Suing the Boy Scouts:
It’s a Bad Turn!

By Ralph Sheffield

IN that pathetic lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America by a homosexual and two agnostics in California (USA TODAY 1/6/98) plaintiffs are trying feverishly to make-up for their lack of lawful merit and common sense with bluster and desperate clichés: "It's not the Heterosexual Boy Scouts of America." Oh, please! The inanity of such a statement and the total misapprehension of the character and purpose of Scouting are appalling. "What's in a name?" asks Shakespeare. Indeed—the essence of Scouting derives not from its name but from the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Without these, Scouting becomes an empty hulk of badges and meaningless pomp, e.g., the shocking case of Arthur Gary Bishop, a homosexual pedophile, who apparently shallow-spoke or lip-synched the Scout Oath and Law (as two of the litigants in this case) while working his way through outward appearances to become an Eagle Scout and, finally, the brutal serial murderer of five boys. This is why Scouters are earnest about Scouts being earnest with the Oath and the Law.

If crabby folks are not comfortable with the noble ethics of Scouting such as "trustworthy," "duty to God," or "morally straight," they, too, have a First Amendment "right to assemble" their own "Disingenuous Scouts of America," "Agnostic Scouts of America," "Deviant Scouts of America," etc. That is their remedy—not infringing on other peoples' lives and institutions, nor glutting the courts with a surfeit of baloney.

Moreover, as the father of three Eagle Scouts, I consider it pure chicanery to attempt to blind-side the courts—trying to impute business status to B.S.A. One plaintiff's attorney even resorts to the overworked canard, "If it walks like a duck...etc," then foolishly overshoots: "If it thinks like a duck..." Hold it! Only ducks know how ducks think. If he pretends to this, then his venue should be pond or zoo, not a court of law. Or does he listen to psychics? (Well, even ducks are smarter than that.) No, Scouts is not a business. If it were, hundreds of thousands of us who have volunteered countless hours over the decades would not have done so; nevertheless, we insist that it be run in a business-like and financially viable manner. But hear this!—Even if it were a business, malcontents would have no more right to domineer B.S.A. with homosexuality and agnosticism than to require ladies' boutiques to sell plug tobacco or men's stores to sell lipstick because of someone's galley-west view of political correctness.

Finally, let not decent folks dread (nor sordid ones salivate) that the California Supreme Court will necessarily cave-in to the virulence of bumptious plaintiffs—as if spite made right! And further, the very idea of forcing agnosticism and homosexual leaders on Boy Scouts would not only inflame the wrath of most citizens but make Sir Robert Baden-Powell twist and turn in his grave before an eternal Judge. But if judicial decadence does prevail, it may prove to be like that "shot heard round the world" of another time, a reveille, not only to disgruntled militias, but to millions of tough-minded and virtuous citizens that something has gone terribly wrong with this country.

Ralph Sheffield (author of Poems on Purpose) is a prize-winning poet, composer, and conductor of the Sheffield Family Consort—performing (Boston Pops-style) for public and private occasions.

Copyriht © 1998 Ralph Sheffield