Double Standard

September 30, 2010

Today I heard about a young man who killed himself by jumping into the Hudson river.  This wasn’t Gordon Ramsey’s newest victim, it was a student from Rutger’s university.  It wasn’t because he realized that we was attending school in New Jersey, but for a different reason.  I am not sure what the reason is, but we will try and figure it out together.

Let’s play in the world of ambiguous descriptions in order to better prove a point.  Lawyers seem to love this stuff, and I’m watching Community right now so I feel inspired. A young man, in college, was secretly filmed while having sex.  In most circumstances he would be placed on a pedestal.  High fives on the way to class, Facebook groups dedicated to him would pervade campus, and there may be a movie made about him (a la “One Night in Paris” or “The Social Network”).  The guy would probably feel some remorse but would then succumb to the adulation and have a t-shirt made referencing himself.  That would probably be the case if the other person involved was a girl.  In fact I am pretty sure that the film “The Easy A” is about this to some extent.  I’m not saying that it’s right, just likely.

In this case of the Rutgers student the other party involved was a guy.  So this was a homosexual relationship.  So instead of shrines and notoriety and Facebook groups the student killed himself by stating that he was going to jump off of a bridge and then doing it.

Lets recap, a college student has sex on camera with a girl and becomes in idol, has sex with another guy and is so shamed that he kills himself.  To further fill in some gaps, the student’s roommate was the one who secretly recorded the session or incident or interaction, whatever name would apply, I haven’t seen it so I won’t speculate.  The roommate went to a female friend’s room to let others know about the act via twitter.  Now the roommate and female friend are now being prosecuted for invasion of privacy.  That is understandable, it was an invasion of privacy.  But they are also being prosecuted for perpetrating a hate crime.  A hate crime?  Sounds like a college prank to me.  My roommate and I filled my girlfriends apartment waist high with newspaper, was that attempted arson?  Non-recycling? Time wasting? If we are going to make up charges, let’s make them make sense.  If it was a reversed, the filmed with a girl scenario, would the courts be giving him a prize?

Before we prosecute two students who stepped across a line we need to look at the real problem.  What was the difference between the two scenarios?  Why would the student bask in instant notoriety for one circumstance and kill himself for another?   Perhaps it’s our issue.  Perhaps Tyler, the student, thought that society would judge him because of his homosexual act more harshly than they would if he were with a girl.  The real issue doesn’t seem to be the prank but the labels that society adheres to all facets of life.  The Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP, Gay Pride Parades.  The Congressional White Caucus, the National Association for the Advancement of White People, White Pride Parades.  That last one seems like it would cause even Glen Beck to take a second look.

The point is, the roommate and the girl aren’t the problem in the whole thing.  The real problem is that society continues to place everyone into groups that define who they are.  Like the one common thing makes them alike in all circumstances.  So the courts think that the roommate hated Tyler, that’s why they call it a hate crime.  Why would he hate his roommate, I bet his half of the room was the cleanest on the hall and smelled great.  Those of you laughing may not have noticed but that was a stereotype.  It’s wrong that the legal system assumes the Tyler was hated because he was gay.

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