Ladies and gentlemen, your nontroversy of the week is the report that Mitt Romney bullied a kid in high school:
There was no Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or sexting when several fellow students at a posh Detroit-area prep school say 18-year-old Romney led a boy posse to hold down one among them perceived as different and snip off his bleached blond hair.
The victim, John Lauber, is dead now, but The Washington Post reported when it broke the story that he was “perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality” and screamed for help. Though he eventually left the school — kicked out for smoking a cigarette while Romney was not punished — indications are Lauber simply endured, as many of today’s victims are forced to do despite the flood of anti-bullying campaigns in schools and out, advocates said.
The response to this has been, to say the least, interesting. Romney first denied it, then expressed regret. Breitbart, continuing its descent since its founders’ death, is claiming the story is “disintegrating” since one of the victim’s sisters doesn’t remember it and WaPo’s initial report had an error. The Left has shifted focus onto Romney’s response.
But these discussions keep inevitably coming back to the salient point of this issue: Mitt Romney was 16 years old when it happened. 16-year-olds are — and I say this a former 16-year-old myself — assholes. Neurologically, they are assholes. The prefrontal lobe that governs impulse control is not fully developed. And research has shown that teenagers are less empathic to their fellows than even infants. Teenagers are assholes. And anyone who thinks they weren’t an asshole in their teen years is looking into their past through rose-tinted glasses.
I sure was an asshole teen. I could talk about my parents or siblings, but there is one incident in particular that stands out. Back in Hebrew School, we had a kid who was different and he was made fun of relentlessly. I don’t recall how much I participated, but I certainly never stopped it. The only way it was stopped was when the Rabbi sat us down and really laid into us, telling us the young man had already attempted suicide and that we were doing was vicious, sinful and a disgrace to our faith and God (the Torah actually contains more laws governing cruel words than just about any other crime). We backed off but only after we were raked over the coals.
(I was bullied a lot in elementary school. But by high school, I’d basically become invisible to everyone, which suited me fine.)
The continual hounding of a kid is awful. This was not an isolated incident. But … Mitt Romney did not invent bullying. He did invent homophobia. He did not originate the idea of forcefully cutting long hair. He was born into a culture that tolerated and encouraged such things.
This is a non story. And Romney’s response is another non-story. He denies, backpedals and obfuscates about everything. This is who he is and this is what he does. Now we’re noticing this?
What I find particularly bothersome is the attention paid to this story when there are real-life, deadly bullying incidents going on all the time. And they are going under official government approval. And both candidates support the vast majority of it as they vie to become, given their policies, Bully in Chief.
You want to talk about bullies? How about Barack Obama’s Justice Department, harassing legal marijuana clinics, threatening them with tax audits and terrifying their landlords with threats of asset forfeiture? How about eminent domain seizures that strip poor people of their property in favor of the rich — theft upheld by the God damned Supreme Court? How about the War on Drugs, with its violent no-knock raids, unconstitutional urine tests, and puppycides. How about New York City, which is frisking more black men every year than there are black men in New York City?
And it goes deeper than that. The Institute for Justice just published a report on how licensing bullies business owners. The EPA was only last month told they could not bully homeowners with compliance orders that force them to do the EPA’s bidding under threats of bankrupting fines. Every new titan of industry, from Amazon to Yahoo, quickly finds that they will be bullied like hell if they don’t play the Washington game.
You want to talk about bullying? Video was just released showing the brutal and fatal police beating of Kelly Thomas. Have you seen this video on the national news? Has it gotten a hundredth of the coverage that something Mitt Romney did half a century ago has gotten?
What the government does on a daily basis — what it will continue to do under either of the Presidential candidates — is far more of a concern to me than what Mitt Romney did when he was an arrogant jerk-ass teenager. And it is encourage, carried out and sanctioned by adults who continually insist that all this is for our own good.
This is bullshit. This is a distraction. This is one of the stupidest stories to emerge in the election. I can only imagine what ridiculous idiocy will surface next week.
Post Scriptum: You want to talk about Presidential bullies? Read up on the Left’s much-beloved Lyndon Johnson sometime.