The sentence handed down to Dharun Ravi a few weeks ago was “too lenient,” the majority — 51% –of New Jersey residents believe, according to a new poll. Surprisingly, the view was shared almost exactly equally among all ideologies, including Democrats and Republicans (52%), Independents and Moderates (50%), Liberals (52%), and Conservatives (53%), all averaging 51%.
The poll, which did not mention the name Tyler Clementi, asked 1191 New Jersey adults:
Next I have some questions on a few other issues in New Jersey and nationwide. First, as you may know, Dharun Ravi is a former Rutgers student who was convicted of bias intimidation and invasion of privacy after spying on his gay roommate who later killed himself. How much have you heard about this story?
Ravi was recently sentenced to 30 days in jail, three years probation, and community service. In your opinion, was the sentence given to Ravi too tough, not tough enough, or did Ravi get the sentence he deserves?
The poll’s result “suggests with all the discussion about bullying, people are taking this much more seriously than they did before — and that maybe the judge should’ve too,” Rutgers-Eagleton poll director David Redlawsk told NJ.com, which adds:
The case — which triggered an impassioned national debate about bias laws, gay rights and sexual privacy in the internet era — was followed by an astonishing 97 percent of respondents.
“To have only three percent say they’d heard nothing about the case is very unusual,” said Redlawsk, a political science professor at Rutgers. “The story really captured their attention.”
The more people knew about the case, the more likely they were to say Ravi should have received a tougher sentence.
Amidst the overall consensus, however, there were small pockets of deviation:
• Men and women felt the same about the case, overall, with one exception: 10 percent of men called the sentence too tough, while only 3 percent of women did.
• Hispanics showed the highest dissatisfaction with the sentence, with 62 percent deeming it not tough enough.
• Born-again Christians were also more likely overall (59 percent) to criticize the verdict as too lenient.
Russell said that matches earlier research showing that among those who object to homosexuality on religious grounds, “the more religious you are, the least tolerant you are of intolerance.”
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