The Raving Theist

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Calling the ACLU

March 29, 2005 | 24 Comments

Douglas S. Smith, Jr., National Program Director, Boy Scouts of America, defending his organization against charges of discrimination against gay and atheists in a September 2004 letter to the editor:

Some intolerant elements in our society want to force scouting to abandon its values and to become fundamentally different. They want scouting to forego its constitutional rights, affirmed in 2000 by the Supreme Court in BSA v. Dale, and adopt fundamentally different values from the ones that helped shape the character of Mr. Collins [an Eagle Scout who had written a letter critical of the Boy Scouts’ position] and 106 million other young men over the past 94 years.

It bothers Mr. Collins that scouting is defending itself, even though he acknowledged that it has been “dragged into” the “culture war.” He says the tone of our legal-issues web site, bsalegal.org, is defensive. The site does seek to defend our values and to inform the public about the three-decade-long legal assault on scouting. That we need a legal-issues web site is testament to the fact that our constitutional rights are under attack.

Clearly, Mr. Collins longs for a time when the Boy Scout organization could give its undivided attention to the “good stuff” of Scouting: “camping and life skills . . . ” So do we. Mr. Collins would do well to communicate his displeasure to those directing their discriminatory assault against his beloved Boy Scouts — the ACLU.

Douglas S. Smith, Jr., fifty-seven minutes ago.

Comments

24 Responses to “Calling the ACLU”

  1. ocmpoma
    March 29th, 2005 @ 4:29 pm

    Classic. Yet another reason why my son isn’t part of this organization.

  2. Viole
    March 29th, 2005 @ 5:11 pm

    What an ass. Not having ever been a boy scout, or wanted to join the army, I’m not sure of my ground, but don’t Eagle Scouts skip a rank? Not to mention, it looks good on a resum

  3. boywonder
    March 29th, 2005 @ 5:47 pm

    The boy scouts are to soldiers what santa is to god. Their moral values reflect christianity only without the messy dogma. The problem is not the assault on their discrimation, but what their values are in the first place. I see eagle scouts as prepratory for becoming a mindless soldier. This mentality is part of why America is becoming so fearfully conservative.

  4. hermesten
    March 29th, 2005 @ 6:00 pm

    I don’t get the whole Boy Scouts thing. I don’t understand why any self-respecting and self-thinking individual would even want to be a member. OK, I guess I answered my own question. The Boy Scouts, and other similar organizations, are for people that need to acquire a sense of identity from the group, and long for conformity. The Boy Scouts are essentiallly running a big pretend game where the adults get to pretend along with the kids. Other than playing dress-up and pretend what is the purpose of the Boy Scouts? The military, from which the Boys Scouts borrow heavily to play dress-up and pretend, has a purpose, and if it ceased to exist, at least as the world is currently constituted, we might miss it –and perhaps rather quickly. If tomorrow the Boy Scouts ceased to exist as an organization and their make-believe world disappeared, why would anyone who isn’t a part of it have any reason to care?

    Frankly, by promoting conformity and obdience, I think the Boy Scouts probably do more harm than good, and I think we’d all be better off without them.

  5. Sharona
    March 29th, 2005 @ 6:03 pm

    Irony: When wacked out religious nut jobs ban the gays for fear of them pushing their unclean agenda on boys whose minds and bodies are, as yet, unmolded … who then get arrested for soliciting child pornography.

  6. AK
    March 29th, 2005 @ 6:11 pm

    My irony meter just fucking exploded out my head and as a result I am now in a Schiavo-state of vegetative existence. The irony of this organization and this man literally caused me severe medical trauma.

