First there was cyber bullying and now there is cyber voyeurism. Either form of bullying can turn deadly when the victim of this invasion of privacy feels that they cannot go on anymore.
Although there are laws to protect victims of cyber bullying, often the victims are not around to see justice be done.
Schools are trying to teach children not to bully but although the conversation has been started, it still is not stopping the behavior. The latest case to make the news is the case of a Rutgers college student who jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge in New York City.
Tyler Clementi , a freshman at Rutgers University who comes from Ridgewood, New Jersey, took his own life after images of a sexual encounter he had with another male was broadcast on the Internet. His roommate had used a webcam to spy on Tyler.
According to reports, after setting the webcam, Dharun Ravi went to the dorm room of his friend, Molly Lei and they watched Tyler and another man have sex. They broadcasted the encounter live on the internet and Dharun posted comments to Twitter also. Dharun Ravi and Molly Lei have both been charged with invasion of privacy. There is still an ongoing investigation as to what other charges are possible.
The laws surrounding voyeurism have not yet caught up with technology. In New Jersey, collecting or viewing sexual images without consent is a fourth-degree crime and transmitting them is a third-degree crime with a maximum prison term of five years. First-time offenders, such as Ravi and Lei, would probably only receive probation.
We can have all the laws that we want but the problem comes down to tolerance. If Dharun Ravi was so disturbed by the idea that his roommate was gay, why did he not try to get a new roommate? Tyler Clementi was a gifted musician and like other Rutgers freshmen, was there to get an education. Dharun Ravi singled his roommate’s sexuality out as a reason to humiliate him. This is a hate crime. What was the purpose of spying on him and exploiting this man’s sexual encounter to the world?
There is no other answer for this act but to call it pure hatred. I don’t care if Dharun Ravi and Molly Lei are good students. I don’t care if they have never been “in trouble” before. This act that they committed against a fellow student shows their character. It shows that there is far too much intolerance in this world.
Tyler Clementi was gay. So what? That was his choice and he should have been able to live his life without being a victim of hatred. No one is saying that we have to support gays but we do need to respect others choices in life. Whether it is their religion, their sexuality or the color of their skin, no one deserves to be bullied and humiliated.
Let the laws of New Jersey catch up with the technology but in the meantime, we all need to take a step back and ask ourselves why our youth are so un-accepting of each other. We need to stress tolerance and in order to do that we need to not only live it but teach it to our children.