Much of the western world prides itself on being inclusive and open to all forms of self expression from music and art to sexuality. As anyone who lives in modern society knows however that plurality and inclusiveness is not always universal. Bigotry, prejudice and simple spitefulness can make the lives of anyone a misery, often for the most trivial of reasons. So often the question that has to be asked when someone is the victim of discrimination is why?
It’s generally agreed that if you are not breaking any laws you have an automatic right to privacy. If your actions and the actions of the people around you do not harm anyone then why should anyone object. Indeed there are certain things that are done in private as it would be inappropriate to do otherwise, for the purposes of this article I am of course talking about sex. With the exception of pornography where both performer and viewer know that the eventual aim is to place erotic imagery in front of a consumer sex is an activity that should only take place amongst willing and informed participants.
The door swings both ways here, exhibitionism may be your thing but to suddenly expose yourself to someone who doesn’t want to see what you are exhibiting is wrong. And of course returning to the events leading up to Tyler Clementi’s tragic suicide intruding into someone’s private liaison with their partner without their knowledge is also beyond the pale. It is obvious to every right-thinking individual that what his roommate Dharun Ravi and “friend” Molly Wei did is completely abhorrent. You can read various accounts of it across the Internet each with varying degrees of detail and one would have to say accuracy.
The question still stands – Why?
Homophobia is a possible explanation. But from people who were apparently the friends of Tyler Clementi? You cannot separate a person’s sexuality from any other part of them any more than you can separate any one organ from their body without leaving them less than whole and unable to function as a person. If you don’t accept and embrace a person’s sexuality then you can not truly call them a friend. So were the two students accused of crimes against Clemmenti really his friends?
A second alternative is that the trio had some sort of disagreement and due to this Ravi and Wei wanted some form of revenge. This is only speculation but in the search for a motivation for their actions it is one of the possibilities that exists.
Maybe these two were simply spiteful, jealous maybe of a talented student.
Or, as many media pundits are speculating … it was a prank.
I am not sure any of the explanations is less vile than another because for whatever reason a young man’s sexuality was used to hurt him. Even if that hurt was unintentional it was still real and intense enough to cause Tyler Clementi to take his own life. Indeed if the person responsible for the live webcam-cast of Clementi’s intimate moments was of the mind that it was all “Just a prank” then what does that say about the individual’s understanding of sexuality in general, the difficulties often experienced by homosexual men and the devastating impact his actions would have on Tyler Clementi?