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Mitt Romney: Anti-Gay Bully?

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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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Comments

  1. Unfortunately I do doubt this story will gain much traction in the mainstream press. It happened 50 years ago and reflected attitudes of that time. The victim is dead. I am not saying Romneys attitude has evolved at all since then (hard to tell since his opinions change daily), but I think most of the media will give him a pass.

    Posted by: Swiminbuff | May 10, 2012 3:47:42 PM


  2. @Sara in Dreams of My Father the President writes about pushing a little girl down and yelling at her to get away from him while his friends laughed. The little girls was the only other african american at the school. Was that assualt too or a race based hate crime? Or was he just trying to fit in?

    My point here is that kids and teenagers do stupid stuff. Both of these stories are decades old.

    Both the President and Gov. Romney have nice families and plenty of people who attest to their decency for their deeds as fully informed adults. That is good enough for me on both of them...I would like to stick to the policy and the direction country needs to take in the future.

    Posted by: Chris | May 10, 2012 4:02:35 PM


  3. I wonder.....if given a chance would Mitt Romney have stabbed the guy to death???

    Posted by: BRAINS | May 10, 2012 4:03:02 PM


  4. It was an assault performed by an adult. He should have gone to jail. But the Rethugs--those great protectors of traditional morality--have a special place in their hearts for the upper classes. When "W" was AWOL, well, he had things to do, drugs to try. When McCain kept crashing planes, Daddy took care of his rather expensive mistakes. Bristol Palin--yeak the knocked up snowbilly--is lecturing Obama on how to raise kids. The irony of these people pretending to be role models for the rest of us is mind blowing.

    Posted by: candideinncc | May 10, 2012 4:07:59 PM


  5. obviously rick is a mental case

    Posted by: will | May 10, 2012 4:33:45 PM


  6. Rick, I hate to break it to you, but your preference for masculine presentation isn't everyone's. It isn't even close to everyone's. My reference group is straight females, a demographic I'm part of. You like manly men. That's nice. I hope some of them like you. Personally I, and a lot of women I know, prefer guys with a good deal of femininity. Not only does it give them a feline attractiveness, but usually they're damn tough. Because the easy way out is to put on that cookie-cutter macho exterior. It's not interesting. And it's not strong.

    Posted by: Linda | May 10, 2012 4:53:24 PM


  7. @Linda I don't doubt that you do like them. Feminists tend to like effeminate gay men because they are weak and women can therefore easily dominate them and push them around.....and still be worshipped by them, to boot, which is not possible with any truly self-respecting man, gay or straight. And because effeminate gay men hate men generally--that is the underlying basis for all their behavior--you as a woman, can count on them to take your side in any conflict you have with a man, whether husband, boyfriend, or co-worker, regardless of the circumstances or merits of the case. So from your perspective, what's not to like about them?

    Most men, however, do have more self-respect than to make themselves dutiful little servants/wards of women, much as that must frustrate you.

    Posted by: Rick | May 10, 2012 5:10:02 PM


  8. It is ridiculous to post a story about what a man did as a boy about 50 years. If we don't think we can beat Romney on the REAL issues, we are in big trouble.How many crazy things did the commentors on this site do in high school? Do they influence the kind of person they are today? Not if they have grown up and matured.

    Posted by: andrew | May 10, 2012 5:33:57 PM


  9. Now to prove that his attacks on other men were not the result of internalized homophobia Mitt should reveal a number of affairs he has had after marrying. Or, even before marrying. If he's only been with one woman his whole life, then that's suspicious. He may not be masculine enough to be President. Mormons have had a tradition of one man, several women and if Mitt rejected that so easily it has to give one pause to think he may not have found the sacrifice so difficult. I think the only way out of this conundrum is for Mitt to admit he's gay.

    Posted by: reflexively macho? | May 10, 2012 5:36:00 PM


  10. @Rick, I am so completely not the person you just described. :) I have no desire to be worshiped and am quite un-domineering. I expect people to take any side in a conflict they believe is right. I certainly don't think everything I do is correct, and I try to be objective about situations, not judging their merit by how it affects me. I'm moderately introverted, fairly shy, and I like people. I'm sorry your life experience has led you to feel what you do.

    Posted by: Linda | May 10, 2012 6:03:41 PM


  11. Rick, if you had a penis longer than an inch, I'd tell you to f**k yourself.

    Posted by: RedOnTheGreg | May 10, 2012 6:20:19 PM


  12. @Chris: you are a voice of reason on a site that doesn't see a whole lot of rationality.

