Sunday, October 21, 2007

Wake Up Boy Scouts- Hate Costs Money

In Philadelphia, the city got serious about what they will and will not support. The Boy Scouts of America, always getting a free ride for their program, will now have to pay going rates for the space.

“The organization's Cradle of Liberty Council, which currently pays $1 a year in rent, must pay the increased amount to remain in its downtown building past May 31, Fairmount Park Commission president Robert N.C. Nix said Wednesday.

City officials say they cannot legally rent taxpayer-owned property for a nominal sum to a private organization that discriminates.

Mark that increase from $1 to $200,000.

On one hand, it’s almost archaic to think of an organization that bans certain members of our society. Makes you think of fat necked relics like Hootie Johnson of August National Golf Club, boasting his right to exclude Blacks, Jews and Women.

And of course, the queers. In fact, I don’t think that’s even on the charter. Why bother saying what goes without question?

You can’t do that in Philadelphia anymore. No a free rides from the city and have a written, directed policy to ban gays.

And while the organization can cry the children will suffer, claiming the additional dollars "would have to come from programs. That's 30 new Cub Scout packs, or 800 needy kids going to our summer camp," it seems to me there is a very quick way to deal with the situation that won’t cost a penny.

Change the policy of banning gay scouts.

It’s time to take on the National Organization’s decision to ban gays. Here in Massachusetts, I’ve been approached about having my sons join the scouts. With a wink and a promise, I’m told that no one around here would ever entertain banning a gay scout.

Yet, technically, as a lesbian mom, I would not be allowed to participate in any of the activities. Sorry, the boys’ dads are gay, too. And none of us are too keen on having our kids join a group that has fought legally for the right to exclude their parents.

Not to mention I find the oath a little creepy- obey the Scout Law? On my honor? Duty to country? Sounds like a military recruitment poster. I do like the part of the Scout law that requires being clean. After cutting my son Jake’s nails last night, I think clean is a good thing to have emphasized from every direction.

A word of advice to the Boy Scouts of America- laws are changing. Your history is of a group grown from the roots of a progressive movement of the early 1900’s, concerned with the social welfare of boys.

Pointing to the poor children who will be denied services is a poorly thought out choice. Instead of welcoming all boys, you will punish needy members. The irony is you have thousands of gay scouts participating right now. Local groups ignore the policy left and right, not just in Massachusetts but also all over the country.

Wake up, Boy Scouts- Hate Costs Money.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A boy's sense of honor - his promise to have integrity and be worthy of other's high opinions of his character - is creepy?

A boy's duty to country - meaning love of country and love and appreciation of freedom - is creepy?

A boy's commitment to obedience - meaning respect for family, authority, and civil law - is creepy?

The Scout Oath and the Scout Law can of course be changed. But if they are changed, the boys and the organization will cease to be Boy Scouts, regardless of what name or label they bear.

We probably agree on that much.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

The creepy part is the god, duty, country stuff that rings of the military to me.

Obedience is only so good for so long. Right now in our country we need a little less obedience and a lot more acting up.

And listen, I love my country. I think we've got a lot to learn, but I love my country.

The honor part seems like a set up for abusive situations.

AND, I sent my son to a camp with those kind of slogans on the flags- my favorite, manners maketh the man- and I do appreciate they were written in another era.

Still think the military tone is creepy.

7:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Boy Scout origin is that of a military paradigm. Lord Baden-Powell was the British hero of the Boer War. Upon his return he saw two simultaneous needs: for boys to engage in wholesome activities that build their character, and for Britain to be better prepared for conflict in Europe. But it was the boys themselves who gravitated to the military motif; while Baden-Powell was in South Africa boys were eagerly obtaining and devouring Baden-Powell’s manual on scouting for soldiers. It was this fascination that led Baden-Powell to the Boy Scout concept.

Perhaps we differ on this point, but I do not find our military creepy. Our military is built of young men and women who serve their country and risk their lives, and sometimes lose their lives, for the cause of freedom. Their commitment to us and devotion to their nation is to me the very best America has to offer. I may take issue at times with the military’s leadership, including that of the Joint Chiefs, DOD, and the Commander-in-Chief, but to me that is a completely separate issue from my perception of our brave men and women in uniform.

To me, the military serves very well as a paradigm or motif for a youth program such as scouting. Through this motif scouting encourages behavior and action, and the development of character, in accordance with Aristotelian virtues. Scouting encourages devotion not just to nation but to freedom and keen appreciation of freedom’s cost. And scouting encourages a commitment to serving others. Scouting is a meritocracy; for achievement in all of these positive goals, scouting, as in the military, offers tangible recognition in the form of a uniform, insignia, badges, and other devices. I find nothing wrong and much that’s right with this approach.

Scouting should never apologize for the fact its Scout Oath and Scout Law were written in another era. The virtues embedded in them are not some passing fad but are intended to be timeless; a scout’s commitment to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, and so forth should be no less significant, and no more qualified, conditioned, or equivocated, today than it was when the Scout Oath and Law were first written in 1910.

As for honor setting up scouts for abusive situations, I do not get the connection. Honor is one’s personal integrity and one’s personal commitment or promise to live up to that integrity. I do not see how a boy’s commitment to live with integrity should compromise his safety, or should make him a tool for manipulation. If anything, it should make him cautious and wary of such adverse circumstances. I should think we would want all of our children to live with integrity and hold a sense of personal honor.

As for "acting up" as opposed to obedience, we live in a civil society. For this society to function we depend upon citizens to behave responsibly and comply with the law; otherwise we will have anarchy. Citizenship training must start with our youth and must emphasize obedience. Are there circumstances in our history and might there be circumstances in our future in which civil disobedience might be necessary, in which laws must be broken to achieve some greater good? Sure. But we need to teach our youth that these situations are very rare exceptions and only matters of the very last resort. Rather than teach our youth civil disobedience, we need to teach them to respect our nation’s authorities and its laws, and that if in disagreement with them to explore and exhaust every last possible legal and orderly means to change those laws. Such is the hallmark of good citizenship.

In the present situation, if opposed to the war, we can legally and civilly protest; we can write letters to our representatives in Washington; we can petition those representatives; we can contest certain decisions and actions in the courts if we perceive them as not legal; and of course we can effect change at the ballot box. These are the measures we should be teaching our youth to undertake as responsible citizens. If this is “acting up,” it is "acting up" in obedience with civil authority and civil law, and is quite consistent with “obedient” as delineated in the Scout Law.

I do not believe other such “acting up,” outside of the law or in clear defiance of civil authority, is behavior we should teach our youth. At the worst it's cynical, disobedient, rebellious behavior that compromises one's integrity solely for destructive purpose. At best, civil disobeience is still a personal compromise of one's integrity in order to achieve a greater good, and as I mentioned, should only be undertaken as a last resort.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

For one, I am not only appreciative of the the soldiers that serve our country, I was almost one. I came within a whisker in college of signing on as a Reserve.

I do not believe children should ever be indoctrinated with shiny badges and handsome uniforms because it does not speak of the reality of being a soldier.

Doesn't make it any less noble. Just means it's not for kids. You can camp, learn community values, and a deep sense of honor at the local Unitarian Universalist's chapter. I can promise they don't mirror the military. My point is, there are other ways to accomplish the same thing.

It's not black or white.

I do believe in acting up. I do believe in questioning authority. I do believe, as I wrote on a response to this piece on Huffington, that the worst place in hell, as Dante wrote, is reserved for those who knew of great wrong, witnessed it, and did nothing.

I will never be one of those people.

to me? that is integrity.

7:35 PM  

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