We reported earlier today on a petition started up by a straight former scout protesting the Boy Scouts of America's longstanding policy to discriminate against homosexuals.
(The petition doesn't mention it, but BSA discriminates against atheists, too).
Good luck to him -- the list of successful petitions is not a very long one. In another move -- and one that involves a great deal more sacrifice than signing a petition -- a number of Eagle Scouts have renounced their awards, sending heartfelt letters to BSA headquarters in Texas, along with their patches and medals. You can see an assemblage of many such communiques here.
So it's clear that Eagle Scouts can send their regalia to BSA HQ. But does this mean you're no longer an Eagle Scout?
That answer is no.
Individual Eagle Scouts can -- and do -- renounce their awards. But, in the eyes of the parent organization, once an Eagle, always an Eagle.
"Once the honored is earned, it is permanent," writes BSA spokesman Deron Smith.
Well, you knew there'd be no easy answers here. Renouncing one's weighty achievement shows resolve and commitment -- but is ignored by the organization these individuals are hoping to influence. And retaining one's hard-earned award allows individuals to be defined by the organization's most abhorrent views.
It is, simply, a heartbreaking situation (and your humble narrator is an Eagle Scout). The organization's continued overt discrimination against homosexuals and atheists -- despite a sordid history of covering up on behalf of molesters -- is the worst sort of hypocrisy.
We can only reiterate what we said before:
Congratulations, BSA. By continuing to enforce Neanderthal policies against good and honest people and forcing them to live a lie -- while coddling the very worst sort of criminal -- you've devalued the experience of what it is to have been a Scout.
You've made those of us who toiled to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout look like dupes or company men who adopted your hypocritical line while clawing to the top of a corrupt corporation.
It turns out you can kill an ideal. What a sad and horrible mess.