2012 Election | Mitt Romney | News

Mitt Romney: Anti-Gay Bully?


In what could be a damning anecdote from Mitt Romney's more youthful days, Jason Horowitz at the Washington Post reports that the presumptive GOP nominee not only participated in but led what could be described as an assault on a fellow student thought to be gay.

Apparently John Lauber, a fellow student at the upscale Cranbrook High School in Michigan, didn't fit the 60s-era mould of "masculinity," and faced constant torment from his peers, including Romney.

After a spring break, Lauber returned to school with bleached blond hair, a look of which young Romney did not approve. "He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!" Romney reportedly told a friend. He subsequently organized a crew to hold down Lauber and cut his hair.

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 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.

Lauber passed away in 2004.

It is tempting to claim this story will bolster Romney's standings among anti-gay conservatives, but let's keep in mind that bullying has since the death of Tyler Clementi become a national, bipartisan issue and the idea that a potential president initiated such an incident could turn off moderate or wary voters.

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  1. @Brian I doubt it will do any good, but I will try to make this as simple for you as possible.

    I believe that most people have reached the point where they understand that sexual orientation is not a choice and that homosexuality is not a "disease"....and the vast majority also realize that the whole "sin" argument is fallacious and place little if any currency in it, except for perhaps the 15% of the population who are hard-core Evangelicals.

    So why do we keep losing by massive margins as we did in North Carolina and Anchorage recently--where the ballot initiatives were truly hostile in that they were designed to deny any legal protections to gay people even in matters of basic rights like employment discrimination and domestic partner benefits?

    Because people don't like what they see as "gay". It is not about homosexuality any more--it is about the culture of "gay" and its embrace of "gender-non-conformity", its attempts to idolize women and denigrate men and masculinity in general, the snarkiness and effeminate behavior that go along with that ideology, and the general in-your-face idiocy that is its expression--everything from glitter-bombing to parading around at Pride in leather jockstraps with one's butt hanging out to twirling batons.

    And I personally, like millions of other gay men and perhaps even some lesbians, am sick and tired of the people who perpetuate this culture and have absolutely no sympathy for them when they come to harm, seeing as how they are destroying the ability of the rest of us to achieve equality and be accepted by society.

    So there. You can spin all you want and try to demonize me all you want, but that is how I see it.

    Posted by: Rick | May 10, 2012 1:33:32 PM

  2. A correction: when Romney said he didn't know the student was gay, he was referring not to Lauber but to ANOTHER student, to whom he said "attagirl." That other student eventually came out, but was very closeted at the time.

    What Romney did to Lauber was much worse. He and his buddies assaulted the kid and cut his hair. They presumed that Lauber was gay, and indeed he was.

    Posted by: Jay | May 10, 2012 1:37:34 PM

  3. Rick - again, this isn't a question of sympathy for the victim. What kind of person is the ringleader and self-appointed judge, jury and executioner when it comes to identifying and assaulting someone?

    Posted by: Fritz | May 10, 2012 1:41:18 PM

  4. @ Rick: I'm feeling generous today so instead of going off on what a bag of sh*t you are, I'll say this:

    I pity you. If I were religious, I'd even pray for you.

    Posted by: Tanoka | May 10, 2012 1:42:20 PM

  5. @Chris--Really? REALLY? I hate to use all caps but between you and Rick (and Mitt) I feel the need to speak some truth. This was a criminal act. Once more to make it clear: THIS WAS A CRIME. Not under some new hate crime law, but under any definition of assault and battery we've had this century and even before that. This is not a case of "boys will be boys" or a function of the 1960s. Cultural revolution? Most people still understood right and wrong.

    Posted by: Stefan | May 10, 2012 1:43:32 PM

  6. @Fritz All he did was hold the sissy-boy down and cut some of his hair off. And they were in HIGH SCHOOL, for heaven's sake. Big deal.

    And our little sissy "victim" could have fought back instead of lying there wimpering like a little girl and Romney might have left him alone--at least he would have developed a modicum of respect for him....but he didn't; no, he behaved the way the culture of effeminacy programs one to do and displayed cowardice rather than bravery.

    And to take it back to my original comment--nobody respects a sissy (coward). Nobody. And nobody ever will.

    Posted by: Rick | May 10, 2012 1:48:44 PM

  7. Bullies and their victims tend to grow up into people with few friends and a lot of career problems. Mitt and people like him, are a special case of bully that gets others to do their dirty work for them and grow up to be business leaders and politicians.