  7. HexGhost
    March 29th, 2005 @ 6:19 pm

    I feel I should comment as this affects me personally. I’ve been a member of the BSA for over 15 years. I’m also an Eagle Scount, the highest rank of the Boy Scouts (note Viole: eagle scout is the highest rank, its not a rank skip or anything like that). I was basically put into Boy Scouts as a kid by my parents, because my father wanted me to be the third generation in the family to get the Eagle Scout, as he and his father did. Not much say an 8 year old has in the matter, I’m sure you can all understand.
    It was not very easy for me as an atheist in the Boy Scouts. I never told anyone, for obvious reasons, that I was an atheist. While there was some elements of Christianity, it wasn’t like going to church every week. I believe, and still believe, that the fundamental values of scounting – teamwork, basic moral teachings, etc etc, are very important. Scouting, for hermerstan, is not a “grown ups and kids pretending” organization – its for teaching young boys a wide variety of skills that will hopefully make them better people. Nor was there any real military element to it; while there are ranks and such, thats about where similarities end, and there is no active encouragment to join the armed forces. I learned everything from camping skills to first aid to citizenship. Many of the skills I learned I would never have otherwise had the opportunity to learn – how many people normally learn leatherworking/metalworking? For some of the required merit badges I had to become an active participant in the community at large, writing to legislature representatives, etc. These are all valuable skills. While I strongly disagree with the current administration’s views on gays, atheists, etc, that doesn’t mean I disagree with the entire boy scount tradition. It saddens me to see this kind of scandal hit the BSA, but people are people, no matter where they are. After all, if a high school principle was found to be a child pornographer, would you argue for that as a reason why public high schools in general are a failure?

  8. HexGhost
    March 29th, 2005 @ 6:20 pm

    I feel I should comment as this affects me personally. I’ve been a member of the BSA for over 15 years. I’m also an Eagle Scount, the highest rank of the Boy Scouts (note Viole: eagle scout is the highest rank, its not a rank skip or anything like that). I was basically put into Boy Scouts as a kid by my parents, because my father wanted me to be the third generation in the family to get the Eagle Scout, as he and his father did. Not much say an 8 year old has in the matter, I’m sure you can all understand.
    It was not very easy for me as an atheist in the Boy Scouts. I never told anyone, for obvious reasons, that I was an atheist. While there was some elements of Christianity, it wasn’t like going to church every week. I believe, and still believe, that the fundamental values of scounting – teamwork, basic moral teachings, etc etc, are very important. Scouting, for hermerstan, is not a “grown ups and kids pretending” organization – its for teaching young boys a wide variety of skills that will hopefully make them better people. Nor was there any real military element to it; while there are ranks and such, thats about where similarities end, and there is no active encouragment to join the armed forces. I learned everything from camping skills to first aid to citizenship. Many of the skills I learned I would never have otherwise had the opportunity to learn – how many people normally learn leatherworking/metalworking? For some of the required merit badges I had to become an active participant in the community at large, writing to legislature representatives, etc. These are all valuable skills. While I strongly disagree with the current administration’s views on gays, atheists, etc, that doesn’t mean I disagree with the entire boy scount tradition. It saddens me to see this kind of scandal hit the BSA, but people are people, no matter where they are. After all, if a high school principle was found to be a child pornographer, would you argue for that as a reason why public high schools in general are a failure?

  9. HexGhost
    March 29th, 2005 @ 6:20 pm

    ack double post, sorry.

  10. Viole
    March 29th, 2005 @ 7:16 pm

    Sorry, it seems I was unclear. Doesn’t an eagle scout get an advantage over anyone else who might join the army? Meaning that atheists are at an immediate advantage if they join the military?

  11. boywonder
    March 29th, 2005 @ 8:57 pm

    HexGhost, I only made it to weebelos (sp) and I already couldn’t stand being in the organization any more. I’m sure my situation was different (i.e., den leaders, personal views, etc.), but, like you, I didn’t mind learning cool stuff like how to make camp and build fires and such. Most of the activities were enjoyable, but that’s just it- there are many church activities that truely support the community as well, but they don’t make up for the agendas, hypocricies, and antiquated moral teachings that underlie the organization. If anything(and this is the point), the good parts lend credability to the organization and confuse weak-minded people. It’s like putting 1000-dollar rims on a rusty Yugo and saying you have a badass car.

