EDITORIAL: BSA’s PC – short for ‘pitiful compromise’

Jun. 01, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

In a polarized society, compromise often means both opposing sides on an issue wind up disappointed.

Some may have been appeased when delegates at the national convention of the Boy Scouts of America voted last week to adopt a resolution changing the organization's policy barring open and avowed homosexuals from becoming Scouts. But who was totally satisfied? Anyone?

It'll depend on your viewpoint. Most people will either think the Boy Scouts have a long history of discrimination, or a long history of upholding and enforcing membership standards.

The latter will certainly be among the most displeased because they hold the principles and tenets of scouting in high esteem. Now that things have changed, with the BSA compromising its mission and history in an attempt to be politically correct, we believe the organization will begin its long, not-so-slow slippery decline into irrelevancy.

Much has been written and said about the BSA’s membership policy and last week's vote, so to clarify, here's what it does — and doesn't do:

* Effective Jan. 1, membership won't be denied to youth based on sexual orientation alone. Between now and the end of the year, the policy will be communicated to the organization's 116,000 units, allowing them time to plan for implementation.

* Affirming other existing policies, the BSA reinforced the notion that “any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.” For scouts, then “morally straight” still means abstaining from sexual activity.

* The resolution did not address the sexual orientation of adult scout volunteers, meaning no changes in policies for those leaders.

The BSA says the change won’t impact its mission, but doesn’t compromise change the DNA of any organization? Further, removing the membership restrictions based on sexual orientation opens to the door for other groups who claim the scouts are practicing discrimination — including atheists, who call the BSA “bigots” because Scouting asks it members to fulfill one’s duty to God.

This isn't simply about the issue of sexual orientation, which is indeed complicated, but rather what publicly driven compromise does to private organizations once standards that help characterize a “private” or closed organizations are described as “bigotry.” That's where political correctness doesn't make sense. One prominent atheist observing this case declared, “Legally, the Scouts can practice bigotry. But morally, they shouldn't.”

Again, that strikes at the very heart of the issue here — the notion of inclusion and exclusion, of closed and open membership, the definition of what's “moral” and the sense of fairness. When it comes to groups like the Boy Scouts of America, the idea of sharing private associations with others who share similar beliefs has been honored by time and tradition, and even by those who disagree with the foundations of such associations — in the case of the BSA, since its founding in 1910. Compromising, or in this case giving an inch, will likely ultimately end with total capitulation. And that will mean a total violation of the principles and values of scouting — which is why, in time, the BSA’s relevancy and subsequently, its membership, will decrease. Which, in the end, serves no one.

In its official statement on the vote, the BSA wrote: "The Boy Scouts of America will not sacrifice its mission, or the youth served by the movement, by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, divisive, and unresolved societal issue.” So why did the BSA think its vote would create resolution and not be divisive? By picking up one end of the stick in taking the vote, the BSA picked up the entire stick — and broke it in the process.