Free Dharun Ravi: Fairness vs. Justice

I was naive I suppose.  I really thought that the jury, upon hearing all the detail that the mass consuming public was not privy to, would acquit Dharun Ravi on all charges, regardless of the fact the prosecutor seemed to be cleverly boxing them in to a particular outcome, armed with ambiguous law.  At a minimum I thought the major charges, including the “hate crime,” would be hard to deliberate on, possibly resulting in a mistrial.   The comprehensive NewYorker article last month showed that the case, far from being what the media initially portrayed, was full of twists, conflicting behavior, and most importantly I believed, reasonable doubt.  A few years back I watched the absolutely brilliant 8-part documentary The Staircase (now apparently free online), about the murder trial of a bisexual man in North Carolina.  It forever changed my view of highly publicized trials in America.  They seldom have anything at all to do with justice.  Everyone involved is a victim.  More recently, we saw a miscarriage of justice in the case of the West Memphis three.  Ravi’s trial result should not have surprised me.

Ravi is an immature, upper middle class kid and a “casual homophobe” (more on  that term later) but he is not a perpetrator of a hate crime.  To consider him more than marginally complicit in the death of Tyler Clementi hurts two groups: victims of true hate crimes and the mental health community.

First off, I reject the mostly Right Wing assertion that we should banish the term “hate crime” from our legal system.  ”Aren’t all crimes hate crimes” they argue?  Such arguments are specious an predicated on the belief that political correctedness is the only reason such a label exists.  Bullshit.  When a man has a chain put around his ankles and is dragged behind a car because he is black, that’s a hate crime.  When a Sikh man is shot for being a “Muslim terrorist“, that’s a hate crime.  When a gay man is tied to a fence and tortured, that’s a hate crime.  Being stupid while you are coming of age and meeting people with different backgrounds than you?  Not a hate crime.  Most crimes are committed because of anger, greed, jealousy, or mental illness.  A hate crime is different.  It is often very violent and there is rarely a personal gain.  The crime is committed as an act of domination or intimidation, often based on unjustified fear.  Nothing about Dharun Ravi’s behavior, as evinced by texts, emails, tweets, and witnesses shows even an inkling of such a motive.  One could argue he was more uncomfortable with Clementi’s socio-economic status than his sexuality!  He was also uncomfortable about an older man, a stranger, coming into his room and having sex.  Many of us may have reacted poorly in such an instance.  What opponents of the term “hate crime” get right however, is that the laws are sometimes so ambiguous that a clever prosecution can convince a jury that a wide variety of crimes meet the legal definition of a “hate crime” and that they have to convict based on the definition alone, regardless of common sense.  We have seen “terrorism” laws abused in this same way.  I would not be at all surprised if Ravi’s case someday reaches the Supreme Court for this very reason.

I consider Ravi a “casual homophobe.”  He, like many of us, especially when we were younger, may loosely throw around the word “fag” or an occasional “you’re so ghey” without thinking twice.  As he gets older he will think about it more, just like many of us may have.  First generation South Asian American households are not the greatest environments to be raised socially conscious in.  With age he may have checked himself and seen that words can hurt like weapons.  Becoming popular with friends by poking fun at others would stop being as cool as it once was. We’ll never know now cause he just got Shawshanked.  He may even be deported.

Now, about the second major issue this jury may not have appreciated enough in terms of considering the applicability of some of the bias intimidation charges:  Nobody ever commits suicide because of a single reason.  Any mental health professional or suicide prevention counselor will tell you that you can’t go from perfectly happy to suicide in the matter of days.  Being watched shirtless on a webcam with another man for two seconds did not alone intimidate Clementi into killing himself.  I fear this ruling sends a message that suicide is clean and simple to understand.  ”A” leads to “B.”  Just punish “A” and there will be no “B.”  Simple.  Why do we need to invest in mental health or provide resources for gay teens coming of age?  Let’s just make it a crime to be an asshole.  Most importantly, Ravi’s defense team was barred from accessing Clementi’s computer files or a note left in his backpack.  There they may have found the evidence they needed to demonstrate that Clementi’s state of mind was complicated and impacted by a lot more than boorish behavior by a freshman year roommate.

Speculating for a second it seems like the jury, like much of modern society, was more interested in being fair (and in sticking to the prosecution’s interpretation of the law) than in being just.  It is sad that Clementi was troubled.  It is even more tragic that he took his life.  I get the impression that the jury sought to punish Ravi because they felt bad about Clementi and his family’s situation rather than being motivated by the need for meting out dispassionate justice.  As a society, when we punish “bad thought” (especially in the young) and blur the line between it and “bad action,” we not only risk censorship but we push real ignorance or bigotry under the rug without dealing with it.  Now, more than ever, we have become a society that favors punishment over rehabilitation.  It is telling that the prosecution offered Ravi a plea bargain consisting of only community service…but a jury of his “peers” goaded by that same prosecution then threw the book at him after he refused to admit guilt.

“This was very difficult, but it was a really good experience. You feel like justice has been served,” he said.

 

He said decisions on the charges of witness tampering, evidence tampering and invasion of privacy were “easy” and “cut and dry,” but the deliberations on the bias charges were more difficult. He estimated the panel deliberated for much more than one hour on the bias charges, but would not say how long.

 

“You can’t know what someone’s thinking. You have to get inside their head,” he said. “Afterwards, you think about it not being done once, but being done twice another day. That’s why we came to that conclusion.” He also said he hopes the verdict will bring some peace to the families.

 

“I hope they can put everything behind them and move forward,” he said. “Hopefully, they finally have closure.” [Link]

 

Ravi’s team will appeal but his life is destroyed now.  In America you can be 14 and put away for life.  You can be 18 and be jailed for being immature and insensitive.  Everyone lost in this episode.  Especially justice.

It is fitting that Tyler Clementi’s dad basically paraphrased Gandhi at the end of the day, maybe without even knowing it:

To our college, high school and even middle-school youngsters, I would say this: You’re going to meet a lot of people in your lifetime. Some of these people you may not like. But just because you don’t like them, does not mean you have to work against them. When you see somebody doing something wrong, tell them, “That’s not right. Stop it.”

