NYC latest to threaten ban on Scouts
March 1, 2001 10:18 AM   Subscribe

NYC latest to threaten ban on Scouts NYC Council disagrees with national organization's policy that homosexuality is inconsistant with Scouting's prinicples, and wants time to try and change national organization's views. Free subscription required.
posted by darren (26 comments total)
I know I'm in the minority of MiFi posters on this issue, but thought all would be interested.

posted by darren at 10:18 AM on March 1, 2001

Quiz question: is having sex with dogs inconsistent with Scouting's principles? And if so, what forward-thinking community will be the first to ban 'em if they refuse to countenance bestiality? Or will the "animal husbandry" merit badge acquire a whole new dimension? Just askin'...

posted by jfuller at 10:55 AM on March 1, 2001

FYI: Now that Yahoo News is posting New York Times articles, you access them without registering.
posted by Aaaugh! at 10:56 AM on March 1, 2001

"Calling the ban 'repugnant' and 'stupid'. . . "

Good thing that this decision isn't going to be made on the basis of inflammatory rhetoric or anything. Feh.
posted by Dreama at 11:09 AM on March 1, 2001

"I know I'm in the minority of MeFi posters on this issue"

So what is your position (and, by extension, what do you think our position is) on the matter?
posted by silusGROK at 11:13 AM on March 1, 2001

My view is the one set down by the U.S. Supreme Court. As a private organization, the Scouts have the right to set their own rules for membership. If they believe homosexualty, beastiality, or whatever else is inconsistent with the moral code they require of their members, then they can do so. They have that right.

Likewise, I believe cities, etc., have the right to prevent the Scouts from using taxpayer-supported facilities. I don't agree with them doing it, -- and Lambda's campaign to do so across the country is going to hurt rather than help homosexual interests -- but they have that right.

United Ways across the country have the right not to fund the BSA. Again, I don't agree, and should my local one opt out, it'll receive no more money from me. But they have that right.

BTW, the reason I feel I'm in a minority is that most MeFi responses to my thread announcing the SCOTUS ruling last June opposed the decision.
posted by darren at 12:22 PM on March 1, 2001

I agree with you darren. I think it's a shitty way for the scouts to act (and if I hadn't quit long ago, I would've over this,) however, they are a private organization and I'd hate to see the gov't decide they have the power to regulate such things. That would be a very bad thing :P
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:39 PM on March 1, 2001

why has no one pointed out how bigoted the "having sex with dogs" comment is? my god. i've been personally offended by some stuff on mefi before, but usually at least things are disguised as jokes rather than faulty logic...
posted by pikachulolita at 2:08 PM on March 1, 2001

I don't think it was meant to compare homosexuality to bestiality. I think the point was that if they start including sexuality in their criterion, they would have to be prepared to go the whole hog (so to speak ;)
Am I right, jfuller?
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:14 PM on March 1, 2001

Er . . . pikachu, I think that comment was a snarky reference to this thread.

posted by Skot at 2:14 PM on March 1, 2001

I agree with darren, the BSA absolutely has the right to exclude gays. But I also believe it's a shortsighted and cruel policy, that, in my mind, suggests that they can't live with the thought of an all-american, merit-badge wearing, civic minded person who is also -gasp- gay. They're much more comfortable when the faggots are hiding in public restrooms in their trenchcoats, thus facilitating glib comparisons of homosexuality and bestiality. Not that it matters (except maybe to the kids who were kicked out) - as the debate rages on between the BSA and it's regional councils, there will continue to be gay scouts. They'll just have to keep quiet about it if they wanna make Eagle.
posted by varmint at 2:33 PM on March 1, 2001


Maybe you can clear something up for me: it seems to be a pervasive opinion that the BSA was banning homosexual scouts as well as homosexual leaders. My understanding of the whole issue was that the BSA didn't want homosexual troop leaders. Nowhere have I found any mention of the BSA disfellowshipping gay troop members.

posted by silusGROK at 2:39 PM on March 1, 2001

Vis10n - you may be right - I haven't heard of any specific cases of gay troop members being kicked out - but even in that case, they're still marginalizing those gay troop members - "We'll put up with your "alternative sexuality" now, kid, but don't even think of becoming a leader or passing on what you've learned in this organization to anyone else." That's just as cruel, in my book.
posted by varmint at 2:45 PM on March 1, 2001

Don't Ask; don't tell.
If the BSA can as a private org decide who gets in and who is excluded, can they also do this on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion--it is after all a private organization.
I am old enough to recall a scout leader way back who got into trouble because he was supected of being a member of a communist organization. How would you liked to have your mind raped by a commie?
posted by Postroad at 3:08 PM on March 1, 2001

> usually at least things are disguised as jokes rather
> than faulty logic.

...and here I thought that crack about animal husbandry was disguised as a joke. But if I've botched my logic -- entirely possible -- maybe you'll help me understand how it's arbitrary and wrong for the BSA to exclude guys who like guys, but NOT arbitrary and NOT wrong for the selfsame BSA to exclude guys who dig vaseline threesomes with a border collie and a raincoat? If you think my comparison of homosexuality and bestiality is offensive, I take it that bestiality is outside your comfort zone and homosexuality is not. Your mission, then, is to explain why it's OK for you to draw the line at the edge of your comfort zone but not OK for the BSA to draw the line at the edge of theirs. Ready? Here, take as much rope as you need.

posted by jfuller at 3:11 PM on March 1, 2001

Postroad: The KKK is also a private organization. It is private organizations' right to make arbitrary standards for admittance, unfair as that may be.
posted by sonofsamiam at 3:12 PM on March 1, 2001

You know what? It would be fine with me if the BSA wanted to sanction bestiality. They're a private organization. It's their right. Personally, I'm not attracted to animals, and even if I was, the fact that they can't give informed consent to sex would make it a tricky ethical area.

