WASHINGTON, D.C. – A gay former Army officer arrested outside the White House for protesting the government’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military testified at his trial Tuesday that he was proud and willing to go to jail.
Dan Choi is accused in federal court of ignoring police orders to vacate an area in front of the White House after he handcuffed himself to the fence outside the landmark building during a protest last November. He told the court he believed in his cause and drew inspiration from the civil rights movement decades ago.
“The right to speak on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves is more than a privilege,” said Choi, his voice rising with emotion during a cross-examination that turned confrontational at times. “It’s a moral responsibility and I take that seriously.”
Choi said he could not recall details of his arrest, but likened the scene to a “combat zone” and recalled being struck by what he considered to be aggressive and demeaning tactics by the U.S. Park Police officers who showed up.
“I do not recall a lot of what happened, but I also do not recall if I blacked out,” said Choi, a 30-year-old West Point graduate who served in the Iraq war as an infantry officer.
Choi became a public face of the gay rights movement after television interviews in 2009 in which he revealed that he was gay. He said he was honorably discharged last year under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
He previously was arrested outside the White House during protests in March and April 2010. He said he was motivated partly by his disappointment in President Barack Obama, who subsequently put an end to the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” police in July.
As of Sept. 20, gay service members will be able to acknowledge their sexual orientation openly. Previously, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy had barred gays from serving openly in the military since 1993.
Choi also said he was inspired by acts of civil disobedience, such as a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth’s department store lunch counter in North Carolina during the civil rights movement.
A dozen other protesters were arrested along with Choi at the November protest. The others have accepted plea deals that spare them jail time if they go several months without being re-arrested. Choi has rejected a similar offer, said his lawyer, Robert Feldman. Prosecutors say the police gave the protesters three separate warnings in intervals of three minutes to clear the fence.
The non-jury trial opened Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Facciola.
Choi and his lawyer have complained that he is being selectively prosecuted because of his vocal gay rights activism and insist his case belongs in local court. He faces a fine and up to six months in jail if convicted in federal court.
Prosecutors have denied Choi’s claim of selective prosecution. They say his actions violate a federal regulation requiring him to obey a lawful order from authorities.
Choi sparred repeatedly with prosecutor Angela George. She suggested Choi deliberately chose to get arrested to draw attention to himself and could have opted for less provocative methods – such as marching and holding signs – to convey the same message.
But Choi strongly disagreed. He said was flabbergasted he was on trial in the first place when people went to the White House to cheer the U.S. military raid that led to the death of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden. He said those people gathered at the same fence but never faced any sanctions.
“What’s the difference?” Choi demanded of George at one point. “You have not given me a reason why my free speech should be curtailed and their free speech should be amplified.”
from The Associated Press
Archive for August, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A gay former Army officer arrested outside the White House for protesting the government’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military testified at his trial Tuesday that he was proud and willing to go to jail.
Two major advertisers who ran spots on ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars” are denying claims that they pulled their commercials from the show over a storyline featuring a lesbian character.
Earlier this year, after one of the show’s main characters came out of the closet, things turned very ugly with the Florida Family Association (FFA), which claimed that the storyline “sends the wrong message to these young viewers.” Subsequently, the FFA launched a campaign to convince advertisers against buying spots during the show.
Shortly after the campaign launched, Re/Max Realty and General Mills pulled commercial spots on the show. But while the FFA believes their campaigns led to the pulled spots, both companies say the withdrawals had absolutely nothing to do with the show’s content.
“We make advertising decisions based on audience demographics and relevance for our brands, not based on the sexual orientation of characters,” a General Mills representative told us in a statement, while Remax Realty called reports that it severed ties with the ABC Family show over the purported “glamorizing” of lesbian relationships “erroneous.”
Re/Max later added that the advertisements did not fit the show’s target demographic of adolescent viewers.
But the FFA is celebrating the companies’ decision to pull spots and is urging others to follow suit.
“We would love to see the program change its content to remove the explicit lesbianism that is then presented to an audience of girls,” David Caton, FFA founder said. “That would be something we’d love to see but we know that producers are not likely to do that, so we’re going to continue to contact companies that are paying the advertising costs and sponsorship for the program as long as it stays on the air. We’re in this to make a difference.”
Diane Anderson-Minshall, Executive Editor of gay news publication The Advocate, said she is deeply disappointed by the mounting hoopla.
