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Ignoring Policy Makes It OK

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What if Anne Frank is hiding in the attic of your house? If you don't lie, the soldiers will likely search it and find her.

Plus, it seems odd to me that one might think that it was morally justifiable to break the law by hiding her, but not justifiable to deceive the authorities about it.

It seems to me that the Nazi's need for the information is so clearly evil that there can be nothing morally wrong about denying it to them, even by lying to them. After all, it would be OK to kill them, right?

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This is a very interesting discussion about ethics but I see a big difference between the "Anne Frank is in the attic and the Gestapo is at the door" situation (or the Rwandan genocide or other examples of brutal, violent, repressive military dictatorships relying on force and terror to achieve compliance) on one hand, and the current situation regarding certain BSA policies on the other hand.


In the former case, you know your actions could have potentially lethal consequences both for you and for another innocent person. The gun is pointing at your head so there's no way around the situation that is guaranteed to prevent violence. None of the options are likely to be good ones, and bald faced lies may be the best (and bravest) of the bunch.


In the case of the BSA, there are other options. You are not forced to join, neither are you forced to remain a member. There's no gun pointing to your head here. If it comes to a point where you are expected to either a) enforce a policy you cannot support or b) lie about failing to do so, there's always the third option of c) resigning your membership. Those folks with Anne in the attic and the Nazis at the door didn't have that option.


To put lying to the BSA about enforcement of policies you dislike on the same moral footing as lying to a brutal dictatorship in order to save innocent lives is to gloss over some pretty important moral differences. Just my 2 cents.



A good old bobwhite too!

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Prairie...WWI and WWII were both entered into by Dem. Presidents. Vietnam was drastically escalated by Dems. Lots of conspiracy theories (true or false) around US involvement in all of those.


As for the lying thing. I think I prefer the middle ground in this argument. Yes, lying is always wrong. However, it can be the lesser of two wrongs in extreme cases. (the preserving of innocent life being paramount here)


In the Anne Frank scenario, there may be clever ways to avoid lying, but lying to save her is less of a moral problem than offering her up.


When it comes to policies, deliberately ignoring the policies in a deceitful manner is not often (ever) being done to preserve life. Hence, the two situations are not even remotely related.

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Absolutely correct. I thought when I sent that, "well, I opened that door. I wonder if anyone will walk through.? :)


I'm sure there's enough "sneaky dealings" to go around for everyone...the Dems and their wars, Nixon with Watergate, Reagan with Iran/Contra. Not trying to open a lot of debate on this; point is, I think, that, every administration has it's share of closed door dealings that someone might not agree with.



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  • 2 weeks later...

We must make rules that are clear and then enforce them blindly or we must be ready to admit that we support vigilante justice.


I dearly love these views of the world. Why in heaven's name would we ever buy this as being a binary choice?


Well, happily, neither we nor our founding fathers did. Instead, we trust to the goodwill and intelligence of fellow citizens. We rely on juries and judges and law enforcement officers and the like to be Mentally Awake. We recognize that it's impossible for even the most intelligent human lawmaker to come up with a law that is so clear that it can be enforced justly everywhere all the time; so we trust other intelligent people of good will to interpret and enforce and, yes, where appropriate ignore the law for the sake of justice.


Vigilante justice? No. American jurisprudence. To trust the People, and freedom, more than the King.


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First of all Ed and Merlyn... you both are out there.


Second.. I think it is a bad habit to pick and choose which policies you follow or enforce.

Just because you don't agree or think it is bad form... does not give you the right to not follow this organizations policies. You are always welcome to leave Scouting (private Club) if you are not happy.

Choose not to follow Youth Protection Guidlines and get a Scout hurt. I hope you rot after you are nailed to the tree. And I hope in your defense that you say, well it was a policy I did not agree with.

The policies are there for a reason. Follow them or leave the club.

Anne Frank... c'mon... you are equating life and death with the decision to have COs in the Schools... give me a break. You must have to much time on your hands.

You must hang out with that clown in California that wants God out of the Pledge....

Like it or not God is a part of America and the BSA.

Like or leave it.



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I guess I don't see it so black and white. Is it a bad idea to enforce some policies and not others? Some may think so, but policemen do it every day. There are minor breaches of the law, and major ones. And there are things that seem illegal and wrong all of the time, and other things only seem wrong in certain situations. And policemen let minor violations go by all the time.


That's how I feel about the Scouting policies, too. I'm fine with holding to the spirit of the rules, but holding to the letter of the rules seems often to defy common sense. The most important rule is to use good judgement. That can be true whether something is ok by the rules, but clearly unsafe, or prohibited by the rules, but easily judged safe.


