“He Completely Lacks Empathy”: Massachusetts Gay Advocates Recall Meeting Gov. Romney

Jim Burroway

September 12th, 2012

The Boston Spirit, the LGBT-centric blog for The Boston Globe,  has a post which has also appeared in The Boston Spirit magazine in which Scott Kearnan spoke with two plaintiffs in Goodridge v Dept. of Public Health, the landmark Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court case which opened the way for same-sex marriages in that state. After the court victory, Julie Goodridge and several other plaintifs had a meeting with Gov. Mitt Romney, who at that time was looking for a way to  keep the Goodridge decision from taking full effect:

For about 20 frustrating minutes, say those in attendance who Boston Spirit interviewed recently, they shared their stories, pled their case, and tried to explain how equal marriage would protect them and their families. Romney sat stone-faced and almost entirely silent.

“Is there anything else?” Romney asked when they finished. With that, the meeting was over.

David Wilson, one of the plaintiffs who was at the meeting, recalled that occasionally Romney would say something, like one offhand remark: “I didn’t know you had families.” Goodridge also recalled:

“I looked him in the eye as we were leaving,” recalls Goodridge. “And I said, ‘Governor Romney, tell me — what would you suggest I say to my 8 year-old daughter about why her mommy and her ma can’t get married because you, the governor of her state, are going to block our marriage?'”

His response, according to Goodridge: “I don’t really care what you tell your adopted daughter. Why don’t you just tell her the same thing you’ve been telling her the last eight years.”

Romney’s retort enraged a speechless Goodridge; he didn’t care, and by referring to her biological daughter as “adopted,” it was clear he hadn’t even been listening. By the time she was back in the hallway, she was reduced to tears.

“I really kind of lost it,” says Goodridge. “I’ve never stood before someone who had no capacity for empathy. It went behind flat affect. It was a complete lack of ability or motivation to understand other people.”

The article also talks about events leading to Romney’s decision to kill the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, his defunding of the Governor’s Task Force on Hate Crimes, his attempts to obstruct an anti-bullying guide, and his interactions with Massachusetts gay Republicans and government employees. His literal and figural dismissal of gay people has a long history, going all the way back to his high school days.


September 12th, 2012

I believe he is a sociopath. Look up the symptoms. It fits nicely. The lack of empathy. The lack of concern for other people. The pathological lying. The narcissism and obsession with personal wealth and power. The bullying in his youth. The animal cruelty.

Lindoro Almaviva

September 12th, 2012

It should not surprise anyone that Mr and Mrs. Romney lack empathy. For that to happen, one of their servants would have to remind them what that means, while another member of their staff coaches them in the proper facial expressions and short expressions that could sound sincere.


September 12th, 2012

If he’s not a true sociopath, he’s at least extremely selfish.

Regan DuCasse

September 12th, 2012

@AJD: He’s definitely on the spectrum of sociopath. When he was a teen, he skirted being a CRIMINAL one, by assaulting another kid in school for a trivial and cruel reason.
Not all sociopaths are criminals or do criminal things.
They do want and become powerful and are willing to do certain unfeeling things to get there.
Don’t mistake his lack of criminal activity for selfishness.
He IS a sociopath, for sure. He’s willing to play, fake or assume an innocuous persona to gain the confidence of others and sociopaths are attractive enough to do it.

Yes, Steve is absolutely right.

Priya Lynn

September 12th, 2012

In fact its common for sociopaths to be successful businessmen, that type of personality turns out to be highly effective in the ammoral world of business. I don’t have any proof handy but I believe there are far more sociopaths in business than there are in prison.

Jim Burroway

September 12th, 2012

If we’re going to diagnose someone as a “sociopath,” especially those of us who have no qualifying credentials nor objective evidence to make such a diagnosis, I think it might be helpful to at least include a link or two, starting with some diagnostic criteria.

When I look that over, I see a lot of politicians suffering from Antisocial Persinality Disorder, at least if you can accept their public personas as sufficient evidence.


September 12th, 2012

Sociopaths aren’t crazy people living on the fringes of society. That’s a trait associated with psychopathy, which is characterized by a lack of impulse control and a lack of planning. The two shouldn’t be confused. The scary thing about sociopaths is that they often seem well integrated.

And yeah, business, religious and political leaderships are the top professions that actually reward sociopathy.

David Waite

September 12th, 2012

Governor Mitt Romney may have also demonstrated actual criminal sociopathic behavior. If he posed as a Michigan state trooper he did so. However, I used the word “may” because the reports for this alleged conduct all seem to be blogs rather than mainstream newspapers.
I am unwilling to unqualifiedly pass on an allegation of criminal conduct based solely on blog reports.

