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May 23rd predictions and post-vote plans

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  • #61
    AZmike, here's one cherry the religious right seems to have missed in this argument. One of the main points in the Torah is human dignity. A kid that's gay, that didn't choose to be gay, that can't be "cured" of being gay, that won't inherently harm anyone because he's gay, has no dignity in the boy scouts because he is shunned for something he has no control of. He is seen as inferior, immoral, and is an outcast. All of this because of something God gave him. I'm no religious scholar, but I know this type of humiliation is Wrong. Furthermore, human dignity can supersede commandments in the Torah. In this case my rabbis have allowed it.

    You say these kids can go do 4H, or BPSA, or just do something else. You say they're a danger to the other kids and it would be safer if they went elsewhere. I can imagine lining up 10 kids and walking up to one and saying these things to him. That's humiliating.

    It seems my religious beliefs don't seem to be good enough for you, that I'm "cherry picking" the "real" beliefs. People that complain about others beliefs not being good enough are the gatekeepers to the dark side of religion. I'm just asking you to respect my beliefs.


    • AZMike
      AZMike commented
      Editing a comment
      I take a different approach than packsaddle, out of respect for your dignity...

      You can understand, MattR, that I can disagree with you on your religious beliefs and respect your right to have them, without being a "Gatekeeper to the Dark Side of Religion," yes? When you describe me like that, I sound like Saruman or something.

      My religious beliefs hold that people who practice an act that degrades their personal dignity, and threatens the dignity and safety of others, should not be allowed to be involved in the formation of youth or volunteer activities, By your own argument, you must also respect my right to have those religious beliefs, right? They must be accorded the same respect I offer to your beliefs, even if I respectfully disagree with them. Have I said anything to insult your beliefs? I certainly haven't said anything to insult Judaism, for which I hold the highest respect. (If you took offense at my statement about theological liberalism cherry-picking out of a sacred text, I apologize and should have written it more clearly to indicate that I was referring to theological liberalism (both Christian and Jewish) as a movement, with whom I have obvious disagreements, and not to you as a person or your beliefs.)

      I also have a strong religious belief in the dignity that is inherent and due to all men and women (and kids) as children of God. We are in agreement, However, you then make the leap to a statement that is unsupported by either science or religion: "A kid that's gay, that didn't choose to be gay, that can't be "cured" of being gay, that won't inherently harm anyone because he's gay, has no dignity in the boy scouts because he is shunned for something he has no control of. He is seen as inferior, immoral, and is an outcast. All of this because of something God gave him." I frankly don't see support for that in any sacred text, Jewish or Christian, not do I see any scientific basis for it. I understand that your religious leaders disagree on these matters as well, so we will have to continue to disagree. And part of respecting your beliefs is to offer your views the respect they deserve by taking them seriously enough to disagree with them, to enter into an argument as to whether the values you espouse are being correctly applied in this case (you will agree, I hope that even if I don't share your denominational beliefs, I am allowed to suggest that I can challenge your interpretation of your faith's beliefs, and even those of your spiritual leaders - people do it with my faith all the time), and offering your views the ultimate respect of considering them as capable of affecting the world, and pointing out what I consider to be the flaws in your theological arguments. Respect does not equal assent. It does include challenging views that I consider incorrect.

      I would further note that we discourage many behaviors in youths, some of them probably bearing a genetic component. In your view, God may "given" a child diabetes. We don't encourage the poor eating habits that make this condition worse. God may have "given" a child a genetic predisposition to an addictive personality. We don't encourage substance abuse in such children. God may have "given" a child any number of tendencies towards self-destructive behaviors - masochistic masturbation practices, such as autoerotic asphyxiation or insertion of foreign objects in the orifices; "cutting" disorders; anorexia; self-destructive behavior; a whole gamut of paraphilias that aren't appropriate to discuss in this forum. We discourage such behaviors, if we were to hear a child talk about them. In the Scouts, we are not in the business of sex education, and that's appropriate; but if someone were to bring up the claim (in a Board of Review, around the campfire, or on the ride up to a campsite) that they practice such behaviors, we would not allow the discussion, nor we would we allow them to describe themselves as a "Cutter," as an "Anorexic" or a "Proud Follower of Saint Annie's," or as a "Stoner" or a "Juicer." We would certainly refer the matter to their parents rather than discussing it further with the boy. But we would not allow them to discuss the matter or continue to identify themselves by such behavior. Why should we allow self-identification by another sexual behavior or behavioral problem?

