Obama, Romney, Gay Marriage, and Bullies

This is the little boy that learned the lessen not to be a bully
It has been a very hectic two weeks, as I prepared for our vacation and reunion with family and friends. As a result, I haven’t posted in a while. I have posted today in WV Lawyer – Tips and Techniques, www.burtonhunteresq2.blogspot.com , another article on my surprising score, over 50, with Klout.com. If I can do it, so can you. It is a also a good reminder that visibility on the Internet requires regular communication. In the two weeks since my score peaked at 52+, it has already dropped by two.
 The news events I wished to comment on were President Obama’s announcement that he supports Gay Marriage and hopes that it eventually will be recognized by all the states, and the revelation by Mitt Romney’s high school classmates that they, with Mitt wielding the scissors, cut off the hair of a classmate who chose to bleach his hair and grow it long. They held him down while Mitt gleefully snipped. The news media could not get to the fact that Mitt and his friends no doubt called this guy “queer” and a “fag”. Instead they accepted the version that “It was not clear if the boy was a homosexual.” A commentator said, “Gays were not as well-known back then.”
 Huh? Truth is we were taught that “queers” should be beat up and harassed, and the only ones we knew were the ones with overt signs. It never occurred to us that a “queer” deserved any better. Remember, that’s what we were taught. The lesson below served me in good stead, and I have never intentionally picked on someone I thought was gay.
Being a “militant moderate”, I was struggling with the likelihood that I might have to vote for a Democrat for President. I haven’t done that since Lyndon Johnson. He was an exception because it is hard for me not to support a War President, and the anti-Vietnam crowd really got under my skin.
 Mitt’s story, and his reaction to it, and to Obama’s announcement, sealed the deal for me. I see both as character issues, and Mitt loses on both grounds.

Here is how I see it:

1.      Obama doesn’t get too many points for this. His “courage” grew out of the fact the country has tipped to more than 50% in favor of the right of gays to marry and was accelerated by the announcement of his talkative vice president that he “had no problem” with gay men, lesbian women, and heterosexual couples to marry. (Glad he through in that third category.)
2.      I think it is a good thing for America to have moved so far towards tolerance on this sensitive issue that Obama’s “evolution”.A rough analogy might be Lincoln’s “evolution” on the issue of slavery.
3.      To me, Mitt loses big time here, not because he committed a bullying act, but because he lied and said he did not remember it. I guarantee that he does remember. More on that below.
4.      The fact that his classmates remember and feel remorse, that he appears to feel no remorse, that he apologizes only “if I have ever hurt anyone”, and that he would have children be adopted by a gay couple, but then not have married parents, offends me a great deal.
5.      His position on adoption by gay parents is correct. His failure to take the next logical step is not. And, if he were running for governor of Ma., his “evolution” by now would have him taking the same position as Obama. This man is not evil, but he lacks a moral center. We all knew guys like Mitt growing up. I doubt if any of us liked him. Privileged, good looking, and feeling himself to be “entitled”. (Editor: In fairness to Governor Romney, he was about as “moderate” as he could be and still have any chance of being elected. jbh)
6.      How do I know he remembered the bullying? I too was once a bully, and the victim of a bully. I have not talked about this much because there are some dark overtones.
7.      It was 60 years ago, when I was six and in the first grade. I have narrowed it down to 1952, because my Grandfather is part of my memory, and he died when I was seven. And, I clearly remember that I was at Edgington Lane elementary school, not Park View where I went to kindergarten and the second semester of third grade.
8.      I remember the name of the kid I bullied. He even sounds like a wimp. But I will not embarrass him by naming him. And I remember the name of the bully (actually I remember the names of two bullies), but I am not writing this to get even. I have found my victim’s name on the Internet, and would like to apologize since I am sure he remembers me. But I sense he remains a very private fellow as an adult. I hope, if he knew how I have lived my life, that he would forgive me and believe I had learned a lesson.
9.      My first bully was a neighbor two years older than I; a farm boy, much stronger. He didn’t pick on me or anything like that, but we built a tree house together. My memory has it about 12 feet off the ground, but to a 3 footer, that seemed pretty high.
10.   My friend seemed to be distracted, because when he relieved himself over the side of the platform, he forgot to return his equipment to its proper place. Instead, he had some suggestions of some things I should do with it.
11.   I did not know much about anything at that time, but I had, at least a year earlier, figured out that Santa Claus was fictional, and I knew his suggestion was not a good idea.
12.   Where I got the guts, I do not know, but I announced I was jumping and began to move to the side of the platform. I was scared, but I liked the look of fear in his eyes. Much negotiating went on, and I guess my talent for negotiating manifested itself early on, because I managed to get out of that tree unmolested.
13.   Note sure if this guy became any better in his molesting/bullying behavior later on, but he never bothered me again. After we climbed down, he carefully explained that if I told my parents of our little incident, he would climb through their bedroom door and steal my Dad’s watch!
14.   Again, doing the math that had led me to figure out there were too many chimneys in Wheeling for Santa, let alone the world, I figured my Dad could do without a watch if necessary in order to learn of this event. Not only did he laugh it away, he disregarded my little tale as if it never happened. This was, after all, the early 1950’s, and such things did not happen back then.
15.   This being my first year of elementary school, I, of course, had classmates. One of them was very wimpy. When you bumped into him, he flinched. Seeing how intimidating my bully had felt to me, I found I could nudge him, and eventually pinch him, with impunity.
16.   One day, I followed him a ways after school, and he really did not seem to like that. I have no recollection of how many times that went on, but I remember the one that caused my retirement from bullying. He got to South Park Street, and bolted across without looking. I heard a loud “screeetch”, noticed there had not been an impact, and scurried back toward school like the rat I was. I figured I had got away with it. I remember thinking that my bully got away with it, and I had too………………almost.
17.   Turns out, the boy’s Mother had called my Grandfather, Michael Earl O’Grady. We had a “little talk”. No physical harm was inflicted, but the embarrassment was excruciating. The deal we made was my parents would not learn of this event IF I promised it was over. It was.
18.   I spent a long time thinking about  this, and have many times since. I began looking around my class, and if anyone was being picked on, or seemed nerdy, or a loser, I tried to look out for him. We got together a little group of guys who agreed, and we sort of “bullied the bullies”.
19.   Since then, whenever I have a chance to look out for or protect, someone in a power imbalance, I try to do so.
20.   Back to the gay marriage thing. I agree with Shepherd Smith that the Republicans are on the “losing side of history” on this one. My “can’t helps” tell me that it is much more important to have values of honesty, integrity, courage, loyalty, and modesty, than to prohibit a class of our citizens from having the rights of the rest of us.
21.   That’s why Mitt definitely does not have my vote.

This post was written by Burton Hunter


  • Ray Smith says:

    Well said.
    I understand about voting for a president because he is the better of the two (in your opinion). Thinking back on the presidents that I have voted for, 3 were ones I wanted to be president because I thought they were the best person for job and 4 have been, “he better than the other guy…”

  • Thanks Ray. I really tried to post this from a broader perspective that just these two guys. In some ways, they are better than we deserve. But when I listen to someone blandly tell a lie that I know is a lie, it offends me. Every politician has to, but Romney just takes to it so easily. And, bullying and intolerance seem to be on the upswing in our communities of Buckhannon and Weston.

  • drcampbell200charternet says:

    Burt, Just want to comment seven years later that this is a great post describing so much of the bully culture. Well written. And you are right, I always thought of Mitt as a snake especially when he was governor of Massachusetts. There was no moral center. He was a resident of Massachusetts in name only.
    Graham Campbell

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