“O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs; O God, to whom vengeance belongs, show yourself.” Psalm 94:1
Middlesex County, NJ Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman just sentenced Dharum Ravi to 30 days in jail, with probation and community service. It was Ravi who videoed Tyler Clementi kissing another man and broadcast the kiss through social media. Clementi ended his life on earth by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. Tyler saw no way out of his unmitigated shame, but Dharum is being offered another chance after spending what I consider to be a very short time in jail.
The unrepentant Ravi won’t be deported to his native India, largely because the un-named man whom Tyler kissed wrote the judge and asked him to allow his tormenter the chance to be rehabilitated in the US. That act of compassion on the part of Ravi’s other victim moved the judge to mercy of which I fear I would be incapable.
So in my anger at an apparent lack of justice for Tyler Clementi, I am thrown back on the words of the Psalmist. Psalm 94 is among the places in the Bible we hear the plaintive cry, “Oh Lord, how long…” (v. 3). The Psalmist also asks, “Who will rise up for me against the evildoers?” (v. 16) Well, friends, that’s our cue. I am not a judge, thanks be to God. But because Integrity will be working night and day at General Convention 2012 to pass a resolution authorizing and empowering a strong response to bullying from the Episcopal Church. We have a chance to stand up for Tyler Clementi, and his un-named date, by doing all we can to make Integrity’s efforts successful. True justice for those young men will not be found in a longer jail sentence for Dharum Ravi, but may be found in changed hearts and minds all over this country moved by what they will hear in church about how we can live together in peace.
Frankly, in these challenging economic times, we are having a difficult time raising the money we need to be effective at General Convention. But Tyler’s death and Dharum’s sentencing point out that the stakes in Integrity’s work have never been higher. So I hope you will join me in digging deep to contribute the money Integrity needs to help make the Episcopal Church a beacon of hope to the bullied, and the bullies. Both are children of God crying out for us to stand with them for justice’s sake.
Rev. Harry Knox
Interim Executive Director