The suicide death of Tyler Clementi still has me reeling.
When I first heard of the story last week I was shocked. Not shocked that an 18-year-old college freshman took his life. That is, unfortunately, not terribly shocking. Not shocked that he was gay. I’ve been aware that gay people exist in our society since…..well, since I could identify sexuality.
No. I was shocked, appalled, horrified that a personal, private, behind closed doors, intimate encounter was broadcasted all over the internet unbeknownst to him. That his roommate secretly set up a webcam and then tweeted to all of his twits out there, announcing when to watch.
What if that had been you? Or me? Any one of us in the middle of what we think is a private, personal consensual act and it gets broadcasted over the internet air waves for everyone to see. Our children. Our parents. Our neighbors. Our employer. Our mailman.
Think of how differently everyone would look at you if they saw that video. Could you still go to the grocery store without titters or stares?
“So move,” someone so eloquently said on a blog, “You don’t have to kill yourself.” I agree, suicide is extreme but let’s get back to your first suggestion. Move? Move where? Where don’t they have the internet? Where do you suggest dear Tyler Clementi move to?
And when I read it was his roommate and a friend of the roommate’s who did this? I have to admit. I didn’t form a very politically correct image in my head. I pictured two caucasian, homophobic yahoos. From uneducated, backwoods families.
And then I read about their background and saw their photos.
Two young people who may have suffered the same, baseless prejudice themselves. From educated families. Who attended some of the best schools.
What is it about our technologically crazed society that feels it is OK to video tape someone without their knowledge and consent and then post it for the world to see? I’ve had this discussion with my own daughter, who taped a man singing on the subway with her phone. She and her friends laughed over it. I made her erase it. It wasn’t obscene. But it wasn’t “quality” singing. And they were laughing at him. Not his t-shirt slogan. Thank goodness she didn’t post this anywhere. (At least, after our talk, I’m fairly certain she didn’t post this. And if she did, I darn well hope she took it down.)
My daughter’s lack of boundaries when it comes to strangers is common. More common than we’d like to admit. So common, in fact, that we’re focusing on the kind of sex that was broadcast by Ravi and Wei – not that any kind of personal, private, sexual moment between two people should ever be broadcasted over the internet. Ever.
The pain Tyler Clementi’s family is going through is unimaginable. The parents of Ravi and Wei must be devastated, as well. Hopefully, Ravi and Wei are feeling infinite regret and remorse for their actions.
But I’ve learned I am guilty of stereotype. I’m embarrassed that I wanted the accused to be white. It’s easier to perpetuate stereotype than to realize we are all fallible. We are all equal in that regard.
My mother was right.
Trash, does indeed, come in all kinds of colors.