“Studies show that LGBT teens have much lower suicide rates, and much higher happiness and self-acceptance markers, when they live in communities, families, and cultures that accept them for who they are,” she said.
“I hope ‘Pretty Little Liars’ can continue to tell my teenage nieces and all the LGBT teens and young adults watching that it’s okay to exist and demand to love and date and get your heart broken over whomever you want. That’s a message FFA won’t like, but General Mills should,” she said.
ABC Family has remained steadfast in their support of the storyline, telling FOX411’s Pop Tarts column, “We strive to reflect the rich diversity of our audience and the world around us. We’re incredibly proud of the engaging characters and authentic storytelling that define ABC Family.”
from Fox News
Dancing With the Stars” aims for provocative casts, and Chaz Bono’s joining the show has already yielded strong reaction — some of it ugly.
Bono, the only child of Sonny Bono and Cher, was born a woman but legally changed his gender and name last year. The announcement Monday that he would join the highly rated ABC dance competition immediately made him one of the highest-profile transgendered people in the world.
It also brought to the surface prejudices about Bono and others who have changed their gender, judging from the “Dancing With the Stars” message board. In hundreds of comments, Bono was the most common subject.
“HUGE HUGE fan of this show since season two and eagerly await each season to get my dancing/entertainment ‘fix’!! But when I heard that Chaz Bono was going to be on, I was sick. Not that I have anything personally again her/him, I just don’t want that lifestyle choice continually flaunted in the media esp ABC,” went one typical anti-Bono comment.
But for everyone who vented disgust — or questioned whether Bono would dance with a man or woman — there were many who defended Bono and accused his critics of bigotry.
Bono’s casting is only the latest to make a lighthearted reality show the impetus for deeper discussions about values, tolerance, bigotry and politics. Gay “American Idol” contestants have opted not to announce their sexuality, perhaps out of concern about alienating intolerant viewers. And Bristol Palin’s “Dancing” casting two seasons ago led many to vote for or against her based on her mother’s politics.
If Americans quickly vote Bono off the show — or keep him on despite a middling performance, as they did with Palin — it could reveal plenty about attitudes toward transgendered people.
ABC said Bono was in rehearsals for the show and unavailable to comment. The network, meanwhile, had no immediate comment Tuesday on the comments posted by “Dancing” fans on its message board.
Among the other comments:
“Chaz Bono How low can this show sink. Well you have certainly addressed the gay community. Guess this will not be a family show any longer!!!! Lost my family!”
“YOUR choice to bring Chaz Bono into the mix goes too far. I am not about to risk the potential for on screen dialogue about sex changes and gender confusion while my 7 and 9 year old are watching. If you want the “anything goes” hippy culture, then soon that is all you will get. You’ve lost us. In case any of you are wondering … no, we are NOT tolerant. We are not tolerant to allow any and all influences to come unfiltered into our home and especially to our children. This is truly a sad farewell.”
Some of the objections were flat-out confusing — one person seemed to suggest Bono had to be paired with a woman — because he was still a woman: “Chaz will have to dance with one of the girls because she/he says she/he is a man but chromosomes say different no matter how many surgeries you have.
The show has historically paired men and women regardless of sexuality. The openly gay Lance Bass was paired with Lacey Schwimmer.
Transgendered people believe that their gender identity does not correspond to the one into which they were physically born. Many seek surgery or hormones to change their physical gender. In an interview with ABC News in May, Bono explained:
“It’s actually pretty simple if you look at it. … We all in the womb start out as female and then hormones come and we either stay female or we become male. I think of it as hormones that, you know, went in the brain but not in the body, and that’s all being transgender is. It’s just that the sex of your body and the gender of the brain don’t match up.”
Many criticisms of Bono had nothing to do with gender — some complained that he is overweight and only famous because of his parents. Those two criticisms have faced many, many contestants before him.
PISCATAWAY, NEW JERSERY – Who is M.B.?
For nearly a year, the identity of the man caught on a webcam in an intimate encounter with Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi has remained a secret.
In court papers in the high-profile invasion of privacy case stemming from Clementi’s subsequent suicide, the man has been identified by only the initials, “M.B.”
Today, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office filed a motion asking Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman to issue a protective order to ensure M.B.’s name, address or birthday is not revealed.
“Fearing further victimization and in a request for privacy, he asks that his name not be turned over at this time,” prosecutors wrote in their motion.