      If your religious beliefs will have an impact on the free exercise of my religious beliefs (as in this case), of course we will have to express our disagreement. That will include me pointing out my disagreements the movement of theological Liberalism, which sees the goal of humanity as the continuing liberation of individuals from all binding spiritual authority (IMO). I would fall under the theological Orthodox camp (Judaic and Christian) which acknowledges the ultimate role of divine authority in the affairs of men, and the need to conform the human will to the divine law. This seems to be the fundamental disagreement between the two camps.

      Making an appeal to "dignity" is not very useful in this argument, as it appears high-minded but only accords dignity to one small class of the people involved (boys who identify as "gay") without according the same respect for the dignity and safety of the boys who may be adversely affected by the consequences of what you see as a religious imperative.

      Should one be cruel in telling a boy that the choices they have made in behavior (either sexual behavior, or an insistence on defining oneself by one's sexual behavior) disqualifies them from membership? No, of course not, why would you want to do such a thing? Why would you want to create an environment where boys adopt a man-made term that defines them by their sexual behavior?

    • MattR
      MattR commented
      Editing a comment
      AZMike, I accept your apology, and I apologize for offending you. Yes, the cherry picking comment was over the line. No, it absolutely has nothing to do with me being Jewish. I'm not trying to argue and win you over. I apologize if I implied that. I'm trying to find common ground. After the vote there will be a lot of angry and smug people, neither of which will help the BSA. Machiavelli will rule.

      Packsaddle, respect would be a good thing not just for me, but for everyone. If there were mutual respect then 20 years ago people could have sat down and worked out a solution to keep people reasonably happy. That's real respect and I'd be for that. Rather, it's a zero sum game, and an ugly one at that.

    • Pack18Alex
      Pack18Alex commented
      Editing a comment
      Just to go out there on this...

      Are we referring to gay orientation (attracted to the same sex), or sodomy (engaged in sex with someone of the same gender)?

      I mean, a 14 year old attracted to boys comes out as gay, he hasn't acted on it, he's an "avowed homosexual," but hasn't engaged in prohibited sexual acts.

      Under Jewish Law, no sin has been committed, being attracted to someone is not a sin.

      Indeed, one of the basics for Judaism is to overcome the evil inclination. Jewish Law prohibits stealing. If you have no desire to steal, that's no big deal. If you have a compulsion to steal, that's a challenge for you. By not stealing, and overcoming your evil inclination, you're on a higher path of righteousness, because you are overcoming your evil inclination.

      There's an old Jewish story of a great Rabbi asking G-d why his role in the World to Come is lesser than the farmer in his town (who person #2 is changes in different tellings). He's a great Rabbi, a Torah Sage, renowned for towns around him. The other guy was just a farmer, a "Person of the Land," not steeped in Torah knowledge.

      G-d explained to him that while he was a great Sage, his father and grandfather were Rabbis. While he achieved greatness, it wasn't a huge step up. The farmer was the son of thieves, from a family of thieves and murders. His rising to become an honest farmer was greater than the Rabbi growing into a sage.

      So there in lies my issue with this. A boy coming out as gay doesn't need our condemnation for his inherit nature, he needs our support and love. Assuming a Torah view, we should encourage him to overcome that desire. Whether he can channel his desires in a heterosexual direction is up to how great a challenge it is. If he is capable of doing so, he should be encouraged to marry and have children (a positive commandment), but if not, celibacy means avoiding transgressing a negative commandment.

      Despite all that, I see no reason why I would want to kick a gay boy out of a troop even he got into a gay relationship than I would kick him out for getting a cheeseburger. Both are prohibited actions, and I'm not sure why the former merits exclusion and the latter ignoring.

  • #62
    Originally posted by AZMike View Post
    Matt, I understand that the theologically liberal can always cherry-pick arguments that support their own side,...
    Of course, the theologically conservative never cherry-pick arguments? It's just liberals? Really?


