Thursday, February 07, 2013

Curmudgeon explains the news

Norman Rockwell image obtained here.
Boy Scouts delay vote on allowing gays. The TV talking heads in Chicago, at least, seemed genuinely perplexed by this stall. After all, the President is in favor of allowing gay scouts; a lot of local churches and other sponsoring organizations have been strident in their demand that the Boy Scouts allow gay scouts and even gay leaders. And, of course, we all knew that several big corporate donors were threatening to pull (or have already pulled) their donations from the Boy Scouts on account of their policy.

What the talking heads here failed to take into account, however, is that there are a lot of other major Boy Scout sponsors who are just as adamant that openly gay scouts continue to be excluded, particularly from troop leadership positions.

In other words, the Boy Scouts have a difficult moral decision to make -- and they are instead adding columns of numbers. They will make many unhappy no matter what they decide -- and by waffling they run the risk of alienating those whose position they eventually propose to support.

The Scout movement is a private organization, not a branch of the government. Because it is a private group, the Boy Scouts of America can pick and choose who can join and who can not. They can refuse to admit atheists, or gays, or even redheads. To the extent that the BSA espouses values repugnant to public policy, it is completely appropriate that the BSA not receive funding, or meeting space, or other resources from public schools or other public agencies.

What would make sense (I think) is to allow each council to decide these matters for themselves. Maybe each council could decide whether these matters on a troop by troop basis. The national organization would support the decisions of each group -- but insist that all Scouts be accepted and respected at national events (Jamborees, for example). Scouts would wind up learning tolerance from each other, as they must, because we must live in the world, not just in our private, self-selected enclaves. I know that won't make either side happy either. It's just what I think may be right.

Justice Department to give Congress two memos purporting to justify drone attacks on American citizens. The memos, according to the linked article in the New York Times, date from 2010, and were crafted to excuse the killing of an American citizen, but Al Qaeda operative, Anwar al-Awlaki.

In other words, Younger Daughter was totally off base when she leaped to the conclusion that this sounded vaguely 'Republican' to her.

Sadly, this is one area of bipartisan agreement: Republicans and Democrats alike don't seem to give a second thought to human rights or civil liberties, even for Americans, so long as they're overseas (as al-Awlaki was).

So the government can kill Americans overseas, if those Americans are real bad guys -- even if they've never been charged with, much less convicted of, a crime. What if al-Awlaki had been found in Florida, instead of Yemen? Could government-sanctioned death come for him in Florida as easily as in Yemen? Why not? And we know gang leaders or organized crime kingpins are really bad guys, even if they've never gotten convicted of anything. Why should we bother with expensive trials and the uncertainty of juries when we can kill bad guys by remote control? What if we started with the Mexican nacrotraficos first? Would that make you less squeamish?

I'm squeamish. I'm deathly afraid. My country has completely lost its way.

Of course, no matter how lost we are, others are more lost by far: Saudi 'cleric' calls for baby burkas to protect infant girls from molestation. I heard this one yesterday, but, according to Islam Online, this story arises from an interview given by Saudi cleric, Sheikh Abdullah Daoud, on Al-Majd TV last year, but only now spreading across the Intertubes and social media. It is not a story in The Onion and -- as you'll see from the link -- the Sheikh's bright idea has been widely condemned in the Islamic world too.

But Paul Harvey is in the news again, a few years after his death, because of the Dodge commercial that used a speech Harvey once gave about farmers. As long as there are people like Sheikh Abdullah Daoud in the world, who think that on some level baby girls invite abuse from perverts if they are not wearing burkas, we are not (as Paul Harvey used to say) we are not yet one world.

Good day.


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

oh yeah, you have it right on curmy...

smiles, bee

AndyK said...

Regarding the Boy Scout story. A lot of commentators have accused the BSA looking at the dollars instead of values. This is not true. The BSA has always use dollars as a measure of the size of a problem.

If their insurance company is shelling out a thousand bucks a year for a certain kind of problem, but is shelling out a two hundred grand for another kind of problem, then they fix the 200,000 problem. It's not just the money, the bigger dollar value probably means it's a more serious problem.

Likewise with the gay issue. People on both sides are sounding off all the time, blah blah blah. But now several important donors say supporting the Scouts is a real problem for them and they are going to stop funding some large amount of money - well, now the problem has a size. Before it was just all talk. Now a problem with a known size can be prioritized - and if it floats to the top of the list, then we have to try to "fix" it.