The prosecutor’s request came in response to a motion filed earlier this month by attorneys for Dharun Ravi, Clementi’s roommate. Ravi, 19, of Plainsboro, is charged with invasion of privacy and bias intimidation for allegedly using a webcam in his Piscataway dorm room to spy on Clementi and M.B. last September.
Clementi, 18, of Ridgewood, committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge a few days later. His story sparked a national debate about cyberbullying and gay teen suicide.
Ravi’s attorneys said they want to speak to M.B. as they prepare their client’s defense.
“There is no question he has relevant information. But they have not provided his name, address or date of birth,” Ravi’s attorneys said in their motion. “There is no basis in the law for withholding this information.”
Ravi’s lawyers rejected prosecutors’ offer to allow M.B. to be interviewed anonymously in the presence of a state investigator.
“Defendant is entitled to conduct his own investigation in his defense and can not be required to be chaperoned while doing so,” Ravi’s attorneys wrote.
In transcripts of instant messaging chats included in court papers, Clementi told friends that M.B. was 25 and uncomfortable with people knowing he was gay.
M.B. “clearly didn’t expect to have his sexual orientation disclosed through the resulting criminal investigation and prosecution, nor did he expect his private sexual relations with another consenting adult to be exposed to others or to the public,” prosecutors said in their motion.
A spokesman for the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment on the case today beyond the court papers. Neither Ravi’s attorney, Steve Altman, nor the Clementi family’s attorney returned requests for comment.
Ravi faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted on the most serious charges. He is charged with 15 counts, including invasion of privacy and trying to mislead investigators. He is also accused of bias intimidation for allegedly targeting Clementi because he was gay.
Prosecutors filed nearly 200 pages of documents today in response to a motion filed earlier this month by Ravi’s attorneys to dismiss all charges in the case. The papers included a copy of a two-paragraph e-mail, titled “Roommate spying on me,” Clementi sent to Rutgers University residence life officials the day he committed suicide.
The freshman detailed how he learned, via Twitter, that his roommate had used a webcam to spy on him Sept. 19. He said he also found the webcam turned “toward my bed” two days later.
“I feel that my privacy has been violated and I am extremely uncomfortable sharing a room with someone who would act in this wildly inappropriate manner,” Clementi wrote in the e-mail, sent 20 hours before he committed suicide.
The next court date in the case is scheduled for Sept. 9.
from The New Jersey Star-Ledger
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ELMHURST, ILLINOIS – Elmhurst College officials weren’t looking to blaze trails when they added to their admission application: “Would you consider yourself to be a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) community?”
With that one line, though, they became the first college in the country to ask potential students directly about their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Increasing diversity is part of our mission statement,” said Gary Rold, Elmhurst’s dean of admissions. “This is simply closing the loop, in many ways, of another group who has a very strong identity. It may not be race and religion but it’s an important part of who they are.”
The question will appear on applications for those freshman and transfer students hoping to start in the fall of 2012. Like admissions questions about race, ethnicity or religion, answering the question is completely optional and does not affect admission decisions. Students can check “yes,” “no,” or “prefer not to answer.”
Those who answer “yes” may be eligible for a scholarship worth up to one-third of tuition, not unusual because about 60 percent of incoming students receive some type of scholarship aid, Rold said. More importantly, he said, knowing students’ sexual orientation will help officials direct incoming students toward services or groups that might help them make an easier transition to college life.
“We try really hard to take good care of students, have them graduate and be successful citizens in the world,” he said. “The only way you do that is to meet people where they really are.”
At a handful of other universities, there are admissions procedures that might identify LGBT student applicants. At Dartmouth College, for example, students can check boxes of activities that might interest them, including LGBT-centered activities. At the University of Pennsylvania, students who write in their application essay that they are gay can be paired with a mentor.
Elmhurst, though, is the first college in the country to directly ask students about their sexual orientation. The private, liberal arts school in its namesake suburb has 3,300 undergraduate students and is affiliated with the United Church of Christ.
“It is kind of a pleasant surprise that Elmhurst College in Illinois is the first campus to ask an identity question,” said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of the national nonprofit Campus Pride. “Some of the leaders in college admissions have done similar stuff but never asked the question.”
Windmeyer thinks it’s an important question to ask and doubts anyone would lie about being gay to get a scholarship. He also does not think being gay or lesbian would be an advantage in the competitive college admissions process.
