Can A Choice Be Free if it is Made Under Fear of Lawsuits?

 

280px-Boy_Scouts_of_America_corporate_trademark.svgAs suspected by many — including me — the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Committee voted unanimously to follow Robert Gate’s recommendation to end the organization’s blanket ban on gay adult leaders, leaving it to individual Scout units to set their own policy on the matter. This is probably the best of both worlds. It avoids having the national organization become the target of lawsuits while granting individual units the flexibility to reflect their values: some accepting gay leaders, some still banning, and some electing to make their decisions on a case-by-case basis.

While some will laud and others deplore this decision, my mind goes to the question of freedom of association. How much liberty does an organization really have if it feels compelled to make a decision out of fear of being sued by a raft of organizations with deep pockets? Does a decision like this really reflect the values of a national association of Scout leaders, or have they been bluffed into taking this position by rationalizing it as good stewardship for their organization? Or is there more to it? Are voting members living in fear of being singled out for special attacks, afraid of not being able or willing to defend themselves against charges of bigotry?

Why is it that organizations that actually have respectable records as defenders of high moral values are reluctant to defend those values, come what may?

How many would actually benefit from this policy? And why should they want to insert themselves in a situation that potentially could be the cause of the breakup of an existing unit or loss of sponsor?

As a parent, I’d find it difficult to object to a gay male who wanted to serve as a Scout leader, if he was an adoptive father, had his son in the Scouts, and was a former Scout himself. For this reason, I think the best policy is for individual units to decide on a case-by-case basis. This makes the new policy not the disaster it could have been, had the national organization decided to allow no exceptions and no discretion. I, therefore, don’t see this outcome as the end of the world for the BSA.

As for liberty, however…

There are 48 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Thanks for following up on the story, Mr. Kujawa.

    • #1
  2. raycon and lindacon Inactive
    raycon and lindacon
    @rayconandlindacon

    So… it is better that the individual scout troops be abandoned to handle the left on their own?

    Sponsoring organizations, mainly churches and civic groups, risk averse as they are, will cave at the first mention of local action against the scouts.  Once Gates was selected to head the organization, the BSA surrendered their position.

    Another one bites the dust!

    • #2
  3. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Ray Kujawa: I, as a parent, would find it difficult to object to a gay male who wanted to serve as a Boy Scout leader, who was not only an adoptive father, but also had his son in the scouts, and he himself was formerly a boy scout.

    Agreed. I think any parent would be more comfortable with a scout leader, gay or straight, who has children of his own.

    Though I respect the freedom of parents to make their own decisions for their kids and scout troops, I view this issue the same way as gay priests. Honor and celibacy are the core issues.

    Parents often leave heterosexual adult men alone with their little girls. Coaches of girl sports teams are regularly men, and a man would be hard-pressed to find more attractive women than athletes. Though there are prudent limits, parents often trust these men to subdue their sexual appetites to train the girls with honor.

    An honorable gay man can look after and train young boys.

    But having children of one’s own is a major factor in establishing trust. I’m straight, but as a single man I pointedly would not spend much time alone with young children without their parents’ knowledge because I’m aware of the horror stories that haunt modern parents.

    • #3
  4. Asquared Inactive
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    Aaron Miller: a man would be hard-pressed to find more attractive women than athletes

    You must have gone to a different high school than I did.

    • #4
  5. user_656019 Coolidge
    user_656019
    @RayKujawa

    The Scouts are a private social organization and they are not a public accomodation. Anything that might be interpreted as discriminatory isn’t discrimination at the hands of government, or in providing something in the way of a public accomodation.  They’re only refusing a person’s ability to say “I’m one of you.” How is that denying any person their equal rights under the constitution? There is a huge difference between policies of the United States military (vis a vis Gate’s gays in the military policies), which is run by the government and here. Taking the position as he advocated that all was inevitable is a bit much. Fear ruled the day.

