Tag Archives: North Carolina

Romney’s disability bullying

Anyone who has made his or her way to this backwater in the blogosphere must have seen the Washington Post article on Mitt Romney’s history of cruelty and bullying at his prep school.  The event that has gotten the most attention is Romney’s bullying of a nonconformist classmate — a kid with dyed blond hair — that had overtones of gay bashing and homophobia.  But what about this incident:

One venerable English teacher, Carl G. Wonn­berger, nicknamed “the Bat” for his diminished eyesight, was known to walk into the trophy case and apologize, step into wastepaper baskets and stare blindly as students slipped out the back of the room to smoke by the open windows. Once, several students remembered the time pranksters propped up the back axle of Wonnberger’s Volkswagen Beetle with two-by-fours and watched, laughing from the windows, as the unwitting teacher slammed the gas pedal with his wheels spinning in the air.

As an underclassman, Romney accompanied Wonnberger and Pierce Getsinger, another student, from the second floor of the main academic building to the library to retrieve a book the two boys needed. According to Getsinger, Romney opened a first set of doors for Wonnberger, but then at the next set, with other students around, he swept his hand forward, bidding the teacher into a closed door. Wonnberger walked right into it and Getsinger said Romney giggled hysterically as the teacher shrugged it off as another of life’s indignities.

How does this speak to Romney’s views on people with disabilities?   There are many measures of how far the Republican party has sunk — from William F. Buckley to Sarah Palin, say — but in my neck of the woods, it couldn’t be sharper than the contrast between the man who signed the ADA and someone with so little respect for people with disabilities that he would humiliate his own blind teacher.

Would any of us be elected if judged by our adolescences?  Perhaps not, though mostly due to lingering squeamishness with recreational drug and alcohol use.  I cannot think of any friends or classmates who did anything close to the cruelty of assaulting a fellow student to cut his hair simply because he was different or physically ridiculing a disabled teacher.

Two other things strike me.  First of all, of course, the homophobic bullying has received far more attention than the disabiliphobic bullying.  Part of that has to do with the fact that the article was published within a day of both North Carolina’s shameful vote enshrining marriage discrimination in its constitution and President Obama’s declaration of his support for marriage equality.  But I’m concerned that that casual tone of the quote above indicates a greater societal acceptance of disability-related “pranks” than homophobic “bullying.”

I’m also struck by just how uncivilized Romney’s behavior was.  And not just once, but apparently over and over.   We Democrats are supposed to be the party of the uncouth, unwashed hippies, and the GOP the party of Brooks Brothers, using the proper wine glass, and not wearing white after Labor Day.  But the behavior described in this article is deeply uncivilized, and the fact that it was laughed off at an elite prep school speaks volumes.

How on earth could we trust this man to run our country?

Thank you, President Obama & a re-run

Thank you for supporting marriage equality!  Keep moving us forward.   If you agree that this was an important step forward and that politicians, like puppies, should be rewarded for good behavior, throw some money toward keeping us moving forward.

And in honor of this step forward in civil rights, in response to the benighted state of North Carolina, and in recognition of the fact that I’ve been in trial prep and trial for the last month or so and have not had the time to come up with a new post, I’m rerunning a post from July 2010:

If we’re going to defend hetero marriage, let’s do it right. 

Folks opposed to marriage equality argue that if gays and lesbians are permitted that state-sanctioned status, it will have the effect of destroying heterosexual marriages.  In response, they promote legislation ostensibly designed to protect this venerable institution.  Most liberals campaign against these measures, on the grounds that they are unfair (what part of “equal protection of the laws” is unclear?) and irrational (straights have done a pretty good job of marriage destruction all on their own).

My view is:  if we’re going to use the legislative process to protect heterosexual marriages, let’s pass laws that might actually reduce stress and promote harmony in those marriages.  These measures would “save” those marriages in the sense that the people in them would remain happy with one another and therefore married, rather than in the way that opponents of gay marriage think it works:  that we’ll only stay together if we can smugly monopolize the legal label for our relationships.

Warning:  what follows traffics in the basest of gender stereotypes, derived directly from my own 16-year experience with heterosexual marriage.

The Bathroom Separation Act.  Men and women were not meant to share bathrooms.  The vast genetic differences in cleanliness perception and many practical differences in paraphernalia make sharing facilities a source of stress in 55% of heterosexual marriages.*  Under this proposed legislation, all new homes will be required to have two completely separate bathrooms adjacent to the master bedroom and money will be allocated from the federal budget to retrofit houses of married heteros with one extra master bath.

The Laundry Technology Act.  All new washers and dryers will be equipped with control panels of equal or greater complexity to a sound system of comparable price.  In addition, federal regulations will require garment labels to include one of the following two statements, as appropriate:  “This Goes In the Light Wash,” or “This Goes In the Dark Wash.”  At least 43%* of the bickering in hetero marriages concerns lack of laundry participation by one of the two genders commonly found in those unions.  This measure will not only promote increased participation, but will ensure that the result is not uniformly pink.

Music Parity Regulations.  FCC regulations will require at least one station in each broadcast area to play folk rock and heavy metal tunes on a strictly alternating basis.  Imagine the heterosexual marriages — not to mention lives — saved by not having driver and passenger switching constantly among stations in search of (to take a completely random example) Boston or The Indigo Girls.

Quality Motion Picture Act.  At least five movies each year will be required to have both exciting action sequences (car chases; explosions; zombies) and a plot with believable, grown-up dialog and characters.  Hetero marriages will flourish when husbands and wives not only attend but enjoy the same movies.

Full Funding for Public Education, Universal Health Care and Assisted Living Act.  Approximately 95%* of the fights in heterosexual marriages concern the kids’ schools, the doctor’s bills, and how to care for the in-laws without having them actually move in.  The FFPEUHCALA will ensure high quality public education, availability of heath care without forgoing food and heat, and a comfortable, safe old age for your in-laws** somewhere other than your home.  This legislation will avoid at least 3.2 million* heterosexual divorces each year.  In addition, just imagine all the quality time hetero couples will have in lieu of the hundreds of hours they now spend filling out insurance forms, fighting with insurance companies, filling out more forms, waiting on hold to insurance companies, and figuring out how to pay for things they already bought insurance to pay for.

Let’s see if those anti-marriage-equality folks really want to protect hetero marriage — let’s see if they’ll support all this crucial legislation.

* All statistics in this post are invented out of whole cloth.  They sure sound about right, though, don’t they?

** Love ya, Denver & Nora!