Yesterday we learned that Mitt Romney, in addition to being a vulture capitalist and a rank political opportunist, was also a schoolyard bully. This is my unsurprised face.
John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.
“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend…
A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.
… “It happened very quickly, and to this day it troubles me,” said Buford, the school’s wrestling champion, who said he joined Romney in restraining Lauber. Buford subsequently apologized to Lauber, who was “terrified,” he said.
… “He was just easy pickin’s,” said Friedemann, then the student prefect, or student authority leader of Stevens Hall, expressing remorse about his failure to stop it.
… Friedemann, guilt ridden, made a point of not talking about it with his friend and waited to see what form of discipline would befall Romney at the famously strict institution. Nothing happened.
Romney claims that he doesn’t remember the incident, but we all know that he does. We know this not just because the man is a proven liar, but because when a person carries out an act of violence like that, they remember it. Probably with a lot of pride.
The only way I would accept that Mitt doesn’t remember that particular incident is if there were so many times that he bullied and assaulted classmates he didn’t like and thought were gay that he just can’t separate one from another. Either way, the picture is pretty grim.
And not all that surprising.
Consider the kind of man Romney is. He has not a bit of compassion, empathy, or regard for people other than himself and the people he holds dear1. He casually destroys people’s lives, makes their jobs disappear, then laughs and makes jokes about it. His ever-changing political stances prove that he doesn’t hold values, he pretends them, and says whatever is politically expedient no matter who it hurts.
And he knows he can get away with it, because he’s been getting away with imposing his will on others in a violent manner since school. No teacher, no principal, no student challenged or punished him for what he did to that kid. He probably went home to his family and received praise for it.
Mitt Romney is a perfect example of why the problem of bullying needs to be addressed at all times, wherever it happens. Schools need to take responsibility, parents need to take responsibility. And this is for the good of the victim of the bullying as much as the bully themselves. Because, if gone unchecked, that bully may grow up to think victimization is acceptable. Which means that more people have to suffer because of the bully’s lack of empathy or restraint.
Any time anyone wants to give me an excuse for why they won’t take steps to stop bullying, whether it be because of some myth about the victims needing to “man up” or some bullshit about not having enough resources to deal with it, I am going to point at the nearest picture of Mitt Romney and say “people like you are the reason why Mitt Romney is the man he is. If you admire him, then you’re just as bad. If you recoil from that thought, stop making excuses and address this problem.”