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Boycott the Boy Scouts: Quit Teaching Kids to Celebrate Prejudice and Ignorance*

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(I am re-posting this article in objection to the Boy Scouts reaffirmation on February 6, 2013 of their poisonously prejudiced ban on gays.)
   
File:Stamp US 1950 3c Boy Scouts of America.jpg
Poisoning Young Minds for More than 100 Years! by
Boy Scouts of Amerika

Scout Oath (or Promise)*   
On my honor I will do my best  
To do my duty to God and my country  
and to obey the Scout Law;  
To help other people at all times;  
To keep myself physically strong,  
mentally awake, and morally straight.

Morally straight. Wow. In other words, queers need not apply. You've got to be kidding me. What century are we living in? 

On July 18, 2012, the Boy Scouts of America announced the results of a confidential, two-year review of its policy that explicitly excludes gays. The Boy Scouts' national spokesman, Deron Smith, stated that a special eleven-member committee came to the conclusion that the exclusion policy ""is absolutely the best policy'' for the 102-year-old organization. 

Since when is unvarnished prejudice against a historically-maligned minority a good thing? Isn't it somewhat hypocritical for an organization that requires its members "to help other people at all times" to gleefully endorse discrimination against gays? In what sense is perpetuating age-old, irrational prejudices "helpful" to gays? 

In case this might be news to the Boy Scouts, on September 20, 2011, the United States military officially terminated its Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. In doing so, the US military officially accorded non-heterosexuals the same civil rights as heterosexuals, while also affirming the enlightened notion that it was no longer "morally straight" to discriminate on the basis of sexuality. That historic policy shift by the US military represents a resounding endorsement of fundamental democratic freedoms.

Be Careful What You Wish For

Morality is a tricky concept to define. Generally speaking, morality is relative and it is contingent upon the norms and values that are embraced by a majority of the population at a particular moment in history. As times and people change, so does morality. For example, the ancient Romans used to consider feeding Christians to hungry lions a pleasurable pastime. Also, following its inception, the moral climate in the US had no compunctions against treating Africans like slaves, women like property, indigenous peoples like vermin, and gays (or, members of the GLBT community) as deranged criminals. 

America's democratic principles assert that, all people being created equal, everyone should enjoy the same unalienable rights: freedom, fairness, justice and equality. In practice, however, US democracy has all-too-often rolled out the red carpet to some (i.e., wealthy, European, male, property-owning, heterosexual, Christians) while dehumanizing, subjugating and abusing "Others." Though it took more than a century of aggressive social activism on the part of marginalized minorities, Americans gradually came to realize that there was a vast and inappropriate gulf between the USA's democratic principles and its practices. 

Thus, slowly and grudgingly, American morality has transitioned from celebrating the abuse of marginalized minorities to castigating such malignant indiscretions In other words--although more than a few Americans lament the passage of "the good old days"--it is no longer considered "morally acceptable" to treat Africans like slaves, women like property, indigenous people like vermin, and members of the GLBT community as deranged criminals. 

Three cheers for the (long, slow, reluctant) march of democratic progress! Wahoo. 

The Boy Scouts have decided that, in spite of the march of progress, they are going to dig in their heels in a futile effort to preserve their anachronistic, undemocratic, and poisonously prejudiced version of morality. For the Boy Scouts, gays may not necessarily be deranged criminals, but gays still fall into the category of undesirable "others." 

As a private club, the US courts have ruled that the Boy Scouts are welcome to take this  last, lonely, loathing stand against civil rights. For an organization that has existed for 102 years and that congratulates itself for upholding the highest moral principles, it is sad that the Boy Scouts would flaunt such an appalling ignorance of history, morality, common decency and democracy. 

In closing, I call upon all fair-minded Americans to Boycott the Boy Scouts until the Scouts quit foisting antiquated prejudice and ignorance on a new generation of kids.

*From the Boy Scouts page at http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts.aspx


** The image of the Boy Scout Stamp is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person's official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code.  

 

http://goodscience.sociology.org/

Tim McGettigan is a professor of sociology at CSUPueblo. Tim's primary research interests are in the areas of science, technology, society (STS) and the future and Tim blogs about those topics at the following sites: The Socjournal, (more...)
 

