Let me ask you something. If someone had, as a high school student around 45 years ago, cornered a fellow student who was a Hasidic Jew and cut that other student’s locks off, then gone on to favor legislation that would restrict the rights of Jewish people and not allow them to be full citizens, what would you call that person? Or say that someone, again as a youth in high school some 45 years ago, had cornered a black student and shaved off his Afro, then gone on to campaign against interracial marriage. What would you call that person?
When Mitt Romney was in high school, he helped bully a fellow student. Apparently, he actually might have organized the bullying. The story goes that in 1965, there was a student at Romney’s school who had long, dyed hair. Romney took exception to this and got some students together who held down the boy while Romney cut his hair off.
Now, yes, that can be dismissed as normal high school stupidity, though given that he was either seventeen or eighteen at the time, and thus an adult or nearly so, perhaps it shouldn’t be. Romney, after first saying he didn’t remember the incident (and then saying he did remember, but certainly didn’t think “the fellow” was gay, claiming that it was the farthest thing from people’s minds in the 1960s, cause we all know there was no homophobia then), has now gone on to issue a non-apology apology:
“Back in high school, I did some dumb things,” Romney said during a radio appearance. “If anybody was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologize.”
Note that, of course, he doesn’t say, “I did something really wrong and inexcusable, and I’m very, very sorry.” But whatever. At least it’s a sort-of apology, and I’d normally be inclined to let it go there with a “wow, what a dick,” kind of attitude on my part.
But I can’t. This is a man who has since been a member of a party that’s bent on restricting gay rights as much as possible. Now he is the standard bearer of that party. He said yesterday that he favors domestic partnerships for gays that aren’t civil unions and certainly aren’t marriages, and don’t come with the same rights. Question unanswered: which rights, specifically, would he deny gay couples?
So I go back to the top of my article. If someone had cut the locks off a Hasidic boy 45 years ago and now wants Jews to not have the same rights as everyone else, what do you call that person? If someone shaved an Afro off a boy 45 years ago and now doesn’t want blacks to marry whites, what do you call that person?
When it’s someone who, in 1965, forcibly cut the hair off a boy he thought was gay (despite what he says now), and has then gone on to favor legislation preventing gays from having the same rights as other people, and belongs to a party which has in the past, and has many, many elements that even now, favor keeping gay sex illegal, well…I know exactly what I call that person.
I call that person Mitt Romney.