All Articles Tagged "bully"

Mommy, I’m Being Cyber Bullied!: ‘Think Before You Type’ Has Answers

April 3rd, 2015 - By Rich
Share to Twitter Email This

When someone you love is being bullied it is the worst feeling. You feel so hopeless and helpless. Being cyber bullied is a whole different beast. As a parent you can’t confront every anonymous voice and schools are still learning how to deal with this challenge. I was bullied as a child so this cause is near and dear to my heart. As an empowerment speaker and self-love coach, I am thrilled to share the work of Think Before Your Type.

Think Before You Type is an anti-cyberbullying and positive self-esteem nonprofit organization that also focuses on encouraging young people to use the internet for good. Teen sisters Lauren and Victoria Coaxum created the organization to use online media to raise awareness about online bullying.

The sisters say they created Think Before You Type because they saw quite a bit of cyberbullying on social media, especially Twitter, and realized that no one really seemed to be doing anything about it. They felt that they had two choices, just ignore it or we try to change things. They do this anti-bullying empowerment work online and in the community.

Let’s get answers!

Abiola: Lauren, Victoria, we are so proud of you young women for seeing a problem and taking action. Being cyber bullied is an issue that not only young people face, but adults as well. Please tell us more about yourself and what you do with Think Before You Type.

Victoria: I am 17 and currently studying abroad in the beautiful country of Indonesia. As far as Think Before You Type (TBYT) goes, Lauren and I pretty much do the same things, which includes creating empowering Dares for our community, speaking at events, posting on social media, conducting interviews, and more. Our TBYT Dares are short videos in which we dare people to do simple, positive things for the people around them.

Lauren: I’m a 19 year old junior biology and pre-med student at Marymount University. My work in TBYT encompasses everything that Victoria mentioned, and more. As she said, she’s currently studying abroad, so our new challenge has been learning how to work together when she is on the other side of the world.

Abiola: Let’s talk about being cyber bullied. What are some of the ways kids are cyberbullied?

Lauren: Some examples of cyberbullying include threatening messages via text message or social media, mean posts on social media, or even the unwanted sharing of pictures in a hurtful manner.

Abiola: So, what is your advice for one of your fellow teens who is being bullied?

Victoria: If you are a teen who is being cyberbullied, don’t be afraid to tell someone and block, unfriend, or separate yourself from the person who is bullying you, even if he or she is supposedly your friend. Friends don’t bully friends!

Abiola: Parents often feel so helpless and hopeless in these cases. What is your advice for a mom or dad who finds out that their kid is being cyberbullied?

Lauren & Victoria: Encourage your child. Remind them that it isn’t their fault. Let them know that it is okay to separate themselves from the bully and even take a step away from social media for a little while. Save the messages, but don’t retaliate online, that will only make matters worse.

Abiola: Who are the cyberbullies? What kinds of kids bully other kids?

Lauren: Cyberbullies can really be anyone, although they are often people who are experiencing some type of pain in their own lives. Unfortunately sitting behind the screen of an electronic device makes some people feel bolder and almost invincible.

Abiola: How did you have the courage to do this work?

Victoria: We knew that we didn’t need to wait for someone else to come along to make a change. We knew that we had just as much potential power to help make a change as anyone else. Our goal is to empower other young people to realize that they too can go out and make a change.

Abiola: You both want to be doctors, which is a healing profession. Please tell us what the future holds for each of you.

Victoria: I am currently in the college admissions process and hoping to get a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience or neuropsychology. I plan on becoming a neurosurgeon and working abroad, but I am also planning on continuing my work with Think Before You Type for a long, long time.

Lauren: I am working on my bachelor’s degree and biology, and I hope to attend medical school when I graduate next year. I’m planning on working in some sub-specialty in pediatrics. I’m excited to continue my work with Think Before You Type throughout this process.

Abiola: You are wonderful role models. How did you learn to love yourself?

