Apparently, a college student in New Jersey committed suicide as the result of an illegally-taped episode of gay sex being posted online.
Hate crime charges are reportedly being considered against those who made the tape and published it, though as of now the charges are just invasion of privacy.
I have no use for hate crime charges. I have always held that bullying needs to be attacked strongly, and this is one reason why. I don't buy the line that students should just deal with it. This is because, during elementary and junior high, I was on the receiving end of a systematic campaign of bullying that involved ostracizing me from almost the entire student body and torment that came not just from fellow students but from teachers, administrators, and staff. Until you've gone through something like that, you just cannot know what it's like, and even if I had been physically capable of beating up the bullies, it simply wasn't practical.
But I digress.
I do think that the people who taped Tyler Clementi having sex and then put it on the internet should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. That they led directly to his death seems inarguable.
But still, we need to back up and look at this issue closer.
If Tyler Clementi had been having sex with a woman, he would not have been taped.
If Tyler Clementi was able to be comfortable in his own sexuality, the invasion of privacy would have been easier to overcome.
There is a deeper issue here. That issue is the way that, even in 2010, gay people feel the need to "come out." Though certain areas are known for being fairly gay friendly or, conversely, particularly homophobic, there is still an overall level of intolerance that I just don't understand.
Being shown having sex with someone of one's own gender should not be something that can ruin your life. No more so than being shown having sex with someone of the opposite gender. The offense should be equal. Tyler Clementi should have been raised to be comfortable with himself. He should not have received the message from anyone that being gay is a horrible thing. There should have been nothing for him to hide.