  12. Spurius Furius
    March 29th, 2005 @ 9:46 pm

    Boywonder:
    It saddens me to hear you refer to people in our military as “mindless soldiers”. You don’t like what is going on Iraq? – Me neither! The people who are on the front line, however, are there because they love this country and are willing to put their lives on the line for it.
    I personally know three people over there and I can assure you that they are intelligent caring people. One of them is even an athiest like us. He sent me a letter and signed it “the only athiest in the foxhole”. Think how hard it must be to keep your sense of humor when people are shooting at you! You are, of course, entitled to your opinion, but consider that you have the freedom to have that opinion because people like my friends are willing to die protecting it. Just a thought.

  13. boywonder
    March 29th, 2005 @ 10:29 pm

    Spurious Furious, no I do not think every soldier is an idiot. I also do not believe every wealthy person is intelligent or that every poor person is a moron. However, it is reasonable to conclude that the majority of wealthy people are reasonably intelligent, the majority of poor people are intellectually baron, and the majority of soldiers are from poor families. Ergo, most soldiers have no other prospects based on their backgrounds and abilities and see the militairy as their only means of a good life. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, I think it is smart of many of them to understand their limitations and take what they can get. The issue I mean by “mindless soldiers” is the methodology used to turn someone into an “army of one”. I also understand we need a militairy to protect us, but I do not believe we need to use 25 % or more of our budget to have one. And I certainly do not believe we should be using or soldiers to attack another country to keep from being attacked. Ofcourse, that is a seperate issue in itself. I just think our government treats our soldiers like pawns in a chess game with no cocern for them, just concern for their own agendas.

  14. hermesten
    March 29th, 2005 @ 11:40 pm

    Spurius, I am disgusted by how the current administration treats our military, and even more so that they are not called to account for it. But no one is dying in Iraq for “freedom.” Except maybe for the freedom of Halliburton, et al, to loot US taxpayers. Iraq has absolutely nothing to do with our freedom. Bush has taken more of it than 100 Saddams could ever take. And the poor Iraqis, now rid of Saddam, will get to live in a Muslim theocracy –so everyone involved will end up with less “freedom.”

  15. Spurius Furius
    March 30th, 2005 @ 7:10 am

    Sorry guys, but you are arguing a straw man if you think that I am in anyway defending the wanderlust of the current adminstration, or the way in which we conduct foreign policy. The issue I brought up is about the people who are brave enough to serve this country, not about our duplicitous government.

  16. Andy
    March 30th, 2005 @ 8:20 am

    Back to the BSA, the irony is deeply amusing. However, it is concerning when you realize that Douglas S. Smith, Jr. likely didn’t see the hypocracy of his statements. How could he be involved in kiddy porn and still have the audacity to talk about values?

    Regarding the military: Michael Moore’s site has letters from soldiers that indicate that many are deeply affected by the events in Iraq.

  17. The One True Commenter
    March 30th, 2005 @ 8:29 am

    The issue I brought up is about the people who are brave enough to serve this country, not about our duplicitous government.

    Okay, fine, but first you said this: but consider that you have the freedom to have that opinion because people like my friends are willing to die protecting it.

    Look – until there are foreign airplanes in our airspace, enemy soldiers on the coasts, and tanks rolling down our streets, we are not fighting in self-defense, so please leave the “fighting for our freedom” crap to inbred yokels like Toby Keith.

    And, finally, the obvious: the people who seem most determined to limit the kinds of opinions we’re allowed to have and the words we’re allowed to say are good ol’ home-grown Americans, and most of the time, these kinds of issues aren’t decided on a battlefield anyway.

  18. hermesten
    March 30th, 2005 @ 9:56 am

    Andy, there are “values” for people like you and me and other “values” for people like Mr. Smith. Rarely are the people spouting off on “values” actually talking about adherence to moral principles. When people talk about “family values” for instance, they don’t mean anything like shared values of mutual love and respect: they are talking about appearance and conformity –the right kind of people who look and behave as they themselves do. In other words, no homosexuals, especially no homosexuals with marriage rights or children, no Muslims, no atheists, no one who would protest government policies, no one who dresses “funny,” no wierdos like vegetarians, etc, etc, etc. Appearances are everything: better someone who looks right, dresses right, lives in the right neighborhood, and says the right things but cheats their shareholders, screws their employees, and molests children than some honest and decent gay man or lesbian who doesn’t look like they’re part of the tribe. In other words, “values” usually just means conformity, obdeiance, and control.

