I came across this Daily Targum opinion piece — Think before taking action – The Daily Targum: Columnists. — written by a Rutgers University senior in response to the verdict in the Dharun Ravi case.
I was struck by — and relieved to see — sound advice being given to her peers. I also was pleased that she kept her focus on the actual behavior involved in the case … not because the other facts of the case, or Dharun Ravi’s [possible] intentions, or Tyler Clementi’s state of mind prior to Ravi’s actions are not important. Or, are not worthy of discussion. They are. But, particularly in this electronic age of tweets, check-ins, status updates and who-knows-what-else is on the horizon, young people need to (I’m not saying kids, because, as the author points out, they Ravi and his peers should have been old enough at 18 to know better…or at least to realize that they ought to) be mindful of what they put out there on the net. When you put something out on Twitter, Facebook, or wherever, it goes. People see it and there’s no taking it back.
Now, I’m not saying (and my guess is that the author isn’t either) that discussions about homophobia and tolerance don’t need to happen – as do discussions about race, ethnicity, poverty, and so on. They do need to take place. But, until they do, or for in between discussions, thinking twice before you act (i.e. doing something that might hurt someone or come back to bite you in the butt) can go a long way. Step back. Take a deep breath. Think. Then, maybe, don’t act.
Our parents were onto something when they said, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” or, for those of us who were using email back in the days of UNIX, don’t put something in a message (or, today, anywhere on the net) that you wouldn’t feel comfortable putting on the back of a postcard or saying out loud when others might hear.