The meaning of the Rutgers suicide

Joseph A. (the blogger of Arimathea) writes:

In the press accounts of the recent Rutgers student suicide, there is a line that reminded me of your posts about strange statements that reveal the underlying and perhaps subconscious beliefs of people (such as the use of the passive voice when reporting crimes and the expression by a victim’s loved ones that the victim “didn’t deserve this”).

Michael Zhuang, a friend of Dharun Ravi, who secretly recorded and broadcast his roommate’s sexual encounter with another male student, excused Ravi’s behavior thus: “He’s very, very open minded … and he, like if it had been a girl in the room it wouldn’t have been any different.”

The remark implies that the possibility of Ravi’s homophobia is the only objectionable thing about Ravi’s secretly recording and then publishing online the sexual activities of his roommate, which was thereby followed by the “out-ed” student’s jumping off the George Washington Bridge. Hence, Ravi must be a fine, socially enlightened young man if he is willing to treat heterosexuals and homosexuals equally viciously. This odd statement suggests that he finds no fault in his friend’s crude disregard of his roommate’s privacy, reputation, or dignity, as long as he did not engage in prejudiced discrimination against certain protected groups. The essence of Zhuang’s remark is now so common that it may not even be remarkable. How these stories so well fit the patterns that you describe.

LA replies:

I think that Dharun Ravi and the female student Molly Wei who collaborated with him in putting Tyler Clemeni’s homosexual encounter on the Web were expressing the essence of our liberal culture: the belief that all things—homosexual conduct and heterosexual conduct, a private sexual act and a sexual act put before the eyes of the world on the Web in perpetuity—are like all other things. Since there is no higher truth from which discriminatory standards could be derived, all things are equally good and there can be no judgment or discrimination between them. So Ravi and Wei didn’t think that there was anything objectionable or harmful about taping their roommate’s sexual encounter and posting it on the Web. By taping and posting it, they were simply and unconsciously enacting the world view of liberalism in which they have been steeped since childhood.

But if Ravi and Wei didn’t do anything wrong, how do liberals, such as those at the New York Times, explain Clementi’s suicide? They explain it as the result of our society’s lingering Puritan and anti-homosexual biases, which still make distinctions between private sexual acts and public sexual acts, and between heterosexual conduct and homosexual conduct, and thus made Clementi feel unbearably humiliated and anguished by his homosexual act being posted on the Web, leading him to commit suicide. In a truly liberal society, a society free of the atavistic and irrational remnants of the past, Clementi would have been as cool with his sexual act being shown on the Web as Ravi and Wei were with showing it on the Web.

[end of LA comment]

UPDATE, 6 p.m.: The above is my interpretation, based on having read only the lead paragraphs in today’s New York Times and applying my take on liberalism to the general shape of the incident. One gets a different sense of the story from today’s coverage in the New York Post. There it is suggested (but not definitely established) that Ravi taped and distributed the sexual encounter, not out of some liberal nihilistic indifference to all differences (as I suggested above), but out of resentment at his roommate’s homosexuality. Also, the Middlesex, N.J. County prosecutor (pun unintended) says he is looking to see if “bias”—which in the context can only mean bias against homosexuals—motivated Ravi’s and Wei’s invasion of Clementi’s privacy.

So, was Ravi’s and Wei’s invasion of privacy a “liberal” act (motivated by moral indifferentism) or a “conservative” act (motivated by moral judgmentalism)? Either way, it seems to me a very serious crime. But it’s a crime that could only have occurred in a hyper-liberal culture where everything—including homosexual acts by college freshmen in their dorm rooms—is permitted, an axiom which carries with it the corollary that other students are required to regard such acts as normal and acceptable. But if they don’t regard them as such, there is likely to be a strikeback against against the liberal order which requires such acceptance. That may have happened here, with tragic results.

