I am so sorry

What would you do if you found out that your 18-year-old son or daughter secretly filmed his/her college roommate during a homosexual liaison?  And then streamed the video of the sexual encounter online?

The young man who committed suicide was a promising violinist

I have been wrestling with this question since I read this morning about an 18-year-old Rutgers University student who jumped to his death off The George Washington Bridge after he learned about his roommate’s prank.

Surely the “filmmaker” did not intend for his roommate to commit suicide. That would be too horrific to contemplate. And we all know that an 18-year-old brain isn’t always capable of making wonderful decisions and assessing the consequences of his behavior.  But are these good enough excuses for such a malicious act?

Perhaps the nasty boy suspected his roommate was gay and he was thrilled to get the goods on him. A local newspaper reported that he tweeted: “I saw (my roommate) making out with a dude. Yay.”

If my teenage son had such animosity towards a fellow student and then acted on it like this, I’m not sure I could ever look at him the same way again.  The newspaper article said the perpetrator and his accomplice, an 18-year-old woman, could face up to five years in prison.  I’m also not sure that the solution is to lock them up.

I am pretty certain that I could never have acted so viciously when I was 18, nor could my children.

These two students will undoubtedly pay for their actions for many years, probably for their whole lives. Hopefully, it will help them to someday become decent human beings. Heaven help them.

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4 Responses to “I am so sorry”

  1. Linda McCoy says:

    I agree they knew what they were doing. They had to have read the stories of suicide following internet abuse and bullying. When does this stop? Maybe when people are held accountable and understand there are consequences for their actions.
    Imagine the agony these parents are going through. I agree with Felicia, the trend of intolerance is unacceptable. Is this what our grandchildren will be up against? How horrifying.
    Ellen DeGeneres addressed this issue very eloquently on her show today, I hope someone was listening.

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  2. Felicia says:

    We have to stop making excuses for people who make bad choices. They are old enough to know right from wrong. We seem to expect these young adults to behave irresponsibly when they are in college, maybe our expectations should be a little (or a lot) higher. Colleges are being chosen for their party value rather than education. Rich kid’s go to the best schools and don’t even have to study.
    I don’t care why they did it, they did it! We live in an age where we want everything explained, every little detail. Why don’t we start teaching our kid’s that bad behavior is bad behavior and there are consequences, instead of blaming the bad behavior on some ridiculous reason made up in a therapist’s office! As parent’s we need to protect our children, but surely bad behavior should be punished and that should be part of raising your children.
    I don’t think 5 years is harsh, it is a small price to pay. Tyler Clementi will never again play his violin, never have a career, never go out with friends, never have the opportunity to meet someone and fall in love. In fact he will never do anything again, thanks to these two stupid, irresponsible young ‘adults’, who did know better, who know the consequences of posting online, it is not the first time we have seen this happen.
    I don’t feel sorry for them at all. We should all feel sorry for this young man, Tyler Clementi and his family. Teach your children not to hate! This country is following a trend of intolerance and it is disgusting!

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  3. Toby Wollin says:

    Let’s look at one thing you are saying, “Surely the “filmmaker” did not intend for his roommate to commit suicide.” (and I’m speaking from the position of having a son who just graduated from college and who I’ve spoken to about this case)
    No one goes to the trouble of setting up a webcam in their room specifically for the purpose of recording and transmitting a video over the internet without some sort of goal (and I don’t care if this is a bunch of 18 year olds; they’ve been involved in the internet literally since they were in diapers – they are extremely familiar with the internet and all the dangers thereof). Now, the goal probably was not to harass his roommate to the point of suicide – but what was it? Kids this age many times don’t have the capacity (either mental, psychological or emotional) to think through the possible ramifications of what they do and say. On the other hand, many kids this age have an almost endless capacity for being sadistic and humiliating to kids who “don’t fit in”, “aren’t cool”, don’t ‘measure up’ to their standards in terms of social standing, social skills, gender, physical attractiveness, or economics. I remember one of my daughters being made miserable in college because she was surrounded by kids who talked all the time about their family trips to Cancun or Aspen – for her to have to admit that we didn’t take vacations because we raised livestock was tantamount to advertising that the family was a bunch of poor rubes. There’s a whole continuum of bullying and humiliating behaviors that kids put one another through. The difference today is the availability of technology.
    The fact that one resident of the room set up a camera to record his roommate’s private activities AND advertised doing it (and invited people to join him in a video chat room so that they could all view and discuss it) not once but twice indicates an interest in doing something extremely pernicious in today’s “24/7, always ‘on’, totally over the internet’ culture: he not only wanted everyone to share his knowledge about his roommate’s sexual preferences, he also wanted his roommate to know that he had done this. Why? The only reason I can think of is that he wanted to humiliate the kid so much that he’d…just…go…away. Because as we all know (and have known for some time), anything put on the internet – stays on the internet. This certainly appears to be a case where someone decided that he wanted to make sure that everyone in the entire world knew (or could find out) that his roommate was gay, that his roommate knew he had done it and could never escape the results, and that he, the filmmaker, had that power and was going to use it to hurt this kid.
    A kid who played the violin and who probably never did anything to the filmmaker at all.

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  4. lina says:

    If I found out my daughter did something hateful, I can’t imagine what she could do to redeem herself in my eyes. Of course, I wonder if these kids’s parents are nasty themselves. Maybe this sort of horrific event is what this country needs to finally get rid of don’t ask don’t tell and other policies like it. What do we expect from our children when our nation votes to keep people in the closet?

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