The Tyler Clementi story shows the overall callousness and a general lack of decency that many young people have that can lead to tragic outcomes. There have always been rude and obnoxious people; they just have way more modes to act out and be rude. A long time ago, people would scrawl on a bathroom wall, perhaps or spread rumors, but now the opportunities that technology opens for this kind of rudeness puts damaging behavior on a larger scale. Clementi being gay was only a part of the whole picture – focusing on his sexuality was a way to victimize him and justify that their torment was appropriate.
The two roommates who perpetrated the invasion of privacy are supposedly intelligent people. It is obvious that education, intelligence and upbringing mean nothing in relation to ability to treat others decently, to have empathy and to understand right from wrong.
Children understand right from wrong by the age of five. These two cretins knew what they were doing was wrong- streaming a video of a private act. Worse yet, the individual(s) being filmed (there was another innocent person, too- the person Tyler was with. Whattup with that?) and made public had no knowledge or consent. They knew it was wrong, but they couldn’t resist the tittilation of violating Clementi’s privacy. They got some sort of perverse enjoyment out of overpowering him in a way that attacked him personally and privately.
I have a friend who works with mentally retarded adults. An informal survey of approximately 25 mentally retarded adults revealed these results: when asked if it was a good thing to secretly film someone doing something private then showing it to lots of people, they would answer “NO.” They all know that it’s wrong to do something sneaky to hurt someone they know or live with.
No mentally retarded adult will ever get into Rutgers; they aren’t “smart” by society’s traditional educational standards, yet they have a better understanding of what is most important: how to treat others.
What the two people did to Tyler goes way beyond the realm of a prank. Instead of five years in a low security prison where the biggest punishent they will have to endure is wearing clothes that don’t match, aren’t accessorized or don’t have a desirable label– they should have to wear a camera that will record their every action, no matter how personal, and have it broadcast on the jumbotron in Times Square.
They can endure evey private act made public for five long years: picking their noses, eating, being sick with vomiting and diarrhea, other unpleasant bodily functions,etc. and hopefully they will have REMORSE, all laid out for their public humiliation.
This, sadly, will not happen, since we live in a “civilized” society where punishment cannot be meted out to deliberately humilate. Humilation is solely for the victims, never the perpetrators. The perpetrators receive the benefits of rules of common decency. Things need to be turned around.
Here are other news stories that further illustrate the lack of decency:
- Chatari Jones, repeatedly humilated and abused on the school bus: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/39497339/ns/today-parenting/
- Phoebe Prince, committed suicide because of the hate unrelentingly assailed upon her: http://www.newsweek.com/2010/10/04/phoebe-prince-should-bullying-be-a-crime.html