The Dharun Ravi Case Goes to Jury

The prosecution offers its closing argument:


"He didn't like that he had a gay roommate. He was going to use it to his advantage, to expose to other people Tyler's sexual orientation, to allow him to be shown to be different," Ms. McClure said. "And the one thing that you don't want to be in your first three weeks of college is different."  

She concluded, "The defendant's actions were mean-spirited, they were malicious, they were criminal."
I neglected to state this clearly in my last post on the subject. I don't think Dharun Ravi should go to prison for ten years. I'm not even sure I think he should go to prison at all. Prison is an awful place, where truly horrible things happen. In my mind, it should be used, mostly, to protect society from dangerous predators. I don't think Dharun Ravi qualifies. I think even arguing that Ravi is responsible for Tyler Clementi's death is a difficult case to make.

I do think that Ravi is a bully, who attempted to use the societal weight of homophobia to humiliate Tyler Clementi, a weight which Clementi was likely already feeling. I also think there is substantial evidence that Ravi knew he'd done just that, and made a cowardly attempt to cover his tracks. Beyond that, it's disturbing that Ravi had attempted to spy on other people before he got to Clementi.

But I'm not convinced that cruelty, alone, is enough to mandate a prison bid. The only reasons I can muster to support such a notion are retributive. That isn't enough for me. 

For the facts of all of this. Read Ian Parker's exceptional piece.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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