Quoted: danah boyd On Dharun Ravi And Fighting Homophobia

Dharun Ravi

I can’t justify Ravi’s decision to invade his roommate’s privacy, especially not at a moment in which he would be extremely vulnerable. I also cannot justify Ravi’s decision to mess with evidence, even though I suspect he did so out of fear. But I also don’t think that either of these actions deserve 10 years of jail time or deportation (two of the options given to the judge). I don’t think that’s justice.

This case is being hailed for its symbolism, but what is the message that it conveys? It says that a brown kid who never intended to hurt anyone because of their sexuality will do jail time, while politicians and pundits who espouse hatred on TV and radio and in stump speeches continue to be celebrated. It says that a teen who invades the privacy of his peer will be condemned, even while companies and media moguls continue to profit off of more invasive invasions.

I’m also sick and tired of people saying that this will teach kids an important lesson. Simply put, it won’t. No teen that I know identifies their punking and pranking of their friends and classmates as bullying, let alone bias intimidation. Sending Ravi to jail will do nothing to end bullying. Yet, it lets people feel like it will and that makes me really sad. There’s a lot to be done in this realm and this does nothing to help those who are suffering every day.

— From “Reflecting on Dharun Ravi’s conviction” by danah boyd

(Image Credit: ABC News)

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  • Clare

     ”I’m not saying what he did is on par with those things”

    I think filming/watching someone doing sexual things without their consent and showing it to others IS sexual assault. People need to stop acting like doing it via the internet is less serious than prowling around outside the window.

  • Clare

     ”I’m not saying what he did is on par with those things”

    I think filming/watching someone doing sexual things without their consent and showing it to others IS sexual assault. People need to stop acting like doing it via the internet is less serious than prowling around outside the window.

  • cherryla

    He did mean to HARM his roommate who was gay!   So yes he deserves to go to jail and be deported because someone DIED because  of the choices he made.  If he didn’t like having a gay roommate he should have moved out or do like my friends would do and crash in other rooms.  He was victimizing and I strongly suspected had harassed his roommate before with his anti-gay stance.   His being ‘brown’ does not make his choices less wrong but in my mind MORE wrong since I find it hard to believe that he hasn’t been on the receiving end of hate speech!

  • Anonymous

    If Tyler Clementi had filmed a gay Dharun Ravi and put it on the internet, driving Dharun to suicide, would Tyler be facing jail time?

    Somehow, I don’t think so.  I’m not justifying what Ravi did but I don’t think he should be getting 10 years in jail

  • Rajeera

    It’s a question of privilege.  My privacy had been invaded in a similar manner, and I’m a woman of colour as well as a sexual minority.  I had been led to believe that my sexual activities had been broadcast through my entire network, and for months, but there was no concern about my emotional well-being either.  The only difference was that I never committed suicide.  And even if I did, surely there would have been no media sensation about it either.

  • Asian Dharma

    Unfortunately for him Dharun turned down the plea bargain which would have kept him out of jail with just a short stint of community service.  

  • Tiny

    Ravi was offered a plea bargain that included no jail time, and he chose to reject it. The idea that Ravi “never meant to hurt anyone” smacks of “boys will be boys.” We can discuss whether or not his sentence was appropriate, but to excuse his crimes as a harmless prank signals that his behavior is acceptable. It is not. Ravi chose to humiliate and exploit someone he perceived to be weaker than himself, simply because he could. This is the very definition of privilege.

  • Eva

    I think what the article is saying is, should Ravi serve 10 years for what he did?   Should he be deported?   The sad truth is that had Tyler Clemente not killed himself, no one would have heard about this case for it would have been kept on campus.

  • horrified

    I also believe in restorative justice, but I can’t get over how sick “never meant to hurt anyone” made me feel. Calling the intimidation of queer people and sexual policing  “punking” and “pranking” is so wrongheaded, harmful, and so clearly not part of the solution either that I can’t engage with this article because I mistrust the author’s motives. Trivializing what happened in order to make a point about the prison system is flat-out disrespectful and a terrible contribution to the already-terrible discourse on this topic.

    • Anonymous

      The “meant no harm” thing smacks of that magical intent we keep hearing about when white people say and do stupid shit and think they shouldn’t be called on it. And, just as with those white people, the lack of intent doesn’t negate the harm. We need to be focusing on teaching kids that certain acts and behaviors are wrong, even if no harm is intended. We need to make it clear to all people, regardless of age or race, that you are responsible for the results of your actions, no matter what.

    • Anonymous

      The “meant no harm” thing smacks of that magical intent we keep hearing about when white people say and do stupid shit and think they shouldn’t be called on it. And, just as with those white people, the lack of intent doesn’t negate the harm. We need to be focusing on teaching kids that certain acts and behaviors are wrong, even if no harm is intended. We need to make it clear to all people, regardless of age or race, that you are responsible for the results of your actions, no matter what.

  • Elton

    This is classic scapegoating.  Yes, what he did was wrong.  But punishing an individual to absolve society of guilt for the homophobic, judgmental, bully-friendly environment that exists in college dorms, in high schools, and just about everywhere does not solve the problem.

    There are few things our society loves more than singling out individuals to blame for systematic social injustice.