CNN | Dharun Ravi | Tyler Clementi Doesn't Know Anything About Dharun Ravi And Tyler Clementi

120317040614-paul-butler-headshot-left-teaseA lot of smart people have spent the last 24 hours explaining the significance of the Dharun Ravi verdict. (If you don't know about the Dharun Ravi verdict, please click here.) One of those smart people is Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor, the current "Carville Dickinson Benson Research professor of law" at George Washington University, and the author of Let's Get Free: A Hip Hop Theory of Justice. Today, published his ruminations in the form of an essay titled "Rutgers Spying Verdict Won't End Bullying." And while the claim made in the title is self-evidently true, it's clear that Butler knows nothing about the Dharun Ravi case.

In fact, Butler is so ignorant of the case that he manages to cram four falsehoods into a single three-sentence paragraph. That graf:

As the whole world knows, Ravi secretly videotaped his roommate, Tyler Clementi, having sex with another man. He let some other people watch the video, and he tweeted that Tyler was gay. Clementi then jumped off a bridge to his death.

Falsehood breakdown:

As the whole world knows, Ravi secretly videotaped his roommate, Tyler Clementi ...

There was no tape. It was a live webcam, turned on for just a moment.

... having sex with another man.

Nope. They were just making out.

He let some other people watch the video ...

Nope. Only one person besides Dharun saw the webcam feed, and only briefly.

... and he tweeted that Tyler was gay. Clementi then jumped off a bridge ...

Technically true, but cruelly misleading. Dharun first tweeted that Clementi was gay long before the webcam-snooping and the suicide. In fact, he did it before the school year had begun -- before he'd even met Clementi in person. Butler's imputation is that Dharun somehow "outed" Clementi, which is nonsense. The only reason Dharun was able to tweet the words "Found out my roommate's gay" so early on was that Clementi was already out'n'proud on the internet. It is the case that Dharun made another reference to Clementi's sexuality on the night he spied Clementi and his lover on the webcam, but it's insane to think such a reference might drive an out person to suicide.

Butler should read Ian Parker's excellent New Yorker article, "The Story of a Suicide," before writing anything else on the subject.

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  1. The black community is to blame for A LOT of homophobia in this country. I genuinly believe that based on my own experiences. Virtually every black straight man I have come across has been militantly homophobic. We as a community (LGBT) need to address the intense hate and bigotry from the black community that is present.

    Posted by: Arim N. | Mar 18, 2012 3:14:49 AM

  2. Isn't it fascinating how in America you lose your job, and have to issue a public apology and Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson call for protests if you make even the slightest NON racist remark that they twist into a racist remark, yet black folks are almost always the first to discredit homophobia?

    Posted by: IonMovies | Mar 18, 2012 3:16:22 AM

  3. I once had a heated exchange with a black political science professor who taught us all semester that racism exists in this country, how horrific it is, how hard black individuals have it in the political arena, yet a story about being gay came up and he went on this tirade how gays force themselves on others. It was so uncalled for that three other students actually made a formal complaint, but for me what was so fascinating was here was this black man who constantly yelled "racism!" yet the very moment he had to extend empathy and justice toward another group of folks struggling for their rights, he ran a bus right over them. It was very eye opening for me.

    Posted by: Kyle-ATL | Mar 18, 2012 3:18:59 AM

  4. Molly, Ravi's close friend at the time testified that Ravi was INDEED uncomfortable with Tyler's sexuality, did intend to tape him, and what he did was with mean spirited motives. The overwhelming evidence proves his intentions were not good, yet he's being spun into a martyr by homophobes the CNN network.

    Posted by: Niles | Mar 18, 2012 3:34:34 AM

  5. It's fascinating that a man like this author (Paul Butler) who consistently writes about how unfairly African Americans are treated in the judicial system can then turn a boldly state that Ravi had no ounce of homophobia in him.

    I truly believe people who harbor varrying degrees of homophobia really see Ravi as their mascot, and see the demise of Ravi as the demise of homophobia, and that's why they are so passionately coming to bat for him.

    If this guy videotaped a sweet, angelic, 18 year old, BLONDE "innocent little thing"....there wouldn't be a single devils advocate. But because it happened to a gay kid...HE'S turned into a martyr.

    Posted by: Juan R. | Mar 18, 2012 4:29:50 AM

  6. I've been reading personal editorials of this story from authors as well as the comments section in other blogs and what I've walked away with is homophobia is increasing and at an alarming rate. Somehow this story has been twisted and turned and tossed so much that Tyler Clementi is being painted as the culprit (by many commentators) and Ravi Dhuran is being turned into a victimized saint, with people crying 'woe is him'

    The homophobia and level of homophobia in this nation is truly striking. Had he driven ANY other minority kid from ANY other minority group to his death after anti (black, latino, jew) texts which Ravi did indeed make (including references to 'fag' this and 'fag' that) the entire country would call for his stoning. Ravi did it to a gay kid and suddenly HE'S the victim. Amazing.