Jim Burroway

September 12th, 2012

I’m still looking for a definition of “sociopathy.” So far, all I’m seeing is name-calling.


September 12th, 2012

Oh, Romney was called a name. Boo-fucking-hoo :rolleyes:
Never mind that it isn’t name-calling in any sense of the word.

Here are some common characteristics:
– Glibness and superficial charm
– Manipulative and conning
– Grandiose sense of self
– Pathological lying
– Lack of remorse, shame or guilt
– Shallow emotions
– Incapacity for love or empathy
– Callousness
– Early behavioral problems
– Disregard for social norms
– A low threshold towards aggression and violence
– An inability to take personal responsibility and a tendency to blame others

Jim Burroway

September 12th, 2012

Well gee, Steve, you just gave me a definition that looks remarkably like Antisocial Personality Disorder after telling me that I’m confusing it with psychopathy. I also fail to see how this description differs from perhaps 95% of political candidates from both major parties.

Rolling eyes right back at you.

Priya Lynn

September 12th, 2012

Jim said “I’m still looking for a definition of “sociopathy.””

so·ci·o·path   [soh-see-uh-path, soh-shee-]
noun Psychiatry .
a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.


I’ve always taken it to mean a person with no concern for right or wrong beyond what is most advantageous to themselves.

Priya Lynn

September 12th, 2012

Jim said “Well gee, Steve, you just gave me a definition that looks remarkably like Antisocial Personality Disorder after telling me that I’m confusing it with psychopathy.”.

From the link you posted “Psychopathy and sociopathyAlthough there are behavioral similarities, ASPD and psychopathy are not synonymous. A diagnosis of ASPD using the DSM criteria is based on behavioral patterns, whereas psychopathy measurements also include more indirect personality characteristics. The diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder covers two to three times as many prisoners as are rated as psychopaths. Most offenders scoring high on the PCL-R also pass the ASPD criteria but most of those with ASPD do not score high on the PCL-R.[3]

Sociopathy is also distinct from ASPD as well as psychopathy. Hare writes that the difference between sociopathy and psychopathy may “reflect the user’s views on the origins and determinates of the disorder.” The term sociopathy may be preferred by sociologists that see the causes as due to social factors. The term psychopathy may be preferred by psychologists who see the causes as due to a combination of psychological, genetic, and environmental factors”


September 12th, 2012

Of course Romney’s a sociopath. Look at his history–the total unconcern for people as Bain Capital vandalized company after company; his constant lying about everything; his complete lack of commitment to any principle, moral or political; his crass, unceasing opportunism. Republicans sensed this in Romney and refused to vote for him; he won the nomination only by outlasting his poorly funded opponents. Now Romney’s fakery is on the national stage and doing very badly. People want to know when the real Mitt Romney will appear in the campaign. The truth is that there is no real Mitt Romney: he is a construction of the moment, a series of masks that a sociopathic ego wears to masquerade before different audiences. Take away the masks and all that’s left is a mechanism, an artificial life form, a calculating device programmed to mimic humans.

Timothy Kincaid

September 12th, 2012

A sociopath?

Oh good lord. And I have a thread full of people screaming at me for calling Barney Frank “Uncle Calumny”.

It must be election season.

Can’t we just stick with about the worst insult you could give someone: Mitt Romney is a politician. Okay, to be more specific: Mitt Romney is a politician with a vision for America, a vision that includes him getting elected and the rest is negotiable.


September 12th, 2012

People love their psychobabble and faux profiling.

It’s just easier to call Romney a narcissistic cu**

It’s more satisfying and easily fits him.

There was also this interview with Ann Romney where she dismissed questions on abortion and same sex marriage bans as unimportant. What you draw from this family is the sheer amount of privilege they seem to radiate. This callous selfishness that they can barely contain from public view.

Personally I just want to see Romney lose, so he realizes for once that he can’t buy his way through anything.

Ed Walker

September 12th, 2012

Yay Julie Goodridge. She and her ex-spouse fell into the spotlight in 2003 as the de-facto spokespeople in MA for marriage equality. She did a great job.

I feel that Mitt Romney is completely unprincipled. His agenda is all about the pursuit of power and position.

When I was active in the fight to keep marriage legal in MA, I was with a group including the Goodridges on a subsequent visit to Romney. Romney was a no-show that day, unfortunately (fortunately?). We were protesting belittling public remarks Mitt had made about families headed by same-sex parents when addressing a conservative audience in the South. This is the same man who insisted he was a gay rights supporter when he was running against Ted Kennedy. Mitt Romney makes my skin crawl.