- end of initial entry -

This is an unedited e-mail I sent to a correspondent early this morning after first looking at the Rutgers student suicide story in the New York Times:

Were they insane, to film him surreptiously in a (homo)sexual encounter and then post the film online? They thought it was funny to destroy a person’s privacy like that?

They’re savages. The two who did this are literally savages.

And one was Indian and the other a Chinese girl, from two of the oldest and most sophisticated cultures on earth.

So intelligent looking college students behave like something lower than savages. To take the most private (and embarrassing and shameful) moments of a person’s life and, for a lark, put it on the Web where the whole world will see it and where it will be forever. This is a horrifying story.

James N. writes:

Boy, there is so much to say about this it’s hard to do it justice in a brief communication.

The question for the “correct-thought thinkers” is, why do you believe the boy killed himself?

If he was ashamed, WHY was he ashamed? He was going to a school which, I have no doubt whatsoever, includes gay-positive messages in freshman orientation.

If he was humiliated, WHY was he humiliated?

The answer, of course, is that shame, humiliation, and self-loathing are at the center of the behavior that was revealed for the world to see. The adaptations that gay men have to go through to make it seem OK, to make it FEEL OK, produce a whole range of characterological and personal deformations which express themselves in various ways.

But we cannot see his adolescent agony leading to self-annihilation in any way other than as the product of external forces. Invasion of privacy. Use of an electronic device in a prohibited manner. Homophobia.


LA replies:

James N. wrote:

“If he was ashamed, WHY was he ashamed? He was going to a school which, I have no doubt whatsoever, includes gay-positive messages in freshman orientation.”

From the liberal point of view, the total normalization of homosexuality by the liberal culture is not sufficient to assure homosexuals’ psychological comfort and physical safety. So long as there remains any disapproval of homosexuality anywhere, by no matter how small and powerless is the remaining minority of critics of homosexuality, that is enough to cause homosexuals to commit suicide.

Liberalism is a totalitarian ideology which in principle admits of no exceptions. Just as President George W. Bush said that any lack of freedom anywhere in the world is a threat to America’s national security and must be eliminated, and just as President Barack Obama said that any negative stereotypes of Islam anywhere in the world are a threat to American tolerance and must be combated, in the same way, liberalism tells us that any disapproval of homosexuality anywhere in the world is a threat to the safety and the lives of all homosexuals and must be eliminated.

At the same time, of course, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and all liberals support the Islamization of the United States, which will place the lives of all critics of Islam in actual and imminent danger. But that’s no skin off their, the liberals’, noses. That is because all liberalism, whether of the right-liberal type (Bush and neocons), or the left-liberal type (Barack Obama and leftists) resolves down in practical terms to left-liberalism, which means the total embrace and accommodation of the Other, no matter how alien and threatening the Other is, along with the concomitant destruction of our culture and our freedom.

Thomas Bertonneau writes:

Additional details little alter the value of Rutgers suicide as a measure of liberalism, which is high. Let us suppose that that Dharun Ravi, as authorities now apparently claim, made the secret video of Tyler Clementi in a homosexual encounter and then posted it to the Internet, with Molly Wei’s help, because Clementi’s sexuality had become an issue for him. Where does that leave us?

It is still the case that college and university dormitories are brothels and that the liberal non-judgmental attitude is a cause of this condition. The non-judgmental attitude licenses dormitory dwellers—people who tend to have roommates—to use their dormitory rooms for casual sexual encounters, a practice that the degenerate popular culture (liberal and non-judgmental in character) encourages. Not all students participate in this licentiousness, however; some deeply resent the abuse of privacy, courtesy, and modesty that it entails, but complaints of this sort to residence hall advisors (as students have told me in confidence) are typically ineffectual. In the case of a heterosexual student complaining about abuses of a common living space by a homosexual roommate, it might well turn out that the plaintiff, rather than the actual offender, finds himself under some kind of accusation (of “homophobia,” say, or “intolerance”). I would imagine that the quantity of unexpressed irritation harbored by modest dorm-dwelling students against their immodest roommates is large and that in many cases the irritation is acute, becoming a kind of stifled outrage.

