Sunday, October 22, 2006

On my honor, I will do my best

I always been proud of my accomplishments as a Boys Scout but I have grown increasingly embarrassed of the Boy Scouts of America, Inc. Decades ago when I was a scout, I took issue with their religious imperative.

Even though I was still being nominally raised as a Lutheran (which means occasionally being taken to church and working through the Catechism classes) I had pretty much already stopped believing in any sort of god. When the reciting of the Scout Law required me to state that "a Scout is Reverent towards God," I simply mumbled. The Scout Oath where I promised "to do my duty to God and my country" received similar attention. The troop that I was in focused on other things so the issue never came up and no one noticed.

After earning my Eagle Award and going off to college, I began to learn just what the Boy Scouts was really about. Sure, it was about good citizenship, but I never knew that their official policy was that "the recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship."

In the oath, I promised "to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight." But I learned that when they said "straight" they meant "not gay" as if homosexuals are incapable of being morally upright. They tried to wrap their policies in legalistic speech and even wond their case in the Supreme Court but, in the end, they wer advocating ignorance and hatred.

Now, I've learned that the Boy Scouts have a new program wherein scouts can earn an activity patch for learning about the evils of downloading pirated movies and music. This program was developed in association with the Motion Picture Association of America. Scouts will be instructed in the basics of copyright law and learn how to identify five types of copyrighted works and three ways copyrighted materials may be stolen. Scouts also must choose one activity from a list that includes visiting a movie studio to see how many people can be harmed by film piracy. They also can create public service announcements urging others not to steal movies or music.

The Boy Scouts of America have prostituted themselves to a major industry. Sure, good citizenship includes obeying the laws and, in truth, distributing movies on the web is a violation of copyright law, but this interpretation has been bought and paid for by the MPAA. What is next, having environmental awards sponsored by the Oil Marketers Association? Awards for citizenship with a curriculum developed by the Republican National Committee?

The Boy Scouts of America is selling off their soul piecemeal to the highest bidder. So much for a scout being trustworthy.

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