Today, Dharun Ravi walks out of jail after serving only 20 days. We’ll get to that in a moment. But first: In reporting Ravi’s release and that Ravi must now do community service to help the LGBT community, some news organizations are using the offensive term “alternative lifestyles.” They include journalists who know better, but are simply mimicking the phrase Judge Glenn Berman used during Ravi’s sentencing.
Journalists, please: LGBT people have a different sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression from the majority, not an “alternative lifestyle.” LGBT people fall in love, raise families, complain about taxes, and struggle to find parking at the mall like everyone else. Don’t use the term “alternative lifestyle.”
Now as for Ravi’s release, here’s my statement:
Dharun Ravi’s walk out of jail after only 20 days is practically a Monopoly game’s “get out of jail free” card – a travesty of justice.
Had Ravi gotten two years’ jail time, or a year – or heck, even six months –any of those would have better reflected a balance of crime and punishment without vengeance for the sake of vengeance. Instead, 20 days in jail was a fleeting and repugnant non-lesson for a young man who passed up nearly every chance to show remorse.
Given our view that Ravi’s 20 days in jail were way too light a sentence, how do we feel about the U.S. government’s decision not to deport him? We have opposed deportation because it would have gone to the other extreme. We are uncomfortable with the government’s using citizenship or residency status as a weapon against someone who has spent almost his entire life in the United States.
But again, that does not take away from our bottom line: A mere 20 days in jail for Dharun Ravi, engineered by powerhouse lawyers and a publicity machine few others in his position could ever afford, is a travesty of justice. Our thoughts continue to be, and must be, with Tyler Clementi’s family.