There may be a good reason voters can’t get a good bead on Mitt Romney. And it may be because the real Romney has a troubled, sadistic history. High School classmates of Romney recall an incident that’s disturbing to its core. Romney, then a popular senior at the prestigious Cranbrook School in Michigan, disapproved of classmate John Lauber’s long, blond locks, which Romney allegedly took as a clue that Lauber was a homosexual. So Romney assembled a posse of bullies and held the boy down and brutally chopped off his hair.
“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection. Mitt, the teenaged son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber’s look, Friedemann recalled.
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.
The incident was recalled similarly by five students, who gave their accounts independently of one another. Four of them — Friedemann, now a dentist; Phillip Maxwell, a lawyer; Thomas Buford, a retired prosecutor; and David Seed, a retired principal — spoke on the record. Another former student who witnessed the incident asked not to be named. The men have differing political affiliations, although they mostly lean Democratic. Buford volunteered for Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008. Seed, a registered independent, has served as a Republican county chairman in Michigan. All of them said that politics in no way colored their recollections.
Today, Romney’s actions would be considered a hate crime. The assault itself is a felony.
So is Mitt Romney sorry for his actions 47 years ago? Nope, unlike five of his classmates, the Republican presidential candidate has no recollection of assaulting Lauber. His campaign team put out this statement:
… the former Massachusetts governor has no recollection of the incident.
Why would Mitt Romney not remember straddling another boy and savagely cutting off his hair? Because the event meant nothing to Romney. Because, Lauber was beneath his contempt. Because Lauber wasn’t human to the young Romney.
But won’t voters find it disturbing is that five classmates vividly recall the event, but Romney doesn’t? Uh oh, time to shake the Romney Etch-A-Sketch…. Oh that brutal attack? It appears Mitt does remember assaulting Lauber, but…
I certainly don’t believe that I thought the fellow was homosexual. That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s.
And he still hasn’t apologized.
Also Romney is trying to claim that rampant homophobia didn’t exist in the 1960s? Perhaps that’s why it was so easy for homosexual men to come out back then. You better try again Mitt, you’re getting caught in yet another deep, disturbing lie.
Romney’s actions may be decades old, but they highlight a current problem among the Republican Party: Bullying is an acceptable form of punishment to quell dissent and non-conformity. From Ray Kelly’s spying on Muslims and brutal treatment of peaceful Occupy Wall Street protestors to Rush Limbaugh’s labeling of independent women as “feminazis,” “sluts,” and “prostitutes,” the GOP has become vile, mean, and intolerant at its core.
Lauber died in 2004, so it is too late for Mitt Romney to apologize to him, but it doesn’t mean he shouldn’t apologize to the public for his actions.
As a bullied child myself, I find Romney’s actions in 1965 to be beyond contempt. The emotional scars I bear from the bullying and assaults I had to endure during my teenage years still haunt me. I remember my attackers gleeful faces as they heckled and assaulted me. I remember the names they called me, I remember feeling the spit on my cheek, I remember the punches they threw, I remember the helplessness I felt. There are millions of people like me: we were the “retards,” the “fags,” the “geeks,” and the “losers.”
You see, it doesn’t matter to us whether Lauber was gay or not. It also doesn’t matter that Romney didn’t attack him for being gay. What matters is that Lauber was physically assaulted for being different, for being subhuman, for being on a lower social stratus than a scion of wealth and affluence.
I have never received apologies from the bullies that made my life hell. Today, one of them even denies the events ever happened. To me, this only heightens my contempt for bullies; when caught, they feel it’s acceptable for them to dismiss the event. It either didn’t occur or didn’t matter. My contempt for bullying has only grown because of this. And now, I have a new-found contempt for Mitt Romney, America’s lead bully. And his denying the significance of such an event is just as despicable as the assault.