Jewish World Review July 18, 2003/ 18 Tamuz, 5763

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Consumer Reports

Boy scouts win Supreme Court case and still cave! | Despite the ruling in Boy Scouts of America vs. Dale, in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that the BSA could prohibit gay troop leaders, BSA succumbs. After a constitutional victory, BSA now caves to gay rights pressure. Philadelphia's and New York's BSA have adopted a nondiscrimination policy. Other areas consider similar policies "quietly."

BSA cites threats from city officials to withdraw facilities use if gay troop leaders are prohibited.

The loss of financial support, according to BSA, is "crushing." Steven Spielberg, an Eagle Scout, withdrew his donations from the LA area council. My sons remain Scouts, but I withdrew my financial support because of BSA capitulation. Also, BSA threatened to sue me.

For nearly a dozen years my business ethics book has included a case on corporate contributions and BSA. Companies are boycotted by gay activist groups for donating to BSA. Companies that withdraw their Scout donations are boycotted. Philanthropy can hurt. The Dale case heightened emotions and escalated BSA donations battles.

BSA became so controversial that my editors became neurotic. To ease their fears of gay rights activists and faculty text adopters who find just the use of the word "Scout" offensive, I asked an activist, from the East Coast, no less, to review my case study. I also sent the case to BSA headquarters, along with a request to reprint the Scout oath, something arguably not necessary because the oath was part of the judicial decision.

The gay rights activist wanted me to say that Dale was forced to admit he was gay. I did not to make that change because, well, it wasn't true. The activist also complained that the case was "too fair" to BSA, whatever that means.

I whip out the letter of response from the BSA attorney to brag to my detractors in the academy who accuse me of being a shill for the vast right-wing conspiracy. Herewith the threat: "Please be advised that the Boy Scouts of America does not consent to this request (to reprint the oath). In addition, we are concerned that the proposed case study contains a number of factual inaccuracies as well as significant omissions and is consequently extremely misleading to the uninformed and defamatory to the Boy Scouts of America. We trust that you would not want to publish material which would compel us to take further action."

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My editor went running away like Curly of the Three Stooges, yelling "Woo-woo! Woo!" He pulled the case from the book, but shared the letter with editors around the world who have guffawed mightily over BSA threatening to sue a professor who has had her tenure threatened by gay rights activists for her columns on and support of BSA.

Stunned, I asked BSA for a list of the errors and omissions alleged. No one from BSA has ever responded to my March 2002 letter request. The BSA blusters defensively.

Last week the New York Times ran a story about the BSA. Before the piece was published, BSA distributed a memo, "While we recognize that not everyone supports Boy Scout policies, we believe that The Times has cast an image that does not accurately portray the Boy Scouts or American sentiments about our values." Upon seeing the memo, the Times called BSA to inquire about their advance conclusion on content. The BSA responded that they knew it would be negative, "because of the nature of the [reporter's] questions."

Dearest Boy Scouts. The NY Times is the paper of diversity, not necessarily accuracy, and having a slanted story in the NY Times will get you donations. Absent newfound certitude, the BSA will wither and die in its paranoid ambivalence. The loss of Steven Spielberg's donations is hardly shocking. Designers there automatically sew a red AIDS ribbon on tux lapels.

Others will stand with the Scouts on principle and fill the Spielberg void. Cater to Spielberg and BSA loses its true friends. The Mormon Church brings 410,000 youth to BSA The Catholic Church holds 170,000 charters and 345,000 members. Gay troop leaders are not acceptable to Mormons and Catholics couldn't get insurance if they agreed to allow them.

On emotionally charged issues of principle, you catch flak and lose funding no matter which way you turn. But, succumb to the winds of popularity and demise is your destiny.

Homosexuality is not consistent with being "morally straight," as it were. But, even allowing disagreement with their morality call, the Scouts could stand on risk management. Camporees with gay troop leaders and adolescent boys? Good grief! Small wonder Catholics are skittish.

