The Daily Agenda for Monday, May 21

Jim Burroway

May 21st, 2012

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Dharun Ravi to be Sentenced: Trenton, NJ. Dharun Ravi, the Rutgers University roommate who cyber-spied on his roommate Tyler Clementi just before Clementi killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge, was convicted in March of invasion of privacy, witness tampering, tampering with evidence, and hindering prosecution, but was found innocent of eleven of the fifteen bias intimidation charges. He could face as much as ten years in prison, and he could also be deported to India after serving his sentence. The media case against his is straightforward: Ravi bullied Clementi, and Clementi killed himself as a result. The actual real-world facts of the case, as is often true in the real world, are much more complicated, which is why those who ask for leniency in Ravi’s sentencing include many prominent gay rights advocates. Some point out that Ravi may be punished for Clementi’s suicide despite his neither being charged nor convicted of it.

“You’re making an example of Ravi in order to send a message to other people who might be bullying, to schools and parents and to prosecutors who have not considered this a crime before,” said Marc Poirier, a law professor at Seton Hall University who is gay and has written about hate-crimes legislation. “That’s a function of criminal law, to condemn as general deterrence. But I think this is a fairly shaky set of facts on which to do it.”

In an op-ed article in The Star-Ledger of Newark this month, Jim McGreevey, who resigned as New Jersey’s governor after declaring himself “a gay American,” argued that Mr. Ravi’s conviction “showed how far we have traveled from the hateful, homophobic past.”

“The criminal justice system worked, this time for a gay victim,” Mr. McGreevey wrote. “But there was something disquieting about the prospect of retributive punishment being meted out on behalf of a gay young man.”

Mr. McGreevey, who now counsels prisoners, argued that jail time would neither rehabilitate nor send a message. “Perhaps the long trail of gay history inevitably leads to this call for punishment,” he wrote, “but it need not.”

Others who raise questions about whether justice is truly being served in this case include Dan Savage, Out editor Aaron Hicklin, E.J. Graff, Andrew Sullivan and Tyler Clementi’s parents, who said that they wanted Ravi to be held accountable but not subject to a “harsh” punishment. Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality however is calling for jail time: “The moderate position is not to throw the book at this young man, nor should he get off Scott free.”

NAACP Press Conference on Marriage Equality: Baltimore, MD. On Saturday, the Board of Directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) approved a resolution supporting marriage equality for LGBT citizens. According to a press release, the NAACP chose to act “as a continuation of its historic commitment to equal protection under the law.” The NAACP will follow that today with a press conference featuring Board Char Roslyn M. Brock, President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, and representatives of the NAACP national board. The press conference will take place at the NAACP national headquarters in Baltimore beginning at 10:30 a.m.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
White Night: 1979. On this date, Dan White was found guilty in the shooting death of San Francisco Supervisor and LGBT advocate Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. Unfortunately, he was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter instead of first-degree murder, and sentenced to a paltry seven years in prison. (He would only serve five.) The jury bought the defense arguments that White was suffering from diminished capacity due to depression and an overload of junk food, a defense that has since been derided as the “twinkie defense.”

The gay community was already angry with the police and fire department, which had raised money for White’s defense. That anger boiled over when the verdict was announced, leading to rioting at City Hall. Police officers — their badges were covered with black tape to prevent identification — broke up the riot. Later that night, San Francisco police staged a retaliatory raid on a gay bar in the Castro, shouting “”dirty cocksuckers” and “sick faggots” while attacking patrons and shattering a large plate glass window. For the next two hours, police officers indiscriminately attacked passers by on the street. Later that night, a freelance reporter overheard a group of police officers celebrating at a downtown bar. “We were at City Hall the day [the killings] happened and we were smiling then,” one officer said. “We were there tonight and we’re still smiling.” Gay leaders refused to apologize for the riot at city hall, and an investigation into police misconduct in the Castro and City Hall ended without any charges being filed.

Wesleyan University Offers Specialized Transgender Housing: 2003. Wesleyan University of Middletown, Connecticut announced that it would become the first American college to offer special housing option to accomodate transgender students. Incoming freshmen will have the option of living in a new “gender-blind” floor of a dormitory without specifying their gender. According to the new university policy, those who choose to live in the gender-blind area “will be assigned a roommate without the consideration of gender.” Mike Whaley, dean of student services, estimated that there were twelve to fifteen transgender students on the 3,000 student campus. But after opposition and obstruction from other members of the administration, the transgender housing policy was very nearly scrapped a year later when the dean in charge of student housing refused to pair students who were not of the same “biological gender.” Finally, with input from mental health professionals and transgender advocates, a new policy was implemented in 2010.

