I did some really bad things when I was between the ages of ten and fifteen. But they’re things I don’t waste much time dwelling on these days. After all, I was only a kid at the time – and a troubled one at that. I should be cut as much slack as the slack factory is willing to provide. So there.
There is one exception as far as my preteen period is concerned. It involved the time I slapped a developmentally disabled kid across the side of the head. Back in the day, they were called “mentally retarded”. He was sitting in front of me on the bus. I guess I needed an outlet for my anger and — instead of taking it out on myself (as I usually did) — on this day I elected to take it out on a helpless and innocent child.
Although we were the same age, he might as well have been five years younger. His name was Clark. He died a long time ago. This is the first time I’ve ever admitted this — publicly or privately. It was one of the few times in my childhood where I actually deserved to be severely punished, but I never was. Not even a verbal reprimand. I hope God and Clark have forgiven me. I know I’ve never forgiven myself. That’s punishment enough, I suppose.
Although I had matured enough by my late teens to the degree that my offenses against the human race had dwindled down to a conscionable degree. my transgressions between my 15th and 19th birthdays are able to cause me considerable guilt three and a half decades later. There are times when I am still overcome with grief and shame over a sin committed as a late adolescent.
Why? Because by that time in my life I was old enough to know better. Once you reach a certain age, the claims of “childish indiscretions” are invalid and utterly pointless. Those later infractions are not so easily dismissed. This is why our state prisons are stocked to the rafters with 18-year-olds who have been sentenced to terms of 20 years to life or more. Some have even been sentenced to die. Think about that.
I was reminded of this when the revelation was made this week that, as a 17-year-old senior in the exclusive private school he attended in the mid 1960s, Mitt Romney, in what can only be described as a “Lord of the Flies” moment, led a posse of kids in an attack on another boy (described as “slight” and frail”), who was presumed by them to be a homosexual. The kid’s bleached-blonde hair was pretty long by the standards of the day.
At the dawn of Beatlemania, it could be a dangerous thing to emulate the Fab Four in this country — as this unfortunate soul found out to his horror I’m sure. While they pinned him down, Mitt cut off most of the poor guy’s hair. While this was happening to him, the boy wept openly and cried out for help. HA! What a jokester that Mitt!
It was a different world when this incident took place in 1965. Many people had not had the chance to become enlightened at that point. A half century ago, gay people pretty much kept quiet about their sexual orientation. Other than New York’s Fire Island and the occasional Judy Garland concert, there were not many places where they were free to express themselves openly. To do so would have subjected them to violence and, in some cases, imprisonment. It was a different world indeed.
“I like what they do with fags in this country! The punishment is quite correct and inconsistent with most of the law. They throw them in jail with a lot of men. Hmm! Hmm! Very clever!” –Lenny Bruce, 1963, from the routine, “Thank You, Masked Man”
I can remember one night when I was 14 years old, watching the old 10 o’clock News on Channel 5. This was back in the days when it was the best local news program in New York City (Where have you gone, Gabe Pressman???) On this particular evening they were interviewing some fellow who was an out-of-the-closet homosexual. I remember saying out loud, “How can he go on television and even admit to such a thing?” In 1972, it was just too weird for me to comprehend.
That was then. This is now. I, too, have since become enlightened. So I’m going to give Mitt the benefit of the doubt. I’m sure that he has become enlightened in the ensuing years as well. Most people have. Why should he be the exception?
So what are we to make of all this? Is Mitt Romney a gay-bashing homophobe? Probably not. The conclusion I’ve drawn is that the man is a sociopath. Does that sound like a bit of a stretch? What is a sociopath? It is someone who feels no pangs of guilt from the pain he inflicts on his fellow human beings regardless of the severity of that pain.
I would only ask you to remember Mitt’s deeds when he was in charge of an “investment” company called Bain Capital. In order to make a tidy profit for himself and his fellow “investors”, they purchased scores of companies across the country and then shut them down — putting thousands of working class people out of work in the process. At around the same time, Mitt and his fellow Bain capitalists posed for a magazine article photograph, some of them with cigars — the plutocracy’s favorite phallic symbol — clamped between their drooling teeth; all of them clutching scores of $20 bills. Mitt even has a bill sticking out of his buttoned-down suit jacket. Sweet deal!
Just look at that photo! These greedy bastards are obviously quite proud of themselves. They have become stupidly rich at the expense of the hard working people whose lives and livelihoods they have destroyed. If that isn’t the living, breathing definition of sociopathology — or whatever the word is — I don’t know what is! Am I waging class warfare here? You’d better believe it, Buster. And I’m shooting to kill – figuratively speaking I assure you.
Mitt has expressed no remorse for the gay-bashing he took part in as a fired-up, manly-man teenager. He claims he doesn’t even remember the incident; this despite the fact that four of his former classmates have gone on the record (one off the record) to say that the incident did indeed occur and that they are profundly ashamed of themselves for their participation in it. Mitt is not ashamed, obviously.
It took me a long time to get with the program as far as gay marriage is concerned. I was all for the idea of “civil unions” and thought they were taking a mile when they should have been satisfied with an inch. How insensitive on my part. Like President Obama, my feelings on this subject have “evolved” over the years. To say that it is a threat to the institution of marriage is too silly for words. If anything it will only strengthen it since more people will be getting married as a result — a lot more.
Are we to seriously believe (as some on the extreme right are implying) that if gay marriage is made legal across the land, heterosexuals will decide to go that route instead of the traditional one? I don’t think that’s the case. Although I have never been married, I have been engaged four times (twice to the same lovely woman — Hello, Virginia!). I’m at a point in my life where I really do want to settle down with someone. If and when that blessed day finally does arrive, I’m fairly certain that it won’t be with a man. I’m funny that way.
So no, I really don’t believe that Mitt Romney goes to bed at night dreaming violent dreams about stuffing gay people into a doggie crate and tying them to the roof of his station wagon for a 12-hour joy ride from Boston to Toronto. I am sure that he has evolved along with the rest of humanity with regard to his true feelings about homosexuals and Irish Setters.
My problem with the Mittster is simply the fact that the man is utterly lacking in conviction. As the late, great Molly Ivins once said of King George Bush the First, “There is no ‘there’ there”. Romney’s also as ignorant about international affairs as King George Bush the Second. He recently described Russia as America’s number one ideological enemy. This tells me that the man has not read a newspaper since 1989.
Like Dubya, I’m certain that he will turn foreign policy over to the neo-cons. Do you remember how well that worked out last time around? He has already advocated the invasion of Iran. That would be a geopolitical blunder so extreme it might possibly instigate the beginning of World War Three. This is not the first time I’ve said this and, I promise you, it won’t be the last: If the American electorate is stupid enough to go down this road again they’ll deserve everything that happens to them. Everything.
It’s not just gays and lesbians who have a lot to lose should Mitt Romney be inaugurated president on January 20, 2013. We all have a stake in the outcome — whether we realize it or not. Don’t forget the fact that the next administration will see two — possibly three — appointments to the Supreme Court within the next five years. If those appointments are made by a right-wing Republican, we might as well start singing America’s requiem.
And-a-one! And-a-two! And-a-three!