It is never a good thing when a young person dies. It is never a cause for celebration when someone is murdered. It should be a cautionary tale for the rest of the world to be vigilant to prevent such tragedy from happening. We should never vilify the victim of a murder to excuse the actions of the murderer. A young man was driven to a bridge and thrown over to fall to his death. His murderer should face the full wrath of society for his actions. But what if the murderer is the victim? What if the person committing this foul act, this great tragedy was the person who died? Who do we blame for this crime?
Simple. We blame the murderer. If a man breaks into your house and takes your spouse and drives to the edge of a cliff and tosses your spouse to his or her death, would you not want justice? Would you not scream for vengeance? To take any life is a crime in any society and in any faith. No religion tolerates the taking of a life, and no government condones it outside of war or capital punishment. Yet, we soften our stance when the murderer is the victim. Why?
Society has built a “victim-centric” system of governance where no one accepts the blame and no one accepts responsibility for their own actions. That murderer who would take your spouse and toss him/her over a cliff will weave a sad, sad tale of woe wherein he was beaten and neglected as a child, he has a learning disability, some medical condition that require treatment he cannot afford. If only society had helped him, then he wouldn’t have committed the crime.
If only society had helped.
The Rutgers University student, Tyler Clementi, who threw himself from the George Washington bridge committed murder, just as if he had thrown a fellow student from the bridge. He decided to take a life—granted it was his own, but that does not mitigate the criminal act. He planned the act, committed the act with the intention of killing his victim.
But wait! Someone else is to blame, right? His roommate outed the poor fellow as gay by uploading a video of the man engaging in gay sex to the internet. Surely the roommate is to blame for this death, right? No, he is not. He is guilty of any number of other crimes dealing with invasion of privacy, illegal access to a computer network and other similar charges, but he did not commit murder. He did not commit homicide. He had no way of knowing that taking the video would result in death. It would not be a logical conclusion.
Should the roommate have done this? Of course not. Should he be punished? Indeed he should and it should be severe. But let’s not let the real murderer get off scot free. Clementi may have been depressed, he may have been despondent, he may have felt like he had no other choice, but he did. Prisons are filled with desperate people who felt like they had no other choice. Clementi could have sought counseling. He could have turned to his church, his family, his close friends. He chose not to. He chose to take God’s greatest gift and toss it away.
Ellen Degeneres pleaded for something to be done and cited 4 cases of student suicide and called it a crisis. It is a crisis, but not in the way she meant. It is a crisis that our society is created a generation of kids who have never had to strive against great adversity to achieve. They have had life handed to them and have been excused of any responsibility, so they do not have the strength to see them through difficult times.
It doesn’t matter why Clementi did it. Many are calling for this case to be treated as a hate crime. It is not. He was hazed. People have been hazed for generations. Kids have teased other kids for being different, whether a different race, a different sex, a different religion or what-have-you from the dawn of man. It is part of the socialization process. It is a learning process that must take its course. We cannot legislate it away. We cannot prosecute it away. Granted, some kids take things too far, such as this case, and there should be penalties for those instances. But the overall process is intrinsic to society and it takes a certain strength of character to emerge from that a better person, and in that, there is some value.
I was hazed as a child. As a teen, I faced many tough days at the hands of my peers. I was called all sorts of names, had eggs smashed over my head, my lunch stolen, books knocked from my hand, clothes torn, and got into fights. I did not enjoy one moment of it. I hated life on those days. There were times I wished I was dead. But I credit those times for the man I am today. Those times gave me strength to see me through what adult life throws my way.
We take the tough things in life and try to eliminate them. Kids no longer play sports to win because it is too painful to lose. Now they don’t even try. People no longer apply themselves at work, no longer strive to excel because we’ve been told that everyone should be equal, and bosses do not want to be perceived as playing favorites. This is backward thinking. We have to have difficulties in our life. We must have challenges to rise above. If we do not, then we become weak and pitiful. If we fail to strive out of fear of the pain of failure, then we will never know the exultation of victory. We lose our love of life, and life no longer has meaning.
Suicide is never the answer. It is a coward’s way out of a problem and it brings pain and grief to loved ones left behind and leaves a stain on society. It is also a great sin and an insult to God. It is a crime just as egregious as murder, and should be thought of as such. Mourn the loss of a young man who was full of potential if you will. I will not. He chose his path and committed a foul crime that deserves punishment, not pity.