    • #5
  6. Phil Member
    Phil
    @PhilB

    Sigh.

    The Gates influenced decision is not a surprise. Yet it is deeply disappointing. I grew up in a world where the BSA was a force teaching moral values to young men. It simply is no longer so.

    Personally I am relieved that our sons are grown and have graduated from Scouting. I don’t immediately have a horse in the race.

    I am also relieved that in 2015 I have let lapse my about 20 year adult membership in BSA at many levels, most memorably several years as Scoutmaster for a Boy Scout Troop. I am moving on to other commitments.

    I cannot square the acceptance of gay leadership with the basic tenet of Scouting as stated in the Scout oath, “To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”

    My position is certainly not in the popular view of our culture. But I cannot align myself with this decision by BSA leadership. I want to be very clear this is not an assessment of individuals and their God-given worth, whatever their position on sexuality. My perspective is on the failure to support Christian values in the Boy Scouts of America.

    • #6
  7. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @SoDakBoy

    And…CLICK goes the ratchet.

    Are you wondering what’s next?

    From your link: “Half measures are unacceptable and discriminatory exemptions have no place in the Boy Scouts,” Griffin (of the Human Rights Campaign) said in a statement. “It’s long overdue that BSA leaders demonstrate true leadership and embrace a full national policy of inclusion.”

    “While this policy change is not perfect – BSA’s religious chartering partners will be allowed to continue to discriminate against gay adults – it is difficult to overstate the importance of today’s announcement,” Wahls (Eagle Scout raised by two lesbians) said.

    And the ratchet goes….CLI…

    • #7
  8. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    All human decisions have consequences and, therefore, are made at the risk of lawsuit to some degree.

    Whether the risk of lawsuit is the same as the threat of lawsuit is another question.

    That being said, lawsuits are threatened so frequently nowadays that the difference seems to be pretty blurry.

    Does a threat need to be minimally credible for a choice to be made unfree?

    • #8
  9. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @SoDakBoy

    Gates warned that rigidly maintaining the ban “will be the end of us as a national movement.”

    No.  By adopting the standards of your enemies you have chosen to stop being a national movement.

    • #9
  10. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    That is indeed the problem with this. The Boy Scouts organization was explicitly Christian for most of its history. Christianity would allow for a gay but celibate leader. But a gay man indulging in a sexual relationship with another man lives in public defiance of plain Christian teaching, and therefore is a questionable role model.

    Originally, many kinds of misbehavior could disqualify one as Scout leader for undermining one’s moral leadership. Divorce, public intoxication, or even gambling could disqualify someone.

    It is Christian to tolerate sinful people and invite them to mend broken or strained relationships. It is not Christian to turn a blind eye to habitual sinful behavior. A misstep is one thing. A perpetual indulgence is another.

    • #10
  11. LilyBart Inactive
    LilyBart
    @LilyBart

    >

    • #11
  12. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    I don’t think the BSA’s prior policy was only about trusting gay men with the boys. It was about BSA’s explicit Christian (non-denominational) morality which holds that gay sex is immoral.

    In this PC world the only thing immoral is believing that other people are immoral.

    • #12
  13. FightinInPhilly Coolidge
    FightinInPhilly
    @FightinInPhilly

    To answer your question, no.

    As scout, I followed this case more closely than other social justice fights. Back then this started 15 years ago, I believed I had the answer (when a gay Rutgers student wanted to return to his troop as an assistant scout master) , but no one wanted to hear it.

    Fathers and guardians only.

    No uncles, no alumni, no friendly town sherifs. If you’re not related to one of the kids in the troop, you need to find a different way to spend your time- and believe me, a 20 year old college student who wants to supervise a bunch of lunatic 13 year olds- is just weird, gay or straight.  This is not a jobs program.

    My policy may have caused the collapse of many troops, but then, if you can’t get a few dads to show up once a month for a camping trip, you didn’t really have a troop in the first place.

