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Ellen DeGeneres 'devastated' by death of Rutgers student

6a00d8341c630a53ef01310fb7c1ff970c-pi[1] Ellen DeGeneres spoke out against teen bullying Thursday in the wake of the Sept. 22 death of a Rutgers student.

"I am devastated by the death of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi," she wrote on her show's website. "If you don't know, Tyler was a bright student at Rutgers University whose life was senselessly cut short. He was outed as being gay on the internet and he killed himself."

DeGeneres noted that it was September's fourth story about suicide by teens "who have been teased and bullied."

The freshman's death -- his last Facebook post read "jumping off the gw bridge sorry," and the family's attorney confirmed it was a suicide --  came after his roommate, Dharun Ravi, with Ravi's friend, Molly Wei, allegedly used a webcam in their dorm room to record a Sept. 19 sexual encounter between Clementi and another guy, then broadcast it online. Another webcam attempt is alleged to have happened Sept. 21, and Ravi posted on Twitter in August that he'd learned his roommate was gay.

Ravi and Wei, both 18, have been charged with invasion of privacy, and according to ABC News prosecutors are considering filing bias-crime charges as well, if Clementi's sexual orientation emerges as a motive.

DeGeneres linked to a number of support organizations, among them thetrevorproject.org and matthewsplace.com, which support gay and questioning teens; and anti-bullying groups AngelsandDoves.com, Pacer.org/bullying, glsen.org and stompoutbullying.com.

"We have an obligation to change this," DeGeneres said. "There are messages everywhere that validate this kind of bullying and taunting and we have to make it stop. We can't let intolerance and ignorance take another kid's life."

Demi Lovato is another celeb who is working against teen bullying. Blogger Perez Hilton has rallied the likes of Ciara, Lala Vazquez and Jay Manuel of "America's Next Top Model" to make videos to support kids who might be getting bullied over their sexuality, CNN reports. Hilton said the cast of "Glee" will do a video as well.

-- Christie D'Zurilla

Photo: Portia De Rossi (now Portia DeGeneres), left, and Ellen DeGeneres. Credit: Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times



Comments () | Archives (29)

I was very moved this morning when I viewed Ms. DeGeneres's statement regarding the death of the Rutgers student. Ms. DeGeneres might be interested in the position of the National Education Association on bullying. Any or all of the officers of the NEA, President Dennis Van Roekel, Vice President Lily Eskelsen of Rebecca Pringle, are bright, articulate, experienced speakers. They would make great guests for Ms. DeGeneres's show. The major networks have recently been running speicals on public education without heasring from the representives of a millions of educators. This would be a great opportunity to let the public hear the information from a different point of view.

Christie D'Zurilla here from MOG ... in general, we don't post comments that include links, because we don't have time to check them all out before publishing. Feel free to resubmit your comments w/o links and they'll likely go live.


Mr. Dharun Ravi and Miss Molly Wei are vile human beings. The worst kind of vermin. I hope they sleep well at night.

Why Has No One Said The Kid Should Have Stated He was GAY before finding a roommate. No One wants to room with a homosexual if you aren't. You get stuck with someone for a semester and would be uncomfortable about walking around your room without your shirt on.

Did Dharun Ravi actually succeed in recording or broadcasting any of the video? Or did he just tweet about what he saw (while spying, invading privacy)? I wonder if any further harassment and invasion of privacy could have been headed off by confronting the accused, together with action by the school administration and law enforcement.

@Mandy -- Christie D'Zurilla here from MOG.

This is a 9/19 message on Ravi's (now defunct) Twitter page: "Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay."

And a 9/21 tweet: "Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes it's happening again."

I still don't understand how who those 2 students Ravi and Wei could do stuff like that... Are they even humans? Do they think before they act? Do they even have a heart???... I ask myself those questions over and over again... still can't believe what I've heard from the news... Anyway, I just hope that they will get what they deserve or worse... and RIP, Tyler!...

These bullies also pick on weak kids, overweight kids, poor kids, you know the so called nerds! Maybe we could give these so called bad asses a rifle and send them over seas and see just how bad they are. Im very angry over this!!

Every ONE of us deserves to have privacy in our intimate moments. and all other times too.
and nobody deserves to be bullied or spied upon for any reason whatsoever.
to videotape someone, and put it out on the internet for everyone to see jus...t shows that there is a terrible EVIL and judgemental attitude in our teens, in todays world. I wonder how those two morons would react if someone did that to them? Did they actually think it would be funny? Did they think it would make them popular on Campus? Did they think or care at all? Does going to College make them a special breed, better than everyone else? to make these stupid and Deadly decisions, or is it what they are learning in College?

