Ten Miles Square


January 29, 2013 10:56 AM Progress and the Boy Scouts

By Mark Kleiman

Looks as if the corporate bigwigs on the board of the national Boy Scout organization have decided that they’re not happy with bigotry as a family value, and they’re pushing for local option on the inclusion of gays. A Southern Baptist mullah says this might lead his church to drop cooperation with Scouting.

1. This matters, substantively as well as symbolically. Scouting is a useful activity, and the Eagle Scout designation is a way for adolescents to earn a useful credential that is neither academic nor athletic. The attempt to convert it from a civic organization to a partisan redoubt for the Red Team – as the NRA and the Catholic Church have been converted – was an important strategic move, and its defeat is important.

2. This should also help strain the plutocrat/theocrat alliance. Companies with gay, and gay-friendly, customers and employees simply can’t afford to be on the wrong side of an issue such as this one.

3. The Baptists are bluffing. And if the Scouts can’t meet at church, they’ll meet in school or at the library.

4. The end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell might have helped make the difference. It was absurd to rules for boys playing soldier (which is part of what Scouting is) to have rules real soldiers don’t have.

5. I wonder whether the interpretation of “reverence” to mean “theistic religiosity” will be the next domino to fall? There are more “nons” than there are gays, and we’re tired of being stepped on.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-based Community]

Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at the University of California Los Angeles.


  • Mike Clinch on January 29, 2013 7:17 PM:

    Please edit out the "Boy Scouts playing soldier" comment. The BSA rules on the use of guns would give Wayne LaPierre a heart attack - no long guns prior to eleven, single-shot .22's only, round targets, guns at a rifle range only, and prohibitions on paint ball, laser tag and hunting. We're not allowed to even set real snares that might trap animals. There's a lot of right-wingers in the BSA, and the military does give preferences (and an initial promotion) to Eagle Scouts, but pro-military is just not in the BSA. The founder of Scouting believed (or hoped) that no two countries with strong Scouting programs would be capable of going to war with each other. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union replaced naecent Boy Scout programs with similar structures - the Hitler Youth and the Young Pioneers that promoted the military and the state over all. They couldn't have done the propaganda as well with a true Scouting program.

    A veteran Scout leader, and a liberal.