 

You can make the world a better place. The change you want to see in the world begins with you. [Link]

89 thoughts on “Free Dharun Ravi: Fairness vs. Justice

  1. Dharun is not the typical upper-middle class NRI

    His high school GPA was only 2.88

    Remember the Rodney King trial, and OJ Simpson acquital, If the jury is not of your ethnicity, you can and should expect to get screwed

    The plea bargain was very generous, Ravi, and his lawyers chose to gamble and lost

    • I agree his lawyers screwed him. I would have took the plea deal. You can’t mess with gay folks in this day and age. I see his friend Wei is even going to have no record. She was smart.

      • I think the idea is that one should stand on principle, even if it means that you place yourself in greater danger. Ravi refused to be branded a ‘homophobe’. I applaud him for refusing to take the easy way.

        I am utterly disgusted with this law and prosecution; it is predicated on fear mongering and hysteria, attributes which I had hoped the Justice system would rise above.

  2. I thought about the plea bargain aspect. Honestly though, if it was me I would have a hard time agreeing I was “guilty” if I felt I wasn’t. I think however, that in our justice system, you are harshly punished if you decide to stand up on principle and lose.

  3. Has there been any other instance in which one person has been found culpable in the suicide of another? Can there be the likelihood of any such prosecution in the future? Will invasion of privacy on college campuses be subject to such a high-profile prosecution, if there is no suicide, but just mental anguish? If the Ravi case turns out to be a “once-off” affair, then the legal system was not used for justice, but to make a public statement.

  4. Thanks for this post – particularly appreciated the points on mental health.

    I’d just like to add that the arguments against hate crime legislation are not the sole domain of the right wing. Dragging someone behind a car, shooting someone, tying someone to a fence and torturing them – these are all already against the law; a system is in place for seeking justice. Making the distinction of a “hate crime” crosses into making assessments into a perpetrators’ mind, in a manner quite different from what goes on in assessing something like premeditation. It borders on criminalizing someone’s thoughts, which is a slippery slope. Many people think despicable things without ever carrying out an actual crime.

    I realize plenty of people will disagree, especially those of us who belong to minority groups, but it is something worth thinking about. For those who do support hate crime legislation, this verdict certainly seems farcical in light of the other cases you’ve cited. It’s also interesting to consider the dynamic between Ravi and Clementi, both of whom are minorities, and how it played out in the justice system.

  5. Oy – some flaws with this argument. First off, Dharun Ravi is not in jail, and he might even avoid jail time, so there is no Free Dharun Ravi – yet. The question to the jury was whether he was guilty of the crimes he was on trial for.

    First, your second point – suicide had nothing to do with this trial. Which is why the defense didnt get any of the evidence relating to Clementi’s death, and why this trial had nothing to do whether or not Ravi caused Clementi’s suicide. This trial boiled down to 2 questions to the the jury 1) did Ravi invade Cleminti’s privacy? and 2) Did Ravi do this because Clementi was gay? (same logic : if Clementi were not straight, would Ravi had done what he did?). The question is not if he should go to jail for those crimes, but whether or not he is guilty of them – which I dont blame the jury for the verdict they reached – using a webcam to spy on your roommate and broadcast it to the public? Seems obvious – but thats just me.

    And yes, all of us were young and dumb – even at 18 – to hold not so nice views of people with different backgrounds – but trying to shame them in public? I’m sorry, but I just have to disagree with you there.

    I think Ravi is also a victim of technology. Yes, we were all dumb when we were young, and there is no shortage of assholes across college campuses, who happen to live with quiet, akward, roommates who are ripe for the picking. What exists today though, is easy to use webcams to setup such a type of surveillance on your roommate, and twitter for which it is easy to rally an audience at a moments notice. It was only a matter of time before something like this happen – and Ravi is the example for all future campus dicks.

    And last point – yes, Ravi is only 18, and maybe should not have known better – but he was offered a plea deal with no prison time, and no bias charge, and his parents turned it down. His parents should have known better. It was his parents who brought this to trial.

    • i completely agree, if this was a hate crime or not completely rests in the question would have done this to Clementi if he wasn’t gay. I can see Abhi coming to a different conclusion if a group of white boys bullied someone from an ethnic minority with the same outcome.

      That said I feel sorry for the kid, with today’s technology things can spiral out of hand quickly.

  6. Oh – and last thing, I dont necessarily think Ravi should go to jail either, but I do believe the jury came fair verdict. A just sentence is not left up to the jury, but to the judge. I’m hoping the judge gives him a minimal sentence.

  7. J: “First off, Dharun Ravi is not in jail, and he might even avoid jail time, so there is no Free Dharun Ravi – yet”

    I know, the “free” part was dramatic license on my part, like “Free Leonard Peltier.” He may get deported though which is just as bad

    J: “First, your second point – suicide had nothing to do with this trial.”

    yes, not explicitly, but I don’t think anyone believes all those “bias intimidation” charges would have been heaped on him if not for the suicide. They could not try him for the suicide directly so they tried him indirectly.

    Sho: “I’d just like to add that the arguments against hate crime legislation are not the sole domain of the right wing”

    Fair enough

  8. One thing that I have not seen discussed is Ravi’s own complicity in the situation. Has he shown any remorse or acknowledged any feelings of wrongdoing at all? I’ve never read any direct quotes from him or his family. I’ve only seen pictures of him smiling like a goofball (see photo above). Unfortunately, in the legal system, perception is everything. There was a reason his lawyer didn’t put him on the stand; my guess is that he probably feels that he did nothing wrong. Which he did. Indirectly or not, with malice or not, hate crime or not, his actions are responsible for the death of another human being. He should have taken the plea deal and agreed he was guilty because he IS guilty. He had his chance. Unfortunately him or his parents thought they could fight public opinion, and now he’s got to pay the price. Pretending that he was just young, dumb “victim” in the wrong place at the wrong time does a great disservice to justice. His life isn’t ruined because he’s still alive, and after jail time, deportation or whatever else, I hope he can get his life back together and makes something positive of this. Maybe at that point I’ll feel some sympathy for him.

  9. J in san Fran:1. it is reported that ravi will be sentenced to ten years and then deported. 2. You are being sneaky like the prosecuters. This came to trial as a hate crime because of the suicide. Otherwise, it would have been a case of having had a bad roommate.

    Abhi, this is really well-written.

    In America, you don’ t mess with the gays or the Jewish. I think there is racial bias, in that Ravi is seen as inherently guilty because he comes from, you know, one of those countries over there where they treat people badly and are not as evolved as we are here. Many of the comments, even on nyt and gawker, are variations of, Deport him back to his backward country. That took me aback. Even in the trial, clementi was humanized in a way that ravi just was not.