    • AZMike
      AZMike commented
      Editing a comment
      Yes. Just the liberals.

  • #63
    Our fearless leader is engaging in some pre-vote vote writing. Amazing that we pay this person to write opinion pieces in USA today espousing
    views that are in stark contrast to the poll he just commissioned. I wonder what his response will be if his side loses tomorrow.


    • DigitalScout
      DigitalScout commented
      Editing a comment
      From the tone of the editorial, it is safe to assume the resolution has been approved. They know the results already because the votes have already been cast.

    • Kahuna
      Kahuna commented
      Editing a comment
      It should be pointed out that Wayne Perry is a volunteer, just like most of us. We don't pay him anything. I'm fairly confident that he has sampled the vote enough to believe that the outcome will be to pass the resolution as it is.

  • #64
    DigitalScout, I read the article again after reading you post and tend to agree with you. I suppose that they could also be doing some private polling among the councils.


    • #65
      Looks like the press is ramped up for the vote tomorrow. The press coverage promises to be intense.


      • #66
        The Connecticut Yankee Council is in the news for a statement by the Council President openly defying the current BSA membership policy. From their website: "Scouting in the Connecticut Yankee Council is open to all youth and adults who subscribe to the values of the Scout Oath and Law regardless of their personal sexual orientation"

        When the Cradle of Liberty Council tried that the BSA didn't let allow them to do it. Some units that made inclusive membership declarations earlier this year were also stopped pretty quickly. Anybody have any local information about the Connecticut Yankee Council? Either they are naive or they know something. Maybe other councils will follow suit.


        • EmberMike
          EmberMike commented
          Editing a comment
          On the one hand, I applaud these councils that stand up against the policy. On the other hand, I think it's a potentially dangerous proposition. As we saw in the case of Ryan Andresen, it only takes one person at the district level to stop an Eagle Scout application from going through, even if the troop and the Board of Review determines that a scout is fit to receive the rank. I think it's a potentially risky move to allow kids to enter the organization with no guarantee that even if they do the work and satisfy the requirements on paper, they can still be denied an earned rank.

          It puts the council in a tough position when they say they are welcome to all, but they can't really guarantee that such inclusion will come with equal treatment in every regard, including rank advancement.

      • #67
        Welcome to the forums, GarScout. I salute Connecticut Yankee Council for their courageous stand and wish them success. It will be interesting to see if the people in Texas respond as if backed into a corner, rather than having painted themselves into it.


        • King Ding Dong
          King Ding Dong commented
          Editing a comment
          With Rick Perry leading the way the likely response from Texas will be talk of 5 things, "second amendment remedies" and succession chest beating. Followed by "God hates fags" country songs and WNA II (war of northern aggression II) and, uh, hold on, uh, mmmm, uh, I forgot the 5th thing. Oops.
          Last edited by King Ding Dong; 05-23-2013, 07:03 AM.

      • #68
        If the vote reaffirms the policy, the fight ends for me today. There's not much more I'm willing to do to try and help get the BSA on the right path.


        • eaglewolfdad
          eaglewolfdad commented
          Editing a comment
          I believe in one of your earliest posts here you mentioned that you were not yet a registered scouter but contemplating becoming active once your children
          came of age. While we all salute your achievement in earning your eagle earlier in life, I believe that you would far more effective in helping to change the system if you were registered.
          In effect what you are saying is I am ending my fight however you don't have a dog in this fight at the moment. I believe you have a lot to offer BSA and it would be sad to see you move on.

        • EmberMike
          EmberMike commented
          Editing a comment
          You'r right, eaglewolfdad, my son isn't yet of scouting age, so technically I don't have a dog in this fight. But I do have a history with scouting, spending 12 years of my youth in the organization, and I have a sincere hope that my son (and any future kids of mine) will have an interest in pursuing scouting themselves. Shouldn't that allow me some say in what happens to the organization that I was once a part of and fully expected to be in the near future?

