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Rutgers’ Daily Targum, Continuing To De-Gay Tyler Clementi’s Death

“In no uncertain terms I will stand by my view that the backlash against the article was more disgusting than the crime it discussed,” says Rutgers University student Patrick Danner in his Daily Targum column. Without any irony. Danner is reacting to the response to the newspaper’s editorial that lambasted gays and celebrities for making Tyler Clementi’s death their cause célèbre — and thus tarnishing the memory of their fallen student. I guess college really is the best time in your life to make mistakes, because Danner (and the folks he’s defending) keep making them.

So what, exactly, is more disgusting than two students pointing a webcam at another one during a private moment, live webcasting it for the world to see, inviting friends to mock him and his homosexuality, and then laughing about it … until he feels such shame he jumps off a bridge to his death? Tell us, Mr. Danner:

Several posts have called for the resignation of the entire Targum board and one anonymous post went as far as to say of one board member, “send this russian peasant back to russia where he can write communistic editorials like the Kremlin likes.” A few alumni have even reported shame of being associated with the University and one called for the editors of the paper to leap off the George Washington Bridge themselves. Again, to me, that’s more disgusting than the crime committed.

Name calling? Yeah, that’s pretty childish crap, and it is tantamount to bullying. But legitimate criticism of the Targum‘s irrational and inside-baseball response to the outpouring of support for LGBT kids like Tyler? That’s reasonable. And responsible.

Continues Danner:

I feel for the Clementi family and my heart goes out to them – I have no idea what it is like to be in their situation, nor in their son’s. But if we are to resort to the type of name-calling, threats and insults, all of which can be found in full on the Targum website, then are we not resorting to a breach of rights ourselves? If we are to demonize anyone, let alone an entire University, for the expression of their opinion, then that to me is evidence that we are doing exactly what the editorial has accused us of, which is failing to see and failing to listen.

The editorial was controversial. There is no doubting that. And in its efforts to expand a deep and meaningful discussion of Clementi’s death, all it has produced is an outpouring of hateful attacks and comments from disappointed mothers and alumni. For this neither the writer, nor the Targum, is at fault. Those at fault are the ones who, upon disagreeing with the editorial as I did, failed to note the larger implications and engage in a widespread discussion of the events – not one restrained to one cause. Not one with a single scapegoat.

So, while ultimately and profoundly disagreeing with the editorial, I applaud the Targum staff for this – making it known that the death of Clementi should be discussed not only as an issue of homophobia but also an issue of privacy. It should be seen not only as an issue of sexuality but also of technology and the implications of media coverage in the wake of tragedy. We at the University are a center of higher learning, why does it seem we can’t handle at least that much?

You’re right, Danner. Tyler’s death is representative of so many problems without solutions. It’s also emblematic of the continued tolerance of bullying LGBT people simply because of who they are attracted to. His death needn’t be in vain. It can be used to show what happens when parents, administrators, and peers continue to ignore an epidemic of intolerance. The Targum editorial — the one you are defending — claimed such actions are irresponsible. And that, frankly, is irresponsible.

By:           Ryan Tedder
On:           Oct 8, 2010
Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • 19 Comments
    • RomanHans
      RomanHans

      This has already dragged on way too long, but you’re right. Slinging around angry words isn’t *close* to the original crime, and until Mr. Danner acknowledges this, he’s part of the problem.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 5:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Fitz
      Fitz

      You watch, by then end of this, someone is going to say “Boys will be boys” and wink.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 6:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael
      Michael

      As terribly written as the student newspaper article is, I have to say it has a point! It sounds like Tyler was a well-adjust kid, confident and not at all in conflict with the fact that he was gay. He was out to his roommate, with whom he seems to have had a decent relationship minus the spying. To compare him to kids who are relentlessly bullied and have their self-esteem ripped apart is is both inaccurate and depressing. It borders on the pathologizing of homosexuality. The message is: if you pull a prank on your gay roommate he’s probably already so upset about being gay that he may fly off the handle and kill himself. What the media and celebrities are doing is insulting!

      Oct 8, 2010 at 7:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      So people not liking his opinion is much worse that a young man being bullied to death. This guy is a pure sociopath.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 7:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Yellow Bone
      Yellow Bone

      @Fitz: That’s why I think that Rutgers must be looked at much more deeply. Everything doesn’t add up and it almost seems like even though Molly Wei and Dharun Ravi did it, that they’re being left hang out to dry, like a scapegoat to hide that there was something bigger that would explain his suicide much clearer and quite possibly reveal more systemized homophobia in Rutgers.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 7:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • McMike
      McMike

      @Yellow Bone: Yeah, I find it a bit odd Clementi killed himself right after reporting the incident to Rutgers. Something isn’t adding up at all and it seems as if whatever happened after he reported the incident drove him over the edge.

