White Guy Responds to ‘Why Did He Kill Himself?’

A DiversityInc reader asks "what else" was going on in the life of a gay college student who committed suicide after his roommate secretly filmed and broadcast a video of him kissing another man. Read why the White Guy says this question is pointless and offensive.

Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.

This comment came in response to our article on a gay student who killed himself after his college roommate broadcast his sexual encounter on the Internet. I thought it was worth turning into its own column because I’m sure this reader expressed what many people are thinking.

First, my deepest sympathies to the family, friends, and loved ones of this young man who felt, tragically, he needed [to] end his life. And, whereas I do not condone the actions of this fellow’s roommate and partner in crime, I would also wonder why this young man felt he needed to end his life. It is increasingly common, these days, to find secret videos of individuals’ sex acts on the internet and yet these individuals have not chosen to end their lives. What else was going on in this young man’s life that caused him to believe that the only viable solution for him was to end his life? This, too, must be explored. The people who did this were young and stupid, to be sure, but I don’t believe, for a moment, that they would have done this had they known that the young man’s response would have been suicide.

“This, too, must be explored”? Why? To justify or somehow ameliorate this tragedy? The unctuous expression of “sympathies” makes this a particularly creepy response. Would it make you feel better to know that, aside from his being exploited for entertainment while he was emerging from childhood and becoming a sexual being, he also was overdrawn on his checking account?

What if he were killed by a drunk driver? Or a falling bullet from a person shooting a gun in the air? Would you want to “explore” the reason the victim was in that place at that time to be killed by the car or hit by the bullet? What nonsense. Readers, I have excluded hateful comments on this article and came close to editing this one out too—but will use it to make a point.

Our country has come a long way, but the fact is that LGBT people face an incredible bigotry—much of it driven by so-called religious and political leaders who fill their coffers by promoting the sense of an “other” group to discriminate against. There’s something in the tribal nature of the human spirit that lets us have a cheap thrill by oppressing and/or denigrating another group. This young man was a student and a musician and a victim. He was not webcast while doing homework; no, the (alleged) perpetrators were enjoying the prurient thrill of outing an 18-year-old kissing someone of the same sex. The reason someone would find pleasure in doing this is the ugly thing we see when we look in our society’s mirror, which must be confronted forthrightly if we are going to vanquish it. Our continued oppression of our LGBT citizens, the leveraging of hate for personal gain—THIS is what “must be explored.”

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  • Right On. Well said. It doesn’t matter what else was going on in this kid’s life. He was a victim of his embarrassment caused by living in a homophobic atmosphere. The two [deleted] who videotaped his private sexual acts should be thrown into jail and have the keys thrown away. They belong in a zoo with the other animals, and not in contact with other human beings.

  • I think its sad that people still feel the need to “explain” away the hateful acts of criminals. It dosen’t matter what else was going on this young persons life, the fact is he was murdered. Murdered by a society that in public is “outraged” by the invasion of privacy, but behind closed doors make these sort of video’s on “You tube” the most watched videos in the country, in the world. Keep your condolences, your comments are ridiculous and you should be ashamed of yourself for asking such a stupid question.

  • I agree with you completely. It sadens me evertime I have to face the truth about our desire to have someone or group that is worse off than we are. This is really hedonistic and studies show that Americans fell better about being better off than someone else than they do about being better off. It is a sad statement and one that has been tought through the love affair with capitalism. I respect societies that set rules more than one that finds solice in making the “other” group miserable.

  • Dear Luke: I appreciate your outrage and advocacy on behalf of the LGBT community. In this instance, while I find the reader’s letter concerning, I also would like to provide an educative response that isn’t person to the young man who died. The reader needs to know that LGBT teens are three times as likely to attempt or commit suicide as are heterosexual teens, not because LGBT teens are more mentally unstable, but because they are subjected to life threatening patterns of continual bullying, violent harassment, exclusion, parental rejection, and fear of all these things as well as other forms of oppression. That’s what else was going on in this child’s life.

  • We all have burdens we must bear. Some of us can handle heavier loads. Some of us have lighter loads to carry. For anyone to deliberately add to the burden another must carry is at best stupid and viscious. It doesn’t really matter what other burdens this poor kid was already carrying, for his roommate to add to them was unconscionable. There is no way any of us cn predict the effect of our actions on another because we never have the whole story. Therefore, it is up to each of us to do our best to relieve our neighbor’s load, not add to it.

