The worst thing about the Boy Scouts is that they're awfully serious about their programs. And if you are a traveling consultant like I am, there is no amount of assuaging you can do which is up the level of guilt you must bear by half-doing it. You can't just let your kid be a Scout. They pull you in. Nevertheless, I wanted to participate a bit, got certified in Youth Protection, and helped out with my local troop.
Boy Scout Youth Protection certification is onerous. I will say that without question it is more difficult than traffic school which I've done twice. About 40% of the matters and situations you study are somewhat reasonable common sense. The rest gives you an indication of how little, in our everyday lives, we think about the implications of being around child molesters. I can tell you that's what the Scouts are today and have been since I've been involved for about 7 years as a parent.
Clay Shirky snarked a remark today that rubbed me all backwards. But who am I to take tweets seriously? But the upshot of his remark was that one can expect that pedophiles can get away with more in organizations that are homophobic. My retort was that it is amazing how much slander you can get into one tweet. So obviously I take issue with the charge of homophobia. I also disagree with the counter-intuitive argument. But most of all I resent the attitude.
There's not much I can do about my resentment towards anyone's attitude. It unnerves me when intelligent people who are otherwise deserving of respectful consideration have their mental and ethical transmissions pop into neutral and drift into oncoming traffic. So I'm unnerved; I'll get over it.
What to think about the Scouts? Well, an accusation of homophobia is like an accusation of racism. How much is six pounds of homophobia? That's a matter for you and your neighbors to discuss. Despite the fact that we are chockablock with meddlesome people whose mental wellbeing seems to cry out for their every social desire to be legislated, we still haven't turned over the country to such fashion police. I can't say that I'm sanguine about the longer term prospects, but at least we know political correctness when we hear it. Is New Hampshire more homophobic than South Dakota? If you had to scratch your head more than you might about Michigan vs Mississippi then there might be hope for your objectivity yet. That doesn't change the fact that we're already aware of the stereotypes which affect our judgment. My point here is that people generally live in communities where their social expectations are in the median. So if six pounds is enough to cause you outrage, chances are that your neighbors are outraged too. But what does your outrage matter on the national stage?
That should be a matter of objective measurement.
So I would like to know, as a matter of objective measurement, what can be inferred by the number of pedophiles in the general population and their rate of apprehension, vs that in Scouting. I quite clearly recall that when the matter was dealt with in the Catholic Church that the numbers told the tale that the organization fared better in identifying the perpetrators. After which all of the noise became moot, despite the controversy.
I must say in this and in many matters that I have the advantage of indifference which is quite apart from disinterest. I have a Randian distaste for disinterest. I never say it doesn't matter one way or another. It does. But from my point of view, I'd much prefer that we seek an objective standard. Let it be six pounds without question, how you react is your business.
I've twice taken the USADA to task (up to a point of indifference) for what I percieve to be a radical standard of evidence in its dogged persuit of Lance Armstrong. Considering the amount of power they seem to hold over such matters of the fate of cyclists who break the rules of that sport - to me they seem as much as a civil court - they certainly don't operate in ways that would be acceptable in an actual court of law. The same can be said about the Boy Scouts. The amount of scrutiny we give adults around Scouts at our events is Orwellian. OK let's say six pounds of Big Brother. The fact of the matter is, that it is a clear violation of Scout policy for there to be less than two adults present at any pickup or dropoff point, for example. If an event is over and a parent is late, and there's just one kid left, there had better be two adults present. Think about your kids and how you pick them up and drop them off for school or over a friend's house. I'm sure most families are not up to the Scouting standard, one that is necessary in light of what we know about child predators. I've seen the grated nerves of Scout leaders, personally.
What little I've heard about the news on NPR this evening which might be behind Shirky's reasoning is that the Scouting standard has been responsible for booting suspected gay leaders and suspected pedophiles with a ridiculously tendentious evidentiary standard. Yes, well that's the problem with zero tolerance. We all have that same problem. It is the same problem as zero tolerance of homophobia. The good news is that the Boy Scouts recognize the ambit of their influence and don't go trawling for other people's misdeeds under some inflammatory non-standard. The bad news is others do and so we get unnerved. We'll get over it. The Boy Scouts have defined their six pound weight limits, and you don't get to be a Boy Scout in any way unless you are certified against that standard.
Of course that wasn't always the case. To get fired from the Boy Scouts of America as a suspect of pedophilia is a rather serious indictment and the process is well understood in the here and now. I don't know which other organizations might have publicly disclosed their history, rules and actions to a similar degree aside from the Catholic diocese of various major cities in the US. The stories in the news that I read today gave their egregious examples from the 70s - you remember the 70s don't you? Some standards of those days wouldn't fly today, for that there's no doubt or controversy. But today's Boy Scouts are a strong and proud organization which I defend against flippant charges.
Yes, they are ahead of the law, and when it comes to pedophilia, I think that's a good thing, and so do the people in my neighborhood.