The Breakfast Table

Boy(cott) Scouts

Marisa, two major pieces of news from my home state:

1. The Nets made Kenyon Martin the first pick of the NBA draft. I expect no less than the championship and a move to Newark within five years.

2. The Supreme Court decided that the Boy Scouts of America have the right to exclude gay members, reversing the New Jersey Supreme Court, which forced a New Jersey troop to readmit scoutmaster James Dale, who’d been expelled when it was learned that he was gay.

Having myself been kicked out of the Scouts for eating brownies, I was naturally interested in the latter story.

I would not belong to an organization that chooses to bar homosexuals. It saddens me that this issue even arose, that a popular and apparently very decent young Rutgers student and Eagle Scout wasn’t allowed to go about his whittling and walking old ladies across the street in peace. But the Supreme Court was totally correct in acknowledging that private groups have the freedom to associate with whomever they like. Forcing the Boy Scouts to admit homosexuals is exactly the same as forcing them to bar homosexuals–we must not give the government the power to decide who can hang out with whom. The right answer here is not for the government, via courts or legislation, to force groups to accept certain ideas. The right answer is for good citizens of conscience to vote with their feet, their membership dues, their voice boxes.

Let me finally point out that both the Boy Scouts thing and yesterday’s decision that the government cannot prohibit the so-called “partial-birth” abortion were both 5 to 4. The next president will likely appoint three Supremes. Mike Royko wrote a wonderfully prescient column about “The Me-Me Non Voter”–good-time Charlies who snobbishly don’t make it to the polls because the issues of the day “don’t affect me.” All of my grandparents and half my parents were born in other countries, and fought like hell to get here. There’s no way to say this without sounding like a hollow public-service announcement, but not voting is disgustingly selfish, unforgivable, and a let-them-eat-cake middle finger to all those who don’t have the privilege elsewhere.

Now, where’s my onion bagel?