  • I was saddened to hear of Tyler Clementi’s plight. I am also disgusted that his roommate would attempt to use Tyler’s private life as entertainment or something to ridicule. While it may place me in the column of unpopular responses with your readers, I also agree that other issues could have driven Tyler to take his life and so they must be explored. The roommate and his accomplice must be made to pay for the torment they caused Tyler but they may not have been the sole source of his drive toward such a desperate act.

  • Luke, thanks for choosing to respond to this comment…
    Altho the young people who recorded and published the video were way out of line, this is the result of a whole society that makes it OK to discriminate against LGBT. It is the “fault” of every legislator who votes against treating LGBT as full citizens. It is the fault of everyone who gives money to anti-gay causes and tells anti-gay jokes, etc.

  • I have to agree with this last poster to Luke. This poster has answered the comment intelligently without jumping down the commentator’s throat. I think what was done is horrible, an invasion of privacy that any of us would resent. But I also see by some of the other posts on here that this young victim is still being exploited but now by people who want to use him for a soapbox! Let his family grieve with what dignity they can now, let the government prosecute the offenders, and please leave this deceased person’s life alone, ALL of you! In your passions you are doing exactly what he had hoped to avoid by killing himself! Just stop it!

  • No further analysis of the victim is needed. He is dead, period. Analyze that.

    • We need to analyze the problem so that we can save the next LGBT teenager’s life and not repeat this tragedy.

  • Luke your comments were outstanding; and if anyone thinks for a second that here in America we no longer have a need to find a group to hate – or a need to feel better or more entitled than another person just look at what the things that are part of the landscape of the current recession. Million dollar homes, low rates of savings, and and obsession with affluent retirement.

  • You said:
    “What if he were killed by a drunk driver? Or a falling bullet from a person shooting a gun in the air? Would you want to “explore” the reason the victim was in that place at that time to be killed by the car or hit by the bullet? What nonsense. Readers, I have excluded hateful comments on this article and came close to editing this one out too—but will use it to make a point.”

    I think the reader’s point is valid. It was horrible to post the video on the ‘net. The people who did it were egregiously wrong in many ways. But they didn’t kill the young man. He killed himself.

    There are important reasons why one person would choose to kill himself in these circumstances and others would not. The larger society is greatly at fault. The people who “outed” him are greatly at fault. But those are not enough reason to kill oneself at the beginning of a promising life.

    Those of us who have the responsibility of rearing LGBT sons and daughters, or the responsibility of educating young LGBT people need to know how we can help them build the resilience they need to lead satisfying and successful lives in a society where others are often hateful.

    Perhaps instead of asking “Why would he kill himself?” what we really need to know is why others in similar situations have not.

    For example, I’ve just read a wonderful article in Newsweek about people who were dismissed from military service when they were outed as gay, how they have built new careers, and how many of them hope to return to military service of the country. Part of our duty as elders is to help all LGBT young people build that kind of resilience.

    • Research on suicide says that while it has a cultural aspect – a person can make the decision to take his life in just a few seconds. The students who posted the videos are indeed responsible for this young man taking his life. The videos and ridicule that followed are what pushed him to make that decision. It’s not about building resilience in LGBT youth – that’s victim blaming. It’s about building humanity in the majority population. Teaching people that it’s not okay to bully and ridicule others for your entertainment and that such behavior can result in the physical and spiritual death of the person you harm. And yes, although I’m not for the severe measures some are citing, punishment for such callous treatment of others is part of the deal. But we also need to encourage and reward people who are caring and inclusive of others.

  • This tragedy makes me so sad. It’s bad enough not being able to openly live your life being who you are; but then to have your private moments broadcast for someones sick pleasure is beyond horrendous. Thank you Luke for speaking out for this young man.