“It’s important that these youth have a way to express their sexual identity, like their racial identity,” he said. “Colleges ask those questions so they can give them the resources to get them to be successful.”
Rold said he knows some students will bristle at the question, as they do at questions about race and ethnicity.
And while the question might attract more applicants, he thinks that number will balance out with students who do not apply because of the question.
from The Chicago Sun-Times
CHESAPEAKE, VIRGINIA – A Navy panel ruled on Wednesday that the captain of an aircraft carrier who was penalized for producing bawdy videos with slurs against gays can remain in the service, officials said.
Captain Owen Honors was relieved of his command of the USS Enterprise in January and reassigned to administrative duties soon after the videos were made public.
Honors several years ago produced and starred in the videos, when he was second-in-command of the ship, and they were shown as on-board entertainment for the crew and pilots.
The videos, among other things, contained simulated masturbation and inane toilet humor.
They also had suggestive scenes of sailors in drag and a mock anal exam. As a result, they were an embarrassment for the Navy at a time the Pentagon sought to implement a new policy allowing gays to serve openly in the military.
A panel of three admirals on Wednesday unanimously ruled that Honors committed misconduct by making the videos and demonstrated substandard performance of his duty by leadership failure and lack of proper deportment, Beth Baker, a spokeswoman for Navy Region Mid Atlantic, said in a statement.
But he was allowed to stay in the service, she said.
The proceeding were held at a naval station in Norfolk, Virginia, where Honors continues to work for the Navy, his civilian attorney Charles Gittins said.
“He’s the kind of guy who wants action and who gets stuff done,” Gittins said. “He’s relieved and I think he’s ready to move on to his next job.”
The videos first surfaced in the Virginian-Pilot newspaper that serves the city of Norfolk.
Gittins said that Honors’ superiors were aware of the videos and only chose to relieve him of his command once they were made public.
“The fact is that the Navy was embarrassed by the publicity surrounding pieces of the videos taken out of context. They were labeled raunchy videos,” Gittins said.
Navy Secretary Censures Officers Over Lewd Videos
Navy Investigating Inappropriate Videos Aboard USS Enterprise
Non-inclusive workplaces and a lack of role models are two of the biggest challenges for gay people looking to get ahead in the corporate world.
Not for too much longer, hope diversity activists, following the appointment of Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.
Cook’s rise to the top of the most valuable company in the world could well mean he has become the world’s most powerful gay man.
Cook, who had been notoriously silent on his sexuality before being outed as gay earlier this year by tech media, was ranked number one in Out magazine’s Power 50 index in May, taking over the top spot from US talk show host Ellen Degeneres.
The 50-year-old engineer was noted as a “leader-in-waiting” after taking the CEO reins on numerous occasions while Jobs was on sick leave.
He joined Apple in 1998 and served as Chief Operating Officer responsible for the company’s worldwide sales and operations.
He has been described in the past as the genius behind Jobs and a key to the success of Apple’s operations. He will now be hailed as a role model for gay people in the corporate world.
“I think that it’s a fantastic development,” said Nareen Young, CEO of Diversity Council of Australia.
“What it reinforces is that gay and lesbian people are everywhere and the fact that they have are reaching the senior echelons of business is an achievement.”
She added: “While there are a lot of role models out there, having a gay person at the helm of one of the world’s biggest companies might encourage people to come out who haven’t felt comfortable doing so in the past,” said Young.
Rodney Croome, spokesman of Australian Marriage Equality, said: “There are still many gay and lesbian people at high levels of the corporate world who are afraid to come out. Cook’s appointment will help open the corporate closet.”
When Cook arrived at Apple he was instructed with the task of cleaning up the manufacturing, distribution and global supply system.
Before Apple, he was vice president of Corporate Materials for Compaq and also spend 12 years with IBM which was named as Australia’s most gay-friendly employer at an awards ceremony in May.
from The Herald Sun
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INDIANAPOLIS – Emails shared with The Indianapolis Star suggest that state Rep. Phillip Hinkle — responding to a local posting on Craigslist — offered a young man $80 plus tip to spend time with him Saturday night at the JW Marriott hotel.
The emails, sent from Hinkle’s publicly listed personal address, ask the young man for “a couple hours of your time tonight” and offer him cash up front, with a tip of up to $50 or $60 “for a really good time.”