      IMHO, Rutgers is backing itself into a corner.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 9:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Yellow Bone
      Yellow Bone

      @McMike: Were there any witnesses to him actually jumping? We know he fell off the bridge, because they found the body. But is it possible he was murdered? (I don’t mean bullied to suicide, I mean physically taken and thrown off)

      It sounds far fetched…but with the way Rutgers and its students are defending it…I wouldn’t doubt that it’s possible. Nobody can account for Dharun or Molly’s whereabouts and nobody knows what happened before he killed himself.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 11:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 6 · McMike wrote, “@Yellow Bone: Yeah, I find it a bit odd Clementi killed himself right after reporting the incident to Rutgers. Something isn’t adding up at all and it seems as if whatever happened after he reported the incident drove him over the edge. IMHO, Rutgers is backing itself into a corner.”

      Why would you assume that Rutgers is backing itself into a corner? The university has a good excuse – there wasn’t time to respond in any meaningful way once the incident was reported.

      I’d agree that something doesn’t add up, but we don’t know what that is. It’s quite possible that someone saw Clementi talk to his RA or at least go in or out to his room (RAs are students living in the same building according to http://housing.rutgers.edu/ie/files/RA_Job_Description.pdf ), and may have told Ravi or Ravi might have merely overheard. Ravi obviously is some kind of a peeping tom and might have created some sort of dossier or scandal sheet on Clementi (or just claimed he had), maybe excerpting causal comments from gay blogs and using them out of context, or finding some sort of suggestive pictures (even of someone else who physically resembled Clementi closely enough to fool a casual observer). Could he have used such information as a threat, particularly if angry about Clementi contacting his RA, saying he’d get it to everyone even if they kicked him out immediately? Sure it would be a dumb, childish thing to do, but the guy’s just finished high school and had been in college only a few weeks, and some people aren’t quite up to speed. So, it’s a possibility.

      Let’s see what the DA turns up. You can be pretty sure that they are going through Ravi’s computer looking for anything that could be used against him.

      Oct 8, 2010 at 11:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 7 · Yellow Bone wrote, “@McMike: Were there any witnesses to him actually jumping? We know he fell off the bridge, because they found the body. But is it possible he was murdered? (I don’t mean bullied to suicide, I mean physically taken and thrown off)”

      Very unlikely and probably impossible. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Washington_Bridge#Non-motorized_access has a picture – the bike/pedestrian walkway is right next to the roadway on the upper level. It’s apparently quite popular with pedestrians, with lots of vehicles going by, hardly the place to pull off a murder and not expect to be caught.

      According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyler_Clementi “witnesses reported seeing someone jump.” It is unlikely, but not physically impossible, that there were multiple suicides that day.

      Oct 9, 2010 at 12:53 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @B: said…

      The university has a good excuse – there wasn’t time to respond in any meaningful way once the incident was reported.
      ___________________-If a female student had reported that a man was filming her in her room the University would have called the police and had that guy arrested that night.

      Oct 9, 2010 at 11:42 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ewe
      ewe

      This is definitely a hate crime. If it was a straight guy with a girl that got filmed then it would be Ravi that would be ostracized in public. Because it is a gay man that was filmed, it is the victim Tyler that was ostracized and if people cannot get that then they are just as homophobic as the perpertrators.

      Oct 9, 2010 at 11:43 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ewe
      ewe

      Every time i see Tylers eyes staring out of that photograph, i just want to grab his face and kiss him gently on the cheek and tell him he is beautiful inside as well as out. And then i have to remind myself the finality of his being and confront the open bigotry in our culture. The only crime committed here is by the two that are hiding out at this very moment waiting for this to quiet down. Let’s hear from the prosecutor!!!!!!!!!!

      Oct 9, 2010 at 11:49 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • David Ehrenstein
      David Ehrenstein

      We know a number of key facts about this tragedy, but not all of them. They will come to light in time I’m sure. Like all power monoliths Rutgers has nointention of taking any responsibility in this affair.

      As for the Daily Targum editors, they’re the Douches of All Possible Douches.

      Oct 9, 2010 at 2:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 10 · Cam wrote, “@B: said… “The university has a good excuse – there wasn’t time to respond in any meaningful way once the incident was reported.” – If a female student had reported that a man was filming her in her room the University would have called the police and had that guy arrested that night.

      This was not the case of a peeping tom looking through the window. It was a roommate who was alleged to have a web cam turned on. Since it wasn’t a crime in progress, the police would have treated it as low priority, particularly given that the roommate had a right to be in the room and to have a webcam.

      What you are missing is the time line. Read
      http://gawker.com/5651659/is-this-webcam-spying-victim-tyler-clementis-last-call-for-help which points out that

      1. Someone jumped off the bridge (according to witnesses) around 9 PM on Sept 22.

      2. At 6:44 PM, on Sept 21 a post indicated that Clementi was going to talk to his RA about it.

      3. At 4:38 AM, he indicated that the roommate repositioned the webcam and told people to video chat with him that evening.

      4. At 6:17 AM, he posted a comment that the RA took the request seriously and he had emailed the RA and two people above him.

      So, the emails to the RA and university officials were sent after most people would have left work. University officials would have had to respond in about 8 hours, given that they wouldn’t be into work into 8 or 9 AM. And Clementi’s email might have had a few hundred emails queued up before it – people in managerial positions get a huge amount of email to go through each day. Given that, I really don’t think university officials had enough time to reasonably respond – they had no indication that a suicide was eminent.

