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A Scout respects those with ideas and customs other than his own.
May 15, 2009 9:54 AM   Subscribe

"Be Prepared" A Scout understands there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. He does not hurt or kill harmless things without reason.
posted by bitmage (105 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Quite a nice little society we're makin' for ourselves these days.
posted by stenseng at 10:01 AM on May 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


Explorer scouts are not the same as your average Boy Scout. As I remember, the Explorers have always been in the vein of ROTC. A way for kids to get immersed in Police, Coast Guard and similar jobs.

This story is not all that shocking if you know your various divisions of Scouts.
posted by efalk at 10:02 AM on May 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


“This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl,”

Or, it's the 21st century version of cowboys and Indians.

“It fits right in with the honor and bravery of the Boy Scouts.”

I was an Eagle Scout. This has nothing whatsoever to do with what I remember from Scouting, and what I deem Scouting to be. Bite me, Rambo.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:02 AM on May 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


This story is not all that shocking if you know your various divisions of Scouts.

Kind of like saying that the existence of a place like the School of the Americas isn't all that shocking simply because you know the number of the HR bill that funded its inception, no?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:05 AM on May 15, 2009 [12 favorites]


Boy, this sounds familiar
posted by jkaczor at 10:05 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know who else trained pre-teens like this? Well, do ya?

(There, got that out of the way.)
posted by fijiwriter at 10:05 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Explorer scouts are not the same as your average Boy Scout.

Explorer scouts are the kids with heavy artillery, Boy Scouts are the ones that hate godless homosexuals.
posted by DU at 10:05 AM on May 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


Jinxed by jkaczor.
posted by fijiwriter at 10:06 AM on May 15, 2009


Doesn't the US have a "cadet" program for teens? Up here in the tundra we have scouting, but there are also cadet programs for those with more of a military bent.
posted by jkaczor at 10:09 AM on May 15, 2009


This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl

Because if you're not firing at people who we deem terrorists, you're not even human, let alone American!

Ra Ra Ra!
posted by splice at 10:10 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was in Explorers for a while and it wasn't military-related at all... it was at an energy company. Unless I got brainwashed. Which is possible.
posted by fusinski at 10:11 AM on May 15, 2009


Is there some way we could combine counterstrike and race hate? Because that would be awesome.
posted by Artw at 10:12 AM on May 15, 2009


Cathy Noriego, also 16, said she was attracted by the guns. [...]

“I like shooting them,” Cathy said. “I like the sound they make. It gets me excited.”


Exactly who we want training for a career in law enforcement.
posted by Vectorcon Systems at 10:13 AM on May 15, 2009 [15 favorites]


Hitler Lou Dobbs Youth.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:14 AM on May 15, 2009 [16 favorites]


Kind of like saying that the existence of a place like the School of the Americas isn't all that shocking simply because you know the number of the HR bill that funded its inception, no?

No. It's like saying the existence of a place like the School of the Americas isn't that shocking if you know the US government has an agency tasked with clandestine operations.
posted by dw at 10:14 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Imperial County, in Southern California, is the poorest in the state, and the local economy revolves largely around the criminal justice system."

As weird and twisted as this training is, that kind of puts it in context for me.
posted by nangua at 10:15 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


How many generations of American born people have to be in your family for you to be "true-blooded"? Do they do a genetic test to determine if your great grandfather on your mom's side was a Polish Jew then you can't be an Explorer?
posted by spicynuts at 10:16 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ironically, the Girl Guides historically had the brown shirts.
posted by mazola at 10:17 AM on May 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


No. It's like saying the existence of a place like the School of the Americas isn't that shocking if you know the US government has an agency tasked with clandestine operations.

It's not that shocking if you know anything about what Roosevelt and McKinley got up to in the Americas and the Philippines. They teach you that stuff in school, right?
posted by Artw at 10:17 AM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ten minutes into arrant mayhem in this town near the Mexican border, and the gunman, a disgruntled Iraq war veteran, has already taken out two people

So I'm not sure if this is a data point showing that the psychotic right is moving away from racial profiling for their terror-fantasies, or one showing a growing resentment for the visible byproducts of their failed overseas adventures, or both. Hmmm...

The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence

The "escalating border violence" situation isn't exactly ameliorated by having a bunch of armed civilian militia groups running around trying to "assist", vigilante-style.

Cathy Noriego, also 16, said she was attracted by the guns. The group uses compressed-air guns — known as airsoft guns, which fire tiny plastic pellets — in the training exercises, and sometimes they shoot real guns on a closed range.

“I like shooting them,” Cathy said. “I like the sound they make. It gets me excited.”


I... well, she's right there. Can't really find fault with that. An M41a airsoft conversion kit kinda makes me giddy inside.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:17 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Boy Scouts have had a disturbing "we'd like to have it both ways" trend for some time, especially when it comes to "we're a public institution, so we can get in anywhere" and "no, we're private, so we can decide who isn't Scouty enough." I kind of wish they'd pick one and stick with it, rather than weaseling about. Public service? Or God bless America, we can paramilitarize anything!

I wonder if there will be a merit badge soon for putting on kiddie SWAT gear and lobbing smoke bombs (tear gas) at some other kid in a ludicrous, over-the-top outfit that somehow manages to combine Columbian drug dealer with vaguely Semitic overtones, maybe like a turban with a Che T-shirt and a bandellero. I can imagine the Scoutmaster now: "More dirt! He's not swarthy enough!"