Victoria: I am constantly reminding myself that I am capable of more than I think I am and that I have been placed on this earth for a reason.

Lauren: Learning to love myself has not been an easy thing, and it’s a constant struggle of mine. Being able to embrace my differences has been a big part of this. Realizing that everyone is unique and that’s what makes us all amazing in our own way has been a really important thing for me to learn.

Abiola: So what do you do when you feel scared, embarrassed, or afraid?

Victoria: I like to laugh, especially when it comes to being embarrassed. My friends and I even have a joke that we laugh at ourselves so much during exchange that there is no way to be embarrassed or afraid anymore.

Lauren: I think I have a lot to learn in these areas. When I’m scared or afraid, I take deep breaths, pray, and try to think logically. Getting the confidence to do well in certain situations can be challenging, but I try to think about all of the benefits and then jump right in. When I’m embarrassed, I’m not really sure what I do. It really depends on the situation, it’s something that I’m hoping to work on.

Abiola: Thank you for sharing that. Many young people will be encourage by your willingness to be vulnerable as well as leaders. I see that you take prayer requests. How beautiful! When did you start doing that?

Lauren & Victoria: Yes, we do take prayer requests. This is something that we started doing at the beginning of TBYT. Our faith is such a huge part of everything that we do, and prayer changes things. We wanted people to be able to have that support from us as well. People have sent some in, and we’re always thrilled to be able to pray for them.

Abiola: How can other young people join your movement?

Lauren & Victoria: We want people to know how simple it is to go out and have a positive impact. You can visit our websites: tbytmedia.com and tbytinc.org to find the Dares and participate.

Abiola Abrams is the author of the award-winning guide The Sacred Bombshell Handbook of Self-Love and founder of SacredBombshell.com, where she offers empowerment coaching. 

Are You An Internet Bully?

November 1st, 2013 - By Dee Rene
Share to Twitter Email This
Shutterstock

Shutterstock

As long as there has been social media, there have been social media bullies. People who muster up enough keyboard courage to taunt and tease their victims into deleting accounts, crying real tears, or going back and forth with violent threats or real life follow through on those threats. Whether it be on social media or even the comment section of an article, we can all point out an internet bully.

But have you ever stopped to consider you might be one too?

Never Again…11 Great Movies You Can Only Watch Once (Part II)

August 13th, 2013 - By Clarke Gail Baines
Share to Twitter Email This

movies

Monster’s Ball. Precious. Do The Right Thing. Passion Of The Christ. For Colored Girls.

Last time we did a list on great movies you can only watch once, these were just a few of seven we picked. But we found that you, the readers, had a wealth of others you just had to recommend, and in all honesty, we agreed with most of them. That’s why we decided to make a second list with some new additions that were well done films, but only needed to be seen once. Whether it was because of the violence or the emotional rollercoaster they took people on, these movies got the point across, and let’s just say, we make a habit to pass them up in our Netflix recommendations…

Why Are Civil Rights Leaders Going To Bat For Harvey Weinstein’s Film “The Butler”?

July 22nd, 2013 - By Charing Ball
Share to Twitter Email This
Harvey Weinstein; Photo courtesy of WENN

Harvey Weinstein; Photo courtesy of WENN

 

Why are three of the biggest civil rights organizations and leaders soft-shoeing for Harvey Weinstein’s new film, The Butler?

According to the Hollywood Reporter, by way of Shadow and Act, Weinstein, co-founder of Miramax films and king of all Oscar bait, enlisted the help of prominent civil rights leaders including Ben Jealous, the CEO of the NAACP, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Roy Innis, national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality, in his naming battle with Warner Bros. The back and forth wrangling over the film’s title ended late Friday night when The Motion Picture Association of America decided that The Weinstein Company, Harvey’s production company with his brother Bob, would be allowed to use the title, Lee Daniels’ The Butler. The film’s original title, The Butler, was was ruled by the Title Registration Bureau of the MPAA, as protected property by Warner Brothers, which owns a short film of the same name.

