scouts-l Mail Archive for July of 2000: Philosophy 101 - Part 2
Anthony Mako (ajmako@NLS.NET
Sat Jul 22 2000 - 22:08:32 CDT
<Rick Seymour wrote>
In the United States we are limited to ONE Scouting organization for boys.
Big Government decides who has the exclusive right to dictate what Scouts
are to believe, as well as who may be a Scout, and who may be excluded from
Scouting because of their beliefs or their lack of belief.
Sorry, if Big Government decided what the BSA could believe the organization
would be considerable different than it is today. Different, and much less
popular. In case you haven't heard, the BSA is a private membership
organization guaranteed the right, under the constitution of the USA, to
choose its member and leaders based on whatever criteria it chooses. The
government doesn't have the right to dictate who can be a Scout or Scout
leader. The government doesn't have the right to dictate who can be a
Catholic or a Priest. It doesn't have the right to dictate who can be a
member or leaders of ANY private organization.
The Boy Scouts of America is NOT an arm of the government. It is NOT a
public agency. It does NOT receive funding from any government. So where did
everyone get the idea there was a constitutional RIGHT to be a Boy Scout?
>From a society that puts forth the belief that excluding ANYONE from an
organization is discrimination. From a society that decrees that anyone who
doesn't agree with their values is undeserving of consideration.
<Rick Seymor continued>
Pseudo-conservatives take great pleasure in reminding us that Baden-Powell
did not start Scouting in the United States, nor was he ever a member of the
BSA. This is certainly true! If you read the first edition of the
Scoutmaster's Handbook, you will see that BSA Scouting was NOT founded on
the Patrol Method (also known as "the ONLY Method") and was outright hostile
to the idea of a Boy-Lead Troop.
The same could essentially be said about Scouting in almost every other
country. BP didn't create Scouting in other countries. Like-minded
individuals from other countries adapted Scouting to fit not only their
culture, but their own ideals as well. The BSA is just as much "Scouting" as
Scout organizations all over the world. The Scouting organization in the UK
founded by Baden-Powell didn't dictate how organizations in other countries
should be organized.
In the USA, BP's ideas were combined with already existing youth
organizations founded by Earnest Thompson Seton, and Daniel Carter Beard.
Those organizations laid the foundation upon which the BSA was built.
Similarly, BP believed that an organization for girls based on his Scouting
model should be distinguished from Scouting by name. That belief was ignored
in the US. Does that mean GSUSA wasn't inspired by BP? Or it wasn't built on
Ultimately, all Scouting organizations share certain common goals and
beliefs. Regardless of how closely they follow the original concepts BP laid
down, the core elements of what Scouting is remain. That is, building
character, fostering citizenship, developing fitness.
<Rick Seymor continued>
In addition, terms which alienate many Unitarian children such as "Morally
Straight" and "Reverent" were imposed upon Scouting in the United States by
the BSA. These controversial terms were never a part of Baden-Powell's
Scout Oath or Scout Law.
It will be very difficult to convince me that "morally straight" is a bad
thing. It doesn't matter that these concepts were never part of BP's
original concept. They have ALWAYS BEEN a part of the BSA's Oath and Law.
They have ALWAYS BEEN part of the definition of Scouting in the US. I cannot
agree that they are controversial terms. Personally, I wouldn't want to
associate with a group that changes its values whenever someone disagrees
with them. I also wouldn't want to associate with a group that believes
every other group must change their beliefs to conform with mine. If the
UUA, or any other group, doesn't like what the BSA stands for, they don't
have to associate with us. They do NOT have the right to dictate what the
BSA should stand for.
<Rick Seymor continued>
The media in this country have it all wrong. Repeal of the Charter is a
conservative issue. True conservatives don't need Big Government to defend
their values in a free marketplace of ideas. True conservatives don't need
Big Government to pick the winners and the losers in the Game of Scouting!
The problem here is that what passes for a "free marketplace of ideas" is
considerably restrictive of certain attitudes. Media coverage of the latest
developments in Scouting has been mostly one sided. Supporters of Scouting's
values are portrayed as bigots, constantly interrupted, or personally
attacked. When a supporter simply states "the BSA has a right to its own
beliefs" is countered with "you're all homophobes bent on denying the rights
of people you don't like!" Those who agree with the Supreme Court decision
are demonized in the media as "anti-gay" or "anti-civil rights." Those who
disagree with the Supreme Court are congratulated for proposing that even
private individual beliefs should not be protected by the government.
True conservatives don't need Big Government to do anything EXCEPT defend
their rights! It should, however, be society itself which defends those
rights. When society refuses, though, government must step in. It should be
remembered that the BSA didn't start the battle. It wasn't the BSA who first
cried to the government for relief. Only when the government ignored one
group's rights in support of the non-existent rights of another group, did
the BSA petition the government. In the end, however much certain people
can't stand it, a victory for the BSA ends up being a victory for EVERYONE.
A. J. Mako, Scoutmaster, firstname.lastname@example.org
Old Portage District, Great Trail Council