If we could somehow combine this with those kindergarten beauty pageants, the surreality will be complete.
posted by adipocere at 10:17 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


seems to me "be prepared" says it all.
posted by billybobtoo at 10:21 AM on May 15, 2009


This isn't really too far off of what Baden-Powell originally had in mind when he started the scouts. Well, that, and the naked pictures of young men.
posted by electroboy at 10:22 AM on May 15, 2009


I was (briefly) in an Explorer Scout group sponsored by IBM. We met at one of their ed centers in the evenings and messed around with the PCs. This was in the mid-80s, so we all thought that was pretty damn cool.
posted by jquinby at 10:28 AM on May 15, 2009


having been thrown out of the cub scouts, boy scouts and sea scouts, i can tell you these people take themselves way too seriously. in each instance, i was tossed out for acting like a kid.
posted by kitchenrat at 10:28 AM on May 15, 2009


When I was at boy scout camp, there was an Explorer group, Explorer Post #18, made up entirely of girls. They were older than most of us (I guess 16-19), and with the occasional exception of one or two girls in regular troops, they were the only women at camp. They also won every single competition and award. To this day, even thinking of the phrase "Explorer Post # 18" fills me with lust and nostalgia. They didn't even have guns.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 10:29 AM on May 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Please don't condemn all Boy Scouts or scouting programs as training grounds for Nazis and homophobes.

I was an Explorer Scout in high school (Multnomah County Search and Rescue). Not all Explorer programs are privy to Godwin's Law comparisons.

Being involved in the Explorer program was a great way for me to do some Actual Good. We found lost hikers, helped evacuate Sauvie Island during the flooding, recovered the remains of hikers we didn't get to in time, assisted the Sheriff's department in evidence searches. It was really good for me to be able to see that there was value in serving the community.
posted by Dr. Twist at 10:30 AM on May 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


Wah... explorer programs meant we got to white-water rafting or something. This is so completely alien to my scouting experience that I'm at a loss for words.

Incidentally, funny story about DU's "Boy Scouts are the ones that hate godless homosexuals". (Always a pleasure to see you adding your special quality to these conversation, DU).

Myself and another young man were preparing for our Board of Review for our Eagle Scout awards. It was a Really Big Deal for both of us - our fathers were Eagle Scouts and they were very excited. After the whole James Dale debacle we decided to withhold our participation in the Board of Review until the national org reversed its position on gays in scouting. After the United Way withdrew its funding, we figured it would be a matter of days, possibly a week or two until the BSA apologized. There were quite a few scouts doing this at the time, if I recall correctly.

Anyway, it all became quite tragic because, as you probably know, the scouts never reversed their position.
In college I met a few Eagle Scouts who had mailed their awards back. Scouting for All keeps track of these things. Really kind of sad what's happened to the organization. I remember it as one of the coolest parts of growing up - but I could tell it was on the outs, membership was declining and things were kind of falling apart. I really see the Dale decision as the nail in the coffin on traditional scouting.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:30 AM on May 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


The last time I checked, sixteen-year-olds didn't need a lot of encouragement to play airsoft and paintball.
posted by mecran01 at 10:30 AM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


...Baden-Powell did not act on his attraction to boys, nor did he tolerate scoutmasters who indulged in sexual escapades with their charges, recommending flogging for such offences.

Heh.
posted by DU at 10:30 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The responding officers — eight teenage boys and girls, the youngest 14 — face tripwire, a thin cloud of poisonous gas and loud shots — BAM! BAM! — fired from behind a flimsy wall. They move quickly, pellet guns drawn and masks affixed.

As someone who was a nerdy kid and played a lot of laser tag at that age, running around shooting airsoft guns in fake border patrol situations seems like it would have been insanely fun to me. Yes, it seems weird to act out the very serious types of situations that the border patrol deals with, but it's possible to play Counterstrike or Grand Theft Auto without feeling conflicted about international terrorism or violent crime. I can deinitely see why those kids would be able to have a good time in that kind of program without ever wanting to do it for real.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:31 AM on May 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm speechless ... and I can't quite find what it is that makes me so uncomfortable. It's not the guns, I've no problem there (with proper supervision/training). I have no problems with kids learning and participating in aggressive activities like martial arts, so it's not that the aggressiveness issue I find offputting ...
Ahh, I have it now. My problem with this program is that it seems to be implying that the "bad guys" are faceless and less than human. I can deal with computer games that do that, because I have confidence that teenagers can separate a video game from reality. What does concern me greatly is this program seems (at least as reported in the link) to emphasize the aggressive take-down/SWAT/para-military like actions without any of those pesky civil liberties getting in the way. That deadly force must be used at all should be seen as a failure, not something to be glamorized, and specifically when there is a human being, even if, and perhaps especially if, that person is being viewed down the barrel of a firearm. Yeah, the issue is crystallizing for me. I have a huge issue with Law Enforcement agencies providing lethal force training without the proper context.
posted by forforf at 10:33 AM on May 15, 2009 [12 favorites]



Cathy Noriego, also 16, said she was attracted by the guns. [...]

“I like shooting them,” Cathy said. “I like the sound they make. It gets me excited.”

Exactly who we want training for a career in law enforcement. [...]

There have been numerous cases over the last three decades in which police officers supervising Explorers have been charged, in civil and criminal cases, with sexually abusing them.

