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Everything posted by Hunt

  1. I think this wouldn''t have been a big deal if he had sent an explanatory note with the letter--I tend to discount the third-hand account of the supposedly inflamatory statements by the teacher. I think middle-schoolers know more about politics that one might imagine, and they do need to learn about history and government. But what gets me is that a number of parents just signed the letter and sent it back! Now that''s scary.
  2. Sorry to bring this back, but I wanted to respond to Packsaddle''s question below: "Hunt, I''m not sure I understand your argument but you seem to be saying that the ''customers'' for LFL are the persons enrolled in the program, and that they are equivalent to the needy persons who are the ''customers'' for Scouting for Food - and that, as customers, neither should be required to pass the DRP test. If I got that wrong I apologize. But if I''ve correctly interpreted your thoughts, why then do we not apply this approach to the ''customers'' of the other BSA programs as well?" To me, the distinction between "members" and "participants" is pretty significant. If the "participants" in LFL are essentially recipients of a program provided to them, I think that''s pretty different from BSA''s membership program. I don''t know too much about LFL, but my understanding is that it''s mostly a classroom-based program. So are the "participants" more like Boy Scouts, or are they more like food recipients, or safe ride recipients, or maybe somebody who takes some kind of safety course offered by the Boy Scouts? If your question, then, is why does BSA require the DRP for members, but not LFL participants? The answer is that BSA thinks that the DRP is important, but is still willing to provide some kinds of charitable services to those who can''t be asked to sign it.
  3. "I disagree on the socialization benefits of schools unless we really need more teenage gangbangers." I find this idea troubling, unless you''re talking about taking your kid out of a troubled inner-city school. In the vast majority of public schools, most kids are not being turned into teenage gangbangers--rather, they are learning to get along with people of different races, sexes, and income levels. In my hometown, there were two high schools--the public school, and the private school where you sent your kids to get away from the black kids. As far as vouchers, I think part of the problem may be what happens when you gradually introduce choice--it seems to me that you gradually choke the worst schools, and hurt the neediest children with the least parental support the most.
  4. I''m curious about whether it''s thought that the brain of a transgendered person is somehow physically or chemically different, or it the sense of being the "wrong" sex psychological? If there''s a physical difference in the brain, then it''s really not so different from the "intersexed" baby who has physical characteristics of both sexes. If it''s psychological, then the issue gives me more pause.
  5. It''s always frustrating to have to fill out a bunch of forms when it''s not clear what purpose they serve. This is the problem, I think, with the tour permit. If nothing on the form is being checked or reviewed before the trip, in what sense is it a "permit?" Perhaps they are checked for egregious problems--i.e., if you proposed to go skydiving. Perhaps BSA''s insurors want the procedure to be in place for some reason. There may be very good reasons for the policy that we don''t know about--but if we don''t know them, two things will happen: (1) some people will decide they don''t need to follow the policy because they don''t know the reason for it, and (2) some people will make up and spread erroneous justifications for the policy. Both of these are problematic, in my opinion.
  6. I don''t see how getting or failing to get a tour permit would have any impact on liability unless you''re doing something for which a tour permit wouldn''t have been issued. In other words, if the activity is approvable, if the cars all had proper insurance, the leaders had the appropriate training, etc.--I can''t see how it would make a difference whether you had the permit or not. And as Beavah suggests, BSA is probably not going to decline to defend you unless you go very far off the reservation. But the tour permit is useful because it makes you review all those safety requirements, and agree that you''re going to follow them. Note: the local tour permit is for "scheduled activities" and must be submitted two weeks in advance, see http://www.scouting.org/forms/34426.pdf. So there''s no way Joe could have obtained a tour permit for an impromptu canoe outing--especially since this happened on Labor Day.
  7. While Craig may try to claim constitutional immunity, from what I''ve read, it''s a long shot. I think it unlikely that a court would hold that even a Senator can commit criminal acts in an airport with impunity, just because he''s traveling back to Washington. I think I read that this issue has actually been addressed in court, and that the claim of immunity failed. I''ll see if I can look it up. I do think that if Craig manages to get his guilty plea withdrawn, he has a reasonable likelihood of prevailing at a jury trial, because the evidence is a bit murky, and is a he said/he said situation--a jury might well decide there is reasonable doubt that a crime was committed.
