Parents of gay cyberbullying victim denounce overturn of New York’s cyberbullying law

Parents of Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide after his roomate broadcast his sexual encounter, have condemned the repeal of New York's anti-cyberbullying law saying young people are the 'most vulnerable' online

Parents of gay cyberbullying victim denounce overturn of New York’s cyberbullying law
06 July 2014 Print This Article

New York’s highest court on Tuesday struck down an ordinance in Albany County (New York) which outlaws ‘cyber-bullying’ against ‘any minor or person’. The court called the law an overly broad statute that violates the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.

‘The language of the local law embraces a wide array of applications that prohibit types of protected speech far beyond the cyberbullying of children,’ stated Associate Judge Victoria Graffeo in the  5-2 ruling.

The law made it a crime to electronically communicate ‘private, personal, false, or sexual information,’ intended to ‘harass, annoy, threaten, abuse, taunt, intimidate, torment, humiliate, or otherwise inflict significant emotional harm on another person’ for no legitimate purpose.

It includes disseminating embarrassing or sexually explicit photographs; disseminating private, personal, false or sexual information; and sending ‘hate mail’.

Jane and Joseph Clementi, the parents of Tyler Clementi who killed himself by jumping off a bridge in September 2010, have condemned the court’s decision.

Tyler, who was then 18 and just weeks into his first year at Rutgers University, committed suicide after his roommate Dharun Ravi broadcast the footage of his sexual encounter on the internet. Ravi was convicted year of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation and other counts, and served less than a month in jail.

The Wall Street Journal quoted legal experts as saying that the court’s ruling could set a precedent for other state high courts hearing challenges to such laws, as well as for states and localities considering criminal penalties for cyberbullying.

Besides Albany, four other New York counties and more than a dozen states, including Louisiana and North Carolina, have similar laws.

The case emerged after a high school student in Albany County challenged the law’s constitutionality after he pleaded guilty to one count of cyberbullying on the condition that he could challenge it. The student was arrested in 2011 after creating a Facebook page where he anonymously posted pictures of classmates with personal information and descriptions of their sexual activities. He has now been cleared of the charge.

The Clementis, who have set up the Tyler Clementi Foundation, wrote in a statement: ‘In our work against cyberbullying, we are seeing the great pain and permanent emotional harm that cyberbullying causes children.

‘This is why we strongly support legislation and legal action aimed at eliminating cyber aggression aimed at young people – the most vulnerable in the online space – particularly cyber aggression of a personal or sexual nature.

‘With regard to the recent case in New York, we favour the approach of the dissenting opinion which would have used the well established severance doctrine to remove portions of the law, while leaving in place measures that are crucial to protecting young people online.

‘Cyber bullying is a serious issue that deserves serious, comprehensive action by our courts and legislatures.’

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

Radio host hopes Ebola will wipe out all gay people

Host of TruNews hopes the Ebola outbreak will be a good 'attitude adjustment' to those people who do not believe in God
No thumbnail available

Jesse Tyler Ferguson defends Mitch and Cam after they are called 'gay equivalent of blackface'

Tuc Watkins, who played gay on Desperate Housewives, believes Modern Family couple is 80s stereotype
No thumbnail available

Cute video educates young kids about same-sex families

Olly Pike, and his balloon sidekick, Pop, take a look at the diverse nature of modern families in their latest YouTube video
No thumbnail available

UK lesbian challenges Hong Kong over refusal of dependent visa

City welcomes women in polygamous marriages but not same-sex partners
No thumbnail available

Californian man suspected of killing gay partner in domestic dispute

Police found a dead man inside a bedroom while the suspect was sitting on the doorstep of their house
No thumbnail available

How Harry survived the World War II Blitz as Diamond Lil

GSN brings you a voice from World War II. Lesbian author Linda Wilkinson writes as Diamond Lil, a true character from the London Blitz, originally called Harry Young who, at the tender age of 14, decided to dress solely as a woman
No thumbnail available

Sakia Gunn, the news coverage and the gay hate murder

Reverend Irene Monroe asks why murders and suicides of gay and trans people of color don’t get the attention they should
No thumbnail available

Man alleges he arranged same-sex liaisons for Hollywood legends

Scotty Bowers claims his clients included Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn
No thumbnail available

Israel gay party slammed for ISIS imagery

The event's poster was inspired by the jihadist group's beheading videos
No thumbnail available

Gay X Factor finalist Rylan says he kissed David Beckham

Lord of the Rings actor exhanged numbers with singer Rylan Clark, claiming he is a 'huge fan'