          I agree it would be sad to turn my back on the BSA and move on to other things. But I truly believe that there are good alternatives out there, particularly in the BPSA. I've been researching that program and reading some of their handbooks and other literature lately, and it is impressive for such a young group. And as much as I value my experiences in the BSA and what I have carried with me into adulthood and parenting, I know that I can also shift my focus to another scouting organization that better reflects my beliefs and the values I feel it is my job as a parent to instill in my kids. In some non-policy regards I think the BPSA is even superior to the BSA. It's a back-to-basics program, focused on the outdoors, scouting skills, and service. I don't see it as a big loss to not have things like Personal Management, Communication, and Family Life in the program.

          King Ding Dong I wouldn't view it as giving up, just shifting gears to a different yet similar program. The BSA isn't scouting, scouting is a movement that pre-dates the BSA itself, and we can give our kids scouting experiences without the BSA.

        • DigitalScout
          DigitalScout commented
          Editing a comment
          @EmberMike - All of America has a dog in this fight. The BSA is a national treasure which should be open to all to enjoy. I know many will disagree with that statement and will cite the BSA being a private organization, the Dale decision, etc. But the BSA is a national treasure much like our National Parks which have been set aside for all to enjoy.

          The more kids we get into Scouting, the stronger America will be. So that means removing all barriers so we can get more kids and teach them the importance of values, leadership, being prepared, service to others, self-reliance and perseverance.

          And you should persevere, too, to help make sure that the BSA policies are fair for ALL, not just a few. Think about what you want to teach your kids. Do you want to teach them to give up and give in when things get tough? Or do you want to teach them to fight on in the face of adversity?

      • #69
        No matter how the vote goes, nothing will change for our troop.
        (Unless my CO gets upset and then we will just find another CO.)


        • AZOwl
          AZOwl commented
          Editing a comment

          Its an incremental step...Not a perfect solution, and in my opinion just extends the surgery and healing process, but in time I see it passing for the adults as well.

        • King Ding Dong
          King Ding Dong commented
          Editing a comment
          Absolutely. If it passes those most opposed will part ways further weakening their influence. It is a question of when not if.

          However I am not optimistic at this point. The old scouters are casting the votes not the youth.

          We are having a year end COH, picnic and adults vs scouts softball game right about the time the announcement is due. Very inconsiderate of National to schedule this for today. Will be very interesting to see if the topic comes up and what the reactions are.

          If it fails, I wonder how quickly they will scramble to make an executive decision ? The current policy has to change to something else.
          Last edited by King Ding Dong; 05-23-2013, 12:26 PM.

      • #70
        It's safe to say that the resolution should pass today, and I hope it does. Here is why:

        - It reflects current practice in a majority of Scouting Units. I have observed, in my decades of Scouting, that good Scouting leaders put their Scouts first in every case. This includes homosexual youth. A good Scoutmaster or Crew Adviser will make it a priority to ensure a homosexual Scout understands not to let it become an open distraction, and suppresses the culture that can lead to bullying of a homosexual youth, instead fostering a more mature acceptance, aid, and understanding. This is very similar to units which include youth with disabilities. This is very similar to youth of a severe minority (think multiracial family in 99% white area). The potential distraction is maturely overcome by the team coming together to help everyone achieve in the way a Troop should.

        - It prioritizes sexual acts at an age of minority (18 as law, 21 as public consensus, 27 in Obamacare) as something all Scouts should be ashamed of, not their identity.

        - It realizes that sex as a topic should be defused, not recurring or educational. A minority identity brings great diversity of knowledge and experience, and as such presents a constant opportunity for learning. This is why we seek out Plumbers for Plumbing Merit Badge, Liaison Officers or Counselors to present "A Time to Tell", and Pastors for Religious Awards. Coming together with people of these defining minority identities help us learn in Scouting. When the adult in question has a defining minority identity inextricable from sex, someone of that identity is presenting a constant distraction. Leaders who defuse that identity themselves by not openly identifying sexually are obviously, then, not distracting. While there may be youth that identify as homosexual, they are by no means authoritative on the subject, being completely bound by the fact that no Scout should be discussing sexual activity.

        - It allows the distinction to be made for youth that attraction does not equal activity. Open courtship is not tolerated in Venturing and so would not be in Troops.