    Posted by: anon | May 10, 2012 1:55:42 PM

  8. I'm so masculine that when I fart it strips the paint off of walls.

    Posted by: Rick | May 10, 2012 1:58:12 PM

  9. Rick,

    There's no point in continuing this as usual. I am extremely familiar with your argument, and it's just plain wrong, based on wrong assumptions, faulty logic and frankly disgusting morality.

    You are a genuinely sick person, and you refuse to listen to anyone other than yourself. We've been going through this in various comment threads for years, and neither of us will convince the other. I think if you showed a shred of compassion for the brutalized and murdered it would make your argument more acceptable to some. Instead you LOL at every death, and delude yourself into thinking that will get your hated femmes to butch up.

    Posted by: Brian | May 10, 2012 2:03:54 PM

  10. I noticed how the religious right was quick to jump all over Dan Savage for pointing out the certain verbiage in the Bible is bulls***...and they called him a bully. Well it's ironic how it's Mitt Romney who's really the bully.

    Posted by: Oliver | May 10, 2012 2:19:19 PM

  11. This story, which apparently has been corroborated by five witnesses, all interviewed separately, will have traction in the press and may just be the end of Romney's presidential bid.

    Bullying is being taken more and more seriously now than it was even a few years ago. There are horror stories involving teenagers scarred for life or driven to suicide as a result of incidences like this perpetrated by Romney. Who knows, now that this story has surfaced, there may be others. From this day forward, any story of a teenager bullied will keep this Romney episode front and center.

    Romney is a cold, cruel and calculating sociopath and narcissistic man who is not liked by those who meet him. Just as his wife has come off as the typical high school "mean girl", Willard will now be seen as the prep school, frat boy prick that everybody loves to hate. He has a rigid personality, a lack of compassion for people or animals, he strives to be perfect, cannot take criticism, must always be "one up" in every situation and lies without reservation about even the smallest details. This is not anyone a rational society would want around the levers of power.

    As for some of the GOProud trolls that see this is perfectly acceptable, if the frat punk bully in this case were Obama, you'd be giddy and pissing all over yourselves with joy. Well, it's not. It's your boy Wierd Willard and it will cost him in the days and weeks ahead. Whatever ground Obama may have lost with "independents" because of his equal marriage position will be more than made up for by votes lost by Weird Willard as a result of this news.

    And to Rick, if you haven't had your ass kicked by some effeminate drag queen already, which accounts for your "sissyphobia", then I hope it does happen real soon. Unless of course you have been accused of being effeminate and ridiculed by family and friends and are thus projecting. In either case, I've known some very physically tough "sissies" and some very masculine cowards in my day. I wonder where you fall?

    Posted by: Bob R | May 10, 2012 2:21:53 PM

  12. Well said, Brian.
    Yeah, Rick, sorry, you really lost this one. You lost it big time. But that's ok, even real men lose sometimes. Now please, go back to the truck stop for some action so the rest of the adults can continue the discussion for awhile without babysitting you. I've defended you in the past because I think Towleroad needs to have more diverse viewpoints, but you're just wrong on this one, psychotically so. Blaming the victims never excuses the perpetrators - I guess to your mindset, the Jews of 1930s Germany were just asking for it. I mean, they could have converted to Christianity after all.

    Posted by: St. Theresa of Avila | May 10, 2012 2:22:21 PM

  13. This is bad for Romney. I don't necessarily think it will cost him the election, but it's bad. If he had shied away from a classmate others were making fun of we might understand. If he'd tried to talk to this boy and say "Why don't you cut your hair? Everyone is laughing at you behind your back" or some other such remark we might have understood. But what he did was ASSAULT this boy. I can't call it anything other than what it is.

    This may cost Romney among moderate voters. However, since it was nearly 50 years ago they may consider it a fairly minor thing. I hate to tell you all this, but this will actually HELP Romney with the more extreme type of social conservatve, the type that suspects him of being a closeted social liberal. According to this type of socon gay teens need a good haircutting AND a good ass-kicking. (this isn't MY view, but such socons exist. According to them I'd need a good ass-kicking just for being on Towleroad!) You may be giving them just the incentive they need to be enthusiastic about a Romney vote.

    Posted by: mary | May 10, 2012 2:24:05 PM

  14. How interesting that one of Romney's gay bullying victims in school has the last name, "Hummel", just like perpetually bullied gay teen on "Glee", "Kurt Hummel".