  8. You've already gotten some good advice. I agree that the White House and Capitol are too much of a hassle. However, you might call your Congressperson's office to see if he or she would like to meet the troop. Especially if your group is not too big, you might visit his or her office and take a picture. Just to clarify--there are two locations of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. Both are very good. One is on the mall, with the other museums, and the other one is near Dulles. Both are free, but you need transport for the one near Dulles, and you have to pay for parking. The Spy Museum is OK, but it costs money, and is maybe a little too commercial. And don't forget the Boy Scout Memorial--see http://www.nps.gov/whho/planyourvisit/explore-the-southern-trail.htm
  9. I don't want to talk about moral relativism, but I do think that there are degrees of hypocrasy. While I do think it's hypocritical to appear to be something you're not (i.e., Clinton trying to appear to be a good family man), I think it's more hypocritical to punish other people for doing what you yourself are secretly doing--i.e., supporting kicking people out of the military for gay encounters, as Craig did.
  10. For a perhaps less cynical way of parsing it, perhaps LFL is a way for BSA to provide service to people who otherwise wouldn't get it, even if those people don't ascribe to all of BSA's principles...just as we don't ask the recipients of the food that is gathered in Scouting for Food to sign the DRP.
  11. I have received a message asking me to edit the following statement I made in a prior post: "I think Bob White truly believed that a troop that did everything by the book would grow and prosper, but he also believed that a troop that didn't do so couldn't grow and prosper, which I think is where Beavah's list comes in." While I think this is a pretty fair reading of what his posts typically intimated, perhaps it presumes to read his mind too much, and should say something more like, "I think Bob White truly believed that a troop that carefully and faithfully followed teh prescribed BSA program would grow and prosper, but his criticism of those who deviated from BSA's rules and program suggest that he also believed that a troop that deviated couldn't grow and prosper, which I think is where Beavah's list comes in.
  12. I would say that the Committee's role is to identify and propose a leader to the CO, who then hires him or her. Thus, the Committee could also propose to the CO that the leader be de-hired. But I think all this discussion of firing SMs, and of carefully selecting them with review by the CO, etc., is probably not the reality for most of us. Getting somebody to serve (and to continue serving) more often involves begging, pleading, etc.
  13. I have a problem with this, too, because I don't see what Craig did as "lewd" behavior--maybe it's conspiracy to commit lewd behavior, but the other "conspirator" was an undercover police officer, so you wouldn't have the elements of that crime. It's pretty clear to me that Craig in fact wanted to engage in lewd behavior, and was inviting somebody else to engage in it. Imagine if he'd whispered to the officer, "Psst! Let's vandalize this bathroom!" What would his crime have been then? Certainly not vandalism. He pled guilty to "disorderly conduct," and maybe soliciting somebody else to join in the commission of a crime is disorderly conduct. But, the police officer tapped his foot, too--wasn't his behavior, then, just as lewd?
  14. I agree that if two boys committed the same offense, they should be punished the same. However, if the authorities failed to punish one of them, that doesn't necessarily mean that the punishment of the other one was inappropriate or excessive.
  15. "Regarding trained leaders, who here would send their kids to a school with untrained teachers?" Maybe not a school, but plenty of people would send their children to extracurricular activities with untrained (or minimally trained) leaders. A prime example is a rec sports team, where the coach is a parent. It seems to me that a troop is somewhere between a school and a rec sports team--and different troops are at different places on that continuum.
  16. I, too, think that you need to think a while about what you mean by "success" before you make your list. I think Bob White truly believed that a troop that did everything by the book would grow and prosper, but he also believed that a troop that didn't do so couldn't grow and prosper, which I think is where Beavah's list comes in. I think a troop can be very successful in terms of growth and retention, but not very successful in terms of help boys develop good character and leadership. The following is my suggestion for a list of traits that you can observe upon a first visit that are likely to indicate a troop that would be successful in helping a boy grow in this way: 1. There are boys of various ages in the troop. 2. The boys of different ages appear to enjoy being together. 3. The boys seem to be in charge, and the adults are in the background. 4. The boys--not just the adults--welcome and include visiting boys. 5. The boys tell the visiting boys about all the cools stuff they do and try to convince them to join.
  17. "As I recall the Internet Recharter Adult Position Alignment checkpage, you need a COR, a CC, 3 MC, and 1 SM. No assistants required." True, but I believe you had to have at least one SA to be considered a Quality Unit (or at least, that was one of the criteria). Of course, we also wanted to have SAs who were trained and who could function as SM if the SM wasn't available.