According to published reports, Weinstein enlisted the help of the civil rights activists in an appeal over the original ruling. In a joint statement sent to the MPAA, said activists responded to the original ruling by saying:

We are all watching and waiting for the results of today’s arbitration and hoping that Warner Bros. and the MPAA make the right decision on this important movie about civil rights.”

I’m confused. Who is this “we” business?

I get it: The film, which tells the tale of real life White House butler Cecil Gaines, who worked in service to eight presidents and features a who’s who of top named actors including Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, John Cusack and Robin Williams, among others, sounds like a moving watch. In fact, the film is already being speculated for contention in next years’ Academy Awards (along with Weinstein’s two other black-themed films, Fruitvale Station and A Long Walk To Freedom, which stars Idris Elba). Therefore, making sure this prestigious project makes it to the big-screen, particularly in time for Oscar consideration, is a very big deal for The Weinstein Company. With that said, I have no idea why this film’s importance to civil rights is being overstated. And then there is the obvious question about timing, considering all the other, more pressing civil rights matters going on in our country right now. So it’s a wonder why these civil rights groups and activists needed to organize and release a statement on this situation at all…

Jackson, who is fresh off of criticism for coming to the defense of Antebellum-n****rs-in-white-coat-loving chef Paula Deen, has been no stranger as of late to non-civil rights name-lending to Weinstein. According to Entertainment Weekly, Jackson released a statement back in 2012 in support of another Weinstein appeal in front of the MPAA for his documentary film Bully, which at the time was slapped with an R-rating for its violent subject matter. Weinstein cried unfair and threatened to leave the MPAA if the film wasn’t reclassified to PG-13. In addition to Jackson, Weinstein also enlisted Alex Libby, one of the bullied children featured in the film, who gave a statement to the board that the R-rating would prevent Bully from reaching its target audience of youth under the age of 17. The Weinstein company would later release the film unrated, with the statement that, “theatre owners everywhere will step up and do what’s right for the benefit of all of the children out there who have been bullied or may have otherwise been bullies themselves.” Yet as several critics have suggested, Harvey Weinstein is no stranger to bullying tactics of his own, particularly around films deemed Oscar contenders, and that the public protests and mass campaign (including using Jackson and Libby as well as a Human Rights petition in support of the film) to get the movie a new rating might have just been another example of how he tries to strong-arm people into doing what he wants. Or as stated by this column in Movieline, “This is a crass, cynical marketing ploy by a man who eats Oscars and s**ts Tonys.”

While there is no other documented working relationship between the NAACP and Harvey or The Weinstein Company, this isn’t the first time (as of late) that folks have raised an eyebrow at the 104-year-old black civil rights organization. In particular, its New York chapter, along with the Hispanic Federation, fought hard against Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on large sugar-laden drinks under the hard-to-reason argument that businesses in minority communities would have been disproportionately affected. Some critics of their actions alleged that the NAACP black civil rights lens might have been clouded by its close financial ties to both Coca-Cola and Pepsi bottling companies.

I’m not going to throw the baby out with the baby water and suggest that these groups are allowing themselves to be used exclusively as tools of the status quo. As individuals and independent organizations (with their own private membership), these activists can throw their names and support behind any person or cause they see fit. However, I also feel that certain names, more specifically certain names like Jesse Jackson and The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, have lots of heavy connotations connected to them, particularly being major call-upon voices for the collective black experience. As such, that voice needs to be wielded more discriminately than over a film, which does not directly affect black folks. Basically, let’s keep the collective “we” out of it. I just don’t see the civil rights infraction here. And truth is, The Weinstein Company, particularly Harvey, are not oppressed in the least, and he has it in his means to find suitable alternatives to get his films shown, just as he did with the film Bully. That’s the power of the Weinstein name. In fact, according to one study, Harvey Weinstein’s name is thanked in more Oscar speeches than God.