The “stifled outrage” theory would not exonerate Ravi and Wei, the video-clip purveyors, but it might provide a motive for them other than that they too are simply creatures of the liberal non-judgmental attitude, who see one act as morally interchangeable with another, and for whom felonious voyeurism is “no big deal.” Ravi and Wei might be creatures of an incoherent, vestigial morality. If so, liberalism still plays a role. Liberalism has been assaulting and vilifying traditional moral virtues, like courtesy and modesty, for decades. Thus even college students who are not wholly morally deconstructed probably have little or no idea about how to articulate a moral objection in an orderly and civil manner. Their problem is meanwhile exacerbated because political correctness in its manifestation as the residence hall regime has deprived them of clear and reliable procedural recourse. So they respond—to an identifiable, actual offense, let us stipulate—in a fog, wildly, and inappropriately.

It is not, I believe, blaming the victim to pose generally that a student who abuses his roommates by turning the common living space into a personal brothel is like the cute teenage girl who goes jogging in an urban park at night. The act itself in both cases is unnecessary and provocative, but liberal society goads the agents into thinking that they can behave as they will, without consequences. The consequence can be fatal.

LA replies:

What would you say to a liberal who replied to you that human beings have a need for love and sex; that the only reasonable place for a college student to have a sexual relationship is his dormitory room; that Clementi was not imposing the spectacle of his homosexual encounter on his roommate Ravi but had asked Ravi for the private use of the room for the evening; and therefore there was nothing whore-like about Clementi’s behavior but to the contrary he was behaving as a civilized person engaged in private behavior; and that Ravi, in response to this civilized, private behavior, carried out a destructive, wanton act against Clementi?

Dean Ericson writes:

Here’s what I see:

It’s wrong to engage in homosexual acts.

It’s wrong to be fornicating in a college dorm room.

It’s wrong to secretly record someone and post it and/or to live stream it on the web.

It’s wrong to commit suicide.

LA replies:

What are you, some kind of traditionalist conservative?

LA continues:
In fact, Dean has offered the complete, correct, and simple answer to this issue which seems overwhelmingly complex but isn’t. Once society (circa 1960-1970) gave up traditional morality, once it said that homosexual acts were ok, once it began to allow sexual relations in college dormitories, there was no remaining place where a line could be drawn, and our society turned into a nihilistic, norm-free madhouse, with the only restrictions provided by the arbitrary, irrational, and ever shifting rules of PC.

If you think that what happened to Tyler Clementi is terrible and should not have happened, then, in my view, there is no solution to the problem inside our present ultra liberal system. The only solution lies outside that system. Namely, society needs to return to traditional morality, under which (a) sexual relations are only recognized and approved by society inside marriage, and non-marital relationships are not given any public recognition or status; (b) homosexual acts are considered wrong; and (c) sexual relations are not permitted in college dorms, males and females are housed in separate dorms, and the opposite sexes are not permitted to visit the other sex’s dorms except during certain prescribed hours.

LA continues:

Also, just a passing thought, if Tyler’s parents had not named him with a surname which is often given to girls, perhaps he would have been less confused about his sexual identity.

James N. writes:

To expand on my previous remarks, it seems that this boy had not adapted fully to his “orientation,” so he failed to suppress his natural disgust and loathing completely. It was suppressed enough for him to be a participant, but not enough for him to be revealed to the world.

This incredibly cruel and mindless act of Ravi and Wei held up a mirror to what the boy was becoming, and it overwhelmed him.

I don’t care what the State does to Ravi and Wei, but they should suffer the contempt of, and be shunned by, all decent people. This, of course, is the last thing that will happen. The two of them will probably have their own show on MTV.

LA replies:

“This incredibly cruel and mindless act of Ravi and Wei…”

I agree with this evaluation of their act, whatever their motivation turns out to have been.