  • Increasingly common makes it ok? Where does this person want us to draw the line? So they would not have done it had they known his response would be suicide? That sounds like it would have been ok to video him had he just said “HaHa” They did not care what his response would be, They cared about their own sick pleasure. And sadder still they had an audience…

  • I think you missed the point of the question. As I read the question, it was probing for what would cause a young person to commit suicide. It seems abnormal that one would commit suicide solely because of being filmed in an embarrassing moment. As the writer pointed out, people are filmed in embarrassing moments quite regularly, yet they don’t chose to end their lives. Choosing to end one’s life and being killed in an unfortunate car accident or from a falling bullet shot in the air are two different things. A person killed in an accident doesn’t choose to end his life. Trying to understand what causes people to be hopeless to the point of ending their life is, I believe, a legitimate question. Particularly in what seems to me to be an increase in teen and young adult suicide. I think we could gain much insight into understanding the causes of suicide, and perhaps even some prevention methods, if we would address the issue of suicide rather than dismissing the question because in this case the deceased is gay.

    • You are coming from a position of ignorance in this comment. You wonder why someone would commit suicide “because he was filmed in an embarrassing moment.” It is clear that you don’t have the faintest idea what the magnitude of what happened to that boy actually was. Let me explain: This kid had been hiding his sexual orientation from everyone he cared about and loved for his entire life since he hit puberty. Fanatically. Obsessively. Because he was sure that if anyone knew, everyone he loved would hate him forever. His life, quite literally, would be over. You cannot understand that feeling unless you’ve been there. You cannot know the impact that living with that certainty can have on your life unless you’ve lived it. I totally understand this kid’s reaction to having this one private moment filmed and publicly aired. I had a similar thing happen to me when I was a little older than this kid, and I was for lucky enough to have supportive family who got me through it, but it was touch and go for a while.
      I am not blaming you for not understanding what this kid did, nor am I condoning it. But what I am saying is do not dismiss the depths of pain and despair that this boy was feeling over this incident, and question the responsibility of the perpetrators of this act, by glibly suggesting that “there must have been something else.”

  • For those asking for massive penalties, how far does it go? Does the same sentiment go for a well off student mocking a poor one, an irate boss demeaning a subordinate in front of colleagues, a well toned jock embarrassing a not so fit person? These could all easily put someone over the edge resulting in the same tragic ending. The question of how someone gets to the edge is ALWAYS important!This was indeed a tragedy but due we make it a bigger tragedy?

  • The the author of the comment ” the young men would not have done this if they had known he would commit suicide”. That’s equivalent to saying “I would not have slapped you, if I had known you would cry.” They should not have based their actions upon how he would react; rather their actions should have been based upon ” Is this the right thing to do?’ I teach my children that there are consequences to your actions. But, if you focus upong doing the right thing you won’t have to worry about the consequences.

  • Why do we have to know explore why the young man killed himself, in order to say what his room mate and the other young lady did was wrong and illegal. The original comment is blaming doing what our society always does to those who it considers weak. It blames the victim. This man was exploited by a perverted voyeur. Really this man response to being victimized is not the issue. or weather the voyeur would have committed the crime had he know that his victim would have killed himself is not the issue. The issue is that a young man became a was was videotaped by sick perverted voyeurs and then those individuals released what they videoed to the work without the young mans permission. That is the crime. That this may have lead to the young mans death is something that must give us all pause, because it speaks to mans inhumanity to man. That the two people who perpetrated this crime and the person who wrote the comment above are so easily able to rationalize away how the fact that this act of taping someone was lacked any sign of human decency.

    I am not sure that I would want to employ these two individuals at any company I work for. They have no self control, no ability to question ask themselves the simple question. Yes it is in my power to do this, but should I? What low levels would they sink to to get a promotion or make a co worker look bad or make at the expense of those around them. To me this is the story of our times and what our nation and its citizens have become.

  • I am a conservative, straight, white guy and I say… WT#!!! How can anyone from any background or with any beliefs come up with an excuse for these two [deleted]! Just ask yourself…what if this was my son, or friend or my brother? Would any rational person think that this would not deeply hurt this young man? What is wrong with you!