The email exchange is in response to the Craigslist posting in which the young man — who lists his age as 20 in the ad but says he is 18 years old — says, “I need a sugga daddy.”
The young man told The Star that they met, but that he tried to leave after the man told him he was a state lawmaker. He said the lawmaker at first told him he could not leave, grabbed him in the rear, exposed himself to the young man and then later gave him an iPad, BlackBerry cellphone and $100 cash to keep quiet.
When contacted by The Star about the emails, Hinkle, a Republican who represents portions of Pike and Wayne townships, did not contest the emails but said, “I am aware of a shakedown taking place.”
Asked what he meant by shakedown, Hinkle would not elaborate. He directed further questions to his attorney.
Hinkle’s lawyer, defense attorney Peter Nugent, said he was unable to say what Hinkle meant by a “shakedown.” Nugent said he is investigating the situation, but he does not know what happened Saturday. Nugent said he has not filed a police report and does not yet know whether he will.
Asked whether he had seen the emails and the Craigslist posting, Nugent said, “Oh, I’ve seen some emails, but not all of them.” He would not be more specific.
“I’m trying to get to the bottom of everything involved,” Nugent said.
Wednesday, Nugent faxed this “official statement”:
“Representative Hinkle is aware of the inquiries by The Indianapolis Star and we are investigating the matter at this time. We request that everyone respect the privacy of the family at this time.”
Hinkle, 64, who lists his occupation as coordinator for community partnerships for Wayne Township Schools on the Indiana House website, has been a state lawmaker since 2000. He is best known in the Statehouse for his interest in local government issues. On the website, he also notes he was a co-author of the bill that created the “In God We Trust” license plate.
The young man, Kameryn Gibson, told The Star he posted the Craigslist ad in the “Casual Encounters” section under m4m, which is shorthand for men for men. He used his adopted sister’s email address.
Gibson said he and the man met but that they did not have sex. He and the sister, Megan Gibson, flatly denied any shakedown.
“I wasn’t shaking him down, at all,” Kameryn Gibson said.
Megan Gibson said she contacted The Star because she thought Hinkle’s actions were “creepy” and, given his stature, that his actions should be made public.
Megan Gibson also provided the email exchange, which she forwarded to The Star. She also allowed a reporter to inspect the emails, which she had kept, on her smartphone. The phone contained not only the email exchange but a call log that showed phone calls from numbers that match both Hinkle’s cellphone and home phone.
The Craigslist ad was posted at 7:37 a.m. Saturday. The ad shows two pictures of Kameryn Gibson, shirtless with pants pulled below the top of his underwear.
The ad’s text features one written line: “Email me and I’ll tell you everything you need to know!”
Forty-seven minutes later, he received a response from phinkle46 @comcast.net, with the email signature “Sent from Phil’s iPad.”
“Cannot be a long time sugar daddy,” the email reads, “but can for tonight. Would you be interested in keeping me company for a while tonight?”
The email offers “to make it worth (your) while” in cash, and offers a personal description: “I am an in shape married professional, 5’8″, fit 170 lbs, and love getting and staying naked.”
Fifteen minutes later, Kameryn Gibson replied: “Yes I can!” He also sent along his phone number.
What followed was an email exchange between phinkle46 @comcast.net and Kameryn Gibson. One email from Hinkle’s account asks “what will make you happy for giving me a couple hours of your time tonight?”
Gibson: “Wat (sic) can you give me?”
Phinkle46 @comcast.net: “How about $80 for services rendered and if real satisfied a healthy tip? That make it worth while?”
BROOKLYN – A 23-year-old lesbian says the Brooklyn real estate office she once worked in is a den of deviants where raunchy sexcapades were the norm.
But the bosses she’s suing say she’s too ugly to harass.
Priscilla Agosto ran a gauntlet of sexual humilition – verbal and physical – in her 14 miserable months at People’s Choice Realty, her suit against its three bosses says.
No less than seven male employees made lewd advances at her – even after she complained to the bosses, she said in papers filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
Her male co-workers exposed themselves, rubbed up against her and even asked for oral sex, she alleges.
And they even offered $500 to watch her have sex with her girlfriend, she said.
“I hope and pray that by sharing my story, anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation will have the courage to speak up,” said Agosto.
Odelia Berlianshik, the owner of the Williamsburg firm, denied the charges – and launched a shocking attack on Agosto’s appearance.
“Who would touch her? She’s an ugly girl anyway,” she said of the former secretary. “She made up a story because she didn’t want to work.”