Thomas Bertonneau replies to LA:

My first response to your hypothetical liberal would be to say that he is confusing love and sex, which are not the same thing, and that the notion of a need for sex is dubious and misleading. On the one hand, I need food, water, and the warmth and dryness of shelter, and I will perish in their abeyance; on the other hand, I want sex, but I won’t die in default of getting it. I would add that, in my judgment, colleges and universities should make it extremely difficult for students to use their dormitories as brothels; a college or university dormitory should be an orderly place devoted to higher learning, not a pit of iniquity where anything goes. This is so because it is a duty of responsible adults to cherish and protect those in their charge who are not yet adults, and who do not fully understand what it means to behave responsibly. I would add that I am not saying that college and university students shouldn’t play the two-backed beast; I’m saying that when institutions that supervise late-adolescents make sexual shenanigans easy, they debase sex. I think that there is a certain value in having to skulk and scheme to find venues for the sexual adventure. Skulking and scheming add piquancy to the experience. The need to skulk and scheme is a condition that fosters discrimination and discrimination in sexual liaison is good. Again, a shared dorm-room is not an unambiguous locus of private behavior, and to treat it as such is to violate its proper character. Almost every act in a college dormitory is effectively a public act, due to the closeness and gossipy-ness of the environment. Sexual acts in a college dormitory are presumptively exhibitionistic.

Kilroy M. writes:

Mr. Auster wrote: “So, was Ravi’s and Wei’s invasion of privacy a “liberal” act (motivated by moral indifferentism) or a “conservative” act (motivated by moral judgmentalism)?”

Mr. Ericson wrote: “It’s wrong to secretly record someone and post it and/or to live stream it on the web.”

An important point that needs to be made is that in a truly conservative society, despite the existence of sexual taboos and the fact that sodomy would be very much frown upon, an individual’s moral transgressions would not be so flippantly exposed to the world. Such voyeuristic exposures are crass and profoundly unconservative. Ironically, a homosexual’s foibles may be gossiped about, but he would not be persecuted in the way that this hapless Clementi fellow was, leading to his self destruction.

I recently had a discussion about this with a conservative friend, who had no sympathy for the deceased. My point was that one does not need to agree with his lifestyle to feel sorry for the guy’s misfortune. James has it right: “This incredibly cruel and mindless act of Ravi and Wei held up a mirror to what the boy was becoming, and it overwhelmed him.” Clementi suffered a sexual dysfunction, the enemy of the West is not the dysfunction as such but a culture that normalises it. Clementi therefore deserves our whole hearted sympathy. If that makes me a heretic in the eyes of Trads, so be it.

LA replies:

Well, it doesn’t make you a heretic in the eyes of the trads at this site, since we’ve said the same thing as you.

October 1

Joseph A. writes:

I have enjoyed reading the comments to your Rutgers post; I especially appreciated Kilroy’s note about not flaunting the private moral transgressions of others. I have followed the story on various sites, and the comments sections elsewhere demonstrate all too clearly that we as a society have lost the ability to analyze and to communicate about the human condition. Important distinctions evade people. We cannot simply attribute this failure to the democratic character of Internet comments. We now live in a barbarian age. I further suspect that our post-Christian intellectual environment is ill prepared to deal with the issue of sin. The general reaction to this issue, beyond the natural grief and horror that normal, decent people feel when faced with such a tragedy, has been unfortunately dominated by political reductionism. The homosexual identity group people have gone “tribal” over the issue, while the high horse judgmentalism of some Christians has been shameful and ugly. [LA replies: Do you mean that the Christians have been taking the side of Ravi and Wei?] Is it so difficult for so many people to recognize that human life is messy and that each person is not simply a peg in a political or culture war machine but rather a conflicted being in a fallen world? People do not reduce their friends to such flattened cartoons; why do they so readily reduce the lives of strangers so? The most sober secular commentary has amounted to worries about the state of privacy in the age of global mass communication, with concerns that young people today do not understand privacy lines. That is a pitiful excuse for the shocking lack of humanity exhibited by Ravi and Wei. Eighteen year old students at Rutgers University know what they are doing, and it is a cop-out to trace their cruel malfeasance to anything but their failure to treat another person as a person rather than as a mere object for their entertainment.

