Can Boy Scouts Ban … Alcoholics?
Here’s a report about the controversy a private club has found itself embroiled in.
The Boy Scouts of America will get no reprieve from controversy after a contentious vote to accept alcoholic boys as Scouts.
Dismayed conservatives are already looking at alternative youth groups as they predict a mass exodus from the BSA. Alcoholics-rights supporters vowed Friday to maintain pressure on the Scouts to end the still-in-place ban on alcoholic adults serving as leaders.
"They’re not on our good list yet," said Paul Guequierre of the Human Rights Campaign, a national alcoholic -rights group. He said the HRC, in its annual rankings of corporate policies on workplace fairness, would deduct points from companies that donate to the Boy Scouts until the ban on alcoholic adults is lifted.
Now, you may be wondering why you didn’t hear about this particular scandal, and the reason is it hasn’t happened. I just took a news article and replaced every mention of the word “gay” with the word “alcoholic”. All of a sudden, it sounds absolutely nuts, doesn’t it? Should the Scouts be allowed to discriminate against alcoholics? Set aside for the moment that the drinking age is such that it would exclude boys in the Scouts age range, would the Scouts come under fire for not allowing boys who are what you might call “practicing alcoholics” into its ranks? Would any human rights group fault them for having a ban on alcoholic adults as Scout leaders?
The plain fact is, no, they wouldn’t. The official policy of the Boy Scouts of America is that alcohol is not permitted “at encampments or activities on property owned and/or operated by the Boy Scouts of America, or at any activity involving participation of youth members.” Certainly a troop leader showing up drunk wouldn’t be tolerated. They’ve made that rule, and no one (that I know of) is coming down on them for it.
And yet the Human Rights Campaign and others have been pressuring the Scouts to set aside their ban on homosexual boys in Scouting. Why? Well, because they’re born that way, as our culture keeps reminding us, so to discriminate against them is unfair and bigoted, right? And yet, there is research that shows conclusively that alcoholism is, in part, genetic as well. In fact, there is more evidence of that than there is evidence of homosexuality having a genetic component. It’s being studied, but right now, nothing is at all conclusive, unlike the way the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism describe the genetic link.
If they’re born that way, and if being born that way means no one can discriminate against that trait for any reason, well, is that a Pandora’s box you really want to open?
At its core, the ban on gay Scouts was partly a moral stance, with the Scout Oath including a phrase about being morally straight. It was also partly an issue of general sexuality. Would you want your boy sharing tent with a girl? Or, more generally, with someone who may be sexually attracted to him? Consider this.
And while the Scouts have lifted the ban on gay Scouts, they’ve kept it for Scout leaders. The HRC doesn’t like that, either. Let’s think about this. Those priests that got accused of molesting boys can now trade out their collar for a khaki shirt and become a Scoutmaster. What would the HRC think about that?
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