Paul Glass: “Evan Wolfson seems to have his thinking muddled. I don’t believe the Boy Scouts case was about excluding African-American kids, etc. from membership. It was about a private organization being asked to keep someone in a leadership position who did not support the goals of that organization. Does Wolfson believe that anyone, regardless of beliefs, should be able to dictate to any private organization that they should be allowed to represent that organization? Should neo-nazis, pedophiles, etc. be allowed to represent that organization against its wishes? Get real, Evan, and get on with it. It is in the best interests of all that this decision came out the way it did. Thank heaven we have the freedom to associate with whom we wish, and not have it forced upon us.”
☞ Well, in the first place, James Dale very much did and does support the goals of the organization, unless one of those goals is to discriminate against gay people.
But the main thing is: Are you saying that gay eagle scouts as a group — just by virtue of their being gay — have something in common with pedophiles and neo-nazis?
Neo-nazis associate themselves with horrible bullying and murderous behavior. Pedophiles are prone to prey on innocent children.
What’s horrible about gay eagle scouts or their behavior?
No one would dispute that a gay eagle scout who molested a straight scout should be expelled immediately — any more than one would dispute that a straight male teacher who molested a female student should be discharged. But are straight male teachers as a class suspect and dangerous? Should they be fired because they might find some of their female students attractive?
Certain forms of behavior are clearly unacceptable. Cheating, lying, stealing, bullying, bigotry and sexual harassment spring immediately to mind. But honesty and love? These are not in and of themselves, in my view, grounds for any kind of alarm, let alone expulsion.
Still, the Court has spoken in reversing the decision of the New Jersey Court. They agreed with you, 5-4, that the Boy Scouts, being a semi-private group, should have the right to discriminate.
But what Evan Wolfson is saying, and a lot of folks are beginning to agree, is that while this discrimination is now legal, it is not necessarily laudable. And that so long as the Boy Scouts make it part of their mission to discriminate — and thus to make hundreds of thousands of kids feel inferior and unwanted and unworthy — the Scouts should be denied some of their special perks, such as having the President of the United States serve as their honorary leader, or being sponsored by public institutions.
I would defend Bob Jones University’s right to offend Catholics and African Americans, but I would not want my country’s leader honoring it with his presence, nor my United Way dollars going to support it.
All the Boy Scouts have to do to fix this is to follow the lead of the Girl Scouts — or of IBM or General Motors or hundreds of other semi-private entities — and adopt a policy of nondiscrimination.
And I believe they will, because I believe the Boy Scouts are, fundamentally, a very fine group that wants to do the right thing.
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Triumphant wife to down-and-out husband: I've consolidated all our bills into one missed payment.~Frank Cotham cartoon in the October 11, 1999, New Yorker
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