputation can be severely damaged when millions around the world discover something about him or her. This is the kind of situation that Clementi was put into when Ravi and Wei posted his pictures on the internet without his consent with the intention of harassing him. Therefore, for instigating the harassment, the two should face the penalties of the law.
The death of the talented young man is very dreadful, especially since it took place in America and in the twenty-first century. Clementi’s young life could have been saved if his two ‘friends’ did not stream his video on the internet for the view of the public. What was intended for fun ended up ending the life of someone who was described as “very friendly with a very good potential for the future” (Foderaro, para. 6).
In the United States, suicide is the second most common cause of death among teenagers, and, most of the time this is caused by disagreements among the teenagers themselves. Since college life is a time when most young people discover themselves, it is essential that one find productive social relations.
However, this was not the case with Clementi as he failed to enjoy his life in college because of the continued harassments of his so-called friends. It is astonishing that Ravi and Wei were not considering the consequence of their actions by infringing on the rights of their fellow college mate.
In conclusion, it is certain that Ravi and Wei should be severely punished for publishing the videos of Clementi and his boyfriend online as their cruel game ended the life of someone who had a great future. If they could have not done this, Clementi’s life could have been preserved. He committed suicide because he was unwilling to face the public humiliation of his action.
Baniser, David, and Davies, Simon. “Privacy and Human Rights.” Global Internet Liberty
Campaign. Privacy International, n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2010. http://gilc.org/privacy/survey/intro.html
Foderaro, Lisa W. “Private moment made public, then a fatal jump.” N.Y. / Region. The
New York Times, 29 Sep. 2010. Web. 17 Dec. 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/30/nyregion/30suicide.html?_r=1
Pilkington, Ed. “Tyler Clementi, student outed as gay on internet, jumps to his death.”
Guardian.co.uk. Guardian News and Media Limited, 30 Sept. 2010. Web. 17 Dec. 2010. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/30/tyler-clementi-gay-student-suicide