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tyler marlow
(like.sisyphus) - F

Locale: UTAH
BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/01/2011 23:11:40 MDT Print View

Well,

I was about to apply for a summer job at philmont when I can across the 'Requirements for Employment" with BSA. The first requirement is a "Declaration of Religious Principles"

While scouting is specifically non-denominational and does not champion any specific religious beliefs, "Scouting does not accept atheists and agnostics as members or adult volunteer leaders."

Futhermore, "the Boy Scouts of America will not employ atheists, agnostics, known or avowed homosexuals, or others as professional Scouters.

I do know that these requirements may not be enforced in every (or even most) individual troops, but the fact that it is BSA policy to exclude (and even remove) athiests, agnostics, and homosexuals from the institution is inexcusable.

Now, should I boycott BSA

or

undermine their ranks and subvert them with my heathen, godless, g@y lovin', passion for the outdoors!


[the BPL profanity censure wont let me say g a y???]

Ken K
(TheFatBoy) - F

Locale: St. Louis
Can we move this to chaff? on 10/01/2011 23:26:22 MDT Print View

I'm pretty sure their hiring practices has been upheald in court time and time again.

I don't get it. Why would you want to be a member of a group that, at it's core, preaches exactly opposite your view points? Why go looking for a fight?

The people who put their kids in Boy Scouts do so, at least in part, because of what it preaches. Would you really go out of your way to "undermine and subvert" their authority to raise their children as they wish simply because you disagree with their viewpoints?

To the admin: I don't mind the conversation, but can we move it to chaff? It certainly doesn't have anything with scout backpacking.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Private group? on 10/01/2011 23:55:43 MDT Print View

I think there was a court case or a lawsuit over this issue. I think it basically boiled down to the fact that the scouts are a non-public institution so they can exclude people if they want to and the government isn't going to force them to allow anyone and everyone in. BSA has a certain set of values it wants to uphold and in my opinion they should be allowed to practice what they believe whether we agree with them or not. If they want to be a semi-religious organization open only to thiest and closed to people with certain beliefs and practices thats there business in my opinion. If you find their values offensive my guess is you'll be happier somewhere else since most of the folks you'd be working with are going to hold those values to one degree or another and I imagine it would bug you over time.

Edited by Cameron on 10/02/2011 00:03:54 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/02/2011 00:01:37 MDT Print View

Wow!

Okay, I was not a boy scout. I have not had any association with the organization as an adult.

Here is their mission statement

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

Scout Oath

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.


Scout Law

A Scout is:
Trustworthy
Loyal
Helpful
Friendly
Courteous
Kind
Obedient
Cheerful
Thrifty
Brave
Clean
Reverent

Vision Statement

The Boy Scouts of America will prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law.

-------------------------------------

I found this via Google. Given their Mission and Vision, then no they would not hire an atheist or agnostic because they would be unable to teach or support "To do my duty to God."

This is a PRIVATE organization and their policies, including excluding homosexuals, has been held up by state and federal courts including the Supreme Court of the United States.

As a private organization, they have the right to "freedom of association."

Boy Scouting is not about the outdoors, it is about their vision of building character.

So to answer your question to what should you do? Move on.

tyler marlow
(like.sisyphus) - F

Locale: UTAH
not trying to pick a fight on 10/02/2011 00:38:28 MDT Print View

I really dont want to offend anyone, and im totally fine if this gets moved to chaff.

Im just interested in some discussion and hoping to find that there are others that see the value in both scouting as a gateway to the outdoors and openness and tolerance for ALL people.

I grew up in scouts and in fact was just an eagle project short of getting my Eagle scout. Truly, I probably would have not become the hiker trash that I am today without boy scouts.

I have read the court cases understand the ruling that its a private institution and that no one is forcing me to participate in. Im not saying its unconstitutional or anything just unfair to lots of people who's only opportunity to explore the outdoors is through scouting.

