The Boy Scouts’ Dilemma

 

Last week, a deeply divided Boy Scouts of America (BSA) opted to delay its decision about whether to admit gays into its ranks until May. In my column this week, I argue that, rather than be ripped apart over admitting gays, the organization should split in two.

The issue of gays in the Boy Scouts, like gays in the military, has been extensively and intensely debated for years. There is no doubt that the public momentum on this question has shifted in favor of an expansion of gay rights, which is evidenced by the number of states that approved the legalization of gay marriage by electoral ballot recently, and, of course, by the recent statements of President Barack Obama, the honorary head of the Scouts.

Come May, the Scouts will reexamine the issue of admitting gays into the organization’s ranks. What will it decide? Mutual toleration and peaceful coexistence may yet turn out to offer the best way forward, as I explain further in my weekly column for Hoover’s Defining Ideas.

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Members have made 52 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of mask Inactive

    Mutual toleration and peaceful coexistence?

    I humbly suggest that Richard Epstein doesn’t follow the aggressive agenda of the “gay rights” lobby.

    • #1
    • February 12, 2013 at 6:30 am
  2. Profile photo of Colin B Lane Inactive

    It does seem passing strange to me that the lesson we have learned from a couple of decades of scandal involving Catholic priests being in too close contact with boys and young men is that we need to force the Boy Scouts of America to allow openly gay men to be troop leaders so they can be in closer contact with boys and young men. But perhaps I’m missing something.

    • #2
    • February 12, 2013 at 6:43 am
  3. Profile photo of Tommy De Seno Contributor

    Richard,

    Breaking up into autonomous groups, some allowing gays and some not, is exactly what the Boy Scouts were voting on. That’s what they will vote on in May.

     

    • #3
    • February 12, 2013 at 6:55 am
  4. Profile photo of John Murdoch Member

    +1 to Colin Lane–he is entirely correct.

    The Boy Scouts need to recognize this as a moral test: do they do the right thing? Or do they cave to public opinion?

    And they must recognize that public opinion in the media is not the same thing as public opinion in the churches, synagogues, mosques, and civic organizations that sponsor Boy Scout troops. There is a tiny minority of former Boy Scouts who are demanding their “right” to take little boys on camping trips.

    I submit that when those same people start demanding that single men be allowed to take their adolescent daughters off–without parental supervision–for “camping trips” I’ll consider whether letting homosexuals groom their little boys is a good idea or not.

    • #4
    • February 12, 2013 at 6:59 am
  5. Profile photo of mask Inactive

     Do the troops have the same legal protections that the overall BSA organization fought for and won?

    Will local troops be able bear the costs of fighting off law suits?

    Will the central BSA organization help local troops fight legal battles?

    • #5
    • February 12, 2013 at 7:43 am
  6. Profile photo of Trinity Waters Member

    Do not give an inch to the dividers and haters.

    • #6
    • February 12, 2013 at 8:09 am
  7. Profile photo of EJHill Member

    Everyone is missing the main point because we’re so caught up in the politics of the thing. The Boy Scouts should be split up, not divided by religious belief or sexual orientation, but by age.

    Leave the ban in place for Cub Scouts, be more tolerant in Boy Scouts. It’s simple, really. The Cubs are for boys ages 6 to 12. They don’t understand sexuality, they are more vulnerable than teenagers, and quite frankly, how they are introduced to the realities of sexual adulthood should be left to their parents, not the courts or gay activists.

    • #7
    • February 12, 2013 at 8:19 am
  8. Profile photo of Pilli Member

    As Colin said above, if Catholic PRIESTS cannot control themselves around young boys, how can you expect someone who has openly proclaimed himself to be a homosexual to maintain self-control?

    The Boy Scouts better be ready to pay out huge settlements when something goes wrong.

    Also, how do you counter the “I told you so!” screams when things go wrong?

    • #8
    • February 12, 2013 at 8:29 am
  9. Profile photo of Pilli Member

    One can only think that the Progressives hate males.

    • #9
    • February 12, 2013 at 8:31 am
  10. Profile photo of Basil Fawlty Member

    Making such a change would not only encourage mutual toleration and peaceful coexistence; it would also facilitate maintenance of the organization’s “perversion files.”