Several years ago, two University of Nebraska criminal justice professors published a study that found at least a dozen cases of sexual abuse involving police officers over the last decade. Adult Explorer leaders are now required to take an online training program on sexual misconduct.


How many sexual abuse cases is too many for a program like this? 1, by my reckoning. Granted, the last paragraph doesn't explicitly state that those cases had anything to do with the Explorers. Context implies that it does though. I guess I'm only posting this because jkaczor beat me to the Hitler Youth comparison.
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 10:37 AM on May 15, 2009


I was in Scouts as a kid, and my father used to tell me that the very first action he'd take if we were invaded by the Russians (this was in an era when that kind of thought wasn't laughable on its face) would be to go to the local Boy Scout council office, break in, and burn the records. (This was also pre-computers; records were only on paper.)

Why? Because Scouts have functioned as an irregular force in multiple wars. I don't know too much of the details, never having looked it up, but apparently the Scouts served as civilian spotters in Europe in WW2, and my father intimated that they'd been involved in sabotage and supply operations in numerous conflicts as well. Maybe I'll look around later and see if I can cough up any actual links.

He figured that, knowing this, one of the first things the Russians would do, at least if they were smart, would be round up anyone associated with any of the Boy Scout programs and kill them. Highly socially connected idealists with good survival skillsets are dangerous as hell to an occupying power.

So this really doesn't surprise me at all. Given the informal history I was given, this is very much in the regular Scout purview.

That said, this could very easily transform into a spying operation, turning the Scouts into a Hitler Youth type program. It could get scary as hell very quickly. Scouts is very much a conditioning program, and if you condition children to hunt enemies of the state....
posted by Malor at 10:38 AM on May 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Exploring is a worksite-based program of Learning for Life, a subsidiary of the Boy Scouts of America, for young men and women who are 14 through 20 years old. From the ever reliable Wikipedia:
Learning for Life is not considered a traditional Scouting program; it does not use the Scout Promise, Scout Law uniforms or insignia of traditional Scouting. All Learning for Life programs are open to youth and adults without restriction based on gender, residence, sexual orientation, or other considerations, other than minimum age requirements. Some Explorer posts may require background checks and satisfactory school transcripts as conditions of membership.
It looks like the Exploring branch of Learning for Life consists of a number of branches, not just the getting kids ready to be cops.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:39 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow there are some dangerous parallels to Nazi germany here. I mean "true-blooded American" not like all those fake Americans.

I was in the Canadian Scout Program for many years(Beavers->;Cubs->;Scouts) and the parts I enjoyed were the camping and canoe trips. We did fire .22 caliber rifles at a range once at one of the scout camps which was a novelty, but I don't think an entire scout program should be based on tatics and weapons training.
posted by Sargas at 10:39 AM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow...that is so not the scouting that I remember.

The scouting I remember was thoroughly drenched in Sedgwickian homosociality, which might explain the traditional fear of homosexuals. It privileged conservative social ideology and a kind of discursive nostalgia about ideas of honor, freedom, country, etc. You might go so far as to even say that it was somewhat coercive in its demand for loyalty, attention, and honor towards a certain set of principles that are not very diverse or inclusive.

But I can also tell you this, even though my scout masters were all veterans and god-fearing tough guys that liked to take us to military bases to do service work, what these assholes are doing would have flipped....their.....wig. Ostensibly, what is happening here is everything that they stood against, which was (admirably or no) to teach cooperation, reliance on self and others, respect for your surroundings, and voluntary social order among males. Instead, these kids are getting some officially sanctioned right wing militia ideology bullshit.

We will reap what we sow.
posted by mrmojoflying at 10:45 AM on May 15, 2009


I was in Scouts as a kid, and my father used to tell me that the very first action he'd take if we were invaded by the Russians (this was in an era when that kind of thought wasn't laughable on its face) would be to go to the local Boy Scout council office, break in, and burn the records. (This was also pre-computers; records were only on paper.)

I've never heard of Scouts actually doing anything in wartime, although Heinlein has them doing stuff in various books. Also, this is the (stated) reason gun nuts hate registration: Because when the commies invade, they'll be able to go door to door and steal your precious bodily fluidsguns.

He figured that, knowing this, one of the first things the Russians would do, at least if they were smart, would be round up anyone associated with any of the Boy Scout programs and kill them.

Yeah, killing children is usually a great idea to calm down the populace. Another idea is raping them into submission.

An actually smart invading force would co-opt programs like the Boy Scouts. The way to do that is to get them (and much of the public) worked up about some non-existent menace. A menace who is not the invading force itself, obviously. Let's use Mexicans as an example...
posted by DU at 10:46 AM on May 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


(this was in an era when that kind of thought wasn't laughable on its face)

Well, really, unless you lived in the USSR itself, Afghanistan, West Germany, Finland, or maybe Iceland, the threat of military invasion by the USSR was always pretty much laughable on its face.

The thought of being nuked by the USSR was never laughable. The thought of the USSR conventionally invading the US was always a febrile fantasy, if one that was commonly fanned by the government.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:48 AM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was in Scouts as a kid, and my father used to tell me that the very first action he'd take if we were invaded by the Russians (this was in an era when that kind of thought wasn't laughable on its face) would be to go to the local Boy Scout council office, break in, and burn the records. (This was also pre-computers; records were only on paper.)