        - It acknowledges that this membership policy is necessary because sexuality is not appropriate in Scouting and this change reflects a larger consensus to ensure that it is less of a distraction. It simultaneously iterates that Reverence IS appropriate to Scouting, and a personally defined Duty to God is entirely a function of Scouting that will never be questioned and will continue to be championed. This means that sex should always be defused as an issue and personally defined Reverence should always be promoted.

        I do have one issue...

        It is seemingly derailed by how to handle quarters. Current policy relies on assumptions of sexual activity and exploitation. There is a heterosexual assumption for youth, and an exploitative assumption for adults and so policy reflects this by separating quarters between male and female, youth and adult to prevent sexual and exploitative opportunity. This does not prevent all sexual activity or exploitation. Youth that are bound and determined to create an opportunity for a sexual encounter together will always find a way, and the policies of keeping them separate and having an understanding that the activity is un-Scoutlike are about as far as we can go as an organization to prevent it in a uniformly enforceable way. Youth on youth exploitation is much the same. Our responsibility is to prevent it uniformly, but those youth bent on taking advantage of another youth will make an active effort to do so, and will always be removed from Scouting.

        The problem is in the open knowledge of homosexual youth. If we assume a male and female heterosexual youth who have no interest in each other cannot quarter together, it would seem that we'd have to have the assumption that two homosexual Boy Scouts with no interest in each other cannot quarter together. If a heterosexual male youth cannot shower in a group with females he's not attracted to nor they to him, how should a homosexual Boy Scout be allowed to a group shower with his patrol who he is not attracted to nor they to him? I understand that almost every facility now has separate showers, making that a non-issue. However, does this mean tent assignments will necessarily go the same individual way? We cannot be in the business of telling kids they have to be treated different because they're a minority, that would make us incredible bullies. If I'm missing another solution that can be made a rule to ensure uniform enforcement, please let me know.

        Some of the best experiences I've had in Scouting was sharing a tent with a good buddy or even someone new. It's privacy for a conversation that may have otherwise never been possible. Will we have to lose this because of this policy change, and is it worth it? If it's necessary to remain consistent as a rule, probably (though sadly).

        I want wholeheartedly for homosexual youth to finally no longer feel that the organization they love and enjoy is forcing them into a secret identity or forcing them out.


        • EmberMike
          EmberMike commented
          Editing a comment
          I agree, BP, this is a no-win any way you look at it. Either way, the argument lingers on. Scouts for Equality has stated that they won't back down no matter which way the vote goes. And they can't really. They set out to end discrimination of gay youth and adults, and neither voting option solves their end goal. Same for the groups opposed to the resolution. Either way, their fight continues on as well. This is a huge black cloud over the BSA that shows no signs of clearing up.

        • Krampus
          Krampus commented
          Editing a comment
          I'm sorry, but anyone currently in the program -- unless they have their head in the sand -- should be fully aware of what the policy of BSA is. If they weren't and elect to leave, I suspect that is a small number. What remains to be seen is how a vote either way will affect new members coming in.

        • packsaddle
          packsaddle commented
          Editing a comment
          Krampus, that may be true for most leaders. Perhaps even for parents of older scouts. But until I begin announcing at Cub Scout roundup (and I am going to do this) the official policy (whatever it turns out to be) for boys and for adult leaders, most of those families are clueless about this issue. The hometown newspaper didn't have a single line in it today about this decision. There was more written about pot holes in roads over the last weeks. New prospective parents are part of the Facebook generation and mostly don't know about this controversy, or else think they know something that is incorrect.

          I'll add my agreement with BadenP. The entire way this matter has been handled smacks of weak leadership at the top. I just hate to think of the inflated salaries that those guys get to bungle things this badly. The best way to compensate for that weak leadership (and I am sanguine about the poor prospects of getting strong leaders) is to move the leadership responsibilities to the unit owners: the charter organizations, a.k.a. local option.
          Last edited by packsaddle; 05-23-2013, 03:18 PM.

      • #71
        In case you haven't heard yet, the vote is in, and the ban on gay youth is being lifted.

        61% voted to lift the ban.

        Edited to add: Oops, just saw the other thread about this.
        Last edited by EmberMike; 05-23-2013, 04:24 PM.