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What’s Wrong With Remembering Tyler Clementi For His Role In LGBT Bullying?

I do love reading Rutgers University’s student newspaper The Daily Targum, because it gives me hope that my less-than-brand-name four-year education is actually not, compared to Rutgers, as cheap intellectually as it was financially. Because my god, unless the Targum is letting children write for them, their pool of Rutgers talent is embarrassing. After an editorial blaming the media and celebrities for exploiting the death of Tyler Clementi for their selfish gay causes, a student followed up with a column saying the response to that editorial was at least as bad as what Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei allegedly did to Tyler. And now Lonnie Affrime, a 2010 alum, tries shaming the media for branding Tyler a gay rights icon. BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE HORRIBLE.

The family of Seth Walsh, the 13-year-old California student who died after hanging himself from a tree following years of torment, wants to make sure Seth isn’t remembered only as “the gay kid who hung himself,” but Seth’s grandmother Judy has recognized the importance of including Seth’s name in the conversation about LGBT bullying. “[T]he more I thought about it, the more the world needs to know why Seth was harassed. He was harassed because he was gay.”

And that’s why Tyler was harassed by his roommate Dharun, who posted to Twitter an invitation to watch his roommate get it on with another dude on his webcam. He harassed Tyler because he was gay.

And yet, writes Rutgers grad Affrime, it is “dangerous” to simply lump Tyler into the group of gay kids killing themselves.

As an individual [who identifies with a singular culture] you’re denying, or at least devaluing, the many facets of your persona – an unhealthy endeavor that I’m sure would be frowned upon by any psychologist. Perhaps even more importantly, your emphasis has irrevocably shifted to the differences, rather than similarities, of those outside your movement or worldview, therefore crippling your efficaciousness at best, or sowing the seeds of your own undoing at worst. [Ed: I love when student newspaper editors permit big words in the copy, because college kids are wise.] Instead we must all see ourselves – first and foremost – as being human, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, income, etc. That should have been the message of the recent tragedy involving University first-year student Tyler Clementi – humanities’ peaceful collaboration. But it wasn’t. Instead, thanks to the media’s want for a good story and the student bodies’ zeal, Clementi will forever be remembered as a gay rights icon.

“Remembered as a gay rights icon?” We could only be so lucky! That a young man who was shamed by his peers because of his sexuality would be remembered as a fallen member of that community.

Continues Affrime:

Maybe that is what he would have wanted, but who knows? His friends and family would probably have been the most apt to answer that question. But they were not asked, were they? No. In a passionate fervor hundreds of people descended to remember an individual they had never known, to pay homage to “Tyler the Homosexual,” rather than “Tyler the Human Being” – just like the rest of us.

Oh, lady. Of course we will remember “Tyler The Human Being.” But he’ll also be remembered as “Tyler, the promising musician and college student who was on the receiving end of some assholes’ hatred of the other.”

To be an icon, in life or death, for the betterment of a group of people? Well, that is a legacy worth having.

By:           Ryan Tedder
On:           Oct 12, 2010
Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • 17 Comments
    • Cam
      Cam

      The LAST thing that Rutgers wants is for the facts of this case to be remembered. Of COURSE they don’t want Tyler to be remembered as a gay icon, because if he isn’t remembered for that, he won’t be remembered, and if he isn’t remembered, then nobody will remember that this kid complained to the school about his roomates harrassment that led to his suicide.

      Rutgers is one of those types of places that thinks because they tolorate gays on their campus, that they are enlightened.

      Oct 12, 2010 at 11:32 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kevin (New Jersey, US)
      Kevin (New Jersey, US)

      “What’s Wrong With Remembering Tyler Clementi For His Role In LGBT Bullying?”

      Sorry – this headline is misleading. I thought this story was going to have something to do w/. Mr. Clementi having bullied other LGBTs – like the self-hating type or something.

      For Mr. Clementi to have had a “role in LGBT bullying”, he would have had to have been a participant in it. We don’t say murder victims “play a role” in murdering, now do we?

      But I went to Rutgers, so what do I know?

      Oct 12, 2010 at 12:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • paulss
      paulss

      Great post! Tyler was gay and in my opinion was the victim of Hate Crime and I at least want to make sure he didn’t die in vain by making sure everyone knows exactly why he was harassed. It wasn’t because he was shy or a musician or because he was white, it was because he was gay. If anything his death can educate some young kids on why bullying isn’t just harmless fun. As far as Rutgers goes, they are trying to sweep Tyler under the rug as quickly as possible. Tyler spoke to his RA on Tues Sept 21st in the eve and all the RA told him to do was to “write and email a paragraph about what happened” to him. Why didn’t they get Tyler into another room right away? How do you send a kid back to his room after hearing his roommate had just set up a webcam to spy on him having sex? Room and board at Rutgers for a full school year is $10,906, that is more than the tuition and this is how they respond to a crime? Have those 2 monsters even been officially expelled yet?

      Hate Crime Charges for Ravi and Wei

      Oct 12, 2010 at 12:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bill Courson
      Bill Courson

      I want to draw attention to a petition that I drafted this morning and which I feel to be quite important and timely, and which I would like to ask you to sign: “A Petition for the Termination of the Daily Targum’s Editorial Staff” which can be viewed and signed online at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/targumeditorial/

      I really think this is an important cause, and I’d like to encourage you to add your signatures, too, and to circulate it to frends who you think would be interested.

