Friday, May 24, 2013

Should Crazy People Be Allowed In The Boy Scouts?

As you may know, the BSA recently addressed the ongoing issue of crazy people within its organization. I think it took an unsatisfying, halfway position on the subject - a position that solves nothing. Crazy people still exist in the BSA, but the group hasn't addressed their fundamental rights and concerns. It's essentially told them, "Yes, if you're the kind of whack-job who can't associate with gay adults, you still have a place here. But you can't go too far - you can't be the kind of absolute lunatic who'd discriminate against gay kids."

The problem is, many of them don't see the difference at all. And so, in order to fit in they have to hide who they are.

It's hard for the rest of us to understand their lifestyle or their beliefs. These are grounded in a three-thousand year-old collection of documents passed down through a group of nomadic tribal peoples, a message allegedly from some kind of powerful, inscrutable supernatural entity. Many people of course share beliefs of this kind. But this particular group adds a completely idiosyncratic set of alternate commands from a series of bizarre, supplementary visions received by their prophets. They basically allow them to ignore a large set of the ritual and dietary rules of their faith, while reinforcing sexual and gender norms - but only those which apply to the powerless members of their society. And at the same time, they will assert that these documents they follow are perfect, eternal, and completely consistent. Challenging them on any of this produces intense feelings of paranoia and rage. Coexisting with them is difficult. (Also, some of them believe in an additional text written by fantastical creatures on some golden plates, which were then lost. I know, I know. It gets weird.)

Do we want people like this teaching our kids? Do we want people using some Iron Age scrolls to talk with our young people about what makes a loving marriage? That seems extremely dubious. At the same time though, I think tolerance is vital. Children shouldn't ever abandon their natural skepticism, of course - if someone tells them they are receiving moral commands from invisible beings with super powers, it's always right to question that. But that doesn't mean it's okay to treat others unkindly.

Simply put: Crazy people have rights too. Even people who think that homosexuality is some kind of "sin," because of a strange book they follow, and even if they don't actually follow the book in any consistent, coherent way. The key is not what crazy nonsense they believe or whether they've thought it through. The key is that they simply grant others the same rights and the same respect we're willing to grant them.

That should be obvious to all of us.

2 comments:

  1. You say obvious, like crazy people could have the capacity to comprehend the term. Now now what have people told you about living in the universe of should rather than the universe of what is... if you are not careful you too might find yourself a crazy person, albeit for entirely different reasons.

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