Saturday, July 31, 2010

Boy Scouts a Compelling Metaphor

Membership in the Boy Scouts of America peaked in 1973 when the national discourse was near the pinnacle of its progressive introspection, its foundation shaking inquiries, its experimentation with sexuality and the subsequent liberation of gender stereotypes. Then of course, came the backlash with Reagan and the Moral Majority, angry white men desperate to return to the Mad Men days where the coloreds knew their place and the bitch did what she was told. The struggle continues, but the genie is out of the bottle.

Boy Scout membership has plummeted 42% since 1973 and has dropped 16% in the last ten years. Boy Scouts are white. Boy Scouts are homophobic and ban gay membership. Boy Scouts ban atheists and while no religion is officially preferred, keep the Koran at home. Surprise, the organization was ordered to pay $18.5 million in damages to a man who had been abused by a scout leader as a boy. Sometimes what happens in the woods doesn't stay in woods.

The struggle of the Boy Scouts mirrors that of the Catholic Church and the GOP, clinging to obsolete views in a world that has moved beyond them. New realities and new ideas (the earth revolves around the sun, or in today's versions, global warming, evolution, acceptance of diversity including sexual preference, economic interdependence and importance of oversight) have arrived and will stay. It is painful to watch them resist tooth and nail. Indeed, we have whole segments of society that just scream, “NO!”

The insight so needed and so overdue for all of these groups is that one fights ideas with better ideas, and better ideas must be grounded in facts. If you don't like the health care legislation, offer better legislation that passes muster with reality. The same goes for financial reform, immigration reform, and climate change legislation. Solid fact, not fiction, has now cemented that if you have a problem with the gay or those brown people, there's not much cheese down those tunnels in the workplace or the ballot box.

I am not saying conservatism or the GOP are dead or obsolete. There are Republicans who ask intelligent questions in the context of generating real solutions. Consider the Tucson Choices blog.

I am saying that we require solid thinking and reasoning that reflects this century, that takes into account everyone and everything, and not solely the short term gratification of the interest groups representing the ultra rich.

“HELL NO WE CAN'T!!!” won't work for the Boy Scouts, the Catholics, or the Republicans.


Anonymous Observer said...

Insightful article.

Most of what happens in the woods stays in the woods. The Boy Scouts actually kept records on molestation and called them the perversion files. Like the Catholic Church, they covered it up. Eugene A. Evans molested dozens of boys. Troop leader Normon Leach molested scouts, and he also a minister. There are many others. Timur Dykes was the scout leader convicted in Portland that resulted in the $18.5M award.

It's kinda funny that a group specifically banning homosexuality has an issue with scout masters molesting boys. So, explain to me why a scout master caught molesting a boy gets to stay when homosexuality is banned.

I would imagine there are common psychological factors in these groups (beside stupidity) and the incredible hypocrisy that seems to pervade their leadership.

7/31/2010 3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Catalina Council in Tucson used and abused a program called Soocer and Scouting to meet their quota of members.They in turn gave no support to a program that signed up no less than 250 Hispanic kids in South Tucson. Worse yet, the white guys got promoted.

8/03/2010 2:40 AM  
Blogger Sunshinesuperman said...

I know of that affair. Indeed a form of abuse of authority, all to make the then Director,Joe, look good in the recruiting column, in eyes of the National Office. He is gone now. What is real financial abuse is that they used that program to raise money from local homebuilders.

8/03/2010 12:37 PM  
Blogger Hugh Lambert said...

All human activities are, by definition, human. Very little about the human condition is perfect, and Scouting is no exception. Much like this country itself, Scouting reflects the society in which it resides. Scouting programs in many other nations are much more tollerant and open. I may have made a mistake when I resigned from the NRA because I no longer agreed with all of it's principles. I have, however, found it is much more effective to work from "the inside."

There are few other programs for youth that directly build character (or at least try to as the main goal). Scouting has changed a lot over the years, mostly for the good. As a 25 year volunteer I have fought racism, prejudice and intollerance in the Scouting program and continue to do so from the inside. I am pleased but no satisfied with the changes that have so far been made. Keep pointing at the flaws, but please remember- not everyone on the "inside" is blind to the flaws. As a member of a racial and religious minority I remain proud to be a "Scouter".

9/09/2010 9:44 AM  

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