      Oct 12, 2010 at 1:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ait10101
      ait10101

      Rutgers is a moral sludge compared to the US University I went to. Must say, it wasn’t so good back then, though. Change is possible.

      John

      Oct 12, 2010 at 2:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Clarence J.
      Clarence J.

      Do we know for sure that the reason his roommate targeted Tyler was because he was gay? I’ve been an RA for couple years in college, and I have to say taping your roommate having sex isn’t really up there on the top of the list of douche-like things I’ve seen guys, and girls, do to their roommates.

      Unless the prosecution can find some information that Dharun has a history of anti-gay bullying and/or speech or specifically went about targeting Tyler because he was gay I think slamming on a hate crimes charge is a bit of a stretch. If hate-crimes statutes are to have any merit, and not vindicate the conservative arguments against them, they have to applied only in cases where it is clear that the attack was not based on malice to an individual but rather contempt and hate for an entire group of the population.

      Also, how exactly can Tyler be considered a gay rights icon? Isn’t that status usually placed on those who overcame adversity, stood up against oppression, etc etc. As sad as Tyler case is, it seems that Tyler was a quiet emotionally shaken kid that kept to himself; he wasn’t murdered or assaulted, his roommate pulled a prank on him and it seemingly shook Tyler so much that he took his own life afterwards.

      Calling him a gay icon after the fact appears to try to turn him into some kind of martyr, rather that the college freshman that couldn’t get the help he needed in time.

      Oct 12, 2010 at 6:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • michiko
      michiko

      “Maybe that is what he would have wanted, but who knows? His friends and family would probably have been the most apt to answer that question.”

      God, I shudder to think if I had committed suicide at 18 and my narrow-minded, homophobic parents were asked to speak on my behalf. Im guessing Clementi’s religulous parents were part of the problem,

      Oct 12, 2010 at 6:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • michiko
      michiko

      “Maybe that is what he would have wanted, but who knows? His friends and family would probably have been the most apt to answer that question.”

      God, I shudder to think if I had committed suicide at 18 and my narrow-minded, homophobic parents were asked to speak on my behalf. Im guessing Clementi’s religulous parents were part of the problem.

      Oct 12, 2010 at 6:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • L.
      L.

      “His friends and family would probably have been the most apt to answer that question. But they were not asked, were they?”

      That argument would have carried a bit more water had *you* asked, would it not.

      Oct 12, 2010 at 7:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • L.
      L.

      (And yes, that title given the – justified – criticism of the editorial process over at Targum… sad irony.)

      Oct 12, 2010 at 7:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jon
      Jon

      O please. There were two negative-sounding articles in the Rutgers Targum about Tyler, among dozens and dozens of supportive articles that urged students to embrace each other’s differences and respect each other. Get a life.

      Oct 12, 2010 at 8:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @Clarence J.: said..

      “Do we know for sure that the reason his roommate targeted Tyler was because he was gay? I’ve been an RA for couple years in college, and I have to say taping your roommate having sex isn’t really up there on the top of the list of douche-like things I’ve seen guys, and girls, do to their roommates. ”
      _______________________________________

      Wow, you must be a lousy RA. He didn’t “Tape” his roomate having sex….he broadcast his roomate having sex on the internet after sending out an announcement that he would be doing so, causing many people to log on, see, it and giving them the capability of rebroadcasting it. If you think that that isn’t serious, then you have somehow missed all those silly little laws with prison sentances that have been passed against things like that.

      Oct 13, 2010 at 9:10 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tylandria
      tylandria

      how stupid…..

      Oct 13, 2010 at 10:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Guy
      Guy

      Just want to point out that nothing was broadcast, you should look into facts rather than assuming the news is telling the truth.

      Oct 13, 2010 at 3:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Judge Tom
      Judge Tom

      After 23 years in juvenile court, I believe that teenagers learn from the experiences of their peers, not just from being lectured by those in authority. Consequently, “Teen Cyberbullying Investigated” was published in January, 2010.

      Endorsed by Dr. Phil on April 8, 2010 [“Bullied to Death” show], “Teen Cyberbullying Investigated” presents real cases of teens in trouble over their online and cell phone activities.

      Civil & criminal sanctions have been imposed on teens over their emails, blogs, text and IM messages, Facebook entries and more. TCI is interactive and promotes education & awareness so that our youth will begin to “Think B4 U Click.”

      Thanks for looking at “Teen Cyberbullying Investigated” on http://www.freespirit.com [publisher] or on http://www.askthejudge.info [a free website for & about teens and the law].

      Respectfully, -Judge Tom.

      Oct 13, 2010 at 4:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • patrocles34
      patrocles34

      At this juncture in the Clementi story, I don’t quite get why our media so passively accept Ravi and Wei’s “recent disappearance from view” while we wait for prosecutors to weigh charges. If this were the UK, and the Fleet Street national papers were competing for exclusives, there would be stakeouts, telephoto lens, and private investigators hot on the trail of these two miscreants. I’d love to see a publication like the National Enquirer (yes, our very own) chase Ravi and Wei with the bloodhound zeal they used on the John Edwards love-baby saga.

      Oct 13, 2010 at 7:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Yellow Bone
      Yellow Bone

      @Guy: Prove it.

      Oct 13, 2010 at 8:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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