Romney Accused Of Attack On Presumed Gay Student As Teen

I am in Omaha, Nebraska today to speak at the Hilton Omaha where Mitt Romney will be raising cash in a private fundraiser for his campaign. It will be interesting if he is pressed on this story picking up steam this week. Romney has been accused of former school chums from his elite all-boy boarding school of attacking a presumed gay student and cutting off his hair. Since in many states the attack on the now-deceased John Lauber would be a hate crime, it is a serious charge even if it was so many years ago. The witness turns out to be a former prosecutor who says that he has been haunted by the act. This week Romney reaffirmed that he opposed same-sex marriage as a personal matter. Update: Romney has apologized for incidents in his youth.

The Washington Post spoke to five students, including one who said that Romney had it out for a younger boy because of his long bleached-blond hair in 1965. The witness say that Romney led friends in tackling and cutting off Lauber’s hair. The witness is Thomas Buford, a retired prosecutor. Romney is quoted at the time as declaring “He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!”

The response from the campaign was a bit weak under the circumstances. The campaign simply said that Romney had no recollection of the event: “The stories of fifty years ago seem exaggerated and off base and Governor Romney has no memory of participating in these incidents.”

I have met Romney and even flew across the country on a flight back to Washington. He has struck me as a particularly friendly and decent person despite our disagreement on many issues. However, despite the long passage of time, the leading of an attack on a gay student is a serious matter as it would in a racist or anti-Semitic attack. I would have expected a clear recollection that such an attack could never have occurred.

Four other students recalled the incident, including some who admitted to participating in it. Also troubling are accounts like this one: “In an English class, Gary Hummel, who was a closeted gay student at the time, recalled that his efforts to speak out in class were punctuated with Romney shouting, ‘Atta girl!'”

While Romney may claim that it was not an anti-gay attack but just a prank, one would expect him to have an equally clear memory of the event at the prestigious Cranbrook School. Certainly the memory stuck with Lauber who spoke to some of the witnesses years later. For my part, I am equally troubled by the claim of a lack of any recollection of such events.

Romney however appears to be trying to get ahead of the story and the confirmatory accounts of former friends. On a radio show, he said “Back in high school, I did some dumb things and if anybody was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologize for that. I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks during high school and some might have gone too far and for that, I apologize.” However, he still denied any recollection of the attack on Lauber: “I don’t remember that incident. 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.”

Do you think this is a viable campaign issue given the passage of time? If he was a bully decades ago, does it have bearing today on the man running for office?

Source: Washington Post

192 thoughts on “Romney Accused Of Attack On Presumed Gay Student As Teen”

  1. Mitt Romney’s Support Of Same-Sex Adoption Lasts One Day
    By Zack Ford on May 12, 2012

    Among Mitt Romney’s timid responses this week after President Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality was an admission that he was “fine” with same-sex couples adopting children, saying, “that’s something that people have a right to do.” But by Friday afternoon, he was already backing away from that position, suggesting that he merely “acknowledges” that many states offer same-sex adoption:

    ROMNEY: Actually, I think all states but one allow gay adoption. So that’s a position which has been decided by most of the state legislatures, including the one in my state some time ago. So I simply acknowledge the fact that gay adoption is legal in all states but one.

  2. anon nurse,

    It is my understanding that the WHO’s ICD-10 criteria and coding is due to be phased in for American hospitals by October 1, 2014, although I’m not sure if Chapter V (the section covering mental illness) is complied by solely psychiatrists or if other specialists are involved. However, Frances’ article raises a very good point.

  3. Anonymously Yours 1, May 10, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Didn’t they Btw just revamp the DSM criteria…



    An interesting NY Times article:


    Many critics assume unfairly that D.S.M.-5 is shilling for drug companies. This is not true. The mistakes are rather the result of an intellectual conflict of interest; experts always overvalue their pet area and want to expand its purview, until the point that everyday problems come to be mislabeled as mental disorders. Arrogance, secretiveness, passive governance and administrative disorganization have also played a role.

    New diagnoses in psychiatry can be far more dangerous than new drugs. We need some equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration to mind the store and control diagnostic exuberance. No existing organization is ready to replace the American Psychiatric Association. The most obvious candidate, the National Institute of Mental Health, is too research-oriented and insensitive to the vicissitudes of clinical practice. A new structure will be needed, probably best placed under the auspices of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Institute of Medicine or the World Health Organization.