    Posted by: andrew | May 10, 2012 6:28:51 PM


  13. Well, Sara, swift-boating was a partisan attack, too, but it worked. I have hope!

    Posted by: jim | May 10, 2012 6:59:58 PM


  14. Something bothers me about this story. If the others present were still bothered enough about their actions, years later, to apologize to the victim, there must have been something more to it than simply jumping the guy, holding him down for Mittens to cut his hair off. Methinks there's a darker side to this episode. Not being overly dramatic or hopeful (!), but grown men feeling compelled, years later, to apologize for a simple prepschool prank doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

    Posted by: jim | May 10, 2012 7:20:57 PM


  15. Actually, SWIMINBUFF, its gotten a lot more traction than I ever imagined possible. This can't be laughed off like the dog on the car roof. This is serious. And it's all over the media

    Here's my two cents --

    http://fablog.ehrensteinland.com/2012/05/10/fait-diver-hair-2/

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | May 10, 2012 7:45:36 PM


  16. Holding someone down and cutting off their hair was reserved for female collaborators in France after the war. That was the punishment for a serious act,......not liking his hair is not a serious offence to you, Mitt.
    But I guess you thought you were a hoot ! And such an Alpha leader Mittscum.

    And the sinister part of this sorry tale is that Romney was the instigator and the barber.......and now says he doesn't remember this assault with the victim screaming and crying .

    Do you think we are completely phucking dumb Mitt ?

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | May 10, 2012 8:23:57 PM


  17. @ JIM :

    Methinks you may have a very valid point.....with your suspicious mind !

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | May 10, 2012 8:25:59 PM


  18. I have a high suspicion that this may be a fabricated or revealed story in conjunction to Obama speaking up about gay marriage to galvanize the bibles and guns crowd of the US.

    Posted by: Alexx | May 10, 2012 8:36:59 PM


  19. @ Rick,

    Romney pressured his other dormmates into participating. Romney was the ringleader. To be honest, Rick, I don't know who you're planning to vote for, but if it's Romney, give up. When the average voter sees Romney as the homophobic zealot and ringleader in this incident, he's going to look like sh*t on a soda cracker.

    Posted by: Artie_in_Lauderdale | May 10, 2012 9:05:09 PM


  20. I think this is interesting, this article coming out now one day after President O endorsed gay marriage. What a political strategy, lets paint the opponent as anti gay and nuts to boot! However with that said the American people are tired of this sort of transparent RHETORIC. They are not so concerned as to what people do in their bedrooms as they are about putting bread to feed their families on their kitchen tables. The bottom line is, this president has failed over and over again in the past three years and nothing can compensate for that, not a news story of half truths or more verbal unkept promises. The AMERICAN PEOPLE have had enough. 69% believe the USA is headed in the wrong direction. I am guessing that not even 1% care about or believe these kind of exaggerated articles! Those are the facts not the falsehoods!

    Posted by: Mr. Thimb | May 10, 2012 9:23:03 PM


  21. @Artie I am not going to vote for Romney and I don't have much use for the man, personally. But that really is besides the point here.

    @Linda You may be right. Most of the few straight people who post here add a dose of reality to an otherwise often surreal site. But the phenomenon I described is very real--the effeminacy that gay men display and their idolization of women (and contempt for men) springs from an ideology.....and that is why they should not be considered "innocent" or "victims" in any sense.

    You may think they are just being nice to you because that is the way they are, but, believe me, there are darker motives at work in their relative attitudes towards women vs. their attitudes towards men.

    Posted by: Rick | May 10, 2012 9:42:46 PM


  22. What Romney did was mean spirited and very wrong. Unfortunately it is the kind of behavior often engaged in by teenage boys. He should have been punished by suspension or detentions and a public apology to the young victim, mabye some kind of in school service etc etc. However some of the people on this site portraying it as a serious felony that deserved prison must be from the planet mars. Today it is totally irrelevant to the election campaign. All of the self righteous folks had better hope that there are no equally bad events in Obama's teenage years because you know that the Romney campaign is digging for it now.

    Posted by: andrew | May 10, 2012 10:00:02 PM


  23. Jim, I'm with you. There must be more to this story. I think we tend to remember the extreme things we did as teenagers. This was extreme. The co-conspirators remembered it and and recounted the incident independently and materially the same.

    If Romney doesn't remember this incident, it suggests that this was one of a series of incidents of a similar ilk - and he can't narrow down which it was.

    He should own up to his involvement, apologize, and tell us how he's different now. So far he's not put himself in front of the media in interviews for such scrutiny. It makes me wonder what else he's hiding to need to control his brand so much that he won't be interviewed.

    Posted by: Mitch | May 10, 2012 10:17:14 PM


  24. Oh, and I forgot to mention: I like sissies too. And 'masculine' guys. And girls in flannel. Oh, lipstick lesbians, sissies with lipstick too. Guys in suits, lesbians in tuxes. Space makes this a mini-rant. I don't mean to leave anyone out - well, except for those who can't or don't appreciate the incredible diversity of the LGBT community.

    What I especially like about sissies is what I like about anyone who makes a choice to live their heart and live with their heart: integrity, authenticity, compassion.

    What makes some think that we can ask others to accept us as we are if we can't even do that ourselves...

    Posted by: Mitch | May 10, 2012 10:28:46 PM


  25. The apologists and minimalists for this behavior must have been bullies themselves, and never grew the balls to genuinely admit they were wrong. Just like American Psycho Mittens.

    Posted by: TJ | May 10, 2012 11:37:19 PM


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