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Bob Russell

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Everything posted by Bob Russell

  1. Merlyn, we are looking at this, each seeing discrimination from a different angle. You see the discriminatory Boy Scouts, where I see an organization exercising its constitutional right of free association; a right recognized by the US Supreme Court. I see a government so fearful of religious expresion that it will deny access to public property to avoid it. My contention is that if the government allows access to some groups, to deny THE SAME access to Boy Scouting is government discrimination on account of religion. If the schools do not allow access to any outside groups, fine. But they do allow access, and the same access should be allowed to Boy Scouts. We have gone too far to make all groups follow the party line, and that destroys true diversity. The First Amendment says : "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." I believe that the pendulum will swing back to where total denial of religion on public property will not be permitted, as that is in effect prohibiting the free exercise of religion. I read one appellate brief filed by the Boy Scouts, I forget which case, where the Boy Scouts stated that when government dictates what views an acceptable organization must follow, there no longer is diversity. I will not be able to continue this discussion until the end of the weekend, so I'm not ignoring any further comment you may make. I will be taking my "discriminatory" scouts to our winter lodge on Mt. Hood for some serious skiing and boarding. Many feet of snow have come down in the last week, and it is time to enjoy one of our little pieces of heaven. Every time I go to the mountain, I think that I left Flint, Michigan for this. Life is rough sometimes.
  2. "So sue. Powell had to; it's taken nearly five years, and it isn't even over yet." No thanks. Lawsuits are unpleasant, and will help drain the school budget, and the issue simply isn't that important. Not every issue needs to be litigated. But I don't think that the Powells should have sued either. She could have handled it far better than saying to her son "They don't want our kind." She, along with the ACLU, should instead follow the advice of the bumper sticker that says "Celebrate Diversity" but by allowing diversity of opinion, rather than just the diversity that they approve of. Let both Boy Scouts and Campfire recruit, give the public a choice, and see who gets freely picked. "Of course, you realize that all organizations, even ones like the Klan Youth Corps (which does exist) will get the same access." Schools have the right to restrict some things, such as the right to edit school papers within reason. I don't know the limits, but I suspect that a Klan group might possibly be over the edge. But if not, that is our concept of free speech and free association. Better to let the free flow of ideas compete. After all, the ACLU rightfully supports free speech, as this has been their traditional goal. It seems that the ACLU has changed from the American Civil LIBERTIES Union to the American Civil RIGHTS Union. I believe that the ACLU, if it cares about civil liberties, should support the Boy Scouts in their right of association, even on public property, as a fundamental civil liberty.
  3. Rooster, your comment on how much we should hold our scouts accountable for events outside of scouting has been one I have been thinking a lot about since this thread began. As I said in an early post here, I would certainly talk to the scout privately, but I would not have taken it further. But as I reflect on the discussions, I still wonder where to draw the line. The cheating example I believe warrants a private discussion, but not a suspension. Your fighting example is different, because of the physical harm and because in a boy-led organization, we have to be careful of allowing someone we know to be violent to be present on activities where adults are not always closely supervising the group. It's the area in between that continues to baffle me. We can only hope that as situations arise, we will make the right judgments. I guess that's why they pay us the big bucks to be scout leaders.
  4. Merlyn, you have sidestepped my question. You talk of special access, saying that the Boy Scouts get to recruit when other groups do not. I was very specific, inquiring whether Boy Scouts should be able to recruit IF other groups, such as athletic leagues, get to. So I will ask again: IF other groups get to recruit during school hours, would not prohibiting the Boy Scouts from the SAME ACCESS be discriminatory. I live in Portland, and know this case pretty well. I also experience the way the Portland Public Schools treats scouting at this time. I formerly handled the school recruiting for a Cub Scout pack in a school near the one in question. My kids would bring many flyers home, for all kinds of school and after school activities. Yet when I asked to have flyers given out for our Cub Scout recruiting night, many of the teachers would fail to distribute them. The teachers were making a choice that should be left to the families. And in case you are wondering, our use of the school in the evening for recruiting and meetings is done the same as any other group, and we pay the same. Equal treatment, not special.
  5. Merlyn, you agreed with OGE's example of scout recruiting in the evening. In the Portland case, scouts are now probably not allowed to make a presentation during school hours. But if the school lets other groups make presentations, are not the scouts now being discriminated against? If a local soccer or baseball league can make a presentation, and scouts cannot, because of their religion requirement, then the scouts are being discriminated against on account of religion.