  • I think the big question hasn’t been asked or answered: What took place in that dorm between the Web broadcast and the suicide?
    It’s one thing to discover that your roommate was spying on your make-out session.
    But imagine if that’s followed by ominous comments by friends, suggesting that other people saw the video. And then when you enter the dining hall the next evening, you’re greeted with derision and catcalls, with people mimicking movements and gestures from the night before. He might still have been coming to terms with his sexuality, feeling tentative about some of what they did the night before — and now finds himself the laughing-stock of the dorm. I can imagine a freshman feeling like his life is over: How can I possibly keep on going to school here? What possible explanation can I give my parents for transferring elsewhere?
    My guess is that the dorm reaction is the untold story, with a much bigger impact than just being spied upon.

  • Thank you Luke,
    I agree with you. If someone wants to know what else was going on they can look at the hateful vitriol of politicians and religious leaders that make it seem ok to instigate this kind of harassment and bullying.
    I’m sick, sad and disgusted that anyone wants to excuse these actions as “just having fun,” or “they wouldn’t have done it had they known the consequences.” I don’t know that. I do know that the disease of human cruelty and homophobia will spread like a pandemic if it is not stopped by everyone who values the lives of our beautiful LGBT youth.

  • As the Mom of a trans person, my greatest worry is that some crazy will decide to attafk him physically adn/or opsychologically. He is strong and wold not jump off a bridge. he also has a strong support system. Howeveer, it seems to me that the only roup left to harass and be prejudiced agains is the GLBT community and iwe need to deal with it as we wold any prejudical attacks on a particular groiup. I am so sorry this occurred nd this young man felt he had no pllace to go for support…suppor systems need to be instilled in all of our institutions.

  • Far more disturbing is the fact that the two ‘alleged’ people who consciously set up a videocamera to film this, did not feel or know that this was wrong. We are becoming a society that hides behind texts, emails, videos and never suffer the consequences of the action. We have lost our moral compass when we don’t think our actions can/will cause such hurt that the victim would feel he had no other choice but to end his life. The perpetrators should burn in hell.

  • Laying the cause of this tragic event on the bigotry engendered by religion or politics, or the “youth” of the parties involved is just too simplistic. It allows us to pin blame on some amorphous standard that is NOT us, and therefore we walk away feeling justified. It takes away the responsibility of the individual (every individual) to consider the effect of his/her actions upon others they encounter. What are the factors that cause us to pursue a course of deliberately acting to destroy others, without having an internal sense of conscience that says to us “STOP! Don’t it!”? Let me posit this: when an individual is driven by a pursuit to satiate his own sense of freedom and pleasure (in whatever form), he will eventually encounter 1) the boundaries of his own conscience and 2) the freedom of others. I believe that the health of his conscience will determine whether stops to consider the costs or presses onward to the hurt of others (victims, families, etc). Either way, he alone gets to make the decision. And he alone should be held accountable for the high cost others now have to pay, simply because they encountered him. Just a thought.

  • Luke, Thank you very much for your comments regarding this young man and the fact that bigotry played a hugh role in his life as well as in his death. My heart grieves for this young man. Not only because he died, but also of the emotional pain he endured throughout his short 18 years. The fear of being made fun of and not being accepted by family, friends and others in general weighed heavily on him. So much so, he choose to end his life rather than endure more pain and suffering from those who may ridicule and spurm him. There are so many LGBTs who have this same fear, This fear was placed in them by the attitudes and actions (laws) that our society and government officials have made. They have made us feel dirty, vulger and unaccepted as a citizen of the United States or Service member of the Armed Forces who has given their all to this country. Our politicians make laws against LGBTs based on religious beliefs instead of equality for all or they are lobbied hard by the religions groups to vote against LGBT rights so that they can keep their job in the House.

    Hopefully LGBTs will develop an attitude of ‘I don’t care what you think of me. I’m just as GOOD a person as you are, the only DIFFERENCE between me and you is that I love another person of the same sex.’ As a society, we cannot live in fear because of the laws or what others may do to us. It is oppressive. However, this is the daily life of the LGBT individual.

  • Bullying and singling out someone is the worst thing to go through for a person, including their family. My daughter was a victim of bullying in sixth through seventh grade. (She was being harassed for the way she looked – her hair was thinning on the top of her hair). I cannot begin to tell you what that did to her self esteem, let alone what it did to my husband and me. A person being humiliated because they aren’t the same as the majority is something that you do not forget and that you carry with you for the rest of your life. Even though her hair issue was corrected as she grew older; those are days that she refers to as “living in hell” for the rest of her life. Being “young and stupid” is no excuse for what these two students did. My daughter is a college student now, and while one might say she that her brain isn’t yet fully developed she still knows that her actions can have long term (not to mention permanent) consequences. I agree with Luke.