Also, I do not think it is fair to treat a two-person dormitory room as a “public place.” As you noted, Clementi asked his roommate for privacy one evening, and Ravi agreed—probably in quite an obnoxious manner, too. Given what we know from the press, Ravi’s actions were not born of moral outrage but rather from irresponsible sport. He probably thought that it would be fun to play with the skinny, nerdy, “sweet and shy” orchestra boy who had landed a date. It appears from his Twitter account that he was surprised when he flipped on the transmission (in Wei’s room, it seems) to see Clementi with a man. Our “nonjudgmental” culture notwithstanding, the abnormalcy of homosexuality, perhaps coupled with Ravi’s impression of his roommate as a geek, made it all the entertaining for Ravi to embarrass Clementi. It “up’ed” the humiliation ante, and Ravi enjoyed the game. We are breeding a generation of selfish, amoral people.

Saddened, Joseph

P.S. Speaking of patrons, mine being Joseph of Arimethea, yours (presumably) was the first that I visited last year when I went to Rome, in San Lorenzo fuori le Mura.

LA replies:

This is beautifully stated.

Just one qualification: my impression is that asking one’s roommate for the private use of the room for an evening for a “date” is standard procedure in today’s colleges. After all, that is the only way that couples can be alone, and it’s understood by everyone.

LA writes:

I forget at the moment where I read it, but apparently Ravi had no idea that his roommate was homosexual. Clementi had asked him for the use of the room for the evening in order to entertain a “date,” and Ravi had assumed the date was a girl. When he turned on the video feed, and saw that Clementi was making out with a male, that’s when he decided to broadcast the video.

Now, was he shocked and revolted by what he saw, and his decision to broadcast the video was his way of expressing that—of getting back at his roommate for what he, Ravi, saw as a disgusting act? Maybe. Though it seems unlikely that if what he was seeing was disgusting to him, he would decide to show it to the world. We don’t know Ravi’s thoughts. What we do know is that today’s students inhabit a normless, liberatory world where many conventional and traditional boundaries have been destroyed. Human experience tells us that when you destroy normal boundaries on human behavior, all boundaries tend to fall, not just the ones you want to fall. Campus PC is the attempt to knock down some boundaries, mainly sexual ones, while keeping the resulting anger, exploitation and violence in check. This is an inherently questionable enterprise, and clearly the PC did not work in Ravi’s case. He (according to the above scenario) was shocked by the lowering of sexual boundaries, and in response he engaged in an act of extreme expressive violence against his roommate.

Which once again points to the need for a rejection of liberalism and return to traditionalism. If we want people to behave well to their neighbors, e.g., not to broadcast videos of their neighbors’ private sexual acts, we cannot, e.g., allow the neighbors to engage in sexual acts where they should not be conducted, such as in a college dorm room.

LA writes:

A reader questions my above call for a return to traditionalism and wonders how a liberal country of 300 million people could be converted to traditionalism. His comment and my reply are posted in a new entry.

Andrea C. writes:

The unquestioning deference by roommates being asked to vacate a dorm so that they can be used for sex has made this all possible. Whether homosexual or not (even though homosexual is worse because more deviant), whether one person would laugh it off and vacate the room under a similar request from his roommate or not. The fact is that it is antisocial to ask one’s roommate to leave the room you share so you can use it for sex. Why is it antisocial? Because sex is private. What kind of thoughts does that send the roommate away with? What kind of disrespect for his sensibilities is that? Tyler Clementi was the first to cross a line.

