This week in America we lost four young men to suicide for the same reason: they were being assaulted, bullied and harassed for being gay (or being believed to be gay).
Apparently, in American high schools, and in American life, if you don't conform to the narrowest, stupidest image of what being a typical guy is then your life's completely worthless.
These four unnecessary deaths come on the heels of three other young people (two were eleven-year-olds) taking their own lives a week earlier, for the same reasons.
The death of Tyler Clementi, a gifted violin student who jumped off the George Washington Bridge this week, is particularly shocking because of the premeditated cruelty that led to it.
What happened to Clementi unmasks a common assumption in this country: that homophobia is still acceptable, that it can be indulged in without consequence, and in fact you may even be rewarded by your peers.
It's cruelty so commonplace that it isn't even noticed.
The perpetrators in Clementi's case where his college roommate Dharun Ravi and freshman Molly Wei, both 18: the two decided to broadcast Clementi's private tryst over the internet.
They were apparently so titillated by the 'negative' connotations of gay sex that they failed to notice how deeply they were invading Clementi's privacy.
Had he been in bed with a woman, would this have happened? Do you believe they would they have outed him via an online broadcast? Or would they respected his privacy and would he still have his life?
In America our culture daily demonizes gay people to the point where, for many young people, just to be publicly revealed as gay is still, in 2010, an unendurable trauma.
Clementi was exposed, brutally so, before he had the chance to determine his own path for himself. But no one else has the right to make that announcement for him. They did a kind of violence to his spirit.
And in a truly revolting portrait of the society we are, the Facebook Page that's been set up in Clementi's honor has already been completely overrun by hundreds of braying anti-gay bullies. Already they've posted multiple pictures of a body falling from the George Washington Bridge.
Then go over to the Fox News website now and you'll see they're hosting a festival of hate in their comments section, with hundreds of posts like this one:
"The "victim" killed himself. Why? He was ASHAMED. I doubt you can get a jury to convict someone on "causing someone shame". The gay community needs to work on why he was ashamed rather than always making it the fault of those of us who don't agree with the lifestyle."
Another writes: "You know if had GOD in his heart he would not have jumped. Matter of fact if he had GOD in his heart he would not have been gay."
Another writes: "So much for Gay Pride."
First they shame you, then they say blame you for feeling ashamed. Snapshot, America 2010.
Police pulled the lifeless body of Tyler Clementi from the river on Thursday. The homophobes know he's dead and they still can't stop themselves from kicking him.