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | May 10, 2012 2:32:06 PM

  15. Rick, G-d in Heaven, dealing with you is like a game of whacamole.
    Because people don't like what they see as "gay".

    So, so wrong. They don't hate that gay men are feminine. Have you ever been to a right-wing Southern Baptist church? I have and I remember several very swish acting men in the congregation. In fact, when I think of the gayest acting adult males I've ever met, about 1/3rd of them were closeted. Including a Mormon guy! No, they hate the concept of gay identity and what they presume gay men to do in bed. I once overheard a conversation of some homophobic relatives on the southern side of my family, and they implied that they found masculine acting gay men scarier than campy acting ones (I believe flaming f-gs is the expression they used), and in their opinion, masculine acting ones were more likely to be pedophiles. (which of course has no real connection at all)

    That being said do I want the sort of silliness that sometimes goes on at pride parades to be in the national media? No, sometimes I would prefer it wasn't. But that's only because I will assume already ignorant people will find it furthers their hatred rather than dissuades it. But the underlying animus against gay people is already there, however those gay people act.

    Posted by: St. Theresa of Avila | May 10, 2012 2:41:17 PM

  16. Once again, the self-proclaimed bastions of "masculinity" are utterly incapable of proving it. If someone, anyone, wants to come on and criticize "effeminacy" and tout their own masculinity they should prove it; prove that they are what they say there are. To not do so only proves everyone else right.

    Posted by: Jay | May 10, 2012 2:44:59 PM

  17. @Sara...you have obivously never spent anytime in a single gender environment. Human being are often cruel to each. I am not defending this or saying it is right but to be honest I don't know any single person who doesn't regret the way they treated someone phyiscally or emotionally when they were kids.

    For men who have been in the scouts, played sports, were in fraternities, ROTC or the military this behavior is all too common.

    All female groups are just as bad and in some cases much worse.

    It is clear that you don't like Mitt Romney and that is fine. But make the case on policy because it is clear that Gov. Romney is not the devil or the evilest person in world.

    Posted by: Chris | May 10, 2012 2:50:47 PM

  18. @RICK : stop putting down our brother gays.......I don't care what your views are.....but if they are traitor-views this is not the place for them.
    Isn't there a neo-Nazi blog on which you can post ?

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | May 10, 2012 2:55:07 PM

  19. romney has just proved what we all suspected; he an unreconstructed cu*t.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | May 10, 2012 2:56:49 PM

  20. If these so-called "femme gays" are such ostracized victims then how come they're the ones who aren't afraid to be visible and put a face to who we are?

    Posted by: Jay | May 10, 2012 3:06:22 PM

  21. Why oh why do we continue to try to reason with He Who Has No Brain?

    RICK - STILL an idiot!

    Posted by: TJ | May 10, 2012 3:09:45 PM

  22. @Chris Of course I've spent time in gender majority environment including all male and all female. Not sure what that has to do with someone getting assaulted.

    You assault someone, it's wrong. It was wrong according to the men who were with Romney who still feel sick about it. To the point when they saw this man years later they apologized to him. They didn't brush it off as boys will be boys, they had a conscience about it. That says something good about them and something odd about Romney. How come this has weighed on their conscience and not on Romneys?

    Also the article has other incidents Romney did like leading a blind man to walk into a wall. That's cruelty not a prank.

    Posted by: sara | May 10, 2012 3:16:25 PM

  23. It's even worse than reported here. He also bullied kids who were scholarship students and were not affluent, he impersonated a cop and terrorized two girls, and still more. The English press is really reporting on this now.

    Posted by: Terry | May 10, 2012 3:25:41 PM

  24. Sara is of course correct. Granted, as Chris said, he may not be the "devil or the evilest person in the world", but that's a pretty low bar for the presidency. These are disturbing acts, they were seared into the memories of those around him, and show a vicious streak that borders on psychotic. Not just the acts but the apparent obsession with anything slightly different from himself. His only real defence is that this was fifty years ago so who cares, but as others have pointed out people have obsessed about Obama's birth and childhood since he became president.

    I disagree with most of Romney's policies, but I did think he was a nice, if goofy, guy, unlike Santorum or Gingrich who just come off nasty. Looks like I was wrong.

    Posted by: Brian | May 10, 2012 3:29:31 PM

  25. Rick--

    Are you 14 years old? That must be the case. It is your only excuse...weak as it is.

    Posted by: candideinncc | May 10, 2012 3:35:12 PM

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