The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

William Masters

July 24, 2012

Scouts' gay ban creates problem where none exists

The Boy Scouts of America's "emphatic reaffirmation" of its vow to exclude any and all homosexuals from its hallowed ranks is ill-considered and pathetic, especially in view of its having reviewed the matter for two years.

And the review was "confidential," whatever that means. Secret considerations, in the closet?

The announcement was carefully cloaked in words of thoughtful consideration by a secret special committee supposedly having "a diversity of perspectives and opinions."

BSA claims its review "included forthright and candid conversation and extensive research and evaluations." It is clear that what it is affirming is its established prejudice that homosexual means a type of person who is abnormal, immoral and dangerous.

Sexual behavior is essentially not addressed within scouting, except by the flat-out banning of members or leaders regarded as homosexual. Unfortunately, by establishing homosexuality as a category of person rather than a category of behavior, it manufactures a problem that would otherwise not exist.

Inevitably, the ranks of the Boy Scouts have always included gays, but they are not there for sex. The policy forces them into a closet, but the rule is redundant to requiring appropriate conduct _ by the boys, and especially by the leaders.

When growing boys are watching uncertainly to confirm emerging traits of masculinity, they are very vulnerable to the idea that some boys are "queer, not quite right," that do not measure up to being "real" boys. They can be filled with inner fears of being different and excluded.

Some are outwardly disrespected, get bullied or called "faggots." This happens quite apart from whether they may have some seeds of homosexuality within their emerging bodies.

The existence of a phantom category, to be avoided, is only reinforced by the BSA, and its position is destructive. Homosexuality is a human variance, not a moral flaw.

Boy Scouts is strongly rooted in finding adventure in nature, learning self-sufficiency, being of service to others, and building personal honor. There is no place for sexual behavior, anyway.

An openly gay leader might be thought to pose a risk of illegal exploitation. But how much more a closeted leader? And just how much risk is a lesbian den mother to a Cub Scout pack? One was recently banned. A gay leader can demonstrate dignity and dispel the kind of fear that the shunning of gays causes. It is socially destructive, protects no one, and can do little beyond sweeping any problems under the carpet.

It is hard to imagine what the BSA claim of "extensive research and evaluations" might mean in the context of its bigoted position. It claims support from "the vast majority of families" it serves. But it distances itself from its own contention by saying that matters such as sexual orientation are best addressed within family circles, with spiritual advisers and in an appropriate setting. This discomfort seems to reflect a backdrop of shame and reeks of exclusion.

In trying to draw an arbitrary line in the shifting sands of childhood development, the Scouts seem blind to the impact their projections can have upon boys growing up. When you create a hated category, and you set up issues of self-doubt and anxiety that play on the uncertainties of all growing boys about normalcy. Differences deserve respect, not scapegoating.

Kids who seem effeminate are often victimized by bullying among their peers, and subject to depression or despair within themselves. Suicide among gay youth has been found to exceed that of the general population, and suicide attempts are even higher yet.

Oddly enough, it is normal for some of us to be outside the arc of the majority. Orthodoxy kills. The odd man out can be killed for coming out, because being odd (or queer) is a crime in the eyes of some.

The Boy Scouts is not banning homosexual behavior, it is calling homosexual people "boogiemen" and banning them. There are no gay kids, but some kids will eventually find themselves to have a minority sexual orientation, through no fault of their own, and to their alarm.

So, in their posturing the Scouts are sponsoring dishonesty and shame. Normal men and adolescents, who realize and already identify as gay, are forced to deny such feelings, pretending to despise who they are, in order to participate in wonderful scouting activities. It should be an incidental matter, neither discussed nor acted upon in Scouting activities.

William Masters can be reached at wmasters@thedailystar.com. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Star and its editorial board.

1
Text Only
William Masters
  • Schreibman tops Chris Gibson on women's issues

    As the time to vote draws near, we need to remember how money can run politics more than we can. Raising funds is a prominent (if not the dominant) task of getting elected. Raising issues is also crucial, but those efforts are subject to distortion and fear-mongering.

    September 18, 2012

  • Republicans feelentitled to allthey can garner

    An entitlement is a legal benefit available from the government to individuals who are within a defined category of recipients, such as needing insurance for unemployment or health services.

    September 4, 2012

  • Romney focuses on self; Obama emphasizes unity

    Mitt Romney criticizes President Obama for saying a person's success is rooted in his community, and is not all his alone. Romney belittles this with his belief in individual initiative. He is better at the put-down than the push-up.

