God bless Penn Gillette! If the vertically advantaged prestidigitator were to run for President, I'm pretty sure he'd have my vote.
For the past several years, ever since the landmark Boy Scouts of America v Dale case, I thought I had staked out a solid position: As reprehensible as I found the Boy Scouts' discrimination against gays and atheists, I don't cherry-pick the First Amendment. I think that freedom of association is generally a good thing, because it means the assholes of the world will usually cordon themselves off where they won't bother the rest of us.
But then came last night's season premiere of Showtime's outstanding series "Bullshit!"
Penn and the silent though emotive Teller laid bare the tangled relationship between the Boy Scouts and government, relying on an almost incalculable amount of public funds and accommodations to carry out Scouting activities.
The Supreme Court essentially dismissed the intent of the New Jersey public-accommodations law that was at issue in the Dale case. They also bought the BSA line that homosexuality is incompatible with the Boy Scouts' oath regarding what is "morally straight" and "clean," even though it is clear that such an interpretation of that oath is a perversion of the Scouts' history and its own past stated meaning of those terms.
As an aside, a few years back when I worked in the Senate, I played a bit part in helping to turn back legislative threats to the Scouts' dependence on government. Even though I was accurately representing the position of my boss, I felt I could do so in good faith, based on my own experience in the Boy Scouts dating back to the early 1980s. But as "Bullshit!" points out, the BSA was hijacked by the Mormon Church in the mid-'80s, and today I'm sickened that I didn't know the full story before now.
The bottom line is, you cannot have private membership standards that exclude a good swath of the public while continuing to suck off the public teat. If the BSA were to turn back their millions of dollars in federal funds, and their millions more in the in-kind use of public accommodations, perhaps I could revert back to my laissez faire attitude in the second paragraph.
Until then, these duplicitous assholes – and their enablers in Washington, D.C. – need to be continually exposed to the harsh light of day.
Shine on, Penn and Teller. Shine on.
I FORGOT TO ADD that the video below is generally NSFW, based on copious use of the word "fuck" and one brief female titty shot around 23 minutes in.
[Watch video – 29:29, WMV format, high bandwidth]
[Watch video – 29:29, WMV format, low bandwidth]