If they are interested in supporting film projects, why not use these pulpits to support the thousands of black writers, directors, and film producers who struggle to create film projects outside of the Hollywood paradigm? Overall, I am glad that the MPAA has allowed the film project to keep its name (albeit with some alterations) as it will clear the way for Lee Daniels, best known for ShadowBoxer and Precious, and Forest Whitaker to do their thing at the Academy Awards next year. But more importantly, the ruling might also have saved the collective “we” from months of Red Tails-style film hustling where black folks would be implored to see this film – or risk the empty threat of never having another black film made in Hollywood for all of eternity.

Is Our Zero Tolerance Culture Behind Kiera Wilmot’s Heavy-Handed Charges?

May 3rd, 2013 - By Charing Ball
Share to Twitter Email This

kiera wilmot

The case of Kiera Wilmot, the 16-year-old student at Bartow High School expelled and charged with a felony count for a bottle bomb/unauthorized science experiment, has inspired a number of petitions on Change.org from concerned citizens who are  demanding that the charges be dropped and she be admitted back into school.

Despite what could have transpired around this ill-advised “science experiment” of hers, Wilmot is by most accounts, an above-average teenager, who gets good grades and is generally well-behaved in school. That’s why many folks have expressed outrage over the severity of her charges from the local district attorney. Even her principal, who because of the district’s zero tolerance policy, reported the incident to police, has come to Wilmot’s defense. And as one of the petition creators suggested, Women make up only 20% of computer science jobs, 23% of graduate students in engineering, and only 25% of the STEM workforce. We are not going to resolve the gender gap in science and math fields by punishing girls for pursuing the fields.

I will co-sign that her inquisitive mind should be encouraged – perhaps in more controlled environments – however, I wouldn’t go as far as to christen her the next Marie Curie. By most accounts, she heard about a bottle bomb (also known as a work bomb) from a friend and wanted to try it for herself. She ended up scaring the crap out of a bunch of people, which is not a smart thing to do, especially not after the school shootings and recent bombing in Boston. However, I don’t exactly go around expecting 16 year olds to always do smart things. And that is why I am so happy that there has been public push back in this case. For me, Wilmot’s story gets at the heart of the problem with zero tolerance, which is not only an attitude, but as we see, a firm policy in some towns and school districts.

Ja'Meya Jackson

Ja’Meya Jackson

Ironically, the night before I read about the Wilmot case, I started watching on Neflix Lee Hirsch’s documentary, Bully. This is the controversial documentary about the often unforeseen effects of schoolyard bullying on the lives of young people. The documentary was controversial because it initially received an “R” rating, which meant it couldn’t be shown to young audiences who might need to see it most, but after some public nudging by Harvey Weinstein, the film was re-rated to a more teen-friendly PG-13. I’ve been avoiding this documentary because I just knew that it was going to make me upset. And as suspected, I was right. One of the stories, about 14-year-old Ja’Meya Jackson from Yazoo County, Mississippi, is the one that really got to me. She was an honor role student, who was facing heavy time for brandishing a gun on a school bus. According to Ja’Meya, she decided to get the gun, which belonged to her mother, after growing tired of being picked on by a few students on the school bus. Among her tormentors was a boy, who bragged about how he was not scared to fight girls. The whole incident was caught on the bus camera, and seeing the video and hearing her account provided some context to how this could happen. And yet, with this context, the local district attorney felt that there were “no excuses” for her bringing a gun on a bus, and he felt justified in charging her with 45 felony counts, including 22 felony kidnapping charges.

I turned the film off at that point so I can’t tell you her fate. I was just too angry to even finish watching after listening to the district attorney justify why this level of prosecution was needed against this child. Did she act recklessly? No doubt. Could she have seriously hurt someone and herself? Yes. Are there consequences to be had for her actions? Yuppers. But who says that those consequences have to be jail? And what value does it serve society in throwing an otherwise straight-arrowed child in prison for years? I can’t think of any.