    The hate crime angle is shaky. It all depends on if the class of people has power now or is being sympathized with. The Bangladeshi cab driver whose throat was slit by an Afghan veteran in ny was not deemed a hate crime. The firebombed mosques in Florida and tenessee were not considered hate crimes. The 17 y ear old black kid who was gunned down. by an overzealous neighborhood watch guy is not deemed a hate crime. There is power play here, and Ravi had perception working against him from the beginning.

    This reminds me of that Indian fashion guy who was convicted of rape. No comparison, of course. That guy is scum. But there are openly operating pedophiles in Hollywood and in fashion. Rapists like the fashion photographer terry Richardson are profiled on gawker. Pedos like that nickelodean producer is openly discussed on gossip sites. And there is no talk of prosecutions. I think that Indian fashion guy was seen as not one of them and didn’t get the protection. He should in jail of course, but there some real racial prejudice here at play.

    Ravi was an idiot, but going to jail for ten years and then deported for a college prank, that’s ridiculous. I hope some desis are donating money to help the family with legal fees. That family will be in debt for millions.

  10. This is truly a tragic case. I have served on a jury and it is not fun to have to sit there with a very black and white checklist handed to you by the court as the only thing you can use to make your decision . You feel helpless in many ways especially in a case like Ravi’s because there is no leeway in how one can answer some things. There is no “shades” of guilt. A little bit guilty is depending on how the checklist given to you is the same as totally guilty. I think the jury was hamstrung by the way the law is framed in New Jersey. In Ravi’s case of being a “casual homophobe” is the same as being a “bigoted, virulent homophobe” in the eyes of the law it seems.

    I think Ravi also got singularly bad advice. He was offered a decent plea deal, which given the cost of losing a case that was stacked against him unfortunately, he should have grabbed with both hands and quietly disappeared from public view and worked on rebuilding his life somewhere else once that was done. He was the unfortunate “fall guy” for the “homophobe bully” label that was stuck on him by the media. High profile gay celebs like Ellen Degeneris and others had him in their cross hairs. He had already lost the public sympathy and should have known that.

    I feel truly bad for him and his family as well as the Clementi family. A tragedy for everyone.

  11. Clementi made racist comments and assumptions about Ravi’s background and Indian heritage as well. They both were in a horrible roomate situation. Why was there no university intervention. Why were they not immediately moved to other rooms. Clementi gets the sympathy vote for being dead. I get that.

    I am not excusing ravi. But all this feels more like a public flogging and being made an example of than justice.

  12. And something about how “hate crime” laws can be troublesome:

    NJ spycam case stirs debate over hate crime laws

    In other quarters, there was dismay at the use of New Jersey’s hate crimes law in the case, and at the verdict that could saddle 20-year-old Ravi with a prison sentence of 10 years or more despite a dearth of evidence that he hated gays.

    “It illustrates why hate crime laws are not a good idea,” said James Jacobs, a law professor at New York University. “They were passed to be admired and not to be used.”

    http://news.yahoo.com/nj-spycam-case-stirs-debate-over-hate-crime-130338239.html

  13. You hit the nail on the head, as usual. This is exactly why Sepia Mutiny should not shut down! :)

  14. Abhi:”yes, not explicitly, but I don’t think anyone believes all those “bias intimidation” charges would have been heaped on him if not for the suicide. They could not try him for the suicide directly so they tried him indirectly.”

    Well, they were not heaped on him, he was offered NOT being charged with bias intimidation – it was Ravi and parents who wanted to go trial over that charge.

    Suicide did not bring the charges of bias intimidation, the suicide brought this case to the public’s attention – who demanded justice, or some formal charges being filed. It is the DA’s job to find out what laws, if any, were broken and see if then file those charges accordingly. Say, Clementi didnt commit suicide, and he tried to file a criminal complaint based on bias intimidation – the DA probably wouldnt pursue it for all sorts of practical reasons (cost, priorities, etc.), but that doesnt mean that bias intimidation did not exist. Or that a jury would not agree it was bias intimidation (which again, is just the question – would Ravi would have done what he did if Clementi were not gay).

    Most tragic point – is the public just wanted justice – justice as a form of punishment. The DA offered justice as a plea bargain more or less stating, admit you’re guilty , and your justice will include no prison time, no bias charge, etc.

    I think we’re all confusing the question of justice, with whether or not he is guilty. The latter point is easier for me to believe that yes, he is guilty. What is justice? I dont know, I definitely dont think 10 years in prison is fair at all, but I also thought the plea bargain was too lenient.

    But what bias intimidation comes down to – is if you think Ravi would have done what he did if Clementi were not gay? If you think Clementi’s being gay had something to do with it – then the bias intimidation charge sticks.

  15. Also, we need to separate fairness and justice into legal terms. Faireness being the verdict of the charges filed, and justice being the punishment. Being found guilty with no jail time can be justice enough.

  16. One aspect that I feel hasn’t been adequately addressed is the role of technology in this “debacle for all”.

    I read the New Yorker article, and one thing that struck me was the lack of direct communication between the two room-mates. Things wouldn’t have turned ugly only if they had made an effort to befriend each other. Is this a consequence of the over-connected world? Where it is easier to stay within your comfort-zone and IM your high school buddies, than get to know the person sitting 4 feet away from you. Even 10 yrs back (in India, at least) we were almost forced to befriend our new classmates, room-mates, dorm-mates.

  17. In discussing this case with a couple lawyer friends, they feel he will get 2-3 years in prison with a chance of parole after 1 year. Interested to see what happens during the sentencing.

    I agree with others that he/his family/his lawyers were absolute idiots to not accept the 2nd plea deal. Ravi’s arrogance has led to this moment. No, he did not cause Clementi’s death, but he indirectly bullied his quiet, less cool roommate, invaded his privacy and turned his sexuality into a joke. If he had just admitted that he was wrong to do these things, pled guilty and accepted the plea bargain, he would’ve just faded into obscurity (ex: no one’s talking about Molly Wei very much, and her role in this tragedy will be relegated to the sidelines).

    I think the deportation possibility is immensely cruel, and I sincerely hope it does not come down to that. I also think 10 years is not proportional to the crimes he’s committed, but 1 year seems fitting. Hopefully he will learn something from this tragedy and show true remorse. I realize we’ve yet to hear a peep from him or his family.

