“Back in the day you would get beaten up or punched in the yard and you’d tell a teacher and they’d just tell you to suck it up, you know, or that’s just what boys do or that’s just how girls are and ‘You two knock it off,’ and that was the extent of it,” said psychologist Jerry Weichman, who works with adolescents at the Hoag Neurosciences Institute in Newport Beach, Calif. http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/story/2012-05-12/mitt-romney-hijinks-bullying/54915566/1
I am just a tad younger than Mitt Romney, so can report first hand that Weichman has it exactly right about the ’60s academic attitude toward bullying.
I was far from being one of the kids the bullies routinely targeted, yet I remember being gut punched twice and having my wrists twist-burned by male classmates in elementary school. It never occurred to me to tattle. The school wouldn’t have done anything and my parents would have reamed me out for being a wimp.
Bullying definitely went on and it was not punished. But the really serious perps in our school were not the kids, but the two male teachers. The gym teacher delighted in joining into our pre-adolescent games of Dodge Ball so he could fire the ball at kids on the other team. This guy was an adult athlete. He LIKED hurting little kids with those damned red rubber balls.
The other guy was my sixth grade teacher who was a weekend minister at a small church in the community. This paragon of Christian virtue, rather than stifling or at least ignoring the verbal abuse the bullies heaped on the weaker kids, actually joined in on it and, like Mr. Sadist of the Gym, enjoyed himself immensely.
I’m not sure which of these two I despise more. But thinking back, in this climate, what incentive was there for a strong leader like Mitt Romney to behave any differently than the adult mentors the school provided? School in the 60s was not a cuddly pc environment. You had three choices:
- Be bullied
- Lay low and hope for the best
I watched Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama steer our nation down some very dark paths by choosing doors number 2 and 3. Forgive me if I think someone who picked door number 1 might have the kind of strong backbone I want in that important job.
I feel sorry for the kids who got bullied. I really do. I felt bad for them when it was happening in my school. I was targeted a few times myself, which makes me even more ashamed that I was too much of a wimp to even try to stick up for the kids who got it all the time.
But what Mitt Romney may or may not have done fifty years ago in high school has no impact on who I intend to vote for in November.