Seriously, I think we all know the bestiality comparison is a paper tiger that has nothing to do with the BSA's policy and how it affects the 7% of the population (by very conservative estimates) who are attracted to members of the same sex. The whole argument is twisted from the start -

...I think the point was that if they start including sexuality in their criterion, they would have to be prepared to go the whole hog...

But, see, they're not being asked to include any sexuality - they're being asked not to exclude based on sexuality. And they don't wanna, and, that, as I said, is their right.
posted by varmint at 3:30 PM on March 1, 2001

From what I recall some time ago, the BSA wanted to ban leaders and not scouts on theassumption that leaders might "take advantage" of the young lads etc etc I can understand their position. You get a gay scout yelling "take me to your leader."
posted by Postroad at 3:45 PM on March 1, 2001

I'm just tired of the Boy Scouts of America getting away with simultaneously holding such an exclusionary policy and trumping it with an apple-pie image. There are many places in the country, and not just outside of the flyover, that will be happy to send them packing, and just as many Boys & Girls and Campfire Clubs recruiters willing to issue new uniforms and badges. If the BSA want to be a part of the *cough* marketplace of ideas, well, let's just see how they can deal with declining membership in the Blue states.
posted by dhartung at 3:51 PM on March 1, 2001

I can personally introduce you to several former Scouts -- exemplars of the creed -- who were asked to turn in their merit badges, leave their troops and sever all ties with the organization, because they identified themselves as gay.

It ain't just leaders.
posted by bradlands at 4:24 PM on March 1, 2001

The marketplace of ideas may soon be replaced by the marketplace of money when bucks are not flowing toward the BSA. And many places that gave meeting places the scouts are now saying they will no longer support a group that is exclusionary. In my area there is already a cutting off of funds flowing to the BSA.
I for one will not buy girl scout cookies! Do the Girlscouts allow lesbian scoutmistresses? Or is this a gender thing.
posted by Postroad at 4:31 PM on March 1, 2001

The thing that is most self-defeating about the Scout's policies from a "protect our youth" is that they target only out of the closet gay men and boys, who are very unlikely to perpetrate any offenses.

If their fear is about molestation or other taking advantage, they should realize that the vast proportion of men who commit homosexual pedophilia are COMPLETELY in the closet, and many are not gay at all, at least in the sense that we understand ordinary sexual orientation. (Which is to say, they have wives / girlfriends to whom they are authentically attracted sexually, AND have a totally different abberant desire to sexually exploit young boys.)

posted by MattD at 4:43 PM on March 1, 2001

I very much doubt that the BSA will ever fold on account of a few cities (regardless of their size) revoking access to "public" buildings. Most (and I can't remember the exact number... up around 2/3) troops are church / synagog / whatever sponsored, and are not beholden to public entities for their continued existence. It won't happen.
posted by silusGROK at 6:45 PM on March 1, 2001

Fred, the Girl Scouts are way over on the other side of the road on this issue. They are a separate organization from the Boy Scouts of America, though most other countries have a single national scouting organization.

Vis10n, it's not just facilities (and you shouldn't be surprised that many churches feel the same way). Several local United Way organizations have begun to withhold (or at least propose withholding) supporting funds for Boy Scouts. Anyway, nobody's trying to put them out of business here. They'll just find themselves welcome fewer places. At some point, that may become unacceptable to a majority of scouting leaders. Until now, they've only had to worry about publicity which they could wear as a badge of honor.
posted by dhartung at 8:52 PM on March 1, 2001

it's not a matter of my comfort zone. my point was not that they should exclude bestialists - if you ask me, they should accept everyone. it's a matter of the spirit of that comment. it seems i misinterpreted your intent, but it's a very dangerous statement because you can't really compare an attraction between two humans to attraction to a goat. one is a matter of who you love, the other is a matter of what want to have sex with. drawing that comparison puts homosexuality in the same ballgame as bestiality, and i think that they are inherently very different. it's the same faulty logic that's behind anti-gay marriage sentiment, saying that "if you allow a man to marry another man, you might as well allow him to marry a duck".
posted by pikachulolita at 9:39 PM on March 1, 2001

"Tolerance for a diversity of values and ideals does not require abdication of one's own values.'
- BSA Position Statement, Issued July 2000

A couple of points:

"The marketplace of ideas may soon be replaced by the marketplace of money when bucks are not flowing toward the BSA." - Postroad

This may be true, but in most United Ways with the exception of extremely liberal areas such as SF and NYC are backing off trial baloons they floated about cutting off funds. Seems more of their donors come from suburbia than from areas that would be more sympathetic to a fund band. In Atlanta, the UW briefly talked about it and was deluged with threats of entire companies cancelling their corporate giving campaigns.

"The thing that is most self-defeating about the Scout's policies from a "protect our youth" is that they target only out of the closet gay men and boys, who are very unlikely to perpetrate any offenses." - Matt D

Matt makes a very good point here. Part of the training every adult leader goes through includes strict regulations that no adult leader is EVER allowed to be in a 1-on-1 situation alone with a scout. There always must be at least 3 people together.

The BSA's policy is based on two beliefs -- 1) that allowing practicing homosexuals as leaders (or even scouts) puts young boys at greater risk of being sexually abused, and 2) homosexuality is in direct conflict with the 12th point of the scout law, a scout is reverent, and with the Scout Oath's provisions regarding duty to God and keeping oneself morally straight. Those wishing to read BSA's statements on these issues can find them here.

posted by darren at 5:48 AM on March 2, 2001

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