Some might say that Dharun Ravi, the 20-year-old defendant from Rutgers University, got off easy this week. Ravi faced 10 years in prison after being convicted of 15 counts — including invasion of privacy, intimidation, and anti-gay bias — related to the suicide death of his roommate, Tyler Clementi. But on Monday, a New Jersey judge wisely sentenced Ravi to 30 days in prison, along with probation, counseling, and 300 hours of community service. It seems unlikely that Ravi will now be deported to India, where he hasn’t lived since he was a young child.
While Ravi’s sentence is light, it also is just. Yes, what he did, in September 2010, was offensive: He used a webcam to watch Clementi kissing another man, then tweeted about it. Yes, his actions may have been a factor in Clementi’s death: Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge not long after reading Ravi’s tweets. But Ravi was likely one of many forces that contributed to Clementi’s despondency. And e-mails and testimony at trial suggested their relationship was more nuanced and far less antagonistic than initial press accounts suggested. At Ravi’s sentencing, Judge Glen Berman said he had “acted out of colossal insensitivity,” but not hate.