Dharun Ravi Could Face At Least 10 Years For Thought Crimes

You’ve probably heard about the issue with Dharun Ravi: he was the Rutgers U. student who used a webcam to spy on his roommate, Tyler Clementi, having homosexual sex. Clementi later disappeared, then was found to have committed suicide. Ravi’s trial has started

(Seattle PI) Early witnesses testified that Ravi expressed discomfort about having a gay roommate, but they didn’t know him to have a problem with gay people generally.

His attitude matters in the trial because the 15 charges Ravi faces include bias intimidation, which can carry a 10-year prison sentence. To get a conviction on that charge, prosecutors must persuade jurors that Ravi acted out of bias against gays.

Ravi also is charged with invasion of privacy. And he is accused of trying to cover his tracks by taking measures including deleting a Twitter message and instructing a witness what to tell police. He is not charged with Clementi’s death.

Now, make no mistake about it, what Ravi did was pretty darned mean. But, essentially, he is being charged with a thought crime (bias intimidation), which could land him in jail for 10 years on that charge alone. You can peruse Google News for hate crimes, and see much the same thing: people being charged for having improper thoughts. People can receive long prison sentences for essentially be a**holes.

Why do I bring this up? I’ve actually been thinking about this most of the day, as KC and Carmen were discussing it on the Morning Rush (106.1 Raleigh), as was Jason Lewis. 10 years for thought crimes. And, this makes me wonder: Ravi is no threat to society, he was simply a young man who did something seriously a**holish, yet, could be put in a dangerous jail with hardcore criminals. Meanwhile, there are people in government who allowed guns to walk across the border into Mexico without alerting the Mexican authorities, and did not track those guns.

Those guns were put in the hands of hardcore criminals and criminal enterprises, and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Mexicans, possibly people from other countries, and at least two US citizens, Border Agent Brian Terry and Jaime Zapata, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Yet, the people responsible for Operation Fast and Furious are facing no criminal charges (at this time). Were it you or me, we’d be facing, at a minimum, illegal gun trafficking/gun running and accessory to murder charges. The government of Mexico would want you or me extradited. We’d be looking at spending the rest of our lives in jail.

Alas, the people responsible for F&F will more than likely not even be charged. And will get a nice little pension and high paying lobbyist jobs when they leave office. Yet, Ravi is looking at a minimum of 10 years in prison for bad thoughts. What kind of bad thoughts put untracked guns in the hands of violent and murderous criminals? How’s that justice system working?

Crossed at Right Wing News and Stop The ACLU.

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8 Responses to “Dharun Ravi Could Face At Least 10 Years For Thought Crimes”

  1. Mike Gardner says:

    While I admire your try, you are way off base. Ravi isn’t on trial and facing possible prison time for his thoughts, he is on trail and facing possible prison time for his actions that were heavily responsible for the death of Clementi. Don’t downplay his role. Had he not taken the ‘actions’ he did and posted that video for the world to see, knowing the hurt and shame it would bring, he wouldn’t be facing the consequences that he is. And Clementi would be alive today.

  2. Understood. I don’t want to downplay his role, what he did was atrocious. Actions have consequences. But, the major law is more of a thought crime.

  3. […] Dharun Ravi Could Face At Least 10 Years For Thought Crimes … […]

  4. gitarcarver says:

    It is hard to say that Ravi’s actions were “heavily responsible for the death of Clementi” when Ravi is not charged with his death at all.

    Were Ravi’s actions wrong? Sure. That is why he is being charged with the applicable crimes of filming without permission, invasion of privacy, etc. These are the same crimes as anyone would be charged with if they violated the privacy of a roommate as Ravi did.

    However, because Clementi decided to take his own life that does not mean Ravi is responsible for Clementi jumping.

    While there are crimes of passion, this seems to be a prosecutor charging out of passion. It is a charge from outrage, not from facts.

    Ravi should be charged with the crimes he committed, not the charges people “think” he deserves simply to have him get jail time.

