Re: An Appeal to Authority
Settummanque, the blackeagle (waltoml@WKUVX1.WKU.EDU)
Thu, 1 Dec 1994 18:01:20 CST
"Michael S. Holmes" <HolmesWCW@AOL.COM> writes:
(in response to what he perceives to be "opinion" as opposed to "fact"
when it comes to answering inquiries here...he agrees with me in
>I realize that many Scouters do not have all the current manuals, etc. at
>their fingertips. Nevertheless, I know that it helps me to be able to check
>what is said here against the "rules" whenever I get to our Service Center.
> Without pointing fingers, I have found more than a few such pronouncements
>to be inaccurate. To be very picky, and appeal to semantics, one may have an
>opinion about a fact, but an opinion cannot (or, at least, should not) be
>stated as a fact -- facts simply *are*.
Or that *your* local Council, like many do, take the items that some
of us get in the mail and "circular file" them. Don't tell me that it
don't happen, Mike...remember, I once was (and there are others that
are here that are now) a member of the profession of Scouting, and
there's just *that* much time in a day to review and read everything
that EVERY division of the National office sends to me and my
peers...let alone my boss and his boss! A lot of times, those changes
and "suggestions" from the Irving Tower don't get read until you or I
or someone else comes to the office and challenges them (with a copy
of a posting from Scouts-l *grinning*). Then, *after you are gone*,
they either dig around the wastebasket and get out the stuff, or (what
they SHOULD do with you there....), call their counterpart at National
and get the information faxed or relayed again.
Not many pros will do the latter because everytime they do, their
Council number is annotated and when X number of inquiries are
counted, it is reported to their Area Director, whom makes an
"unplanned trip" to your Council. Believe me, Mike, you *don't want*
the Area Director to visit your Council but twice a year!!!
Yes, occassionally, *I* (as well as others here), DO get it "wrong".
When we do get it wrong, just as quickly as you get a correct answer
here, you get a "nope, it's not right and here's the right
answer"...or a "nope, I'll find out what the right answer is and get
back to everyone with it" or a simple "hey...I've messed up". As I've
stated, the folks that use our forum as a sole source is badly
misinformed as to why Scouts-l exists.
Also, I've stated this before....yes, the BSA *seems* to have at some
points, up to 334 *different interpretations* of what is written from
National as policy. Just call any seventeen local Councils and ask
them "what is the policy on awarding training awards", and I'll betcha
that you'll get at least four DIFFERENT answers, including the "I'll
have to call you back" one (which interpreted, means "we don't have a
policy...I'll have the Scout Executive call you back and tell you what
he thinks his policy is...").
(You think I'm kidding, Mike. I did this about three years back when
I was researching an answer for Kathie...and sure enough...I got seven
different, non-consistant answers to a simple question: what is the
policy of presenting training awards to Cub or Scout Roundtable staff
members?" That, along with Kathie Cervany's insistance that her local
Council follows the BSA WRITTEN POLICIES, convinced National to
publish an addition to their training awards policies which covers Cub
and Scout Roundtable members.)
>I suppose that what I would like to say is that IMHO it is pointless to argue
>about something that can be independently verified. (Not to mention that it
>takes up a lot of time to download -- for those of us unlucky souls who must
>pay for our time on the Internet.)
I too, have an AOL account and do pay some days "through the nose" for
my downloads too. However, to suggest that we "cut to the chase" with
every question and answer them simply with a "look on page 22,
paragraph 2, under the words "this is the award, silly", is NOT what
Scouts-L is about.... (at least that's what I feel that Scouts-L is
about!). No only do we try to explain what the policy is, but how it
is applied or used and WHY it is (or shouldn't be, in many cases) the
way it is... You may call it pointless to argue about things that SEEM
to be "cut and dried", but trust me, Mike, many of the issues we talk
and dissect here are NOT cut and dried, especially when we are talking
about implications for a youth member or an adult to be awarded
something or NOT be awarded something!
>As to Councils that view the "rules" as "guidelines," that is a more sticky
>issue. The BSA is emphatic in separating rules from guidelines in order that
>its programs be as flexible as possible and to allow chartered organization
>to fit the Scouting program to their needs. However, the BSA is just as
>emphatic in insisting that the "rules" (what they call "policies") be
We are NOT talking about what a chartered organization decides to
do...we are talking about what the LOCAL COUNCIL dictates as "our
slant on what the National Office says". For instance, there is a BSA
policy that says that members of the District Committee now be 21
years of age or older; however, there are MANY local Councils that
have looked at that policy, a WRITTEN policy, and lined out that
statement and replaced it with their own, "....be at least 18 years or
older, and someone that we know in our District". How do they
register those 18-21 year olds as District Committeemembers? No
comment. How do they justify what they do? "We have the authority to
implement our local Council's policies BASED UPON BSA policies..."
those Council Executives rightfully say. What happens when one of
those 18 to 20 year olds do something that is NOT in the best interest
of the BSA or the Council? They quickly "whitewash it" and get that
kid OUT of the District (and in some cases, you have to know that they
get them out of the BSA completely!).
And folks come to this forum, fully knowing that a local Council can
do those kinds of things and NOT knowing that it's TOTALLY ILLEGAL, and
ask questions like "can a 18 year old be a member of the District
Committee and what can he do on the Committee?"
>IMHO it is the right of any Scouter to question the Council, etc., when
>he/she feels that these policies are not being adhered to and to insist that
>such be done. I know that in my Council, for instance, the professional
>staff is always willing to review policy with anyone having a question and to
>change its way of operation should it find itself operating contrary to
Count yourself VERY LUCKY.
Your Council, Mike, is the EXCEPTION and is NOT the general rule.
Part of the reason why Scouts-L has been the true friend of the
"common Scouter" is because we EXPLAIN here WHY the policy exist, WHY
the award can be only earned by Commissioners, WHY the rule exist that
District Committeemembers are 21 or older...the stuff that you and I
and perhaps a few other can easily sit down with our DE or other
professional and get the answers calmly and truthfully.
In MOST local Councils, the mere questioning of a volunteer about
anything that has to do with Council or National policy, with the way
the Council spends its monies, or with the appointment or "promotion"
of one volunteer as opposed to another...gets you a swift "asking
you to please leave", or statements like "I'll have to get back with
you, Mike..." or a statement like "I'm sorry. This is something that
you have no business knowing. I would trust that the issue don't come
up again with me." (in some locations, there's more harsher words that
I don't use here in response).
If you would look back into our archives, Mike, you will see lots of
tearful and angry letters that go down those lines.....and our
collective (and differing) answers to those questions, which gave
those Scouters "ammo" to return to their local Council and say "You
CAN give me that information, because your charter says you must!" or
something like it....and you know what they're holding in their hands?
Reams of paper, from Scouts-l.
Settummanque!@beaming with pride over this list and the people on it!
Settummanque, the blackeagle... (MAJ) Mike L. Walton (
co-Owner, Blackeagle Services ___)_
(h) 502-782-7992 (f) 502-781-7279 (w) 502-782-7467 |-=-|]
5350 Louisville Road, #52, Bowling Green, KY 42101-7211 -=====-
Internet: WALTOML@WKUVX1.WKU.EDU/America OnLine: KYBLKEAGLE@AOL.COM
Windoze Wobbles?? We use GeoPublish (shareware) & Ensemble (commercial)!
Fast & easy & *full* GUI. Try it! ftp://22.214.171.124/pub/geos/publish
Blackeagle Services is NOT affiliated with & does not speak for Western
Kentucky University but is the home to Leaders Online! Ask us about it!
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City