Joseph Bui


In the aftermath of Tyler Clementi’s tragic suicide, many called for the imprisonment and deportation of the young man they found to be responsible: his roommate, Dharun Ravi. Ravi briefly viewed and publicly ridiculed Clementi’s romantic encounters with another man. Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge shortly after. Punishing Ravi became a rallying cry for many progressive-minded people who believed that imprisoning and deporting Ravi would promote civil rights.

This Article complicates that narrative. Punishing non-citizens uniquely harshly for hate and bias offenses does not advance the goals of hate crime legislation. It subverts those goals. The disproportionate attention on Dharun Ravi and the South Asian community allows homegrown homophobia to go unchecked. The calls to deport and criminalize non-citizens feed into narratives that facilitate hate-motivated violence against people of color and the LGBT community. And the renewed tensions between the LGBT and South Asian communities allow conservatives to continue pursuing a policy of divide and conquer.