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Monday, October 04, 2010

The Real Criminals

My friend, Dave Hand writes a blog. In this posting he discusses the recent suicide of a young college student who was outed as a homosexual by his roommate by a video the roommate took in the dorm-room and then posted on the internet. Dave brings up a good point, however, I disagree with him. All without being disagreeable, because that's the kinda friends we've been since his kid sister and I were in school together swapping romance novels.

I wrote there that I consider suicide, in 99% of the cases, to be the most selfish act I know. This is not one of that 99%. I firmly hold that Dharun Ravi to be more culpable because, if not for his posting of that video on the internet, chances are that the young man would not have jumped from the bridge, killing himself.

Let me explain, because I know many people "get it" but many do not. In the state of Texas it is a capital crime to commit murder in the commission of another felony. So say you rob a bank, that is a felony. In your attempt to evade punishment after committing the crime, you jump in to a car and the driver then hits a jaywalker, all people in that car are guilty of capital murder. They can be given the death penalty, even though they were just riding in the car, and the driver will also be prosecuted for the bank robbery, even though he never entered the bank. He knew they were robbing the bank, knew he would be driving the get away vehicle, and had knowledge beforehand. He's just as guilty of robbing that bank as the ones who were physically in the bank. We so absolutely no gray areas about this.

Now, if suicide is the murder of oneself, then the person who illegally took a video in the dorm room (they have the rules because of the pervasive problem of video surveillance) and the posted illegal video on the internet. Then, not only did he just hang the picture up, he invited many other college students to view the video. Dharun Ravi is the driver of the get away car. He's the wheelman. He drove that young man to suicide as surely as if he had physically pushed him off the bridge.

I may be biased, being in Texas, and all, but I was heavily influenced by an Agatha Christie novel, Curtain, the last Poirot novel, wherein Hastings follows a murderer, who never physically kills anyone. It's a fascinating book.

Personal responsibility is an unknown in today's world. The roommate still thinks he did nothing wrong. His contemporaries can't figure out what the big deal is. Karma is a wonderful equalizer, and I am a patient woman. I'm going to be watching Dharun Ravi very closely. He now has attorneys defending his right to video tape after he signed papers he would not do so in his dorm room as it is considered an invasion of privacy. I wonder how private a person Dharun Ravi is? Wouldn't it be fun to find out?


daveahand said...

So if the bank robbers take a cab to the bank, is the cab driver guilty of a crime? He had no knowledge of the planned crime, had no way of knowing that was going to be the outcome of delivering that particular fare. Is he culpable? No.
The room mate should burn for what he did, but he did not do it with the expectation of what happened.

Severine said...

If the cab driver drove them to the bank? He's not culpable. However, if he drove them away after they came out with guns and bags of money, then he is an accessory after the fact.

The roommate was being malicious, premeditatively malicious. I think I just made up a new word.

daveahand said...

Can you demonstrate that he could resonably believe his actions would lead to a suicide? If you can, I will concede the point. But many people would never assume any action they do, no matter how malicious, would result in death. I doubt he did. Oh, I'm sure he knew it would hurt, but it is not like he rigged a parachute to fail and only thought he would end up with a sprained ankle.

Severine said...

Dave, I am glad that you asked, because it shows me I overlooked an explanation.

The boy who killed himself had a reasonable expectation of privacy within his dorm room. That expectation could be said to extend to any video taping of himself, being expressly forbidden by the university and agreed upon by each person who chose to live in the dorms.

So, the roommate, already knowing that he was not respecting the privacy of another person, then maliciously posted the video on the internet, could reasonably believe, within his peer group dynamic, that a person such as his roommate, might, and I say might, do something drastic when it all came out. Add to that data the fact that many other young people have done the same when bullied on the internet.

Also, due to the posts on the roommate's Facebook and Twitter accounts, others thought the same thing, albeit, in a homophobic reaction.

As Einstein said about the A-Bomb, our civilization has reached the point where our technology has outstripped our humanity. The roommate has none of the latter and too much of the former.

Severine said...

I also forgot, because it is so obvious... The roommate gets an A in all of his classes this semester because his roomie died. It doesn't matter that he provoked it, he gets a pass at school. Not bad for a freshman's first semester.