Agosto’s lawyer Brendan Chao said another former employee corroborated much of his client’s account.
He only brought the suit recently, he added, because a complaint had to be first filed with the city’s Commission of Human Rights.
Agosto worked in real estate office from January 2008 until March 2009.
The discrimination suit seeks unspecified back pay and benefits.
“People attacked her ethnicity, her gender, her sexual orientation,” said Chao.
She finally quit after things got physical. An employee slapped Agosto across the face, but when she came crying to Berlianshik, the suit said, her boss “waved her away.”
Berlianshik conceded the slapping incident took place, but claimed the worker was instructed to say he’s sorry.
“He apologized and offered to buy her lunch,” she said.
Berlianshik is named in the suit as are Mickey and Richard Berlianshik, the other co-owners.
from The New York Daily News
Thank you so much for your support of this unprecedented film. We are in the final stages of finishing the project and need additional funds for editing, music rights and graphics. Please help us spread the word and also keep in touch with us on Facebook.
Me at the Zoo is an intimate look at a controversial young video blogger, regarded by millions as the Internet’s first rebel folk hero.
Chris Crocker was bullied out of school in the 8th grade and was, by his account, raised on the Internet. Crocker’s online videos have been viewed over 270 million times to date. He is arguably the first internet celebrity to cross over into mainstream media and is part of the first wave of young people coming into adulthood under constant self-surveillance.
In 2007 Crocker made the infamous YouTube video declaration “Leave Britney Alone!”. At that time, all media outlets had photographers glued to Britney Spear’s every move. Photos of the young pop star were being sold for upward of a quarter million dollars. Her very public breakdown was the moment when Chris Crocker’s fate intersected with his icon; Crocker offered an emotionally raw video defense of his pop idol and became a whipping boy in mainstream media. To this day his name calls to question the authenticity of that video
Chris Crocker is now one of thousands selected into the YouTube partnership program. Youtube Partnership allows individuals to make an income through Adsense and Revenue Sharing programs. Everyday more users are signing on to monetize the content of their digital lives.
Over 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Our film takes its title from the first ever Youtube video uploaded by the young founders of the site. Me at the Zoo explores how video sharing and social platforms have shaped the way we tell our stories and mediate our lives. When we “Like” and ‘”Share” a video we are creating a market for that specific type of content.
This unconventional documentary excavates a personal story that is written on the Internet. It follows a line through Chris Crocker’s public videos, response videos and the echo chamber of fans, friends and haters.
HADDONFIELD, NEW JERSEY – A lawyer for a former Rutgers University student accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate’s intimate encounter with another man says in newly filed legal papers that prosecutors got it all wrong and that the case should be dropped.
Nineteen-year-old Dharun Ravi faces charges, including bias intimidation and invasion of privacy, in the case that’s been linked to roommate Tyler Clementi’s death last September when he jumped off the George Washington Bridge.
Clementi’s suicide sparked a national discussion about bullying and gay youth that prompted celebrities, senators and President Barack Obama to speak out.
But defense lawyer Steven Altman said in a brief filed Wednesday that his client was not spying on Clementi. Altman said Ravi initially turned on his webcam from a friend’s computer to see what was going on in the dorm room because he was concerned about whether the man Clementi had over might steal Ravi’s iPad. He stopped watching “two seconds” after seeing the men kissing, Altman said.
Altman provided text messages that he said Ravi sent Clementi on Sept. 22 – about the time the 18-year-old violinist from Ridgewood was on the suspension bridge crossing the Hudson River.
“I turned on my camera and saw you in the corner of the screen and I immediately closed it. I felt uncomfortable and guilty of what happened,” the message said. “Obviously I told people what occurred so they could give me advice. Then Tuesday when you requested the room again I wanted to make sure what happened Sunday wouldn’t happen again … I turned my camera away and put my computer to sleep so even if anyone tried it wouldn’t work. I wanted to make amends for Sunday night. I’m sorry if you heard something distorted and disturbing but I assure you all my actions were good natured.”
Another said, in part: “I’ve known you were gay and I have no problem with it.”
Altman argued in the brief that prosecutors did not present evidence that Ravi would have broken the law by using a webcam to monitor what was happening in the dorm room he shared with Clementi, that he actually viewed any sexual images from his webcam, that he copied or distributed them, or that he deleted Twitter posts about what was on the webcam to hide evidence from investigators.