WOLVERINES!
posted by Artw at 10:49 AM on May 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


For levity's sake and perhaps to illustrate this sort of program's best justified scenario, WOLVERINES!
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 10:49 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


shit, I even previewed that and you beat me to it.
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 10:49 AM on May 15, 2009


my father used to tell me that the very first action he'd take if we were invaded by the Russians ... would be to go to the local Boy Scout council office, break in, and burn the records.

Which came first? Your father's wacky idea, or the movie?

Because you realize this a plot device from the 1984 movie Red Dawn? The Cuban colonel in charge of his neck of the woods notices one kid's Boy Scout participation, and correctly guesses he's one of the partisan attackers that keeps offing his troops in the mountains. He then puts the screws to the kid's family and gets the kid to betray his fellow "Wolverines."

Then, after Patrick Swayze doesn't have the nerve to do it, C. Thomas Howell shoots him. Spoiler alert!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:50 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, a three-way!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:50 AM on May 15, 2009


“I like shooting them,” Cathy said. “I like the sound they make. It gets me excited.”

Well, that's always a good thing to feel while holding a loaded weapon.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 10:51 AM on May 15, 2009


Now - don't get me wrong, I was in Scouts and in Army, then "Sea" Cadets up here in Canada and I definately see the seperate value of each program (and like to shoot weapons as much as anyone). But I see no value in combining the two...

It was the targetting illegal immigrants and "terrists" that really makes me compare it to Hitler Youth.

Why not a seperate group? Junior swat, teen police? This is obviously a great training ground for future law enforcement agents... definately a growth industry these days...
posted by jkaczor at 10:52 AM on May 15, 2009


Those Lil' Fascists! They're so adorably murderous!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:54 AM on May 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Is there some kind of Wolverines Law, sort of like Godwins Law, that dictates that threads like this will always end in Red Dawn references?
posted by Artw at 10:55 AM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Junior swat, teen police? This is obviously a great training ground for future law enforcement agents...

Same low intelligence but with even poorer impulse control!
posted by DU at 10:56 AM on May 15, 2009


And I'd also like to add that, even though I was never in his troop, my still living great uncle was a nationally honored scout master who served for 60 years in that capacity. Here is a man who fought in WWII, whose scouts are now ranking armed forces members, CEOs of corporations, or retired, and while there is always a recognition of a sense of duty in his talks about scouting, he would attack anyone with his cane who claimed that he was conducting paramilitary training. For every wingnut scout master supported by wingnut local officials under a permissive system who is training his kids to kill faceless tur'rists, there are a dozen more trying to develop healthy adult members of a civil society.

Enough with the Boy Scout apologia because I think the entire organization is ironically flawed, but I have met some fine, fine people in it, even if they don't support my queered critical cultural agenda.
posted by mrmojoflying at 10:57 AM on May 15, 2009


John Andreini:
"Boy Scouts fighting terrorists. Who ever thought we’d come to this? Well, I did. About three years ago I wrote a bit of satire for my blog That’s Going to Far! which ridiculed this disquieting possibility. Now it has come to pass."
Northern exposure: Bush to call up the Scouts

WASHINGTON D.C. — Just days after announcing his intention to station National Guard troops along the U.S. border with Mexico, President Bush made an unexpected statement today concerning the Canadian border.

“It is true that our most immediate national security need is to secure our southern border. However, we cannot ignore the risks posed by a three thousand mile-long, largely unsecured border to our north. While our attention is diverted to the southern states, thousands of Al-Qaeda terrorists could be quietly slipping into America disguised in moose or squirrel costumes, forming sleeper cells in unsuspecting towns like International Falls or Fargo. The threat is real, and must be met.”

Today, I am calling up our brave young Americans in Boy Scout, Girl Scout and Cub Scout troops all along the northern tier of states, from Washington to Maine. Scout units will be stationed along the Canadian border at designated intervals for four-week rotations. The Scouts will be issued BB guns, slingshots and Swiss Army Knives with which they will secure our borders and allow Americans to sleep easy in their beds.”

Some of you may ask, ‘Is sending a nine-year old child out into the Northern woods with little more than Ritalin, a dull knife and a backpack full of Snickers bars a good idea?’” I say, give our children more credit. Sure they’ll miss their TVs and their mommies, but they know what it means to wear a uniform and that sacrifices are necessary in the war on terror. “

The first Scout units will be in position shortly after the end of school in June. Scout Masters will receive field promotions to full colonel and receive all respective benefits. All scouts will be given photocopies of known Al-Qaeda operatives, and they will be issued shoot-to-kill or really-really-hurt-bad orders.”

My fellow Americans, I know what it means to serve one’s country in uniform and the sacrifices that are required. I spent countless days away from home and family in strange nightclubs and at parties where I didn’t know a soul. It’s true. But America’s young people today understand that freedom isn’t free, and that everyone must do their part in the war on terror. All I can say is God bless them, and God bless you.”
posted by ericb at 11:00 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Being involved in the Explorer program was a great way for me to do some Actual Good.

