Thursday, January 29, 2015

Two Hate Crimes

The New York Times Magazine has the gripping story of a hate crime on a high school bus. Three kids on a long bus ride were joking around while a fourth boy wearing a skirt - who identifies as "agender" slept. One kid handed the other a lighter, and, and after a few tries, ignited the skirt. It burst into flames and the victim was severely burned. The perpetrator, a sixteen year old, plausibly did not believe that the skirt would do anything but smolder and be slapped out, got seven years in prison.

Go back a few years to a tony prep school in the Midwest. Another non-conformist kid in the class, who wore his hair in long blond locks, was attacked by a gang led by a popular and politically connected boy who tackled the terrified victim, held him down, and cut off his hair. The victim went on to be expelled (for smoking), while the perpetrator went on to become immensely wealthy, famous, a governor, and perennial presidential candidate. His wife remembers him as a fun loving scamp.

“There’s a wild and crazy man inside of there just waiting to come out,” Romney’s wife, Ann — a graduate of Cranbrook’s sister school, Kingswood — attested in a television interview this month, evoking what she saw as his endearing and fun-loving prep-school persona. Many of Romney’s peers from his high school days echo that version of the candidate, describing him as the humble son of an automobile executive-turned-governor who volunteered at the nearby mental hospital. They recall an infectious laugh, a characterization first documented in his senior yearbook.