CT Adds Gender Identity To Hate Crime Law: 2004. Connecticut governor John Rowland signs legislation which adds gender identity to the state’s hate crime law. The act makes Connecticut the eight state in the nation to provide hate crime protections for gender identity.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Raymond Burr: 1917. He started out as a stage actor, landing on Broadway in 1941 for Crazy with the Heat. It didn’t take long for him to switch to the silver screen for the film noir classic Raw Deal. He was adept at playing the heavies, as an aggressive prosecutor in A Place In the Son, and as the murder suspect in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. But he is best know for his two long-running television roles, in Perry Mason (1957-1966) and Ironside (1967 -1975). Like most gay actors, Burr rarely spoke about his private life. His official biography listed three marriages, but later investigations could only verify the second one. What has been verified is that Burr enjoyed a long 35-year relationship with his partner, Robert Benevides, who he met on the set of Perry Mason. Benevides was not only his life-long partner until Burr’s death in 1993, but together they owned an orchid business(orchids were one of Burr’s passions) and then a vineyard. Benevides still operates the the Raymond Burr vineyards.

Frank Kameny: 1925. Easily one of the giants of the American gay rights movement, Frank Kameny fell into it when he was fired from his job as an astronomer with the Army Map Service in 1957 because of his homosexuality. Kameny took on the U.S. Civil Service Commission and argued his appeal all the way up to the Supreme Court, which refused to hear his case. They missed out on quite case. Kameny wrote his own petition to the Supreme Court, in which he denounced the government’s ban on hiring gay people as “a stench in the nostrils of decent people, an offense against morality, an abandonment of reason, an affront to human dignity, an improper restraint upon proper freedom and liberty, a disgrace to any civilized society, and a violation of all that this nation stands for.”

Throughout his lifetime, Kameny placed himself in the middle of many first in the gay rights movement. He founded the Washington D.C. chapter of the Mattachine Society in 1961, a group which distinguished itself for its aggressiveness. In 1965. Kameny helped to organize the first gay rights protest in front the White House, the Pentagon, the U.S. Civil Service Commission, and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. In 1968, he created the slogan“Gay is Good,” and in 1971, he was the first openly gay candidate for Congress. During the same period, he was on the front lines of the battle to get the APA to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. The federal ban on hiring gay people was finally lifted in 1975.

Kameny has been recognized as a national treasure; his papers are now a part of the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian holds several of Kameny’s picket signs and other artifacts in its collection. His home is now recognized as a D.C. Historic Landmark, and in 2009, he received an official apology for his firing from the Office of Personnel Management. He passed away last October at the age of 86.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

Charles.Barr51

May 21st, 2012

“The federal ban on hiring gay people was finally lifted in 1975.” – That is something I did not know and is a shocker.

F Young

May 21st, 2012

“…was convicted in March of …but was found innocent of bias intimidation.”

Sorry to bring this up at the last minute, but I notice that you still maintain that Dharun Ravi was found NOT guilty of the bias intimidation charges, as you originally wrote in:
http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2012/03/16/42891

However, everything I have read elsewhere says that Ravi was found guilty of most of the serious (or in some reports, simply all the) bias intimidation charges:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2116006/Dharun-Ravi-trial-verdict-Tyler-Clementis-lover-speaks-Rutgers-student-guilty-spying.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/17/nyregion/defendant-guilty-in-rutgers-case.html?pagewanted=all

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/nyregion/Some-Gay-Rights-Advocates-Question-Rutgers-Sentencing.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&hp (page 1)

http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/16/justice/new-jersey-rutgers-trial/index.html

Could you explain why you characterize the verdict differently on this point?

I know, I know, this seems like a rather tall and tardy order on a busy morning, but I hadn’t noticed until now that you have not changed your characterization of the verdict.

I think it would be helpful for us to strive for some basic agreement on the verdict before discussing the appropriateness of the sentence.