I never really took to scouting, but then, I was really more of a Chaotic Neutral youth, myself.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:04 AM on May 15, 2009


The law enforcement posts are restricted to those ages 14 to 21 who have a C average, but there seems to be some wiggle room.

see? it's not all that bad - they have STANDARDS
posted by pyramid termite at 11:06 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was an explorer scout in the seventies, we learned to program Fortran on Exxon's IBM 360s. No guns involved.
posted by octothorpe at 11:07 AM on May 15, 2009


While in the Parson’s flat, Winston is horrified by the behavior of their two children. Both the boy and the girl have been indoctrinated by Party organizations like The Spies and the Youth League. They play with toy weapons of war and dance around Winston calling him “Eurasian”, traitor, “thoughtcriminal” etc. Winston reflects that within a few years they would not be playing, they would be holding real weapons instead of toys and would turn in their own parents to the thought police if they displayed any signs of unorthodoxy or nonconformity. These children who turned in their own parents as traitors were regularly lauded in the newspapers, the term used to refer to them was “child-hero”.
posted by Scoo at 11:08 AM on May 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Aqua Teen Hunger Force?
posted by darkstar at 11:08 AM on May 15, 2009


They should only be allowed to mount armed rescue operations on a 'by kids, for kids' basis, if adults are in trouble then we can have the adult anti-terrorist people.
posted by biffa at 11:08 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just let me know when I can say "fascism".
posted by Joe Beese at 11:09 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Being that I'm commenting on this before reading all the other comments, someone may beat me to this point, but...

baby_balrog said "This is so completely alien to my scouting experience that I'm at a loss for words."

Because the "scouting experience" is an eternal unity. It never changes. It is a Platonic Form and would never, ever have morphed over the years (especially since 9-11 and jingoistic fears of "them dirty mexicans") into something much more egregious.

Also...

Dr. Twist said "Being involved in the Explorer program was a great way for me to do some Actual Good."

Because all Marines do is kill kill kill and never do "Actual Good". Of course we have the tough guys running around saving us. I'm not necessarily complaining that, say, cops might pull me out of a car wreck. But the fact is, the mentality is there for power abuse.

I'm sure even the Hitler Youth (yes, since it's already been Godwined, I may as well, too) helped old ladies cross the street. As long as they were good German ladies.
posted by symbioid at 11:13 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, running around with fake guns playing essentially what is cops and robbers sounds awesome. Especially if there's a whole fake set that's been designed for you to play in.

What turns this into scary is the fact that it's being shaped by organizations like the Department of Homeland Security. It's pairing normal play with morally ambiguous conflicts like the drug war and immigration. Just as more and more Americans are coming to want decriminalization of marijuana, they're training kids to associate marijuana with terrorism. Pure propaganda.
posted by formless at 11:20 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dr. Twist said "Being involved in the Explorer program was a great way for me to do some Actual Good."

Because all Marines do is kill kill kill and never do "Actual Good".



Wow. Fascinating how some non sequiturs can hint at such profound underlying pathos.
posted by darkstar at 11:21 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man, I remember this guy Tony Alvarado (I think that was his last name) who was in my driver's ed class, and since I worked at a Mexican restaurant next to the police department, I saw him and his Explorer buddies come in, in uniform. He was always trying to get people to sell him drugs so he could narc them out, and stayed an extra couple of years pretending to be in high school as some sort of 21 Jump Street bullshit. I didn't realize that this was part of a broader program, I thought it was just a way for guys who were still pimply at 20 to get back at all the folks who teased them in high school.
posted by klangklangston at 11:22 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is all quite a step up from the square knot.

At first I thought this said SET UP instead of STEP UP. Like, they created this whole elaborate scenario in order to restrain the suspect...by tying his hands with a square knot.

I was like, yeah, that IS quite a set up for demonstrating the square knot. In 4-H we just used a piece of rope with no crazy scenario.
posted by snofoam at 11:23 AM on May 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Does this mean we'll see patches for Extraordinary Rendition, Waterboarding, and Close Range Incapacitated Handcuffed Target Marksmanship?

Because, you know, positive re-enforcement is everything to kids.
posted by yeloson at 11:23 AM on May 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


TRUSTWORTHY
A Scout tells the truth. He keeps his promises. Honesty is part of his code of conduct. People can depend on him.

LOYAL
A Scout is true to his family, Scout leaders, friends, school, and nation.

HELPFUL
A Scout is concerned about other people. He does things willingly for others without pay or reward.

FRIENDLY
A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He seeks to understand others. He respects those with ideas and customs other than his own.

COURTEOUS
A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows good manners make it easier for people to get along together.

KIND
A Scout understands there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. He does not hurt or kill harmless things without reason.

OBEDIENT
A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobey them.

CHEERFUL
A Scout looks for the bright side of things. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.

THRIFTY
A Scout works to pay his way and to help others. He saves for unforeseen needs. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property.

BRAVE
A Scout can face danger even if he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at or threaten him.

CLEAN
A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He goes around with those who believe in living by these same ideals. He helps keep his home and community clean.

REVERENT
A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.
posted by felix betachat at 11:24 AM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hasn't anyone made the Youth League reference from 1984 yet?
posted by greensweater at 11:24 AM on May 15, 2009


So, the checklist would be Hitler reference, 1984 reference, Red Dawn reference and what else?

I need to know so i cna make the best thread ever.
posted by Artw at 11:27 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that this article focused on one group in one town and that this is not representative of the type of programs conducted by the Explorers. Am I wrong?
posted by Falconetti at 11:27 AM on May 15, 2009


They should send them on Craigslist Patrol.
posted by Artw at 11:29 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Which came first? Your father's wacky idea, or the movie?

I'm not sure, actually. I've never seen the movie, and I don't think he did. I'm pretty sure I remember that from the late 70s, but my peak involvement with Scouting would have been before about '87, so he could easily have picked up the idea via cultural osmosis, or the movie could have drawn from the same well of ideas that he used. Or maybe he saw the movie and I didn't know about it. I dunno.