Don’t get me wrong, I want Ravi punished severely for his malicious act and I hope he goes to jail. But not for a hate crime. He must only be punished for his illegal and harmful actions, not for what he thought. Because the truth is, any person could have reacted to this roommate’s sexual behavior with any number of thoughts—from mirth, to disgust, to lust, to scorn, to resentment, to anger, you-name-it—the situation had already crossed the bounds of acceptable behavior before the camera started rolling—it’s the type of behavior which could provoke many reactions; it was volatile, it was antisocial. Like Seinfeld once said to George, “Uh, we’re trying to have a civilization here.”

I feel very sorry for TC. He will be missed by those who loved him.

LA replies:

You write:

“The fact is that it is antisocial to ask one’s roommate to leave the room you share so you can use it for sex.”

My impression is that under the existing standards and practices at U.S. colleges it is not considered anti-social to ask one’s roommate leave the room for the evening so that one can use the room for sexual activity. It seems to be the expected thing to do, and the roommate is expected to say yes. Perhaps I’m wrong.

Andrea replies:

Yes, that’s my take on it.

Joseph A. replies to LA:
To answer your question, no, I read no Christians taking Ravi and Wei’s side, but many had nothing to offer but scorn and “good riddance” for Clementi. I think that certain Christians, especially fundamentalist Protestants, eagerly condemn sinners whose sin is not in their own portfolio of perdition. That mote in the other’s eye …

Thomas Bertonneau writes:

Regarding the Rutgers suicide, LA writes:

“My impression is that under the existing standards and practices at U.S. colleges it is not considered anti-social to ask one’s roommate leave the room for the evening so that one can use the room for sexual activity. It seems to be the expected thing to do, and the roommate is expected to say yes.”

Perhaps LA was writing in a hurry, but it is not beyond the realm of possibility that he deliberately chose to use the passive voice in two of his constructions. In the passive voice is how political correctness and the diversity regime operate. Non-politically correct students will themselves use the passive voice in describing the social imperatives of dormitory life. Thus precisely, “it is not considered anti-social to ask one’s roommate to leave the room for the evening so that one can use the room for sexual activity,” at Rutgers or anywhere else in collegiate America. But what does the phrase “is not considered” mean in context? It means that authorities (the college or university administration and the residence hall supervisors) have made it clear to all students, but especially to those of a traditional moral disposition, that they are not to object when their “liberated” roommates demand a disturbing privilege. They are especially not to object to any request made by members of protected groups. I am fairly certain how it would go, for example, were a heterosexual student of faith to lodge a complaint against a homosexual roommate who regularly sequestered the shared space for sexual activity. Students are fairly sure of how it would go too, which is why the ones who quietly dissent from the regime are reluctant to oppose the passively stated but actively enforced demands of the liberal non-judgmental order. Therefore, students say “yes” to obnoxious “requests,” but the verbal gesture signifies submission, not agreement.

I hope that LA will forgive me for stating what he, of course, already knows: The real issue for traditionalists is not whether a particular behavior “is considered” legitimate in this setting or that, but whether that behavior is objectively good or bad, edifying or corrupting. I hold it tantamount to a crime that the liberal non-judgmental order has so deformed public discourse that it is no longer possible for most people (especially young people) to ask about the objective moral status of behaviors.

LA replies:

I was not trying to be indirect, nor was I trying ironically to emulate the PC style (I’m not sure which one Mr. Bertonneau is suggesting I did), but I chose my words carefully to state my thought as exactly as I could. As I was speculating about a state of affairs that I don’t know about, “it is not considered anti-social” was the appropriate word choice.

At the same time, I take Mr. Bertonneau’s larger point. Passive language is used to describe a rule that is actively enforced.

Thomas Bertonneau writes:

You write, “Passive language is used to describe a rule that is actively enforced.” That is all I meant to say. I was not trying to zing you.

LA wrote to Joseph:

If you have the time/inclination, it would be interesting to see a sampling of the Christian (and non-Christian) comments that you found objectionable.

