Thursday, September 30, 2010

What's wrong with Emily Bazelon

Has Emily Bazelon gone completely off the deep end?

She has engaged in a crusade on behalf of the tormenters of Phoebe Prince (the student in Massachusetts who hung herself after being cyber-bullied). Bazelon took this to the point of arguing that Prince herself was a bully.

She is now arguing that judgement must be withheld in the case of Tyler Clementi, the freshman from Rutgers who jumped from the George Washington Bridge after being video-taped and you-tubed in a same-sex encounter by his despicable roommate, Dharun Ravi, and another dormmate, Molly Wei.

Bazelon muses
But can we stop for a moment before we blame Dharun and Molly Wei, the other student who allegedly participated in the taping, for Tyler's suicide?
Right, video-taping and you-tubing a sexual encounter could not have possibly contributed to Clementi's suicide.

Why blame the tormenters when it's easier to blame the parents as Bazelon did in this earlier post on the suicide of a Wesleyan freshman? Bazelon finds it hard to even name tormenters.

To be clear, I get Bazelon's argument, which is that suicide is complex. However, that does not lead to Bazelon's conclusion that we should
hesitate to think we have any but the shallowest understanding of what happened here.
Dharun and Wei committed a heinous act. It's impossible to imagine how this couldn't have contributed to Clementi's suicide.


Barton Fink said...

In between blaming Phoebe Prince's bad personality for her social problems and trying to prove that Clementi wasn't traumatized at all by the bullying at Rutgers, Bazelon also went on record as saying that the Virginia Quarterly Review writer who committed suicide after being bullied on the job was entirely to blame and the bullying was just good clean fun. Bazelon is a one-trick pony these days. It's strange.

Anonymous said...

I think that Emily is probably trying to clear her own conscience for being a mean girl in school. I thought she was trying to be fair, at first, but then she recently profiled Flannery Mullins, who is utterly remorseless and does not seem to even care that she contributed to a difficult environment for the young woman who committed suicide.

Kids were not as cruel when I went to high school in the late 90s. I was teased and so lonely when I was junior high, but no one ever treated me the way Phoebe was treated. Not even close. I was lonely and miserable, but by high school, teasing subsided totally.

Though a couple of years ago at my high school, a guy ran his car over his ex-girlfriend because she broke up with him. Two young women committed suicide. I don't know what changed in the culture at my high school between when I went to high school and now. It's sad.

Bazelon must have done something awful to someone and I think that's why she's on a crusade to deny that these kids contributed to a hostile environment in which Phoebe Prince's depression was made worse. Of course they want to believe that they aren't responsible in some way, and maybe they shouldn't be held legally responsible, but they should recognize that they definitely didn't help and that they made things worse.

I don't know what changed

Dave Ribar said...


Thanks for the comment. I'm not sure how Bazelon got boxed into the corner she's in.