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Wineke: What institutions can be trusted?

By William R. Wineke, Special to Channel 3000
Published On: Oct 22 2012 02:30:33 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 22 2012 02:36:15 PM CDT

And, now, we find it is the Boy Scouts of America accused of covering up child molestation.

The Scouts recently released almost 15,000 pages of documentation of the acts of some 1,200 leaders between 1965 and 1985. The organization didn't release its files in the spirit of public accountability. The Boy Scouts released the files because the Oregon Supreme Court said the organization had to do so.

You have to wonder if anyone in Scout leadership happened to notice the controversy surrounding the Roman Catholic Church during the past couple of decades.

The Catholic bishops covered up the actions of a relatively small number of pervert priests. The eventual disclosure undermined whatever credibility those bishops have when speaking about moral issues.

Then, we learned the Penn State University's athletic program was involved in covering up the actions of Jerry Sandusky, an assistant athletic coach. The resulting controversy destroyed the reputation of Coach Joe Paterno and led to the firing of a number of university officials, including the president.

Now, it's the Boy Scouts' turn.

Boy Scouts of America president Wayne Perry immediately issued a statement that could have just as easily been prepared by a bishop or a university president:

"While it is difficult to understand or explain individuals' actions from many years ago, today Scouting is a leader among youth-serving organizations in preventing child abuse," he said.

The problem, you see, was in things that took place many decades ago. Yesterday's news. No problem here.

That's what we heard from bishops for many years. Turned out it wasn't true – though it took court orders to get the records. That's what we hear from any institution caught protecting its records.

What really irks me about the Boy Scouts and the church is that each organization not only purports to uphold moral standards but also is quite willing to claim moral superiority over others.

Both the Scouts and the church have taken some pains to suggest the real problem lies with homosexuals. That if, somehow, we can make sure gay guys aren't ordained or aren't allowed to be scout leaders, then we can minimize the problem of child molestation.

The compulsion to molest children is not a gay compulsion, it is an equal opportunity perversion. There is no evidence gays are any more likely than heterosexuals to be molesters. But banning gays does divert attention from the underlying problem, doesn't it?

Very few Boy Scout leaders harm children. Very few priests harm children. Very few football coaches harm children. But, when we cover up the actions of the few; when we divert attention by falsely condemning others; when we assert that the problem is in the past, then we tar everyone with the same brush.

Journalist Chris Hayes recently wrote a book titled "The Twilight of the Elites" and in it, he documents just how badly many of those leading the institutions that undergird civilized society have performed.

This is just another example.

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