A letter to Rachel Maddow and Keith Olberman

Rachel/Keith: I suggest, which I am sure you will do, a story on Tyler Clementi's suicide at Rutgers after two Rugers students actually PHOTOGRAPHED him having relations with another man. THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS. I HOPE that they throw the book at those two sad excuses for humanity who would, for their amusement, perpetrate such a thing on an innocent man.

My heart goes out to the Clementi family for their loss and for the NEEDLESS, UNNECESSARY and HORRIBLE suffering that young man must have endured before he took his life. An emphasis must be made, ESPECIALLY to help teens and young adults who may not have the psychological sophistication to understand that they are not alone. They sometimes, too, have not had the experience with political and social movements which have helped so many deal with this psychological assault and civil rights issue.

I thought about him last evening and how different the struggles for gay people are now as opposed to those who came before him. It was SURELY unacceptable in previous eras for gay people to admit to themselves their own homosexuality much less THINK about coming out to family and others. Times have changed. It is certainly better now with many homosexual rights having been secured in so many venues. AND yet it was almost easier in previous eras because one COULD, if one could endure it, remain secret, as most of the culture did not even talk about nor acknowledge issues of sexuality. It was not on the radar screen.

Because of so many successes securing the civil rights for so many gays and others, the issue is more conscious in our minds. Add to that the phenomena of the technological age, those who would be ready to bully or have a smug laugh at the expense of another person are MUCH more numerous and technologically connected. Through the Internet they now have the means to make one's private life public and harass them more effectively. WE MUST fight back.

I HOPE there is an outpouring from the gay community and its supporters for this wonderful student. He was a musician and seemingly such a quality person. Those who perpetrated this DASTARDLY deed need to have the BOOK thrown at them. I hope your show, the leadership in the gay community and others do NOT rest until the two who perpetrated the vile act of invading the privacy of this young man are prosecuted to the FULLEST extent of the law including FEDERAL hate crime charges. The possibilities for prosecution are NUMEROUS. They should be pursued with the VITRIOL and dogged determination which our ENEMIES, who want to defeat and cowardly intimate, use so effectively.

We live in noxious, angry and odious times and YET we live in the best of times for the cause. ALL those who are gay, who are struggling with being gay and those now who go on to live their lives with ease as well as other supportive allies SHOULD BE WALKING HAND IN HAND to help stop this evil among us. We must let others know there are MILLIONS not only here but all over the world who share their feelings. There is POWER in numbers. We should NOT falter and we should NOT fail to show ours!

Where was her outrage for Phoebe Prince, 15, who Committed suicide after onslaught of cyber-bullying from fellow students? Where are the tears for her?

So do you actually think Ravi and Wei are bullies, in the conventional sense? If they did do what they are accused of doing, I can see those actions being labeled as cruel, indecent, intolerant, immature, showing extreme lack of judgment, but I wonder if bullying is being used so it can be strung together with other recent events so a crisis can be declared. If so, then this world has been in crisis for millenia, a crisis of violence and cruelty.

Ellen, I agree with you 110%. Bullying is running rampant through our grade schools and on into the upper grades. Something has to be done and it is up to every single adult to make this our personal agenda to put a stop to it now.
It does affect all of us and when we lose one of our young people to this terrible epidemic of violence .. it is heartbreaking.

It is so sad that so many young people these days don't have any feelings or concern about others. They have lost their hearts. If you just try to teach and live by the "GOLDEN RULE" Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That is just a simple thing, that if taught, could hopefully change some of the things that people do. I always try to think about that and it stops me sometimes from saying or doing something that might hurt someone's feelings. People are all different and we have to learn to accept and respect everyone and live together.

@ atrayu -- I've seen many things about Phoebe Prince and the horrid effects of her cyberbullying. Her case is coming to trial soon. The people who did it were younger in her case which has its own set of issues.

I will say that no one deserves to be outed or slut-shamed, and I can only hope these suicides bring enough attention that intervention will come in time to prevent it happening to other teens and young adults.

I guess I'm weary of the "after shows" of these stories...the president of the college speaks to the students, prayer vigils are held and everyone weeps, talk shows interview experts on bullying, politicians make speeches against bigotry, etc, etc, but Tyler is still dead because of the actions of a few people who ought to know better...and if they don't, they need to be taught the hard way. Dharun Ravi, Molly Wei and the rest of their buddies out there who think that it is amusing to torment others need to be brought to a very tough justice...5 years doesn't cut it for Tyler's life. Maybe knowing what you face when you tweet and twitter someone's private moments will give you pause for thought...and if not, then spend some time in prison and think about it some more...maybe then you'll finally get it.