    • #10
    • February 12, 2013 at 9:17 am
  11. Profile photo of Tommy De Seno Contributor

    The fun of the Freedom of Association claims pressed by the Boy Scouts all those years was that one did not have to judge Gays to support it. That judgment was theirs and the issue for the rest of us was their right to make the judgment, which I fully supported.

    Now, the Boy Scouts are causing the rest of us to judge Gays.

    Looks like certain Ricochetti are judging them quite poorly, not based upon the content of the individual’s character, but on their….

    what?

    • #11
    • February 12, 2013 at 9:31 am
  12. Profile photo of Trinity Waters Member

    In another more violent venue, this would be labeled appeasement. The concept applies if you will accommodate a war metaphor. Giving any peace and intellectual space to those who seek to undermine our culture will result in defeat and failure. As a former Scout, it is unimaginable to me that the organization is even listening to tripe from the subculture. We must be firm and unyielding in our defense of morality and civility. That most emphatically does not include pandering to those who seek to destroy perfectly useful and desirable organizations such as the BSA. They stood their ground in San Diego and were victorious in the sense that they are allowed to continue as they have for decades. Too bad that it must be labeled as a victory, but such are our times; we must join the culture war.

    End of metaphor, and the beginning of concrete, righteous action. Contact your local Scouting organization, encourage your children to join, and offer support and your voice to oppose those who would dismantle the BSA.

    • #12
    • February 12, 2013 at 9:38 am
  13. Profile photo of Richard O'Shea Member

    If I remember, the current policy banning gays from leadership positions was put in place because of lawsuits from parents over sexual abuse. At the time, it was considered a proactive policy, designed to protect the boys.

    Has it succeeded? Has there been a reduction in accusations and lawsuits since the policy took effect back in (I think) the early eighties? If there has been a reduction, can it be attributed to this policy?

    If it has protected the boys, it is worth keeping. If it has made no difference, then it has made no difference. There must be some data somewhere.

    • #13
    • February 12, 2013 at 9:48 am
  14. Profile photo of mask Inactive
    Tommy De Seno: 

    Now, the Boy Scouts are causing the rest of us to judge Gays.

    Looks like certain Ricochetti are judging them quite poorly, not based upon the content of the individual’s character, but on their….

    what?

    When someone is openly gay that is part of their “character”. I wont allow any of my daughters to go camping with straight men. I wont allow any of my sons to go camping with gay men. The only exception to this rule is close family.

    I support individual troops being allowed to make their own decisions regarding this – as long as they are not open to law suits.

    At the troop level I’d support allowing gay Scouts as long as there is an understanding that the Oath and Promise be respected. Gay Scout leaders is another issue as I’ve mentioned above.

    • #14
    • February 12, 2013 at 10:02 am
  15. Profile photo of mask Inactive

    If the gay lobby wants to peacefully coexist and seeks tolerance then why have they sued the BSA?

    • #15
    • February 12, 2013 at 10:05 am
  16. Profile photo of EJHill Member
    Tommy De Seno: Looks like certain Ricochetti are judging them quite poorly, not based upon the content of the individual’s character, but on their….

    Who’s choice should it be when and how I explain the sexual facts of life to my eight-year-old? Is that reserved for me, a judge or some gay activist?

    You can talk about the Eagle Scouts, young men in their teens who are subjected to this every day in their high schools, but why should my third grader have to surrender the last of his innocence (and his fun in the Cub Scouts) to a political agenda of adults?

    • #16
    • February 12, 2013 at 10:37 am
  17. Profile photo of Colin B Lane Inactive
    Tommy De Seno: Now, the Boy Scouts are causing the rest of us to judge Gays.

    Looks like certain Ricochetti are judging them quite poorly, not based upon the content of the individual’s character, but on their….

    what?

    Clear-eyed realism?

    • #17
    • February 12, 2013 at 11:01 am
  18. Profile photo of Colin B Lane Inactive

    The analogy isn’t perfect (maybe not even good), but I think of it like the Mosque that was proposed to be built near the Twin Towers. Why? Why be unnecessarily provocative? It doesn’t mean that all Muslims are terrorists. And no one — certainly not me — is accusing all gay men of being predatory towards boys and young men.

    But not all heterosexual men are predatory towards teen-aged girls. Nevertheless, I sure as hell wouldn’t have wanted my teen-aged daughters going on an overnight camping trip with grown men.

    • #18
    • February 12, 2013 at 11:06 am
  19. Profile photo of Colin B Lane Inactive

    Also, Tommy, I don’t think making prudential judgments about human nature means I’m “judging” every gay person, any more than supporting profiling at airports means I’m judging every Muslim.

