Mitt Romney laughs off homophobic bullying
A chilling incident of gay bashing by a teenaged Mitt Romney was revealed in a meticulously researched article in yesterday’s Washington Post. The Republican presidential hopeful is renowned for his strict Mormon beliefs and vehement opposition to gay marriage.
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While the broadcast of Obama’s support for gay marriage was airing on Good Morning America yesterday, Mitt Romney was fending off a serious accusation of homophobic bullying. Though the incident occurred in 1965, it is corroborated by five different former students at the Cranbrook private boys’ school the Republican hopeful attended in the 1960s.
The incident is described in remarkable detail in a 12-page story by the Washington Post‘s Jason Horowitz, who interviewed Romney’s former prep school buddies. The former Massachusetts Governnor and multi-millionaire organized an attack on a new student, John Lauber, who was targeted for “walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye.” Lauber was perpetually teased for his “nonconformity and presumed homosexuality,” in a school where boys wore ties and carried briefcases. The former classmates describe Romney leading his posse to pin Lauber to the ground and forcibly cut his hair off. “As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors,” the article reads. In spite of the school’s famously strict discipline, the school never reprimanded Romney or anyone else for the attack.
Lauber, who died of liver cancer in 2004 in Seattle, was later asked to leave the prep school for smoking a cigarette. One of the witnesses of the attack, Cranbrook graduate David Seed, recalled meeting Lauber in the mid-1990s by chance, and taking the opportunity to apologize to him for not doing more to help in the situation. “It was horrible… It’s something I have thought about a lot since then,” Lauber is said to have responded. Lauber, who eventually came out to his friends and family, would bleach his hair for the rest of his life, according to his sister.
Obviously aware of the media storm, the Republican presidential hopeful went on Fox News yesterday morning to say that he did not recall the incident. “I don’t remember that incident,” Romney said, laughing. “I certainly don’t believe that I thought the fellow was homosexual. That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s, so that was not the case… But as to pranks that were played back then, I don’t remember them all, but again, high school days, if I did stupid things, why I’m afraid I got to say sorry for it.”
While Romney may be laughing off the incident as a “high school prank,” the undertones of the story point to the man’s image problem and weak spots on social issues. The article also describes some less harmful pranks, but the overall picture is that of a rich man’s son who could get away with cruelty in a world known for its secrecy and cronyism. It would take many decades for the issue of teen bullying to become as mainstream as it is today, but the fact remains: a link is being drawn between Romney’s vehement opposition to gay marriage – and even civil unions – and his macho bullying ways in school.
While Obama wins points throughout liberal America and the world for supporting gay marriage, Democrats are surely hoping voters may now look at Romney and ask, “Bullies grow up, but do they ever really change?”.
Photo via Joeff (Flickr)