A conversation with James Dale

By Kera Bolonik


Salon Staff
July 20, 2000 3:38AM (UTC)

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Jim Dale and the homosexual lobby were on the wrong side of the fight with the Boy Scouts because they were more interested in throwing around accusations of discrimination than upholding the Constitution. No one benefits from the freedom of association more than minority groups, homosexuals included.

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James Dale is unquestionably a fine, upstanding young man. But neither he nor I nor anyone else in this country has a right -- as in, a government-protected and government-enforced ability -- to be a member of any private organization he chooses. Freedom does not mean one is accepted or present in some preset quota in every single organization and every single corner of society.

There is a big difference between intolerance or hatred and disagreement. The Boy Scouts do not condone homosexual conduct, but neither do they teach hatred or bigotry of anyone: Such behavior will get you thrown out of the Scouts a hell of a lot faster than Jim Dale was. That he and the homosexual lobby cannot accept this simply illustrates the totalitarian agenda they are pursuing, where everyone must agree with them everywhere, all the time.

-- Scott McKim

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Thank you for your coverage of the gay scouting issue. I think it's important to reveal and challenge the official intolerance and discrimination of the American scouting organization. While I am not gay, I am an Eagle Scout, and I am an atheist, which puts me outside the guidelines of scouting almost as much as being gay would (which is not to suggest that being an atheist subjects me to anywhere near the same kind of garbage that gay people face from small-minded idiots and institutions every day). It is really a shame that all that is good in scouting is overshadowed by this kind of crap.

While I commend James Dale for his hard work in fighting the Boy Scouts of America on this issue, I must say that I agree with the Supreme Court's decision that the Boy Scouts of America is a private organization that, as long as they do not receive any public funding, is free to exclude whomever they please, including me for being an atheist.

That said, I am deeply disappointed in the Boy Scouts for being so closed-minded and for sending such a message of intolerance to all of its members, most of whom are at an impressionable age. The Boy Scouts of America is sending a terrible message to a generation of Scouts. For me, it certainly demeans the value of my Eagle Scout designation, even though the hard work I put into it can never be taken away. Furthermore, you can be sure that none of my children will be a member of an organization with such policies. Hopefully these people will be able to grow beyond their ignorance.

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-- Daniel Read

I was an Eagle Scout. I learned a lot as a Scout, and would have loved to encourage my son to join a troop. But I didn't, because I am gay and did not want to promote an organization which would cause him to have more difficulties accepting me for what I am.

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The real tragedy of the Boy Scouts' position is twofold. First, they are perpetuating an impossible choice for perfectly decent, homosexual young men: Lie about yourself (untenable and immoral) or be kicked out of the very organization you respect and value for its moral guidelines. Second, they are teaching perfectly decent, heterosexual young men that their homosexual peers are worthy of opprobrium. I know too well the likely result -- 30 terrified years in the closet and a broken family.

-- R. Q. Opler


Salon Staff

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