    I’m one who believes that the mass shooting at Sandy Hook has a lot more to do with a failure to deal honestly with mental illness in our society than it does with what kinds of guns are or are not outlawed. That does not mean that I’m “judging” all mentally ill people to be dangerous psychopaths.

    We have to make prudential judgments as a society all the time. It’s when we lose the ability to make these kinds of judgments that the wheels really start coming off the enterprise.

    • #19
    • February 12, 2013 at 11:44 am
  20. Profile photo of Colin B Lane Inactive
    Elizabeth Van Horn
    John Murdoch:

    I submit that when those same people start demanding that single men be allowed to take their adolescent daughters off–without parental supervision–for “camping trips” I’ll consider whether letting homosexuals groom their little boys is a good idea or not.

    I don’t understand how, or why, people assume that just because someone is attracted to a particular biological sex, that it means they are a pedophile.

    Elizabeth, you would benefit from time spent listening to Dennis Prager’s Male-Female Hour and learning more about the sexual nature of males.

    • #20
    • February 13, 2013 at 1:03 am
  21. Profile photo of mask Inactive
    Elizabeth Van Horn

    Yes I realize the scouts take many precautions but this doesn’t alleviate my concern about adults taking kids/teenagers out camping who are attracted to the children’s gender.

    I don’t doubt your sincerity but do you also acknowledge that the gay lobby has more nefarious intentions?

    In theory I’m not against local troops deciding whether or not to allow gay scouts provided they aren’t disruptive (and don’t come with an agenda) or gay leaders under the same conditions. In my own local troop I wouldn’t be opposed to gay scouts, I would be against gay leaders (who would go on campouts).

    • #21
    • February 13, 2013 at 1:15 am
  22. Profile photo of Richard Finlay Member

    Putting the decision at the troop level just means the lawsuits will be directed to the troops, not the national organization. It solves the national organization’s problem; no longer would they be the target of bad publicity or lawsuits. It does not address the larger issue.

    As to splitting the BSA: Can anyone really believe that a “separate but equal” organization would be accepted as a solution?

    Elizabeth: It is undoubtedly true that a scout troop can be operated in such a way that the sexuality of its leaders is irrelevant. It is also true that those with nefarious motives would seek out troops which are not so operated. I am not a great believer in systems or policies or good intentions successfully controlling human deviousness, of which I believe there is an abundance.

    • #22
    • February 13, 2013 at 1:34 am
  23. Profile photo of mask Inactive
    Richard Finlay: Putting the decision at the troop level just means the lawsuits will be directed to the troops, not the national organization. It solves the national organization’s problem; no longer would they be the target of bad publicity or lawsuits. It does not address the larger issue.

    As to splitting the BSA: Can anyone really believe that a “separate but equal” organization would be accepted as a solution?

    I have this concern as well. If the BSA does decide to allow troops do decide for themselves then they should also make it clear they will fight any troop’s legal battles.

    • #23
    • February 13, 2013 at 2:07 am
  24. Profile photo of Elizabeth Van Horn Inactive
    Colin B Lane
    Elizabeth Van Horn
    John Murdoch:

    I submit that when those same people start demanding that single men be allowed to take their adolescent daughters off–without parental supervision–for “camping trips” I’ll consider whether letting homosexuals groom their little boys is a good idea or not.

    I don’t understand how, or why, people assume that just because someone is attracted to a particular biological sex, that it means they are a pedophile.

    Elizabeth, you would benefit from time spent listening to Dennis Prager’s Male-Female Hour and learning more about the sexual nature of males.

    Colin, I’ve never head of Dennis Prager or his M/F Hour.

    I am though a daughter, sister and mother to males. At my age I’m not sure what Prager could teach me. But, I’ll check it out, thanks.

    • #24
    • February 13, 2013 at 2:11 am
  25. Profile photo of The Dowager Jojo Member

    No one asks Scouts now whether they are gay. It’s effectively don’t ask- don’t tell, and gay Scouts can and do participate as long as they don’t act like jerks about it.

    Gay Scout leaders is another thing. They may in fact be fine people and leaders but the position is an ideal one for homosexual men who like to abuse, or seduce, young boys. (Much of the priest’s abuse was seduction rather than pedophilia.)

