Though this post deals with a political candidate, it's not about politics. It's about compassion and a basic grounding in humanity.
Today a story broke in the WashingtonPost that describes how Mitt Romney, while in prep (high) school, assaulted a fellow student. The student, John Lauber, was gay and the subject of merciless teasing.
When Lauber came back from Spring break, he was sporting a new bleach blond look, which Romney disapproved of. Romney allegedly shouted, "He can't look like that. That's wrong. Just look at him!"
Romney led a posse of boys to Lauber, where they fell upon him and proceeded to hold him down and cut off his hair as he cried and screamed for help.
The story is corroborated by five different students and by Lauber himself before he died in 2004. Lauber told a classmate, years later, that the incident left deep scars.
Many people say that what a politician does outside of office doesn't matter. Affairs, alcoholism, drug use, etc. What matters to them is how well they perform the duties of their office.
I disagree. Because in my opinion, the same integrity (or lack thereof) that drives their decisions in everyday life is going to drive their political decisions.
And while people do mature and change over time, people with a mindset that can justify targeted assault generally do not. I believe it's a pretty fixed character trait. If someone is willing to cross certain critical boundaries in their 20's, they will cross them later in life. They may be more discreet about it, they may dress their actions up in sheep's clothing, but they will still do it.
Because for them, those boundaries don't exist.
This is not about democrats and republicans or liberals and conservatives. It's about being a humanitarian. I'm a fiscal conservative with a liberal social agenda. I'm a democrat. I have a number of friends who are not. I respect and value those friends. Though we share different perspectives on political issues, it doesn't matter because, quite simply, they are good people. I will listen to and respect their opinions. I will never, ever respect persecution, bullying or oppression.
Yesterday, Obama became the first U.S. President to openly declare his support of gay marriage. Some claim that the statement, or the timing of the statement, was political. Some claim that the timing of the Romney story is also political. Maybe. I'm sure there is an agenda behind when and how any information on political candidates is released.
But still. He did it. The president of the United States openly spoke up for tolerance and equality.
And still. Romney did it. He assaulted a classmate because he was gay.