  6. Sctmom, with regard to physical hazing, you say that you are trusting the adults to not tolerate. Don't be afraid to discuss this in detail with the adult leadership of the troop before your son joins. As a scoutmaster, I want to hear comments, both good and bad, from our parents, and I want to hear of ways to make the troop attractive to each scout, so that they want to stay. With respect to your comment regarding parents making their children stay involved in activities, I believe that as parents it is our duty to keep our children involved. I have three children in scouts (1 girl scout and 2 boy scouts). Each would have quit at some time, as they would rather watch TV, play video games, etc. We let them know that their active involvement in scouting, sports, church and school activities is expected, and each does well in them all. When they are down, we encourage them. Our troop has lost good kids because the parents have not kept them involved, and have not shown through their own actions that these activities are important, and many are now just hanging out, missing out on great opportunities. I have always felt that as a parent, it is my role to lead my children, both by example and by setting boundaries and expectations.
  7. Being self-employed, I don't get hit up by United Way. My wife is a federal employee and does contribute to the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). She splits her contribution between Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. Even though we give directly to both organizations, giving a small amount through CFC or United Way shows these groups that there is community support. If people quit direct giving through United Way, the spin placed on this would be that the public no longer supports scouting. So we give to CFC to keep the groups in the campaign and to make a public statement.
  8. This thread has gone from the issue of the state's discrimination rules to a discussion as to whether homosexuality is biological or environmental. This is a debate that will go on forever, and will simply not be resolved here (or anywhere else). I will therefore not go there. In discussions, I have defended the BSA rule (which I disagree with), and I always point out that it is not a discrimination issue, but a morals and values issue. Scouting involves values, and the leaders are role models for the scouts. The organization simply must have the ability to decide who the role models are, and what values are important. Since homosexuality involves conduct, it cannot and should not be disregarded. As I said, I disagree with the rule, but, in an organization with many sponsoring units being churches with faith-based objections, I will respect and defend the rule. Going back to the original post, regarding the "discrimination" allowed by United Way, and objected to by the ACLU, I continue to be amazed at the blinders that critics of the Boy Scouts wear. Supposedly, United Way organizations cannot discriminate on account of sex, race, national origin, etc. But take a moment to look at many of the organizations that receive United Way $$. Women's shelters, immigrant organizations tied to particular nationalities, etc. Do not all of these organizations discriminate? Yet no one cares. Every time we hear of this issue with respect to Boy Scouts, we should respond that many organizations "discriminate" by sex, nationality, etc., and ask if these groups should also be cut off. I'm sure the answer will be no.
  9. I sometimes hear of problems that our scouts may have been involved in. Depending on the transgression, I will sometimes, as Scoutmaster, discuss the matter privately (within the rule of not being alone with a scout). This is not done to penalize or discipline the scout, but to reinforce that the Scout Law and Oath are not just items to recite, but guidelines for life. I find that the scouts will usually admit the transgression, and a productive discussion will take place, with the goal to reinforce proper behavior in and out of scouting. I believe the key is to not punish or embarrass in these situations, but to treat them as learning opportunities.
  10. Eisely, do patrol outings actually require 2 adults present? Our troop has not had patrol outings where 2 adults were not present, but I remember scout outings I went on as a scout, too many years ago, where only the scouts were present, no adults. This included day hikes of considerable distance.
  11. Alex, The solution you want, which is to compete in your regular patrols, would appear to be the only solution that is proper. I am assuming, from your discription, that your troop has 2 patrols, one with the older scouts and one with younger scouts. You said that your rules require natural patrols, and to do otherwise would result in your troop breaking the rules. I would take the position that the two regular patrols must compete as they regularly exist. Remind everyone that a scout is trustworthy, and that this requires that you obey the rules.
  12. I find the ACLU's position somewhat interesting. They support the Girl Scouts, because they do not discriminate! Funny, I think they are the GIRL Scouts for a reason, they take only girls. Just as the Boy Scouts take only boys (at least in the cub and boy scout programs). They appear to label some things as discrimination and other things apparently must be "targeted services" or some other excuse. What I find sad about the ACLU is that it once was a defender of civil liberties, as its name says. Civil liberties generally involve relationships between citizens and the State, meaning government in some form. The US Supreme Court ruled in favor of BSA precisely because of civil liberties, that the government could not interfere with the BSA's right of association, which is a fundamental civil liberty. Civil liberties are not involved with rights between private individuals, which is what we have here. I believe that if the ACLU was truly dedicated to their stated mission of defending civil liberties, it would side with BSA, not against it. Clearly the ACLU has now become a political organization rather than a civil liberties one.
  13. I just completed Wood Badge this past weekend. At the morning flag ceremonies, a different historic flag was raised each day. We saluted when the current American flag was raised, but not for the various historic flags. However, our SPL did tell us that it is proper to salute the Star Spangled Banner (15 stripes/15 stars) as the only exception. I've tried to verify that, including a review of the US Flag Code, but have been unable to find any independent confirmation. I think the choice you made is a good one. Respect toward any of our historic flags is certainly in order, and only a perfectionist might object to an incorrect but respectful observance.
