Only in America.
Only in America could religious conservatives get worked up over the Boy Scouts' decision to admit openly homosexual boys to their ranks.
We all knew this decision was inevitable, if not this week then next year. What possible difference can it make? The mere fact that there was a debate should have been enough to persuade even the most dull-witted conservative (a redundant expression) that the Scouts had become evil. But no, all morning long Southern Baptist leaders have been deploring the corruption of this once great institution, etc. etc.
In the days leading up to the vote, the press was full of useless facts, such as the percentage of the great unwashed that favored the sexual exploitation of younger boys by older boys, the agreement of Romney and Obama on the need for this earth-shattering revolution, the percentage of Boy Scout leaders favoring underage sodomy,. etc. etc.
The issue was always crystal clear without any room for debate, with no opportunity for fine points or clarification. The Scouts are open to boys from the age of 1o.5 to 18 years. Some of them, in the course of time, may turn homosexual, but so long as it is forbidden to act on--or rather act out--their unwholesome impulses, the harm they might do is limited.
By contrast, an openly gay 10 year old has been so hopelessly screwed up by his parents and teachers that short of a religious conversion he can never lead a normal life. Parents who encourage this nonsense and fight for the right of their little boys to dress as girls and use the little girls restrooms should be arrested for abuse of children and have their children taken away from them.
A pre-pubescent child cannot be sexually attracted to members of his own sex, much less long to change gender. These attitudes have been implanted in him by evil adults. By any non-Freudian understanding of sex, a ten or eleven year old does not define himself by his sexual proclivities. A really effeminate kid might well, under the right circumstances, grow into a normal lover of women or else find a vocation that requires chastity. To be openly gay at that age is to advertise a sickness that is worse than bubonic plague. Just the sort of kids I want my children to share a sleeping bag with!
An older gay adolescent, while perhaps not so completely disturbed, is in the process of becoming a sexual predator. Parents and "youth leaders" who would permit such boys to exercise authority over younger and vulnerable tenderfoots are themselves degenerate. This sort of abuse happened with some regularity in English schools, but when it was discovered, it could be punished and punished severely. The Scouts, on the other hand, are making a virtue out of a vice.
The hypocrisy of the Scout leaders who voted to approve this measure is transparent. If gay teens can be admitted and given the opportunity to abuse younger boys , then there cannot possibly be anything wrong in homosexual behavior. Why, then, forbid adult homosexuals from acting as leaders? What is the fear? I think I would far more easily trust an older gay man who has learned some self-control and knows what trouble he might get into over a punk kid (I use the term advisedly) who fears nothing.
But who would trust his sons to the Scouts? For decades Scouting has been a progressive therapy system run by namby-pambys to create namby-pambys. Perhaps it was not always so, but already in the 1950's, when I was first a Cub Scout and then a Boy Scout, the organization had drifted far from its original purpose of teaching woodcraft and building manly characters. Most of the Scouts I have run into over the years have been chumps, though there were some who merely loved the outdoors and in Scouting found opportunities to spend time in the woods.
I had no problem with the Cub Scouts, because it was a small pack that consisted entirely of the boys I went to school with. I did not much like the meetings, though, since they were presided over by mothers who must have had too much time on their hands. It was a chance to eat cookies and drink Kool Aid, but beyond that I don't remember much, apart from the sessions in which we boys taught each other to tie our favorite knots--my limited skills still amaze my wife.
I made the serious mistake of joining a downtown troop. For business reasons, my father had moved the family temporarily into the center of town. We had previously lived on the edge of the country, and I had spent my early years camping in the woods and learning a good deal of woodcraft. It helped that my father was a great outdoorsman--a fine shot and an excellent fisherman. Imagine my dismay at discovering that my Scout leaders not only had nothing to teach me but were absolutely hopeless in the woods.
I remember one experience well. We were camped out in a rough cabin with bunk beds. One of the boys, envying the comfort-loving Scoutmaster's better bed and blankets, sneaked in after the leader had got up to shower. The kid was unfortunately a bedwetter...
The night before, one of the smart urban kids had sprinkled salt everywhere. This attracted the porcupines, so I woke up to see the little brutes killing the harmless creatures with knives. Quite apart from it being a stupid exercise in brutality, it was illegal to kill porcupines. As every hunter in the great state of Wisconsin knows, a man starving in the winter woods may have to live off the one animal it is easy to catch--the porupine. That is why they were protected. But these inner-city specimens of American youth actually chopped down a young birch in order to finish off two porcupines that had escaped. I'm surprised they did not burn down the cabin.
Later that day, the downtown kids showed me how to straightwire the Scoutmaster's car, and off we went on a joyride. The poor man, who had no knowledge of woodcraft, could not even protect his possessions from the hoodlums he was supposed to be leading.
A year later, a friend of mine and I were in the woods, shooting his pump .bb gun. We ran into my old assistant scoutmaster with two friends, playing with a .22. When one of them playfully borrowed the .bb gun and began pinging his friend, the other guy ran around, grabbed the .22 and began firing between his friend's legs. My friend and I had never witnessed such citified stupidity in our young lives.
A few years after that, in South Carolina, I had a friend whose father was a Scout leader. This was just before he got sent to jail for writing bad checks.
I do not say all Scouting leaders are of this type, but I will say that I do not much trust grown men who want to spend time with boys. In some cases, of course, fathers in a community accept such positions as one of their obligations, and if they have woodcraft, they enjoy sharing their skills with their sons and with the sons of their friends. Otherwise, such people tend to be at best of the social worker/youth pastor type: people who get a kick out of bossing the young and vulnerable.
I understand and agree with the ideals of the early Scouting leaders. We have to be good barbarians before we can become civilized, and spending time outdoors is a great antidote to the corruption of urban life. But, whenever possible, these ideals should be communicated by families and by friends of the family, not by do-gooders who give out medals to boys who help their mothers around the house.
The sooner we disabuse ourselves of these socializing illusions and the institutions that perpetuate them--the Scouts, YMCA, youth groups at church--the better off our children will be. H.L. Mencken was wrong about many things, but his contempt for the YMCA was entirely justified.
Only in America could religious conservatives not see through these illusions and wish to protect their children from the Scouts. Perhaps the Boy Scouts' decision to encourage the homosexual seduction of children will help.
Thomas Fleming is the former editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of The Politics of Human Nature, Montenegro: The Divided Land, and The Morality of Everyday Life, named Editors' Choice in philosophy by Booklist in 2005. He is the coauthor of The Conservative Movement and the editor of Immigration and the American Identity. He holds a Ph.D. in classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Before joining the Rockford Institute, he taught classics at the University of Miami of Ohio, served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Education, and was headmaster at the Archibald Rutledge Academy. He has been published in, among others, The Spectator (London), Independent on Sunday (London), Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, National Review, Classical Journal, Telos, and Modern Age. He and his wife, Gail, have four children and four grandchildren.