    All mental-health disciplines need representation — not just psychiatrists but also psychologists, counselors, social workers and nurses. The broader consequences of changes should be vetted by epidemiologists, health economists and public-policy and forensic experts. Primary care doctors prescribe the majority of psychotropic medication, often carelessly, and need to contribute to the diagnostic system if they are to use it correctly. Consumers should play an important role in the review process, and field testing should occur in real life settings, not just academic centers.

    Psychiatric diagnosis is simply too important to be left exclusively in the hands of psychiatrists. They will always be an essential part of the mix but should no longer be permitted to call all the shots.

    Allen Frances, a former chairman of the psychiatry department at Duke University School of Medicine, led the task force that produced D.S.M.-4.

    End of excerpt

  4. @idealist707 I think you are posing the right question when you ask what is a reasonable standard for judging candidates. When you raise the question ‘can we expect more from Romney’ you are, in effect, asking us to consider which is the lesser of two evils.

    I think you have asked some of the right questions.

    But I have already indicated, I think issues of the economy require elimination of Romney from further consideration – for me.

    Even if you allow that Romney is a successful businessman there are serious problems with his and Republican advice of austerity and paying down the deficit to solve national economic problems.

    Advice that works very well for business and state governments frequently is absolutely wrong for national governments. The fact is that national budgets are not at all like state, business, or family budgets.

    Normally lowering prices increased demand. But lowering the general wage rate is not likely to increase employment. Lowering the general wage rate may very well lead to further economic decline.

    States may decide to, in effect, buy jobs by luring business to the state. That kind of strategy cannot work at the national level. Moving job around does not increase employment.

    Eventually, we will have to deal with the deficit. But now is not the time. The time to pay down the deficit is when the economy is good, not when unemployment is high and the economy teeters at the brink of a second dip and further decline.

    Real interest rates on 10 year treasuries are actually negative – below zero!!! In effect investors want a scrap of paper with a seal of the US government to such an extent that they are willing to pay storage fees for their money! Investors are willing to give up interest and pay a fee for 10 year treasuries!!! Now is exactly the time to borrow big and invest in capital projects like our depleted transportation system, clean, alternative energy that will be essential in coming decades, and human capital – the education of students and workers that is the very essence of our ability to compete. Some Republicans pay lip service to the need for innovation but they then cut the very programs that will to fruition in future decades. Talk about confused, mixed message, self defeating priorities.

    Romney doesn’t understand that. He counsels austerity, cutting back human services, paying down the deficit. These policies would be short sighted, destructive, and absolutely unnecessary at this time.

    For these and other reasons I am not a fan of Romney. But credit where credit is due. He is a very, very funny man – though a bit derivative of Warren. I am still cracking up over his ‘don’t remember’ one liner.

  5. My comment was made before reading prior comments to it. Repetition of earlier argumants is therefore inevitable and regrettable.
    A good question, Professor,as it raises “what is pertinent in grading a possible candidate.?

    The class where Obama has been raised has not seemed to guarante his showing empathy in real measure. But can we expect more from Romney. Unlikely.

  6. Let’s remember the context of time. Few people reported bullying or sued the kid’s family “way back when.” It’s the reporting about this and lots more that’s changed our awareness, and our litigious society that’s changing the way we deal with some of these problems. And guns.

  7. I missed going here, so I bring my comment only now. Its expression is important to me, if someone reads it, good.

    Mitt Romney would seem to be a full-fledged bully who hasn’t overcome his handicap, by his own wife’s referral to “Mittfrontations” He can become more skillful in meeting opposition, as in his contact with JT. but likely has his “trigger words” still.
    Bullies are not anything I have studied, so this is an opinion only, given as I am to such analyses.
    Bullies are characterized by insecure self-esteem, although doubtful they are aware of it. This insecurity seeks comfort in his “winning over others” by deriding them in many modes. Demeaning their ideas in derisive words, demeaning them as not being man enough to have the worth to stand for ideas, implying physical defect in manhood, unsuitable attitudes, and not least physical attack in childhood. They seek approval themselves often, and gather gangs of similarly insecure persons.

    Some have expressed that this is a chronic lifetime issue.

    Whether it is a defect as a President would seem certain. When it is one man who ultimately decides, but can not rely on himself, such as with a bully personality, then outcome is up for grabs.

