Byron Hynes (bph@GOV.NT.CA)
Tue, 17 May 1994 11:09:17 MDT
> On Mon, 16 May 1994, Byron Hynes wrote:
> > So, *IF* the DRP says that only those who subscribe to it can be "the best
> > kind of citizen", it must imply that those don't/won't/can't are NOT the
> > "best" kind of citizen. If they are not the "best" citizens, they must be
> > "lesser" citizens.
Ryan Keil asserts:
> Yes, it is true. Using a comparative degree implies and causes one to
> infer that there is a comparison; however, it is fallacious reasoning to
> conclude that since language implies a comparison that the comparison
> exists. This is like placing the ox before the egg [ a mixed metaphor since
> fallacious reasoning is just that effective :-) ]. If a comparison
> exists, language can, by logical conclusion, so indicate. The indicator;
> howver, does not cause the comparison, but is caused by the comparison.
Now I wouldn't want to put words in your mouth, so let me ask: are you
saying that BSA policies are written using words that convey no meaning?
You are correct in that a piece of language can describe something that
does not exist, so let us step back from the semantics and look at the
reality of policy *implementation* and the *actions* of BSA. BSA refuses
to allow tiger cubs to join if their parent ("adult partner") does not
sign the DRP. The BSA refuses membership to adults who do not sign the
DRP. In defence of these actions, the BSA asserts its right to limit
membership in it's private organization to those it deems _worthy_
of the privledge. It some cases, it has used the statement that people
denied adult leadership roles are not the "kind of role model" the
BSA wishes to promote [although, I grant, that statement is officially
made more often in reference to homosexuals that to atheists].
The BSA has further asserted its right to demand the signing of the DRP
as a condition of membership [for adults] in courts of law.
I believe that it is obvious that BSA *does* believe certain groups of
individuals are "inferior" as leaders. I believe that the word "best"
as a comparator in the DRP _reflects_ the reality of the actions of the
BSA. It's use is not the cause of the BSA's belief [and I don't believe
I ever said it was], but I believe the use of "best" is evidence of the
On a personal note, I believe that some people make choices that cause
them to become people not worthy of emulation. Occassionally, their
choices lead them to become people I can't even respect. (Rarely, if
ever, do I consider items over which they had no control, such as
colour, race or sex.)
It is *impossible*, in my opinion, to tell someone they are not wanted,
without assigning a value statement to that rejection.
To use my friend Steve Souza's analogy of sport teams (where basketball
players think basketball is the "best" sport, to the dismay of swimmers):
when I was told I couldn't join the high school water polo team, the
coach did not deny that I was an inferior athelete to those allowed
to participate. To this day, people who say I can't be "good"/"perfect"/
"best"/"complete" [or God forbid, "happy"] because I don't play sports,
or I don't have kids, or I don't play music, or I don't speak italian,
etc., offend me.
I am *not* saying the BSA shouldn't have standards. I *am* saying that when
the BSA rejects someone for not meeting those standards [whatever they
may be], they are making a value judgment of inferiority against them.
In some cases, this may only be an inferiority in a specific area (I,
for example, can fully function despite being an "inferior water polo
player"), but when BSA tells someone they are an "inferior kind of citizen",
[or if you prefer, that they can never "become the best kind of citizen"],
which I believe the DRP tells atheists, it's hardly surprising that
some of those people get upset.
Two more points: then I'll go get some work done. :-)
Regarding the use of dictionary definitions, and making choices of words:
I publish a lot of things here at work. I write speeches for the Minister
to read in the Legislature, I send out press releases and other public
documents. An organization the size of BSA, I'm sure, can hire professionals
who would word-smith major public documents. Or, to put it another way, if
*I* was going to insist on every adult member of the organization signing
a contract, and I was going to go to court over it, I certainly wouldn't
use a "comparator" if I wasn't trying to make a "comparison". Most courts,
generally speaking, apply the idea that an average intelligent person's
grasp of a document's reading, is it's general meaning.
I would be honestly surprised if "best" was in there for any other reason
than a comparison. But, as Jim McCullars pointed out, none of us were there,
so, you may be right. I would suggest, though, that if it's wording is not
clear, it should be revised.
Regarding "motion": Is it a "try" to believe in God, or even a "think about
it and decide later"? I thought it was more a "Do you believe in God or
don't you". In Canadian cubbing, where I spend most of my time, we hope
that the youth who don't believe in God may change their mind as they
see the pack and it's adult leaders trying to make spirituality part of
their everday lives. (Without preaching, or being specific.) I wonder
sometimes if BSA, with it's policies of exclusion, doesn't rule out
some of the people Scouting most tries to influence.
Now that I've produced a "monotone mono-tome", I could sum up the
entire point of my last three messages in a sentence. (Honest). This
started becuase someone said that BSA never says anyone is inferior.
My point is:
I believe that BSA tells certain people they are inferior,
every day, because of the wording of the DRP.
Thanks for listening.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City