Monday, March 25, 2013

Week of 03/25/2013

Scouting For A Solution
– by David Matthews 2

I wish I could say that I feel sorry for the Boy Scouts of America.

I really wish I could feel sorry for them.  I used to be a Boy Scout.  Didn’t even get as far as Tenderfoot before I moved to New Hampshire, and by then I really lost interest in it.  It also didn’t help that my memories of my time in the Scouts weren’t as “fraternal” as some others.

But I understand their dilemma that they are currently in.

The Boy Scouts are a private group.  Let’s just get that out of the way.  They are not a government-sponsored group.  However they do get some government funding, not to mention preferential treatment in the military.

Because they are considered a private group, they’re allowed to discriminate in certain matters.  Gender quickly comes to mind.  They are the original “No Girls Allowed” club, which is why there’s a Girl Scouts program to begin with.  And that’s fine, because the Girl Scouts actually come out ahead with their cookie program.

But that’s not the only segment of the populace that they discriminate against.

The second groups they write out are atheists.  The Boy Scouts are quick to claim that religious belief is essential to their make-up.  They work with and even operate out of churches, and while they say that any religious belief will do, they specifically ban atheists and agnostics.  So much for their claim about “respecting the beliefs of others”.

Think about it… a Boy Scout can subscribe to an extremist religious belief, one that defines their followers as being “Warriors for God” and encourages jihad, and the BSA would claim by their policy that it would be preferable to a Scout that lives a “morally-straight” life without justifying it by religious dogma.

But then there is the third group that they write out… homosexuals.  And you don’t need a merit badge to be able to connect the dots as to why that is.  Religious dogma dictates “thou shall not screw with someone with the same plumbing as you” and the Scouts don’t want to go against dogma, because that’s going against “God”, isn’t it?

Of course they don’t fully practice what the dogma preaches, because the second half of that infamous passage says that those that do screw with someone who has the same plumbing as you must be put to death.

Isn’t it funny that with all of those “shall” and “shall not” laws in that particular overrated book, not only do they insist that specific passage be obeyed, but they also fail to follow through with the proscribed “punishment”?  Maybe they should also check their clothing labels, because I do recall there’s an equal prohibition about clothes made of two different threads, and yes that does include cotton and polyester.  And if you have anything made of leather, then you’re also pretty much screwed according to that same book.

So, no gay scouts and no gay scoutmasters according to the “established dogma”…

… Unless the BSA hierarchy decide to change their minds.

For years there has been pressure to do just that.  The Scouts have been told that they are free and clear to discriminate as to who they want in their organization, but to do means there are consequences when it comes to government-run facilities.  Schools have said “no” to the Scouts because their policies conflict with school policies concerning discrimination.  If they want back in, they have to give up their “no gays” policy.  Mexican Restaurant chain Chipotle recently pulled their sponsorship of the BSA for that reason.  And for a while this year, it appeared that the BSA leadership was ready to do just that.  Even celebrities have been sticking their noses in the subject, urging the Scouts to “do the right thing”.

On the other hand, the BSA has been told in no uncertain terms that if they do that, then the religious groups will be pulling their “precious children” out.  Religious extremists have drawn a line-in-the-sand ultimatum concerning the Scouts. 

“Church” or “State”; one or the other, but it has become painfully clear that the Scouts cannot have both.

Listen, I don’t have a horse in this particular race.  I neither gain nor lose anything by the decision of the Boy Scouts of America.  They are a private group and they are entitled to make decisions as to who they want to bring in.  No matter what they do, though, it is clear that their decision on this subject will have consequences for them.

But let’s get brutally honest here… whatever decision they may, they should make it soon and they should be prepared to stand by it no matter what it is.  This idea of theirs that they should announce to make a decision and then postpone it does not show the kind of leadership that the group needs.

And no matter how they decide, they need to make that decision not because of popularity or weighing costs and accessibility.  Being “morally-straight” has nothing to do with politics or money, or, for that matter, sexual preference.  It is about making a decision based on what you believe is the right thing to do, and being willing to accept the consequences - both positive and negative - for that decision.  That is how you truly live a “morally-straight” life!  I happen to know some atheists and agnostics that managed to figure that out all by themselves.

The motto of the Boy Scouts is “Be Prepared”, and perhaps their hierarchy should have followed that motto when it comes to their own policy.  They should have been prepared to open up a firestorm of controversy and discussion no matter which way they went on the subject.  Clearly they weren’t.  They’ll have to find some other way to get that Social Issues Merit Badge.

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