    Having actually met some adult Boy Scout leaders like this guy, I’m not at all surprised. The people who have kids in groups like this, and are involved in their kid’s activities by participating in the organization are usually just good parents trying to do the right things for their children. But what’s wifth adult males who have grown-up children, or no children at all, and are involved in the Boy Scouts for 39 years, still dressing up in a uniform like a little boy? –well, some of these people are downright wierd– and not as in different or unique, but iin a bad way. I’m not saying they’re necessarily perverts or child molesters, but some part of them never properly matured and remains mired in adolescence.

  19. JahBohl
    March 30th, 2005 @ 11:04 am

    I have to agree with HexGhost. I too am an Eagle Scout and also an atheist. Scouting taught me numerous skills I never would would have learned elsewhere. Skills that have definitey enriched my life and made me a better person. It also helped in teaching me about religious beliefs that I wouldn’t have been exposed to. Learning about religion and god in scouting helped to foster my critical thinking skills and spawned my atheistic views. It did not turn me into a mindless god-nut.

    This current case is a shame. But judging an entire group of people by the actions of a few individuals is not rational. “Wierd”, sick, fu..ed up people can be found anywhere in society (even in atheists groups), why would one expect scouting to be any different. In my experience, the people involved in scouting are properly matured and have the best of intentions.

  20. Spurius Furius
    March 30th, 2005 @ 11:09 am

    Commentator: You and I could go around and around on this and never change each others mind. There are a million political BLOGS to do this on. My fault, I brought it up here!

  21. Jarod
    March 30th, 2005 @ 1:50 pm

    As of the time of my comment posting, the URL link that RA provided to the Boy Scouts website and the press release is not working, getting the standard “The page cannot be found” error. Guess the Boy Scouts are political enough to remove any links to the guy.

    Can anyone post a link to the letter to the editor that RA referred to? Thanks.

  22. theferout
    March 31st, 2005 @ 11:31 am

    A third Eagle scout chiming in here. HexGhost and JahBohl have both essentially spoken for me, in that I still think there are positive attributes to the BSA, in spite of it’s religious bent.
    I would like to add that the troop (and den) that you’re part of plays an absolutely critical role in what the scouting experience will be like. I personally witnessed, and turned down, troops that did very little ‘scouting’ and spent most of their time doing odd jobs for the church that let them meet in their annex. Luckily for me, my parents helped me pick and choose which troop I wanted to be part of, and I was able to find ones that emphasized the ‘nuts and bolts’ of scouting -camping, woodcraft, many other skills-, without any sort of proselytizing, and certainly no military recruitment. For me, there simply was no religious element to my scounting experience.
    In any troop, there is still the oath, which mentions god, but at the time I was active, I employed the same method that I did in school regarding the pledge of allegience; I simply skipped over the part that metioned god, and took to heart those parts that I really believed in. Looking back, I think that measure was perhaps a bit passive, but at the time, I was there to camp and have fun. I didn’t see the situation as one of religious freedom, and I don’t feel now like I helped advance anyone’s religious agenda.
    Perhaps the situation is makedly different now, ~10 years later, but I suspect that the BSA is like any other distributed organization; your experience will depend on the people around you, and what you decide to take from it. Certainly, Scouting probably isn’t for everyone, but I count my experience as a positive one.

  23. Brian Westley, Scouting For All
    April 1st, 2005 @ 9:39 pm

    Google cache still has the article from bsalega.org:
    http://64.233.187.104/search?q=cache:1NguQR9-M5YJ:www.bsalegal.org/brucecol-181.htm

    Also, I haven’t seen any mention that the BSA was recently forced to agree to drop all government charters due to their discrimination against atheists:
    http://www.aclu-il.org/news/press/000259.shtml

  24. Jay
    April 11th, 2005 @ 8:25 pm
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