Rutgers's Shameful Asian American Duo

Tyler Clementi jumped from the George Washington Bridge after his Rutgers University roommate hid a webcam in their dorm room to broadcast over the internet Tyler’s tryst with another man. The jump ended the life of a shy 18-year-old who was winning acclaim as a violinist.

The gross invasion of privacy alone justifies prison terms for the roommate and his cohort. Broadcasting Tyler’s sexual encounter over the internet multiplies the invasion, justifying some multiple of the prison terms. Those terms should be doubled again because the jump occurred only after the malicious pair tried to broadcast a second sexual encounter.

This June 2010 photo provided by the Ridgewood Patch shows Tyler Clementi, left, hugging a fellow student during his 2010 graduation from Ridgewood High School in Ridgewood, N.J. (AP Photo/Ridgewood Patch, Sam Fran Scavuzzo)

What makes the tragedy all the more reprehensible is that the roommate is Indian American Dharun Ravi of Plainsboro, N.J. His partner in crime is Chinese American Molly Wei of Princeton, N.J. In the warped minds of these two Asian Americans the trampling of Tyler’s rights was justified for the same reason racist atrocities against Asians are justified—that the victim is a member of a persecuted and powerless minority. It’s the psychology of those who can’t pass up the opportunity to inflict their own sense of vulnerability on those they deem to be even more vulnerable.

I am shocked and ashamed that the cowardly Rutgers duo are Asian Americans.

I have always taken pride in the fact that my fellow Asian Americans harbor an unusual degree of empathy toward other victims of prejudice and irrational hate. Since 9/11 Asian Americans have been at the forefront of efforts to ensure that Muslim Americans don’t suffer the same kind of irrational persecution that Japanese Americans suffered during World War II. Asian Americans like Margaret Cho and George Takei have become champions of dignity and equal treatment for gays. If any segment of Americans understand what it means to be the targets of bigotry and hate, it’s us.

Sadly there are exceptions like Ravi and Wei. We can only hope they get the punishment they so richly deserve and at least serve as reminders to everyone that our society has evolved to the point where those who seek to persecute risk prosecution.