August 26, 2006

Laffey's College Columns

Carroll Andrew Morse

Scott MacKay has an article in today’s Projo discussing several columns that Steve Laffey wrote as an undergraduate student for a college newspaper in 1983…

In one column in the Bowdoin Patriot, the paper published by campus Republicans, Laffey wrote, "I have never once seen a happy homosexual. This is not to say there aren't any; I simply haven't seen one in my lifetime. Maybe they are all in the closet. All the homosexuals I've seen are sickly and decrepit, their eyes devoid of life."

Laffey, who is challenging incumbent Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination, said he regrets writing that and other articles denigrating gays. But he chalks it up to undergraduate hijinks, saying, "In college we engaged in sophomoric political satire."

Asked if any of the columns represented his views, Laffey said in an interview at his Cranston home yesterday, "No. Not now, nor then, or ever . . . Do I regret writing some of these things? Sure. But at the time, we were just having fun. We thought it was funny."

Whether you believe that a candidate's college writings are a vaild subject in a campaign or you believe that this is an example of gotcha politics (MacKay reports that the Projo was made aware of the columns by an anonymous delivery), please keep the discussion civil.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.


Posted by: PDM at August 26, 2006 4:45 PM

When I was a senior in college, I never would have written something like that. Why? Because I would never have THOUGHT something like that to begin with.

Laffey excuse it that it is "political satire"? He should have stuck with excuse number #2: "aliens wrote the columns".

Posted by: Anthony at August 26, 2006 5:29 PM

So Laffey wrote a humor piece in college that belittled homosexuals and Chafee used drugs in college.

Both happened nearly a quarter of a century ago.

Can we move on now?

Posted by: oz at August 26, 2006 5:41 PM

Oz you think that's a "humor" piece? It' not like Laffey was 12 years old when he wrote it and it's not like he wrote just one article. He was on his way to Harvard B School, was old enough to vote and published them in a newspaper. He wanted people to read them and now he's got his wish.

I don't know who is advising Laffey, but if the spin to this is that it is a humor piece and Laffey "just thought it was funny", you're overpaying them.

Posted by: Anthony at August 26, 2006 6:14 PM

Actually, he's got more than his wish. Most authors complain about trying to get published. I just went onto Google News, typed in "Chafee Laffey" and it looks like a bunch of national newspapers have picked up the story. Well this should be interesting....

Posted by: Anthony at August 26, 2006 8:59 PM

When I was in college I wrote a lot of stuff. Some of it good, but some atrocious. I'll bet if someone really wanted to hurt me, they could look up my old writings - writings of 30 plus years ago, when I was immature, brash as could be (even more than I am now - can you believe that?) and they'd embarrass the heck out of me. Would it be fair to me? WOuld it represent where I am today? What lessons I may have learned along the way? Would it reflect how I have changed? Matured? And taboos then were not what they are today. Something said in jest about gays in 1970 or 1980 would have been viewed differently in those times - not to say that there is a relativism to social values, but our views as a society has made certain subjects taboo that weren't taboo 20+ years ago.

I think it's a cheap shot by the Projo and espcially by the anonomous person who mailed them into the Journal.

Posted by: Chuck at August 26, 2006 9:28 PM

Chuck, I don't think it's a cheap shot at all.

Would have you really written something like that in the 80's? I wouldn't have.

Laffey's comments concern me on a different level. He had a gay brother who died of AIDS. He writes an article talking about gays, how they're "sick and decrepit" and "not happy". It doesn't take Freud to figure out that Laffey is carrying some serious emotional baggage.

I also don't think the Projo took a cheap shot. Laffey was an adult when he wrote the articles. He wrote them with the intent to be published in public. It's not like the Projo published personal or confidential papers.

Sending the papers was obviously timed, but so what? It's still Laffey in Laffey's own words.

Posted by: Anthony at August 26, 2006 9:58 PM

Chuck understands my point - things were a little different 25 years ago.

While Anthony was busy being as pure as the driven snow in both thought and deed, the rest of us were thinking we knew it all and making statements to our equally arrogant friends like "Dave, quit being such a fag."

Times change, colloquialisms change, and attitudes change.

Posted by: oz at August 26, 2006 10:13 PM

oz, that's exactly my point. You may have used terms that are un-pc today, but did you ever write an article on gays suggesting that they were "decrepit"?

No. Because you didn't give it a second thought. I went to college about a decade earlier than Laffey and there is a difference between saying "quit being such a fag" and taking the time to write an article, publishing it and distributing around a college campus.

And even when I was in school, Laffey's comments would be looked at as being over the top.

Posted by: Anthony at August 26, 2006 10:19 PM


You think there isn't oppo on Chafee from his early adulthood?

The reason we don't see it published is that it's entirely irrelevant, and only a cheap shot artist - anonymous at that - would bring it up.

Posted by: oz at August 26, 2006 10:20 PM


That's what people do in college - go over the top to elicit a response.

