Secrecy in the Boy Scouts? Meh.


Here it comes. Yet another email from Change.org pleading the case of gays who want to completely rework the Boy Scouts of America, a private organization with private membership and private donors, operating completely under the protections of the First Amendment and a year 2000 court ruling upholding the same.

Oh, but the folks at Change.org don’t let a little thing like court rulings on Constitutionality bother them (unless it’s not working for their side).

Ok, Change.org-ies, let’s spell it out nice and clear. Starting with a layman’s common understanding as is found on Wikipedia.

Although it is not explicitly protected in the First Amendment, the Supreme Court ruled, in NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449 (1958), freedom of association to be a fundamental right protected by it. In Roberts v. United States Jaycees, 468 U.S. 609 (1984), the Supreme Court held that associations may not exclude people for reasons unrelated to the group’s expression. However, in Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston, 515 U.S. 557 (1995), the Court ruled that a group may exclude people from membership if their presence would affect the group’s ability to advocate a particular point of view. Likewise, in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, 530 U.S. 640 (2000), the Supreme Court ruled that a New Jersey law, which forced the Boy Scouts of America to admit an openly gay member, to be an unconstitutional abridgment of the Boy Scouts’ right to free association.

Still not clear?

The point of view we advocate is, in part, moral straightness. The foundation of the Boy Scout movement is firmly established on a 1910 understanding of morality, which arguably eschewed homosexuality as a qualified behavior under the banner of moral straightness.

“Well,” you say, “these are modern times. It’s not 1910 anymore. Things have changed, and we must change with them. Let us be more Progressive in our ideals of what makes up morality!”

That is your opinion. The First Amendment protects your view just as much as it does ours. The courts, as noted above, have already made this plain.

Here’s the problem. Implied in that statement is the premise that everyone who doesn’t agree with you should be forced to change. That is antithetical to the First Amendment. Such change by force does great violence to my freedom to speak, think, or write as I choose. It imposes a Thought Police mentality on every action and behavior and philosophy produced by the organization, from then on.

Scouts reaffirm the scout oath at the 2007 Wor...

Scouts reaffirm the scout oath at the 2007 World Scout Jamborree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the contrary, there is no implication in the Scout Oath that anyone outside of the organization is under any obligation to live the BSA’s definition of morally straight.  There is also not even a hint that anyone not subscribing to the BSA’s Scout Oath would be forced to join the organization.

There is no evil conspiracy in this. The fact that the committee is a secret one has no bearing whatsoever on the legitimacy of its decisions, nor on the organization. The BSA has chosen a military/democratic hybrid command structure and not a purely democratic structure for its hierarchy and governance. They can do that! It’s America!

Yet, scouting under the BSA’s bylaws is a completely voluntary oath and association! Those who no longer wish to associate in that way are free to leave the BSA and join or start another organization!

In fact, if you check the history of the Scout Oath (Promise) you will find that, under the non-binding bylaws of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM), the Boy Scouts counterpart to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), the Oath has changed according to various combinations of age, nationality, culture, and belief. That’s not rigid at all! It’s quite accommodating, in fact. Therefore, isn’t it obvious that the door is wide open for anyone who wishes to may indeed create their own organization governed by their own points of view and ideals?

A “Gay Boy Scouts of America”? Sure! Why not? A “World Organization of the Gay Scout Movement”? Do it! Put your efforts into building your own sandbox and castle instead of telling people in another sandbox how to build their castle.

What about that is so hard to understand? I just don’t get it. Enlighten me, please.