1/13/2012

Scout's Honor

My son is in the Boy Scouts, in keeping with a long family tradition that started with him (I never made it through the Cub Scouts). There are many things to like about the organization: he’s learning more about camping, outdoors, and adventure than he would in a lifetime of hanging out with me. And the organization is is great, from what I’ve seen, at teaching the boys confidence, leadership skills, and appropriate group behavior, such as cooking for your patrol without killing them.

There are some aspects of the Boy Scouts that I’m not as wild about, but on the whole it’s a good experience for him.

There’s one dynamic with the group that is a bit odd when you first run into it; they are totally paranoid about what could happen between unsupervised boys and adults. They have all kinds of rules and guidelines to make sure none of this stuff happens, and parents have to take training courses before they’re allowed to participate in any of the troop’s activities.

It seems a bit much at first. After all, it’s just a bunch of parents with their kids. But it's probably a good thing as a general rule, and makes the troops a safer environment overall. And who knows, maybe other organizations could benefit from a few more guidelines and online training courses.

It was this background of paranoia and mandated homophobia that was on my mind when we had the pleasure of seeing the Boy Scout Memorial in Washington, D.C. this past summer. Okay, we didn’t go to D.C. to see the memorial. In fact, we’d never heard of it and wouldn’t have really cared if we did; we were there to take in the museums and to see our government inaction. It’s just that we were walking from point A to point B and it happened to be along the way.

But I was glad we saw it. It’s a fascinating sculpture, with bold classical elements representing the hope and spirit of a Boy Scout and the wisdom and ideals of -

What th-, I, but....
Is that huge, naked man stalking that boy?

Yes, that’s right, the organization known for its paranoid attitude toward predatory behavior erected a sculpture that shows a happy and blissfully unaware scout being pursued by a big, naked guy. There’s also a woman there, but she’s got clothes on and doesn’t seem to be paying attention.

Clearing, the big, bronze adults didn't take the training course.
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