  • This case is a tragedy for all parties involved. While initially the instinctive reaction is to call for the two students involved in invading this young man’s privacy to be locked up and have the key thrown away, let’s remember that they too are just kids. I am not excusing their actions, but I’m sure that they never intended for this young man to kill himself. When I think back on some of the immature, stupid, and even mean things that I did (or had done to me) when I was a teen I have to shake my head in disbelief. Kids do stupid and sometimes mean things, but usually they are done out of immaturity and ignorance rather than out of malice and hatred. While my heart goes out to the family and friends of the young man who lost his life, I also have to feel sorry for these two other young people who every day for the rest of their lives will carry the heavy weight of guilt and regret for the tragedy that their thoughtless act caused.

  • Let us also remember there was another young man in the video. He was also violated. He needs our prayers…

  • Yes, we always have to explore everything but some actions need not be explored because they ae plain wicked. We all know the burden of shame. If Tyler came from an upright family, the fact that he was caught doing something that he was not ready to disclose to his folks, can cause grevious shame to the person. Not to mention that our society has empowered the likes of Dharun and Molly to bully a person out of his life because society sanctions discrimination and hatred of people with different sexual orietation.
    The fact is that these two university students must have known what they were doing was wrong. While some of use can bear shame, for others its too heavy a burden. I think we need to explore why these two students plotted and then carried out such a heinous act.

  • The reader is simply asking the questions that you all are assuming you know the answers to. The commenters assume that the young man was bullied, harassed, excluded and rejected, so that having his private activity portrayed to the world became the final straw. I believe the reader thinks it is important to actually know more about which of these factors, or others, were affecting the young man’s life — maybe because THOSE issues need to be confronted and addressed. Your attempt to inject phantom scenarios as analogies (“what if he was hit by a drunk driver?”) is extremely weak rhetoric. Answer: He wasn’t. Period. This is not a random tragedy. Which is also why it is worth discussing.

  • Speaking to the original question, I think you are assuming his/her question is seeking to place part of the blame on the victim. I did not read it that way. I think the answers are important so that we may help others not follow this same tragic path. Your analogy of a car accident is not accurate. Suicide is self inflicted therefore preventable. Seeking answers is the only way we can help. I also agree that this young man’s problems were deeply rooted.

  • I disagree with you, Luke.
    This young man, if he had nobody else to talk to, he could have discussed his feelings with his partner. He ran off and did something he may have wanted to do all along.
    The person who asked the question may have suicidal thoughts, too. They may be struggling with how and when to tell their parents and friends they are gay. Thoughts of ending their life may haunt them. Because being gay has not been the bane to kill him/ herself in itself, the person has other problems as well- like loneliness, bullying, daily teasing, or poor self- esteem. To many young people, there never seem to be an end or a light at the end of the tunnel- they lack patience. They do not think that anything happening at the moment will eventually end and they would be able to look back at it one day and learn from the experience. We learn this with age.

  • Luke your comments are commendable and if we as members of civil societies dont use avoidable tragedies like these to better our lives individually and collectively, we are the poorer for it. What the alleged perpertators did is despicable and indefensible but bigotry and prejudice have been around since time immemorial. It was not just Tyler’s actions that were broadcasted wihout his knowledge let alone approval. His partner’s was too and fortunately that did not lead to suicide. Jails the world over are brimming with crimminals and so it is obvious that society is never ever going to be crime free. Therefore from a victims perspective it is vital that society renders them everything possible to “cope” with the impact of the crime and to make the most of the rest of their lives. If nothing else we should all be asking ourselves are we doing enough to minimise self harm and prevent suicides? Are doing enough to address depression which is the largest csue of suicides? An eye for an eye as Gandhiji said will render the world blind. What we need is a much more enlighthend approach, one that is epitomised by Luke Visconti

  • An 18-year-old man having a sexual encounter with a female is celebrated as a stud in our frat-boy culture. An 18-year-old man having a sexual encounter with a man is just a [F-word] to be despised by a large portion of our society. Was the young man who killed himself “sensitive”? Probably. Weren’t most of us at that age?