BSA is something that I would love to be active in, but I cannot stand to see people discriminated against based on institutional requirements. I could just leave it and go about my day but what about pre-civil rights scouting? Should they have just dropped it?

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/02/2011 01:16:25 MDT Print View

If you really want a fun summer job, I would suck it up and take the job. Getting to spend your time outdoors outweighs the negatives in my opinion. Yes, I mean you should lie. I'm sure there are more than a few people there who don't have any religious views. But I guess it depends on if religion is actually an integral part of their organization. I was never in scouts so I wouldn't know.

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/02/2011 01:32:15 MDT Print View

Yours is an interesting dilemma. Is participation a tacit endorsement of policies you find objectionable? Or does participation afford an opportunity to influence and facilitate change from within the organization? Where do you believe your efforts would best serve as an instrument for change?

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/02/2011 03:36:19 MDT Print View

Hi Tyler

I'm an Australian Scout Leader, I've been a Scout since I was eleven, and been avidly involved since, including doing a lot of international Scouting, especially very recently when another young leader and I cycled to Sweden for the World Scout Jamboree.

In regards to their discrimination policies, the BSA are pretty much outcasts in world Scouting. Sure, the religious thing is in our promise (though I've never heard of another country's national scout association having a policy against atheists/agnostics), but no one really cares what your religion is and nor should they. Interestingly, even on segregating boys and girls they are one of only a few countries left that openly do that.

I was fortunate to meet and work with quite a few great people from the BSA at the World Jamboree. The ones I worked with (Leave No Trace activity, we ran) were quite openly embarressed by these very BSA policies you mention. Not all the BSA is like that, though it will depend a lot on your troop. From what I can tell, Venturer Units, which are allowed to be co-ed, tend to be a bit more "open minded" though that is only my personal observations so far.

I wouldn't be subversive, just be a bit disappointed. Go to Philmont; I'm sure these policies will not come out to the fore in your experience there. Remember, Scouting very much is an internationally focused, open minded organisation, that promotes peace and understanding. There is nothing in that policy that says that YOU have to be a homophobe kicking out g.a.ys, etc. And if somehow something comes up and you don't agree with the conversation (this actually happened (!) with a bunch of old BSA leaders to me at the World Jam...) then politely state your opinion, maybe a few lines about how they are people too and can't help it, and then just move on away before it gets ugly. But I don't think it will come up anyway in your time at Philmont. Just be true to what you think the Scout Promise and Law means mate, that's the best thing to do.

The 2019 World Jamboree is going to be very interesting for BSA. I think a few minds in the organisation might be openened. There will be g.a.y and l.esbian scouts, scouts of all sorts of religions and none, etc. Sweden was amazing. There were large organised meetings for G.a.y/L.esbian Scouts (fantastic!), different religions, etc, etc. Scouts truly is a force for world peace.

Yours in World Scouting,

Adam

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/02/2011 05:07:39 MDT Print View

Qualifications of Employment
http://scouting.org/Jobs/QualificationsofEmployment.aspx

Do you have the background needed for a career as a Scouting professional? Our leaders are frequently called upon to multitask and combine many skills to get the job done.

The basic qualifications are:
* Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university
* United States citizenship or declared intention to become a U.S. citizen
* Adult—must have attained age 21 unless prohibited by any applicable law
* People-oriented, having the ability to work well with adult volunteers, community and business leaders, and representatives of other organizations
* Able to work varied hours when necessary to achieve positive objectives
* Believe in the BSA and subscribe to its principles and standards
* Be approved to receive a professional Scouting commission

Faith Traditions
Young people need faith. There is abundant evidence that children benefit from the moral compass provided by religious tradition. We acknowledge that faith can become an important part of a child's identity. Each of the major faiths breeds hope, optimism, compassion, and a belief in a better tomorrow. Scouting encourages each young person to begin a spiritual journey through the practice of his or her faith tradition. One of the key tenets of Scouting is "duty to God." While Scouting does not define religious belief for its members, it has been adopted by and works with youth programs of all major faiths.