  18. The casual homophobia exhibited by Mr. Ravi is disturbing, childish, and insensitive. However, he should not serve jail time since he had no intention of forcing Mr. Clementi from jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

    Mr. Ravi’s life is ruined in this country. If he is deported back to India, he could always resume his studies there or in some other Commonwealth country like the UK and Australia, where the trial has received less media coverage.

  19. Abhi,

    You mentioned Clementi’s socio-economic class background, what role did that play in Ravi’s discomfort of his roommate?

    I wonder if Ravi’s parents tried to reach out to the Clementi family to express their condolences to the affected family?

    Naila,

    Your comments come across callous.

    True, most Americans assume Indians are Muslims and Middle Eastern. When Americans think of Middle Easterners and South Asians, they think of misogyny in the form of female genital mutilation (which is common throughout Africa regardless of religious creed and Indonesia) and acid attacks to disfigure women in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. While such vile cultural practices are followed by some members of our community, we should address these issues.

    Gay South Asians have been the target of Victorian era anti-sodomy laws in Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan and Bangladesh. South Asian immigrants are not always welcoming of their queer brothers and sisters. I know from personal experience.

    What evidence do you have that Clementi made disparaging remarks about Ravi’s Indian heritage?

    • Read the whole NewYorker article. You will see from Ravi’s own writings that the fact that Clementi seemed poor-ish was more troubling to Ravi than his sexuality (at least before they started living together and an older man would have sex with Clementi in their common room). If I remember correctly the same article also covers the disparaging remarks about Ravi made by Clementi.

  20. @GayShia: Ravi sent a couple text messages where he made off-hand comments about the fact that Clementi was probably poor (I don’t remember them, but I felt they had an air of dismissive arrogance). He also used the ridiculous argument that he set up the webcam b/c he felt Clementi’s guest was poor, homeless and shady looking, and he was concerned his iPad would be stolen. I totally agree that I wouldn’t want a 30 year old scruffy man in my dorm room, but if that’s the case: 1) he could’ve told Clementi that he didn’t feel comfortable with his guest in their room or 2) he could’ve taken his dang iPad with him. I personally don’t buy that this was the case at all, but when Ravi realized he was in trouble, he made up this story.

    Clementi sent his friend a text making a couple disparaging comments about Ravi: that his family probably owned a Dunkin Donuts and he assumed his family is fresh off the boat. Both sides made these texts before even meeting. It’s too bad they didn’t bother to learn more about each other and make an effort to become civil.

  21. Classism is common among many upper income South Asians. This is a very unfortunate aspect of our community.

    Realize, most Americans have a limited image of South Asians as “Muslim terrorist,” “convenience store clerk,” “cab driver,” “Hotel Patels,” and the infamous character “Apu” from the Simpsons (voiced by Hank Azaria – a cute Sephardic Greek American Jew).

    • Most Americans may have a limited image of South Asians as all the things you described. But that does not make it ok. In a way, the same could be said for Dharun, in that, most South Asians might not be socially aware of gay rights and problems. Still not ok.

      New Jersey has a high South Asian population, I believe something like number 3 after California and New York. Clementi should have known his comments were not out of ignorance but of mockery.

      Clementi probably made Dharun mad and Dharun decided to come back at him by making fun of sexuality. Such behavior is common with dumb teenagers. The problem is that it went way too far.

    • Well, you just proved my point by reducing Ravi to a set of media tropes and all of South Asia to a hellhole for gays. Bottom line, these are prejudicial assumptions, making his race and national origin a factor in the vetdict. Ravi was not humanized ever in the media. Unlike say the case of the Army sergeant who murdered 16 Afghanis, who is being presented as a 3 dimensional guy with family and kids, non-white people are just stock characters.

      • So true and so unfortunate.

        Minorities are labeled as backwards and no one digs any deeper to see if that individual person might be the real problem. For most, the ethnicity or race itself becomes the “root” of the person’s flaws. On the other hand, the “All-American” criminals/bad guys are victims of their environment, troubled childhoods, psychological issues, financial stress, etc.

        I don’t like Dharun Ravi and find his actions repulsive and appalling. But the way the media treated him was equally appalling to me, as an Indian-American.

  22. I am surprised that so many are trying to defend Ravi. If the tables were turned and his gay, white roommate had secretly and maliciously webcasted Ravi doing something that you might consider embarrassing related to SA culture, I would bet that we would be up in arms. The tragic outcome of this case should not necessarily determine the harshness of punishment, but the action itself. This is clearly illegal invasion of privacy and so far Ravi has not shown an iota of remorse or responsibility. From the NewYorker article, it looks like there was a lot going on from both sides, but that Ravi was frantically trying to cover his tracks and make himself look less complicit with his revised tweets. This is a terrible prank committed by an adult (yes, 18 years old means he is an adult, not a kid) who still seems to have no guilt.

    • I think Ravi should have been called out for what he did. Which is what happened. He’s going to go to jail for serious privacy invasion. That’s fine. Like Molly Wei, he really should have taken that generous plea bargain when he knew what he was going up against. Honestly, it’s the deportation that I am extremely upset over. American culture helped feed his homophobic notion and how he exhibited this with social media. And yet, it’s America that might send him to India.

      Honestly, if the tables were turned. I don’t think this would have been a big deal. Think about all of the Indians and South Asians that have been victim to hate crimes after 9/11. Has one case gotten this much attention? No. Ask a few non South Asians to name a victim from a hate crime like that. Good luck finding one.

    • Totally agree tf. I would highlight and underline your point that if it were the white roommate who was taping Ravi, you can bet the overall flavor of these message boards would be against the perpetrator.

  23. “True, most Americans assume Indians are Muslims and Middle Eastern. When Americans think of Middle Easterners and South Asians, they think of misogyny in the form of female genital mutilation (which is common throughout Africa regardless of religious creed and Indonesia) and acid attacks to disfigure women in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh.”

    Very accurate, and it shows the despicable ignorance of Americans, that they can’t differentiate people, and lump everyone together. Some nitwit( obviously non-Indian) posted something in this forum a few months back, asking the silly question as to whether Indians are exempt from being terrorists? As if that is what is going through American minds! All the Americans are thinking is “Hmmm, brown person, possible terrorist”. Tribal, primordial, animal instinctive, that’s all. No brain in the least.

    Excellent observations by a couple of posters, about how Clementi has been humanised, whereas D.Ravi has not, he’s just a ‘stock character’, an object. To be labelled then condemned.

