Calhoun's Cannons for May 25, 2013
Sorry, old chap, but no merit badge for you. Well, O.K., to be fair, half a badge. For years, your fine organization, the Boy Scouts of America, has officially banned gays, which, you must admit is kinda funny since a whole lot of people think that Scouting itself is soooo gay. I mean, running around in the woods with a bunch of boys wearing knee socks, and sashes with embroidered merit badges on them? And neckerchiefs? Really? Neckerchiefs?
But, O.K., I know that Scouting has helped many young boys to grow up to become fine young men and now the organization has finally voted to allow gay boys to officially remain a part of scouting. That's something the Girl Scouts of America figured out some years ago when the issue of gays in Scouting began coming into public awareness. Unlike the BSA, the GSA did not confuse "being" with "behaving," and welcomed all girls into their fold providing they minded the rules and didn't misbehave (gay or straight). Since girls mature more quickly than boys, I suppose the BSA's being so late in figuring this all out is perhaps perfectly natural.
However, My Dear old Powell, your organization has made a hash of things with their recent vote because they only allow The Gays to stay in Scouting until they turn 18. And when that happens, it's out the door with them. No matter how much of an Eagle Scout they are, no matter how talented, brave, thrifty, honorable they are -- OUT. Like a Werewolf at the full moon, they suddenly become persona non grata and are not allowed to become Scoutmasters or be part of running your fine organization?
Think about what kind of message that sends to gay kids: You're one of us for seventeen years, three-hundred-sixty-four days. Then you turn into a child molester?
And there, my Dear old Chappie, is where you and your organization went off the rails years ago and which allowed molesters to flourish in your midst doing untold harm to kids and to your organization. You failed to understand that there are three kinds of people in the world: 1. Straight people. 2. Gay people. 3. Child molesters. And # 2 and #3 are NOT automatically interchangeable. Indeed, Scouting's secret files have revealed whole swaths of happily married men, fathers of three children, owners of picket fences, station wagons and a dog -- child molesters all, hidden in plain sight and unsuspected because they weren't "gay." And there was the problem. They weren't gay, they weren't straight: They were predatory child molesters.
So, no merit badge for you, my dear fellow. After all, if you're learning bushcraft and you don't know the difference between the tracks of a deadly predator and a field mouse, you have no business being out in the woods with anybody, let along a pack of young kids.
Naturally, many conservatives are up in arms about all this gay stuff. And I sympathize. Many Scout programs are closely affiliated with various Christian churches as sponsors, and so the secular and religious have traditionally (and often uneasily) meshed in Scouting. With this new vote, various conservative denominations are vowing mass exoduses and pulling their support from the BSA. Indeed, John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, has vowed to create an alternate youth group, one that has "timeless values," one that would continue to ban gay kids.
Which, my dear Powell, sounds like a wonderful idea! Since Scouting is a private organization, members are free to break off and form all kinds of different organizations. Heck, we could even see an All White Christians Scouts of America, a Gay Scouts of America, a Black Scouts of America, even a Bi-Sexual/Transgendered Girl/Boy Scouts of America. The possibilities are endless.
In the meantime, Old Sport, the official BSA might as well finish what it started. If you're a Scout you're a Scout, whether you're 6 or 86. If Scouting has timeless value and is meant to turn good boys into better men, then that's always going to be a work in progress, a work that doesn't end in seventeen years, three hundred sixty four days.