On the Boy Scouts

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Reflecting on the purpose of this long-standing private organization, especially in light of the recent change in admission standards, it is important to recall what Calvin Coolidge had to say about them. Writing in his daily column on February 9, 1931, he said,

“Millions of our young men have had the benefit of the physical, mental and moral discipline that results from Scout training. When the evil reports of a few gangsters make us wonder if society and government are about to disintegrate and revert to the law of the jungle, we can turn with assurance to the humanizing and civilizing effect of the Boy Scouts. Under the old life in the country every boy was something of a Scout. But in the modern city many boys live on a narrow street or alley. The buildings make it impossible for them to see; in the constant roar they cannot hear. With the lack of healthful and life-giving impulses from without they are turned back on themselves. When they need action and companionship in order to secure a natural growth of body and mind, they are unable to find anything but an artificial, dwarfing substitute. The profitable and patriotic remedy for these conditions is the Boy Scout movement. Under the influence of a considerable body of citizens so trained our republic is fairly secure.”

Considering the Boy Scouts accomplished all of this for decades before the latest round of complaints against it, the policy change rings hollow. Volunteer and civic-minded organizations, like what the Scouts have been, represent certain moral standards and no force in the world can rightfully tell them to abandon that ennobling purpose in order to enact the amorphous values of someone else. The Boy Scouts are not about sexual orientation, but about instilling character and competence in our young men. That used to be an asexual blessing to society–not anymore. Sexual identity trumps all other values. Now, one by one, organizations like the Boy Scouts have to concede their purpose to an intolerant minority unwilling to grant the existence of any organization that chooses its own standards of membership. So much for the good old fashioned virtue of living and letting live. This latest coerced participant in reordering society to please a few is only the most recent effort to keep Pandora’s box open, whatever it will cost (in lives or public morals) down the road.

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