David Waite

September 13th, 2012

@ Jim Burroway: Since you asked, and to avoid charges of posting a single link to justify my earlier “may have exhibited” comment, here is an entire list of sources with definitions. Some of them are scholarly. I like wikipedia for many things but you should ignore them in this list, though one of your comments to Steve suggests that advice comes too late.

Still, I’ll leave judging the list to you. I also want to point out that I never called Romney a sociopath. The only kind of retired health care professional who does that to unexamined persons is one who probably practiced Fristing while gainfully employed. I have no reason to suppose your crack was aimed at anything I wrote, though, since your comment’s positioning immediately following mine is probably an artifact of the timing of our comment postings.


Note to label assigners: There is a difference between exhibiting some of the charactistics of a recognized-definition pathology and actually being diagnosable, after clinical examination and evaluation, as having a personality that falls within that defined pathology.

David Waite

September 13th, 2012

@ Timothy Kincaid: “There you go again..”

“A sociopath?
Oh good lord. And I have a thread full of people screaming at me for calling Barney Frank “Uncle Calumny”.
It must be election season.”

Is it indeed all about you? Inquiring minds would like to know. About that thread on your commentary which was ostensibly about Representative Franks’ intemperate call-out of the LCR for enabling homophobes: The full thread didn’t “scream” at you for calling him the kind of names a schoolyard bully employs, though some of us did mention that as well.

The full thread was on your case for outdoing Rep. Franks’ intemperate language in a juvenile, selectively prejudicial, and largely fact-free rant that made the retiring congressman look statesmanlike by comparison. As you have done before when faced with a 98% disapproval response in a comment thread, you’re blaming the receivers of your message’s undeniable defects for those defects in your message, by way of a gratituous blanket insult to our collective sanity based on the political time of year.

You began with a self-confessed inability to remember anything good, or accomplished or attempted in Rep. Franks’ career. You went downhill from there. The only “screaming” on that thread was done by you in your commentary, where you howled like a banshee throughout the thing. Now you’re doubling down here by insulting us meanies for failing to recognize your utter brilliance in applied adjectival asshattery.

Your writing that column can at least be explained (though not excused) as the passion induced by your self-admitted animus toward Barney Frank. Your insult here to all of us on that thread, for objecting to an embarrassingly juvenile election season rant from you about a retiring congressman, is neither excusable nor explainable.

Another Jonathan

September 13th, 2012

There’s a good reason that most bloggers avoid the comments section of their own sites.


September 13th, 2012

Rather than attempting to psychoanalyze Mitt Romney (and knowing, as I do, a former co-worker who actually was a diagnosed sociopath) I prefer not to insult the mentally ill by comparing them to Mr. Romney.

The dude’s an asshole, pure and simple.


September 13th, 2012

@Priya Lynn
One common characteristic to distinguish sociopathy from psychopathy is that the latter are based far more on a lack of impulse control. Their behavior is erratic and disorganized, whereas sociopaths are very controlled and planning. Sociopaths may be unable to maintain social relationships in the long term, but psychopaths have difficulty in establishing them in the first place. That’s one reason why they tend to live on the fringes of society (e.g. be criminals), rather than being well integrated.

Priya Lynn

September 13th, 2012

Thanks for differentiating that for me Steve, that clears it up fairly well.


September 13th, 2012

@Snowman, I think that just about says it all. ;)

Or else, he’s just a replicant…


September 13th, 2012

It seems pretty clear to me that none of the people commenting here have plans to vote for Mittens. Now can someone come up with some suggestions for us to find ways for us to confront him in a public sphere to get him to display his asshatery.

He’s done a marvelous job on his own with his response to the murder of the ambassador to Libya but I would like to see a lot more nails in his political coffin.


September 13th, 2012

Tim, people wouldn’t call you out if you actually were ethical and followed the things you promote in YOUR own articles. Remember just a few weeks ago, you talked about what type of language you should use against those you disagree with? Yeah, I thought you might have forgotten that piece, because the article you posted in regards to Frank was entirely devoid of any of the ideas presented in the article I mention.

One can NOT make a valid point when one out “Uncle’s” the person one is trying to deeride for Uncleing in the first place.

The issues were in regards to your fact free rant, not your dislike of Frank. Had YOU been civil, as you call others to be, you wouldn’t have been called out.

Stop blaming others and take personal responsibility for the words you wrote that earned you the responses by your readers.

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