I don't have any proof of the "scouts as irregulars" things, but I was told that MANY times as a kid, definitely in the 70s. He believed that particular claim intensely, whether or not it was true. I'm curious, now, and may go looking.

Regardless, he was in the Scouts in the 40s and 50s, and saw Scouting as being closely related to the armed services. He was about as far from a gung-ho jarhead as you could imagine, but Scouts being involved with the Army was the natural way of things. Most of the other adults in local Scouting seemed to be of a similar mindset. The organization of a Scout troop is very much along military lines, and I don't believe that's an accident. There was sort of a fundamental cultural expectation locally, and I believe it may have been broader, that something like this would happen if a truly serious war ever broke out.
posted by Malor at 11:31 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I had a lot of friends who were in the CHP (California Highway Patrol) Explorers and LA Sheriff Explorers.

This is job training, pretty much. Lots of people upthread seem to think that you join up to learn knots and go camping and one day you're OMG brainwashed into joining the Hitler Youth police state or something.

You join the CHP Explorers to learn what it's like to be a CHP officier. Same with the Sheriffs. There is no bait and switch on the message.
posted by sideshow at 11:32 AM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


What turns this into scary is the fact that it's being shaped by organizations like the Department of Homeland Security. It's pairing normal play with morally ambiguous conflicts like the drug war and immigration. Just as more and more Americans are coming to want decriminalization of marijuana, they're training kids to associate marijuana with terrorism. Pure propaganda.

I agree, although I'm not sure how successful it will be in that respect. There are plenty of "drugs are bad" indoctrination programs aimed at kids, and yet none of it really changes how kids view things like marijuana. If there's anything kids are good at it's completely ignoring a moralizing message and doing whatever they feel like doing.

Personally what I find more troubling are the kinds of things the Army does to recruit kids, like setting up arcades as recruiting centers. In those cases it's less about indoctrination (which is difficult to pull off) and more about getting a kid to sign up to go off to war without really knowing what they are in for.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:32 AM on May 15, 2009


The same thing crossed my mind, formless. So much focus on the evil "marijuana fields". Those kids look so, so young. At thirteen a child is very much a small child, very impressionable. I look at their faces and their eyes are so eager, their little faces so open, receiving.

Another thing that impresses me is how many kids of Latin American heritage are lining up to fight the evil immigrants. I'll share a little something: I have family in California, and one thing that shocked the little 15 y/o me when I visited was the, I don't wanna say hatred, let's say animosity, that these people, who barely 15 or 20 years ago had crossed the border, displayed towards the "illegals". At the time I felt like it was a way for them to "fit in", by acquiring the same dreams and hopes and hates and fears of their fair-skinned neighbors.

Now, I don't know how to feel about that.
posted by papafrita at 11:35 AM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Seems scary, but it's just on the job training. Some people want to work in law enforcement when they grow up.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 11:35 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was an Eagle Scout, too, late 70s, and I nth the sentiments expressed (by CoolPapaBell etc) that this is very different from my Scouting experience (camping and hiking and talking about science fiction around campfires with fellow geeky kids). I am aware I had a better Scouting experience (less militaristic, less abusive, less conformist) than most boys who were in Scouting, however. Also, as I guess some kind of data point, our local Explorers (which I was not part of, but had friends who were) trained to do EMT and search & rescue work.
posted by aught at 11:48 AM on May 15, 2009


60 comments in and NO-ONE has referenced the Tom Lehrer song? COME ON, PEOPLE. GET IT TOGETHER.
posted by grubi at 11:53 AM on May 15, 2009


I agree, although I'm not sure how successful it will be in that respect. There are plenty of "drugs are bad" indoctrination programs aimed at kids, and yet none of it really changes how kids view things like marijuana. If there's anything kids are good at it's completely ignoring a moralizing message and doing whatever they feel like doing.

The difference, I think, is that it's hard to make the denial of fun a fun thing, so "just saying no" was like an airplane on a treadmill. Give some hormonally-saturated kids guns, put them through obstacle courses and have them hunt for "border jumpers" and terrorists? Hard to see how they'd have much difficult getting volunteers.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:54 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yet another single-link post to the New York Times: weak!
posted by Carol Anne at 11:54 AM on May 15, 2009


Scouts are different everywhere. My theory, and I'm no child psychologist (although I have run Scout Groups) is that the Scouting method - games, team work, small groups, signs and symbols - is a great way to teach kids stuff. Whether that be the Woodcraft Folk or the Hitler Youth.

Scouts were used for war work in the UK, they even got badges for it (here's another article - warning WWII propaganda!).

Baden Powell set up the Scouts partly because of his experiences in the siege of Mafeking, where he used boys as messengers. There is a great little book called "How Girls can Help to build up the Empire" which was the first hand book for Girl Guides, from 1912 (I know little about early 20th century, but from what I understand, war in Europe was on the cards by then). It's full of stuff about setting up field hospitals and how to prepare if your town is under siege. It's fascinating.

Nowadays, my Scouting tends to feature getting as messy as possible and/or lots of unstructured play.
posted by Helga-woo at 12:02 PM on May 15, 2009


Actually, take that back, that's WWI propaganda...
posted by Helga-woo at 12:05 PM on May 15, 2009


I played guns when I was growing up. But I never wore a Hitler Youth Scout uniform.
posted by plexi at 12:11 PM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I agree, although I'm not sure how successful it will be in that respect. There are plenty of "drugs are bad" indoctrination programs aimed at kids, and yet none of it really changes how kids view things like marijuana. If there's anything kids are good at it's completely ignoring a moralizing message and doing whatever they feel like doing.

