The Boy Scouts are as American as apple pie, and they have decided to keep it that way. This has earned them the censure of the Washington Post's editorial page last week. The Scouts decided to reaffirm the policy to deny membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA."
The Post opined that this is un-American, because the policy teaches "young people that it seeks to empower that some of them are unequal, merely because of the way they were born." This "represents a sad embrace of intolerance" and it is "nothing if not an incitement to 'criticize' and 'condemn'" open or avowed homosexuals.
Does, in fact, the Boy Scouts organization deny the founding principle of the United States that all people are created equal? To the contrary, the Scouts have no class, social, economic, racial or religious barriers to entry. If anything, they are a shining example of the principle of equality. All you have to do to become a Scout is to adhere to its principles, as expressed in the Boy Scout pledge, which is as follows:
"On my honor, I will do my best To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight."
Is there anything iniquitous in this pledge? The purpose of the Scouts is the physical and moral formation of young boys. The moral part of that formation excludes the avowal and promotion of homosexual acts, which are inherently immoral. This is the basis of the "exclusion" that the Post deplores. However, this policy has nothing to do with the way anyone is born, but everything to do with how they behave. It is not about "who" they are, but what they "do" and, most importantly, how they justify what they do.
In other words, by announcing their proclivities and behavior publicly, "open" homosexuals are not only telling others that they have accepted themselves as active homosexuals; they are insisting that others accept them on the same basis on which they have accepted themselves. Therefore, in the Boy Scouts case, they have made a public announcement concerning their sexual behavior and wish to have it accepted as the basis for their inclusion in an organization that is explicitly dedicated to moral formation. By including "open" homosexuals, such an organization would be, at the very least, implicitly accepting the rationalization for homosexual sexual behavior as part of that moral formation. To do so would make the Scouts complicit in the corruption of youth.
They should be very proud of themselves that, despite all the pressure, they have refused to do so. A Scouts spokesman said, "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." In other words, the Scouts refused to be instrumentalized by the homosexual movement to advance its cause. Bravo.
The absurdity of the Post's case against the Boy Scouts can be understood as follows. Let us say there is a Temperance League to which some active and "open" alcoholics seek admittance. The whole point of the Temperance League is to teach the evils of overindulgence in spirits. If it accepts others who openly advocate and practice drunkenness, it would be denying the reason for its own existence. It would abandon the moral principle that it is evil to be drunken.
What would be the purpose of the "active" alcoholics in joining the Temperance League? They would not be joining in order to quit drinking or to be changed, but to change the Temperance League itself so that there would be one less societal organization in the way of their getting good and sozzled whenever they wanted to without public, moral opprobrium. They would join to reverse the public teaching on drunkenness.
Is it then a matter of intolerance to exclude active alcoholics? Yes, of course, it is, but it is based not on who the alcoholics are, but on what they do and how they justify what they do. Any reformed alcoholic would be welcome to join the Temperance League.
Now the Post might say that this is treating active alcoholics as unequal to non-alcoholics and others "merely because of the way they were born." And, in fact, there is a case to be made that certain people are afflicted with a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. However, some people with this predisposition choose not to drink, while others choose to imbibe. In other words, despite the predisposition, the act is still a matter of free will, and therefore a moral issue. All acts are not equal. Moral acts are superior to immoral acts. Virtue is superior to vice. Truth is superior to falsehood. All of which are implied in the Boy Scout pledge – which is why it is under attack by the Post.
Speaking of which, we ought to say that the Post's editorial is simply the latest volley in its incessant war against sexual morality and marriage. Not only its editorial page, but the Style section and often even its news pages are dedicated to the overthrow of chastity and any notion of marriage as between a man and a woman. Selecting at random the July 23rd issue, we find on page A3 of the news section, "In one year, N.Y. gay-marriage law has made its mark on state, nation." Needles to say, the report is all good news. In the Style section, here is the sub headline on page C3, "Early gay-rights activist lionized in HBO's 'Vito'" The Metro section has from page story on "AIDS meeting aims to reinvigorate efforts." There is then an entire separate supplement on "AIDS in America."
Like any good propagandist, the Post believes that if it repeats its mantra often enough it will change reality or create a new one. (This reminds me of a recent Iranian video dramatizing a classroom change in which the teacher institutes a policy in which 2 + 2 = 5, and of how, through sheer repetition, peer pressure and force, he gets the students to agree to the new reality: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3eTjftyAtIc)
The Post certainly feels itself free to "criticize" and "condemn" those like the Boy Scouts who won't go along with the program. If you do not embrace their unreality, you will be punished. How tolerant is that? The editorial ends by calling into question the Boy Scouts popular motto, "Be Prepared," and asks sarcastically, "Prepared for what kind of world?" The answer is, if the Post succeeds in its endeavor, a very dark Orwellian one.
Robert R. Reilly writes for Mercatornet.com, is a music critic for Crisis Magazine and author of The Closing of the Muslim Mind. He is currently completing a book on the natural law argument against same-sex marriage for Ignatius Press.
E-mail him at [email protected]
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.