There is a discussion to be had here about how this heavy-handedness towards our children contributes to the school to prison pipeline. Neither Kiera or Ja’Meya fit the stereotype of youth, who most folks would associate with felony crimes. As far as we know, they are not vicious and cruel. They don’t have a bunch of tattoos or baby daddies. They were not beating girls up and then uploading videos of it to WorldStar. They were, for all intents and purposes, what most people would describe as good kids, who deviated off from a pretty good path. Rehabilitation and the proper guidance to show them the error of their ways could probably have more results than a lengthy prison sentence. But that’s if producing well-rounded citizens is the motivation…

I think what is most unnerving about these stories is that I can recall about several incidences from my youth, which could have landed me in the same position as Kiera or Ja’Meya. I would name them but they were pretty boneheaded and by today’s zero tolerance standards, likely criminal. And it wasn’t like I was a bad kid; I just did stupid things at times. I didn’t always think about how my actions would effect other people. And that is at the core of what’s wrong with zero tolerance as a practice. It doesn’t recognize what is an essential part in growing up human; and that is making mistakes – even intentional ones. It provides no room for differences and nuances; that since you have the same outcome as someone else, how you both got there is the same. And that’s not true in any respects in life, and it is certainly not true for teenagers.

The Most Awkward Date Ever: The Atheist, Insecure Bully

February 19th, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
Share to Twitter Email This
Shutterstock

Shutterstock

When I first learned that I was going to be in New York the summer after my college graduation, I told myself that I wasn’t going to be a “Mary Tyler Moore” or a “Carrie Bradshaw.” I was not one of those small-town girls who made it out of the country, only to be seduced by the big city. I’d been to New York before…it didn’t impress me all that much.

Well, turns out visiting New York, experiencing the city in between conferences and plush hotel rooms is completely different from working in the city and living in Brooklyn. First I fell in love with Brooklyn and then I noticed that Manhattan, where I worked, had an energy that literally and figuratively propelled me to succeed. By the second month, of my three month internship, I was making plans to have a New York address before the year was out. Moving to New York, meant I would need to open a bank account somewhere in the city. Being that there was a Chase on every corner, that was the obvious choice. So one day, after work I walked a block or so to the nearest Chase to open up an account.

As a black woman, you always notice the other black people in the room. This person, I honestly can’t even remember his name at this point, was working at one of the desks. When he saw my “I need assistance” look, he jumped up to help me. I told him I needed to open up an account. We headed back to his desk where he set me up. In between the paperwork and the questions, there was small talk. What do you do for a living? I told him, so he knew my office was literally a block from his own. What do you do for fun? He told me that he was into racing cars. And that’s what he did on the weekend. He told me he knew Nicole Scherzinger’s boyfriend Lewis Hamilton.  At the time I was looking for a story about black people to pitch to a black publication and this seemed ideal.I mentioned that I would like to speak to he and Hamilton if possible. So when he suggested he and I grab lunch next week, I just knew it was because he wanted to talk to me about the racing. I wasn’t really opposed to going on a date with him, but he was too short and not attractive enough for it to be my first thought. Aside from the fact that he tried to tell me that the login I’d chosen for my bank account, should have been different, I didn’t get any seriously bad vibes from him, so I figured going out to lunch, wouldn’t be too bad. Still the day of the date, I gave my mom the address of the Chipotle we were going to just in case she needed to provide the authorities with the address of the last place I’d been seen alive.

He took me to the Chipotle, where his uncle, who worked there, hooked us up.

As soon as I sat down, he says, “Well, what do you want to talk about?” Hmm…nice way to break the ice there pal. I thought it was weird but I just assumed he meant, what questions did I have about racing. I turned away to get my notepad out. Yes, I’d prepared questions. He must have been looking at me funny or something because in the midst of my search, I asked him, “You mean about racing right?”

“No, about anything.”

“Oh.”