    • #13
  14. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Aaron Miller:It is Christian to tolerate sinful people and invite them to mend broken or strained relationships. It is not Christian to turn a blind eye to habitual sinful behavior…

    …and certainly not to put them in a position of Christian leadership.

    A good church enthusiastically welcomes all to enter and pray. It does not allow all to speak at the pulpit.

    • #14
  15. Asquared Inactive
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    Z in MT: In this PC world the only thing immoral is believing that other people are immoral.

    I’m reminded of the quip that there are two kinds of people in this world, people who split the world into two groups and those that don’t.

    • #15
  16. Ross C Member
    Ross C
    @RossC

    BSA made the smart move here.  There is great love at Ricochet and among Conservatives in general to make stands on ideological purity.  But that means the BSA dying a noble death and I think there is plenty to salvage from the purported ruin of scouting that this decision has wrought.

    In my experience as a scout leader, homosexuality via parents or kids simply never came up.  Troops or packs can handle their business as they like which is generally the way it worked before.  If you are a parent who does not like a scout leader for any reason there are plenty of competing troops most places.

    • #16
  17. user_137118 Member
    user_137118
    @DeanMurphy

    As a scout leader, I don’t see an immediate problem.  For those who are afraid of molestation, we have policies and procedures in place to prevent and alert of possible problems.  “Two Deep Leadership” and the annual Safety Training address these issues.

    As my troop is sponsored by a church, and our troop’s founder is a deeply religious man who is still involved with the troop, our vetting process for new leaders is pretty effective.  We don’t restrict leadership to only parents of participating boys, but that’s how it has shaken out.  We don’t restrict membership to only families that are involved in the sponsoring organization’s church either.  I don’t participate in the church, and I know about half of the other families don’t either.

    • #17
  18. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Dean Murphy: For those who are afraid of molestation, we have policies and procedures in place to prevent and alert of possible problems…

    …and history has shown that all you need to prevent bad things from happening is a policy against bad things.

    “…although I hate to judge before all the facts are in, it’s beginning to look like General Ripper exceeded his authority.”

    • #18
  19. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Ross C: If you are a parent who does not like a scout leader for any reason there are plenty of competing troops most places.

    And there are plenty of bakers and wedding photographers out there, too. You want to be “reasonable” in the face of total warfare. It’s convert or die.

    • #19
  20. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Ross C: If you are a parent who does not like a scout leader for any reason there are plenty of competing troops most places.

    Not if the BSA is no longer permitted to turn away candidates for leadership for any of those same reasons.

    • #20
  21. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @SoDakBoy

    For those of you arguing that this is a good change because it allows local control and religious exemptions, do any of you really believe this is the last “accomodation” that will be demanded?  Does anyone truly believe that a year from now (or less) the Human Rights Foundation or someone else won’t be demanding that local troops can’t discriminate against gay leaders?

    They are announcing their dissatisfaction right there in the linked article and you think this is the end of the battle?

    • #21
  22. Herbert Woodbery Inactive
    Herbert Woodbery
    @Herbert

    (((The Boy Scouts organization was explicitly Christian for most of its history.))))

    I don’t think this was ever true. If so, When did this change? I know by the time I (a Jew) was a scout in 1973 in South Georgia, there was no preaching/proselytizing. We did have prayers at the end of each meeting and at camping trips, most were fairly non sectarian, although a few of those leading the prayers would mention Jesus. It was never said or intimated to me at the time that the BSA was explicitly a Christian organization.

    • #22
  23. user_137118 Member
    user_137118
    @DeanMurphy

    Misthiocracy:

    Dean Murphy: For those who are afraid of molestation, we have policies and procedures in place to prevent and alert of possible problems…

    …and history has shown that all you need to prevent bad things from happening is a policy against bad things.

    “…although I hate to judge before all the facts are in, it’s beginning to look like General Ripper exceeded his authority.”

    I’m not saying its a guarantee.  It takes vigilance on the part of everyone.  If you want a guarantee, don’t leave your house.

