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College Prank or Bias Intimidation?

by @ 10:50 am
Filed under: law,social — Tags: , , ,

I have been fascinated with the Dharun Ravi bias case since I read about it a few weeks ago on The New Yorker. The fact is that this case hits close to home for many who are or have been to college because no doubt many of us were involved in similar cases or at least been close witnesses and didn't think much of them, let alone being accused criminally.

This is not strictly a gay bias issue. College (in this case, Rutgers) is where young people from varied backgrounds are thrown together and trusted to navigate the social challenges that comes with that environment. College is a sample of what is to come in the real world.

Being a student form Iran arriving in the US a few short years after the hostage crisis, I myself experienced many of these challenges in high school and then college. Young people will be young people. They judge, they ridicule, and they play stupid pranks. At times I was the target and other times I was the instigator but through it all, even when I was raging mad, I found little evidence of bias or malice in myself or others.

I consider myself a social liberal. Gay, straight, white, black, male, female, whatever, makes little difference to me. Of course we all carry some prejudice. Mine is mostly in the area of education. I tend to favor educated people. The point is that I have no respect for bigotry and prejudice but the Ravi-Celemete case doesn't appear to be one, at least going by what I know about the case.

Bad judgment, yes. Distasteful prank, yes. Immature teasing, yes. I see all those in Ravi's actions and in countless other young people around the world. Sorry but I don’t see bullying and bias intimidation and gay-bashing in this case to hang a man's future on. In the end this is a tragedy of a young man taking his own life in a moment of misplaced personal agony or shame. He should have never been ashamed of who he was.  I wish he had the strength to stand up for his way of life and to handle the offensive (but not criminal, in my opinion) actions of his roommate in a more direct way.

Update: As we know now, Ravi was convicted of the charges and now he will be facing prison time and possible deportation. I'm sure there will be appeals and I hope he's not deported. Some may feel that the jury was too harsh, but the jury most likely followed the letter of the law and it's the New Jersey law that may be too harsh.

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