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I never had any interest in being involved with the Boy Scouts. Now and then, I would see a group of these young, uniformed wolverines at a monument or museum, being hustled around by an adult, and I knew that it would never be for me. I reckoned it was a gateway to humiliation and steady beatings. I had no idea what they were about, but their organized zeal intimidated me.
In my early teens, I would go to a local church on Friday nights and wait for my friend Ian MacKaye to get out of his Scout meeting so we could go hit the streets. I knew some of the guys there from the neighborhood. None of them seemed to take it too seriously. Their scoutmaster, a man who smiled perpetually and spasmodically jerked his eyebrows up and down, seemed like a nice enough guy. It did seem to me that he was way more into it than the rest of them were.
I can't remember what they did at the meetings but, like I said, I would only come in toward the end and hang around, like the outsider kid from another planet where they had no Scouts.
There was one guy, unusually large for his age or perhaps a year older than the rest of them, who for some reason didn't like me. One time when I was there, he started in on me and said we had to wrestle. I cannot express to you how little this proposition appealed to me.
There was no getting out of it, however, and soon enough we were wrestling. It was no contest — the guy was all over me. I didn't put up much resistance. I just wanted it to be over. On the other hand, he was really into it. After he turned me loose, he calmed down and was a little more friendly.
I was thinking about all this because the Boy Scouts of America, or BSA for short, is considering easing up its ban on homosexuals and atheists. The Scouts have a ban? They absolutely do.
Check out its oath. The God part is right at the top and the “don't even think about it, you fags” part is right at the end:
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake and morally straight.
That the BSA is even considering lifting the ban has a lot of people freaking out. If you let these gay, god-hating boys into the Scouts, they will immediately start forwarding their homo agenda!
The pushback by adults on the “news” shows was pathetic. It is amazing to hear grown-up people rationalize homophobia and discrimination. The lengths they go to trying to prove their points take reason to its breaking point. It makes me wonder how many of them are gay and so ashamed that it comes out as anger. Actually, it doesn't. I don't care. I am glad that they are given the platform to show us all who they are.
Others of us, burdened with a sense of fair play, firm in the knowledge that gay people are not hatched from pods and sent to infiltrate a decent, god-fearing populace, don't see what all the fuss is about. Actually, we do. America is full of these moral cowards.
Actions speak louder than words, and in the case of the BSA, it is the inactions that fairly yell. As to lifting the ban, its leaders are thinking it over. The shorthand is obvious. They want to keep their coffers full but not have to deal with those they see as less than scoutlike. How do they protect all those young boys from … all those young boys? I have an idea: How about teaching them responsibility and honesty? You know, all that stuff you hold at such a premium. It's probably too much heavy lifting for the BSA.
That the BSA had the ban in the first place, you could chalk up to the of-his-time values of the BSA's founder, William Dickson Boyce, who died in 1929. That it still has the ban, that could just be a lack of urgency to get up and do something. That it's still mulling this matter tells you how little the BSA is interested in change.
I think the BSA should keep its anti-gay, anti-atheist rules intact. It should post them right on the front of the clubhouse door in big letters. It should use the Westboro Baptist Church's printer. The BSA also should immediately lose all federal funding. Oh yes, the organization gets it. All taxpayers' money coming into the BSA has the Fourth and 14th Amendments all over it.
You want to discriminate? I say knock yourself out but do it on your own dime. Get the Koch brothers to write the checks; I'm sure they have a few million lying around. Come on BSA, stand strong! Stay the course! You all should flaunt your homophobia as proudly as your affinity for responsibility and honesty. Tell the truth and let's see how it plays. Do it and then tell me that you're instilling true American values in these young men and I will tell you that you are a liar. I will be right and you will be wrong.
As far as I'm concerned, the BSA is part of a dark past that should have checked itself decades ago but chose not to. This is America — we're brave around these parts. It's obvious the BSA can't handle it. It either apologizes for the past, for its disgusting hesitation and change, or just does what it was doing but with private funding. I prefer the BSA keep it real and do the latter.
Years ago, I asked Ian about that big Boy Scout guy who didn't like me. He told me that when he got older, he came out of the closet. That wasn't wrestling — that was puppy love!