Sunday, August 22, 1999

Be prepared for gay scouts




BY PETER BRONSON
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        I am no Boy Scout. Just a scout leader. Assistant Scoutmaster for Cub Scout Pack 415, to be precise.

        The job description sounds like Assistant Possum of the Racoon Lodge, but all I do is play sidekick to the Scout Leader — nodding and smiling in the tradition of Ed McMahon and Vanna White. If the Leader is absent, I try not to cobble things beyond repair.

        At Pack 415, which meets at a church in Milford, Ohio, smack in the heartland of corn-on-the-cob, county-fair, Norman Rockwell America, our main concerns are popcorn sales and the Pinewood Derby.

        Until the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a wacko ruling that the Boy Scouts must allow open homosexuals to lead and join the Scouts, it never crossed our minds.

        If we considered it at all, most of the dads who volunteer their time to lead dens of Tiger Cubs, Wolves, Bears and Webelos would just laugh it off as some distant news about stupid court tricks.

        “Does this mean we make handbags instead of wallets?” we might wonder.

        “Will there be a merit badge for matching accessories?”

        It's a joke. The New Jersey Supreme Court justices, who voted unanimously to force the Boy Scouts to accept gay leaders, don't have the slightest clue about Scouting. They said the Christian values and moral code of the Scouts — to be “clean” and “morally straight,” for example — are “bigotry” that is “based on little more than prejudice.”

        Hello? Would anyone on the New Jersey Supreme Court like to try to get the nervous parents of a 7-year-old boy to send their son on a camporee with gay leaders?

        No? I didn't think so.

        I don't know what God does on His day off, but I have a suspicion that He sometimes thinks He's a starter at a golf course — or a state supreme court justice.

        If only real state supreme court justices had the common sense that God gave a greenskeeper, we'd be better off. (Ohio has flaky justices, too — editorials, Page D2).

        We laugh about things like this, but they are not so funny. This kind of ruling is the first hairline crack through which the splitting wedge of damaging “rights” are driven, often destroying the institutions they seek to reform.

        That would be a pretty rotten thing to do to Scouting. But the do-gooders who never strain a muscle except to pat themselves on the back for being so sensitive and tolerant don't really give a can of peas about the institutions they ruin, the standards they trash, the cultural litter they leave behind for others to clean up.

        I always thought the right to associate with whom you please, to set your own standards, to live according to your own faith, was a fundamental freedom in America. But lately our most basic rights are being obliterated by demands from various “victims.” The Founders gave us judicial review to prevent the “tyranny of the majority.” Too bad they couldn't foresee the tyranny of the minority.

        And it is deeply troubling that the supposedly diverse media are as unanimous as the New Jersey Supreme Court. I've browsed editorials from newspapers all over America, all lecturing in the same self-righteous voice, condemning the Boy Scouts for excluding gays. It is now unquestioned in the flock of media sheep: Gay rights are “civil rights.” Never mind that homosexual behavior has no foundation in any constitutional protection for race, creed or religion. Get aboard or get labeled as a “bigot.”

        For the record, here's my lonesome dissent. I am not a homophobe who is afraid of gays — I just fear that gay rights is eroding morality. I do not “hate” homosexuals — I just hate to see healthy traditions such as Scouting sacrificed for feel-good political correctitude.

        Ordering the Boy Scouts to accept gay leaders is like ordering a church to accept an atheist pastor. And I suppose the ACLU will get around to that, too.

        I protest. But it's probably too late.

        Among the many promotional brochures my daughter has received from colleges and universities was a large, slick book from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

        And among the testimonials from students was this one from Damon Suden of Staten Island, New York, who majors in theater and women's studies: “I "came out' the minute I got here. I got involved in the MIT gay community and . . . helped start the Intercollegiate Queer Collective and organized the area's first prom for gay and lesbian high school students. . .”

        When he becomes a lawyer, Damon plans to “work for human rights” — more Queer Collectives, gay proms and gay Scout leaders, I suppose.

        The Constitution has no “right” to force other Americans to accept insults to their faith and morals. Scout's honor.

        Peter Bronson is editorial page editor of The Enquirer. If you have questions or comments, call 768-8301, or write to 312 Elm Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.