    The charge of “bias harassment” in this case is one of vengeance and outside the organic foundations of the law in this country.

  5. Excellent analysis, GC. And you are so right about being about “outrage”: that’s an great way to position hate crimes legislation. It’s not about law, it’s about, as you put it, vengeance because someone was mean.

  6. Gumball_Brains says:

    So, now we have moved from anti-bully policies where people are pushed to report bullies so they can be kicked out of school.. to now prosecuting them for them being bullies?

    So, he put up a video that could be considered at most harassment. But, contributing to a crime?

    We are turning in to Canada.

    And he is accused of trying to cover his tracks by taking measures including deleting a Twitter message


    Don’t forget Teach. People who have killed our soldiers on the battlefield now have a cozy brand spanking new soccer field and can spent up to 20 hours a day out of their cells. And Obama wants to let them go. meanwhile, thought crime people get 10-20 years hard time.

  7. gitarcarver says:

    If you want to read a very well researched article on this incident, take the time to read the 14 page New Yorker piece entitled “The Story of a Suicide.”

    The article states the popular narrative of this incident is not true. Clementi was not “outed” by Ravi. Clementi had come out of the closet before the incident(s) and in fact, Ravi knew Clementi was gay before the start of the school year. After meeting Ravi, Clementi had confirmed to Ravi he was gay as well.

    Secondly, there was no video posted to the web. What there was, was a brief 5 second look in the room via Ravi’s webcam. A second, shorter look “look in” occurred later that night as well. This does not excuse Ravi’s spying on his roommate. In doing so, Ravi was guilty of a crime. But there was no video posted to the web. The second time Clementi wanted the room to meet with a 25 year old man, Ravi planned on looking again, but Clementi turned the computer off.

    Thirdly, the older man and Clementi did not have sex.

    The “internet meme” of Clementi jumping from a bridge because his roommate secretly filmed him having sex, posted it on the internet, resulting in Clementi being “outed” is not matched by the facts of the case.

    Also, when Clementi “came out” to his parents, his father was accepting. His mother was not. One has to wonder how that played on his mind as well.

    While Ravi is a first class jerk, moron, and more, Clementi was not exactly pure as snow either. After being told his roommate’s name, Clementi looked Ravi up and tweeted “I got an asn!” After Clementi had lodged a privacy complaint with the housing office at Rutgers, Clementi tweeted to a friend named Yang over reporting the incident:

    YANG: i’m not encouraging this . . .
    CLEMENTI: why not?
    YANG: b/c you said you don’t feel violated anymore
    CLEMENTI: hahah
    I feel like . . .
    I’ve tried to be nice to him
    and he hasn’t
    YANG: yah
    it could be interpreted as a hate crime
    the development of
    CLEMENTI: hahaha a hate crime lol
    YANG: yah!
    CLEMENTI: that would be so fun
    white people never get hated
    YANG: heheh
    you’re gay. . .
    CLEMENTI: yah

    This whole thing reminds me so much of the Columbine shootings where Harris and Klebold were portrayed as the victims of bullying when in fact they were the bullies. It wasn’t the facts that mattered to people, it was the story they wanted to believe and propagate. The Clementi / Ravi story is the same thing. There was no sex between Clementi and a partner, there was no video posted on the web, and Clementi was not outed by the incident. (Therefore, no “bias harassment.”)

    For whatever reason, some do not care about the facts and only want a person to pay for the choice of a young man to kill himself. If Ravi is not convicted, people will claim it was because of the hatred of gays when instead it was a lack of facts and supporting evidence.

  8. Gumball_Brains says:

    Thank you gitarcarver for the information and links.

    I had not recognized the case until you mentioned that the one guy jumped off the bridge. Now I recall it .. and the outrage that has flown at “his roommate” in order to blame him for his death.

    While Ravi “could” have been a mitigating factor… based on the workings of the human mind (which we still hardly know anything about) there are too many mitigating factors that have to be considered possible in this event.

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