If Mitt Romney Was a Homophobic Bully, Should We Care?
How long are we, as high school students, accountable for our actions? And to what degree are we willing to judge others based on their adolescent selves?
With the controversy surrounding Mitt Romney’s role in the hateful bullying of a gay teen in the ’60s, these questions have taken on pressing significance.
Although the Washington Post released the story, most of us have looked towards cable news anchors for answers. And why shouldn’t we?
An embarrassing story about the 2012 Republican presidential nominee pushing down and cutting the hair off a crying boy is perfect for “Hardball” or “The O’Reilly Factor.” It is personal, controversial, and holds political implication.
But the coverage of Romney’s “prank,” in which he harassed a presumably gay child named John Lauber, has been made unreliable by political bias. You didn’t need to be psychic to know which side MSNBC or Fox would take.
On the left, political analysts like Chris Matthews have attacked the Republican candidate’s political credibility by highlighting the vicious and likely homophobic nature of the attack.
Conversely, conservatives have defended their ideological savior by calling the story “sensationalistic” and “irrelevant.” Some have even joined ranks with Fox News op-ed Writer Jonah Goldberg, by calling the post’s story “naked advocacy [for President Obama] gussied up as journalistic due diligence.”
And because Staples students are the products of a socially-progressive culture, their general reaction has been the same as Matthew’s. In Westport, most of us live by Stephen Colbert’s infamous quip: “Reality has a known liberal bias.”
As a semi-qualified journalist, I decided to be the moderator between two political extremes. My parents’ petty arguments have made me good at this.
Like with anything else, we cannot ignore context. It was 1965. Homosexuality, especially in an all male Christian prep school, was socially forbidden. And Mitt Romney was the wealthy son of the man who was being politically ostracized for his bold opposition to the Vietnam War. One could argue that Mitt had to go to extra lengths to fit in.
In no way is this explanation meant to defend the egregious nature of his actions; it is only to suggest that as 21st century students, we need to consider how Romney changed with the evolving landscape of time.
And on a less political scale, we all know people who were jerks in high school. Believe it or not, your Brady Bunch parents did mean things in their day.
My grandfather was the kindest, most charming WWII veteran you’d ever meet, but he also used a wire to trip an old rabbi as he approached the bema.
Hence, the important question should be how did we grow from our stupid high school days; have we considered and been impacted by our past mistakes?
My grandfather, even though the rabbi prank was somewhat funny (unlike Mitt’s), instilled his kids with the respect for elders that he never had. The main issue is that Mitt Romney may not have changed at all.
All six men who watched Romney hold down and cut the hair off of the crying boy agree that the moment was disturbing and emotionally traumatic. But Mitt Romney, the one who led the hazing, apparently doesn’t remember it. Sorry Mitt, but you’re not that stupid.
And when asked if any homophobia caused him to cut off the boy’s hair, Romney laughed as he denied any knowledge of Lauber’s sexual orientation.
Once again, all six witnesses pointed at the boy’s presumed homosexuality as the root cause of Romney’s actions.
If this doesn’t give credence to those who assert that Mitt Romney holds a concerning lack of empathy for those who differ from him, then nothing will. Unfortunately for Romney, 15 years of private equity and a $200 million net worth will do little to show voters otherwise.
Yes, everyone makes mistakes. But honest people own up to them. And caring people examine the irrationality that caused the incident, so that it never happens again. We don’t want a president who won’t do all three of these things.