Rutgers Violinist Death: What's Known, What's AssumedSome celebrities seem to think it's 'obvious' that a Rutgers student killed himself because he was gay and had been bullied for years and had endured an awful lot of hateful treatment because he was gay and had been bullied for years.
Maybe so, maybe not.
Tyler Clementi, former violinist and student at Rutgers is dead. That much is certain, judging from news coverage.
He fell from a bridge into water. That also seems to be certain.
He probably committed suicide. There's an online suicide note: and it seems a likely explanation for his fall from the bridge.
He was homosexual? Well, he had one high-profile sexual encounter with another man. That's as much as I know about the matter.
Excerpts from an op-ed piece in Discovery News, from someone who seems to have my preference for dealing with facts:
"Rutgers Suicide: Sex Columnist's Simplistic Solution"
Benjamin Radford, Human News, Discovery News (October 1, 2010)
"The recent suicide of 18-year-old Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi made national news because of what preceded it: Clementi's roommate secretly broadcast over the Internet a video showing him having sex with another man in his dorm room. Several days later Clementi jumped off a bridge.
"In the wake of the tragedy, popular advice columnist Dan Savage began appearing on the news to promote a suicide-prevention video titled 'It Gets Better.' Savage's project was recently highlighted on ABC Nightly News, with anchor Diane Sawyer reminding viewers in a closing comment to 'Tell your friends it gets better.'..."
"...Savage is certainly knowledgeable about relationships and sex, but his grasp of effective suicide prevention-and indeed of the facts surrounding Clementi's death-is shaky at best.
"Savage is assuming, without facts or evidence, that Clementi was driven to suicide because he had been bullied (or, in Savage's words, 'had endured years and years of abuse'). While that is a possibility, so far there are no reports of Clementi being assaulted, bullied, or abused at Rutgers University or anywhere else. The facts of the case have yet to be established, and Savage, in his eagerness to co-opt the Clementi tragedy to promote his project, got ahead of the story.
"Furthermore, Savage is simply wrong when he states that gay teens kill themselves because they can't picture a life of joy, family, and pleasure. In fact, teens-both gay and straight-kill themselves for many reasons. There are several recent cases of heterosexual teens who killed themselves following embarrassing sexual revelations..."
I'm Catholic: So I Hate Homosexuals, Right?Wrong. I'm not allowed to hate people. I've discussed that before. (March 13, 2009) Several times, actually.
Loving someone and assuming that whatever they do is okay are not necessarily the same thing. An extreme example would be seeing someone you love walking toward a cliff while reading a newspaper. Is it 'loving' to stay silent?
Or a more common, if somewhat controversial, example: someone you love is taking illicit drugs and the person's health is clearly deteriorating. Is it 'loving' to feel that you have no right to interfere in that person's personal choices, and wait for your friend's death?
I think the answer is 'no' in both cases. But I've got a somewhat counter-cultural notion about concepts like responsibility and free will. (June 4, 2010, January 28, 2009)
My hat's off to the writer for Discovery News, pointing out alternatively-factual aspects of conventional response to the Rutgers student's death.
- "Rutgers Suicide, Celebrities, and This Catholic"
(September 30, 2010)
- "Jessica Logan, Sexting, Suicide, What Guys Want, and Malignant Virtue"
(December 8, 2009)
- "Three Killed in Tel Aviv Gay Youth Club: There's No Excuse"
(August 1, 2009)
- "Sex, Condoms, AIDS, an 'Immoral' Pope, and What Everybody Knows"
(March 17, 2009)
- "The Catholic Church and Homosexuals: Harsh and Soft, Judgmental and Understanding"
(March 13, 2009)
- "The Catholic Church Won't Even Let People Kill Themselves"
(January 28, 2009)