Social Question

jca's avatar

What do you think would be a just punishment for the college students that put their classmate's sex video on the internet, which led to his suicide?

Asked by jca (36043points) October 1st, 2010

I am referring to the Rutgers University students that put their male classmate/roommate’s sexual encounter with another man on the internet, which seems to have led to him jumping off a bridge. This has led to a big outcry across the country about homophobia and tolerance. W

hat do you think should be the punishment for the two people?

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31 Answers

TexasDude's avatar

I’d like to think that they could be jailed for manslaughter in some way. They didn’t directly kill their roommate, but it’s pretty much inarguable that they did play a major role in his death.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Ugh, I’m so upset about this and the handful of other suicides in September (that were publicized and many that never are) that I don’t even care what happens to these idiots. I care that we lost another youth to homophobia and that people spend even an iota of time telling me that it’s somehow okay (on fluther or otherwise).

zophu's avatar

Therapy is a just punishment.

TexasDude's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir, people have tried to justify these deaths to you? Wow… barbarians.

muppetish's avatar

They should be tried for manslaughter. The degree of bullying that occurs daily is disgusting.

Has anyone been following the It Gets Better Project on YouTube? In light of all the negative headlines, I am glad that there are positive groups out there that are trying to reach out to those who need it.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Have them raped in public by Mr slave and put the video online.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Some prison time would be appropriate in my view.

@zophu : Therapy is not adequate punishment for invading someone’s privacy and then broadcasting the results to the millions of viewers in cyberspace.

TexasDude's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir, those same people can get bent.

chyna's avatar

This needs to be addressed so that it does not happen again. I don’t know the answer, whether it is jail time for the asshole who did the bullying or more awareness and punishment at the level it is known that bullying is happening. It makes me sick and heartbroken for the children that are dying for no real reason other than they have no where to turn.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@chyna You know, I don’t even know how to advertise this but I always think ‘how can I let teens like this in NYC know that they can come to my home on the very day they feel they’re going to end it?’...

chyna's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I wish there was a way for you to do that. Damn, I’m crying again, thinking of those kids. I feel the same way. I think I could help them, let them know they are worth so much and that “this too shall pass.”

zophu's avatar

@hawaii_jake It wont scare others into not doing the same, if that’s what you mean. But it might help these two not do something like it again. Also, there’s more opportunity for learning about how to treat the cause of these things if therapy is used before psychologically breaking them with further shame and isolation.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@chyna Forget it, as I told @hawaii_jake , I’ve been bawling all evening.

Coloma's avatar

I’m with @zophu

The only way out of the darkness is through enlightenment.

They will suffer their Karma in their own time, and, what a burden to carry, the ‘punishment’ is already in process.

judochop's avatar

Make them write a check for one dollar to the family every day for the rest of their lives. In the memo field they have to keep track of the number of days he has been dead.

zophu's avatar

I don’t know about karma, but I know that harmful punishment is obsolete at best. I guess it could have an affect on society, but only as a threatening example. It seems wrong to sacrifice people’s humanity in order to make examples of them. I think it drives things underground more than it prevents them, an out-of-sight-out-of-mind thing.

edit: Not that that isn’t better than letting things run rampant, but if we keep things in the light, they can be better analyzed and learned from.

john65pennington's avatar

Involuntary manslaughter.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

At this same time of year 12 years ago in Laramie, Wyoming, 18-year-old Matthew Shepard was heinously pistol whipped, beaten, tied to a fence outside town, and left for dead. That was the night of October 6 and 7, 1998. He died in a Denver hospital on October 12.

That murder directly impacted my life. I came out of the closet 2 months later.

The national outcry was tremendous. The murderers were caught, and it was plainly revealed they killed Matthew simply because he was gay. One of the murderers said in his own words that he set out that night to beat up a gay person.

One of the best things to come out of the murder was the stage play and later movie The Laramie Project. It allowed people all over the world to hear the voices of real citizens of Laramie.

Eleven years later, The Laramie Project 10 Years Later: an Epilogue was staged on the same date in 5 different countries and in every state in the US. It was the largest theatrical undertaking of its kind ever. I was one of the actors who played several roles in the Hawaii contribution to the event.