      Oct 10, 2010 at 12:25 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael
      Michael [Different person #1 using similar name]

      @ewe: Hateful, most certainly. But in the eyes of the law, not a hate crime – yet.

      Oct 10, 2010 at 5:16 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Polyboy
      Polyboy

      So the Danner is lining up for a job with Fox News.

      Oct 11, 2010 at 10:15 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bill Courson
      Bill Courson

      The editorial appearing in today’s Daily Targum (“Media exploits university tragedy”) could only have been written by a straight person, or a group of straight persons. It is thinly concealed homophobia, from start to finish.

      Immersed in heterosexual privilege, an editorial staff such as this has no worthwhile guidance …to offer on the subject of gay and lesbian issues. They must be ignored, or at most, castigated for their decerebrate impertinence in writing: “… The mistake was that Clementi’s death should not have been turned into a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender protest for gay rights and safe spaces at the University … Essentially, an angry mob fending for their rights turned the death of a young boy into a cause for “safe spaces” for gays across the University – all the while, these spaces already existed.” Self-evidently, this is untrue.

      How ineffably stupid. How redolent of the fetid ichor of “Focus on the Family.”

      A central factor in the suicide of Tyler Clementi and a number of other gay and lesbian teens and pre-teens this past week was the fact of the victims’ shared sexual orientation, or percevied sexual orientation.

      The deaths have galvanized the LGBT community into a massive educational effort, as did the crucifixion and murder of openly gay student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998. Hopefully, it will save some lives.

      To fail to acknowledge the specifically anti-gay dimensions of the problem (as Ms. Harrop does), to deny the sexual orientation of an overwhelming preponderance of the victims, and to fail to affix responsibility to those social, cultural and religious forces that perpetuate homophobia is to condone bullying.

      The time has come to “name names.”

      I profoundly hope that individuals and groups continue to utilize Tyler’s tragic death as an event to coalesce solidarity and activism.

      Were that not to happen, were the realities of queer oppression and the work of queer liberation to be denied in favor of a sophomoric, sappy and nebulous plea for us “all to get along.” that would gravely compound the tragedy of Tyler’s death.

      Mr. Danner and the others responsible for this detritus should resign or have their relaitionship with the Targum terminated, and in the event that fails to happen, advertisers should be persuaded to withdraw their support from this pathetic, self-involved excuse for a collegiate newspaper.

      Oct 11, 2010 at 10:16 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @B: said..

      “No. 10 · Cam wrote, “@B: said… “The university has a good excuse – there wasn’t time to respond in any meaningful way once the incident was reported.” – If a female student had reported that a man was filming her in her room the University would have called the police and had that guy arrested that night.

      This was not the case of a peeping tom looking through the window. It was a roommate who was alleged to have a web cam turned on. Since it wasn’t a crime in progress, the police would have treated it as low priority, particularly given that the roommate had a right to be in the room and to have a webcam.
      __________________________________________________

      That is absolutly not true, The roomate was posting the proof right on his facebook page. I get that you always want to play devils advocate, but lets alter my other example.

      If a girls female roomate was posting nude shots of her roomie up on her facebook profile, the university would STILL have come after her and shut it down and called the police immidiately.

      A roomate does not have the right to web cam their roomate out in a compromising position. I repeat, if this happened to a woman the police would have been called immidiately.

      Oct 11, 2010 at 12:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 18 · Cam “That is absolutly not true, The roomate was posting the proof right on his facebook page. I get that you always want to play devils advocate, but lets alter my other example. If a girls female roomate was posting nude shots of her roomie up on her facebook profile, the university would STILL have come after her and shut it down and called the police immidiately.”

      Absolutely false on your part, Cam. First, posting such pictures is not illegal if the people in it consent, so upon receiving a complaint, the university would have to determine if permission had in fact been granted, and the university has no authority to change what is on facebook in any case – facebook won’t let them, and it is privately run company. All the university can do is to expel the student (after determining that the complaint is a valid one, which at a minimum requires calling him in to talk to someone). Would the police arrest a person if he posted such a picture? Probably not until it was determined that permission was not granted (remember, “innocent until proven guilty”). Once the facts were known (and apparently verified), however, the two were arrested – it just took more than 8 to 12 hours.

      Second, you are ignoring what I pointed out – Clementi notified university officials by email sometime in the evening on the day before his suicide, and that email was likely queued up behind quite a few others (it apparently went to an administrator not a “911” dispatcher). The suicide occurred before there was time to respond. The recipients might not have read it until late afternoon the day of the suicide or maybe the next day, just accounting the other emails that had to be read and responded to, various meetings, etc. I’m claiming they did not have time because 8 to 12 hours is not enough time to determine if the complaint was valid and do something about it.

      Third, instead of notifying the police, they would probably have suggested that Clementi do that himself – he was the victim. You don’t know if such a request showed up in his inbox (his email is not public information), but if it did, it was probably too late.

      Forth, apparently nobody has seen hide nor hair of Ravi. Whether that is because he is in hiding or because he was expelled is unknown, and universities generally will not release information about whether a student was expelled or not due to privacy rules without the student’s permission.

      Oct 11, 2010 at 6:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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