Sunday, March 18, 2012

An American Tragedy

Friday afternoon in a courtroom in the Middlesex County Courthouse in New Brunswick, New Jersey a jury handed up its verdict in what had been dubbed "the Rutgers Web-Cam Case". The defendant, former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi, was convicted on fifteen counts spanning offenses ranging from invasion of privacy to bias intimidation. When sentenced in May he could face up to ten years in state prison. Worse yet, he could face deportation to India.

Ravi and his parents were interviewed on Friday while the jury was still deliberating and asked about their decision to reject an offer the State made several months ago, which had Ravi accepted it would have kept him out of prison altogether. They had their reasons for turning down the deal, which reasons might seem to be fairly illogical in light of the verdict.

Having not spent any time in the courtroom or reviewing the evidence in the case I am not competent to comment upon the verdict. Ravi shall appeal of course and our Appellate Division, which is our intermediate appellate court, will conduct its own review of the verdict. Liars and fools will tell you that they know now what that court shall do at that as yet to be determined date. As one who tries to be neither, I shall pass.

It seems to me that it is not an overstatement to describe the story of the relationship of two college freshmen, Messrs. Clementi and Ravi, as a tragedy. The news accounts I read of the trial discussed Twitter, text messaging, e-mails and a million different ways in which these two kids communicated with one another. I saw little to no mention of them ever actually talking to one another directly about the obviously serious issues that existed right under the surface. One wonders what might have happened had they done so.

Actions have consequences. And not simply those that we can see immediately. One life lost. One life derailed. Too many others to count irrevocably altered.


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