Wake up, America

On Sept. 22, Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. Two of his peers, Dharaun Ravi and Molly Wei, broadcasted his sexual encounter with a man online. Many call this a hate crime.

While I deeply loathe the two students who did this, I don’t see this as a hate crime, per se. It seems that their actions were done more out of ignorance than anything else. Ravi and Wei never thought that outing this young man to millions of viewers might hurt him.

I don’t think they didn’t hate Clementi. They thought it would be a laughable prank. In their denseness, it never occurred to them just how harmful their actions would be. How traumatic this invasion of privacy would be. Or how much it would cost a young man who had just begun to live.

Although many people who didn’t know Clementi deeply mourn his loss, myself included, this form of ignorance is a growing trend.

“Grey’s Anatomy” star Isaiah Washington flippantly called his gay co-star a ‘faggot.’ He then claimed to have learned his lesson that using such a despicable term was wrong. But weeks later, he repeated it on national television.

50 cent recently posted a comment on Twitter saying “If you a man and your over 25 and you don’t eat pu**y just kill your self damn it. The world would be a better place. Lol.” While the “lol” may indicate that 50 cent thought his comment was funny, as a celebrity he has a large influence on young adults. Yet, he has no idea just how damaging his words, even said in jest, could be.

When I hear “hate crime” I think of the cruel Nazis and the despicable Ku Klux Klan. Ravi, Wei,Washington, and even 50 cent just don’t seem to fit into that category of pure hatred.

With all of our knowledge in psychology, sociology, and the presence of so many gay rights activists, why is there still such an enormous amount of insensitivity?

It has a lot to do with our society. As much as we’d like to say that America has progressed to a state of ‘freedom for all,’ the reality is, we just aren’t there, guys. The repeated slams against Proposition 8 and gay rights in the military prove that.

Even the law hasn’t caught up to the times. Ravi and Wei might only get a maximum of five years in prison. What is this telling our country? It’s saying that the law doesn’t take this type of crime seriously either. My cousin received more time Driving Under the Influence.

Want to stop young people from dying? Start by educating the public. Tell them that being homosexual isn’t a punch line. It’s not funny to put an embarrassing video of them out there. And it’s not okay to think that they’re different. We are the only species on the planet that has the ability to know right from wrong. It’s about time we started acting like it.

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