  24. there might be some racial aspect to this. but we shouldn’t assume that it is specific to brown folk. if DR was a working class white (e.g., “jersey shore” type) he’d be dissed on those grounds. the fact is that his behavior was horrible on moral grounds. people would “hook” into whatever “weaknesses” they could find in response to that.

  25. if my memory serves me right i remember arguing a couple of years ago on this forum against hate crime legislation. a crime is a crime is a crime. punishing thought crimes are ludicrous – it is behaviour that needs to be punished. DR was the wrong kind of victim which is the big risk with hate crime legislation – deportation is not such a big deal – he would go back to india and a booming economy. big deal. as to the question if he were straight would he have tried this stunt – bloody oath. google skype defence scandal to see what straight kids get upto. although i feel sorry for DR i cant but say that this is a good lesson (hopefully) for the South Asian activists who are constantly harping on hate crime legislation. and for heavens sake dont try australia – we are the 51st state. india is your best best -

    abhi how about a defence fund for DR ?

  26. Does 10 years of jail time seem a bit much? Yes.

    In my day, a “bully” was someone who threatened to beat you up, or pushed you into a locker. Mr. Ravi was streaming video of his room-mate in an sexual encounter, and inviting his friends to come join him in the mocking on the internet. That behavior is disgusting and shows a staggering lack of empathy.

    Does that mean that he should be deported to a country that he hasn’t lived in since he was an infant? No.

    But here’s the thing… not once—not ONCE—did Mr. Ravi ever take any responsibility for his actions.

    Instead, he tampered with a witness (try to get Ms. Wei to change her story) and destroyed evidence (erasing/changing incriminating Twitter posts he had made).

    Yes, the punishment is harsh (far more than I would’ve given him), but he did have the opportunity to take a quite generous plea bargain. Instead, he chose to put it to a jury… and no one likes a bully.

    If you haven’t yet read The New Yorker’s “The Story of a Suicide”, check it out at http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/02/06/120206fa_fact_parker?printable=true

  27. Abhi,

    I read the New Yorker article, it was very well-written and it did a fair job of presenting Dharun Ravi. In the article, they said he resembled Sasha Baron Cohen which is true. The comedian is of an Iranian Jewish heritage. According to the UN’s definition of South Asia, Iran is included. I found Ravi’s disparaging remarks about poor people insulting.

    I grew up as a poor South Asian American in a Latino barrio of Los Angeles. As a gay South Asian, I discussed the issue with my partner who is Southeast Asian. He also thought race played a role in the ordeal Dharun Ravi faces and the charges brought against Molly Wei.

    The article mentions Ravi was born in Tamil Nadu and his parents are quite successful. However, they could have instilled a sense of humility in their son. Being Muslim, my family taught me the importance of “zakat” (charitable alms to those less fortunate). I went with my grandmother to Tijuana to the “colonias” (shanty towns) to spend time with Mexican orphans and distribute school supplies, shoes, toys, canned food items, clothing, etc. In high school, I was active in Key Club doing community service.

    Growing up in the barrio, I was spatially segregated from other Desis who lived in more higher income zip codes. Then I attended UCLA, and to be frank, I was shocked by some Desi kids who drove BMWs like Ravi. For the first time in my life, I felt “poor.” I didn’t know I was poor in high school, but now, looking at other Asian American kids from Del Mar, San Marino, Daly City, San Francisco, Irvine, etc., I felt “poor” and ashamed.

    I think the article from the New Yorker made me less sympathetic towards Dharun when he made comments to his friend Jason Tam about the poor.

    I feel Dharun Ravi has been “thrown under the bus.” I have sympathy for him because he’s a fellow Desi not because I excuse his actions. However, during the time of Tyler Clementi’s death, other cases of gay youth committing suicide hit the news circuit. Locally where I live, in Tehachapi, CA a gay youth hung himself from a tree.

    However, being gay like Tyler Clementi, I feel sorry he committed suicide. In my Muslim faith, suicide is “haram” (forbidden) and something I would never consider. I also have attempted to “mask my gayness” by being “hyper-masculine.” In many ways, like Ravi, I too have made comments which borderline on casual homophobia. To fit into my local South Asian community, I downplay my “gay identity” and have used slurs like “That’s gay” and what not. Like Ravi, I too come across cocky and a jerk at times. In my life, I have my gay life and my Desi life. Neither one ever crosses over to the other.

  28. Abhi – very well written blog posting. I have been feeling for a while now that it was practically a murder trial and they were blaming Dharun Ravi for Tyler Clementi’s death. And I think it is ridiculous to pin a suicide on the actions of one person. Suicide and mental health are far more complex. While Dharun Ravi certainly should have been disciplined and reprimanded, I think the punishment he is getting far outweighs his actions. I feel bad for both Tyler Clementi, his family and Dharun Ravi. Tyler Clementi’s family wants answers and justice. But I am not sure this is really justice.

    Great writing on the blog post. I am forwarding it to friends.

    -Anita

  29. It was no more than a college dorm prank. Sometimes you end up paying a big price with your life and future for a trivial mistake. We all can learn a lot from this episode in how we conduct our lives. It looks like it is too late to help Dharun Ravi. What he is getting is too much justice in terms of the jury verdict. Is there a chance for him to appeal?

  30. Not sure if I understand some of the contentions from this post.

    1. but a jury of his “peers” goaded by that same prosecution then threw the book at him after he refused to admit guilt.

    ???? Isn’t the whole point of the prosecution to convince the jury to convict? Are you saying the prosecutor should have been less convincing?

    2. First generation South Asian American households are not the greatest environments to be raised socially conscious in. Compared to what?? My parents are Tamil immigrants, both of them were fervently conservative and opposed to gay marriage. Never in my wildest dreams would I ever pull the crap Ravi did. To me, the fact that he was raised by South Indians means we should throw the book at him. He should have known better. The “South Asian American” schtick is just a silly scapegoat.

    • I do not know how much of this thing is due to homophobic behavior. Suppose the roommate is having a hot date with a cheer leader or a movie celebrity woman student, would it be surprising if he would try to snoop? My room mate is doing something exotic and wanted me to stay away, my first instinct will be to be curious about it. Even if it is a fraternity initiation ceremony or some religious chanting. The University should have handled this as an internal matter.

      • my first instinct will be to be curious about it. Privacy is something the founding fathers (and most people with common sense) value. Curiosity is fine, but deciding to film it, then tweet about it afterwards is simply wrong.

        The University should have handled this as an internal matter.