  18. I was listening to a talk show about this school the other day, as well as a similar school in another state that was going to teach Hebrew and Jewish culture, but supposedly not religion. There was a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State on the show, and he objected to both schools on the grounds that teaching Islam and Judaism would be inevitable because of the texts that would be used in the school (i.e., the Koran). It was a good discussion--the addition of the "Jewish" school to the issue meant that the focus was on drawing the line between teaching culture and religion, and not on anti-Islamic terrorism hysteria. Perhaps the ACLU hasn't taken a position on this one because there's a real question on which side to take--against religious discrimination (allowing the school to teach Arabic and Islamic culture), or against establishment of religion (prohibiting the school from teaching Islam in the guise of language and culture).
  19. "It absolutely amazes me that an organization that purports to guide and mentor the boys of the U.S. of America will throw a boy onto the garbage heap of humanity for making a mistake." Well, it depends on how big the "mistake" is and how it affects other people. The situation that Rikki is concerned about involves a boy who was a paid staff member at a council camp who admitted that he smoked pot while at camp. That's more than a mistake, it's a crime, and it's a betrayal of his responsibility to the younger boys he's supposed to be leading. While there may be mitigating circumstances even in this case, it's really quite bad. In my mind, in terms of whether to allow the boy to remain in Scouts, it's worse than fathering a child out of wedlock, because it directly relates to Scouting and endangers other children in Scouting. Also, it's more illegal.
  20. Hunt

    Bad language

    I think it's worth some more thought on why bad language is bad. To me, the main reason that it is bad is that it is offensive to other people. That's why the environment does matter. When I was a teenager, I spent some time working in a blue-collar environment with factory workers and truck drivers. Their language was so peppered with expletives that those words essentially had no meaning. Certainly, they weren't offending each other. Personally, I am much more offended by words showing a disrespect for religion (especially "Jesus!" and to a somewhat lesser extent, "Oh My God!") than I am by mildly scatological terms like "butt" or "sucks." Other people have the exact opposite sensitivity. So I would say that use of language that offends people shows a lack of sensitivity and empathy, or at least ignorance of other people's culture. Therefore, I think it's better to explain to a scout why you are offended by a particular word--i.e., "As a follower of Jesus, I don't like to hear his name used that way." Or, "When I was younger, the expression that something "sucks" was generally followed by an explicit, and crude, statement of just what it was that was being sucked. So when a person my age hears you use that expression, that's what we think you are saying, whether you mean to or not. As a result, using that term will make many people think you have a dirty mouth--and mind."
  21. I would also like to add that in a small troop, it may be difficult to be too rigid about committee and other leadership roles. We have faced the dilemma of deciding whether it would be better for a particular adult to be an SA (so we'd have enough SAs) or a committee member (so we could staff BORs). We finally got some more committee members, and solved the problem. But the SAs still attend the committee meetings. I wish we had enough adult leaders so we could compartmentalize more.
  22. I'm a committee member, and usually (but not always) wear a uniform to meetings. No necker (whole troop is no necker), and I confess I don't always wear the socks. I recently finally got a BSA leather belt for my regular pants--but I wear the switchbacks, too.
  23. While I don't want to defend the Congressman who had the "cold cash," I do have to point out that Constitutional protections are there to protect the innocent, but that means that occasionally they protect the guilty, too. In this case, the Constitutional protection is there to prevent the executive branch from intimidating the legislative branch by engaging in unjustified searches of Congressional offices. The Congressmen who are complaining don't necessarily think that Jefferson is innocent--they are concerned about a future case in which a President or Attorney General wants to search THEIR offices in order to pressure them.
  24. I wouldn't use the term "lean on" to describe the kind of guidance a well-intentioned boy needs. That being said, in my son's troop there have been boys who did need to be "leaned on" because they didn't respond to more gentle guidance.
  25. My son is at the WSJ right now, and I assure you that they are eating meat. Although the article isn't clear, it seems to be talking only about the encampment on Brownsea Island, which was attended by two representative scouts from each country, and which was (I think) only for one day. Since they were from all different countries and presumably all ate together, it's not surprising that food was chosen that they all could eat. I don't know about the campfires--again, I can see why they don't want campfires in an encampment of 40,000 people, but I don't know about Brownsea Island--but they give a pretty good reason right in the article.
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