Tag Archives: the real story


Dharun Ravi at trial. File photo, AP.

It’s time again to talk about bullies.

Yesterday, a jury in New Jersey found former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi guilty of most of the 15 counts against him, including anti-gay intimidation, a hate crime. Ravi is the former roommate of the late Tyler Clementi, who jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after learning that Ravi was using a webcam to view his encounters with other men. Clementi was gay.

Now Ravi is a convicted felon, facing at least a few years of jail time and possibly deportation to his native India after he serves that time. When a firm nationwide policy of zero tolerance arrives for the bullies — and it now seems it will — it will probably look like this. Continue reading


The Message in the Silence

For this relief much thanks; ’tis bitter cold
And I am sick at heart.
Hamlet (1.1), Francisco to Barnardo

Question: what does a good American do when she feels terrible?

I knew the answer, and that for me it was different. Let me repeat that: I knew my answer. But I wanted not to know it. On the side of not-wanting, I knew that I would meet with support. So I went there instead.

My father had a heart attack in late January of this year. He survived, but it was frightening to Mom, and to my sister and brother and me, when we saw him. The doctors said he was better. A terrible shock, they said. They released my Dad from the hospital in early February. But something was wrong. Dad was sick. He had been for a long time, we knew. This was something worse.

As my mother and he began to confront his convalescence together in March, I fell into my own deep darkness. Inexperienced, I called it depression.

Doctors, good ones, had diagnosed me with depression before. I have had several major “episodes” since my twenties. I believe these were real, and that at least one of them responded to treatment. The darkness of March felt somehow old (I think now that it’s been there for years), and familiar enough for me to seek the classic measures. In this country, those measures are drugs. Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Neil Postman

Neil Postman — writer, cultural critic, thoughtful guy — would have been 80 years old today. In his memory, and because memory is important, I am asking you to read his son’s appeal on DayRiffer.

Neil Postman wrote that line. Accept no substitutes.

Most of what I have written in my life now belongs to corporations (the bastards!), or to all of you; I have always been either a paid consultant or a blogger. So this is in no way a selfish appeal.

Neil Postman, unlike me, had important things to say about childhood; about humanity itself. If we lose sight of these things, we risk forgetting what it is about us that is special: what is most worth remembering, if you will.

Happy birthday, Mr. Postman. And belated thanks.

Why The Heart?

Jane Seymour's "Open Hearts" line.

I am really not a fan of the heart.

Here is the problem with the human heart, and its use as a symbol around this time every year: it has everything to do with life, but almost nothing to do with love. The organ in charge of love is the same one that manages the children, the mortgage, and the checkbook: the brain.

Human beings are a species of the highest order. Love, as we play it out among our lovers, friends, and families, is a very complex and delicate thing. So why do we consign it to that poor southern organ? The dumb one, the one that beats and beats, and clogs, and finally breaks?

We don’t even draw it correctly. Look at this:

Where’s the ascending aorta in that? Continue reading

It’s Not Them, It’s Me

I listened to President Barack Obama’s speech in Tucson last night — after reading it online.  I’ll admit it:  I cried.

Naturally.  The words he used last night hit all of my cognitive reward centers:  humility, empathy, listening, love, family, children, partner, future, better, community, hope.

Hope.  Barack Obama always did have me at hope.  I elected this man because I knew he would be the Dad In Chief:  the leader who is also a father, one who continues to aspire to the hopes and dreams of his own (and indeed all) children.

I loved the President’s speech.  I wanted to celebrate it.  So I went to Wordle, and made an image of the most frequently used words in the full text of the speech.

This is lovely enough, but it is not what I remember.  Where is empathyHumility?  Why isn’t hope bigger? Continue reading

This Is Who They (We?) Are.

United States of America, meet some of the people you consider your leaders.

GOP Senate Majority Leader Eric Cantor:

[I] have deep concerns that some, DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen and DNC Chairman Tim Kaine in particular, are dangerously fanning the flames by suggesting that [threats of violence against Democratic leaders during the 2009-10 health care reform hearings] incidents be used as a political weapon.

Eric Cantor, March 2010

Michele Bachmann, R-MN:

I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue [of the energy tax] because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us ‘having a revolution every now and then is a good thing’, and the people — we the people — are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country.

Michele Bachmann, March 2009 Continue reading

The Bullies Respond (and Continue)

Crowds don't show up with candles for Bullies.

This just in:  Soon-to-be-former Rutgers student (and Bully) Molly Wei feels bad.

Not for the young man, Tyler Clementi, she helped to kill.  For herself.

Molly feels “attacked”.  She has said as much to People Magazine, which, far as I can see, is where people who consider themselves famous go when they have (1) lost weight, or (2) a complaint to air.

She feels so bad for herself that she hired the partners of a local law firm to release a statement last week, telling the whole world how “wonderful” Molly Wei is.

PR 101:  when lawyers have to release a statement describing you as wonderful, it tends to have the opposite effect.  This is comparable to having legal counsel state, “we are happy and the rumors are untrue”, when no one has seen you and the person who supposedly makes you happy together in the same place for six months.

But all of this is beside the point.  The attacked (but wonderful) Molly Wei seems to have graduated from high school without learning what it is that you do when you create a situation like this.  Will she?  Not, evidently, with “friends” like this.

In the meantime, Molly’s Bully-buddy Dharun Ravi (who may now have to deal with additional charges, under NJ state law) released his own statement, again through a lawyer, on the same day.  At least his statement acknowledged the death of his roommate; appropriate, because he is responsible for it.

(View at least part of the evidence against Dharun here.)

Here is the deal, soon-to-be-expelled Bullies of Rutgers.  This is a bad moment to even seem to be an anti-gay bully.  In affiliating yourselves as such, you place yourselves in league with these lovely people — not tough or smart enough to be real gang members, but edgy enough to put together a name for what they thought they were:  The Latin King Goonies. Continue reading