The lawyer also said prosecutors failed to give the grand jury some evidence that may have established that Ravi was not acting out of hatred for gay people – a key element of the bias intimidation charge, which carries a sentence up to 10 years in prison and is the most serious charge Ravi faces.
Neither Jim O’Neill, a spokesman for the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, nor Paul Mainardi, a lawyer for Clementi’s family, immediately returned messages left Thursday evening.
Another student, Molly Wei, was also charged in the case. In May, she was admitted to a pretrial intervention program that could leave her with no criminal record. Conditions include cooperating with prosecutors and avoiding run-ins with the law for three years.
Altman asked the court to force prosecutors to hand over more information if the case goes forward – including the full name and address of the man with whom Clementi had an encounter. He’s been listed in legal papers only as “M.B.”
from The Associated Press
President Václav Klaus’ secretary and political office director Ladislav Jakl — inspired by the hype around Prague’s first gay and lesbian pride festival — has reportedly brewed up a batch of a new Czech “gay beer” with fellow members of a beer-tasting club.
“With his colleagues from the První pivní extraliga, [Jakl] has brewed some beer intended for the four percent minority. Its name is BuQi?ák. It has a four percent alcohol content, a pink color and a sweet taste,” the news server Prvnizpravy.cz reported. “It can apparently be drunk warm.”
In the Czech language, a “tough nut to crack” is known as an o?íšek. Translating the name of “BuQi?ák” falls into that category, and requires a bit of background explanation.
The word for beechnut, bukvice, is a derogative term for a homosexual man akin to “faggot” or “poofta” in English. Bur?ák is a partially fermented young wine that begins to appear in Prague street stands and bars in August, shortly before of the traditional festival celebrating the new wine harvest.
Combing the term bukvice with bur?ák would result in something like “faggot wine” or in this case a “queer beer.” The word for “warm” in Czech — teplý — is also a slang term for a homosexual, hence the reference to serving BuQi?ák warm.
Given the scarcity of the letter “q” is in the Czech langue — in its place you’ll rather find a “kv” in loan words (“quantity” becomes kvantita, for example) — the capitalized “Q” in BuQi?ák is likely a reference to “queer,” another slang and derogatory word for a homosexual that has been embraced by the community itself in recent years.
In fact, Prague’s inaugural gay pride festival has the tag line “Drink Beer, Be Queer!”
The Festival of Tolerance or Prague Pride 2011 event, organized by the PROUD platform, takes place from August 10-14, culminating on August 13 with a march through the Czech capital. Organizers say they expect up to 7,000 people are expected to take part in the parade on Saturday.
President Václav Klaus, meanwhile, has made international headlines for refusing to distance himself from remarks by his chancellor, Petr Hájek, that homosexuals are “deviants,” saying that he took “no pride” in the fact that the festival was taking place in the Czech capital, and criticizing a group of 13 ambassadors who expressed their support for Prague Pride 2011.
“In any event, while homosexuality is something that is markedly in the minority and therefore deserves our protection, it does not necessarily deserve to be celebrated,” the Czech president said, stressing that it is one thing to respect “homosexuality” and quite another to promote “homosexualism.”
Jakl, too, has spoken out against support for the Prague Pride 2011, telling Czech public television, “I don’t like the fact that the mayor of Prague has given strong support to this process. I’m against presenting sexuality in this form.”
The recipe for the 11° beer was invented by Czech beer expert Petr Buriánek. It was unveiled to the public on May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia at the restaurant Aliance P.I.V. (“beer alliance”) in Prague’s Spo?ilov district, which lists its characteristics on its website — giving it a rating of 8 out of 10 (taste, fragrance and overall impression).
“BuQi?ák is similar to a Witbier, EPM 10.9%. The ingredients are barley malt, wheat malt, hops, hibiscus, orange peel, coriander, beechnuts [bukvice] and yeast SafAle U.S. top-05,” said František Trantiny of První pivní extraliga.
It is not the first “gay beer” to have been produced. In January this year, a gay Mexican entrepreneur launched the Purple Hand Beer and Salamandra Cerveza Artesanal brands, which the company behind them says are the “the first beers exclusive for the gay and lesbian community.”
The name of the beers are closely linked to icons and colours of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Purple Hand recalls a famous gay rights protest in San Francisco in 1969.
from The Czech Position