Edited by jshann on 10/02/2011 05:50:05 MDT.

Chas Ho
(i_charles) - F
Re: BSA policy :) on 10/02/2011 07:26:13 MDT Print View

I have heard your complaint from time to time. Perhaps, you could start your own atheist, agnostic, and/or g-y scout orginization? Especially if it is a issue is one you STRONGLY believe in (pun intended)
Its an interesting dilimma because I have also read how it works the other way around, too. People of faith who feel pressured to do things against their personal belief system by a work and/or government policy.
For Instance,should someone HAVE TO fill out a prescription for a suicide drug if it is against their moral code? The answer should be obvious..???
Anyways, there are litterally hundreds,maybe thousands, of situation I could think of.
Otherwise, if something about a VOLUNTEER organisation is offensive to you then why would you even consider joining it???
Unless your objective is to change it from within? In that case, I would have to wonder why you would want to take away other's choice because its not your choice?
That would make you, not the BSA, dishonest? The BSA states upfront what and who they are. While you would have to sneak around and pretend to be something else with the intenetion of subvertion?
Kind of reminds me of people who move to the coutry from a city and try to turn it into a city. Why didn't they just stay in the city? :)
I would add if you can not be honest with others how can you be honest with yourself?
Perhaps, you could state your position upfront to those doing the hiring? Maybe they would make an exceoption if you agree not to "proselytize?" :)
Good luck.

Edited by i_charles on 10/02/2011 08:46:28 MDT.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/02/2011 09:11:37 MDT Print View

I'll never understand the need people feel to join an organization they disagree with, and then try to force their beliefs on them. There are a multitude of organizations you can join and work outdoors. Nick said it best, just move on.

And I know this will quickly devolve into a thread dogging Christians and their beliefs, which I always find hilarious. Funny how no one ever has the stones to say anything about Muslims, and their similar beliefs.

Chas Ho
(i_charles) - F
BSA policy :) on 10/02/2011 09:18:45 MDT Print View

"I cannot stand to see people discriminated against based on institutional requirements"

On one hand you say you "get it" and on the other you say "BUT"..I think it has more to do with wanting to make others who don't agree with your particular position to have to inforce your brand of "institutional requirements"
Should the Boy Scouts allow nudism? Why do they have age requirements in scouting? Why can't members of MAMBLA join the BSA?
A organisation sets its own perimeters.

If I started a org about eggs and only egg lovers could join..that would be discriminitory?
A handful of people want the egg org include bacon? Why not just start your own egg and bacon org?
Should g#y groups have to allow a openly bigoted homophobe as a leader? Should black organisations have to allow a professed Neo-Nazis to be a leader of their group?
Should G@y group have to allow Christians to be leaders in their group?
Its endless...

tyler marlow
(like.sisyphus) - F

Locale: UTAH
Re: Adam's comments on 10/02/2011 10:26:29 MDT Print View

Adam,

Thanks for the great response, thats exactly the kind of discussion I am looking for.

My main issue is not my own personal beliefs, in fact if pressed i could fit my own beliefs into their "declaration of beliefs"

what i am more concerned with is the fact that a scout can be removed from scouting as a whole for being g a y or being athiest/agnostic

my whole bit about "infiltrating their ranks" was very tongue in cheek. What it really means is trying to get the job (which i am qualified for) and using it to further scouting and attempting to influence a wide acceptance for all peoples.

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Tipping point? on 10/02/2011 11:01:30 MDT Print View

As was mentioned earlier in this thread, BSA is a "Minoriy" when it comes to scouting around the world. As an Eagle Scout and an adult scouter with a son who enjoys scouting, I can assure you that you are not alone in the distaste toward BSA's policy, and I'd suspect that Lord Baden Powell (founder of scouting) has been turning in his grave ever since the policies have been clarified (possibly ten to fifteen years ago.)

