My mom adventures in Fort Collins


Can we banish all the bullies?

Now, I don’t ordinarily post on “hot topics” (learned that phrase from the girls on The View), but I’m compelled. I’ve been MIA for a bit, due to the fun Spring Break trip we took to Sedona, Arizona (hope to post on that soon). In rummaging through the piles of mail that have accumulated in our absence, I paged through the most recent issue of Newsweek. And I found this article about the trial of Dharun Ravi and his alleged victim Tyler Clementi.

Direct from the Newsweek website: From left: Dharun Ravi.; Tyler Clementi. , John O'Boyle / The Star-Ledger-AP (left); Facebook

The article looks at the current trial of Dharun Ravi, who is accused of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation (read: hate crime). All of this because the guy filmed his roommate having sex without his knowledge. Said roommate, Tyler Clementi, then jumped from the George Washington Bridge to his death. Add to this that Tyler Clementi was gay and this video shows him having sex with another man.

The article asks, “Can Suicide be a Hate Crime?” Ultimately, I don’t know. That’s for the courts to determine. The author of the article, Jay Michaelson, deems Ravi a run-of-the-mill homophobe and Clementi a fragile young man—not only because he was gay but also because he was generally awkward and had low self-esteem. Whether or not Ravi’s recording of another person’s sexual experience qualifies as “average” in terms of an invasion of privacy I might take issue with, but overall maybe this is somewhat true. Maybe this is just a case of an out-of-line, albeit average, idiot who targeted someone not even remotely equipped to handle this type of bullying.

But here’s the thing: I think that’s what makes it worse. Hate crime or not, can’t we all just banish these guys from existence? I’m not talking about the worst-kind of douche bag that would film a peer’s most private moment, but the kind of person that targets someone who is obviously delicate and undeniably vulnerable. Bullies. I wish we could banish bullies.

Do I sound like I grew up on a Quaker commune when I ask the question, “What’s up with all the bullies these days?” Am I naive? I remember poking fun (and being “poked fun of” as well). I remember teasing. But, as a young adult in college, I definitely don’t remember it being all the rage to bully someone. It appears that this qualifies as a good time for some people. Taunting someone who is “nerdy”? Court evidence indicates this guy Ravi and his friends made fun of Clementi’s economic status and his choice of email provider. Seriously? Is this guy 12? Whether Tyler Clementi was gay or not, whether this guys filmed him without consent or not, is a post script to the long list of soul-damaging work this guy Ravi apparently thought was well within his rights.

This is what I fear as a parent. It’s all this bullying. It scares me on both sides: my kid being bullied, my kid being the bullier. It’s so wrong, so cowardly, so downright abusive. Where do people even learn to be this mean? In the end, it isn’t just about Dharun Ravi or Tyler Clementi, it’s about everyone. Dharun Ravi may very well be a run-of-the-mill jerk to some people, but not to me. To me, average jerkiness may include cutting in line at the airport, or sitting on your phone playing some asinine game while I’m in the seat behind you at the movie theatre. If this guy Ravi is average, then that’s saying quite a bit about how crappy we all are.

So, Jay Michaelson, I realize you are talking in terms of legal burdens and what can be proven in a court of law, but I say that Dharun Ravi should have to wear a big scarlet B for the rest of his life. And I take issue with calling him average, because I think that we’re all a lot better than that. On behalf of average people everywhere, STOP calling this guy “average.”

Anyone agree with me? Can we send all these bullies off to some island somewhere?

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