  14. Rooster, I agree with your point on how something can be perceived when reported in the media. Having been quoted on numerous issues over the years, I find that, no matter how careful I am when I say something, the quote, especially in the newspaper, generally sounds either dumb or the opposite of what I said. This is because the short quote in isolation is often taken out of context of the entire statement. With respect to the claim of discrimination, I never concede that BSA is discriminatory. I respond that the Boy Scouts has standards, as does any voluntary group, and that a values-based organization needs to do this. I also point out that people and groups can disagree on what are proper values, and this does not make either group bad or wrong. In every instance, I try to shift from the term discrimination to selection standards. I point out to people that if I as a Scoutmaster would swear in front of my Scouts, or smoke, tell off-color jokes or drank alcohol at Scout events, I would find myself removed as Scoutmaster. This does not mean that people who do these things are evil, just that BSA standards for Scout leadership reflect what our Scout's parents want as role models for their sons, and daughters, if Venture/Exploring. As to your question as to how BSA is diverse, I respond that not every group need accept everyone, as that is not diversity either, as every group is then alike. Boy Scouts merely provides one approach, and if that is unacceptable to some, there is Campfire or other organizations. We merely provide a CHOICE. All of the above takes time of course and makes media sound-bites impossible. Therefore, I don't deal with media-centered events such as protests, but instead try to make my impact one- on-one or in small group discussions.
  15. Rooster, regarding your comment that the "other side" will claim it's their slogan - this is precisely my reason for using the phrase. As Eisely says, the need is to reach out to the middle, who are ambivalent, generally unknowledgeable on the specifics of the issue, but reachable. The press has its favorite issues and positions, and the average viewer or reader often accepts things as presented. Therefore, pro-choice is used instead of pro-abortion, because people will more easily accept freedom of choice. Because the terms freedom of choice and diversity are used overwhelmingly by the media in a favorable way, I like to use the same terms in my defense of Scouting. It drives some strong advocates crazy that I use their pet phrases against them, but I think it helps the vast middle ground, Nixon's "silent majority," to better appreciate our side.
  16. The article in the Flint Journal notes that 50 Flint-area protesters were involved. Actually, this protest was the statewide protest in Michigan sponsored by Scouting For All, a part of their nationwide protests last week. A portion of the announcement on their web site for the Flint protest reads as follows: "We plan to hold a Rally at the Tall Pine Council building. Statements will be read by a variety of people. We hope that every town in Michigan will be represented. Please come with a sign that includes your city's name. Let's make a difference. We support Scouting for All." As you can see, they called for support throughout Michigan and got maybe 50 protesters. Hardly a groundswell of support. The Scouting for All website has had no information on the results or sizes of their protests. I have seen little reporting of any protests, only references to some very small turnouts. To me this shows not a strong movement of grassroots opposition to Scouting, but instead a well organized but small movement that gets more publicity that its support would otherwise indicate is appropriate. But this is often the case with well organized movements - if the media believes in the cause, it will often fuel the support and make the movement appear larger or stronger than it is.
  17. For a number of years, my family has owned an older Suburban as a camping/Scouting (Boy Scout/Girl Scout) vehicle. Both troops appreciate the people and cargo carrying capacity, and because its an older vehicle we can afford to let it sit while my wife and I drive better vehicles, with better gas milage, on a day-to-day basis. I always carry a tool box, spare oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, jumper cables, tow strap, etc. to help out when my or another vehicle has a problem. However, even with the best of planning, things can go wrong, and the best equipment you can carry is the human mind. We often joke that the adult motto in the troop has to be "Semper Gumbi" - always flexible, because problems will arise that you just have to work your way out of. On one family outing, my wife and I came upon two young women who had lost a wheel/tire in the Rockies. After a previous gas station tire change, the attendant had apparently not fastened the lug nuts properly, and while driving they lost a wheel and all of the lug nuts. Another motorist went down into the canyon and retrieved the wheel. I took a lug nut off each of the other wheels, and properly tightened all of them, so that they had 3 lug nuts on each wheel, and told them to drive carefully to the nearest service station and get additional lug nuts for each wheel. Since no one carries spare lug nuts, this was the only practical solution, and it worked. No matter how much equipment we can think to carry, we will sometimes need to improvise, and a calm, rational approach to problem solving will often save the day.
