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2.7.03

More (belated) bad news from the Boy Scouts:

No Merit Badge For Scouts

When the Philadelphia-based Cradle of Liberty Council voted in May to end its discrimination policy against gays, it was rightfully lauded. But only weeks later, pressured by the national group, it reversed itself, releasing an eight-point position statement written in the literary style that only comes from writing with a twisted arm.


I'm starting to wonder if the national organization is digging its heels in on the homosexuality issue out of stubborn principle -- the principle of "you can't tell us what to do." This issue will continue to fester for a long time, convincing more and more people that Scouting is all about homophobia. I wonder how many good potential scouts -- both gays and pro-gay straights -- the organization will lose because the first thing that comes to many people's minds when they hear "Boy Scouts" is now "they don't like gays" rather than "they go camping" or "they build character." When I joined the Scouts in fifth grade I didn't have any particular opinions about homosexuality -- I barely knew such a thing existed, much less that many people consider it one of the cardinal sins -- and my parents, while not homophobic, are not exactly gay rights activists, so it probably wouldn't have affected me. But if I hadn't been a Scout -- and thus didn't have the years of non-sexuality-related positive experiences that keep me loyal to the organization despite its reprehensibe failings on some issues -- I would be reluctant to let my hypothetical son join. And without gay and pro-gay Scouts joining, the organization will lose much of the "insider criticism" -- of the kind that someone like me, as a Scout, can make -- necessary for real change. Criticism will increasingly come from outsiders, who are easily dismissed as a "them" who have no right to tell someone else's organization what to do, instead of from some of "us."

This process is, of course, how voluntary organizations maintain fidelity to their mision -- imagine if a whole bunch of people who don't like to camp joined the Scouts and tried to change its focus to, say, computer games. But it's incredibly frustrating for those of us who are already in, and see a minor and counterproductive element of the organization elevated into one of its main missions.

I got this link via John Cole, who (rightfully) finds it outrageous that the article opens by comparing the Scouts to the Taliban. Beyond the general claim of bigotry, it doesn't attempt to elucidate what the parallels are. So I'm left wondering if we shouldn't be sending troops to Irving, Texas to take out the headquarters, before Mullah Roy L. Williams forces everyone to wear neckerchiefs and establishes knot-tying training camps around the country.

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