Archive for privacy

Clementi Not a Victim of Hate Crime

Posted in opinion with tags , , , , on October 4, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

Before I begin this article, let me make a few things clear: I agree that the death of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi is tragic. His privacy should have been respected, and the world lost someone who could have contributed something spectacular.

That being said, if Dharun Ravi is charged with anything other than a privacy crime, and if Molly Wei is charged with anything period, the justice system has over-reacted.

Yes, Ravi screwed up big time. He set up a webcam and filmed his roommate having sex with another guy and posted it on the Internet. It was a stupid idea to share someone’s intimate moments in the bedroom with the world. It’s inappropriate no matter who is in the bedroom, and no matter what they are doing.

Dharun Ravi violated his roommate’s privacy. But he did not commit murder.

This situation is barely an issue of bullying, as much of the media would have you believe. Other than a few Facebook status updates, there is no conclusive proof of bullying. It was a prank, meant to embarass a roommate. It just worked too well.

Legally, collecting and transmitting sexual material without consent is a third-degree crime with a maximum prison sentence of five years. That’s all Ravi deserves. In everything I’ve been reading about this case, there was no call for Clementi to kill himself.

In the case of Molly Wei, her only involvement was being mentioned by Ravi in a Facebook status. I believe in “guilt by association,” but that is absolutely ridiculous.

Too many people want this to be a national thing. Too many people want Clementi to be an example of “cyberbullying” and hate crimes. But the only crime that occurred was someone took a tape of two men sharing an intimate moment and putting it on the Internet.

In fact, it upsets me a little bit when people compare Clementi’s situation to that of Matthew Shepherd, a young man from Laramie, Wyoming, who, in 1998, was taken by two men, beaten, robbed, and left for dead on the side of the road.

Shepherd’s situation is tragic and blatant. Clementi’s situation is exploitative and tragic, but ultimately boiled down to a personal decision.

I’m blaming Tyler Clementi’s suicide on Tyler Clementi, because he chose to jump off that bridge. The circumstances leading up to that decision is the fault of Dharum Ravi, because he illegally filmed Clementi and his partner and posted it on the Internet. Molly Wei was just unfortunately wrapped up into the whole situation purely by being mentioned by Ravi.

The whole situation is a privacy issue. Not a gay rights issue, not a cyberbullying issue, not a hate crime issue. Someone’s privacy was violated, and they made the unfortunate decision to kill themselves rather than better themselves.

I usually have a lot of sympathy for those involved in tragedy, and this is no doubt a tragedy. However, the major players in this tragedy are only 18. They’re still stupid kids. They had been in school for a month. Real world consequences for their stupid actions are falling down around them, and it’s up to them to grow up and deal with it.

Ravi’s punishment will be five years in prison for his privacy crime, and the ever-lasting guilt of knowing his actions lead to someone’s suicide. Nothing more, nothing less. Anyone who tries to make it something more is guilty of their own form of journalistic bullying.

Enough About Tiger

Posted in current events with tags , , , , , on February 19, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

Today, Tiger Woods held a press conference to discuss his accident, his affair, and his future. Tiger apologized to his fans, his family, and his sponsors. He said that he would return to golf in the future, but didn’t know when. Probably after more rehab. He’s deeply sorry for everything he’s done, and hopes that one day we can believe in him again.

Okay, are we done now?

Ever since Tiger’s accident in November, the media has been covering the “incident” non-stop. Reporting everything under the sun that turned out to just not be true, Tiger Woods has been the go-to story for all media outlets: magazines, newspapers, CNN, Fox News, NBC, ABC, CBS, ESPN, ESPN2, blogs, radio, smoke signals, Pony Express, everyone had something to say.

And now that he’s made his public apology and has told everyone exactly what is going on, we can finally leave him alone.

Except that ESPN was analyzing every crucial detail of the press conference, from his stilted delivery of the speech he wrote himself, to the fact that the single camera went out at around the 9-minute mark of his 13-minute, 32-second speech. Was it sincere? When will he return to golf? What will Elin, his wife, do in response to this press conference?

But here’s a question that no one is asking: Who cares?

The only reason that his has been such big news for the last three months is that Tiger Woods is a “squeaky clean athlete,” known for his positive demeanor and his superhuman golf skills. His marriage is “perfect,” his life is “perfect.” Everything about him is perfect and unblemished.

And then he gets into an accident, and we’re all worried about what happened to our fantastic golf star, the most successful Black golfer the world has ever seen. How is his condition? Will he survive? Was drugs or alcohol a factor in the crash? Will he ever be able to walk again?

And then we learn that he was having an affair, cheating on his beautiful wife, and we’re concerned about what else he is hiding. Is this a one-time thing? If not, how many times and with how many partners has he done it? Is he using performance-enhancing drugs? Is he using any drugs at all? Is he in a cult?

There is so much going on with Tiger Woods that isn’t important and has nothing to do with the bigger picture of life itself. Here’s all that we need to know about the incident: Tiger Woods cheated on his wife. His wife found out, and confronted him about it. He panicked and sped away from his house. He got into an accident. And he’s really sorry about all of it.

Ta-da. The end. Case closed. End of discussion.

Except the media, in trying to get as much ratings as possible, will continue to speculate about every little thing about his actions, where he’s getting treatment, and his return to golf. This is something that happens with every public figure, every celebrity, and every athlete. It’s not news, it’s a daily occurance. It’s disheartening, but true. But because it’s Tiger Woods, this discussion will never end, and will never go away.

One of the correspondents for ESPN, in analyzing the speech, mentioned that where he was watching it (in the lobby of a hotel), people were crowded around the TV, silent for all 13 minutes and 32 seconds of the speech. He said, “It was almost like one of those ‘Where were you when…’ sort of moments.”

“Where were you when Tiger Woods issued a formal apology about his affair.” It’s a memory for the ages, just like, “Where were you when the World Trade Towers fell?” Or “Where were you when Kennedy was assassinated?” Or “Where were you when the Challenger exploded?”

Comparing Tiger Woods to topics of national, and in some cases international, concern makes one look like a fool. Tiger Woods’ private life is none of our concern, and never has been of our concern. That’s why it’s a private life.

This whole ordeal reminds me of the South Park episode with Britney Spears, and how we learn that Britney “has do die for the harvest.” Celebrity human sacrifice through the papparazzi. It was a genius episode, and it was on the other night, which makes this whole Tiger Woods thing even more eerie.

The media won’t let up about Tiger Woods. It makes me wonder if he is the next human sacrifice for the upcoming harvest. I mean, we’ve followed the formula: we’ve built him up and practically worshipped him, and he’s on top of the world. And then we scrutinize and judge, all in an attempt to bring him down to the ground again, so we can completely ruin him. It’ll all end with his suicide and a bountiful harvest.

In the paraphrased words of Chris Crocker: Leave Tiger alone. Leave his wife alone. Leave his kids alone. Leave his family alone. Leave his personal life alone. Move on to bigger, better, and more important things.