Romneynejad: We didn’t have gays in the 1960s

Mitt Romney, accused of harassing gay students when he was in high school, tried to get out of the charge by pretending that being gay was not a big issue in the 1960s.

“Romney moved quickly to counter any suggestion he had targeted students because they were gay.”

“That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s, so that was not the case,” he said, adding that the students involved “didn’t come out of the closet until years later.”

As Andrew Sullivan asks, “And there was no homophobia in the 1960s?”

Romney’s attempt to deny that there was consciousness of gayness in a past era resembles the denial by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that there is any consciousness of gayness in Iran today.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denies that there are any gays in Iran. “I don’t know who told you we have this:

21 Responses

  1. I like this announcement put out by Romney in cowboy boots. “Gov. Perry’s unwavering commitment to defending the sanctity of marriage is defined as a union between one man and one woman.”

    Republican Catholic Newt Gingrich responded, “One woman…you’re kidding, right? I’ve had three wives and Rush has had four.”

    Mormon Republican Mitt Romney said, “I’m not sure we should limit it to ‘One’ woman or that the ‘woman’ has to be fourteen years old..that goes against my religous beliefs.But I am definately against gays getting married.”

  2. Mitt’s non-apology apology gets nowhere. He excuses it as “hi-jinks”.

    Hi-jinks, my ass. What he did was to bully this kid, and commit assault. It doesn’t matter from that point of view whether he thought the kid was gay or not. It was still bullying. It was still assault. And it tells us just what sort of person Mitt was. And his excuse shows us just what sort of person he is now.

    Of course, those that were there in the 60s know full well that homophobia was alive and kicking then as now.

    • I wasn’t sure whether it was assault and battery, but one of the individuals who knew about it (and may have participated in it) and is a lawyer says that it was (the cutting of the hair in particular would be battery).

      Marie Burns has a good article about this. Note the difference between Romney and G. W. Bush.

      link to nytexaminer.com

  3. I’m not a Romney fan, but I hate to see him tarred for something he did as a teenager. Life would be miserable if we could not escape the stupid things we thought and did at that age.

    On the other hand it’s easier for Romney’s operatives to beat this issue down (and maybe find a few Obama playmates that smoked dope with the future president)than it is to paint a pretty face on the Leonardo Da Vinci of etch-a sketch. So they may keep it alive just as a means to ridicule the opposition.

    Besides, if you are looking for the bully in contemporary Romney, look no further than his “I like to fire people” statement.

    • Sherm you’re a out of context. Unusual for you, hard day?

      “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me,”–”You know, if someone doesn’t give me a good service that I need, I want to say, ‘I’m going to go get someone else to provide that service to me.’”

      Romney muddles, makes mistakes. Not presidential qualities.

      However, the main point is that he “likes” firing people. Who in the hell wants a president that likes to giving pain to people. If you’re not providing the quality service contracted, a fair employer will advise you to immediately provide the quality contracted or they give you the choice to leave or they’ll fire you.

      Perhaps, Romney “liked” putting thousands of workers out of jobs in order to produce more profit? Out of context?

  4. This is stupid. You are talking about two incidents from ~50 years ago when Romney was a kid as evidence that he doesn’t deserve to be elected president. Even assuming that these incidents were emblematic of Romney as homophobic and cruel in his high school years, this does not mean that he is still the same person nearly 50 years later. Many people do stupid, mean-spirited things when they’re kids. Generally, so long as they aren’t mind-bogglingly awful (i.e. felonious), society doesn’t hold such youthful transgressions against them. Furthermore, attempting to divine one’s motives over a (in the grand scheme of things) minor 50-some year old incident based on a handful of anecdotes by people speaking out during a presidential campaign is an invariably stupid activity that only serves the purpose of making a political cheap shot.

    There is ample reason to oppose Mitt Romney’s candidacy, from his breathtaking lack of knowledge on foreign policy, to his overtly political and intentionally vague economic “plan”, to his willingness to say, do, and tolerate pretty much anything that he thinks will help him get elected. But his high school pranks, particularly when we don’t even know the full context behind them, are not one of them.

    • “The full context behind” an unprovoked, deeply humiliating assault on a younger boy, committed at the age of 18, which resulted in no disciplinary action by the school? I’d say we have plenty of context.
      Nowadays in the public schools, for example in Houston, Texas, students younger than that have been charged with criminal mischief for writing their names on the sidewalk in chalk. An attack by a group of boys involving forcible haircutting would result in a trip to a juvenile jail, especially for lower-income, black or brown children.

    • The “hint, hint” here is that Mormons = homophobia. It is well-known in the gay community that the Mormon church was the single entity most responsible for getting California’s anti-gay marriage proposition passed, a vast effort seemingly unprecedented in Mormon history.

      None of that means Romney is still the chuckleheaded punk he was in the ’60s, but it forces him to keep “clarifying” how much he shares his church’s continuing hatred of sharing equal citizenship with gays. And we know how bad Mitt is at clarifying things.

      Looks like this is what the rest of the campaign is going to look like, folks. Good. If we want Democrats to be able to take the advanced positions they took in the New Deal era, they’re going to have to learn to play hardball like they did in the New Deal era, instead of the GOP fighting a one-sided civil war that scares all the rest of us away from taking any controversial stands on anything that matters. If they have to finally play defense, the bad guys have to spread that Citizens United blood money more thinly among their offensive projects like scaring blacks away from voting or normalizing prison slave labor.

      • You gotta love google. Look up “gay mormons,” and settle in for a magical mystery tour of cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy. For starters: link to huffingtonpost.com

        What is it that drives people like Roy Cohn, link to en.wikipedia.org , and of course all the closeted pontiffs in the Mormon hierarchonate? Not to mention all the other sad, nasty gays who over time have served well the “conservative” side of the Overton Spectrum?

