Sunday, April 29, 2012

Boy Scouts of Bridgeport, Ohio


The burgeoning community of Bridgeport, Ohio made national news a week ago.  Was it...

A.  Urban decay?  Mammoth sinkhole devours cash-advance/state lottery facility. 
B.  Elderly woman has car towed for meter violation outside Martins Ferry church bingo? 
C.  Notorious paint-huffer is arrested during ribbon-cutting ceremony at brand new Burger King?   
or
D.  None of the above.

As you may have surmised, the correct answer is D.  Bridgeport, Ohio achieved notoriety when the local boy scouts chapter arbitrarily kicked out a lesbian den mother.  Apparently, a disgruntled parent "outed" the woman.  Even though her sexual preference had previously never been an issue.  Judging from the article, it appears that when she had the audacity to question some financial decisions (in her position as Treasurer), someone made it an issue.  What a shining example of bravery!  

http://www.wtov9.com/news/news/boy-scout-leader-has-membership-revoked-due-sexual/nMbyz/

The Boy Scouts of America have a rich history, a proud tradition if you will, of discrimination against gays, atheists and even agnostics.  Yes, I understand that it's a private group and the Supreme Court ruled unequivocally in 2000 that they're entitled to establish their own admission standards.  Despite the prevailing atmosphere of intolerance, I could accept this IF they had absolutely no ties to the federal or state government.  Of course, this is not the case. 

I watched this unfold on the local news and was left truly disgusted.  The children seemed confused.  They had no idea why they were being abandoned by their leader.  The mom, Jennifer Tyrrell was equally distraught.  A bunch of them even held a somewhat disjointed protest on route 40.  A friend of mine thought the group was protesting the next door Napa Auto Parts store.

But what really surprised me was a comment from a friend of mine.  He claimed that the Mormon Church of Latter Day Saints is responsible for roughly "80%" of their funding.  Although I can't verify that percentage, I take him at his word.  He holds a position of active prominence within the organization.  This does help better explain their steadfast, almost cult-like devotion to small-town "family values."  Considering that the Mormonic organization which promotes bigamy and "magic underwear" is at the root of all this, I thought it would be wise to check out the Boy Scout motto.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.


Scout Oath    Scout Law
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

A Scout is:
Trustworthy
Loyal
Helpful
Friendly
Courteous
Kind

Obedient
Cheerful
Thrifty
Brave
Clean
Reverent

And you've got to love how Bob Drury, Executive Scout Leader for the Ohio River Valley, justifies the dismissal of Tyrrell.  "We cannot allow for anything that causes a distraction.  The "mission" of the scouts is our top priority.  The rules are very clear on this."   I don't know the guy personally, but what a fucking coward!  I would propose some new characteristics under "scout law."  Here's a list off the top of my head...

Judgmental
Discriminatory
Biased
Subservient
Thoughtless
Homophobic
Bitter
Callous
Lacking in moral conviction

This whole episode made me revisit my own experiences as a child.  Back in 1st or 2nd grade, a group of local Jew-dads formed their own "boy scouts knock-off" group.  I am not shitting you.  To the best of my recollection, it was called Indian River Trail Guide.  About 10 of us would gather in a family basement once every few weeks.  We would learn all the Jewquivalent skills.  Coupon clipping, jewelry fencing, dradel spinning, kosher processing...  just kidding.  Actually, we did similar scouting activities.  I vaguely remember learning how to read a compass and properly identify certain trees.  I think we tried to plant some seedlings and grow vegetables.  If this did happen, I imagine it was an abysmal failure.  I do remember my father desperately trying to show us how to tie a difficult knot.  All of the fathers (or Jewish river trail leaders or whatever we called them) tried to unravel the technical knotted mystery, but none of them could figure it out.  And on a few occasions, we would naturally build fires (indoors, of course).  The fate of the Indian River Trail Guide was short-lived.  I think it lasted about 4-5 meetings.

While I'm not 100% positive, I think this group was formed out of a prevailing sense of anti-semitism in the area.  Remember, this was the late 1970's in Wheeling, West Virginia and I have a hunch that most Jews felt unwelcome in the Boy Scouts of America.  One of my most vivid recollections was when someone painted a giant swastika on the exterior of Temple Shalom (the only Jewish temple in an hour radius - fortunately, if you need your Hebrew-fix, Pittsburgh has about 73 synagogues in Squirrel Hill alone).  This had nothing to do with the scouts,  but I also remember how Jews felt discouraged from joining the local country club.  Although my friend's parents on Wyngate Court did have a family membership.  Perhaps my parents just thought their dining facility was poor (which it was) and their yearly fees were outrageous (which they were).  Plus, nobody in my family golfed.  We all played tennis.