  8. Hey Jack,

    The victim’s family probably doesn’t remember because he probably didn’t TELL THEM. He probably didn’t TELL THEM because he was probably very much ashamed of what had happened, since usually, bullies who do things like that blame their victims, enlist the support and help of others who mock the victims, and carry on an all-out attack. It is something very well known to psychologists and sociologists and it is very ordinary, run-of-the-mill abuser technology.

    The fact that you say you probably did it to “some poor girl” at some point in time is interesting. In all the years I was in public school (K through 12) I never had it done to me, never saw it done to anyone else, and never HEARD of it being done to anybody else in the whole school. My mother was a grade school teacher in the next town over from us and SHE never heard of it either. Had she heard of it you can believe there would have been a lesson to go along with her narration about the event. She would have told us kids in the family AND HER STUDENTS IN HER SCHOOL that such behavior was unacceptable, mean, unkind, horrible, and to be condemned in the strongest terms. That’s because she was a GOOD teacher.

    If you did it to a girl in school (and he allegedly did it to insult a BOY by treating him like a “girl”) and then you wanted my vote for the presidency of this country, I’ll give you a big hint as to whether or not you would succeed.

    Cutting someone’s hair like that has several unmistakable implications:

    1. You overpower them (= you get to exert control over them)

    2. You do something that, to certain religions, has a significance in that it “increases [the subject’s] tonsure to the Lord” — translation: SUBMISSION.

    3. You “mutilate” them in a sense. Even a dog feels intimidated after you take them to have their hair/fur trimmed. Everybody knows that.

    4. You humiliate them.

    5. You dominate them.

    6. You disrespect them.

    7. You mark them.

    Now, if you do that and just forget about it, what does that say about you?


  9. Romney sounds like he was the class clown. These people are usually mentally unbalanced and lack self-esteem to the extreme. However, Romney has done a lot with his life and I doubt that he is the same now. I don’t like the man or his politics, but I don’t believe he is a bad person necessarily, though you never know.

  10. Malisha:

    “It’s ludicrous to think that a man expecting the trust of a nation could stand up and say he “doesn’t remember” an incident that would have been so memorable to all concerned.”

    Like the victim’s sister that said their family was never aware of the incident? Or that one of the main witnesses wasn’t actually there but just found out about it a week ago? That this was a complete hack job with very, very sourcing?

    Hey – I can almost guarantee that I clipped some poor girl’s hair at some point during my schooling career. I can’t remember it. Does that make me unfit to be president, oh great Pharisee?

    But the fact is if the kids didn’t understand that it was a big deal back then, then what in their brain would cause them to remember it as a big deal today? I don’t know what planet you’re on, but I think it’s a little pretentious of you to define what should and should not be memorable for others. If the “victim’s” family doesn’t remember the incident, what’s to say that the victim would have? And if not the family, why not Romney? I’ll forget stuff that happened to me, but not to my kids.


  11. Mitt was just following an old war tradition of scalping your enemies.

    The right wing loves that he cut the hair off of a hippy.
    Reminds them of Bush.

    And Malisha, just as you are right about Zimmerman staying in the car if he was not armed………… “Can we say that Trayvon Martin should have had his reputation sullied and been kicked out of school for 10 days for possession of “a baggie with traces of marijuana in it” while Romney would have sailed through without discipline?”

    I can safely bet that any plastic baggie in the possession of the young Mitt Romney would have gone straight into the trash can, never to be spoken of again.

  12. “I don’t remember that incident. I certainly don’t believe that I thought the fellow was homosexual,”

    First in fairness I will admit that Rooney’s views on the economy remove him from any further consideration by me.

    Second, the actions while reprehensible, were taken at the age of 18. Surely there are more important ways to evaluate a candidate than bad actions at the age of 18. Most eventually grow up. If there are adult examples of this kind insensitive or harassing behavior I would be inclined to count it much more heavily. If there are not more examples in adulthood I would say the behavior is largely irrelevant to the real, pressing issues of the economy, foreign policy, health care and a host of others. Of course I’m not voting for him anyway.

    Finally, his remark ‘don’t remember the incident’ distinguishes him as a political satirist near the rank of Warren and Franken. Romney has got to be one of the funniest men on the American political scene today.

    In our time of trial and economic privation, America needs a good laugh. And thank Romney. He has given a brief moment or real pleasure, and a belly laugh to all of us.

