Boy Scouts Still Learning Free Association isn’t Free ⋆ American Lens

Boy Scouts Still Learning Free Association isn’t Free

In what has become an almost daily occurrence, President Trump further angered left leaning culture warriors by drawing the praise of nearly 45,000 members of the Boy Scouts of America last week.

President Trump - Boy Scouts Jamboree - Official WH Photo - Andrea Hanks sm
President Trump addresses 45,000 Boy Scouts at the annual Jamboree [Official WH Photo by Andrea Hanks]
In his speech, President Trump praised the mission of the Scouts and took the time to point out many of the battleground issues in his ongoing war with the main stream media.

“Today, I said we ought to change it from the word ‘swamp’ to the word ‘cesspool’ or, perhaps, to the word ‘sewer,” Trump said to a rousing response.

Trump continued, “I said, ‘Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?’ Right?”

His words were well received, sparking outrage, as the spectacle was viewed as a politicization of the Scouts and their mission. However, this is not the first time the Scouts have been the focal point of politics.

Boy Scouts Politicized

In 2014, the Boy Scouts came under fire for not allowing LGBTQ individuals to become Scout leaders. Numerous activist groups blasted the Scouts as holding to discriminatory and anti-free expression policies.

President Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, went so far as to make it a personal crusade, threatening the Scouts with legal action if they did not change their policies.

Holder said in a speech at a Lambda Legal reception that the Scouts policy, “only preserves and perpetuates the worst kind of stereotypes, like ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ it’s a relic of an age of prejudice and insufficient understanding.”

Holder further reasoned that if, “courageous lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals routinely put their lives on the line as members of America’s armed services, then surely they are fit to mentor, to teach, and to serve as role models for the leaders of future generations.”

Whether someone agreed or disagreed over the BSA policy, the government, and especially the Department of Justice, should never have been used a tool for intimidation.

Intimidation worked; Boy Scouts Buckled

The policy of the Scouts was eventually changed as they buckled under the national pressure and stigmatization from the main stream media.  In other words, the intimidation and smear tactics worked.

Many individuals participating in the scouting program saw the changes as a departure from the mission of the Boy Scouts of America and a divergence with the ideology that the Scouts are built on.

Kari Donovan, is a contributor at American Lens and is also an Eagle Scout mother.

“As a parent it is very important that I give my children the opportunity to associate with a larger family of mentors who will encourage them to develop skills and relationships which foster what I, myself teach them,” said Donovan.

Donovan believes the ultimate necessity is that we promote free association in terms of how private organizations determine the requirements of membership or the qualifications of their leaders. The Boy Scouts are, after all, gender exclusive by virtue of their title. That didn’t matter to the LGBTQ lobby or to the hordes of feminists who who later try to force women into the scouts.

“Reverence toward God, toward good stewardship, toward country and toward leadership. That is why I chose to raise my boys in the family of BSA,” said Donovan. “I encourage all parents to do the same and to start programs that suit their needs, if Boy Scouts of America doesn’t suit them.”

Boy Scouts Cheered and the Left Lost their Mind

More people than one might think recognize that this country has been under an escalating series of attacks by the left’s social justice warriors. What better way to voice their disapproval of their marginalization than by cheering for someone like Donald Trump? Arguably, it’s why we have a President Trump.

The reaction of the nearly 45,000 Scouts at this year’s Jamboree shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone in the main stream media, yet for many it was. Twitter exploded, the media freaked out and the Left lost their minds over it.

The social justice beatings over the past 8 years hadn’t taken. The Scouts weren’t broken by the liberal assaults, except for Scout leadership which cracked like an egg.

However, the key issue isn’t whether members of the Boy Scouts feel insulted. It’s not whether liberals feel that their causes should override the existing preferences an organization like the Scouts.  The real issue is about the protection of the right to free association.

Some ‘Common Sense’

“In those associations which men promiscuously form for the purpose of trade or of any concern, in which government is totally out of the question, and in which they act merely on the principles of society, we see how naturally the various parties unite; and this shows, by comparison, that governments, so far from always being the cause or means of order, are often the destruction of it.” – Thomas Paine, Common Sense

To put it simply, everyone should have the right to join and form clubs and groups based on whatever set principles they deem will govern those groups.

We can debate the merits of whether their decisions are moral, just, or preferential, but they should have the ability to police themselves as they see fit. Less of a case can be made when the group is publicly funded, but it should be clear that any private organization should be able to govern itself as it sees fit.

This important idea has governed the basis of western culture for thousands of years. Individuals may not like or prefer the way that certain groups govern themselves, but that doesn’t justify destroying them.

What’s Yours Is Now Mine

The culture war is becoming clearly defined as people are increasingly polarized over important issues. Instead of having the Boy Scouts change their policies why didn’t those who disliked their stance simply create their own, new, organization?

More choice would increase the competitive landscape and better serve the needs of those who wish to be a part of each group. This is the mechanism that should be employed.

Don’t like how a group operates? Don’t join it. It would make sense to create or join another one that fits your ideas and preferences.  Yet, that’s not the case or intent with the progressive left.  Progressives have taken free association and turned it into a militant version of ‘what’s yours is now mine…or else’.

Free Association, Free Speech

Letting people live and freely associate with whomever they choose will lead to greater peace. The reverse is true if people are forced into broader groups that don’t meet their needs or interests.

“The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy.” – Milton Freeman

The quote from economist Milton Friedman provides an excellent framework for how we should view every human interaction.

When we spread ideas, when we freely associate, when we decide who we will spend our lives and time with, these exchanges are governed by a basic desire to buy and sell a good or service. Only through government regulation and intervention, is the use of force employed to pressure and control those exchanges.

Government should have the ability to punish crimes. However, government should not be used to favor one type of lifestyle or preference over another.

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”  The same applies to freeness of association.

Every person has a right to free association, even when we disagree with how those people decide to associate.  Every person has right to free speech, even when we disagree with what someone might say.  Neither are truly free – they have the price of constant vigilance attached. Perhaps the Boy Scouts have reminded us of that.



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John Bianchi

John Bianchi is a marketing professional and the Chapter Leader for America's Future Foundation in Raleigh. You can keep up to date with his articles on Medium

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