Because of opposition from the city, the Boy Scouts have withdrawn their request for
the right to sell water at the July 3 parade. The Boy Scouts, like it or not, are a part of the American and Vermont fabric, teaching survival skills, citizenship, camping, volunteerism, leadership and a host of other skills to boys who thrive in that environment. Boy Scouts learn to raise money like their sister Girl Scouts, to support their activities. As part of their fundraising
activities, local Boy Scouts applied for the right to sell water at Montpelier’s Independence Day Parade. However, city government has pressured the Boy Scouts to withdraw their application and bow out of their fundraising activities. Why, you ask? Ostensibly, because the Boy Scout hierarchy will not allow gay men to be scout leaders, according to our smug, self-satisfied city leaders.
At the outset most of us agree that discrimination by the Boy Scouts against gay scout leaders is not only unacceptable but hateful behavior against men with a great deal to contribute. But by stigmatizing the boys in our city and local community by imputing the discriminatory attitudes of a few Boy Scout leaders onto them, Montpelier once again manifests a selective intolerance of those who are not as “high-minded” as the local political hacks.
The city stigmatizes innocent boys of a generation that is tolerant with a badge of bigotry they have never worn. After all, the vicious Westboro Baptist Church was allowed to demonstrate its abject bigotry at our high school and we persevered. We should be a community that not only values but celebrates our boys and young men in the Scouts. It is a constructive, community-oriented and valuable organization despite the views of a few old men. Why tarnish our boys with the same brush? After all, it is Independence Day and every political stripe should be allowed to march, raise funds or sell water because of our uniquely American rights to free speech and free association. What kind of message are you so-called leaders sending our boys? That their desire to learn through Scouting is infected with bigotry and hate?
It is increasingly obvious that the smug, politically correct, intolerance of our city government rules the day. I guess there are more votes in taking Boy Scouts off the street during one of our most cherished civic events in Montpelier — the Independence Day parade. How stunningly and sadly ironic. Here, our city government attacks the Boy Scouts because of a few crackpot leaders who will not live forever because of their beliefs. On the other hand, I am sure the anti-American and anti-military Bread & Puppet Theater and others remain as welcome as always to dress up as baked potatoes on stilts to mock the sacrifice of our soldiers and sailors, certain businesses and whatever is the politically correct flavor of the week.
Does our city government not recognize that the names of many Montpelier men who were killed in action preserving our freedom, are enshrined not far from the street where the baked potato, and his fellow swirling dervishes, revile that sacrifice? That is their right in Vermont and America. Hopefully, the beloved sailors of the USS Montpelier, a nuclear submarine with terrible killing power that defends our state and country, remain to march in our parade. These sailors certainly were at our parade when the U.S. military banned gays from service.
Having grown up in Montpelier, attended its schools and returned, I have seen a tolerant, all too conservative city government devolve into an intolerant, smug, self-entitled group that will even sacrifice Boy Scouts at the altar of political correctness. But it is OK if the boys pick up the trash. Think about it.
Tom Somers lives in Montpelier.
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