Intern Rebecca gave us a lot to think about when she asked her questions about the rights of roommates and issues of privacy.
Rebecca, I applaud your fearlessness. No one–NO ONE–has taken the side of the posters. Honestly, I had never even thought of a single justification for their actions, which they probably saw as a prank until the tragic happened.
The question I think we need to ask when we assign a level of culpability is: could they have foreseen that their actions would lead to so terrible an outcome? And should forseeability be determined by what a reasonable adult would be able to foresee, or what a thoughtless 18 year old would foresee. And of course, ultimately the question comes to the one people are not asking: is there something that the victim would see as more shameful in the fact that the sex was homosexual?
I think ultimately the heterosexual posters could not have forseen the shame that the victim would feel when he discovered that his sexual orientation was out in full view of the blogosphere. Until sexual orientation discrimination–the last bastion of legal discrimination–is wiped out I think that we need to be more sensitive to those who are persecuted. So ultimately I disagree with you; I think that if we need to teach sensitivity by punishing those thoughtless enough to post the sexual antics of their unsuspecting roommate on line, so be it.