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Boycott the Boy Scouts! Demand that the Boy Scout... by Timothy McGettigan on Wednesday, Feb 6, 2013 at 8:35:08 PM
employ LGBT-inclusive policies. I'm prouder now th... by Meryl Ann Butler on Thursday, Feb 7, 2013 at 6:02:22 AM
to send it back. I hope to find it soon.It means n... by Daniel Geery on Thursday, Feb 7, 2013 at 11:10:05 AM
and write an article ;-) ... but of course you hav... by Meryl Ann Butler on Thursday, Feb 7, 2013 at 11:58:54 AM
What's the problem? If they want to leave their or... by sbaker on Thursday, Feb 7, 2013 at 11:20:33 AM
A Scout isTRUSTWORTHY. A Scout tells the trut... by Daniel Geery on Thursday, Feb 7, 2013 at 5:55:36 PM
The problem is not with gay people. The problem is... by William Saenz on Friday, Feb 8, 2013 at 9:38:35 AM
Political correctness takes a heavy toll on a pers... by Ned Lud on Friday, Feb 8, 2013 at 11:35:44 AM
I don't like gay f uckers, in general, but I ... by Ned Lud on Friday, Feb 8, 2013 at 11:18:10 AM
nonprofit organization. If they want to be a priva... by Meryl Ann Butler on Thursday, Feb 7, 2013 at 12:04:24 PM
If the Girls Scouts can be so open-minded, inclusi... by Timothy McGettigan on Thursday, Feb 7, 2013 at 2:57:33 PM
  I was a boy scout and I think it should be ... by Bob Gormley on Thursday, Feb 7, 2013 at 5:24:52 PM
lesbian girls, ... apparently they take their duty... by Meryl Ann Butler on Thursday, Feb 7, 2013 at 6:43:52 PM
Bob, Your comment is sort of like the argumen... by Timothy McGettigan on Thursday, Feb 7, 2013 at 6:51:49 PM
Straight boy scouts wanted to be in a girl scout i... by Richard Pietrasz on Friday, Feb 8, 2013 at 3:39:09 AM
"Wouldn't a feminine gay person be happier in the ... by William Saenz on Friday, Feb 8, 2013 at 9:42:42 AM
I don't know, Bob, I just find your comment so off... by Amy Schreiner on Friday, Feb 8, 2013 at 1:53:54 PM
From what I have read - the Boy Scouts have opened... by Doc McCoy on Friday, Feb 8, 2013 at 12:15:01 AM
...seems like a type of vote, in itself ...  ... by Meryl Ann Butler on Friday, Feb 8, 2013 at 12:34:44 AM
I'm sure that over 100 years ago, when the Boy Sco... by Meryl Ann Butler on Friday, Feb 8, 2013 at 12:47:52 AM
Identity, since even that concept/term had not bee... by Kim Cassidy on Friday, Feb 8, 2013 at 2:35:36 AM
I think he meant morally straight in terms of what... by J. Edward Tremlett on Friday, Feb 8, 2013 at 10:58:19 AM
Homosexuality is only one issue I disagree with th... by Richard Pietrasz on Friday, Feb 8, 2013 at 3:47:09 AM
Girl Scouts officially say that the "God" that is... by Meryl Ann Butler on Friday, Feb 8, 2013 at 10:45:40 AM
The Boy Scouts already discriminate based on relig... by William Saenz on Friday, Feb 8, 2013 at 9:47:30 AM
that  Boy Scouts is a political organization ... by Mark Sashine on Friday, Feb 8, 2013 at 11:39:49 AM
Excellent point, Mark.  I touched on it earli... by Richard Pietrasz on Friday, Feb 8, 2013 at 7:03:15 PM
BP formed the Boy Scouts because he was disturbed ... by J. Edward Tremlett on Friday, Feb 8, 2013 at 8:37:39 PM
Prediction: The scouts open it up to the gay and a... by sbaker on Thursday, Feb 14, 2013 at 4:11:24 PM
is a great idea!... by Meryl Ann Butler on Thursday, Feb 14, 2013 at 5:18:20 PM
Maybe the boy scouts will wise up and remodel thei... by Timothy McGettigan on Thursday, Feb 14, 2013 at 5:24:31 PM