In an inverse addition to Obama’s same-sex marriage endorsement, The Washington Post took a stroll down memory lane with Mitt Romney last week, focusing on his bullying years in prep school.
Interviewing several close friends and classmates, the Post article revealed the eventual GOP nominee belongs in a 1980s film having his ass handed to him by Adam Baldwin, rather than being the potential leader of the free world.
A fellow student named John Lauber had been harassed over his “nonconformity and presumed homosexuality,” and the incident culminated when Romney led a group of fellow students into tackling Lauber and pinning him to the ground. As Lauber cried and screamed for help, Romney cut his hair. Romney was never punished for his actions.
Of course, when interviewed by Fox News, Romney didn’t remember the incident… nor did he talk about Fight Club.
There is no doubt in my mind that Romney possesses a clear memory of what he did. It has had a lasting impact on everybody involved, including those that witnessed and participated in the assault. Lauber himself, after being recognized in an airport bar in the mid 90’s, told a former classmate, “It was horrible,” adding, “It’s something I have thought about a lot since then.”
Bullying has become an epidemic among LGBT teens. The following percentages were found in the 2005 GLSEN report, “From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America”:
- 65% of students reported they have been verbally or physically harassed or even assaulted
- 33% of harassment is linked to sexual orientation
- LGBT students are three times as likely as non-LGBT students to admit that they do not feel safe at school (22% vs. 7%)
- 90% of LGBT students have been harassed or assaulted compared to 62% of non-LGBT students
Perhaps due to the rise of social media, the public profile of LGBT suicides has noticeably risen over the past few years. Last year, a study published in the journal Pediatrics determined:
- Lesbian, gay and bisexual students were far more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual students (21.5% vs. 4.2%)
- The risk of suicide was 20% higher for gay teenagers who did not have supportive social surroundings, such as school-enforced policies that protected LGBT students.
The truly damaging and most revealing piece to this story is not the assault itself, but Romney’s apology for it. Romney’s response to his bullying history, and in particular the Lauber incident, lacks any sign of remorse or compassion on his part (Romney even laughed about the incident before apologizing). In fact, the campaign has even used his “pranks” to make him more relatable.
In an attempt to humanize her robotic husband, Ann Romney said, “I still look at him as the boy that I met in high school when he was playing all the jokes and really just being crazy, pretty crazy. And so there’s a wild and crazy man inside of there just waiting to come out!” I think we’ll all be safer if we just keep him in his box.
I believe people can change as they grow older. Clearly, Romney’s growth is of the stunted variety.
The people of this nation deserve a leader that can sympathize with their struggles, whether they are financial or social. Romney has well established through his tax plan that he does not understand the financial burden under which a majority of the country is pinned, while his insincere apology and policies against equality showcase his inability to relate to the social issues of today. But he can give a hell of a haircut.