September 2012: A Line in the Sand
Author: Frank Dunne, Jr. & Courtney Hampson | Photographer: Photography by Anne
Frank Dunne Jr.
Did you hear? The Boy Scouts of America have decided to retain their ban on gays. Like it or not, it’s really none of your business. They’re a private organization. We have a thing called the First Amendment, and the Supreme Court ruled in the Boy Scouts’ favor on this issue 12 years ago. Frankly, I think that makes it a non-story, but as we might expect, the decision has political correctness yahoos in a snit…and you know how I love shooting arrows at their politically correct claptrap. So here we are.
Courtney phrased her question thusly: “So you’re saying that private groups can discriminate against whomever they want?” The answer is absolutely, unequivocally yes; private groups can discriminate against whomever they want. Don’t like it? Tough cookies. It’s a constitutional right guaranteed by the First Amendment. The Boy Scouts of America, the Knights of Columbus, you, me, the person sitting next to you, the guy you just flipped off for cutting you off in traffic and everybody else, we’re all free to choose with whom we associate and with whom we don’t. We all discriminate. We all do it every day, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Unfortunately, the very word “discriminate” has been so perverted by politically correct culture that we are expected to assume a sinister connotation every time it pops up. It simply means to recognize a difference or distinction.
Imagine a young woman is out on the town with her girlfriends and two fellows approach her. One is a sloppy frat-boy type wearing a football jersey who sidles up and half slurs, half spits a cheesy pickup line in her ear, “Should I call you for breakfast, or nudge you?” The other is a nattily attired, clean-cut gentleman, enjoying a cocktail but still well in control of his faculties who says politely, “Hello. My name is Jim. May I join you?” Who do you suppose has the inside track on the phone number?
Yeah. I thought so. That’s discrimination.
Or, imagine a couple has just moved to a new town and they’re looking for a church to attend with their family. Do you think they pick the one where the people speak in tongues and handle deadly snakes or the one with a congregation made up of folks who have the good sense to avoid poisonous snakes?
Yeah. I thought so. That’s discrimination.
Now, on to the subject of rights. The politically correct crowd is out there wailing, “But gays have the right to join the Boy Scouts!” No, they do not. Nobody does. It is a privilege granted by the Boy Scouts of America, not a right. Part of the problem here is that the concept of rights has been as badly corrupted as the meaning of the word discriminate. Here’s a simple litmus test to determine if something is or is not a right. If you believe that it’s your right to do a certain thing, but doing that thing violates somebody else’s rights, then that thing is not a right. Forcing the Boy Scouts of America to admit gays is forcing them to reject their expressed values. That would violate their First Amendment rights. Don’t like it? Tough cookies. Join another club or start your own.
Realizing that it was a long shot, I asked Courtney how she would like it if she were compelled by law to host Catholic Bible study groups in her home. The idea was to turn the tables in her mind and get her to take an objective look at her original question. Guess how that worked out?
If we were to believe stereotypes (and bear with me because in another couple hundred words I will go on to say we absolutely should not let stereotypes cloud our judgment), I’d joke that no self-respecting gay man is going to don a Boys Scouts uniform—the tassels, the knee socks, the patches—it just doesn’t work. I’d go on to say that, if a gay man were willing to overlook the potential fashion faux pas, he would be denied entrance into the organization anyway.
It seems more than ridiculous that in 2012 the Boy Scouts of America continue to maintain (and recently reaffirmed in July) their policy to exclude gays from joining or being leaders. The Boys Scouts of America is one of the largest youth organizations in the country with 2.7 million members and more than 1 million adult volunteers. The re-affirmation of their anti-gay policy was the result of “a special committee of Scout executives and adult volunteers formed in 2010 who concluded unanimously that the anti-gay policy was the ‘absolute best’ for the 112-year-old organization,” according to national spokesman Deron Smith. Smith said the decision represented “a diversity of perspectives and opinions,” but the Boys Scouts have yet to name the members who made up that “diverse” committee. I guess they aren’t ready to come out of the closet yet, so to speak.
I think it is important to note that The Girl Scouts of America has had a diversity policy and non-discrimination clause since 1980. But, we all know that women are wiser than men.
While conducting my research (yes, Frank I actually do more than state my opinion), I learned that in April, a jury ordered the Boy Scouts of America to pay $18.5 million
in punitive damages to an Oregon man sexually abused by a former assistant scoutmaster in the early 1980s, according to the Associated Press. The jury found the Boy Scouts of America and the local scout chapter negligent in a case that accused the organization of covering up alleged sexual abuse of several of its boy scouts for years. In a civil suit filed the month prior, six plaintiffs alleged that the Boy Scouts of America allowed convicted child sex offender Timur Dykes to continue to participate and lead troop activities, including sleepovers at his home with the scouts, even after he confessed in 1983 to having abused as many as 17 scouts. Sounds like the Boys Scouts greatest fear should be, well…themselves. This sounds oddly similar to the Catholic Church’s anti-gay priest policies, which they affirm while covering up the altar-boy-sodomizing priest scandals. Pot. Kettle. Black.
On August 5, 2012, the LA Times revealed a review of more than 1,200 Boys Scout of America files from 1970 to 1991 and found suspected abusers regularly remained in the organization after officials were first presented with sexual misconduct allegations. “Boy Scouts of America internal documents reveal more than 125 cases in which men suspected of molestation allegedly continued to abuse Scouts, despite a blacklist meant to protect boys from sexual predators,” the report stated. According to the news report, predators moved from troop to troop because of clerical errors, computer glitches or the Scouts’ failure to check the so-called “perversion files.”
In at least 50 cases, the Scouts expelled suspected abusers, only to discover they had re-entered the program and were accused of molesting again. The Scouts said it regrets that sometimes the “best efforts to protect children were insufficient.” Anyone else thinking that there is a bigger problem within the Scouts organization that someone should be addressing? (That secret committee probably has some time on their hands now that they are done discriminating.)I believe the real problem here, as is often the case, is perception and the perpetuation of stereotypes. Dr. Gregory Herek, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis has published more than 85 scholarly papers on prejudice against lesbians and gay men, anti-gay violence, AIDS-related stigma, and related topics. Herek’s research states,
“Members of disliked minority groups are often stereotyped as representing a danger to the majority’s most vulnerable members. For example, Jews in the Middle Ages were accused of murdering Christian babies in ritual sacrifices. Black men in the United States were often lynched after being falsely accused of raping white women. In recent years, anti-gay activists have routinely asserted that gay people are child molesters… This argument was often made in debates about the Boy Scouts of America’s policy to exclude gay scouts and scoutmasters.”
According to scouting.org, “The Boy Scouts of America is one of the nation’s largest and most prominent values-based youth development organizations. The BSA provides a program for young people that builds character, trains them in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and develops personal fitness.”
Values? We value prejudice?
Character? Does fear-based prejudice suggest character?
Participating citizenship? As far as I know, American citizenship does not require a particular sexual preference.
Frank’s argument is that the Boys Scouts of America is a private organization and, therefore, can do anything it wants. (I imagine he is still eating lunch at Chik-Fil-A, too.) Frank, as far as I know, the Ku Klux Klan is a private organization. Just wondering, do you condone their activity as well?