    • #23
  24. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Herbert Woodbery:(((The Boy Scouts organization was explicitly Christian for most of its history.))))

    I don’t think this was ever true.If so, When did this change?I know by the time I(a Jew) was a scout in 1973 in South Georgia,there was no preaching/proselytizing.We did have prayers at the end of each meeting and at camping trips, most were fairly non sectarian, although a few of those leading the prayers would mention Jesus.It was never said or intimated to me at the time that the BSA was explicitly a Christian organization.

    Agreed. The Scouting movement was always an explicitly monotheist movement, rather than a Christian movement.

    The original 1911 edition of the Boy Scouts Handbook (available here) mentions God in several places, but the only mentions of Christ are when it cites essays from the YMCA on things like hiking, camping, and physical fitness.

    • #24
  25. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Dean Murphy:

    Misthiocracy:

    Dean Murphy: For those who are afraid of molestation, we have policies and procedures in place to prevent and alert of possible problems…

    …and history has shown that all you need to prevent bad things from happening is a policy against bad things.

    “…although I hate to judge before all the facts are in, it’s beginning to look like General Ripper exceeded his authority.”

    I’m not saying its a guarantee. It takes vigilance on the part of everyone. If you want a guarantee, don’t leave your house.

    Does arguing that some policies are more effective than others automatically mean than one is demanding a guarantee?

    After all, it’s not like the prohibition on employing practicing homosexuals as BSA leaders guaranteed that boys wouldn’t be molested.

    If a parent thinks that Policy x would be more effective than Policy y, it’s no comfort to tell them, “hey, at least we still have Policy y!”

    • #25
  26. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Ray Kujawa: This is probably the best of both worlds. It avoids having the national organization become the target of lawsuits while granting individual units the flexibility to reflect their values

    It’s the worst of both worlds.  It sends several messages, all of them bad:

    1.  We will do what it takes to avoid lawsuits.  This goes to the crux of your post’s title.  Bullying by the Left’s lawyers is not freedom.

    2.  It says our values are not worth fighting for.  By not fighting, it elevates the idea that the opposition’s values are equal to our own.

    3.  It defies the meaning of free association (back to your post’s title).  The right of free association is inexorably tied the right not to associate.  Gay scouts and gay scoutmasters want the right to freely associate with the scouts, but that violates the right of scouts not to associate with gays because of their founding principles.  Now, the Scouts have abandoned their principles.  Oh, and don’t think those individual units that choose to remain true to their principles won’t be sued . . .

    If the pro-gay movement had simply formed their own version of the Boy Scouts of America, they could have avoided all this antagonism, gotten the same deals from local governments and civic groups in sponsorship, and shown the world they really want to be a part of the mainstream.

    But no, they want to destroy another traditional American institution.

    • #26
  27. Look Away Inactive
    Look Away
    @LookAway

    BSA will suffer the same fate as the Episcopal Church. It will not perish overnight but wither away over time. No matter what people may or may not say publicly, they definitely show their thinking in participation and contributions.

    • #27
  28. user_137118 Member
    user_137118
    @DeanMurphy

    Misthiocracy:

    Dean Murphy:

    Misthiocracy:

    Dean Murphy: For those who are afraid of molestation, we have policies and procedures in place to prevent and alert of possible problems…

    …and history has shown that all you need to prevent bad things from happening is a policy against bad things.

    “…although I hate to judge before all the facts are in, it’s beginning to look like General Ripper exceeded his authority.”

    I’m not saying its a guarantee. It takes vigilance on the part of everyone. If you want a guarantee, don’t leave your house.

    Does arguing that some policies are more effective than others automatically mean than one is demanding a guarantee?

    After all, it’s not like the prohibition on employing practicing homosexuals as BSA leaders guaranteed that boys wouldn’t be molested.

    If a parent thinks that Policy x would be more effective than Policy y, it’s no comfort to tell them, “hey, at least we still have Policy y!”

