Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Then They Came for the Scouts*

Have you heard this story yet? A Boy Scout troop in Ohio lost their den mother because she was a lesbian. Why? Because she was predatory? No. Doing bad things? No. A hint of complaint or controversy? No. The Boy Scouts of America maintains that as a private organization it has the right to exclude gays and atheists from its ranks. Upheld by the Supreme Court, they have maintained that position since their beginning. So they were obligated, out of consistency, to ask Jennifer Tyrrell to resign from her post.

This, of course, won't fly. Tyrrell isn't sure if it's because she's gay or because she raised questions about finances. Neither is a suitable reason for her. Several parents from the group have complained. They want her back. Many knew about her orientation and they didn't care. They're worried about their children. "They're asking questions they shouldn't have to ask at this point." "I teach my children to judge people on their actions, whether you agree with their lifestyle or not." Gay rights groups are petitioning the Scouts to change their policy. "This just won't do at all!"

I have no reason to question Jennifer Tyrrell's ability as a Scout leader. I have no reason to worry about her "infecting the kids" or any such thing. And certainly "gay rights groups" can petition the Scouts to change their policy. These are not my concerns. My concern is the precedent. Do the Scouts, as a private organization, have the right to maintain their own standards? If not, who else does not? How far is it from "The Scouts must not be allowed to hold their position on this subject" to "The Church must not be allowed to hold their position on this subject"? We've already seen Christians sued (and lost) for this kind of thing. When does the public and the State get to decide the standards and beliefs of a private organization, and when does the public and the State get to decide the standards and beliefs of the Church? They don't seem very far apart.

As a footnote, I'm interested in the similarities between the concerns of these parents and the concerns of illegal immigration protesters, brought to light recently in Arizona's SB1070 in front of the Supreme Court. The outcry in the latter is against "immigration policy", racism, and anti-immigration. This completely misses the point. SB1070 is an immigration enforcement law requiring law enforcement officials to enforce federal law, not establish policy. Immigration policy says you must have the proper documentation and permission to reside in this country. When people don't meet that requirement, they are violating the law. It isn't "immigration policy" or racism or even "anti-immigration" to enforce the law. In the case of the former, it's the same. There is as rule. Tyrrell violated that rule. The Scouts enforced the rule. "Oh, my, what do I tell my kids??!!" How about this? Tell them to follow the rules. Tell them that their Scout leader violated the rules and was required to stop violating the rules. This isn't homophobia or a determination of the morality of homosexuality. It's a question of rules. There is a rule. It was violated. Violating rules has consequences. If those kind of lessons are too tough for this Scout troop -- if these are "questions they shouldn't have to ask at this point" -- I don't know what is. Do we follow rules, or do we violate them? What happens when we violate rules? These are the questions kids that age should be facing.
*Some may not get the reference to "Then they came for the Scouts ..." It's a reference to a famous quote from a German pastor on the inactivity of Germans over the Nazi atrocities:
First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.


Stan said...

Lest anyone be confused, I am not comparing the assault on the Boy Scouts with Nazi atrocities. The title of the piece was just pointing out that if you do nothing, eventually there will be no hope for you.

Anonymous said...

A lot of nonbelievers are way over on the politically correct far Left. I am a nonbeliever, but I am not an extreme Leftist. I agree with Stan that if an organization is truly PRIVATE, it should be allowed to exclude people for just about any reason. (The Boy Scouts exclude people who are born with a XX 23rd chromosome pair, and I would laugh at any P.C. type who wanted to prevent them from doing so.)

There was a time when you would see exclusionary covenants for private property. “This property will not be sold to __________” where the blank might be filled with “non whites” or “non Gentiles” or what have you. Title reports that I have looked at typically have a paragraph negating any exclusionary covenants for the subject property, so I imagine there have been laws passed against such things. I myself would never choose (if it were legal) to write up an exclusion of any type of people for the purchase of my own property, but I can see why someone could complain that the government has no business prohibiting what an individual can do with privately owned land. (On the other hand, I could see someone arguing that “all men are created equal” is the Constitution’s way of allowing government to prohibit such things.)

There seems to be selective outrage in this P.C. nation of ours. A country club that prohibits Jews would come under fire. But I recently read one of Ann Rule’s true crime books that mentioned a Hispanics-only country club in San Antonio. Somehow I doubt any Leftists raise a fuss about that!

And there is indeed an irony in the Obama administration decrying Arizona for wanting to enforce federal immigration law.

Marshall Art said...

This speaks to the real fear that "rights" for homosexuals will trump actual rights already recognized by the US Constitution. This fear is well-founded considering proponents of the agenda that doesn't exist have stated it must happen.

Secondly, the quote

"I teach my children to judge people on their actions, whether you agree with their lifestyle or not." nonsensical considering one's lifestyle IS one's actions.

Stan said...

Yes, I was baffled by the "judge their actions, not their lifestyle" quote. What is lifestyle but the sum of actions? And since when did lifestyle not have a moral component?