    Also, by having openly gay leaders, parent who don’t view homosexuality as a normal lifestyle will be forced into de facto approval, or forced to end their children’s participation in Scouts. They will do the latter. So Scouts will accept openly gay people but no longer welcome those who think homosexuality is an aberration. I do not believe even parents who think homosexuality is a morally neutral defect, like six fingers on one hand, will be permitted to say so. The homosexual agenda of complete normalization will have won, though it will most likely be the end of Scouts.

    Those advocating for gays in Scouting are interested in normalization of homosexuality far more than the boys and Scouting.

    • #25
    • February 13, 2013 at 2:20 am
  26. Profile photo of Elizabeth Van Horn Inactive
    mask
    Elizabeth Van Horn

    I don’t doubt your sincerity but do you also acknowledge that the gay lobby has more nefarious intentions?

    In theory I’m not against local troops deciding whether or not to allow gay scouts provided they aren’t disruptive (and don’t come with an agenda) or gay leaders under the same conditions. In my own local troop I wouldn’t be opposed to gay scouts, I would be against gay leaders (who would go on campouts).

    I don’t know anything about a gay lobby. But, just knowing they are gay does not lend me to think they would have nefarious intentions. Maybe you could link to some stuff? Because, I don’t know what you’re referring to.

     There were some straight leaders that people in our troop didn’t want on camp-outs, so limiting who participates if not comfortable with them, is the current norm. I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see what BSA hierarchy decides.

    • #26
    • February 13, 2013 at 2:26 am
  27. Profile photo of Colin B Lane Inactive
    Elizabeth Van Horn
    Colin B Lane
    Elizabeth Van Horn
    John Murdoch

    I don’t understand how, or why, people assume that just because someone is attracted to a particular biological sex, that it means they are a pedophile.

    Elizabeth, you would benefit from time spent listening to Dennis Prager’s Male-Female Hour and learning more about the sexual nature of males.

    Colin, I’ve never head of Dennis Prager or his M/F Hour. 

    I am though a daughter, sister and mother to males. At my age I’m not sure what Prager could teach me. But, I’ll check it out, thanks. ·

    I am a male, and I have benefited greatly. And I think you will like Prager for other reasons as well. His three-hour-a day radio program is the only talk radio I listen to anymore. He broadcasts out of LA, but I always listen on podcast, which you can get by subscribing for a very modest price at his website.

    • #27
    • February 13, 2013 at 2:26 am
  28. Profile photo of Elizabeth Van Horn Inactive
    Jojo: No one asks Scouts now whether they are gay. It’s effectively don’t ask- don’t tell, and gay Scouts can and do participate as long as they don’t act like jerks about it.

    So Scouts will accept openly gay people but no longer welcome those who think homosexuality is an aberration. One sort of exclusion will be substituted for another.

    In my experience the kids (boys) who act like jerks when a gay kid is around, are the straight kids, not the gay ones.

    Hmm, no the BSA would be welcoming everyone, as opposed to the current policy which actually banns certain groups of people. There wouldn’t be any institutional exclusion. (Well, not for being gay anyway) If, a group chooses to not participate, then that would be their choice. Do you see the difference?

    • #28
    • February 13, 2013 at 2:35 am
  29. Profile photo of EJHill Member
    Tommy De Seno I agree with you EJ, and I think you would support a yes vote by the boy scouts.

    No, because your “federalism” does not shield the individual packs. The gay activists will sue each and every one and without the protection of a single national entity they will fold one way or the other, either by abandoning their religious beliefs or folding altogether under the financial burden of defending themselves.

    This is not about “rights,” this is about either destroying an institution or redefining it into the vision of the secular liberals driving this in the first place.

    • #29
    • February 13, 2013 at 2:43 am
  30. Profile photo of Tommy De Seno Contributor
    EJHill
    Tommy De Seno I agree with you EJ, and I think you would support a yes vote by the boy scouts.

    No, because your “federalism” does not shield the individual packs. The gay activists will sue each and every one and without the protection of a single national entity they will fold one way or the other, either by abandoning their religious beliefs or folding altogether under the financial burden of defending themselves.

    This is not about “rights,” this is about either destroying an institution or redefining it into the vision of the secular liberals driving this in the first place. · 2 minutes ago

    How? There is directly on point Supreme Court precedent that the exlusion is protected on 1st amendment grounds.

    • #30
    • February 13, 2013 at 2:46 am
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