Surrender Like a Boy Scout

scoutingThere has been much written about the Boy Scouts of America’s recent acceptance of openly homosexual scout masters. The organization has been raked over the coals by the right and accused of offering only a half-measure by the left. But few appreciate what the BSA has actually done — and the BSA has no idea what it has done to itself.

Scouting has never been just about tying knots and learning survival skills, but about instilling virtue and building character. And part of having character means standing up for what you believe is right.

Insofar as this goes, no boy will find the “reformed” BSA organization a good role model.

Whether or not you agree with the BSA’s recent policy change, this is indisputable. Note that when BSA president (and ex-defense secretary) Robert Gates defended the decision, he spoke of how the ban on homosexual adults was “unsustainable,” said that he had “fear” it would mean the BSA’s demise, and spoke about how one couldn’t ignore the changing legal landscape and culture (we can only imagine what kinds of policies he’d have felt compelled to adopt in 1936 Germany or the 1925 USSR). There wasn’t even a pretense at a moral argument. “Instead, he argues from organizational self-interest — never mind if it is right or wrong…. Duty to God and country? To heck with that — management always has its own priorities,” as National Review put it in a scathing editorial.

Of course, it isn’t hard to figure out that, much like the leper character in Braveheart, Gates is a perhaps proud compromiser; he wants to mollify the sexual fascists while tacitly saying to traditionalists, “I don’t want to do it, you see; we have to — to survive.” Well, there’s a new scout survival skill for you. Perhaps now they’ll have courses in political expediency and realpolitik and merit badges in waving white flags and lying prostrate.

It’s not that Gates is wrong about the culture’s trajectory, the legal challenges or what they portend for the BSA. But the organization was being sued six ways to Sunday 15 years ago and bravely held the line. What’s different today? Sure, the wider culture has degraded further — but so has the BSA’s internal culture.

Lost in this whole debate is that allowing openly homosexual BSA leaders is not movement toward equality — that notion is marketing — but away from it.

After all, there have always been homosexual scout leaders, just as there have been those who were adulterers or fornicators. But they generally “kept up appearances,” which, while paling in comparison to actual virtue, is the next best thing. But while the last two groups are still presumably expected to keep it in the closet, the group that always feels compelled to wear its sexuality on its shirtsleeve will be out and “proud” in the bush.

And, really, it wouldn’t even matter now if adulterers and fornicators followed suit. It is certainly true that being “morally straight” (part of the BSA oath) involves more than just sexuality; it is also true that sexuality is an integral part of it. And, obviously, the BSA’s sexuality model was always Christendom’s traditional one: sexuality is to be confined to a married couple (man and woman, by definition), period. Some will now protest, saying that the BSA never dealt with sexuality at all. No, not explicitly, but it isn’t only what’s mentioned explicitly that matters. There’s no such thing as a value-neutral environment. “Values are caught more than they’re taught,” and it is what is assumed that is learned best. If an “out” adulterer, fornicator or homosexual is a scout leader, he’s teaching the legitimacy of the behavior in question in the most powerful way possible: by living it — as someone who is a role model. Moreover, that the BSA allows him to “serve openly” relates a message of organizational acceptance.

So the issue here is the validating of homosexuality in young boys’ minds? Actually, it’s worse than that. Question, how effective is the following message: adultery is a sin, fornication is a sin, polygamy is a sin, but homosexuality? That’s just a lifestyle choice, junior, sorta’ like living on a houseboat.

It’s a what’s-wrong-with-this-picture scenario the dullest student could figure out in a second. Once Scout Master Ken can arrive in camp all joyous and gay talking about the new knot — the one he fancies he’s tied with his “significant other” Lloyd — it’s clear that basically anything goes sexually. Hey, if he can indulge his passions, why can’t I indulge mine? In other words, the acceptance of homosexuality means the complete collapse of the traditional sexual model.

What does this mean for being “morally straight” in general? C.S. Lewis once noted (I’m paraphrasing), “Sex is not messed up because it was put in the closet; it was put in the closet because it was messed up.” And opening that stuffed closet messes everything else up. Similar to how you can’t compartmentalize accepted homosexuality and keep the traditionalist sexual model intact, it’s essentially impossible to compartmentalize widespread sexual vice and keep general virtue intact. It’s as how cancer metastasizing unfettered cannot be kept confined to one organ: vice corrupts the heart, weakens the mind, clouds judgment and creates desire for the justification of relativism (e.g., who’s to say what right and wrong is, anyway? Don’t impose your “values” on me!). This leads to more vice. This is not to say, lest I be misunderstood, that a sexually corrupt people can’t have its virtues. It is to say they can’t be virtuous.