I decided back when my son chose to join scouting that I would support him in his endeavors, regardless of my personal opinion about the policy. And as one who practices non-Christian spirituality, I am happy to say that the troop my son is in emphasizes inclusivity to all: both kids and their parents alike.

Therefore I share with you what a mentor once said to me: "Choose the path which has the most Heart."

If your choice is to share your expertise with the boys, while holding your beliefs in a Good Way, then do it and add to the mass of other adult scouters who may one day create a tipping point in Scouting to amend their policy.... Even if it takes years. If your choice is to support youth in another good way, then do it.

Good luck, friend.

Matt

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Adam's comments on 10/02/2011 11:20:21 MDT Print View

What does this part mean?

"attempting to influence a wide acceptance for all peoples"

Jon Franklin
(Junto01) - F
Start your own club on 10/02/2011 12:52:37 MDT Print View

I suggest that instead of trying to change a wonderful organization that does immense good in the world by teaching boys to be responsible and mature young men, that you start your own group/club that is guided by your own values and principles.

It's a tad narcissistic to think a 100 year old organization should change it's values and guiding principles just because you object to them.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
BSA on 10/02/2011 13:44:54 MDT Print View

Scouting is what it is, for a reason.

Many scout troops (most?) are linked to churches and religious schools, and use their facilities for troop meetings and honor courts. It is an organization with very conservative values.

Few people would allow their 10-18 yr old kids to be part of any organization which openly embraced atheists and homosexuals. Scout leaders have an impact on developing kids, they must be a role model. The beliefs are fundamental to the existence of BSA.

BSA has had more than enough trouble in the past with child abuse from closet homosexuals. They go thru great lengths with background checks on all adults to insure the safety of children.

If your beliefs arent in line with theirs, fine. But if thats the case you dont belong, and probably would not be welcome anyway.

BSA is not a backpacking/hiking/outdoor club. It is an organization that shapes young people to be model citizens, and uses the outdoors as part of that process.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Adam's comments on 10/02/2011 14:17:14 MDT Print View

Tyler,

I am a parent. As a parent I have a huge responsibility to raise my kids in the manner I deem appropriate and important. As for your statement, "attempting to influence a wide acceptance for all peoples," it is not your job to influence someone else's children, it is the parents responsibility.

As such, many parents in the US involve their children in organizations like the BSA to support the morals and values they wish to impart to their children. Apparently the BSA is non-denominational, but they put forth that there is a God and people need to be reverent to their God. As to homosexuality, it is up to parents to deal with the subject with their children. Right or wrong in your eyes or mine, that responsibility lies with the parent.

As noted earlier, many troops are aligned to churches and parents expect the BSA to support certain ideas.

As to your statement, "if pressed i could fit my own beliefs into their 'declaration of beliefs'." Is this the right thing to do? Would you be true to your own beliefs? Why would you want fit your beliefs into someone else's belief system. Do you have your own agenda?

I do not believe there is a God. My first wife, who is the mother of my children, is Catholic. When we had kids, she wanted them to be Catholic. So what was to be done? I agreed to allow them to be brought up in the Catholic religion. I did not go to church with them, because I am not Catholic and do not believe in most of what they teach. However there are benefits as they teach that each of us must live according to a moral and ethical code/system. What I told the kids is that I am not Catholic and would not go to church with them, but they had to follow their mother's instructions. I did encourage them to be critical thinkers and to be true to themselves. I also told them that when they were adults, they could make their own decisions about how they want to live their lives. When they started school, we put them in parochial schools until high school. Why did I agree to this, when they could go to school for "free?" Because parents have little say in what will be taught to their children in public schools. Catholicism was preferable to me than "attempting to accept a wide influence." Both kids attended public high school because we felt they need to be exposed to the good and bad of the "attempting to accept a wide influence." Both kids graduated from college and I am proud of both of them for everything they do. Their beliefs have changed and they think for themselves. They do not accept what others tell them, they make their own decisions based on reason, their moral and ethical systems.

