While it is no longer actively in the news cycle, the incident with Mitt Romney attacking a supposedly gay classmate keeps rolling around in my head. The history seems pretty clear cut. A group of popular guys at a prep school attack a classmate who is “different” and cut his long (ish) bleached hair. No punishment follows.
In the present this incident is incredibly complex.
Because we now have evidence that the harassment gay kids are subjected to has direct and lasting effects – like suicide – a story like this can no longer be swept into the “youthful hijinks’s” category. Its not as if he held the scissors and didn’t cut a la Clinton’s failure to inhale, witnesses confirm Romney’s actions.
Some people may say that we can’t use 2012 standards to judge 1965 behavior, but while it is true that twenty + years ago there was a great deal more tolerance for intolerance, there were still standards of decency. You can argue that Romney was a product of his time, but the problem remains that no time in history actually justifies lack of compassion or victimization.
It’s true Romney was a young man and we have all been guilty of selfish or cruel acts in our youth that hopefully do not totally define who we are now. A bigger red flag for me is that Romney didn’t seem to remember or regret his actions against his classmate. Now I think I am a very different person at 47 than I was at 17, and I am sure I was casually shitty to lots of people in my past, but I know I would remember a deliberate act of violence.
I guess the smorgasbord of how we as a society condone, ignore, deny and justify bullying is what is under my skin. There is evidence of bullying based on race, gender, religion or sexual orientation every day and its a roll of the dice if it is dealt with or dismissed as the product of a PC nanny state.
The President of the US may or may not be the “Leader of the Free World” anymore, but the position can absolutely be “Bully-in-Chief” as easily as it can be Commander-in-Chief. It matters to a whole lotta people if the president has an attitude that can be viewed as condoning harassment of any kind. A ripple effect of intolerance taking place in the midst of the polarization and tea party extremism we’ve got right now is an ugly, ugly prospect.
I can’t think of a novel dystopian enough to reference so here is a mash-up: Fahrenheit 451 + Clockwork Orange by way of The Handmaid’s Tale and then filmed like Children of Men.
Sad fugee face if Romney becomes president.