Are the Boy Scouts Trying to Self-Destruct?

Look, I was a Boy Scout.  Heck, I am an Eagle Scout, and went to the 1975 Boy Scout World Jamboree in Norway.  Boy Scouts were a material part of my youth.  So I’m not a hater.

But (and this is a big ol’ but, oh yeah), in order to stay relevant, organizations have to evolve smartly.  By smartly, I mean in a way that preserves your fundamental goal and purpose, while reflecting the overall direction of society.


Need some examples?  Freddy losing the ascot is smart evolution.  Every major network TV show glorifying tobacco, drugs, sex and general disrespectful behavior is bad evolution.  In other words, there is a sweet spot somewhere between Father Knows Best and 16 and Pregnant.

I’ve expressed previously my concern about the direction the Boy Scouts seem to be taking.  At that point, my mental jury was still out, but I was trying to be supportive.  My son is only 4, so I have some time to decide if and how I will nudge him towards scouting.

But when the Boy Scouts ignore technology, cultural trends, copyright law and common sense at the same time, then I’ve had enough.

In fact, I could sit in a quiet place all day and not come up with anything more ludicrous than the idea that parents shouldn’t listen to legally burned CDs because they look like pirated CDs:

So how can Scouters teach ethical behavior related to music downloading? One way: Set a good example. When you haul around Scouts in your car, for example, only play CDs that you’ve purchased. If you play CDs that you’ve burned—even if they’re legal—your Scouts may not recognize the difference between those and the pirated CDs friends have given them.

Seriously?  Do these guys have any idea how the world works now?  Does the dude who wrote this drive a horse and buggy to work?  Take off the ascot and look around you, dude.

There’s more:

Piracy relates to the concept of honor, but Aretz points out that it also relates to bravery. “Technology makes it easier to be dishonorable in some ways. Therefore, you have to have more courage to act honorably.”

Maybe mathematically, but under the same logic, not only do guns make it easier to kill, but doors make it easier to run away.  I have a feeling all of this data and much of this bad logic was hand-fed to whoever decided to hit the publish button on this unfortunate article by the RIAA and the MPAA.

I don’t pirate music, and I haven’t bought a CD that was available in downloadable format in years and years.  Almost all of my music comes via MP3 download from Amazon.  Even on the rare occasion where MP3 versions of old records I want are not available for purchase, I buy the CD, rip it to my (non-shared) music server and shred the CD.

So. . .

If I ever want to listen to my legally purchased music in my truck, I have to legally burn the purchased MP3s to a perfectly legal and ethical CD-R.

Furthermore, none of my kids or their friends own any CDs, burned or otherwise, as far as I can tell.  They get all of their music via iTunes and tote it around on their iPods and iPhones.

In sum, avoiding CD-Rs because kids are too dumb to know the difference between legally burned media and pirated music was bad advice in the nineties.  It’s ascot-level idiotic in 2010.

Current odds of me nudging my son towards Boy Scouts: down 20% based on this.  Currently standing at 39%.

One thought on “Are the Boy Scouts Trying to Self-Destruct?

  1. I wasn’t a Boy Scout (Dad had some unspoken grudge against the whole thing that I suspect had to do with the pack leader, den master, or whatever the heck ya call the troop honcho.) but I do see value in encouraging my son to get into Scouting when he’s a bit older. Despite best intentions, I’m not doing a very good job of giving my son a taste of the outdoors. (Somehow playing basketball on the driveway doesn’t quite feel like it qualifies fully as “outdoors.”)

    But to the specifics of this post, I do think there are better, more sensible ways to steer kids away from piracy. Banning homebrewed CDs seems kinda indirect and knee-jerky.

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