They work perfectly well, once you realize the actual purpose is to terrify people into being afraid of other people, namely anyone who uses drugs. There are a lot of people who don't smoke weed and aren't aware of anyone who does, and those in school programs go a long way towards keeping those people in support of (what used to be called) the War on Drugs.
posted by delmoi at 12:13 PM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was in Scouting Canada for ten fun-filled years & also spent time in the Air Cadets. Sure, Scouts evolved out of military experience, but this yahoo SWAT team crap makes my stomach turn. I don't know what else to say. It's very sad. It's certainly not going to do anything to ingratiate BSA to the rest of the world.

Here's Lord Baden Powell (aka Bathing Towel) speaking in 1937 on what Scouting was all about:

It started in 1908 - but the microbe of Scouting had got me long before that. When I was a boy at Charterhouse I got a lot of fun out of trapping rabbits in woods that were out of bounds. If and when I caught one, which was not often, I skinned him and cooked him and ate him - and lived.

In doing this I learned to creep silently, to know my way by landmarks, to note tracks and read their meaning, to use dry dead wood off trees and not off the ground for my fire, to make a tiny non-smoky fire such as would not give me away to prying masters; and if these came along I had my sod ready to extinguish the fire and hide the spot while I shinned up some ivy- clad tree where I could nestle unobserved above the line of sight of the average searcher.

Somewhere about 1893 I started teaching Scouting to young soldiers in my regiment. When these young fellows joined the Army they had learned reading, writing, and arithmetic in school but as a rule not much else. They were nice lads and made very good parade soldiers, obeyed orders, kept themselves clean and smart and all that, but they had never been taught to be men, how to look after themselves, how to take responsibility, and so on. They had not had my chances of education outside the classroom.

They had been brought up in the herd at school, they were trained as a herd in the Army; they simply did as they were told and had no ideas or initiative of their own. In action they carried out orders, but if their officer was shot they were as helpless as a flock of sheep. Tell one of them to ride out alone with a message on a dark night and ten to one he would lose his way.

I wanted to make them feel that they were a match for any enemy, able to find their way by the stars or map, accustomed to notice all tracks and signs and to read their meaning, and able to fend for themselves away from regimental cooks and barracks. I wanted them to have courage, from confidence in themselves and from a sense of duty; I wanted them to have knowledge of how to cook their own grub; in short, I wanted each man to be an efficient, all-round, reliable individual.

posted by stinkycheese at 12:13 PM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


“I like shooting them,” Cathy said. “I like the sound they make. It gets me excited.”

I hope she means the guns, rather than the immigrants.
posted by Bokononist at 12:25 PM on May 15, 2009 [10 favorites]


Sounds like they have a future Pope in their midst.
posted by DreamerFi at 12:38 PM on May 15, 2009


Why? Because Scouts have functioned as an irregular force in multiple wars. I don't know too much of the details, never having looked it up, but apparently the Scouts served as civilian spotters in Europe in WW2, and my father intimated that they'd been involved in sabotage and supply operations in numerous conflicts as well. Maybe I'll look around later and see if I can cough up any actual links.

I have some of my grandfather's scouting things (from the Dutch scouts between the war), and I know that he and some of his friends were involved with armed resistance during the war. I don't really think that there was any kind of Scouts qua Scouts resistance unit, but I can imagine that there may have been smaller groups of scouts or ex-scouts engaging in acts of sabotage and other resistance.
posted by atrazine at 12:39 PM on May 15, 2009


Hasn't anyone made the Youth League reference from 1984 yet?

No, but here's a Human League reference from the early 80s:

If it seems a little time is needed
It's only 100 days
The good advice of nations unheeded
The best of plans mislaid

Just looking for a new direction
In an old familiar way
Obama won the last election
But torture's gotta stay

And so the Metafilter thread turned
Until the sun went down
And Cathy's fantasies were learned
On that day

Keep feeling fascist nation
Iraq burning
Fear so strong

Keep feeling fascist nation
Stomach's churning
Moving on

Well Pelosi's tale may need some
Re-arranging
Throw it in the memory hole
And it's plain to see the facts are changing
No meaning left to hold

And so the Metafilter thread turned
Until the sun went down
And Cathy's fantasies were learned
On that day

And so the Metafilter thread turned
Until the sun went down
And Cathy's fantasies were learned
On that day

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:48 PM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


The law enforcement posts are restricted to those ages 14 to 21 who have a C average

Note the absence of the phrase "at least."
posted by Sys Rq at 12:51 PM on May 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


I would have stayed in the boy scouts if this had been offered. Of course, I was a fascist little pig at age 13. I'm not entirely sure if most pre-teen boys are this way, though I know some of them are just sadists. My parents, my school teachers, and society at large turned me from the violence-obsessed sociopath I was into what resembles a decent citizen. Funny that we've given up doing that.
posted by Football Bat at 12:53 PM on May 15, 2009


All this paramilitary crap is just another badge I'll never get.
posted by mazola at 1:15 PM on May 15, 2009


Yeah, killing children is usually a great idea to calm down the populace. Another idea is raping them into submission.

It worked for Arslan...
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:38 PM on May 15, 2009


I was a Boy Scout. Damn near made Eagle, but I ran out of time and interest in it after discovering girls.

