Something Feral

Digging up the flower-beds.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A half-truth is a whole lie

For the many times I have seen this story posted, not once have I seen a clear distinction made between the Exploring and Boy Scouts, as many that have posted about it have failed to bother themselves with independent research or digging in the New York Times' rubbish-bins. To wit, Learning for Life (the parent organization for Exploring) recently posted a response to the article that addressed the deliberate obfuscation of that distinction:
Last, the article inaccurately describes Explorers as Boy Scouts. Exploring is a program of Learning for Life, a nonprofit organization that provides character and career education programs to participating agencies or groups. Learning for Life is affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America.
Overall, the complete piece was a weak, ineffectual reply to the article, but this is more of a reflection on its leadership, which cannot afford to be principled by nature of its relationship with a broad variety of national education-focused programs. This is not to say that I approve of the aims of the Learning for Life program; to the contrary, I neither approve nor condone the existence of a program so intimately involved with the State, and it is my sincere belief that the Boy Scouts of America would do well to totally disassociate itself from the program and focus its attention on Scouting.

This, of course, is the the point: lingering association with Learning for Life has damaged the reputation of the Boy Scouts of America, and it will continue to do so as long as the BSA continues to espouse its rights as a private organization. This has been the avenue of drift since I was in the Boy Scouts some years ago as a youth, during which traditionally-used buildings on military property at the Defense Language Institute (rest in peace, Uncle Paul) became increasingly unavailable due to the refusal of the BSA to adopt a "more inclusive attitude".

On a more personal note, and speaking for more than a few Eagle Scouts other than myself, involvement in the program has done infinitely more good by us than any of the public-schooling, forced volunteerism or feel-good "Rock The Vote" schema implemented by public do-gooders, even in their most fevered delusions. Indeed, much of this obligatory social-engineering has back-fired due to our Scouting experience, and many of us have become self-professed (and actively agitating) libertarians with a penchant for good-natured mayhem because of it.

It's not a perfect program, but I've yet to see better.


MikeT said...

The sight of those explorer scouts or whatever they are called dressed in paramilitary regalia disgusted me. It's one thing when it's JROTC doing that, as JROTC is intended to actually be a real soft introduction to military service (HS grads who went through JROTC get a rank boost when they enlist).

Something Feral said...

From the "Rules and Regulations: Insignia, Uniforms, and Badges" for the Boy Scouts of America:


"b. Imitation of United States Army, Navy, or Marine Corps uniforms is prohibited, in accordance with the provisions of the organization's Congressional Charter."

The Explorers do not have to abide by the Charter, so they can (and do) wear paramilitary regalia as they are run by the local law-enforcement in Imperial County.

I don't have a particular gripe with JROTC, as it does not pretend to be anything but what it is: military recruitment.

The Scouts themselves have a reputation as a paramilitary organization, but I believe this is a misapplication of the term. The origins of the organization are undoubtedly military, but Baden-Powell understood the short-comings of the British school-system and its military, and wanted to create something that was not a substitute for school or the military, but a supplement.