        What is it that sorts us roughly into two piles: People with empathy who understand and practice tolerance and forgiveness and forbearance, and Jerry Falwell and Mittsy and that Charmer from Wasilla, and the nasty mullahs, and Likudanyahoos, and the rest over in the musty, fetid, dark corner? The ones who think a notreallyanpology will let them sucker the other pile yet again, getting, like Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker and Tedd Haggard, serial forgiveness and restoration, without penance or even just real contrition?

        My personal suspicion is that, taken as a body, the human species has a death wish.

  5. People are fundamentally the same and we all can recognize what was more likely going on at the time, getting past the temptation to think a 16 y/o in 1966 even knew what a “homo” really was.

    The more recognizable reality is that The Mitt, and his buddies, at the time, were simply a bunch of entitled rich kids looking to throw their weight around, and there…lo and behold…was someone “different.”

    Their target may or not have been Out at the time, or perhaps they were just ambisexual in the sense o the early Warhol Art Fag scene. What I have no problem remembering is how guy’s like Romney over at the jock table ganged up on whomever did buy into their preeminence or otherwise stood-out.

    Even today it takes no imagination to see him as the grown up version of what is practically the caricature of the bullying jock, swaggering his way through the High School cafeteria, quick to target anyone who didn’t endorse him.

    Now, imagine what THAT guy would do with the domestic surveillance powers Obama is now endeavoring to aggravate.

  6. PS——re-reading that post…NOBODY, especially a 16 y/o prep school kid in 1966, was OUT. Anyone with those inclinations would have probably been in denial, and scared to death of his ambivalence being recognized. More probably he was one of the supplicants hanging out with Mitt and trying to pass.

  7. While I hate to be put in the position of defending Romney, lets look at what he actually said before accepting Dr. Cole’s assertion that Romney believed gays didn’t exist in the 1960′s.

    “I certainly don’t believe that I thought the fellow was homosexual. That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s, so that was not the case.”

    Romney here could be talking about all of America, which Dr. Cole would have us believe. However, since I lack the ‘I hate everything Republican’ gene, I view this quote in a different light. I view this quote as Romney claiming that in his community (or even within his small circle of friends) there was little consciousness of gays, and therefore his bullying was not a result of believing this person was gay.

    Nevertheless, bullying is always wrong. Yet making bullying out to be a result of homosexuality during election season without sufficient evidence is underhanded and deceitful.

    I expect better of you Dr. Cole.

  8. Hey I was a teenager back in the 60′s and that was very much ‘the case’. Romney couldn’t have been that naive. I remember this one friend, who was not untypical saying to me ‘Let’s go downtown and roll some queers’. I don’t recall exactly what I said but I remember I was thinking : If by roll you mean beat up someone there are several reasons why I don’t like the idea. Someone might get hurt or even killed and I don’t want to hurt anyone and who knows it might even be me. I don’t even know how to fight. For another thing it’s probably illegal, especially if we ‘take his money as you are suggesting. That would be stealing on top of everything else and I even return the change when they make a mistake at the cash register and I’m supposed to steal somebody’s wallet ? I don’t think so.
    But of course gays (or queers as they were called then) were supposed to be a kind of free-fire zone and the rules of decency and legality were often suspended or cast aside because of even the slightest suggestion that they might have made a sexual advance. Nope I really don’t believe that Romney was innocent or unmalicious in that incident. It sounds too typical of what I experienced or saw and heard.

  9. I agree that it’s wrong to use something that was done most of a lifetime ago as a significant factor, but what is material is how he chooses to respond now, and I don’t think he comes off well.

    saying “i was young and dumb when I did it and it was wrong” would be the right response.

  10. I suspect the bullying had to do with the guy’s hair and was not homophobic in nature. You could get beat up for having long hair in those days.

    • Romney beating up somebody because of his hair is truly hilarious. Did Romney use his own nylon perm like a Bob’s Big Boy head to bludgeon the poor hippie? I could imagine Romney and George W. Bush running around together terrorizing the campus like the droogs in Clockwork Orange.

    • So, you’re suggesting it was the hair that prompted Romney to constantly call out “Attagirl!” whenever the victim spoke up in class?

      I remember the over-the-top reaction to long hair on non-females back then. These days, the reaction seems totally bizarre and inexplicable. For what it’s worth, at the time, I thought that adults’ take on hair was weird, and that “crew cuts” were unattractive.

      I agree with the other writers that Romney should have apologized, condemned his teenage self as having been a teenager – and moved on.

  11. I don’t believe Rmoney when he says he doesn’t remember the incident.

    Either he’s lying, or this sort of bullying behavior was so common for him that these incidents all blend together in a haze of vague recollections. Either way, while teenagers can be mean, this is well beyond mean ( ie name calling, etc). This, and the dog- on-top-of-the-car incident tell me all I need to know about him: he fits the George bush mold as a callous human being. I cringe at the thought of him as commander in chief.

  12. I agree Romney should not be tarred and feathered over this. But it seems his campaign was the one promoting his “pranks” thus directing attention to his youthful indiscretions. Personally, I don’t think the man is homophobic (though I have no basis for knowing). What it appeared to me was a reaction against those that don’t conform. That said, we should not judge the man on his youthful years, but on how he approaches diversity of lifestyles, choices and values as a leader. He needs to point to a track record as an adult in order to argue this was an error of his immaturity.

    • Ah, but the trap there is that he then has to excuse his relatively liberal positions as governor of Massachusetts to his GOP base as being errors of his middle age. That’s a long run of errors to admit to.

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