I have a pretty clear grip on risk analysis and try to keep a good safety margin in all our activities. But the actions required to maintain that safety margin certainly vary with circumstances.


Somehow I feel like we've had this discussion before on this board, though...


Oak Tree

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schleining writes:



I think it is a bad habit to pick and choose which policies you follow or enforce.


Anne Frank... c'mon... you are equating life and death with the decision to have COs in the Schools...




So should public schools pick & choose what laws to follow, or should they follow civil rights laws and not charter BSA units which require them to practice religious discrimination?


And I wasn't "equating" the two issues, I only used the classic Anne Frank question to point out that lying isn't always wrong.

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And I wasn't "equating" the two issues, I only used the classic Anne Frank question to point out that lying isn't always wrong.


Lying IS always wrong. There are times it might be justified as in the Anne Frank situation, but that doesn't make it right.


Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

A blessed Christmas to all

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First of all this will be my last post on this issue.

The reason, I believe after watching Merlyn on this board for some time, if you get caught in a "Discussion" it will soon become a catch 22 and start spiraling out of control...as this topic has.


So my final comment on the issue...


MY OPINION is that yes Schools should not be Chartered Organizations. Why... because typically they are terrible COs.

They do not hold the same set of values as the BSA and therefore do not understand the program in total.

For the same reasons I do not expect school teachers to raise the kids. I expect them to teach and do it within a budget.

Schools should not be political. IF they are then they might (and do) spread their liberal rhetoric to my conservative children, children that do believe in God and practice their faith. Children that do believe that the USA is the greatest country on Earth and are developing into good citizens of this country. Children that try their very best to live the Scout law.. all Twelve of them, not just the ones they think they like or are easy.

Good judgement... where does that come from? Its got to start with good reason.

Is it ok to steal an apple to give to someone that is hungry?

NO... buy that apple and give it someone that is hungry.

That is better (good) judgement. And comes from good reason.


Which policy don't you like? The one that says a Scout is reverent and therefore should hold a religious belief? That is terrible... how dare the BSA want the boys to grow and act according to the Golden rule...

What other policies? Two deep leadership? No Sky diving? Practicing Leave no trace? Having an updated medical form? Trained leaders? Refusing to tolerate name-calling, put-downs, discrimination, or any form of physical aggression?


Yeah... I think the BSA is way off base, maybe Merlyn is right.


The BSA is good, just the way it is. Civil Law... don't forget we are a PRIVATE CLUB. No one gets turned away as long as they agree to participate in accordance with the rules of the BSA.

Thats not hateful or in violation of any civil law.

I belong to the Knights of Columbus... we discriminate all the time in our membership... You have to be a practical Catholic MAN that agrees to by laws and constitution of the Knights. If you don't... then you can not be a member. Is that against the law? NOPE.

The same with Boy Scouts.


OK.. I am done. I am jumping out of Merlyns never ending spinning loop.


Jerry(This message has been edited by schleining)

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Ok, I have to say this.


Some folks have really gotten pretty disrespectful of Merlyn here. You don't agree with him? Fine. Does he get carried away sometimes? Sure. Who doesn't here? If I had a Scout in a troop meeting saying to another Scout "Spare us your blah blah blah" (which I think is actually from another recent thread, but I feel the sentiment here as well), I'd be sitting down to have a serious talk with him.


If you don't like what he's saying, disagree, disprove, but don't belittle. Maybe what he's saying has struck a nerve someplace, and that's what's ticking people off.


Of course, I'd expect the same level of respect from Merlyn towards everyone else.

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Lying IS always wrong. There are times it might be justified as in the Anne Frank situation, but that doesn't make it right.




Ya split dat hair so finely that I lost it. You must be using some interesting definitions for "wrong" "right" and "justified." In my lexicon, "justified" generally means "demonstrated or proven to be just, right, or valid." So if it's justified, that does indeed make it right.


For those with a biblical notion of right and wrong, we must recall that the commandment is not "thou shalt not lie." It is "thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." That "against" qualifier does not appear in the other commandments; it's a special addition only to this one. Lying to protect your neighbor, or his feelings, or to accomplish some other good, or even something neutral (without causing harm) is, well, ... justified.




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  • 3 weeks later...


OK, is this ignoring official BSA policy or not?





Questioned by Associate Justice Carlos Moreno, Gordon acknowledged that although gays and atheists have been Sea Scouts under a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" policy, any youth or leaders known to be gay or atheist would not be permitted, as required by the national policy.


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