And that is the issue. None of this would be happening if the BSA’s leadership, reflecting moderns in general, weren’t lacking in virtue themselves and hadn’t descended into vice-enabling relativism. Even years ago I fully expected their surrender because I understood that, as Lewis also said, you cannot “make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise.” Robert Gates and most of the rest of the BSA leadership are men without chests; they have no heart for the fight because they have no principles, and they have no principles because they started believing not in principles but provisional values.

As far as the BSA’s mandate of creating boys with chests, the organization long had to fight the corruptive wider culture. But now it has collapsed, completely and likely irrevocably, its own internal culture. And for what? A slight reprieve? A stay of execution? Gates has said he didn’t foresee the rapid cultural changes (a tipping point, really) of the last several years. What he also doesn’t see is that he has merely “traded the Sudetenland for peace in our time.” And he will learn that this peace is fleeting with people whose “truth” changes with time, people who tolerate no dissent, honor no compromise and take no prisoners.

The BSA decided that it profited the organization to lose its soul so it could gain the world. Its punishment will be, I suspect, that it will end up without either.

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RELATED ARTICLE: Directive Urges English Teachers to Push Students to Question Their Gender

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts prepare to lead marchers while waving rainbow-colored flags at the 41st annual Pride Parade on June 28 in Seattle, two days after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide. Photo by Elaine Thompson — The Associated Press

You Can’t Have One without the Other

A May 5, 2015 article in Scouting Magazine by Bryan Wendell, a senior editor for Boys’ Life, Scouting, and Eagles’ Call magazines, reminded Boy Scout leaders across the country that page 99 of the 2015 Boy Scout Handbook prohibits the use of toys such as water guns and Super Soakers in friendly water games.  According to Wendell’s blog posting, “It’s a good time to remind you that BSA (Boy Scouts of America) policies prohibit pointing simulated firearms at people.  Yes, that includes water guns.”

Wendell also reminded local scout leaders of restrictions contained on page 100 of the Boy Scout Handbook, cautioning that, in order to prevent serious injury during water balloon fights, scouts should use “small, biodegradable balloons,” and that balloons should be filled “no larger than a ping pong ball.”  No larger than a ping-pong ball?

When contacted by reporters, BSA spokesman Deron Smith confirmed that these policies have been on the books for quite some time, and that the Wendell blog posting was simply a reminder of longstanding safety rules.  He said, “Water guns and rubber band guns must only be used to shoot at targets, and eye protection must be worn.”

When asked why the rule was being highlighted, Smith replied that a scout leader had once told him that, “A scout is kind.  What part of pointing a firearm (simulated or otherwise) at someone is kind?”

After interviewing Smith, Todd Starnes, host of Fox News & Commentary, commented, “I’m assuming that also means kids won’t be able to cool off by running through semi-automatic sprinklers.  Don’t be surprised if the BSA bans campfires and replaces them with simulated flames on portable smartphones.  Can’t risk the kids burning their marshmallows.”

All of this was followed by a May 21, 2015 speech by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the BSA Annual Convention in Atlanta.  As the recently elected president of the BSA, Gates urged the organization to reverse its longtime ban on homosexual scoutmasters, warning that “court challenges to the ban would be inevitable, costly, and ultimately lead to the collapse of the organization.”

One wonders whether Gates might have left the Pentagon in July 2011 with a copy of Barack Obama’s Iraq and Afghanistan Rules of Engagement in his pocket and simply read the wrong speech to the assembled scouts. The proposal to reverse the ban on homosexual scoutmasters comes on the heels of a historic policy change of May 23, 2013, when the BSA voted to lift the ban on gay scouts.  Fearing unforeseen financial consequences, the BSA voted to reverse its 103 year policy banning homosexuals from the organization, while postponing any decision on the issue of gay scout leaders.

The news that the Boy Scouts may soon reverse their ban on gay scoutmasters caught the eye of conservative talk radio icon, Barry Farber, host of The Barry Farber Show in New York.

In a June 9 column for WorldNetDaily, titled, What if ‘Gay Scoutmaster’ Story is Sick Joke? Farber expressed his outrage.  He said, “There’s only one way to let you know how the likely arrival of gay scoutmasters sits with me.  It may seem over-twisted to you, but don’t forget, I’m the world’s foremost authority on how things sit with me!”

To illustrate his befuddlement, Farber said, “Remember Alan Funt’s laugh-laden TV show Candid Camera?  Elaborate practical jokes were played on unsuspecting people while concealed cameras were rolling.  Innocent people were thrust into preposterous situations, and after their confusion and consternation were milked dry, the mask would come off and the announcer would proclaim, ‘Smile!  You’re on Candid Camera!’

