Imagine a scenario in which Clementi wasn’t gay. Say that Ravi and Wei recorded him making out with an overweight girl wearing braces, then they broadcast the incident as “gross French-kissing exchange between geeky guy and fat chick.” Now imagine they’d videotaped Clementi masturbating to Internet porn, then titled the resulting streaming video “Geek beats his meat.”
In either of the above cases, the boy’s privacy would have been just as thoroughly invaded, and his voyeurs’ mocking cruelty would have been no less horrifying. But there is no powerful political lobby for masturbators or fat, nerdy, unattractive couples. Rushing to take such victims’ side doesn’t earn you plaudits as a wonderfully “tolerant,” majestically “progressive” person by the Powers That Be.
If either of these other scenarios had unfolded and Clementi had killed himself due to the resulting humiliation, the fact is that very few brows would have furrowed afterward on TV talk shows and the celebrity circuit. You certainly wouldn’t see Ellen DeGeneres or the kids from Glee making impassioned appeals for greater peace, love, and understanding.
In short, the matter wouldn’t be trendy or politically sexy, so nobody would care.
It’s disheartening to see such crimes and tragedies reflexively treated as exploitable moments by interest groups. If nothing else, such responses are misinformed. Sadly, there are many sensitive, vulnerable, depressed people in the world, and there are also many mean fucking bastards who get their jollies from picking on the vulnerable types.
Cruelty isn’t a political issue. Bullying cannot be ameliorated through more widespread sensitivity training or “reeducation” to somehow “cure” prejudice—indeed, ideological rigidity and forced conformity inevitably lead to the birth of a whole new class of mean, hateful control freaks. Political correctness, a doctrine that aims to avenge perceived past injustices, almost always constructs a whole new configuration of injustices, with yesterday’s victim class becoming today’s victimizers and vice-versa.
The attempt to make Tyler Clementi’s mistreatment and tragic demise a gay-rights cause célèbre is foolish and wrongheaded. If Ravi and Wei are indeed guilty of what they are accused of doing, they probably weren’t motivated by a disdain for homosexuality. More likely, they thought Clementi was a “dork” and decided it would be funny to mess with him.
This stunted, sadistic mindset is as common as it is despicable. Cruelly hounding the hapless is an all-too-frequent phenomenon practiced in all walks of life among people of every race, creed, and sexual orientation. It appears to be an endemic part of our wretched, highly imperfect state. Such a piece of work is man.
God rest Tyler Clementi’s soul and comfort his grieving family. And God bless all victims of cruelty: straight and gay; black, white, brown, and yellow; exploitable or politically useless; and remembered or forgotten.
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