You’ve probably heard about the issue with Dharun Ravi: he was the Rutgers U. student who used a webcam to spy on his roommate, Tyler Clementi, having homosexual sex. Clementi later disappeared, then was found to have committed suicide. Ravi’s trial has started
(Seattle PI) Early witnesses testified that Ravi expressed discomfort about having a gay roommate, but they didn’t know him to have a problem with gay people generally.
His attitude matters in the trial because the 15 charges Ravi faces include bias intimidation, which can carry a 10-year prison sentence. To get a conviction on that charge, prosecutors must persuade jurors that Ravi acted out of bias against gays.
Ravi also is charged with invasion of privacy. And he is accused of trying to cover his tracks by taking measures including deleting a Twitter message and instructing a witness what to tell police. He is not charged with Clementi’s death.
Now, make no mistake about it, what Ravi did was pretty darned mean. But, essentially, he is being charged with a thought crime (bias intimidation), which could land him in jail for 10 years on that charge alone. You can peruse Google News for hate crimes, and see much the same thing: people being charged for having improper thoughts. People can receive long prison sentences for essentially be a**holes.
Why do I bring this up? I’ve actually been thinking about this most of the day, as KC and Carmen were discussing it on the Morning Rush (106.1 Raleigh), as was Jason Lewis. 10 years for thought crimes. And, this makes me wonder: Ravi is no threat to society, he was simply a young man who did something seriously a**holish, yet, could be put in a dangerous jail with hardcore criminals. Meanwhile, there are people in government who allowed guns to walk across the border into Mexico without alerting the Mexican authorities, and did not track those guns.
Those guns were put in the hands of hardcore criminals and criminal enterprises, and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Mexicans, possibly people from other countries, and at least two US citizens, Border Agent Brian Terry and Jaime Zapata, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Yet, the people responsible for Operation Fast and Furious are facing no criminal charges (at this time). Were it you or me, we’d be facing, at a minimum, illegal gun trafficking/gun running and accessory to murder charges. The government of Mexico would want you or me extradited. We’d be looking at spending the rest of our lives in jail.
Alas, the people responsible for F&F will more than likely not even be charged. And will get a nice little pension and high paying lobbyist jobs when they leave office. Yet, Ravi is looking at a minimum of 10 years in prison for bad thoughts. What kind of bad thoughts put untracked guns in the hands of violent and murderous criminals? How’s that justice system working?