Jason Horowitz of The Washington Post has written an excellently-sourced article about Romney's serial bullying in his teen years, which included playing incessant pranks on a blind teacher, and sneaking up on necking couples in a lovers' lane. But the worst of it was the attack on a gay student who had just dyed his longish hair blond. One day, Romney became so aroused that he formed a posse of preppies who held the kid down as Mitt hacked at his hair with a pair of scissors. This amounted to a criminal assault, and would additionally have been prosecuted as a hate crime today. But Mitt was never even reprimanded, let alone charged.
The victim, however, was later expelled after a group of elite tattle-tales turned him in for sneaking a cigarette. He died several years ago, and never forgot the incident, as one of the tormenters who encountered him in later life remembers. Mitt Romney, when confronted with the story today, at first semi-denied it, chuckled inappropriately, then apologized "if anyone was offended". A little late for the victim.
The WaPo story also has a lot of background on the elite Bloomfield Hills, Michigan school that was the scene of the crime(s). Cranbrook, the article says, was/is every inch a snobbish institution modeled after the British all-male boarding schools. I immediately thought of Christopher Hitchens' memoirs of his own school-day experiences at the hands of older boys and the rampant consensual homosexual experimentation amongst the pupils. And I was also reminded of George Orwell's classic indictment of boarding school cruelty and perversion, titled Such, Such Were the Joys.
Young Eric Blair (Orwell) was regularly beaten by the adults in the school and to a lesser extent, bullied by his peers. But there is another parallel to Cranfield and Orwell's alma mater, Crossgates -- and that is the extreme snobbery. Physical cruelty was matched only by Class War juvenilia. From the WaPo piece:
Lou Vierling, a scholarship student who boarded at Cranbrook for the 1960 and 1961 academic years, was struck by a question Romney asked them when they first met. “He wanted to know what my father did for a living,” Vierling recalled. “He wanted to know if my mother worked. He wanted to know what town I lived in.” As Vierling explained that his father taught school, that he commuted from east Detroit, he noticed a souring of Romney’s demeanor.Orwell recounts an eerily similar incident:
I recall a conversation that must have taken place about a year before I left Crossgates. A Russian boy, large and fair-haired, a year older than myself, was questioning me.'How much a-year has your father got?'
I told him what I thought it was, adding a few hundreds to make it sound better. The Russian boy, neat in his habits, produced a pencil and a small notebook and made a calculation.'My father has over two hundred times as much money as yours,' he announced with a sort of amused contempt.
Orwell's hellish school-days occurred at the very beginning of the 20th Century, when ingrained class distinctions still reigned supreme. He didn't write his essay until after World II had served to erase class lines, if not cruelty to children. Or so he thought: "The snobbishness that was an integral part of my own education would be almost unthinkable today, because the society that nourished it is dead," he concluded.
No, not dead. Merely asleep and destined to cross the wide Atlantic to further wreak its cruel, prurient havoc in the New Gilded Age. Welcome to Mitt Romney's America, Mr. Orwell.