        Except that invasion of privacy is a criminal offense. I’m fine with charging Ravi and having a trial. I don’t think 10 years is remotely fair for this – perhaps 6 months plus probation, but 10 years is outrageous.

  31. If Ravi was actually tried for contributing to Clementi’s death, the defense team could have got access to a lot more material about Clementi’s psychological state and prior conditions that would have most likely showed that he was unstable even before this incident. By excluding that aspect, the court in effect prevented Ravi’s defense from examining that side, yet implicitly set up the case to try Ravi for Clementi’s death. The comments from the juror confirm that. A setup in a way it seems. By no means is Ravi innocent, but I think he’s been convicted in a less than fair trial for a charge that in truth was one he wasn’t allowed to defend himself against.

  32. Throw the book at him for what, though? For a prank or thoughtless action that may or may not have led to a suicide? For all we know, the suicide may be the shame of being outed to family and friends, who are the most disapproving. Dharun Ravi was not egging or goading Clementi to take his life. He merely left his camera on when Clementi had a gay visitor to his apartment. Dharun is practically a child, for crying out loud.

  33. I agree with this post. I want to clarify that what transpired against Clementi was desipicable, immature, and aggressive teasing, I don’t get the impressions that Ravi was malicious, hateful, or had any clue of the consequences of his actions.

    From what I understand, Clementi actually tried to commit suicide in the past. I haven’t heard too much being said about this. Also, Clementi chose suicide as a first option in dealing with this immature and intimidating act.

    I believe that the proper punishments towards Ravi would be: expulsion from the NJ public school systems (which would include other great schools like NJIT, Montclair, etc.), and a fine of $300K+ to be paid to the Clementi family. Also, a long probation and maybe prison if lying to investigators is punishable with prison time. I use this figure of $300K+ because that’s what the “Star Wars Boy” on youtube was paid by his school due to his humiliation and emotional stress.

    My impression of Ravi is that he’s an arrogant, rich boy, with a typical frat boy mentality (i.e. not socially conscious). He arrogantly tried to lie to the investigators, and his story didn’t make much sense (he wanted to protect his possessions from the older guy, so he videotaped it all).

    Clementi was emotionally fragile and depressed, whereas Ravi was emotionally suffered from some mild narcisstic personality disorder and was over exuberant with this whole college experience.

  34. On another note: Why the hell were the photogenic Amanda Knox and Casey Anthony acquitted and made free? Oh yes – because they’re attractive FEMALES who are white Americans. Indians living in this country don’t know their rights, so let’s use them as a scapegoat. They’re soft targets. Besides, he would have been rich later on anyways, and people resent that.

    Now, I’m not condoning Ravi. He’s a cocky, unapologetic, immature idiot. He deserved a year and other punishments. Perhaps we should be allowed to watch videos of his antics in prison as he tries to barter for a samosa.

    I agree with you SM-ers. The media was already against him, and they focused on his exotic name and “otherness”. I’m convinced that they dehumanized, “othered”, and ganged up on him. It seems as if Dharun Ravi were a white-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant (or even Ashenazi), that this would NOT have received much attention. Also, why the fvck did Lady Gaga and all these celebrities who are keeping gays in an infantile and dependent state singing mantras regarding this ordeal? I’m NOT a homophobe. Gays are part of my family. I do, however, that we overly love them because they’re “cute” or something, and we can’t even make fun of them like we make fun of, say for example, Indians or different religions. I don’t get the impression that gays are made fun of innocently.

    • You bring up an interesting point about “gay politics” in America. Being gay in America means being white and if you are a minority, you are “invisible” unless you’re East Asian. Blacks, Latinos, Middle Easterners/North Africans, and South Asians are ignored for the most part.

      The “gay community” is a “sissified” community. Religion is deemed oppressive and “perpetuates homophobia.” Try being a gay Muslim, white gay men will ask, “Why do you cling to that hateful religion?”

      On many college campuses, “queer activists” can be radical. Look, for me, being gay means I like men sexually and intimately, however, I’m still a man and will adhere to the gender roles and norms assigned to men. I know gender is a social construction and the notion of “manhood” varies from culture to culture. My family is from Afghanistan and Pakistan, the British stereotyped the peoples of the northwestern corner of the subcontinent as “martial.” Men will show affection towards their friends in a platonic manner. This is true of Arab culture in the Arabian peninsula where I spent some time in the US Navy.

      In college, I tried to do the “gay activist” thing, but it didn’t suit me.

      To many gay activists, Dharun Ravi is “vile” and “evil” and to them he deserves what he got. To me, he made a poor decision, and is suffering for it. Deportation to Tamil Nadu may not be a bad thing. India is a rising economic superpower. Even some white Americans are going to India seeking employment. India has suffered from a “brain drain.” This trend is reversing course.

  35. i think dharun ravi will potentially endure unnecessarily harsh punishments for something that was immature and senseless, but it was not a hate crime. he’s a dumb punk, he’s not a homophobe. i agree that race and ethnicity is playing a big part in this trial, but of course, it has not been discussed in any media reports. the only thing that has been said was that if it wasn’t for the potential deportation, there might not even have been a trial.

    one thing i do wonder is why hasn’t dharun ravi/the ravi family issued a public apology to the clementi’s for this? i’m convinced that what he did was not a hate crime, but it was invasion of privacy and no doubt causes tyler clementi sadness and pain. why not step up and express remorse?

  36. I am disappointed, though not surprised by this defense of Ravi. He recorded his roommate having sex and streamed it live on the internet. He did it solely because his roommate was gay. He also rejected the plea deal given to him that was quite generous. I hope he does get some jail time (though I agree that 10 years would be harsh).

    I also hope that the brown community in North America smartens up. This is what happens when you raise your children to be isolated within the community and raise them believe that being ‘richer’ than your average white person makes you better than them. I grew up in the South East US and the South Asian community there was extremely racist, sexist, and homophobic. The kids in school pretty much believed that being brown automatically meant being smarter than anyone else. They weren’t allowed to date and had to sneak in ‘dates’ to the prom. My husband (who’s an India born and raised Indian) also found the North American Indians to be really strange–like they were being raised by fundamentalist parents who were clinging to the 1950s India. The same socio-economic strata in India is far more in touch with modern times than them.

    • Kay in India: Things are different today and they are different in the Northeast compared to Southern US. Many in the Indian Community here are pretty progressive these days. Consider the fact that Ravi has a steady girl friend. And she is Chinese. He does not fit into your stereotype.