    The current policies make no distinction in regards to the sex of the adult.  Adding verbiage that takes the sexual orientation of the adult into consideration would needlessly complicate the training, with little benefit.

    Right now, the requirement is: no 1 on 1 contact between adults and scouts.  Period.  No exceptions.  The scouts are trained in this and the adults are trained in this.  How would you change it to take sexual orientation into account?  Add more adults if one is homosexual?  Do homosexual leaders need to wear special uniforms?

    • #28
  29. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    Ross C:BSA made the smart move here. There is great love at Ricochet and among Conservatives in general to make stands on ideological purity. But that means the BSA dying a noble death and I think there is plenty to salvage from the purported ruin of scouting that this decision has wrought.

    Instead it’s going to die an ignoble death of caving on principle and dwindling membership.

    After the rainbow warriors force a couple churches to either accept homosexual leaders or decharter their troop, or bear the costs of a lawsuit there’s going to be a rush to the door of chartering organizations. The parents with misgivings will way outnumber the  parents who’re OK with a gay leader.
    The problem is NOT gays in tents with scouts. If (and this is of course a very big if) the BSA’s Youth Protection policy is followed, there will not be a gay adult alone in a tent with a scout. Yes, there will be ample opportunities for abuse (which there are already), but this will not be one of them. Anyone worried about a gay in a tent with their scout, that genii is already out of the bottle with the BSA’s removal on the ban on out scouts.

    It’s not about being “morally straight” per the Scout Oath. That horse left the barn a long time ago with the advent of no fault divorce. There’s plenty of heterosexual canoodling that goes on between scouters who are married, just not to each other (not, as far as I know, on events when the boys are present, but phone numbers are exchanged if you get my drift).

    cont’d

    • #29
  30. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    Specifically here are the problems with allowing openly gay Adult scout leaders, starting with what to my mind is the largest:

    1.  Scout troops are chartered by local organizations. My offhand observation is this breaks out roughly:  30% Mormon churches; 30% Catholic churches; 20% Protestant churches (running the theological gamut from conservative to liberal); 20% other (VFW, Moose Lodge, etc.). These Chartering Organizations “own” their troops, and make all decisions regarding staffing. It’s a little like a franchise. You have to conform to National policy but otherwise it’s up to you to operate your troop. If the ban on gay adults as scouters (that is, adults who have registered as adult scout leaders) is lifted by National, each Chartering Organization will be on its own to defend whether or not it will register a gay as a scouter with that troop. Which means each local Charter Organization will be on its own when an activist organization picks it out to make an example of it. Mormon churches are a pretty closed circle and they could probably police their leadership by requiring church membership. The Catholic and Protest churches however tend to take all comers (the troop chartered by my conservative Presbyterian church has a spectrum of families from Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Non-denominational, Presbyterian, Congregational, and some Jews and Hindus). I’ll predict that once a church is sued or bullied by gay activists, or finds its tax-exempt status at risk, for refusing to sign up a gay leader, there will be a rush to the exits by other churches that don’t want that exposure.

    2. Scouts will become politicized with gay activism. For example marching in gay pride parades:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/30/nyregion/boy-scouts-make-provocative-statement-at-gay-pride-parade.html?_r=0

    3. Taking into account the predispositions of some gay activists troops (individual boys, adults, and the chartering organization) that don’t embrace the new program will be exposed to bullying and threats of violence. Just like Brenden Eich, Memories Pizza, etc.

    4. Even if (again a big if) individual units are able to maintain autonomy in their staffing decisions gays will work themselves into the paid executive cadre at district, council, and national levels inevitably leading to the organization becoming sexualized and politicized. If past is prologue, dissent (e.g. affirming the traditional definition of marriage as a male-female institution) will be ruthlessly suppressed. Gay is OK will be woven into required educational materials (Youth Protection, Scouter Training, etc.).

    cont’d

    • #30

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.