  • What else was going on for him? He was partially a loner and isolated, from what I understand. Many would agree that that would be part of a profile of someone who might be more prone to having suicidal tendencies. Isolated and outcast why? Because that is the treatment of GLBT youth that is condoned and encouraged by some people who are supposed to be looking out for the best interests of ALL youth. THAT’S WHAT ELSE WAS GOING ON IN HIS LIFE THAT MAY HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO HIS SUICIDE. GET IT NOW!?

  • I hope that all the white guys out there will think about hurtful comments or actions that they have made to gay friends or acquaintances (knowingly or not) and, in rememberance of Tyler, seek out and apologize to that peron. Though these acts do not always lead to suicide, the pain that they inflict is significant.

  • To those making callous comments about this tragedy think about this. Tyler Clementi was an 18 year old college freshman. College presented an opportunity for him explore his sexuality which he may not have been able to do while residing with his family. He might also been afraid to acknowledge his sexuality with his family especially if they were funding his education. I know many individuals who had their college funding cut off by their “loving” family when they came out. Tyler also had to deal with the embarrassment of having a sexual encounter broadcast on the web without his (or his partner’s) knowledge and consent. The moment the broadcast went live he became a social pariah. There would be reluctance from any guy to date Tyler. The door was also opened for harassment and potential physical violence. I’m sure that Tyler was so distraught that he saw no other option then to take his own life. I’m certain that Tyler’s roommate and the roommate’s friend thought this was a harmless prank. I can also surmise that they had no thought of the rippling repercussions of their actions. No matter how innocuous the roommate and his cohort thought their actions were they must now deal and live with the consequences.

  • The question is not relative, at all to why this young student arrived at the need to take his life. Sexual privacy, or the lack of respect on the part of society for sexual privacy is in my apinion what caused the young student to kill himself. This is America, people have a right to love and have sex with the same sex, as long as they are not hurting anybody or themselves When our society comes to terms with that fact, our society will be better off. Sexual or any form of human discrimination/bias is not the American way.

  • At one time, as a lay minister, I did pastoral counseling. Anybody who has done this kind of spiritual work would not need to ask this question, and I’m stunned that anybody is clueless enough to think it needed asking.

    In a still-homophobic society, tainted by bigots and twisters of Scripture (to say nothing of the political exploiters [some of them closet cases themselves]), I deeply admire any GLBT teen or youth who does NOT sometimes contemplate suicide as a way to escape the persecutors and bullies they must confront.

  • To video tape anyone, without their knowledge, in an intimate relationship is an act of stupidity. The intended outcome was caused by the foolishness of the prankster. Despite the emotional makeup of the person harmed the person causing the harm should be punished. I do not think this was a hate crime, but it is darn close to be viewed as an act of multiple criminal activities.

  • Luke, while I applaud your intent to keep the focus on the tragedy of a young life ended as a result of stupidity and intolerance, I do however think it is important to be aware of other contributing factors to his decision to take his life, so that it may serve as early warning for help to other teens and young adults dealing with their sexual identity and the potential backlash they may experience from others who aren’t accepting of their exploration. This by NO means is a suggestion to ignore or minimize the fact that the bullying was a direct cause of his decision, by the contrary, I believe they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, civil and criminal. However, as a person who has suffered from major depression and suicidal ideations, I recognize that mental illness (albeit in this young mans case was likely caused by his fear of society’s acceptance of his lifestyle) is what causes the thought to become an action, and if there is a way to reach out to young people in this vulnerable state and provide them with alternate sources of emotional and medical support, they will know there are other more productive ways to dealing with hatred and ignorance than to take your own life. This young man’s life deserves to be celebrated as well as understood, the lessons learned could save another person’s life.

  • I heard it called cyber-bullying. We see the results of bullying every day in elementary school, middle school, high school, college. Some kids snap and plan mass murder, some kids commit suicide, some turn to alcohol or drugs. Thank God some survive. Diversity education is needed in the schools, not just the work place.