  18. Each time I see an article on another United Way agency cutting off the Boy Scouts, I get more frustrated that only the Boy Scouts get singled out, and only for gay rights. A review of each United way's policy will show that the agency prohibits discrimination on account of sex, religion, race, etc. But the Boy Scouts are not cut off for sex or religious discrimination, and the reason is that the United Way funds numerous agencies that restrict (i.e. discriminate) on account of sex and religion. Numerous agencies provide assistance only to battered women, women in other forms of crisis, immigrants of certain nationalities, etc. Is this not also discrimination? I suggest that each time a United Way cuts off the Boy Scouts, everyone should review the other agencies funded and the United Way asked to explain its funding of other discriminating organizations. I am not however suggesting that these other agencies be cut off, as they serve their communities well. We just need to recognize that charitable organizations, including the Boy Scouts, do not need to serve every person in the community to be valuable to the community.
  19. As jmcquillan says, we can poke fun amongst us, as we all are in this together, and believe strongly in what we do for Scouting and our Scouts. But when we are attacked, we join ranks, and defend what we know to be a great program for our youth. I just got back from our troop's summer camp, an independent camp where we spent a week on an island in the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington, sailing, boating, etc. Almost 100% participation for our Scouts, and great adult participation. Amongst adults on the trip, we poked fun at each other, and I often bear the brunt of it, as our charter rep attended and takes great pleasure in giving me grief for my chosen profession. But it is all in great fun, and as I'm sure with most Scout groups, we truly respect each other and what we all share in Scouting. So long as we have the great commitment of so many, we will weather the storms that occasionally cross our paths, and will continue to serve the many youth that will someday also serve our country and our Scouting organization.
  20. Stan, I may have you beat, because I'm a lawyer. Can't get much lower than that. Could be worse though, I could consider being a politician. On second thought, no.
  21. I think that it is too early to judge what is happening here. I have long ago learned not to react to what I read in the newspaper, because it is often reported wrong or incomplete. Once the policy itself is available for review, we can better judge what is happening. An interesting portion of the policy as reported is that scout leaders "will not expose their sexual orientation one way or the other." Excuse me, but would I have to take off my wedding ring, and would I now have to refer to my wife by some neutral term? Of greater concern to me is the statement that the Council will not discriminate because of religion. If this means that any religion is OK as long as you have one, that is no change from current policy. However, is the Council going its own way on atheist scouts? I believe that a duty to God is an absolute in Scouting, a most fundamental requirement. As I said earlier, newspaper accounts are often incomplete, and the religion issue is the one I will be more interested in.
  22. Eisely, you asked about DEET and synthetics. I have never had any problem with DEET in insect repellant when used sparingly. However, I learned a lot about it on a backpack trip to the Brooks Range in Alaska many years ago. I had several small plastic bottles of insect repellant in an outer pouch of my backpack, along with other small pieces of equipment. On the plane flight to Fairbanks, my fork punctured one of the bottles, and it leaked into the pouch. The coated nylon kept it contained and the pouch was ok, but all plastic in the pouch, including my compass and plastic eating utensils, were melted into a blob of plastic! I decided that if the stuff would do that to my gear, I had better use it lightly on me.
  23. OldGreyEagle, I would encourage you to plan for a Mt. Hood climb for your older scouts. However, if you come to Oregon rather than Washington, the hike to the summit will be a lot shorter, and you won't have to cross the Columbia River. (just kidding). I have climbed Hood over a half-dozen times, including a climb May 2000 with our scout troop. The South Side route is technically not difficult. We left the Timberline Lodge parking lot at 11:00 pm, climbed thru the night, and reached the summit in early morning. This is recommended as at night the snow is frozen. There are professional guide services you can hire or if you have experienced outdoorspeople/climbers you can do it yourself. I ran classroom sessions on climbing techniques, conditioning hikes in the Columbia Gorge, and held a one-day snow skills practice at Mt. Hood prior to the climb. Good conditioning, skill training and good clothing and equipment are essential for safety. Although many climb without any of the foregoing, sudden weather changes can occur. Back in the 1980's, a group of high school students died on the mountain on a school program because of bad weather, poor planning and poor leadership. It's a tragedy I discussed with my scouts and their parents during our class. If you would like further info, please let me know. If you want, email me @ rarussatty@aol.com and I will help out as much as I can.
  24. The Onion is a parody, not a real news source. Check out today's main page of the Onion for articles on the Primates Choice Awards, the 2001 Charlie Horse Research Appropriations Act, etc. I have seen others cite the Onion on various message pages on the web, because the authors do a great job of copying real journalism style. That said, there is accuracy to the underlying facts in the article, which is what makes the parody so effective. Sections of the gay/lesbian community are definitely not appropriate for children, or for many adults. However, the same can be said for segments of the straight community. We would not want any of these segments involved in Scouting. But no group would like to be judged by its fringe elements.
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