Let the BSA parents be parents and raise them how they see fit... not how you or I see fit.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
both ways. on 10/02/2011 18:18:43 MDT Print View

Can the BSA have it both ways? To be private when it comes to discrimination claims, and public (or quasi-public) when it comes to taxpayer dollars, chartering with government agencies, special/preferential access to county/city/state/federal lands and facilities, etc.?

BSA will always lag behind the times when it comes to discrimination issues, kinda like how the USA lagged behind the times when it came to the right of women to vote, black men marrying white women, homosexual marriage, etc. The courts are the vehicle to clean up the gray area (above) in which BSA would choose to operate.

Edited by DaveT on 10/02/2011 18:20:34 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: BSA on 10/02/2011 19:17:11 MDT Print View

"BSA has had more than enough trouble in the past with child abuse from closet homosexuals. "

They were not closet homosexuals, they were pedophiles. There's a difference, and a rather large one at that.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Re: Adam's comments on 10/02/2011 21:04:06 MDT Print View

No worries Tyler.

Don't stress over it too much, it probably won't affect your Scouting much, if at all.

As Matt said, add to the Mass of Adult Scouters that will one day create a tipping point. The BSA, further up the chain, is a rather old generation organisation. This very much flies against the grain of Scout Organisations around the world. Its a youth organisation, and although there is nothing wrong with very old Scouters being apart of it, and I applaud them for their dedication to young people, there does need to be some reality check and there is a need to keep-in-touch with the younger generation. That includes on ethical and moral issues and standpoints. I totally understand where some of the parents are coming from in this forum, but they have to remember the whole point of Scouting is to create young people who are both independent and team thinkers, and who stand up for what they themselves believe in.

I wouldn't be too concerned with a Scout themselves being kicked out for being g.a.y. I don't think (as I recall from conversations with pro-g.a.y BSA Scouters) it has happened that a youth member has been kicked out (well its probably happened or they've been made to feel uncomfortable and left, but who knows, its not reported). Its more targeted at Scouters.

Statistics on homosexuality are pretty high in pretty much every country on the planet. I've been told in Australia its something like 11% of people are homo/bisexual (gained from blind confidential studies). In some countries its much higher-the Swedes told me its more like 1 in 4 there. I'm sure its at least a few % in the USA. There will be a fair proportion, no doubt, of young people who are in Scouting, who come up and find themselves once they hit puberty and start thinking about their sexuality, in an organisation where their sexuality is not tolerated. In many troops that won't be a problem depending on its culture. But imagine you were in a troop, where, say, a young leader came along to start helping out. After a few weeks, they no longer come anymore. The boys ask why; he/she was a great leader and had lots of really cool ideas and taught them lots of things and they just couldn't wait to go out on that hiking trip or summer camp with them. Then they all get told that he/she was homosexual (insert derogatory comment here) and we don't want them (...) around here and they are banned from Scouts.

How does that make the young person feel? Pretty horrible I imagine.

Yep, BP will be turning in his grave.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
closet. on 10/02/2011 21:45:12 MDT Print View

"They were not closet homosexuals, they were pedophiles. There's a difference, and a rather large one at that."

+1 to that. (And Martin, I can think of at least one large organization that had/has a much larger problem with pedophiles. I'll give you one guess.)


"Scout leaders have an impact on developing kids, they must be a role model."

I was not aware that atheists and/or homosexuals are unable to be role models for youth.

Edited by DaveT on 10/03/2011 07:43:22 MDT.

tyler marlow
(like.sisyphus) - F

Locale: UTAH
Douglas and Dave on 10/02/2011 22:23:02 MDT Print View

+1 thanks for standing up against homophobia!

tyler marlow
(like.sisyphus) - F

Locale: UTAH
long response on 10/02/2011 22:37:26 MDT Print View

“Yours is an interesting dilemma. Is participation a tacit endorsement of policies you find objectionable? Or does participation afford an opportunity to influence and facilitate change from within the organization? Where do you believe your efforts would best serve as an instrument for change?”

