Is it surprising that Mitt Romney bullied kids in high school? No. Kids are cruel. Especially male kids.
I was bullied. A lot. Junior high was probably the worst three years of my life. I was “sick” a lot, so I didn’t have to go to school. I didn’t talk about it because it didn’t matter. But it hurt. And it still hurts. I remember all of the people who bullied me. I remember all of the things they said. I remember the people who would stand up for me. And I remember the day I decided to not let them or their statements control my life anymore (even if that was when I was in my mid-twenties).
I wouldn’t withhold my vote from Romney due to his actions in high school, even though I wouldn’t vote for him ever, like other people have written. I understand their points and think that it is a noble stand to say no to any bully.
The problem I have with Romney’s account is that he doesn’t remember it. He said on the radio that “Back in high school, I did some dumb things, and if anybody was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologize for that.” He also said, according to the Washington Post, “‘I don’t remember that incident,’ Romney said, laughing.”
I will give him the first point. Lots of people, including myself, probably have moments of cruelty and moments of dumbness in high school. Though I never cut someone else’s hair, I know I said mean things to people. We all do. But it’s that he laughs off the memory of that incident.
When I was in junior high, I would have lunch with a few friends and one kid came and sat next to me. And he proceeded to punch me in the shoulder for the entire period. My shoulder was all black and blue and there were a lot of broken blood vessels. No one stopped him, including myself. I always believed it was better to not fight back. That was my choice. This kid’s choice was to punch me. I remember it as clear as day. He probably doesn’t.
In high school, my freshman year was not a lot of fun. I was a bit on my own. And gym class was the worst. I got picked on every day. I remember a childhood friend asking them to just leave me alone, even though we had grown apart. But it didn’t really change things. During a line dancing class, the guys around me began a mosh pit to basically just hit me and we were all thrown in the hall as punishment for disrupting the class, where they continued to make fun or me and push me around. The same year, during a fitness day that included jump ropes, I was hog-tied in the corner and laughed at by students and teachers a like, until someone came over to untie me.
I will never forget those moments. But, again, the bullies probably did. And that is the underlying difference. When you do something mean, you most likely forget it. But when someone does something horrible to you, you never forget it.
Gov. Romney should not have laughed off the incident. He should have had more courage to apologize directly to the individual and note that although he may not remember this incident, he is incredibly regretful for conducting himself in a manner that lead this man to never forget what happened to him. He should stand up and say that what he did was wrong and recognize that there are many individuals out in the world that have been affected by similar incidents and try to make amends.
Each morning, I have to fight to believe in myself because of what people did to me for many years. I have to tell myself that I am a good person and that all of those tears in school created someone great. I have had almost a a decade’s worth of therapy to get past something that I am sure that my bullies don’t even remember. To just write it off as youthful indiscretions is unfair and not something I want in a leader. And any of his supporters who just write it off obviously don’t understand the pain that can be caused by such incidents.