Bob Franken

King Features Column

(The usual drivel which points out this column is a week late here at the behest of the syndicators who want to give client (paying) newspapers the first crack at it)

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Without a doubt, we are all avid readers of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences magazine. So we’re all abuzz, I’m sure, about the newly published study that claims Neanderthals died off earlier than previously thought, which could mean they never shared our planet with full-fledged humans. Bet that knocked your socks off.
The only problem is that it’s wrong: Neanderthals are still among us. How else can we describe the two Ricks, Santorum and Perry. Once again, they’re speaking out for those whose brains are still evolving from antediluvian stage. This time, they’ve left the primordial ooze to weigh in on the Boy Scouts of America.

Full disclosure: I was an Eagle Scout, which mainly proves that oftentimes it takes a while for someone to go so wrong. Be that as it may, of late, I had turned my Eagle honor certificate upside down in protest of the organization’s prohibition against gay members. I was waiting to see if it was time to rotate it back once the news got out that the Boy Scout board might actually undo that ban, at least on a national level, leaving it to individual troop sponsors to decide. Even with that local option, the very thought of tolerance had caused such an uproar that the board meeting to consider the possibility has wimped out — punting it to the national convention in May. They backed down “due to the complexity of the issue.”
The “complexity” is homophobia. The closed-minded opened up with a torrent of hostility. Prominent among them were Messrs. Santorum and Perry, who spoke for cultural bigots everywhere in opposition to a move that would have dragged the organization into modern times. Both made it clear they represent those who are against progress, or what my fellow Eagle Scout Perry called “popular culture.” Meanwhile, Santorum wrote in the right-wing “World Net Daily”: “I implore (these people!) to read the Boy Scout Law. It is filled with words that have long left the popular lexicon when applied to young men, but I suspect traits you would value in your employees: trustworthy, loyal, courteous, thrifty, obedient, clean and reverent.” Apparently, in the Ricks’ way of thinking, you can’t be all that good stuff if you’re not heterosexual. By the way, he managed to overlook some of the attributes listed in the oath. A Scout is also supposed to be “kind.” Santorum really forgot that one.
Of course, this is the same guy who told The Associated Press, “If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery.” In his latest rant, he calls on the Scouts to avoid what’s “cool or trending.”
Back in Neanderthal times, these two probably would have opposed new inventions like the wheel or fire. What’s really scary is that each of them was considered, for a while, to be a credible Republican presidential candidate. That probably helps explain why the Democrat won. On Super Bowl Sunday, President Barack Obama told CBS that “gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does, in every institution and walk of life.”
He made those comments during a pregame interview with Scott Pelley that occurred before the lights went out in the Superdome. The dark ages seem just fine for Perry and Santorum. We can count on both of them to consistently espouse positions that should be extinct, but sadly are not.
Outside the board meeting, anti-gay protestors were carrying signs that read “Don’t invite sin into the camp” and “BSA, please resist Satan’s test.” They were successful in scaring the board into failing its test for the time being. For now the gay ban stays in effect. Until it changes, perhaps the Scout troops can hold their meetings in caves.

© 2013 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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