Did I write about gays? No, I'm not sure I even completely knew what "gay" meant back then. But being a scientist, I looked down on the jocks and frat boys, and I might have mocked them pretty badly and surely used more pejorative terms than Laffey did.

And please don't make it sound like Laffey wrote his articles by cutting out letters from magazines, pasting them together, and then tacking them to telephone poles in the middle of the night.

Issues are one thing, but this line of attack is cheap, and there are no two ways about it.

Posted by: oz at August 26, 2006 10:37 PM

This all makes me feel BETTER about Laffey.

I've been afraid that his "conservativeness" was a come-on to get through the primary - that he'd turn into a RINO once in the Senate.

I still have some of those concerns (due to his consular matricula illegal immigrant pandering and "populist" remarks.

That said, it looks like he came of age during the Reagan years and true Republicanism / conservatism in not just a "primary fad" with him.

(Can't wait to read Mr. Bakst having a hissy-fit over all of this!!!!)

Posted by: Tom W at August 26, 2006 10:54 PM

I'd prefer to trust my future and that of my children in the hands of someone who may have gone a little over the top with his opinions in the past, but whose views have clearly and soberly developed over the years, than to trust someone who knowingly took drugs illegally and still, so obviously, suffers the brain damage...

roadrunner's back from vacation!!!

beep beep !!!!

Posted by: roadrunner at August 26, 2006 11:01 PM

I'm getting tired of the Laffey apologists.

His contributions to Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Jim Sasser were dismissed because "he was only a young executive in his 30's". You dismiss this behavior because he was only in his 20's and was only a college senior. Now he's in his 40's and he still apologizing for comments he's making (e.g. luckily they're getting older...)

Well, guess what? He became an adult when he was 18. His is responsible for his own behavior. The Providence Journal is not responsible for his actions nor is Mr. Anonymous, who for all you know, might be a gay Bowdoin graduate who had to deal with Laffey's diatribes in college. Would it still be a "cheap shot" in that case?

It's not youthful immaturity to treat people as you want to be treated. I think I learned that in CCD when I was about 5.

The bottom line is that no one really knows what Steve Laffey really believes. You can defend him, but deep down, you know that you really don't know where he stands. He may be conservative or he may not. Judging by his Hardball interview, he no longer considers himself a conservative, so why should I?

The only consistent trend through his life--20's, 30's and 40's--is that he seems willing to say whatever will get him ahead at that moment in time.

Posted by: Anthony at August 26, 2006 11:03 PM


Keep trying my friend, but even Susan "I gave Linc's nomination speech at the convention" Farmer and Jennifer "my old man worked for Linc's old man" Duffy knew that this was crap on Channel 10 tonight.

The Laffey train is rolling. By the way Anthony, would YOU execute bin Laden?

Posted by: Carl Elliott at August 27, 2006 12:20 AM

A person, approaching this from the standpoint of the time (early 80's) and place (college) would know very quickly not to put much stock into what anyone said or wrote then. College is a time when one is formulating opinions, personal philosphies, and beliefs on a wide range of subjects. They almost always change over time, as more data becomes available, so what was said that long ago, is in most likelihood, not necessarily similar to what he (or anyone) might believe now.

One also should understand the meaning of the word "hyperbole" -- or simply that younger people have a tendency to use broad terms to describe certain things (i.e. all white people can't dance, all black people play basketball great, all liberals hate America, etc.) In many cases, there might be a general "truthiness" to broad statements like those, but when looking deeper, you'll always find lots of exceptions. For instance when he wrote about "all the homosexuals that I know are ... sick and decrepit" or whatever the exact quote was, that it may have been influenced by the fact that Mayor Laffey probably didn't hang around with lots of gay guys in college, and the one person that he did "know" that was gay, ended up dying of a terrible disease, that resulted from some risky behavior associated with it.

Anyway, I don't put a lot of stock in to anonymous dirty tricks campaigns. I sincerely doubt a homosexual at Bowdoin waited 20 years to spring this. Try the NRSC or other related entities. We know the kind of things that they are capable of. Won't work.

Posted by: Will at August 27, 2006 4:26 AM

Dear Oz,

You looked down on guys like me in college?

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at August 27, 2006 8:18 AM


You know my thoughts on what type of person Steve Laffey is, i.e. a phoney megalomaniac etc. but even I think this is a non-story. What 20 year olds write in college should not impact their political careers 20 years later.
This is a fine example of political silly season foolishness. Don't know about anyone else but this election season cannot end soon enough for me.
Hurry up November 8th.

Posted by: Tim at August 27, 2006 10:08 AM

Well, I heard a rumor that Rhode Perry was going to cross-over in the primary in order to vote for Laffey (under the premise that this would seal the election for Whitehouse).

But now, in light of Laffey's traditional Judeo-Christian views, she dare not risk that somehow Laffey could pull it out in the end.