I am so appalled at the increase of crimes against minorities. Rutgers University has always been considered a the cream of the crop Ivy league institutions of higher learning. In one idiotic, bigoted move, students Ravi and Wei has caused an unforgettable blemish to stain the hallowed halls forever. Clementi was a gay man; Ravi and Wei set up a video cam unknown to Clementi.A video of an encounter between Clementi and his lover was aired on an internet site. Clementi jumped to his death from the Geo. Washington bridge. My condolences to his family and friends. I hope the two responsible for him taking his own life pay dearly for what they've done. Rutgers, do the right thing and bring manslaughter charges against Ravi and Wei.

I teach art at The Alliance School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Alliance School is a small urban 6-12 grade public charter school located in downtown Milwaukee. Our student population is at about 160 students. We are in our sixth year of operation. Our mission is to provide a safe place for all students to learn regardless of our differences and we are LGBT friendly. We are a teacher led, democratic school and practice restorative justice as well as using peace circles to resolve conflict. Many of our students that attend Alliance were bullied at their previous schools because they "came out" or were "outed." Many of these students have found Alliance to be a safe and diverse learning environment where everyone is accepted regardless of their "differences."

20/20 spent last year working on a documentary that will be aired in the next month. We were also in People magazine last March.

I would like to personally invite Ms. DeGeneres to visit The Alliance School.

Thank you, Ellen!

I have a gay, transgender male grandchild, who embarked upon this particular "journey" a little over two years ago. He suffers daily, but not in silence, and has become a fierce, valiamt champion of and advocate for the LGBT community, via regular website columns, to educate people like me, who badly need those lessons. I believe that he made the absolutely correct decision for himself, but in a secret place in my heart I daily fear for him, and wonder whether he might someday also be driven to suicide.

Bravery isn't the absence of fear; it is the ability to continue your fight despite it, and my grandson is one of the bravest people I have ever known. I haven't identified him because I respect his privacy. If he wants to send you his own letter, he may identify himself.

Thanks and Blessings ad infinitum, from

Chloe, in San Francisco

No one deserves to be bullied . I was bullied as a kid all though school years and into college over a birth defect. The hurt becomes unbearable at times. With the internet and cell phones today, it is so hard to escape the bullies.
My daughter, who is gay, experienced countless taunting at her school and things did the improve when I switched her to a Catholic school. No one should ever have to hide their sexual orientation from others. Hate crimes have to stop!!!! I am sure that the two coeds would not want their sexual encounters broadcast all over the internet for others to view. What ever happened to the the statement "Do on to others as you would want them do to you?"

Shame on you mike oxmaul. You strike me as a horribly immoral human being. Its people like you that cause these things to happen.

I do not understand people, why would anyone do this to anyone else? To make themselves look better? I hope these two look in the mirror every morning and relize what they have done for their own laughs. My heart aches for Tylers family and friends.....my prayers are with you. Peace, love, and Happiness.

I was a victim of Bullying in High School. Both emotional and physical, I am supposed to be able to forgive and forget. It devestated my young adult life. It is heart breaking to hear about the rising amount of suicides. The support of friends and family is the only life saving factor. Still it is a lonely road to recovery and very difficult. If I could help by telling my story, I am willing, and most fortunately, able.
Unfortunately, only the strong survive. Fortunately, there are those of us who can offer support.

I am a woman out of work. Of course this admission is not unusual in the economy we live. But my story takes on a slightly different twist. I am 60 years old female and because of the down-sizing or restruturing, my job of 5 years was eliminated. I have been out of work since June (no unemployment benefits), and have lived off savings(WHICH ARE NOW DEPLETED). Frankly, I don't have family members or friends that I could ask for few dollars - every one on this side is struggling.

Ellen I have been on the internet and at this time, it feels like i have submitted a resume with organizations everywhere. Would you be kind to send me something.? That something would be used to buy food, gas money and pay a little bit on bills that are piling high. Thank you. If you could even steer me toward employment I would be eternally grateful to you.

Thank you. Thank you Ellen Degeneres, and all other supporters of many groups that deal with teens that are having difficulties in their lives, and with bullies. I am glad that such a stance is being taken about these suicides because it's painful to see that some of the community can make it, and can be really happy, whereas others just cannot make it through. Every city should have a phone number to call, someone to talk to, someone to tell them that it really is going to get better, that living through this section of your life is not always going to be easy, and to tell them that they can be truly happy and successful. I wish someone told me these things. Instead I bottled it all up, finally met a guy I liked, and he helped me through all of the things that I needed to talk about. We are still together and have both moved on to post secondary education. I am in a club at my college, Fleming's Association of Queer Students (FAQS), and I am trying to instill the videos and news columns into our school paper so that EVERYONE can be aware of discrimination against gays in every community.
Thanks once again, and please keep up the good work.
PS: You've got my support.

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