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 Town. The 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!”