I don’t take much satisfaction in Friday's guilty verdicts against Dharun Ravi.
Tyler Clementi, 18, is in his grave.
And at age 20, Ravi may have irrevocably damaged his life.
Unlike Clementi's suicide, homosexuality was much discussed in the New Brunswick courtroom where Ravi repeatedly heard himself pronounced guilty of hate crimes.
In Out magazine, James Clementi said his younger brother seemed untroubled by being gay.
But surely something more than teenage angst led Clementi to leap from the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22, 2010. He knew that Ravi, his Rutgers University roommate, had spied on his sexual encounter with a man via a webcam, and had laughed about it online.
Maybe that was the last straw. Or maybe it wasn’t. Either way, Ravi wasn’t on trial for Clementi’s suicide.
But the defendant’s attitude about homosexuality was very much an issue, which made the case riveting for gay people.
We’re accustomed to gauging the presence (or absence) of homophobia, but we can't always know when others’ mean-spiritedness is actually malicious. Much less criminal.
The jury concluded that Clementi believed Ravi targeted him because he was gay.
But I don’t believe it’s possible to know what was in Clementi’s heart.