Thanks to the BSA I am now one hell of a high-powered mutant godless hippy. I can start a fire with sticks, and flint/magnesium is easy stuff. I can make shelter, I know how to make snares and deadfall traps, and I've gone fishing with hooks made from twigs. I know how to shoot, use a bow and arrow, a wrist rocket or even a traditional rock-throwing sling. I can flake and lap crude arrowheads. And some of the women in my life seemed to really appreciate my knot-tying skills.
posted by loquacious at 2:20 PM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I remember going camping in the scouts. Learning about animals. To survive in the woods. To hunt. Hell. In Sea Scout learning to sail and navigate.

So. We pave over all our wild places. There is no wilderness left to appreciate. This is what happens. A generation of little suburban Hitlers. Great.
posted by tkchrist at 2:20 PM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not my experience with scouting either.

I doubt Cathy would really enjoy cqb. Unless she finds tinnitus exciting.

"Boy, this sounds familiar
posted by jkaczor "

Interestingly, in WWII, one of the reasons U.S. soldiers with a scouting background did so well against soldiers with the Hitler Youth background is because of the respective natures of the organization. The more political, less self-reliant, Hitler Youth were at a loss when without a hierarchy and didn't do so well outside of weapons training. Scouts on the other hand cooperated and knew outdoors skills and how to improvise. Reminds me of Sgt Curtis Culin, who I understand was a scout (and a chess player, although, many accounts of his history differ - he was from Jersey, but some say he was a cab driver from Chicago as a civilian... he is supposed to be Turkish. Some say his father was German. Nobody believed he was real. Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Sgt. Culin. You never knew. That was his power. ...but I digress) anyway he came up with a method for the tanks to zip through the hedgerows in Normandy by using a sharpened pronged plow. They got the metal from the angle iron the Nazis put up as obstructions on the beaches just as they started operation cobra.

Whatever the case - seems to me this kind of thing always stops that kind of information flow and initiative.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:59 PM on May 15, 2009


Well, on the one hand I feel the need to point out that Scouting at least as I understood it, was a largely decentralized system. Explorer groups in particular seemed to be mostly the project of local police and fire/rescue groups with minimal support or supervision from the local councils.

On the other hand, the organization has been off the rails for more than a generation. So who knows what kind of support these groups were getting.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:05 PM on May 15, 2009


Wait, remind me of when American scouts were their capitals final line of defence against the Red Army?
posted by Artw at 3:09 PM on May 15, 2009


I was in Air Explorers when I was a teenager. Our troop had its own plane, a 1965 Cessna 150, parked at Santa Monica airport. Mechanics volunteered their time so there wasn't much upkeep cost. Flight instructors volunteered their time -- mine was Mel Olsen, who was a retired McDonnell Douglas test pilot. Our troop leader was mainly our ground school instructor. As I think back on it, for these guys it was probably like being in the Kiwanis club or something, only they centered their community service around something they were passionate about. And we got flying lessons -- with instructor and gas -- for $7 per hour. There is no way I could have afforded flying lessons any other way -- my after school job paid $2 per hour. No indoctrination, no career preparation really, and nobody asked me if I was gay or an atheist.

With all the positive experiences I had with scouting, it's pretty sad that there's no way I would want my kids to become involved with today's BSA.
posted by Killick at 3:36 PM on May 15, 2009


“I like shooting them,” Cathy said. “I like the sound they make. It gets me excited.”

"This one time at Explorer camp..."
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 3:41 PM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


In a competition in Arizona that he did not oversee, Deputy Lowenthal said, one role-player wore traditional Arab dress. “If we’re looking at 9/11 and what a Middle Eastern terrorist would be like.”

It's good to see that the troop leaders are cognizant of the threat posed by the Arab hordes infiltrating Arizona. Especially the traditionally-dressed ones. I hear those are the worst.
posted by Killick at 3:44 PM on May 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's good to see that the troop leaders are cognizant of the threat posed by the Arab hordes infiltrating Arizona. Especially the traditionally-dressed ones. I hear those are the worst.

Indeed. Infiltration must be subtle and imperceptible.

I also suggest folks watch Hero and watch out for the 62nd Chinese Flying Swordsmen. And the Wu-Tang Clan, whom I hear have been engaging in Terrorist Fist Bumps since 1996. It's just like GI Joe said: Knowing is half the battle.
posted by yeloson at 4:52 PM on May 15, 2009


I quit the Cub Scouts after we spent an evening making bread baskets out of some damn popsicle sticks. Mine fell apart on the car ride home and I ended up using the sticks as ninja throwing darts.

If I would have stuck with it my weapons skills would be so much better now.
posted by orme at 5:09 PM on May 15, 2009


Holy shit, I was just happy to get the bannock making badge.
posted by futureisunwritten at 9:10 PM on May 15, 2009


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: "... it's hard to make the denial of fun a fun thing, so "just saying no" was like an airplane on a treadmill."

Meaning that it took off perfectly well?
posted by lostburner at 9:29 PM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


REVERENT
A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.


Fuck that. I got kicked out of cubs when I was seven, not for not knowing the Lord's Prayer, but for saying "What? But that's stupid!" when they told me.
posted by Sparx at 3:56 AM on May 16, 2009


I was in Scouts Canada for about 5 years. While we did learn some useful things, it was mostly about playing dodgeball in the gym and trying to force me to go along with the Christian religion and the rituals therein.
posted by tehloki at 2:01 PM on May 17, 2009


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