Prep School Jungle

by Geraldo Rivera | May 11, 2012

Doesn't everybody have a gay bashing bully story from high school? That is when casual cruelty is at its peak in otherwise normal youngsters; when we practice marginal truancy, toss beer cans out the window of speeding cars, utter snide remarks, snap bra straps, make prank calls to the fire department and persecute outsiders.

Choosing to remember my gay bullying story in heroic terms, it goes like this:  fellow vigilantes from the high school wrestling team and I beat up a tough guy non-wrestler who was creeping out our smallest teammate, the tiny, bony, effeminate, but game 115 pounder who was like the team mascot.

Details are hazy, and it might have been members of the football team protecting the honor of an embattled water boy, but broad strokes, some version of that half-century old incident happened; I recall it through the dust of history like most street fights and boxing matches since.

I even remember one semi-shameful incident when a bunch of us shaved off just one of the sideburns of a member of our gang who wanted to look like Elvis before it was cool.

Like me, Mitt Romney remembers at least the broad strokes of the day he led the crew of fellow in-crowd preppies who were emasculating and humiliating bleached blonde swishy schoolmate John Lauber. That's why the presumptive GOP nominee conditionally apologized Thursday morning on my pal Brian Kilmeade's radio show.

What he did back in the day was barely considered aberrant behavior 47-years ago. Even in modest public high schools like mine, the rare public 'queer' was a freaky free fire zone. The impact of the civil rights explosion was still a few years away. And the John Lauber's of the world were protected only by guts, gumption, guile and the kindness of attentive parents, teachers, teammates or coaches who shooed bullies and perverts away.

If the richly reported, well-sourced Washington Post story by Jason Horowitz about Romney's long ago gay bashing is true, Mitt led a privileged Lord of the Flies gang that tortured and humiliated their most flamboyantly non-conformist schoolmate. I'm exaggerating, but however non-criminal the assault, it is by far the worst thing I have ever heard about the otherwise squeaky clean candidate whose worse previous transgression is the tired saga of going on vacation with the dog strapped to the car roof.

Talking with my radio audience Thursday about the gay bashing allegations, I admitted that the Lauber story refueled everything I hated about Mitt Romney before I liked Mitt Romney.

First, when he was running against Ted Kennedy for the Senate he was a caricature of every entitled legacy-enabled, otherwise dim-witted Ivy League insider. Then he won by losing, went to Salt Lake City where he saved the Olympics, came back to Tax-a-chusetts and saved the Commonwealth as governor, went to Bain Capital and saved the company as CEO and in the process became the GOP's last best hope since George W.

Now comes this entirely believable revelation that he tore the wings off flies as a teenager.

Yes it was long ago, but aren't you more or less the same person you were in high school? If true, it wasn't a 'prank', it was sadism. Still, by using it as a starting point, Governor Romney could man up, address the issue of tolerance, and tell kids to say no to bullies.

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