That’s when it hit me, he thought this was a date. I was immediately disgusted. At him for bamboozling me and at myself for falling for it. But I was already there, so I just needed to make the best of the situation.

Unfortunately, it was easier thought than done. Before our date ended, homeboy told me that he didn’t really get down with his family members and he didn’t believe in God. Now, I’d like to think I’m tolerate of religious beliefs and what not; but as someone who’s super close to their family and someone whose relationship with God is vitally important, I would never fool myself into believing that I could date someone who didn’t share my faith, or at least believe in a higher power. I had pretty much checked out. It was all just too much: the bamboozlement, the lack of faith and the struggle to converse were the three strikes I needed to be done. Thank God I had to get back to work.

I told him we had better be going. As he was walking back to my job, we saw some man, who looked the part of a stereotypical gay man. He was impeccably dressed, with vibrant colors, a man bag and a fresh fade. He looked good. My date didn’t seem to agree though. As soon as the man crossed his line of vision, he started clowning him. “Look at this dude. Walking around looking like a nerd!” I was silent. What was this high school? I told him I liked the brotha’s ensemble. That’s when my date said one of the saddest, most pathetic things I’d ever heard. “Well, you know sometimes you have to talk about people first before they can get a chance to talk about you.”

Huh?!

I scoffed, before I dropped just a little bit of knowledge on him, “I’m sure people aren’t looking at you as much as you think they are.”

It was at this point that I knew that this was the last time I would see dude. He was tragically insecure. Probably one of those kids who was a bully to his peers in high school. I was officially disgusted.

I thought that was the last time I’d see him; but lo and behold as I was walking down the stairs into the subway station, who do I see but my date. I tried to make myself small and take another staircase; but before I could turn and walk the other way, he’d spotted me.

“Veronica!”

Caught.

I walked down the stairs slowly. He was with one of his coworkers so I didn’t have to be too accommodating. Thankfully, my date wasn’t going too far on the train and I could get by with fake, close lipped smiles and “umm hmms.” Before he jumped off he said, “Veronica, have you ever been to Coney Island?” I hadn’t and, instead of lying, I told the truth.

“I should take you sometime.”

I just said “Hmm…”

We Can’t Make This Stuff Up: Suge Knight Gets Into A Fight While Katt Watches From A Distance

December 29th, 2012 - By Drenna Armstrong
Share to Twitter Email This
"Suge PF"

WENN.com

Why in the world does the city of Los Angeles keep allowing Frick and Frack to run aimlessly around with no supervision?

Okay, so we just reported this morning that Katt Williams was arrested Friday on child endangerment charges. Well, hours after he was released – hours – it appears he was a primary witness in a huge brawl involving his friend and tour manager, Suge Knight.

There are no details as to what exactly started the fight but someone sent a video in to TMZ where you clearly see him in some type of heated “situation” with a group of people. After a few security people are able to break things up (with one young man ending up on the ground), Suge walks a few feet away and ends up punching someone else in the face.  We can only assume that the person must have said something Suge didn’t like because Suge landed the first punch.

Katt Williams was hiding between dumpsters during the exchange and once blows were thrown, he was ordered by someone who looks to have been part of his security team into a black truck. They immediately sped off.

As the video continues, other security guys are urging Suge to get into a white truck in order to leave the scene. Without giving notice to the packed parking lot of onlookers, Suge sped off and almost hit quite a few people.

How do these two find so much trouble? Suge is almost 50 years old and Katt is knocking on the door of 40 – when does this end? If you can’t figure out how to avoid having a fight at those ages, you don’t ever need to go out. I would say “grow up” but somehow, that doesn’t seem applicable.

Kids Bullying Classmates Over Food Allergies

December 27th, 2012 - By Rich
Share to Twitter Email This

CNN reports that more and more children are being bullied about their food allergies. A study at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital surveyed children ages 8 to 17 and the children’s parents. They found bullying ranges from plain ol’ teasing to kids throwing allergens at their classmates, which can be life-threatening.