      • Oh but I think he does, very much so. The Newyorker article says they were not boyfriend/ girl friend. Also all of the people who came to speak on his behalf (that they’d never heard him make homophobic comments before) were South Asian males. Isolation at it’s finest–surely, if you’ve spent that many years abroad, you’d have one non South Asian person speak on your behalf.

      • According to the article, he was never seen with a girlfriend. Those chinese chicks were his friends.

    • Kay,

      Though I am Pakistani, Pakistan did not exist before 1947 and my grandparents were born in what is now India (Uttar Pradesh) in Lucknow.

      They have made this comment about Desis in America trying to be “more Indian than Indians.” But my grandparents ask, what is “Indian”?

      For many Desis, there is this tension with “white people” that I feel sometimes permeates here even. Could be the ghost of colonialism? I’m not sure! While becoming “white” is an objective, whites are looked down to some extent in my community as “immoral.” I’m Muslim, so the Desi experience of Muslims is different from other religious groups like Hindus and Sikhs. Muslims from the subcontinent, depending on their interpretation of their faith and national origins, will dictate their experience with the majority culture.

      I think “The Namesake” (book/movie) does a good job at describing the “cultural tensions” which can exist for Desis in this country. Desis come with their communal prejudices of other Desis, those that immigrate to America tend to be better educated than their Desi counterparts in the UK, they initially live in modest accommodations till they can afford the McMansion in the suburbs, they shower their children with everything they can afford, and their progeny at times feel “ashamed” of their parent’s culture and the expectations deemed “outdated.”

      I can’t help but think that this whole scenario regarding Dharun Ravi reminds of the MTV film “Better Luck Tomorrow.” Director Justin Lin was criticized for his amoral depiction of East Asian American youth. But to me, Dharun Ravi reminds of the “amoral” character that has existed for some time among Desi youth (Indian and non-Indian).

      This whole thing is a cautionary tale for all young spoiled Desis.

      I’m not defending Dharun Ravi at all. To me, since he has a disdain for the poor, spending time in a slum in Mumbai or Karachi for six months instead of a decade in jail, might serve him better for character development.

      Finally, the longer his parents remain silent, their silence in this culture fair or not will be deemed an indication of guilt. They need to speak out to some high profile journalist like Anderson Cooper, Barbara Walters, or Diane Sawyer.

      • I live in India (lived here for a year and some months now) and am married to someone born and raised in India. The section of society to which I’m exposed in India is extremely liberal, well traveled, well read and cultured. Kids date in high school, their movements aren’t strictly restricted, parents don’t shove academics down their throat, etc. I think, when people say ‘more Indian than Indians’ (I’ve heard this expression in India when people speak about NRIs), they mean culturally conservative.

        I do agree that relocating him to a slum (or even a true Indian middle class housing unit) would perhaps increase empathy in him.

        • Another thing that I believe is that simply living in Shanytown, India is NOT going to make your more humble. I’ve got S.Asian friends whose very rich fathers made them work as butchers to imbue some humility into them. I also know some White American frat boys, whose fathers made them as volunteer firemen also to imbue humility.This won’t work, because the rich young aspiring Slumdog does NOT have to rely on the poor or take up their values, since their social experiment is being financed.

          On the other hand, if circumstances caused you to live in a Shantytown, then your outlook would change, you’d be more humble, etc.

          • Kay in India – get your facts straight. If you had actually read the New Yorker article you would know that Dharun did NOT “record his roommate having sex and stream it live on the internet.” Rather, he watched ten seconds of his roommate making out with a man, and then tweeted what he saw. Never was there any footage of what he saw on the internet.

            Not as well-read as you’d like to think, I suspect.

  37. I’m sorry but I find Abhi’s defence of Dharun highly hypocritical,

    1) this is the problem with “hate crime”, how do you get into some ones head? The question is, would this have happened if Clementi wasn’t gay? Most likely not. Or is Abhi claiming that Dharun posted the video of Clementi having sex because the fun part was that Clementi was poor!? If Abhi would be against “hate crime” altogether I wouldn’t have any problem, but here it seems that “hate crime” shoudn’t be applied on desis. I would like to add, I am conflicted if there should be something called “hate crime”.

    2) yes, no one who is completely happy does not suddenly go and off himself. But bullying someone who is mentally ill does not free you from any responsibility if you are ultimately the one that pushes the menatlly ill over the edge. To say that what Dharun Ravi did to Clementi and Clementi’s suicide is unrelated is beyond my imagination.

    3) and on Abhi’s answer thathe wouldn’t have taken a plea bargain if he didn’t feel he was guilty, implying that Dharun may have had reasosn to feel he wasn’t guilty is beyond my imagination. Dharun Ravi was guilty of a number of things and he should certainly have been able to see that.

    I’m sorry, but for someone who claims to stand up for secularism this post stinks!

    That said, I don’t like the “hate crime”, it’s constructed and this is what you get from it. Karma or you reap what you sow as they say in Texas.

  38. Just like to point out to Kay and a couple of others, that there was never any ‘sex video’ posted on the internet. That much is absolutely clear.Let’s get off that horse now. The ‘kissing’ bit may have appeared briefly, that’s all. As for progressiveness and isolation, how progressive were Clementi’s family, and friends? Did they fully accept him being gay, and treat him the same way they would have, if he were straight? If not, why bring in unnecessarily, the South Asian angle, to make a point about progressiveness and liberalism. How deep does it run in the US, from coast to coast, across class, community, region etc?

  39. Ravi is a douche, but not much more than that. In no way should he be facing serious time for a hate crime. But then again, he should have taken the plea. Community service ain’t fun, but you tend not to get raped while doing it. He shoulda thought of that.

    I’m sure it’s been noted that the extremely popular film “American Pie” depicted something very similar to what Ravi did, and it was presented as a bit of fun, hardly a criminal act.

    I also note that currently there is another man in America whose homophobic behaviour is well documented. But this man currently has a very realistic chance of becoming the Republican nominee for president. The US sends very mixed messages about homophobia.

  40. Pingback: Dharun Ravi Convicted For Invasion Of Privacy Against Tyler Clementi | (simple) | 8Asians.com

  41. Rick Santorum is a fool. If the Republicans want to ensure Obama receives a second administration, they would bypass Romney.

    I’m a Democrat, but Romney would give Obama a run for his money. He would be an appealing alternative to “swing” voters.

    Now, if Obama wants to ensure victory, a limited military campaign in Syria with favorable results (the ouster of Assad) would win over the American public like Libya.