Even in the best case scenario, I expect that the sentence will lead to a lengthy discussion based in large part on how we characterize the verdict.

Have you already explained this elsewhere? Or can you refer to somebody else’s article on this point?

Charles

May 21st, 2012

“During the same period, he was on the front lines of the battle to get the APA to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. The federal ban on hiring gay people was finally lifted in 1975.” Amazing that there was a federal ban in place until 1975 on hiring gays. Are you sure that is right?

F Young

May 21st, 2012

Since the editors appear to be out on this holiday in the USA, and my original comment was hung up in the moderation queue due to length, I’ll repost in two parts to get the discussion going on a preliminary point:

“…was convicted in March of …but was found innocent of bias intimidation.”

Sorry to bring this up at the last minute, but I notice that Jim maintains that Dharun Ravi was found NOT guilty of the bias intimidation charges, as Jim originally wrote in:
http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2012/03/16/42891

However, everything I have read elsewhere says that Ravi was found guilty of most of the serious (or in some reports, simply all the) bias intimidation charges:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2116006/Dharun-Ravi-trial-verdict-Tyler-Clementis-lover-speaks-Rutgers-student-guilty-spying.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/17/nyregion/defendant-guilty-in-rutgers-case.html?pagewanted=all

(continued)

customartist

May 21st, 2012

Straights harrass Gays to the point of extreme distress, and THEN they blame Gays.

This misplaced blame has become glaringly transparent.

Ravi’s actions lead to Tyler’s distress.

F Young

May 21st, 2012

(continuation)

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/nyregion/Some-Gay-Rights-Advocates-Question-Rutgers-Sentencing.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&hp (page 1)

http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/16/justice/new-jersey-rutgers-trial/index.html

Could anyone suggest an explanation why Jim characterized the verdict differently on this point?

I know this seems like a rather tall and tardy order, but I hadn’t noticed the discrepancy until now.

I think it would be helpful for us to strive for some basic agreement on the verdict before discussing the appropriateness of the sentence.

Even in the best case scenario, I expect that the sentence will lead to a lengthy discussion based in large part on how we characterize the verdict.

Has this already been explained elsewhere? Or can anyone refer me to somebody else’s article on this point?

F Young

May 21st, 2012

(continuation 2)

The sentencing hearing is reportedly being broadcast live on ABC.
http://abcnews.go.com/US/rutgers-trial-dharun-ravi-make-statement-sentencing/story?id=16394014

This is live commentary at TruTV:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxI7F-cLAEs

This is live video from the New York Times:
http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/former-rutgers-student-to-be-sentenced-in-hate-crime/

(continued)

F Young

May 21st, 2012

(continuation 3)

Here are status updates from USAToday:
http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2012/05/sentencing-hearing-this-morning-in-rutgers-suicide-case/1

There is a twitter feed compilation on the sentencing hearing here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/21/dharun-ravi-sentence_n_1532771.html

I am impressed by the sheer amount of national coverage.

Jim Burroway

May 21st, 2012

F Young,

I found this breakdown of charges and verdicts.

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/03/ravi_webcam_trial_verdict.html

He was found not guilty for elevenr of fifteen bias counts. I have updated the post accordingly and apologize for the error.

Since the editors appear to be out on this holiday in the USA…

We have full time jobs. Sorry if we can’t jump every time someone tries to comment.

F Young

May 21st, 2012

Thanks for the link. So, it appears that you are more accurate than the New York Times, which said Ravi was found guilty of the 15 bias intimidation charges.

I assumed you were out because of the Memorial Day weekend, which is supposed to be a paid holiday.

Thanks for the update.

F Young

May 21st, 2012

According to Huffington Post, Ravi was sentenced to 30 days jail time, slated to start on May 31.

In addition, “…Berman ordered Ravi to receive three years of probation, perform 300 hours of community service, undergo counseling and pay a $10,000 fine that will go to an organization providing assistance to victims of bias crimes.”

“The judge also recommended that Ravi not be deported.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/21/dharun-ravi-sentenced-to-_n_1532614.html

Timothy Kincaid

May 22nd, 2012

F Young,

Memorial Day is next Monday, May 28th.

So, it appears that you are more accurate than the New York Times, which said Ravi was found guilty of the 15 bias intimidation charges.

And they are paid to report the news. It’s kinda sad.

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