So there go Laffey's chances in the primary! ;)

Posted by: Tom W at August 27, 2006 10:32 AM

Tom W,

"I say to myself, YES, I want to punch your lights out, pal, and break your ribs."

I think that comes from Proverbs 11:16-17, right? Well, I guess everyone has their own definition of what "traditional Judeo-Christian views" are.....

Posted by: Anthony at August 27, 2006 11:34 AM

The comments made by Laffey in the column are disgusting. Hopefully, his opinion has changed.

Posted by: Cabot Lodge at August 27, 2006 2:39 PM

"Dear Oz,

You looked down on guys like me in college?"

He said 'jocks and frat boys' not 'Kennedy fans and alcoholics'.

Posted by: Greg at August 27, 2006 6:38 PM

The MSM folks like Bakst will try to breath life into this issue, but I suspect it will die a quick death. I think most people will see it as it is, a last ditch effort to embarrass Laffey on his past faux pas.

Again, shine the kleig light in anyone's past, and you may be fortunate to find even well documented misdeeds. So what. Since Anthony felt compelled to reference faux scripture, I offer a brief reference to the real thing - Romans 3:23 - "all have fallen short."

And since we all have some empathy for that, it's a non-issue.

I'll grant that perhaps Laffey's flip answers to dispatch the matter may be insufficient for some of us. I don't think he realizes the breadth of mea culpa that's required by some in the media today, but I think for he most part, the people - the voters - will see this for what it is. Nada.

Posted by: Chuck at August 27, 2006 7:44 PM

>>"I say to myself, YES, I want to punch your lights out, pal, and break your ribs." I think that comes from Proverbs 11:16-17, right? Well, I guess everyone has their own definition of what "traditional Judeo-Christian views" are.....

You misunderstand me. I'm not condoning "gay bashing."

OTOH, it is well-established that "traditionally" western (Judeo-Christian) religions do not "approve" of homosexual conduct - including the current political "hot button" homosexual marriage - of which Rhoda Perry is a major supporter and which (presumably) Steve Laffey would oppose if in the Senate.

What's the saying - hate the sin but love the sinner?

Posted by: Tom W at August 27, 2006 8:15 PM

"Faux scripture"?!?! So now you Laffey guys are determining which parts of the Bible are real and which parts are "faux"?!?!

Simply incredible.

Posted by: Anthony at August 27, 2006 10:11 PM

I'm not particularly concerned about when Laffey made these comments; the fact that he made them and put them in print speaks volumes about his character. He wants to punch out Boy George and break his ribs, presumably because he's gay, and he claims that all homosexuals are "sickly and decrepit, their eyes devoid of life", and we're supposed to accept that this was a funny joke to him? I don't see any jokes in these comments, and I certainly don't see anything amusing about them either. He's preaching homophobia and physical violence against gay people. I'm amazed that the Laffey supporters have been able to spin this to themselves that it's a non-story. It may have been written in college, but it still tells me more about Steve Laffey as a person than any of his ads have been able to do.

Posted by: Hayden at August 28, 2006 6:41 PM

I couldn't agree more. Not only have Laffey's supporters convincced themselves it's a non-story, they blame the media for even bringing the topic up.

Which if funny, because the Projo ran the story on a Saturday, a day in which nobody reads the paper and the article said that Laffey's writings could be "construed" as homophobic.

Gay people are "sickly and decrepit and their eyes are devoid of life" "I want to punch your lights out, pal, and break your ribs." Yeah, I guess that could be CONSTRUED as being homophobic.

If anything, Steve Laffey benefited from the "go-along-get-along" approach local reporters have to RI politicians. Laffey supporters should be thankful not upset.

Posted by: Anthony at August 29, 2006 10:46 AM

Dear Greg,

Even though I did some wonderful community service work, most of my fraternity work, even as VP, was "future alcoholic in training" material.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at August 29, 2006 11:32 AM

LAFFEY '06 is finished. Period. I'd love to see Laffey attempt to realize his violent fantasies with these people -

Posted by: PDM at August 29, 2006 8:27 PM

I was at Bowdoin at the same time as Steve Laffey. He wasn't just a callow youth experimenting with hyperbole; he was a driven, ambitious guy who didn't just write articles for the "Patriot," but was a founding editor. Bowdoin at that time was an intellectually stimulating environment full of politically aware people who knew right from wrong and who knew how to engage in meaningful debate about ideas. Laffey was a guy who enjoyed ramming his negative and prejudiced opinions down people's throats. He knew exactly what he was saying and doing. He may have changed and grown some since that time, but he's still responsible for the articles he published in the paper he founded. And if some members of the Republican party are going to search for dirt with which to sully the reputations and bring down the political careers of Democrats they can't beat any other way, they've got to be ready to deal with legitimate questions and concerns raised by the behaviors and choices of their own candidates.

Posted by: Polar Bear at September 5, 2006 2:00 PM