    Posted by: USC Trojan Fan | Mar 18, 2012 4:34:27 AM

  7. Here are some facts about the Tyler Clementi case (before the homophobes put their paws on it)

    Ravi Dharun taped the intimate interaction of Tyler without Tyler's consent (that is highly illegal in the state of New Jersey)

    Ravi Dharun on more than one occasion expressed discomfort and ridicule toward the sexuality of Tyler

    Ravi Dharun invited many strangers to come watch video of his roomate, Tyler, being intimate without Tyler's consent.

    Tyler Clementi was deeply hurt by Ravi Dharun actions, even thinking to go so far to talk to an authority in the school about the situation

    Tyler Clementi expressed sadness and hurt how his roomate and friends were more disgusted by Tyler being with another man, than being videtapped secretly

    To ignore the above, and argue they need not be mentioned in this case, or argue they are irrelevent is to boldly state your proud homophobia. As many straight (And sadly gay) blog writers have been doing. We as a society have accepted that pain caused on gays is not only a reality but should be accepted.

    Posted by: Real Talk | Mar 18, 2012 5:40:28 AM

  8. The same Paul Butler who in every single article claims black people need to rise up to racism and that "90% of black men incarcerated should not be behind bars"...that's truly rich. Virtually every article this writer has written revolved around proving how racist every single person other than black people are, and how tough black people have it, and the first chance he has to write about gay issues he states that hate crime laws protecting LGBT is ridiculous.

    I'm afraid until the black community has a serious conversation about their homophobia, homophobia will not be going anywhere anytime soon, as sadly that demographic is hellbent on either ignoring gays or discrediting our plight.

    Posted by: Michelle | Mar 18, 2012 5:48:13 AM

  9. this same man above who writes for CNN,Paul Butler, recently wrote:

    "It’s depressing that so many white folks still regard black people as less than human...End the war on drugs, make school disciplinary proceedings more transparent and require official explanations for racial disparities.It’s unconscious bias, so the New York Police Department can’t say exactly what makes Bed-Stuy and Harlem so much better places to enforce the drug laws than N.Y.U.
    But we know. It’s race."

    this man has spent an entire career arguing everything in the legal system is racially motivated, but can't imagine the thought of homophobia being present in the most gay related personal court case of the decade. that right there proves why minority groups can't seem to work together.

    Posted by: sintactenergy | Mar 18, 2012 5:53:19 AM

  10. Isn't it fascinating how in every news story where a gay kid is targeted, many people try to make a martir and victim out of the anti gay attacker.

    Larry King gets shot in the head for being gay by this anti gay classmate and most people blamed Larry for wearing heels, and the narrative turned to feeling sorry for his shooters upbringing, and how he was forced to deal with Larry's sexuality.

    Matthew Sheperd was killed in the most grotesque, inhumane manner and he was blamed for "coming on to his attackers" and Conservative news outlets turned it into a complete fabricated story about drugs.

    Ravi Dharun has identifiable traces of harassing his gay roomate and even references his roomate being gay in an unkind manner, the gay roomate commits suicide, and bloggers call Tyler insane and Ravi a "kid just having fun, being a kid, who is now a victim of the radical gay agenda"

    Face the music. There's a lot of anti gay haters in this world. There could be a mass genocide of homosexuals and they'd somehow, some way find a way to blame US, while putting us to death.

    That's why it's vital we as a community stick together and support one another. In our plight. Not run over each other with a bus provided to us by hetros.

    Posted by: M.J | Mar 18, 2012 5:59:46 AM

  11. Are you suprised? The black "journalists" on CNN like this idiot and that pig Roland Martin are very homophobic - like most blacks. Face it - most of them do not like gays - and I say this as a black person.

    Posted by: Jeffrey | Mar 18, 2012 6:26:49 AM

  12. Gee, another article in which they spend a lot of times quibbling over the minute details in order to try to divert attention away from the overall facts of the case.

    Posted by: Cam | Mar 18, 2012 9:48:21 AM

  13. People still watch CNN?

    Posted by: Dearcomrade | Mar 18, 2012 12:32:13 PM

  14. A homophobic journalist on CNN? But what about all those segments CNN devotes to ex gay therapy programs, and the segments where they debate the validity of gay rights, and the other segments where they bring NOM and give them a platform to compare us to pedophilia....oh, wait. Maybe CNN is liberal on every cause and issue except for gay rights? They've made that clear throughout the points.

    I'd frankly rather support Target and NOM then CNN, who willingly smile in our faces for viewership but spew content every now & then that is blatantly anti gay.

    Posted by: Canollo | Mar 18, 2012 12:38:34 PM


    Posted by: CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON | Mar 22, 2012 4:25:45 PM

  16. For the life of me, I can't fathom how any gay person could have the least sympathy for Dharun Ravi. What is wrong with you people?

    Posted by: figofan | Apr 4, 2012 11:28:19 PM

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