Re: Jewelry in uniform
Russ Jones (CSRTJ@TTUHSC.EDU)
Tue, 30 Sep 1997 01:26:49 -0500
A few points in rebuttal to some of the arguments made in favor of allowing
the boys to wear earrings, etc., if they want to:
The principle of a "boy-run program" is not an unlimited license for the
boys to do any- and everything they want. Ownership of the unit does not
rest with the Scouts; ownership rests with the chartered organization, which
operates the unit through a committee that serves at the pleasure of the
chartered organization. That committee is obligated to insure that the unit
operates not only in accordance with the rules and regulations of the BSA,
but also in accordance with the preferences of the chartered organization.
The issue of whether or not Scouts should be permitted to wear earrings
and/or other jewelry in uniform has absolutely nothing to do with program;
but even if it did, it is well within the purview of the committee to place
limits on the boys' latitude. The fact that a Scout's parents may permit
him to wear such jewelry is moot, as well; the chartered organization owns
the unit, not the Scout's parents, and in the absence of any BSA policy
stating that Scouts may wear earrings with the uniform, the committee is
well within its jurisdiction in banning them.
The argument that if one bans earrings on boys, then one should also ban
wristwatches, wedding rings, eyeglasses, and the like ignores one very basic
distinction: wristwatches, eyeglasses, neckerchief slides, tie tacks, cuff
links, etc. exist primarily to serve a utilitarian function and only
incidently serve a decorative purpose, whereas earrings and other
body-piercing jewelry have no discernible function except as decoration.
Wedding rings and religious medallions exist primarily to provide evidence
of spiritual relationships; Wood Badge beads, Den Chief cords, and other
Scouting-related "add-ons" symbolize achievements in Scouting. No such
qualities can be attributed to the jewelry in question.
The wearing by females of earrings and other articles of purely decorative
jewelry, as well as lipstick and other forms of make-up, is an expression of
femininity with a long history of cultural acceptance, even expectation.
Although increasingly pervasive in some parts of the country and among the
people in certain circles, the wearing of what are traditionally feminine
accoutrements by males is still a very long way from being anything more
than the fad of the moment.
Like it or not, tattoos and body-piercing are generally regarded by a
majority of our society as cheap, tawdry, and trashy, the practices of
thugs, hoodlums, harlots, and gang members. What they connote is
antithetical to the traditional, hard-earned image of Boy Scouts as
clean-cut, upright, respectful, all-American, boy-next-door,
the-kind-you'd-want-your-daughter-to-marry young men.
As someone has pointed out, part of the reason youth adopt what the older
generation considers extremes in dress and behavior is to demand attention
and obtain reactions from adults. It is at once both an expression of
rebellion and independence as well as an attempt to "fit in," a very telling
symptom of all the confusion that is adolescence. Many who study the
behavior of children will tell you that kids of all ages actively seek to
learn what their limits are; they constantly "push the envelope" as a means
of defining their world and their place in it. If one behavior fails to
elicit the desired response--if adults do not "draw the line" over earrings,
for example--it should not be unexpected if the kids resort to more drastic
measures to obtain the reaction they seek. If earrings don't make the old
man go ballistic, then maybe purple hair and green nail polish and a stud
through the tongue will.
There are exceptions, to be sure; but by-and-large the backwards ball cap,
the earring, the baggy clothes, and the untied Nikes usually seem to be
accompanied by a generally disrespectful attitude toward adults in general
and parents, teachers, and other authority figures in particular; a disdain
for productive pursuits; and an unwarranted admiration for those of their
peers whose parents allow them to cruise the mall unaccompanied whenever and
for however long they want to.
Kids will adopt the current fads and emulate those who they view as "cool"
as much as they are allowed to. Perhaps the best that we can hope to do as
parents and Scouters is to use discussions of these behaviors as a framework
within which to teach that what is popular is not always what is right or
good; that the approval of the "in" crowd is, at best, fleeting; that being
a nonconformist is, in reality, conforming to a different and usually less
respectable standard; that what one covets says less about the worth of what
is coveted than it does about the person who covets it; and that the values
of trustworthiness, loyalty, helpfulness, friendliness, courtesy, kindness,
obedience, cheerfulness, thriftiness, bravery, cleanliness, and reverence,
unlike fads, never go out of style.
Yours in Scouting,
Russ Jones <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Scoutmaster, Troop 575
South Plains Council, Lubbock, Texas
Eagle Scout, class of 1965
"I used to be a fox..." SC-295
"I used to be a staffer..." SC-430, SR-110, SR-206
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City