And as usual, my point is this.  I'm disgusted by the notion that this pervasive level of intolerance and discrimination still exists in 2012.  Even worse, the fatalistic sheeple of this area are so willing to just accept it.  Well, there's nothing we can do.  Mr. Drury says it would create a distraction.  The noble mission of the Boy Scouts of America would inevitably be compromised.  This is how it all will unfold... because he said, "that's the way it is."

Well... I say fuck them.  I will never support these organizations until they change their ways.   But Saf, how is it that you currently support them?  Well... I dunno.  I suppose I do not.  I guess I'll never be a cub-brother-eagle-scouting-trail guiding-knot tying exemplary citizen.  Other than purchasing about $20 worth of girl scout cookies whenever someone reaches out to me, I just don't have much input here.  This sucks.  No more Tag-a-Longs and no more Samoas.  From this day forward, if I want a Samoa, this will have to suffice...





Afa and Sika demonstrated some real integrity here.  Mr. Drury could learn a thing or two from these proud Samoans.  At the very least, he should admire their silent resolve and take a hint.








3 comments:

sonofsaf said...

I just learned that Ohio County Commissioner David J. Sims resigned his position from the Board of the local boy scouts chapter. It's refreshing, especially in the Ohio Valley, to know that there are still out there who care deeply about fundamental human values. Some people will not begrudgingly accept institutional discrimination. They will act accordingly.

Here's a copy of Sims' resignation letter. Let's encourage others to either follow his lead, or at the every least, boycott everything associated with the Boy Scouts of America until their outdated policies are redacted.

When an organization defends discrimination based on sexuality or indifference/lack of religious beliefs they're just one step away from discrimination based on race, ethnicity, physical handicaps, etc.

Anyway, here's his letter. You rarely see a local politician take such a principled stand, particularly here in the bible belt.


April 27, 2012

Ohio River Valley Council
Boy Scouts of America

Attn: Bob Drury

Dear Bob:

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I write to you today to inform you that I am resigning as a member of the Board of Directors of the Ohio River Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Yesterday, after receiving the email from Paul Tucker, I first learned the story of Jennifer Tyrrell, the den leader for Pack 109's Tiger Scouts in Bridgeport, Ohio, who was removed as leader solely due to her sexual orientation. I understand that this action was taken as a result of a standing policy of the Boy Scouts of America and that said action is legal. However, Ms. Tyrrell’s removal goes against my fundamental beliefs of how we should treat our fellow human beings and is, in my opinion, wholly discriminatory. I understand that the Boys Scouts of America is free to run its organization as it sees fit, however, I can not formally be a part of it based upon this policy.

My grandfather was an Eagle scout, my father was an Eagle scout and I am an Eagle Scout. Other than his family and his Christian faith, the most important thing in my father’s life was the Boy Scouts. The lived and breathed scouting. That is what makes this decision so exceedingly difficult and emotional. However, I know that my father would support my decision.

Best wishes to you, Ohio River Valley Council and the Boy Scouts of America in future endeavors. I hope that the powers that be will look into their hearts and find the wisdom and courage to re-examine the policies of the Boy Scouts of America.

Sincerely yours,

David J. Sims

Anonymous said...

I know this is kinda late but just found this site. The Ohio Valley River Council is a big fat joke. The Council leadership think it is a private country club. If they don't like you they will make up a reason to remove you, like they tried to do to my wife and myself. They need new leadership with this council. They need to remove the Council President and his Bitch wife who thinks her shit don't stink. Or better yet Maybe The National BSA office will see the Ohio River Valley Council for what it really is and Merge them in with the Pittsburgh Scout Council and then maybe we will get some Real Leadership for the Scout Program here in the Valley. If anyone on council has a problem with what I just said here, well I guess the truth hurts, and Fuck the Ohio River Valley Council and Good luck to Jen.

sonofsaf said...

So glad you left a comment. There is so much inherently WRONG with the direction and mindset of this area. The Ohio River Valley Council is just one part of a much broader problem. Keep speaking out and perhaps someday the Northern panhandle and Eastern Ohio will break out of the dark ages.

Until then, stay the course...
SAF