Joseph replies:

As I went on a media junkie binge over the story, it is too tall a task to list all the ugly Christian judgmentalism that I read. However, for a sample of the “conservative” take, I looked at some Free Republic responses to articles about the Clementi case. Of course, the most common reaction was one of shock and grief, but there is a disturbing amount of the following in the commentsphere:

  • Nothing here…. A genetic defective who led a destructive lifestyle. One less we have to contend with….

  • Big frigging deal. A perverted homosexual kills himself because he did not want the world to know he choose a perversion over normal lifestyle. The world is a better place today.

  • A deeply disturbed deviant commits suicide and now it is time to paint him the victim and place the blame on other people. A pervert kills himself so justice will punish the innocent bystanders. How sick is justice?

  • why is this national news in the first place? Oh wait it’s because he’s a queer who got caught. People every day kill themselves, soldiers kill themselves and they have done much more than this queer but the media ignores all of that and talks about this homosexual. The media are the biggest threat to this country with their lies and bias.

  • the media will ignore all those who killed themselves today, except this one kid who did. Why? Because he’s queer but they ignore the deaths from those homosexuals. More coverage from the media about this one homosexual than the soldiers losing their lives over in the wars. DISGUSTING.

  • Pissant is right on target here. While we all have prayers for this perv’s family, I’m certainly not shedding any tears for him.

  • And yet when anyone with any common sense points out the fact that this boy was a fag and on a self-destructive lifestyle, we are immediately called insensitive

  • Yes, Ravi and Wei committed an immoral and illegal act. But it pales in comparison to what Clementi did.

  • Is it too much to expect people to mind their own business? Is it too much to expect respect for one’s privacy? Is it too much to expect a measure of empathy for another’s embarrassment? ______________________________
    I get it. You feel Clementi was justified in killing himself. We should ignore the pervsere nature of his lifestyle and focus on the two pranksters who violated his privacy. Ohhh-kayyyy.

  • “What in my life is or isn’t your business? And who decides? You?” No. Beleive it or not … YOU DECIDE. Not me. Not some jerks with a hidden camera. Only you. As in you are responsible for living a decent life. You mess that up, and you pollute the rest of the world with your sick perversions and there’ll be hell to pay. Sadly for Clementi—he was ill equipped to pay it. He took the coward’s way out,

As this is from Free Republic, these folks are not necessarily Christians; they could be Randians, secular rightists, liberatarians, or whatever. Yet, in my initial surfing, I read many explicitly Christian condemnations of Clementi. I do not reject Christian morality, but the setting makes casting stones somewhat odd.

To be honest, I had a similar reaction when George Tiller died. Though I condemned the murder, I shed no tears for Tiller, thinking that karma caught up with him at last. Yet, I do not equate being a notorious abortionist with being a confused young man having a consensual sexual encounter with another man.

In general, I think that Christians inflate the sinfulness of homosexuality because it is an alien sin to them. Other vices and shortcomings may hurt their soul more and alienate them more from God than homosexuality, but as these vices are more common, they are held to be less vile, and they are not preached against with the same vehemance. It is easy for us to excuse our own shortcomings or to minimize their destructiveness.

Robert Bove writes:

This post and exchange exemplifies the necessity of View from the Right. You all have said what cannot be read anywhere else. That student’s suicide can only be taken out of context by those willfully ignorant.


As you know, I teach English language and literature in New York City. One of these schools will be running the agit/prop homosexualist play Angels in America this Fall. That school styles itself in “the Catholic tradition.” One now sees this ilk of qualification on churches all over New York—on banners, no less.

They are no longer Christian, they advertise, but in the Christian “tradition.”

Clearly, our society is well beyond the stage of acceptance of behavior that deviates from natural law as understood by anybody who has given any thought to what is evidentially natural in this world.

God help us, we are not just confronted with state-enforced deviance but church-enforced deviance.

God bless you, Lawrence.

LA replies:

Thank you very much. God bless you.

