Scouts-L Mail Archive for April of 1999: Ethical Controversies
Thu, 22 Apr 1999 08:52:29 -0500
Regarding the "3 G's", Free Speech, etc., the BSA has
developed a GREAT PROGRAM: "Ethical Controversies"!
A version of what is now labelled "Ethical Controversies"
has been a vital part of our Sea Scout Squadron's program
for decades. Now, it is part of the requirements for the
Venturing Silver Award. For many years, we even had a
weekly home-style version of "Firing Line" at the
chartering organization of SSS HATHOR (1). (Sadly, my
friend from the "opposite political pole" moved out of
The best way to fail to make one's point (read "lose" the
argument) has always been to fail to study the underlying
literature on the subject. Regarding Constitutional
Issues, there is no excuse because the material is
readily available. Silly and emotional misinterpretations
of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights can be quickly
cured by a short period of study.
Important points that become evident to the Scouts after
studying the ORIGINAL documents and the ACTUAL papers of
the framers are the following:
(1), Most people have either not read the material OR they
have read someone's INTERPRETATION of the documents
(2), At the beginning of there exposure to our weekly
"Ethical Controversies" Nearly one hundred percent of
the Scouts do not know that the rights enumerated in
the Bill of Rights were considered by many of the
Framers to have been guaranteed by the Constitution
so they argued that the Bill of Rights was redundant;
(3), "Incorporation" in the matter of the Bill of Rights
is a concept NOT grasped at first by the Scouts;
(4), The Scouts' ideas of the Bill of Rights have been
formed from the media, advocacy group ads and their
invariably poorly researched text books;
(5), Our Scouts generally become fascinated with the
subject and become mini researchers who develop an
incredibly mature understanding of the subject; and
(6), Our Scouts, having carefully researched the subjects
under discussion, are almost universally dismayed
that their peers and most of their elders and
respected authority figures have only a cursory
emotional opinion and little understanding of the
subject. The Scouts find that studying the original
proceedings, remarks of the framers and scholarly
articles is revelatory!
Regarding the ACLU, their Constitutional scholar,
Professor Sanford M. Levinson's Yale Law Review
article, "The Embarrassing Second Amendment" is a
must read for all. Each point he makes can be the
subject of an entire session of "Ethical
"SCOUTS, WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD!"
Our Sea Scouts and Boy Scouts LOVE the sessions. We
only enforce the Code of Civil Conduct. Except for our
version of "Firing Line", the adults do not take part in
I am always thrilled by the intelligence, curiosity
and maturity exhibited by our Scouts. IMHO, this is one
program "Where the BSA got it right".
"We are most likely to get angry and excited in our
opposition to some idea when we ourselves are not quite
certain of our own position, and are inwardly tempted to
take the other side."
"Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the
only one we have."
"If there is any principle of the Constitution that more
imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is
the principle of free thought -- not free thought for
those that agree with us but freedom for the thought
that we hate."
--Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
"Ethical Controversies", try it, you'll like it!
Yours In Sea Scouts;