Friday, March 16, 2012
Hard Cases Make Bad Law
Without gainsaying that Dharun Ravi was guilty of a hate crime, the prosecution never proved that he hated gays.
It didn’t matter. In cases where there is no way to compensate a victim juries often go for the extremes.
Such a case more than 200 years ago led to the saying that bad cases make tough law Tyler Clementi is dead. His soul left adrift on a Twitter posting.
He committed suicide after Ravi made a video of him kissing a lover.
Ravi was found guilty of the most serious charge, bias intimidation. He faces up to ten years in prison and possible deportation.
No one will ever know how much the video played in Clementi’s decision to kill himself. Certainly other things that had happened to him after he came out of the closet caused great hurt. Some of these events involved people he knew, including his mother.
Also weighing on the jury would be the explosion of privacy invasion that are part and parcel of the Web.
Surveillance cams are on many streets throughout the nation. People are growing tired of it.
And the Web has become a powerful tool for bullying.
This decision hopefully will cause some people to think twice before acting in harmful ways with handy Web tools, including smart phones.
What To Do In This Case
Making Ravi a martyr to some could have an impact that was the opposite of what the jury intended.
Those predicting that the decision will have a major impact on social media may not understand how powerful a force it is. Ravi became a trending topic on Twitter almost immediately after the decision was announced.