As to Romney’s claim that he doesn’t remember the bullying incident, one must wonder how it escaped his memory while it has stuck in the minds of others who participated, like Phillip Maxwell — a lifelong friend of Mitt’s who told ABC News he held Lauber’s arm and leg and describes Romney and the other boys involved as “a pack of dogs.”
It’s a haunting memory. I think it was for everybody that spoke up about it … because when you see somebody who is simply different taken down that way and is terrified and you see that look in their eye you never forget it. And that was what we all walked away with. I saw it with my own eyes. It was a hack job … clumps of hair taken off. When I saw the look on his [Lauber’s] face, it was a look I’ll never forget. When you see a victim, the sense of trust betrayed in this boy who was perfectly innocent for being different. This was bullying supreme.
Here’s Andrew Sullivan on the notion of pranks and Romney’s claim that he doesn’t remember:
I do not believe Romney has no memory of this. I believe he is lying. His absurd statement that he has no memory of the event but that he didn’t target the boy for being gay is hilarious for its self-contradiction. A boy who routinely snickered “Atta girl!” when one young gay kid in his class spoke up is not just bashing hippies. I went to an all boys high school in the 1970s. What Romney did was a gay-bashing.
Should we judge a man today by what he did all those years ago?
Not entirely. He has apologized. But there is surely something here: the notion that being privileged and conformist requires actual punishment of the marginalized and under-privileged; that you pick on younger, weaker boys, not older ones; and that you psychologically traumatize the victim by permanently marking his body.
And this matters because today these attacks on gay kids drive many to suicide, others to despair; they wreck lives and self-esteem. It matters that we know that one candidate for president was an anti-gay bully in high school, targeting a weak and defenseless kid and humiliating and traumatizing him. Today, he does the same thing in a larger, more abstract way: targeting a small minority as a way to advance his own power. It gives me the chills.