Here in central Jersey, everyone’s talking about the Rutgers webcam trial.

Two young people, adult in name only, were living for the first time outside of their natural habitats in a college dorm.

Each of them had always kept to their own kind, as most of us do.  When they finally got into the real world, all they knew of each other was based on racial profiling and schoolyard stereotypes.

Darhun Ravi texted to a friend that he wanted to “Keep the gays away.”

Tyler Clementi texted to a friend that his new roommate’s family “Probably owned a Dunkin Donuts.”

Distance is measured in degrees, and this space between them eventually became a wall. Ravi turned his webcam on while Clementi was on a date with a man, “tweeting” to friends about it. This violation of privacy led Clementi to end his own life.

Early on, Ravi was offered a plea bargain that would have kept him from being sentenced to serious jail time, but his family refused it.  His father spoke to the press just prior to the verdict being announced.

“My son was not raised to have hate in his heart. We are not hateful people. My wife and I are not like that. We have not raised our family to be like that. I know my son, and he is not a hateful person. Whatever he did to Tyler was not out of bias toward him,” Pazhani Ravi said.

The part of this quote that stood out to me was “My wife and I are not like that.”  As if, we could never have produced a child who would do hateful things since we are not hateful people. But our teenagers are more influenced by their peers and YouTube than our values, no matter what we might believe.  Character is no longer a family heirloom.

Ravi was found guilty and will be sentenced to jail time and possibly deported. The trial may be over, but the pain lingers on.  If only there was a way to get to know each other before we form an opinion. It doesn’t feel like the healing has even started yet.