Robert Bove continues:
I give my good wife credit for the impetus to write you. She had been looking at the Rutgers suicide news and various commentary, along with discussion about the subject of virtual social networking. She was dissatisfied with what she had so far seen because nothing had dealt with the milieu that makes such events as the young man’s suicide likely. When I alerted her to your post, she read it and said, “Now, this is the approach I was looking for.”

James P. writes:

You wrote:

“My impression is that under the existing standards and practices at U.S. colleges it is not considered anti-social to ask one’s roommate leave the room for the evening so that one can use the room for sexual activity. It seems to be the expected thing to do, and the roommate is expected to say yes. Perhaps I’m wrong.”

Being “sexiled” by a roommate is described in Tom Wolfe’s novel of modern college life, I Am Charlotte Simmons. The protagonist, Charlotte Simmons, the daughter of a working-class family attending an elite university, is frequently kicked out by her promiscuous roommate, Beverly, a Groton-educated Brahmin and the daughter of a CEO.

On the other hand, when I was in grad school, I knew women who said that their female roommates would bring men to the room and have sex with them in their nearby bed, which struck me as totally repulsive. Being “sexiled” is probably preferable to being an unwilling spectator to someone else’s sexual activity.

Passive voice Thomas Bertonneau writes:

The grammar, in which verbs appear in their non-agential form, as participles in passive constructions, not only well serves a type of authority that likes to keep itself incognito; it also well serves that same authority in attributing actions—or offenses—vaguely to people it dislikes. I offer as an example the politically correct claim that, as majority behavior to minorities has become more decorous and accepting, racism nevertheless continues or even grows worse, in the form of what spokesman for the regime call institutional prejudice. This institutional prejudice requires no discrete identifiable offenders; rather, it assigns mischief to an entire class pervasively. Thus ex cathedra, as it were, such people tell us that this group “is oppressed” by structural biases in the society put there by some other group.

LA replies:

Yes, but the concept of “institutional racism” has been around for 30, maybe 40 years.

Dean Ericson writes:

The NYTimes has this article in which we learn of last messages from Clementi posted to a gay porn site which seems to have been a hangout of his, called “just us boys .com,” including this message,

“Revenge never ends well for me, as much as I would love to pour pink paint all over his stuff … that would just let him win.”

I’m thinking young Clementi, outraged and wounded and immature, settled on jumping off the GWB as his best revenge against Ravi. It would, in one dramatic coup-de-theatre, establish him as the Victim—the supreme moral rank in his liberal milieu—and convict Ravi of a heinous hate crime, homophobia, and murder. That would unleash a tidal wave of opprobrium against his tormenter and cause a simultaneous wave of pity and concern and anguish for poor little Clementi. It’s the ultimate passive aggression. That kind of vengeful thinking, coupled with his immaturity, and having no source of guidance and authority to consult beyond liberalism and a gay porn site, led to the unfortunate young man’s death. So I’ll not be joining the chorus of condemnation against Ravi. Yes, what he did was wrong, but he’s not guilty of murder.

LA replies:

I see your point. If Clementi committed suicide to harm Ravi that is very bad. However, the fact that Clementi did something very bad does not change the fact that Ravi did something very bad. No one here has accused Ravi of murder. We’ve said he did a very evil thing.

October 2

Kilroy M. writes:

The dissonance between (a) the liberal pretension of homosexual normalcy, and (b) the lingering oddity of homosexuality which renders it a punchline in pop-culture and occasional cause for ridicule, reminds me of that other Seinfeld episode where the main characters pretend to be gay as a prank and then find that the joke gets out of hand with somewhat disastrous consequences for all involved. I think the phrase “not that there’s anything wrong with it” accurately encapsulates the moral spirit of liberalism: despite its “whatever works for you is ok” philosophy, deep down, it somehow knows that its tolerance ends up promoting things that are fundamentally flawed and destructive.

LA replies:
But Seinfeld did not represent normative liberalism. Seinfeld was in some respects a reactionary program, punching holes in liberalism.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 30, 2010 02:17 PM | Send

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