Archive for suicide

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.

How to Fix the Bully Problem

Posted in current events with tags , , , , , on August 16, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

On the morning of 11 August, I turned on the TV to see a story that has sadly become an all too common story: 11-year-old Ty Field was being bullied, so severely and so relentlessly that he felt his only way to escape it was to commit suicide. It’s the same story that happened a few years ago to Megan Meier, who was bullied over MySpace to the point where she hanged herself in her closet.

In fact, a simple Google search of “bully suicide” produces nearly 1.7 million hits. Story after story about teenage kids bullied to the point where they have no other choice but to kill themselves. Stories about kids like Phoebe Prince, who killed herself after being tormented by a clique of high school girls; or Jon Carmichael, who killed himself after being bullied by most of his school; or even Jared High, who killed himself in 1998 because of bullying. A website about Jared links to several other kids and teens who have committed suicide due to bullying.

In the MSNBC interview I saw with Ty’s father, the question was asked, “Why are so many kids committing suicide today? What is different about your generation than this generation?”

The response was, “Part of it is all of these violent video games.” I cursed out loud.

As someone who was bullied in my younger days (and at times am still bullied today), I can assure everyone that it is not violent video games that make people violent. It does not desensitize people to violence, it doesn’t create violent people. Study after study after study has proven that there is no link between violence and video games. It is a foolish assumption that television, movies, video games, and music can completely change a person’s character. Violent people are predisposed to violence.

But Ty’s father continued his answer: “It is also the technology of the age. Bullies are now able to torment their victims 24/7.”

I immediately apologized. It was the wisest thing I’ve heard about bullying yet. Technologies like Facebook and MySpace, which are accessible whenever, along with Internet anonymity, provide a whole new avenue of bullying which has never been seen before. Anyone can be anyone else and can say whatever they want, and they feel like there are no consequences.

Lori Drew, when creating a fake MySpace account, thought she would just mess with Megan Meier to get back at Megan for spreading rumors about her daughter. The result was suicide.

How do we solve the problem of bullying? Short answer: we can’t.

We can’t because as of right now, there is no concrete definition of “bullying.” The definition we have is: “act of repeated aggressive behavior in order to intentionally hurt another person, physically or mentally.”

This happens every day, not out of hatred, and not out of abuse, but out of kids being kids. Kids will hate other kids over stupid things, and as a result, they will make fun of and torment other kids. It happens, and it only gets out of control when people don’t intervene.

But who should intervene? The schools are doing all they can, and there is a stigma of being a snitch when reporting instances of bullying.

Like most problems with children, the responsibility lies in the parents. Parents should make sure that they are raising kids in a positive environment, and to notice when their kids are not quite right. Kids don’t just wake up one morning and are violent, just like they just don’t wake up one morning and swear. It comes from somewhere, and many times, it comes from the home.

Ty’s father said, “No one sits at the dinner table and talks anymore.” Shouldn’t we get back to that?