Monday, October 04, 2010


Maybe by now, you've read about the tragic death of Tyler Clementi, and maybe, if you're unfortunate, or have your ear to the ground for that sort of thing, you've discovered some of our more glib morality police gloating over it. I'm not sure why it's getting to me specifically--this miserable world doesn't lack for unjust death, so much of it already inflicted with my alleged citizen's consent. It is probably a matter of identification: I have always loathed bullies, and this poor Clementi kid, I can sense his pain. On the other hand, I remember college pretty well, and otherwise decent kids can be monsters absent any real life experience and without knowing many people outside their high school clique, and no one's worse than young people (or young straight white guys) this way. I don't think I'd have done this thing to anyone, but I can look back and extrapolate myself to either side of the situation.

It's where my own thoughts keep leading. I'm not that old, but I can tell you that when I tally up my life, I really cherish some of those early sexual explorations, those too-rare times with mutually interested partners, respectful of or equal to my own inexperience. (I don't think I'm alone in that. There are entire music genres that exist to celebrate the first kiss with Suzy under the bleachers, narrow a script as that may be.) And when I look back at the times when I've caused people shame they didn't deserve, didn't deal with them enough as individuals, or those times when I was just a dick, and that's what I most regret, the moments I'd take back if I could. I think this is a fairly typical life experience.

[Often, I want to defend immaturity at that age. It's a rational response to the relentlessly patronizing authority of college institutions. In-jokes and self-inflicted misery can be funny too, as well as certain breeds of mayhem, and I hold that all fondly. But there are lines and responsibilities even then, and it's easy to play really close to them.]

And what's so fucked up about our society is that it has it exactly backwards. The assholes aggrandize themselves and get away with it, and the innocent are humiliated to the point of suicide. The roommate will deeply regret this, if he doesn't already. Maybe Vox and Alex will live long enough to develop a shred of empathy too, who knows. In the meantime, what the fuck? We were all immature at some point, to some degree or other, but why does immaturity rule the goddamn world?

[Added: I see that Ed at Gin and Tacos has a similar take, and covers it better.]


MichaelRyerson said...


Keifus said...


Anonymous said...

I feel this issue deals with the broader issue of bullying rather than just sexual preference that the media is focusing on in this case. Many kids have attempted suicide and died as the result in some cases and have not been homosexual. Children have been bullying forever and probably everyone has seen it going on or may have even taken part in it at some point in time. The victims,whether they have red hair and freckles,overweight, or wear braes or combination of all three(gay included) need to feel that they are accepted at home. No matter what other people are saying about them. Building childs self esteem and giving them the confidence is the key to deal with everyday life issues. There's so much more to life and this too shall pass.

Keifus said...

Well, bullying was definitely my point of purchase. There was a kid around here who committed suicide due to, actually, a similarly played-out heterosexual variety of bullying and it's been big news. One difference: not much gloating about it in the case Phoebe Prince, and I had the misfortune to read a couple of vultures saying, from their comfortable perches, that Tyler Clementi brought it on himself. I disagree.

(Another difference is that she was a minor. I am sure we could find nasty characters like that who would happily blame a female victim otherwise.)