There are bits and pieces, odds and ends, this, thats, the others, that adhere like crazy glue to my brain pan. Some of these mental bits of flotsam and jetsam are almost as old as I am . . .. . . the pre-‘In God We Trust’ Pledge to the Allegiance, the Rinso White, Rinso Bright, Happy Little Wash Day Song, the sandbox kindergarten ditty, Stop! Look! and Listen! Before you cross the street, use your eyes, use your ears, and then use your feet . . .
And most recently, prompted by media discussion of topic #1, BS of A: “On my honor I’ll do my best to do my duty to God and to my Country, to obey the Scout laws, to keep myself physically fit, mentally alert, and morally straight.” Yeah, sure.
Not that I was ever an exemplary Boy Scout. I never got beyond the Tenderfoot stage, never earned a merit badge, never slept excitedly in a tent during a troop overnighter, never purchased the familiar khaki uniform. I suppose even then things slightly military just didn’t interest sissy-boy me.
(When I reported to my draft board at age 19, I passed the physical but had pre-checked the homosexual tendencies box. “Can you prove you’re homosexual?” queried the psychiatrist.”No, but I can talk about my sexual experiences,” I ventured. I was classified 4F, and reclassified 1Y during the 1961 Cuban Missile Crisis.”Eligible in the event of a national crisis.”)
Like the Catholic Church currently dealing with the billion dollars worth of scandals involving priests who importune and seduce altar boys and underage parishioner kids, the Boy Scouts of America has had its share of sexual abuse of minors by its scout leaders.
Whether these incidents are occasioned by pedophiles as some social psychologists maintain or by gay men, in either case those so involved should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, as well as those persons in higher organizational leadership roles who protect and cover up for them.
As far as the Boy Scouts of America is concerned, there’s a touch of irony, usually unspoken about by the media, in that the founder of the Boy Scouts, Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell (raised to the British peerage as Lord Baden-Powell) may himself have been gay, but closeted.
Baden-Powell’s book, “Scouting for Boys” – a surely unintentional play on words on his part – was published in 1908. The scouting movement quickly spread from England to this country, where it enjoyed enormous success and appeal. Both success and appeal have diminished over recent years.
According to Baden-Powell’s biographer, Tim Jeal, the legendary hero of the British Boer War, as a boy himself liked playing with dolls, as a teenager formed deep attachments to male friends, and, as a soldier, played many drag roles in army theatricals.
His marriage at 55 was traumatic, occasioning him to often flee from his nuptial bed to a convenient nearby army cot.
Baden-Powell’s strongest attachment was to an army buddy, Kenneth McLaren, a 20-year-old who, according to Jeal, “looked 14.” Baden-Powell affectionately nicknamed him ‘The Boy.’ When McLaren married following World War l, Baden-Powell was quite upset. (McLaren died years later in an asylum.)
Jeal’s 1989 Lord B-P outing biography is titled, “The Boy-Man.” Scout’s honor. God save the queen!