What the epilogue revealed was that, over time, the community came to deny responsibility for the crime despite the facts that are part of the court record. They began to believe lies about the murder. One of the most prevalent lies had to do with drug involvement in the murder. People believed it was a drug deal gone bad. The truth outlined in the court records was that no one had any drugs in their systems. Yet people believe it.

One of my roles in the epilogue was a professor of sociology at the University of Wyoming, and he had many interesting things to say about the collective denial. Most importantly, he said it was a natural phenomenon for people to go back to believing that such a murder couldn’t take place “in our town.” The role was taken from interviews conducted with a real professor (whose name escapes me at the moment). These were not the words of a playwright.

My fear is that the outcry over the recent spate of suicides linked to bullying of LGBT young people will follow the same route. If real change is not implemented in our schools and colleges and universities and places of employment, the bullying and the deaths will continue. We’ve got to have change at the person-to-person level enabling everyone to see the value of LGBT people. It’s got to start now. One more death is too many.

These deaths affect me personally. As a gay man, I grew up surrounded by vicious hatred that I am still trying to extinguish from my soul. Places that taught “God is love,” simultaneously told me that I was not worthy of that love or of god’s grace simply because I am gay.

Homophobia has to stop.

Randy's avatar

Before I just grab my torch and pitchfork to follow the lynch mob here, I have to think about the situation.

If you’re going to be ashamed later about something, especially to the point that you’re going to kill yourself over it, then you shouldn’t be doing whatever it is in the first place. This entire planet would be better off if people didn’t try to keep things “in the closet”. Of course for that to happen, people would have to quit picking on others for being different and of course for that to end, people will have to quit giving a fuck what other people think about them.

I think both parties are to blame so I’m mixed on what should happen to the fellows who posted the video.

In a way, the punks should be severely punished for causing the mental harm they did that drove the young man to kill himself. It takes a sad person to destroy another human to that degree. Jokes are fun but some lines can’t be crossed without consequences.

On the other hand, I feel NO sympathy for the suicide guy… NONE! He should have thought about the consequences before he went through with his actions. I mean, if he’s that worried about people thinking he’s gay, then he shouldn’t be engaging in homosexual activities. I would think that would be obvious. Also, he made the choice to kill himself over this. There are tons of homosexuals who have to go through worse than that young man ever would have had to. His actions were extreme and his own choosing. He made all his choices himself. Life is precious and imo never worth taking, including your own. There are people killed everyday who have no say in their death and I’m certain if we could ask them, they would have loved to have had that young man’s opportunities. Sorry, I just don’t have any sympathy for anyone that takes their life this day and age.

Manslaughter is waaaay too severe of a punishment here. Manslaughter is defined as homicide without malice aforethought. Homicide is basically another word for murder. These boys didn’t kill him. He killed himself. They didn’t know that their actions would push this kid to suicide. They didn’t kill him by being negligent. They didn’t kill him by being homophobic. Hell, they didn’t even kill him at all. HE killed himself because HE was homophobic and worried about what people would think about his secret actions.

My final thoughts:
They should be punished to a degree. In my opinion they should be considered accessories but not murderers. They had less to do with the murder than the “victim”. If it were up to me, they would be kicked out all classes immediately, stripped of any and all financial aid and maybe serve a short term in a county jail.

crisw's avatar


“He should have thought about the consequences before he went through with his actions”

He was an adult having sex in the privacy of his own room. Are you seriously stating that anyone who doesn’t want their sex life on YouTube shouldn’t have sex?

crisw's avatar

By he way, has everyone reading this seen Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project?

Trillian's avatar

@Randy and anyone else, just a thought here but I wonder what the young man’s upbringing was like. It seems to me that there are a lot of young people out there who are brought up as quite overindulged by their parents, never shown any limits or boundaries. They are not taught that someimes the answer is “no”. They are taught to think that whatever they want, they are entitled to.
I noticed a lot of this attitude when I was stationed at a training base in Gulfpot, MS. Lots of youngsters away from home for the first time and completely unprepared for having to follow rules and be accountable for their actions. Thre were many who could not take it and “faked” a psych to get out of being in the navy. There were even some who had real episodes complete with self destruction attempts and physical violence towarde others.
I do not say that this was the case here, I have no way of knowing, The perpetrators in question are something to think about too. One wonders how they were raised, if they have the parents who think that their every whim should be indulged and should be allowed to do whatever they want in the name of “expressing” themselves. It would be interesting to find ou. Clearly the young men had no empathy for the sufferig of another human being that they were causing. I would love to get my hands on psychological profiles of all three of them.
Because this, to me anyway, is indicative of a much lager societal problem here.

