Prosecuting Gay Bashers May Backfire

Yes, the death of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi is tragic, and yes, the students who posted the video of him kissing another man should be charged with invasion of privacy, because that’s a law they clearly broke.  However, I hope that those who are advocating for a harsher treatment of the offenders will think ahead to the larger damage such a course might lead to.

The zealous prosecution of those who “out” gays or who bully them might actually lead to more gay suicides.  Think about it: young people are already sensitive and prone to dramatic overreaction.  If a young person happens to be gay, you can add extra loneliness and isolation to that mix. 

Now our society seems bent on punishing those who torment them to the fullest extent possible.  Such compassion is fine, but what I’m saying is that it might be counterproductive.  If this keeps up, these tortured young people will get the clear message that if they just kill themselves, the bullies who hurt them will suffer incredibly for the rest of their lives.  It’s the ultimate revenge. 

If you don’t think there are plenty of young people who would seriously be attracted to such an outrageous idea, then you don’t know enough young people. 

Actually, some commentators have been predicting this for a long time, and one could make the case that this year’s rash of gay suicides nationwide might be a result of these very growing efforts meant to help them.

2 comments on “Prosecuting Gay Bashers May Backfire

  1. Well, the same could be said about any crime that is essentially hate-motivated. I am not sure how hate crimes should be handled, but I feel that we should get some way of getting across to the neanderthals, that we are not chimps, but we’re supposed to be sentients able to think and differentiate between good and evil, not just acting on instinct.

    But you’re right about teenagers’ proneness to dramatize their own situation — “no one’s ever had id this hard” can be heard quite often. It may be difficult for an outsider to say, in any case…

  2. Hate crimes are a tactic designed to further an agenda. A crime is a crime, period. What the perp was thinking is irrelevant unless it indicated premeditation. Bob Dylan: “And if my thought-dreams could be seen, they’d probably put my head in a guillotine.” Same goes for all of us.

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