Can good people disagree?
July 17th, 2012
“Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic…”
But can “good people” personally disagree “on this topic”?
The careful wording euphemistically avoids mentioning what “this topic” we are discussing. In fact, “this topic” is not explicitly stated anywhere within the Boy Scout’s press release. As a piece of diversionary and obfuscatory rhetoric, it is brilliant. It says almost nothing:
After careful consideration of a resolution asking the Boy Scouts of America to reconsider its longstanding membership standards policy, today the organization affirmed its current policy, stating that it remains in the best interest of Scouting and that there will be no further action taken on the resolution.
This decision follows a nearly two-year-long examination, started in 2010, of the policy commissioned by the Chief Scout Executive and national president. Under their leadership, the BSA convened a special committee of volunteers and professional leaders to evaluate whether the policy continued to be in the best interest of the organization.
The committee included a diversity of perspectives and opinions. The review included forthright and candid conversation and extensive research and evaluations – both from within Scouting and from outside the organization. The committee’s work and conclusion is that this policy reflects the beliefs and perspectives of the BSA’s members, thereby allowing Scouting to remain focused on its mission and the work it is doing to serve more youth.
“The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers, and at the appropriate time and in the right setting,” said Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive, Boy Scouts of America. “While a majority of our membership agrees with our policy, we fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society.”
Following the recommendation to affirm the BSA’s membership policy, the executive committee of the BSA National Executive Board released the following statement: “Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to achieve the life-changing benefits to youth through Scouting. While not all Board members may personally agree with this policy, and may choose a different direction for their own organizations, BSA leadership agrees this is the best policy for the organization and supports it for the BSA.”
Resolutions asking the BSA both to affirm and reconsider this policy have been raised throughout the years. With any resolution, regardless of subject, the BSA may or may not refer it to a committee for review or may immediately determine no further action is necessary. [emphasis added]
This policy, the policy, WHAT policy?
The only semi-direct reference would suggest that there was some question about whether or not parents value the right to address issue of same-sex orientation. The uninformed could be forgiven for assuming that the Boy Scouts chose not to incorporate a new sex education program. Or maybe they have chosen not to end their policy of opposing bullying. Or their policy supporting bullying. Or their policy of creating intentionally vague and deceptive press releases.
The Boy Scouts of America have good reason to be less than direct. Because the policy to which they take great strides to hide is shameful and an embarrassment and if stated plainly is offensive.
Not that they ever put that policy in words. In fact, the words “homosexual” or “gay” (other than as a name) are no where to be found on their website. Instead it is a policy that exists in insinuation, an understood but unstated policy, one which relies on long held exclusion of those who know full well that they are unwanted.
So let me do the BSA a little favor. Let me put their policy in words (as honestly as I can based on the comments of the Boy Scouts of America and their actions).
The Boy Scouts of America believes that possessing the quality of being attracted to the same rather than to the opposite sex is an indication of insufficient moral character. The BSA therefore forbids any same-sex attracted persons, irrespective of relationship status – even if committed to celibacy – from participation in any way in the Boy Scouts or its programs. This blanket exclusion applies to all aspects, troops, groups, or subsets of the BSA and includes –
- Boy Scout members
- Troop leaders
- Den mothers
- Participation by parents
- Scout Sponsors (for example, an MCC church)
- Any other conceivable connection whatsoever to the BSA, its leadership, or its programs
Put in honest and unambiguous language, this is a reprehensible policy. And contrary to the assertions of the BSA spokesman, I very much doubt that it is supported in its entirety by “a majority of the parents”. And I think few boys would smile and agree if told, “Should any of your friends turn out to be gay, we will consider them to be undesirable and will kick them out.”
This unstated policy makes no pretense to being based on any connection to the interests of the boys involved. They don’t even quote the usual collection of bogus fear claims or trot out the ookie-spookie “HOMOSEXUAL MEN with LITTLE BOYS in the WOODS”. They simply run with, “we don’t like you, and we don’t have to, so go away”.
Which brings me back to my original question, can “good people” personally disagree “on this topic”?
If the topic is generically about homosexuality, its etiology, culture, social position, expression, morality of expression, history, political standing, structure of relationship and matters along that line, then sure. Good people can and do differ on a whole host of aspects of understanding about human sexuality.
But when it comes to a blanket exclusion of a group of people based on an benign attribute, that’s a different matter. That is bigotry. And no, bigots don’t count as “good people”.