    August 21, 2012

  • Romney shows little regard for common man

    The Republicans in Congress have voted over and over, 33 times, redundantly and uselessly, to rescind what they call Obamacare.

    August 7, 2012

  • Scouts' gay ban creates problem where none exists

    The Boy Scouts of America's "emphatic reaffirmation" of its vow to exclude any and all homosexuals from its hallowed ranks is ill-considered and pathetic, especially in view of its having reviewed the matter for two years.

    July 24, 2012

  • Health care should be seen as way to help others

    What is health care? Well, first and foremost it is having care, or empathy, for the distress of others. Health care is extending efforts to alleviate the distress for a person who is ill. The opposite, if you think about it, would be torture — using the power to harm to win your own way.

    July 13, 2012

  • Romney sees his way as the right way

    Meet Mitt Romney, seeking the power of the presidency. He seeks to convince us that his conservative economic theories will save us from ourselves.

    June 26, 2012

  • Congressional candidate offers sound solutions

    Mitt Romney has clinched the Republican nomination for president. If he can lick Barack, he will be the president of all of us. He must be taken seriously, but for me, up to now, he has been like a big bell being hit with a cooking spoon.

    June 12, 2012

  • It's refreshing to hear our president dismiss prejudice

    Race and sexual identity both sponsor problems of social discomfort. Abstractly, such traits are fixed, but in life they are roads on the map of our cultural values, which change.

    May 29, 2012

  • Time for lawmakers who put needs of society first

    Richard Lugar, after six terms as a Republican senator -- known for his middle of the road rationality and his foreign policy finesse -- has been ousted by a Tea Party extremist backed by outside right-wing funding.

    May 15, 2012

  • War not worth gambling with lives of soldiers

    Are you not tired of our war in Afghanistan? It had a point, once, after 9/11. Bush couldn't distinguish his myopic personal agendas from the nation's needs and let Osama escape, dropping the ball entirely, causing many deaths.

    May 1, 2012

  • Titanic was a microcosm of U.S. economic disparity

    Haunting reminders of the Titanic tragedy have wafted over us with the centenary of its sinking. The maiden voyage of an impressive, state of the art vessel, was a little like that of the Challenger space shuttle, at the cutting edge of developing technology. But the shuttle carried our pride in science and space exploration, not hundreds and hundreds of people.

    April 17, 2012

  • William Masters: Nation stands divided between 'us' and 'them'

    In February, Trayvon Martin was shot dead as "suspicious" by a volunteer neighborhood watch man. The case has aroused community reaction in Sanford, Fla., and is still echoing across the country.

    April 3, 2012

  • A quarterback can't win the game alone

    What is the relationship between democracy and wealth? Democracy is a political system, while wealth relates to economics. We have equal political rights, but we don't all have money. Extreme differences destroy the continuity of community solidarity.

    March 20, 2012

  • CSSEE36.jpg Playing Left Field: Some blur lines between laws of church and state

    We have freedom of religion in this country. A clear separation between churches and governmental agencies is constitutionally mandated. Government power may not favor or advance a particular religion.

    March 6, 2012 1 Photo

  • Humans need to look at long-term impact on Earth

    Global warming is real and we are smugly oblivious. I recall the USS Nautilus making a journey to the North Pole decades ago, and poking its conning tower dramatically up through the ice right at the pole itself, an arrival theretofore possible only by dog sled and arduous effort.

    February 21, 2012

  • CSS6284.jpg Playing Left Field: Meaning of 'liberty' lost in GOP's translation

    COLUMN BY WILLIAM MASTERS .... Now, during the Republican presidential primaries, we hear a lot about liberty. It is a leave-me-alone type of liberty, suggesting the license to do what one may choose in the sacred call of business activity. Much is sought in the name of freedom.

    February 7, 2012 1 Photo

  • Government no longer about power of people

    In my time, the idea of conservatism has been turned upside down. Men in my family wore neckties even when just reading the paper at home.

    January 24, 2012

  • Americans should respect right to bear arms

    Early one morning a while back, I answered a phone call from Wayne LaPierre, head of the NRA, warning that the sky is falling _ no worse: that the U.S. is participating in a U.N. treaty effort to deal with the irresponsible international transfers of small arms.

    January 10, 2012

  • Inequalities breed social dysfunction

    In my most-recent column, I presented recent epidemiological evidence that the inequality built into a society underlies the sense many of us have that the country is going in the wrong direction.

    December 27, 2011

Additional Content
Join the Debate
Helium
Additional Resources
CNHI News Service
Poll

Are you more or less religious than your parents?

More religious
Less religious
About the same
     View Results