Why must BSA ignore risk when setting its policies? Public schools don't allow male coaches in girls' locker rooms. Male advisors don't go to camp with the cheerleaders. There are honorable men who would not hit on these young girls. But, human nature, sexual attraction and temptation dictate erring on the side of caution. BSA's policy reflects wisdom and averts risk.

The bottom line in my Scout case is the same as in my Enron, WorldCom and sweatshop cases. It's amazing what companies and people will compromise to keep money flowing. BSA wants the Hollywood elites as donors. BSA nondiscrimination policies in Philly and NY will win the support of the NY Times.

But, as a result, BSA will lose Scouts, including my sons should Arizona's council follow suit, along with its moral compass.

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JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.


07/11/03: Hepburn couldn't hold a candle next to Mom
07/02/03: With conservatives like these on the Court, who needs a liberal?
06/17/03: Hillary the geek!
06/05/03: Misplaced anxieties
05/30/03: Commencement
05/23/03: PC (Pathologically Correct) Libs
05/08/03: The Divine, man, war, and leaders
04/28/03: Dixie Chickens
04/22/03: "Squaw"king over a peak
04/16/03: Pulling the old Johnnie Cochran
04/07/03: The other casualties of war
02/27/03: War and principle
02/20/03: Diabolical women
02/14/03: Deadhead poets and society
02/07/03: Misguided compassionate conservative
01/31/03: The Wisk "fix it!" mentality
01/24/03: There are only two types of people in the U.S.: Trial lawyers and their clients and those who have had to pay trial lawyers and their clients
01/16/03: "My ex is a minority, so I deserve special treatment"
01/07/03: Why libs will never have a Rush Limbaugh
01/02/03: The year that was
12/26/02: Capital offenses, power and Harry Potter
12/20/02: Mundane superlatives cause trouble
12/09/02: Let the sacking begin
12/05/02: Amazing Grace that saved me from my CO2 emissions
11/27/02: Free speech, Harvard, and First Amendment looneys
11/25/02: Eminem culture
11/14/02: Hollywood trash
11/04/02: Patron Kennedy Saints
10/28/02: What the snipers and Moose taught
10/22/02: Nobel Prizes and other ventriloquist acts
10/17/02: The window on the liberal mind and war
10/14/02: Leaders don't change; followers do
10/07/02: Do it yourself
09/27/02: Hosers rise again
09/20/02: Girly gridiron
09/13/02: Erudite buffoons
09/11/02: One year later, crass demands, greed, and litigation are back --- but rights are diminished
09/06/02: Public schools: An unqualified success
08/30/02: The Shakespearean tragedy of affirmative action
08/23/02: Hollywood Joe's admission
08/15/02: Cheapskates
08/08/02: Ode to a coal miner
08/02/02: Sarah Brady's gun gift
07/26/02: Don't do it, Tiger
07/18/02: Reality Muppets
07/09/02: We're all going to die, live with it
07/02/02: From the eye of the storm
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06/20/02: Behind the music
06/14/02: The sum of all fears in vouchers
06/06/02: Where was Agent Rowley when the FBI needed her?
05/30/02: Of big hair and sanity
05/24/02: Should I embrace liberalism?
05/20/02: Some passion about Israel
05/09/02: A mother who cares enough
05/02/02: Go ahead, pass judgment
04/29/02: The irritation of the modern wedding
04/18/02: Claire's life
04/15/02: Harvard takes off its pants one leg at a time
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03/31/02: Oscars' subtle bigotry was embarrassing
03/22/02: Blame Oprah, Rosie, Sally, Ted, David
03/14/02: The costs of women's feeble choices
03/08/02: Botoxic faces
02/28/02: The dangers of organized philanthropy
02/25/02: Don't take the gold
02/14/02: Ease up on the brothers and sisters
02/11/02: Because I was courted
02/05/02: Fat fault
01/24/02: Tolerance does not mean stupidity
01/17/02: Too old too soon
01/10/02: Ethically challenged firms
01/03/02: The year that was
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07/30/01: When principle hits too close to home
07/13/01: Rage born of sublimation
