Thursday, July 19, 2012

Choosing Your Bigotry

About a hundred years ago, the first all black Boy Scout troop was implemented in New Jersey. While the subsequent decades saw integration in the Scouts in the Northern states, it was almost 50 years before an integrated troop could be found in the Deep South. Racism was a tough nut to crack. Many scout events or jamborees would be broken up, sometimes violently, by the Ku Klux Klan if they so much as sympathized with the idea of black scouts. Black Americans of the day were seen as morally inferior, with many people looking to the Bible to support the righteousness of that position.

That was how it was. That was common thinking of the times. At the time, many could not even conceive of a day when it would be wrong to treat a segment of our society in such a way. Fast forward to today, and that time has come. It would be unthinkable for the Boy Scouts to treat a black scout or troop leader in such a way. Speaking purely hypothetically, if the Boy Scouts of America were to go back to the days of separate troops and the view that African American kids were less in the eyes of God, they would certainly be vilified, demonized and denounced far and wide.

They certainly would not have unfettered access to use taxpayer funded buildings for their meetings.

Today, however, the Boy Scouts of America discriminate in the new fashion. It’s very much like the old-fashioned racism - based on a belief system that doesn’t hold up to scientific scrutiny, and wholly based on a cherry-picked line from the Bible. The Boy Scouts of America will not allow a gay person or someone who identifies themselves as a practicing homosexual to be a troop leader or have any position in the organization.

And, thanks to Former President George W. Bush, and his inclusion of this organization by name, in the No Child Left Behind Act, they have the right to have fair access to any school building that receives federal education funding.

After announcing that they would discuss it, the Boy Scouts of America decided to mull over the idea of whether they should continue to openly and actively discriminate against a portion of our society.
Their conclusion: yeah, we will.

From the BSA website:
“The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their rights to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers, and at the appropriate time and in the right setting,” explained Bob Mazzuca, the Boy Scouts chief executive, in a prepared announcement about the decision.

Let’s forget for a moment that there is not a single shred of credible evidence that indicates that a homosexual is any more a danger to a child than a heterosexual. Push aside for a moment that lesbians are denied access to Scouting leadership roles when their children participate, (so the idea of sexual predators being the issue kinda gets muddied here). Let’s table for a moment the implication that a gay person just being themselves would be enough to automatically spark a conversation about an inappropriate topic at an inappropriate time, (as opposed to, say , being a parent and doing your job, which is to prepare your children for the actual world they live in). Let’s look at the real reason this discrimination is allowed to continue without angry mobs forming, as they would if the discrimination of a century ago were to reemerge.

The Boy Scouts of America have an oath which maintains that its members be morally straight. And, as a private organization, they have the right to exclude whomever they see fit. Homosexuals, atheists and anyone else that doesn’t fit into their Christian ideal are removed.

I agree.

I agree that as a private organization, they have this right. I agree that they have the right, just like the people at Chik-Fil-A or the asshats boycotting Oreos or anyone else, to state their case and be heard.

I DO NOT agree, however, that they should be subsidized with my tax dollars. I DO NOT agree that they should be able to use school buildings maintained with my tax dollars.

I don’t have to eat at Chik-Fil-A if I don’t want to do so. I can buy Oreos or not as I see fit. But, I have no control over the federal government tacitly approving of an organization that openly and actively discriminates against a segment of our society based on a concept in the Bible.

For those who haven’t read Leviticus, here it is:
Leviticus, Chapter 18: 22: Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
But, there are a lot of things prohibited in Leviticus, like tattoos. In the very next chapter.
Leviticus, Chapter 19: 28: Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.
So, scout leaders, be warned, they may come for you if you have tats next.
But, perhaps my favorite line in Leviticus, among many gems, is this: Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country.

That means everyone should be treated equally. One sin is as grievous as another. So, people with tattoos, people that mix wool and cotton and people that find love in the arms of another person who happens to have the same genitalia should all be killed in service to the Lord.

But they won’t advocate such a course. No one in their right mind would. That would be ridiculous. Not as ridiculous as picking one line out of hundreds and using it as a club to deny basic rights to a segment of our society, but utterly bat-shit crazy nonetheless.

The worst part, though, the part of this story that really pisses me off? The local Boy Scout troop IS NOT the national organization. Sure, there are zealots wherever you go, and I’m sure you can find those willing to sacrifice common sense to a force-fed ideology, but in general, they are just people. People who want their kids to have the basic understanding of civic duty, personal pride and to be able to tie a decent knot. The local troop leader in your town isn’t necessarily carrying the banner of the national organization, actively shitting on the rights of others. I even have to think that the former President who signed this bill thought he was doing a good thing for the right reasons.

But the group that they have affiliated themselves with, the group that they thought was above reproach because of their time-honored, All-American status, has come out on the wrong side of this issue. Make no mistake. The National Organization that makes these choices for the Boy Scouts of America are wrong. They are wrongly discriminating against Gays and Lesbians and they are assholes for doing so. In a hundred years, it will be unthinkable for an organization that receives any kind of public awareness to openly and actively discriminate against people. They will look upon this chapter of their history as an unfortunate blemish among many fine and not-so-fine deeds. And the people that support them in their position today will all be dead.

But, while we’re all still here, let me sum up, lest you cast aspersions unwarranted:

I don’t think my local Boy Scout troop is evil. I do, in fact, think they have a unique place in the annals of American history and continue to do good works as they see them.
I think private organizations should be allowed to create whatever rules they want for the governance of their own members as long as it doesn’t harm people.
I don’t think any group that openly and actively discriminates against a segment of our society should be approved, either expressly or tacitly, by my government.
I don’t think any group that openly and actively discriminates against a segment of our society should be allowed use of any building supported by my tax dollars.

I firmly support your ability and right to disagree with me on this, or any topic. If you must, do so respectfully. Just because we don’t see eye to eye doesn’t mean you have to be a tool about it. Thanks!