A Millean view on: Gay teen commits suicide after cyber bullying scandal
Tyler Clementi was an accomplished eighteen year old violinist starting his freshman year at Rutgers’ Piscataway University. His roommate, Dharun Ravi is also an eighteen year old freshman. Dharun Ravi and his classmate Molly Wei are facing up to five years in jail for violation of privacy. Ravi and Wei videotaped Tyler having sex with another male in their dorm room and uploaded the video to YouTube. Due to extreme embarrassment, Tyler took his own life by proceeding to jump off the George Washington Bridge.
As students are becoming more open about their sexuality, schools have turned a blind eye on the bullying of gays. According to Mental Health Care America, gays and lesbians are two to three times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts due to the high stress and prejudice that surrounds them. I wondered what Mill would have to say concerning this case of freedom of expression and whether Dharun should be charged with a violation of privacy or a different sentence.
Mill would argue that Dharun has reached a level of maturity to take responsibility for his own actions and he has harmed another through embarrassment and indirectly had a hand in his suicide. Mill proposed a harm principle to limit the amount of freedom such as
“if he deteriorates his bodily or mental faculties, he not only brings evil upon all who depended on him for any portion of their happiness, but disqualifies himself for rendering the services which he owes to his fellow creatures generally.” (651)
Dharun not only harmed the innocent boy but the family members who depended on him for their happiness and comfort.
This news story is not only heartbreaking but a wakeup call to active facebook, twitter, and YouTube users. It seems like the internet grants us complete freedom of expression to post our opinions, update our statuses, and videos. But in light of this case, people should always be cautious of the content they are posting. Their opinions, videos, and posts can harm large groups of people and have drastic effects. Individuals can learn from the Tyler Clementi case that they can be held responsible for not only the content posted but also their posts can be so damaging emotionally, it could ultimately lead someone to their death.