07/06/01: Patient's rights and the Valley of Death
06/29/01: There is no excuse
06/21/01: I want an eternal soulmate, but the marriage thing is another issue
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05/30/01: The lesson of the Mr. Green Jeans senator: 'Moderate' is a classy term for wishy-washy
05/25/01: Baseball has not been so good to me
05/18/01: Clothes make the woman
05/11/01: Selective precaution
05/04/01: Grades: Equality of students, by students, for the students
04/27/01: The Horowitz revelations as seen by a college professor
04/20/01: First, let's kill all the tests
04/13/01: The continuing mistake of underpricing electricity
04/06/01: That pill, Julia Roberts
03/29/01: If it weren't for the parents, we might accomplish something
03/23/01: The melt down of the academy
03/15/01: Columbine redux: Moral infants
03/09/01: The lessons of Tom and Nicole
03/01/01: Pardon the temporary outrage
02/23/01: In defense of homework
02/20/01: A Message for faith-based organizations: Don't take the money, just run
02/06/01: Enough already with the Clintoons
01/26/01: The challenge to be better than we have been
01/19/01: Where have you gone Frieda Pushnik?
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12/23/00: Litigation: It's the American way
12/15/00: In defense of rhetoric
12/06/00: The company we keep: Lawyers and elections
12/01/00: Liberals' art of trashing of women
11/20/00: Put me out of my misery
11/17/00: On being a statesman
11/13/00: When it's broke, fixing it wouldn't offend the Framers
11/08/00: ELECTION 2000: I SURRENDER
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09/29/00: The capacity for truth
09/22/00: Charity with strings and an agenda
09/15/00: The taming of the shrew: Gloria Steinem takes a husband
09/09/00: Why rich folk don't bother me none
08/28/00: Survival of the not-so-fit but conniving
08/25/00: Conventions: A study in contrasts
08/18/00: Resenting the accusations of racial prejudice
08/04/00: Women: Their own worst enemy
07/21/00: Hillary: Our longshoreman First Lady
07/21/00: SUVs: The root of all evil
07/14/00: The basketball gene and white men not jumping so well
07/07/00: I wanna be around
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06/14/00: Sex and the City: The shallow but vulgar female
06/08/00: No excuses schools
06/02/00: Oh, Canada: Our Nutty Neighbors to the North
05/23/00: The new mollycoddling coach
05/16/00: On adultery and leadership
05/12/00: Taking your lumps
05/02/00: Elian: There's never a liberal around when you need one
04/25/00: Life's circle and tenderness
04/18/00: Womyn who want it both ways
04/11/00: The monsters we're raising with the ergo proposition
04/05/00: Endowing the Hooters Chair for Literature Appreciation
03/28/00: Dr. Laura: The passive/aggressive kid's mom
03/21/00: Dough and campaigns
03/14/00: The volunteerism of conscription and pomp
03/07/00: Hope and pray that religion remains a force in politics
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02/22/00: Cranky nitpickers make writing a [sic] experience
02/15/00: Those chameleon 60s activists
02/08/00: McCandidate McCain: Flirting with principles
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01/25/00: Stroke of the pen, law of the land: Clinton's Camelot
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09/09/99: Selective censorship
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08/17/99: In defense of Boy Scouts and judgment
08/10/99: Ruining the finest health care system in the world
08/03/99: Nihilism and politics: ethics on the lam
07/26/99: Of women, soccer and removed jerseys
07/23/99: Not in despair, a mere mortal doing just fine
07/20/99: "Why me?" How about "Why us?"
07/13/99: Bunk, junk & juries
07/06/99: An Amish woman in a Victoria's Secret store
06/30/99: That intellectually embarrassing Second Amendment
06/24/99: Patricia Ireland eat your heart out --- but check out the recipe in 'women's mags' first
06/22/99: Dems and the Creator coup
06/17/99: True courage is more than just admitting troubles

© 2002, Marianne M. Jennings