A Word in Edgewise


The temptation to round once more on the Senator from Idaho is nigh onto irresistible. Now, a cadre of eight more individuals voluntarily have added themselves to Larry Craig’s lengthening list. One of them is Reverend Ted Haggard’s nemesis, Mike Jones, who pops in and out of A-list boudoirs faster than a cuckold in a Feydeau farce.

But I’m reluctant to expend yet another 475 words on Craig’s labyrinth of lies (as Vice President Spiro Agnew might have alliterized it)—too much like shooting fish in a barrel. I’ll wait for the movie.

Another ongoing drama is the plight of the Philadelphia Boy Scout chapter that faces paying out of pocket for the privilege of discriminating against its employees and openly gay youth. The Cradle of Liberty Council has a deadline either to change its criteria for hiring of personnel and for being a Boy Scout, or to start paying rent on the city-owned real estate it has been using rent-free since 1928.

Ironically, Robert Knight of the Media Research Center noted that the Beaux Arts building, the real estate in question, originally was built by the Scouts, then given to the City. The Scouts were granted a lease “in perpetuity,” but it was mooted by the local 1982 “fair practice” law prohibiting employers from using “sexual orientation” as a consideration for employment.

It is an interesting dilemma, because spokesman Jeff Jubelirer claimed the Cradle of Liberty Council (the country’s third-largest chapter) runs programs that aid some 40,000 local children. He further noted that the Council has tried so salvage the situation by attempting to renounce the national policy, and adopted a nondiscrimination policy reading: “Prejudice, intolerance and unlawful discrimination in any form are unacceptable within the ranks of the Cradle of Liberty Council.”

The Council itself then was caught in a bind, Jubelirer explained, because “National would not allow us to keep that language,” and if it is offended, the Council will lose its charter. “We can’t afford not to be part of the national Boy Scouts,” he admitted.

Thus, the local proposed policy of greater tolerance, it would seem, is not acceptable to the higher-ups. A civilian system of “Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t even suggest” remains in place, and any of Cradle of Liberty’s attempts, no matter how meager, or if performed only under threat of eviction, are in vain.

The losers? Everyone: The Philadelphia Council; the 40,000 inner-city kids; any openly gay boys and adult personnel; the nation. For like it or not, statistically 5 to 7 percent of Scouts will be gay.

Must these boys continue to dissemble? Are they condemned to shoulder the traditional mantle of self-hatred and homophobia? Will they, in a word, become tomorrow’s Haggards and Craigs?

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