Philly Scouting Out Solutions for Boy Scouts

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I spent 14 years of my life in a neckerchief and short-shorts. Yes, approximately once a week, beginning at the age of four, I put on a Cub Scout uniform and went to meetings. When I was in fifth grade I moved up to Boy Scouts. It was the nerdiest activity I ever engaged in, a source of embarrassment and it probably blocked my potential to have a girlfriend. Now, I defend it to the death.
In Philadelphia, a Boy Scout troop was given an ultimatum. Let homosexuals into their troop or begin paying $200,000 a year in rent. Until recently, the troop was charged one dollar a year in exchange for the use of a city-owned facility to hold its meetings. However, the local government views the Boy Scouts’ policy of barring openly gay individuals from participating in their group as discrimination. By charging the scouts minimal rent, they appear to be supporting this horrendous behavior.
Despite all of the embarrassment the Boy Scouts caused me, it became one of the greatest experiences of my life. I learned how to lead, work hard, cook, clean, backpack, start fires and follow a code of ethics. Personally, I do not think that anyone should be denied this experience and I hope that my beloved organization can get beyond its homophobia and allow for a more general admittance. In the meantime, people need to stop attacking the Boy Scouts.
Forcing the Boy Scouts to do anything by crippling its organization is not a noble tactic. The average Boy Scout is a fifth grade nerd who was forced into the group by his parents. They cannot shave, reach high objects or talk confidently to girls. The city of Philadelphia’s actions only hurt these children on their journey to adulthood. Does anyone who cursed the Boy Scouts feel like a big man now? The only people keeping homosexuals out of the Boy Scouts are the few adult volunteers running the show from offices hundreds of miles away from your typical troop member.
The second reason the city’s actions are deplorable is that they constitute what I call “PC thuggery.” This occurs when groups devoted to toleration, political correctness and acceptance believe they are better than others and therefore use bullying tactics to force people to change. It usually involves the powerful flexing of their muscles until weaker groups submit. However, you cannot change those who do not wish to change and force of any kind will only deepen divisions. I cannot argue that the Boy Scouts are not guilty of discrimination because they are clearly denying the entry of a specific group of people.
However, forcing groups to admit all applicants, even those they do not want, is a clear violation of the first amendment’s right to assembly. In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Boy Scouts’ right to ban gays due to the first amendment. Philadelphia is essentially trying to by-pass this ruling by using indirect strong-arm tactics to force an organization—independent from the government—to change its policies according to the city’s wishes.
My final point is to bring up a friend of mine I met at summer camp. His troop hailed from Berkeley. He told me that his troop’s meetings were recurrently picketed by protestors. Yet he was so happy to go camping because it was a chance for him to interact with his fellow scouts away from the yelling and the screaming. He illustrated the problem with bashing on the Boy Scouts until they caved. Why pick on a grunt when the brains of the operation are miles away? It only hurts the childhood of young boys without any power or influence.
We are all a tad racist, homophobic and sexist, even if we do not know it. It is a basic part of human nature and anyone who says they are not is playing you for a fool. The people who run the Boy Scouts are overly fearful of homosexuals and a majority of them are extremely religious (usually Catholic and Mormon). These groups will never let homosexuals into the Boy Scouts. The Catholic Church is still running on the “condoms are evil” philosophy, while many Mormons won’t even touch caffeine. I speak, of course, in generalizations, but the point is that the Boy Scouts are not run by the average scout, so why ruin their experience? Cities such as Philadelphia are only hurting the little guy and no good will come from their actions.

Kevin Pease is a fourth-year psychology and social behavior major. He can be reached at kpease@uci.edu.

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