Friday, April 28, 2000

That the Supreme Court is even considering the complaint of a homosexual young man who objects to being excluded from a leadership role in the Boy Scouts is testimony to the decline of common sense in our culture.

James Dale is a former Boy Scout (the age limit being 18) who wants very much to continue his involvement with the youth organization, but as a leader specifically, as an assistant scoutmaster. He was denied this role as a mentor and supervisor of young boys when it was discovered that he is a homosexual and more, that he is a homosexual activist who had become co-president of a gay and lesbian student group at Rutgers University.

The Boy Scouts don’t like the idea of a young, gay man heading off into the woods on camping trips with a troop of young boys. The Boy Scouts, as an organization, also has a moral quibble with the idea of homosexuality per se e.g., that it does not represent the Judeo-Christian code of conduct it seeks to instill in boys.

It doesn’t take a wise head to understand that, gay or straight, people are attracted to youth and beauty; most people would not be comfortable with the idea of sending their young daughters off into the woods with a single, heterosexual young male, either. This is not “hateful,” “mean-spirited” or “bigoted.” It’s what used to be called common sense.

Scout leaders have traditionally been older men fathers of the boys in the troop who are understandably concerned with mentoring and guiding their charges. “Twentysomething,” single, unattached young males clinging to merit badges and campfires is, well, odd.

Mr. Dale, of course, is challenging his dismissal from the Boy Scouts on shopworn civil rights and public accommodation grounds. But no one is denying Mr. Dale any of his rights at least not in the normal sense. Only in a double-think world can a private, voluntary organization’s determination to exclude a person be considered a violation of that person’s “rights.” No matter how hard you look, there is no clause in the Bill of Rights guaranteeing the right of a person to force himself on others, privately gathered and assembled and compel them to accept his “lifestyle.” Justice Stephen G. Breyer seemed to get the point when he asked, during oral arguments, whether Mr. Dale’s position implies that ” … a Catholic organization has to admit Jews … and a Jewish organization has to admit Catholics?” Mr. Dale’s lawyers responded that these religious groups do not qualify as “public accommodations” but it’s hard to see how the Boy Scouts, a private organization, falls into the same category as a restaurant or motel.

If the Boy Scouts are determined by the justices to be a “public accommodation” under the law and thus subject to forced integration, if you will, of anyone and everyone, including gays, girls worshippers of the Earth goddess, whatever then there will be no privacy, no freedom of association left in this country. People who have common interests they wish to share and wish only to be left in peace to pursue those interests will have to do so in secret, as religious groups in communist China must do now, and political groups and other “dissident” organizations once did behind the Iron Curtain. It will be a sad day for the Boy Scouts but a sadder day, indeed, for America if Mr. Dale’s “arguments” are upheld by the Supreme Court.

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