  • I think the perpetrators in this case should be prosecuted just as if they had been driving drunk and in the process, killed someone.

    Drunk driving is always wrong, as is bullying, even if no one is killed, and should always be prosecuted. And if someone is killed as the result of the poor judgement someone used either in drving drunk or in bullying, “I didn’t think I would hurt anyone” should never, ever, be an acceptable excuse. “Criminally negligent homicide”, or “reckless endangerment”, maybe, would be a good thing to charge such people with.

    In one way, however, this case is almost worse than drunk driving, because those who drive drunk do not drive drunk on purpose to hurt someone. These bullies knew they were hurting someone-they enjoyed doing such a thing and planned ahead to do it, so they could laugh at someone’s pain and suffering-but didn’t mean for it to lead all the way to a death. NOT a good excuse, in my book.

  • This is as hateful a comment as I have ever read, “Our country has come a long way, but the fact is that LGBT people face an incredible bigotry—much of it driven by so-called religious and political leaders who fill their coffers by promoting the sense of an “other” group to discriminate against. ” I am a Christian that is deeply saddened by the death of Tyler Clementi. I am the mother of a teenager. I have friends that are gay, good friends, not just people that I know and claim to sound politically correct. You must realize that bullies are bullies, no matter what their religious beliefs. To lump all who love their God into a category of looking for someone to pick on, is just shifting the discrimination again. You are embracing the gay community, and turning the hate toward “the religious”. Perhaps I haven’t read enough of your magazine, but I’m surprised to see this in a Diversity publication. Don’t allow the LGBT community to feel that this is a religious thing. A young man and woman made a horribly mean and hateful decision to interfere in another young man’s personal life. They made a cruel decision that had a consequence so awful that no words can express the intensity of the tragedy. Perhaps had someone been able to share the love and hope of God with Tyler, he would be alive today. I have worked on a suicide prevention hotline, and the decisions people make to end their lives are usually made when situations culminate in such an intense pain that all hope for the future is gone. That is the value in having education available to all teens about suicide prevention and the need to support each other in hopes that they will find a way to reach out to others before the light at the end of the tunnel is gone. Please don’t incite people to rise up against one group in defending another. We need to look for ways to help our teens, both gay and straight, know that suicide is a permanent solution to a situation that can be dealt with and that we shouldn’t point fingers at one group in order to make another feel better about thier situation. We’re all guilty at some point — let’s try to make progress and not regress to blaming. Bless Tyler and his family — I cannot imagine the incredible emotional pain as he ended his life or that of his family as they suffer the loss of their loved one.

  • I am not sure if I missed it, but, if not, now would be a good time to mention the term “internalized oppression”. This is when we internalize the hate that others have about our difference – and when we carry around the shame and humiliation that comes with it. This is clearly what happened in this tragedy.

    The last statistic I heard, about 6 months ago, is that it is still true that 1/3 of all successfully-committed suicides are due to questions of sexual orientation. This means that the number is higher for those attempts that were not successful. Think for a moment about what this means. It’s stunning.

    Although homophobia may have lessened in our society over the last 30 years, we obviously still have a horrific amount of fear and loathing in our culture and around the world. Some countries are doing better with this than we are, and, in some countries, you will still be executed for it.

    The good news is that in high schools that have gay-straight alliances, the statistics for safety, health, and happiness (including bullying, suicide attempts, depression, etc.) are much, much better. So, if you want to help out here, folks, do what you can to help your community become more welcoming, respectful, embracing for LGBT members. Let’s accelerate the shift!

  • Re “I don’t believe, for a moment, that they would have done this had they known that the young man’s response would have been suicide” Why? They did nothing to evidence compassion or tolerance before, what leads you to believe they would care? We will see in a court of law. I believe they should be tried for harassment, contributing to manslaughter, and should submit to psychiatric testing. From cradle to grave gay people are still tormented, some still driven to suicide, Until equal rights are bestowed upon day citizens and unless harassment and bullying are made illegal there will be victims. Bullies require a victim, Funny you put yourself in their shoes but not his. Funny you didn’t ask if he would have done it had he known he would surely die or if he was off prescribed medications. The national hot line for troubled questioning youth is what needs publicity, not these murderous monsters. The Trevor Lifeline at: 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386)

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