Dharun Ravi receives 30 day sentence in Tyler Clementi case

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Well, here we are: Dharun Ravi has received thirty days in jail, three years probation, and 300 hours of community service from presiding Judge Glenn Berman today. (There's no word yet on Ravi's possible deportation to India.) Ravi was found guilty in March of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering, and hindering arrest after using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate Tyler Clementi with another man; Clementi later committed suicide.

Said Judge Berman:

You lied to your roommate who placed his trust in you without any conditions, and you violated it. I haven’t heard you apologize once.

While the jury in the case was specifically instructed not to consider Clementi's death in their decision making, on a public level the two issues became unescapably intertwined, especially as reports of suicide among LGBT youth continued to pile up. The big question — well, one of the big questions — was what to do now. How do you appropriately punish Ravi for an act most people would brush off as youthful indiscretion if not for the death that followed? How much should the defendant's age play a factor? Was Ravi just a convenient scapegoat? Were people only asking if he was a scapegoat because the victim was gay? Were gay people playing the victim card? Were you just being a homophobe? Are gays the real bigots? Are you a total idiot? Are you a fuckhead?

(Sorry. But that is a faithful rendering of many online discussions about this case.)

Chances are none of the questions people wrestled with over the course of this trial were answered this morning. I certainly don't know how I feel about the sentence, which could have been as long as ten years. And, in truth, we're all just outsiders working to make sense of this whole thing with the barest amount of information — there's a lot we will probably never know about this incident. So I simply hope that, as I wrote when Ravi was sentenced, we don't just put the issue of the real problems facing LGBT youth in a drawer and forget about it now that someone's serving time. For better or for worse, this has always been bigger than one person; let's do all we can to make it "for better," yeah?

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