    If there were no great Americans like Romney and Warren, people like me would have to write fiction – which requires real creativity and attention to detail. Lucky break. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  13. Hilarious. Debunk after debunk, and the sharks are still circling. Buch of hypocrites. Who razed the rafters after we found out Obama shoved a girl down in high school? Really – get over it. It was 40+ years ago (maybe 20+ in Obama’s case). I was a the skinny small kid that got beat up and didn’t grow until I was a Junior in high school. And guess what – those bullies can change. I see no reason why I should not give them the opportunity.

    And frankly, if a bully could go to the White House and fix this mess, I’d still vote for him. The indignant some that demand that they cut their nose to to spite their face deserve all the negative consequences they will receive from their poor voting decisions. Whether you are jewish, gay, atheist, poorly dressed, or simply poor, it all hurts when you are a kid. I am really sick of people thinking their burdens are somehow worse than everyone elses.

  14. It is a little bizarre to say, “If Obama had done that you would not have objected” when the whole meaning of the incident is NOT that a person did something we regard as WRONG, but that a certain kind of conduct indicates a certain kind of person. You just don’t have a bunch of saints who, when they were kids, were torturing animals and setting fires. Ordinarily, if you can tell anything about a person, you can tell it because the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

    So I would expect Bill Clinton to be an unfaithful spouse or sexual partner — any time he COULD! I wouldn’t say, “Oh that was long ago in a far away place and besides the wench is dead.” I’d say, “Oh he’s a philanderer, and a bold one at that.” But would that make me decide he was NOT the lesser of two evils to serve as President of the US? No…

    And I would say, now, “Oh Romney is a bully who minimizes and lies about his behavior but who takes pleasure in putting someone else down. But would that make me decide that he was NOT the lesser of two evils to serve as President of the US? Yes, unless the alternative was such a great evil that it could get greater (on the evil scale) than a bully and a liar. Frankly, since both prospective candidates are pro-torture and essentially neglectful of the life interest of the citizens of this country AND OTHER COUNTRIES, the measurement of greater evils is a problem for me at times but still, a weight goes on Romney’s side for his conduct, when he was of the age of reason.

    Can we say that Trayvon Martin should have had his reputation sullied and been kicked out of school for 10 days for possession of “a baggie with traces of marijuana in it” while Romney would have sailed through without discipline? (After all, if he HAD been suspended for bad behavior toward a fellow student, he would REMEMBER that, wouldn’t he?)

    It’s ludicrous to think that a man expecting the trust of a nation could stand up and say he “doesn’t remember” an incident that would have been so memorable to all concerned. It reminds me of something pretty psycho in my unfortunate history of litigating against a vexatious litigious paranoid. My ex-husband brought in a friend of his to testify against ME in a custody trial that we had no notice of (thanks, great Judge and competent attorney). She got up and said I scared her because I was a bad mother. No details. On cross, my lawyer whispered to me, “What should I ask her?” The only thing I could remember was her telling me that she had gotten so upset one day that she bit her four-year-old son on the nose. Since I knew that Child Protective Services sent a social worker to her house each week, I presumed that she had an open case of child abuse, possibly related to stunts like that. So I told him to ask her about that. He did. She answered, while her eyes shifted around, “I don’t remember anything like that. That doesn’t sound like anything I remember.” Later, I figured out her idiotic response. She was trying to remember WHO WAS PRESENT when it happened in case I might call in a witness who SAW IT. (She probably knew that we couldn’t put CPS workers on the stand to testify; that stuff is confidential.)

    The point is that if you knocked down a kid and cut off his hair, and then you didn’t remember it, you’re an incompetent who shouldn’t be in charge of a hot dog stand at the beach. If you DID NOT DO IT and NEVER WOULD DO IT and KNOW THAT IT IS A LIE, damnit say so and bring in witnesses who will say: “He never did that; he would never do that!”

    Yeah. So that’s all I have.

  15. “The school that bills itself as the largest christian university in the world,” and for whom Matthew 7:23 may be the scariest verse in the Bible.

  16. Gene,

    Like those leverage buyout where where the buyer used the target’s pension funds to collateralize the loan to purchase the the target. Things go south, pensioners screwed.. Figure such shenanigans go on in Mitt’s world. Wouldn’t know. He won’t release his tax returns from those years.

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