Randy's avatar

@crisw Obviously it wasn’t in any sort of privacy if it was captured on video. And look at how often things of this nature get out. That right there should be enough to tell people that private things have a way of quickly becoming UN-private. Like anything else, if you’re not prepared for the consequences, no matter how serious they can be, then don’t engage in the activity, even if you think what you’re doing is private. Besides, there are MUCH better ways to handle a situation like that other than killing yourself.

@Trillian That’s an interesting question. But still, everyone gets hit with life at some point. How someone was raised doesn’t excuse them from responsibilities and consequences in my opinion. That boy’s parents may have failed him but that doesn’t excuse his actions of taking his own life.

I agree that there are some serious problems with all parties involved. Things were taken to extremes on both sides.

@crisw I do like that link. I wish more people would reach out and find tools like that when they feel suicidal urges.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Randy : I have every right to expect my privacy to be respected. The dead man is not the one on trial here. It is the persons who surreptitiously recorded his private moments. They are the ones to be punished. Yet you are blaming the dead man. You are blaming the victim. What audacity!

I don’t care if a person lives in a glass house. Privacy is a right.

jca's avatar

@Randy : you said “Obviously it wasn’t in any sort of privacy if it was captured on video.” I believe the roommate left a computer with a camera in the dorm room, and the guy on camera did not know it was on camera. if someone put a camera in my room, and i did not know it was there, it would be “private” as far as I was concerned. As far as saying “you shouldn’t be doing whatever it is in the first place” I don’t know about you, but i would not want any sex act I am engaged in broadcast on the internet. Probably the majority of people would feel the same way about their sex lives. Does that mean the majority of people should not have sex?

crisw's avatar


The victim did not know he was being taped. If I hide a camera in your bedroom and then broadcast the video on YouTube, are you seriously saying that you would be at fault?

nikipedia's avatar

At the risk of being unsympathetic, I think the punishment should fit the crime. These people are guilty of invading someone’s privacy and of embarrassing him publicly, but neither of those warrants the kind of punishment that manslaughter does.

Randy's avatar

@hawaii_jake, @jca, @crisw First off, I’m not saying that it’s his fault that he was taped. I am saying that it’s his fault for being ashamed enough to kill himself. Homosexual behavior and sex for that matter is NOT a shameful activity. That boy took it to an extreme that it never should have went to. He could have and should have handled the situation in a much better way.

He had a right to be upset but not to kill himself. I would have been very sympathetic for this young man had he not killed himself. It’s a shitty thing that those boys did. They took advantage of his secret. But a dorm room is not a private place. It’s housing for strangers who share living space and bathrooms. If you’re going to engage in private activities that you’re ashamed of, you should at least find a place that you’re certain is private. He took a big risk and it backfired on him. He isn’t responsible for the taping or putting it out there but he is responsible for his actions and how he handled the situation. He made it much more worse than it was or needed to be so I have no sympathy.

I personally think that people shouldn’t engage in activities that they find to be shameful. Change your mind set or change your actions or you are going to end up badly hurt at some point. People do deserve privacy but eventually someone is going to find out about secrets. Very rarely does a secret stay a secret. Especially when more than one person is involved. It’s even harder to keep secrets about life choices. We’ve all regretted doing things but if what we were doing wasn’t shameful in our mind, then it wouldn’t be a big deal. What he did was only shameful to him.

I’m not putting the kid on trial here. I’m just pointing out that his actions were his own choosing. The guys who posted the video shouldn’t be held responsible for his death. But I’m not completely defending them either… They should be punished but not to the degree of manslaughter. They didn’t kill him. They bullied him. Privacy is a luxury and people need to be sure they have it before they engage in activities that they will be ashamed of later.

zannajune's avatar

I feel very uncertain about what the punishment should be. I agree entirely that what the roommate did was wrong. But the thing I struggle with is that this gay man did choose himself to take his own life. No one murdered him because he was gay. I won’t deny that what the roommate did probably pushed him towards this. But still, it was his choice to jump.

It’s just difficult to understand how something like this should be handled. Life is full of so many complicated situations.

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