With one in twelve children in the US suffering from food allergies, with higher rates among people of color, doctors say parents should be concerned. Interestingly, the study found that when parents were aware of the bullying, children weren’t upset by it. Researchers suggest parents keep up with their kids to find out what’s going on at school. They warn that because kids with food allergies don’t look physically sick right away, it’s easy for other parents (and children) to dismiss them as being overprotective. This study proves once again kids are nothing if not creative when it comes to their cruelty.

Do your kids get teased for having food allergies?

Words: Desiree Browne

Cyber Bullying: Felicia Garcia’s Tragic Farewell Via Twitter

October 30th, 2012 - By Rich
Share to Twitter Email This

Times have changed and bullying has taken a new form in cyber space and sadly, another young life is lost!

According to Rolling Out:

“Felicia Garcia of Staten Island, New York is the second teenager in as many weeks to commit suicide after being bullied.

Reports are that she was the victim of slut-shaming. Slut-shaming, as it is called, is the act of teasing a young woman on social networks and in real life about her rumored sexual history.

Felicia Garcia, who authorities reported had sex with four football players at a party last Saturday night, had become the target of such ridicule and the bullies insulted her up until the moment she ended her own life.

Judging from her final Tweet, ‘I’m done,’ the teenager did not have an army strong enough to stop the bullying and/or to bring the culprits to justice.

Yesterday, on a train platform with schoolmates, the bullying began again. This time, Garcia ended her own life in full view of the bullies.

As they taunted her, Garcia leaped from the platform and into the path of the oncoming train — staining them.

Felicia Garcia’s blood was on their hands, for all the world to see.”

The fact that no one stepped in or tried to stop this child from committing suicide is what I find most frightening.

Who is to blame for Felicia Garcia’s suicide?

Written by: Ruthie Hawkins
Source: RollingOut

Once a Bully, Always a Bully? The Issue With Mitt Romney’s Past & Present

May 15th, 2012 - By Charing Ball
Share to Twitter Email This

Source: 2012.talkingpointsmemo.com

While President Obama was solidifying his support of the  LGBT community’s quest for equal rights including the right to marry, his opponent was raising eyebrows over allegations of aggressive behavior with a former gay classmate.

Mormon millionaire and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, has been accused of bullying a former classmate, who just so happened to be gay.  The incident allegedly took place at the prestigious boarding Cranbrook School, where Romney attended high school.

According to the Washington Post, Romney, then a senior, spotted: “something he thought did not belong at a school where the boys wore ties and carried briefcases. John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it. “He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney said.

A few days later, Romney allegedly lead a briefcase-carrying posse into Lauber’s room, tackled and pinned him to the ground and cut his hair with a pair of scissors as Lauber, cried and screamed for help.  While originally thought as an isolated incident, another former (and anonymous) high-school classmate of Romney’s has stepped forward to claim that other fellow students have “really negative memories” of the Republican presidential candidate, and that his behavior during those years bordered on the lines of “Lord of the Flies.”

This has set off a firestorm of controversy in which many folks are questioning whether or not this story is an indication of the man Romney is today. And in an interview with Fox Radio, Romney laughed off the incident saying that he didn’t remember it happening and didn’t know the kid was gay. He did admit to participating in a lot of “hijinks and pranks” during his time at the boarding school. He also apologized, well he kind of apologized: “…and if anybody was hurt by that or offended by it, obviously I apologize.”  Obviously.

Yet it was the ’60’s and a half-century later, we can all assume that he has grown beyond his formative years. I mean, he went on graduate college, recommitted himself to his Mormon faith, got married and raised a boatload of children. He also founded a successful business and ran a state. Lots of people are pretty horrible as teenagers. And surely a mistake we made when we were young – when we are still trying to decipher between what’s right and what’s wrong – should not have any bearing on what kind of person we are today.