Monday, May 14, 2012

The Official Mitt Romney High School Behavior Quiz

The Official Mitt Romney High School Behavior Quiz

Last week, The Washington Post disclosed a hazing incident involving a teenaged Mitt Romney.  It alleged that Romney led a group of boys at Cranbrook School (a prestigious and expensive Michigan private academy) in attacking a new student who had long blonde hair that the ‘guys’ found effeminate, different, and therefore an affront (to their masculinity? their conformity? their fashion sense?).  The bullies ambushed their target, pinned him down, and Romney sheared off his hair amidst his struggles, tears, and cries for help.

There are certainly worse bullying incidents on record – and happening today.  But this one was ugly enough.  It evidently scarred the victim and most of the attackers, who remember the incident with embarrassment and shame. 

Except Candidate Romney.

His first reaction to the story was (to be charitable) nervous laughter and a claim of amnesia.  He didn’t remember this incident at all (even though everyone else involved had).  He did ‘remember,’ though, that the issue of homosexuality would not have been operative, as he didn’t think in those terms back then.  As the day that the Post story broke wore on, Romney attempted to express some sort of remorse, although he continued to assert that he didn’t recall the event.

What do we make of this?  Are grownups eternally responsible for every dumb or mean thing they did when they were teenagers? 

In order to try to answer such questions, I’ve devised a high-school-behavior quiz.  I don’t have the technology to record answers automatically, so I invite readers to take it and to record their A/B/C/D/E/F answers.  At the end of the quiz, I’ll disclose the scoring system. 

Pick the answer that MOST ACCURATELY describes your attitudes and behavior.  Here goes . . .

I.  When I was in high school, I:

[A] Thought I was cooler than most people.

[B] Thought I was smarter than most people.

[C] Thought I was more athletic/prettier than most people.

[D] Thought I was a non-conformist.

[E] Thought all my classmates were my equals.

[F] Thought I was a loser.

II.  When I was in high school, I mostly chose my friends:

[A] Because they were popular.

[B] Because we were in the same extra-curricular activities.

[C] Because their parents went to the same church or same country club as mine.

[D] Because they were friendly to me.

[E] Because they needed friendship.

[F] I didn’t.  I didn’t have any friends.

III.  When I was in high school, I:

[A] Talked disparagingly about kids who weren’t in my group of friends.

[B] Ignored kids who weren’t in my group of friends.

[C] Bullied or beat up kids who weren’t in my group of friends.

[D] Didn’t stand up for kids when I could have.

[E] Tried to befriend kids who seemed to have no friends.

[F] Was tormented by just about everybody.

IV.  When I was in high school, I:

[A] Called kids ‘gay’ because they were geeks.

[B] Called kids ‘gay’ because my friends called them gay.

[C] Called kids ‘gay’ because I thought they were and didn’t like it.

[D] Didn’t really know what ‘gay’ meant, so I didn’t call anyone ‘gay.’

[E] Tried to support ’gay’ students.

[F] Was gay.

V.  Now that I’m an adult, I:

[A] Regret some things I did as a teenager, but I -- like most teens -- was a jerk.

[B] Regret some things I did as a teenager, but standards were different then.

[C] Don’t think I should be held accountable for what I might have done in the past.

[D] Wish I could apologize.

[E] Believe I tried to be a good person in high school.

[F] Am glad I’m alive, after the torment of high school.

VI.  Now that I’m an adult, I:

[A] Think that traditional marriage is between a man and a woman.

[B] Could be in favor of civil unions for non-straight couples.

[C] Believe that anything other than one-man-one-woman marriage should be illegal.

[D] Don’t understand how gay marriages threaten straight marriages.

[E] Am in favor of gay marriages.

[F] Don’t understand why anyone would want to be married.

VII.  Now that I’m an adult, I:

[A] Have self-identified as a Republican.

[B] Have self-identified as a Libertarian.

[C] Have self-identified as a Tea-Party person.

[D] Have self-identified as a Democrat.

[E] Have self-identified as an Independent.

[F] Don’t vote.

VIII.  One piece of advice I’d give to today’s young people is:

[A] Don’t be on FaceBook: it could eventually bite you on the butt.

[B] Join Facebook under an alias (but let good friends know what it is).

[C] Don’t worry about Facebook and texting – you’re just a kid.

[D] Be wary about everything you send via social media – it’s not going away.

[E] Use social media to disseminate views you believe in.

[F] Go off the grid.


Every [A] check = 5
Every [B] check = 3
Every [C] check = 7
Every [D] check = 2
Every [E] check = 0
Every [F] check = 1

Here’s the scientific analysis, calculated to within micro-fractional accuracy, of what your score reveals about you, compiled by a panel of media psychologists including Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Dr. Laura, Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown, Phineas and Ferb, the pollster Frank Luntz, and an assortment of FBI profilers.

0 - 6.  You were a high-school student whom I suspect many of us now wished we had been – strong, egalitarian, ready to stand up for the downtrodden.  I also suspect there are very few people in this category, whether we’re talking about today or back-in-my-day.  In fact, I don’t believe your answers!

7-13.  You were either a gay teenager or a ‘different’ teenager with no supportive peer group.  These years must have been horrible. But opting out of contemporary civic participation may not be your most productive option.  Advice:  get over seeing yourself as a victim.

14 - 20.  You wanted to be accepted in high school but had lingering anxiety about your peer-group status.  You did – and still do – put up with a lot in order to be a welcomed member of the peer-group you’d like to be part of.  Sure, pat yourself on the back for the times you spoke up and maybe derailed something hurtful.  But also be honest about the times you didn’t.  Use that lingering shame, a shame in part created by fears about how close you too came to being ostracized, as a motivation to action.

21- 27.  As a teenager, you were neither mean nor courageous.  You were comfortable with your friends and with your place in the high-school pecking order.  Your teenage experiences have not consciously impacted how you function as an adult.  So become conscious.  Just because you didn’t frequently harass vulnerable high-school classmates doesn’t give you a pass.  You were wired in enough to stop some of this, and you didn’t. You owe it to yourself, and certainly to your less fortunate/less mainstream acquaintances, to stand up now for kindness and equality.

28 and up.  At best, you were an aider and abettor, and you know it.  You may not care.  You may think that the aggressive, egocentric traits you honed in high school have helped you succeed as an adult. You may think that you’ve always been loyal to your in-group, and that’s what’s important. You may think that compassion is for weaklings because those who haven’t succeeded have only themselves to blame.  You may be a Republican candidate for president.  

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