God Bless the Boy Scouts

February 18, 2001

Once again Oak Park is in the news, and this time the news isn’t good. A front page story in the Chicago Sun-Times informs us that the various Boy Scout troops in Oak Park have decided to sever their ties with the national organization because here in Oak Park we don’t like to discriminate against gays and lesbians and we don’t like people who think differently than we do. It all goes back to a decision of the Boy Scouts of America not to allow openly homosexual men to serve as troop leaders. That policy was contested in court and, after a long battle, was eventually upheld by the Supreme Court. Since winning the case, there have been numerous reports about the Boy Scouts losing their funding from various civic and charitable organizations, including (it is said) some local chapters of the United Way.

Here in Oak Park we have long desired to be on the forefront of political correctness. We not only wish to support homosexuality as natural and normal, we wish to ostracize those who hold a contrary opinion. Therefore, the local public schools will no longer let the Boy Scouts meet in their facilities. And now the various Oak Park troops have evidently make a complete break with the national organization. Why is this necessary? To quote one parent directly, “We cannot tolerate intolerance.” Evidently this statement was made with a totally straight face, notwithstanding the fact that it is self-contradictory. To be intolerant of intolerance is to indulge in the very behavior you intend to condemn. But this is not the time or place for a lesson in logic. Oak Park gave that up a few years ago and no one seems to have missed it.

Many years ago I was a Cub Scout and then I was a Boy Scout. I don’t remember much about it except that I earned a few merit badges, learned to cook hamburgers over an open fire, never could figure out how to start a fire without matches, and won an award for swimming across a tributary of the Tennessee River. I also learned how to tie a variety of knots, most of which I never used again. My scouting “career” was completely unexceptional and I was eventually diverted to other pursuits as I entered high school. It’s been a long time but I still recall the Boy Scout pledge, “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.” I can see no objection to those qualities and would dare to say that they provide a good roadmap for any young boy.

The stand taken by the Boy Scouts of America is not only right, it’s really a no-brainer. They deserve a merit badge for courage.

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