Several email correspondents have asked me to comment on last week’s story in the Washington Post about Mitt Romney’s high school years since I also attended Cranbrook School; I was there from 1956 to 1962 and Romney was there from 1959 to 1965.

The story leads with an account of Romney leading other students to hold down another student, now deceased, and cutting off his long blond hair. It’s a nasty incident, but alas not atypical of the kind of thing teenage boys do to each other. In a Fox News radio interview Romney said he has no recollection of the incident but apologized for any pranks that “went too far.” …

I think it’s worth noting that the framing of the Post story—the suggestion that Romney and the others picked on this schoolmate because they thought he was gay—is anachronistic. In spring 1965 long hair was associated with surfers (the Beach Boys had their first national hit record in 1964) and the Beatles (who made their first U.S. appearance in January 1965). And hair length was a big issue in the 1960s. Men of the World War II generation, who had memories of military short haircuts, took umbrage when teenagers left their hair grow, and fathers would badger their sons to get haircuts. In addition, the Post had to make a correction which took some of the sting out of the story but initially left it unnoted on the web version.