A lot has been said about Mitt Romney, his rather aggressive high-school “hijinks” and his “troubling reaction” to the story in The Post. But I want to slightly take issue with and then expand on something Ruth Marcus wrote in her post.
“So I don’t really blame Romney for what he did. I blame him for what he fails to remember, or to acknowledge, that he did,” Marcus opined. To be fair, she is saying that Romney’s juvenile knucklehead teenage behavior shouldn’t be held against him, especially since it was nearly 50 years ago and that we all are not the people we were in those formative years. At least we hope not. But what Romney is alleged to have done was physically and emotionally violent.
Take a careful look and you won’t find the word bully or bullying in The Post story. But that’s exactly what those incidents detailed in Jason Horowitz’s story are. And while those incidents happened in the 1960s, they are the same kind of bullying that is happening today. Actually, today the harm can not only come from a fist or a pair of scissors. It can come via text message, Instant Message, Facebook, You Tube and any other medium that allows private insult to become public humiliation in seconds.
Millions of kids — boys and girls, straight, gay or perceived to be gay — suffer indignities every day in their schools and in their neighborhoods. Many times, the situation is made worse by adults who don’t take the pain caused by bullying seriously. “Oh, it’s just a phase.” Or the ever popular “boys will be boys.” The powerful documentary “Bully” by Lee Hirsch tracks five kids ages 11 to 17 in different parts of the country who have been harassed. Two of them had their stories told posthumously by grief-stricken parents.
Romney had an opportunity to rise above his rabble-rousing past and more forthrightly recognizethe pain that he caused. To acknowledge that his hijinks of yesteryear are the harassment of today. President Obama, as well as his administration, has taken bullying seriously. It’s still not too late for Romney to join him. This is not a gay issue or a partisan issue: It’s a moral issue. And it’s about time we start treating it like one.