“Now gay scoutmasters are coming!  Part of me semi-seriously suspects that all this talk of gay scoutmasters is fake, a practical joke by major media and major politicians to target me and mess up my head.  I imagine a secret conclave in a back room.  The ringleader calls for order.  ‘Let’s have some fun,’ he begins.  ‘Barry Farber is a conservative talk-host and columnist who believes in virtues and values and stuff.  We’re gonna pretend the Boy Scouts decided to lift the ban on gay scoutmasters.  Boy Scout President Bob Gates has agreed to go along with the gag, and as former head of the CIA and secretary of defense, he knows how to keep a secret and put on a good act.  Gates will put out a statement like, ‘We must live in this world as it is and not as we wish it to be, and, given society’s mounting opposition, we can no longer sustain banning overtly homosexual men from serving as scoutmasters.’

“Farber will bite the bait and get sucked all the way up the exhaust pipe and take it all seriously and stutter and sputter his way through one of his right-wing rages.  We’ll have some good, clean fun when Farber learns it was all an absurd gag and he was tee-totally stupid enough to fall for it!  Learn your roles in the hoax, everybody.  We’ll roll it out in spring of 2015.’ ”

Farber confesses, “I’d volunteer to undergo the most stinging humiliation possible if ‘gay scoutmasters’ really were a gag.  I remember full well how utterly fascinated we Boy Scouts – age 12 to 15 – were about everything having anything to do with sex.  This lifting of the ban against overtly gay men serving as scoutmasters is the one news story most deserving of being a sick joke and not a breathtaking transmogrification of the rulebook…

“Is Bob Gates seriously asking us to believe there are hordes of American parents right now stomping and screaming, ‘We won’t tolerate this mindless bigotry against gay scoutmasters.  Admit them immediately or we’ll withdraw our sons from Scouting!’  I don’t think so.  What strikes me as unsustainable is maintaining sexual distance between boys aflame with experimentation lust and gay scoutmasters challenged beyond comprehension by the temptations brought on by this incredible surrender.”

Farber concludes, “Political correctness has a brother, older, wiser and stronger.  His name is Common Sense.  That brother is now pleading to be heard and heeded.  Historian-philosopher Will Durant gave us an excellent battle cry that goes, ‘When liberty destroys order, the hunger for order will destroy liberty.’   As a suggested corollary, we might also assume, ‘When political correctness destroys common sense, the hunger for common sense will destroy political correctness.’  I hope so.  Too many innocent lives stand to be affected and afflicted.

“In my view this cave-in by the Boy Scouts does not make big trouble possible.  It makes big trouble inevitable.  And I wish the gay-agendacrats could understand that zero animosity toward gays attends this outcry.”

I tend to believe that Barry’s onto something and I’m sure he speaks for the vast majority of parents with sons of scouting age.  The gay scoutmaster thing has got to be a classic “Smile!  You’re on Candid Camera!” gag.  After all, if it is now national policy of the Boy Scouts to allow gay men to be scoutmasters, surely the Girl Scouts would have announced by now that they’re going to allow adult male heterosexuals to be troop leaders… taking our pubescent 12 and 13-year-old daughters and granddaughters off into the woods for weekend camping trips, and all with the blessing of the New York Times, The Washington Post, and every liberal politician within shouting distance of a microphone or a TV camera.

As I read Barry’s heartfelt rant, I couldn’t help but think of the 1955 song, “Love and Marriage” by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, a song first introduced by Frank Sinatra in the 1955 TV production of Thornton Wilder‘s Our TownThe first stanza tells us:      

Love and marriage, love and marriage,
Go together like a horse and carriage.
This I tell you brother,
You can’t have one without the other.

In other words, if parents of 12 and 13-year-old boys are going to be faced with the dilemma of whether or not to allow their sons to go off on weekend camping and canoeing trips with openly gay scoutmasters, then how long will it be before we are called upon to wrestle with the same dilemma where our daughters and granddaughters are concerned?  Or are we to assume that, while the sexual abuse laws are written to be gender neutral, parents should be willing to put their sons in harm’s way, but not their daughters?

That’s what convinces me that the gay scoutmaster thing is just another liberal gag.  Will liberal orthodoxy dictate that we discriminate between boys and girls, as we do in nearly all sex-related matters, or, in the interest of “fairness,” will they insist that, just like love and marriage, “You can’t have one without the other?”

In the meantime, Mr. Gates need not worry about the demise of the Boy Scouts of America.  When we’ve become so politically correct that 12-year-old boys are prohibited from squirting each other with water guns and Super Soakers, and when they are prohibited from hitting each other with water balloons larger than ping-pong balls, the end has already arrived and the Boy Scouts of America have become the Boy Wooses of America.

What is needed is for parents to regain control of the Boy Scouts, telling Mr. Gates, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Wendell to do what all good scouts should do: “Take a hike!”