    • I guess why I brought up Santorum is because the reasons for Clementi’s death are far broader than anything Dharun Ravi did. Society is to blame. Sure, that probably seems like a cop-out, but the link between Ravi’s actions and Clementi’s subsequent reaction is too indirect. Ravi’s acts didn’t take place in a bubble.

  42. I should add something that is implicit in my comments, but I should make explicit. My heart does go out to Clementi. Homophobia, casual or as a prank or of any kind, is unacceptable in any civil society. What Ravi did to Clementi was horrible. I just don’t think that his actions warranted a verdict of 10 years and deportation. On the other hand, I don’t know what the punishment should be. There needs to be real consequences to bullying and shaming of any kind. This is all very confusing, frankly.

  43. Devi, with respect to your points:

    1. I for one disagree with ‘hate crimes’ statutes. Hate crime laws, is seems to me, is a legal method to a) include passion in sentencing (‘we hate you and everything you stand for so much, we’re gonna punish you ‘extra hard”) and b) send a message to others that they need to keep their mouths shut. Murder is murder, regardless of whether the perpetrator called me a name or not. The other aspect is that I love my Freedom of Speech too much to tolerate attempts at intimidation, whether I agree with the idea or not.

    2. I think you’re wrong here. There is a circle of responsibility for the mentally ill, like there families and doctors, not beyond that. If society makes me responsible for someone elses suicide, should society have that person wear special markers to warn everyone that interacting with that person may be akin to playing ‘russian roulette’? I think not. There is a zone of responsibility, and in this case it doesn’t involve ones roommate who you’ve know for 3 weeks.

  44. Pingback: Dharun Ravi Convicted and Guilty of Bias Intimidation, Could Face Deportation | bigWOWO

  45. At first, when I heard this news I wanted this guy Ravi to be sent away. But after reading the item linked to by Abhi, I have changed my mind. 1) This guy is not a gay hater. Maybe a bit homophobic, but I think some of the vocal slurs were out of a sense of trying to project himself as some kind of macho cool guy(at least in his own interpretation). He is definitely an immature idiot. 2) The guy is indeed guilty of the same kind of nonsense we have begun to notice about some of our own community, even those who grew up here – the preoccupation with status. 3) He definitely needs to be sentenced for invasion of privacy. A half year with probation would have sufficed. 4) I don’t think his level of bullying reached the point where a reasonable person can say that this is such shame that one has to be driven to suicide. Clementi must have had many experiences over his life and this one just happened to tip it over. Tyler’s brother is gay too. It’s too bad Tyler did not seek counsel and support from his brother. And quite frankly, if you are going to bring in a scuzzy looking stranger from outside your college, you are pretty much inviting attention. I have seen this kind of student dynamics happen when a male brought in some female floozy off the street in our college.

    All in all, a tragedy for the Clementi family. No doubt.

  46. I don’t think the bias intimidation claim is as clear cut as people make it out to be. If the question is “would Ravi have committed the invasion of privacy if Clementi wasn’t gay?” then the answer is “maybe.”

    I can envision a couple of scenarios where I think Ravi would have set up the camera to spy on his roommate because the situation was amusing to his immature mind. What if his roommate was straight but kicked him out of the room to hookup with a morbidly obese woman? What if it was a creepy middle aged woman?

    Invasion of privacy seems pretty cut and dry and I don’t get all this hoopla surrounding the charges. Would this case have been brought if his roommate hadn’t killed himself? Absolutely not. But prosecutorial discretion is nothing new, and it doesn’t mean that he’s not guilty.

  47. Pingback: My Views on “Wannabe Whites” « Playing the Devil's Advocate

  48. I’m extremely disheartened, but certainly not surprised at the number of people who are simply playing off Ravi’s crime as a stupid prank or a symptom of his overall douche-y nature.

    Why don’t we use this as an opportunity to address heterosexism and homophobia in our communities and in our culture?

    • When you say our culture, do you mean mainstream american culture or indian american culture? I can tell you that such casual homophobia is definitely a product of mainstream american male culture. No one is excusing the jerk. But is he evil and and has no regard for his roommate’s death? All I see is one supremely self centered immature insecure idiot whose dumb actions caused a roommate to go over the tipping point of what must have been a lifetime of problems. There are heterosexual equivalents of the pranks done by Dharun, even if the mainstream societal taboo is not nearly to the same extent.

  49. “’m extremely disheartened, but certainly not surprised at the number of people who are simply playing off Ravi’s crime as a stupid prank or a symptom of his overall douche-y nature.

    Why don’t we use this as an opportunity to address heterosexism and homophobia in our communities and in our culture?”

    Because that’s what is essentially was, an immature prank. There’s absolutely no evidence that Dharun was rabidly homophobic. And an 18 year old is not someone you want to make an example of. He’s a kid, one our own, who did something disreputable. Why should he be the benchmark for homophobia in the ethnic Indian community, or any community. Reply ↓

    • I am sick of hearing people dismiss what Ravi did as a prank.

      Pranks are played on friends or at least someone you’re on amicable terms with. Ravi and Clementi’s interactions were frosty, to say the very least. You can only call something a prank when it is reasonable to believe that the prank-ee will laugh it off after some time. Something like putting a rubber lizard under someone’s blanket, or TPing their front lawn. Pranks are meant to be harmless, as something that is only meant to cause temporary annoyance, not actual hardship. This is why you wouldn’t call it a prank if someone emptied a diabetic’s lunchbox. Or spilt water on someone’s cellphone. Or passed around nude pictures of someone. Or invited friends to watch someone’s sexual encounter with another person.

      What Ravi did went far beyond a prank.

      These were not the actions of your garden-variety douchebag. An immature douchebag who was trying to get attention would limit himself to making jokes or name-calling. Or saying mean things about a roommate and his boyfriend. Ravi crossed the line by attempting to arrange for a (semi-)public viewing, and this act is clearly in malicious and criminal territory.

      I agree with you and Abhi that Ravi was a casual homophobe and not a rabid homophobe, but I do think that his attitude espouses the homophobia present in the ethnic Indian community. Very few in the community would go to the lengths that he did, but a disheartening majority agree with his views on homosexuality. They may not wish harm on a gay person, but they would laugh and say “Serves him/her right” when a gay person is humiliated. Ravi himself is secondary to the issue, and it’s time we opened a conversation on sexuality and sexual orientation. The Indian community has been sweeping these issues under the rug, when what we need is tolerance.