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Beth Cone Kramer

Beth Cone Kramer
Calabasas, California, USA
May 27
Beth Cone Kramer is a self-confessed shoe addict with a predilection for heels. She possesses an almost encyclopedic memory of every pair of shoes she has ever owned. She currently lives in L.A.


MAY 11, 2012 10:04PM

Boys will be Boys: The Mitt Defense

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Recently, Washington Post’s Jason Horowitz recounted an incident involving Mitt Romney during his days at Michigan’s Cranbrook Prep, part of a series of biographical articles about the GOP Prez candidate. Romney reportedly led a group of his cronies in pinning down a less popular classmate, cutting off his bleached blond locks.

When the story broke, a Romney spokesperson gave the “Gee, I don’t recall” response. An extremely popular position with politicians on both sides of the fence, from Watergate to Iran Contra to Rielle-gate. When Romney’s cohorts expressed long-lasting shame and guilt, perhaps the Mitt camp realized that wasn’t going to fly. Mitt didn’t exactly express a mea culpa. His explanation landed more on the “my bad, boys will be boys” side of things.

“Back in high school, I did some dumb things and if anyone was hurt by that or offended, I obviously apologize for that. I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks during high school, some might have gone too far and for that I apologize.”

Placing a sleeping classmate's finger in hot water to see if he’d wet the bed? Pranks and hijinks. Leading a group of students to pin down a bullied classmate and chop off his hair with scissors? Assault. I can only imagine the terror experienced by Lauder, the now-deceased student.

I’ve heard enough people excuse this incident as “something we just did back then.” Maybe I wasn’t around when Mitt went to school but I’m pretty sure physically intimidating someone perceived as an “odd duck” was never considered good form.

Historically, Alpha males have often led the charge against those least likely to defend themselves. Some consider this survival of the fittest or a rite of passage. When I taught a religious school class as a college student back in the eighties, I remember coming to the rabbi’s wife for advice how to handle the mob of second graders who would relentlessly tease some mixed race children in my class. Her response? “Kids will be kids. If you’re going to be different from everyone else, you need to learn how to develop a thick skin.” I turned on my heels and never looked back.

Our schools may preach zero tolerance for bullying but we still give bullies a rather long leash, presumably to whip those other kids into shape. When my daughter was in fifth trade, a classmate drew all over her clothes with a highlighter. The principal’s response when I paid him a visit? “Haha. Boys will be boys. Maybe he thinks she’s cute. Are you planning on washing the clothes?”

Giving bullies a free pass just breeds the “my bad” refusal to accept any responsibility for actions. Mean girls and boys grow up to be mean adults with little compassion for those less entitled.

Mitt’s high school “pranks” will probably be forgotten by the time the next story hits the news cycle. His cavalier attitude towards what was a pivotal event in the lives of his classmates is indicative of character. Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus eloquently cites, “Character and disposition are capable of change, but they also reveal themselves early on.”

Mitt had the opportunity to directly apologize for his actions, empathizing with the 160,000 plus kids who stay home from school because they are bullied or tormented by classmates. But, instead, he chose the “boys will be boys” route.

 My bad.

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Nice piece. And so true. "Boys will be boy" not a solution, it doesn't address the problem. I suspect Mitt's response of "I don't recall" damns him further in the eyes of many.

I did bad things as a child. I recall them. I regret them. I'm ashamed of them.

Many of Mitt's associates from that day remember and regret and are ashamed. It's damning that the instigator has the luxury to forget, feel no regret or no shame. Isn't there a term to describe a condition that is characterised by being incapable of empathy?
I took a training where the instructor implied if a child was being bullied and we step in would we be interfering with a child learning to stand up for themselves. I made it very clear to this teacher and the class that as a parent and teacher any and every bully that came in contact with my children would be shut down. Pronto.
Had Mitt touched my child's counter-culture hair he would have experienced a meeting with me that he would never forget.
As an article that may very well be a work of fiction. I'm shocked you find it of any value for comment. But, if you got nothin' else, I guess you run with it. (i was bored...i read it)
It may be pretty easy for someone of your youth to recall childhood events, but remembering a single day event, forty some years ago, very well could be difficult. (do-no...not that old yet)
Hell, I can't remember the last name of my prom date, and that was only twenty-four years ago!
Small details, and insignificant issues are not worth the valuable space in the very limited human memory bank.
Michael, I'm sure if you had ever been bullied or shoved to the ground, you would recall the details. Same if you instigated or participated in physicallly tormenting a fellow student. We're not talking about a grade in math class or who you lost your virgiinity to which are details worth forgetting. We're talking about an act which impacted the lives of those involved. Selective memory can be a very convenient tactic.