The news sites are sharing the horrific story of Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University who jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate secretly recorded and broadcast over the internet a sexual encounter that Clementi had with another male student: “Rutgers VP Never Seen Anything Like Student Suicide Over Roommate’s Spying.” The roommate, Dharun Ravi, and his friend, Molly Wei, decided that it would be amusing to record Clementi’s intimate activities and share them with the world. Ravi even invited people over Twitter to watch the broadcast, as if publishing it online were not enough malice.
What we see here is another example of how soulless, self-absorbed, and morally bankrupt much of the next generation is. Of course, it would be unfair to paint all American youth as amoral, subhuman monsters because of the wretched callousness of Ravi and Wei. However, my own experience suggests that the trend is unfortunately headed in their direction. Did it not occur to the two students that their actions could reasonably lead to the tragedy that has happened? If not, then why not? For it seems that this new breed of entitled hedonists, so rampant on campus today, sees the whole world of other people as mere material for twisted enjoyment. It is truly frightening to me—something akin, perhaps, to Augustine’s experience with the stolen pears. On the surface, Ravi and Wei may seem like normal, decent kids. Yet, to have done what they did suggests abysmal deficiencies in their character—a perplexing and horrifying glimpse of wickedness, uneasily so close and so unthreateningly wrapped in the guise of young and intelligent Asian American students. For how did it seem acceptable to these two supposedly bright university students to humiliate another person in such a disgraceful way? We presumably cannot even attribute it to vengeance, as they had just met. They are freshmen, and it is the beginning of the academic year.
Admittedly, I am completely ignorant of the situation other than what has been reported in the press, but Ravi and Wei come across in the articles as quite depraved, having reduced someone’s sexuality and the complicated consequences that follow from sexual deviancy to a matter of humor. Clementi was a toy for their day’s fun. They are like the bullies in Stephen King’s Carrie, only without the well earned deserts fitting for a teen horror flick.
Another troubling sign of cultural bankruptcy emerges in the press articles. Ravi’s moronic friend, Michael Zhuang, defends Ravi’s action by saying that he would have done the same thing had Clementi been involved with a female—as if possible homophobia were the only objectionable thing about his behavior: “He’s very, very open minded . . . and he, like if it had been a girl in the room it wouldn’t have been any different.” Hence, Ravi must be a fine, socially enlightened young man if he is willing to treat heterosexuals and homosexuals equally viciously. What a defense!
Lawrence Auster regularly points out bizarre statements such as these to show what underlying philosophical pathology festers in the modern soul. Consider the odd use of the passive voice in crime reporting (“Knives on crime spree across Britain”) or examine the frequent and alarming expression by friends and family of a victim that the victim “didn’t deserve” whatever horrible crime the victim suffered—as if someone else would deserve it. Auster thinks that this tendency is noticeable especially in black on white crime, with the subtext being that the victim did not deserve such savage treatment at the hands of blacks because the victim was not a racist. This implies, of course, that racists deserve to be mauled by negro wildings, and I have encountered that very opinion on countless occasions and held by all sorts of people. See Auster’s “The latest wiping out of a defenseless white by a black predator,” “Black pack attacks 13 year old, breaks the bones of his face, threaten his eyesight,” and “Barnard student (a fan of gangsta rap) attacked while jogging alone in Riverside Park.”
Similarly, Michael Zhuang’s odd statement suggests that he finds no fault in his buddy’s crude disregard of his roommate’s privacy, reputation, or dignity, as long as he did not engage in prejudiced discrimination against certain pet groups. There you have it, dear America, the degenerate Left’s moral code.
The entire episode is outrageous and repulsive! Both of those students should have to apologize in person to each friend and family member from Clementi’s life, in addition to whatever harsh legal punishments and civil lawsuits come their most deserving way. I would like to believe that the two will mature and become better people through the suffering and guilt that they must now feel. Yet, I wonder if such folks even experience guilt. If they were concerned about Clementi or about what was right, they never would have been such vipers in the first place.
In all of this, I do not think that they are legally responsible for Clementi’s death. His choice to kill himself was his own, and I find it problematic to trace the responsibility for sin beyond the agent. However, they have fully and willfully participated in the intentional harming of another, and though the result was perhaps worse than what they had intended—or failed to intend—I think that they are morally tainted by his death. May they work out their salvation.
As for Clementi’s family and friends, I cannot imagine what they are going through. May they and Clementi himself find peace. For the Lord’s ways are inscrutable.
Update: Auster and his commentators discuss the Rutgers issue: “The meaning of the Rutgers suicide.”