Dirk, thank you that is exactly the kind of discussion I was hoping for.

Chas, your comments about racists or Nazis being allowed in such groups is a very different story, although I will concede that there are many who would put atheists and homosexuals in the same category with racists and Nazis. This is about making an instutition that I think does a lot of good open to even more people.

Matt,
Thank you. Eloquent words spoken with experience.

John Shannon,

What that means is that I believe that scouting should be open to everyone! And that includes atheists, homosexuals, aliens, and the boogeyman. Not to mention girls. But that’s a whole other thread that’s already being discussed!

Jon,

I see nothing narcissistic about it! My intention is to influence scouting so that scouts will not be discriminated against.


Finally,

The argument that I should start my own organization is a good one, but I don’t think we need to start over when there is a long tradition already in place that need only be updated with the times and finally incorporate a fully inclusive policy.

Thanks for all the great discussion everyone. I think I might go for it. Although I disagree with some of the policies on a human rights ground I believe I can do more good within the organization than boycotting it altogether.

All the best,
Tyler

Morgan Rucks
(rucksmtr) - F
... on 10/02/2011 23:45:12 MDT Print View

As an Eagle Scout, I disagree strongly with the discrimination policy of the BSA. It truly flies in the face of the scout oath and law.
I learned more useful skills in scouts than I did in school, and it pains me to see a organization that I cherish, turn into a organisation that promotes bigotry and shame.

Tyler: go work at Philmont, you'll have a blast.

Edited by rucksmtr on 10/02/2011 23:46:24 MDT.

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Ask a kid on 10/03/2011 04:36:37 MDT Print View

I had an interesting conversation with my 10 yo and 12 yo last week. (One is in Scouts and one not)

The crux of it was them asking me as a genuine question.....What is wrong with being g@y?

I couldn't come up with anything, but maybe someone else can?

Mark Primack
(Bufa) - MLife

Locale: Cape Cod and Northern Newfoundland
Shame on BSA on 10/03/2011 06:28:12 MDT Print View

My dad was a Scout and Scout leader when we were growing up. My brothers and I were Scouts and all of us attribute our love of backpacking in part to that experience. We loved the BSA and at least a few of our family were serious financial donors to both our local troops and the national. None of our sons and daughters are Scouts and we have stopped donating, and its specifically because of their discriminatory policies. Atheists and agnostics, which includes Buddhists and yoga practitioners, can be deeply spiritual as can be gays. The BSA policies have nothing to do with morality and everything to do with bigotry. Our family--mom Catholic and dad Jewish--has known the sting of bigotry and we won't support it against others.

The real shame is that this wonderful organization allowed itself to be captured by the Right-wing's political agenda, specifically the use of wedge issues that divide us rather than bringing us together as a nation.

Edited by Bufa on 10/03/2011 06:58:22 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Ask a kid on 10/03/2011 06:35:33 MDT Print View

Rod
Well my understanding is the main opposition to the practice is from verious religous groups that have teachings against it. You may not agree with it but thats a more principled reason to oppose something than just being narrow minded.

Tyler
Dougles and Dave were right in that its not really fair to lump someone who is g.a.y with a secret pedophile. I wasn't in on the decision making process but I doubt this was a major factor anyway. I think BSA made its choice based on its values, there are plenty of other ways to keep kids safe.

Can we do one thing and be careful how we us names like "homophobe"? Yes some people are bigots but the vast majority of people who are not big fans of the g.a.y movement are not. They just have certain values that cause them to disagree with the lifestyle of others. Just because you don't approve of an activity doesn't mean you're a bigot. I once helped set up an adventure race, a mountain bike race and mountian biking camp with an openly l.e.s.b.i.a.n, two athiests and the staff of an openly Christian adventure camp used as a basecamp. Everyone got along famously and had actually become good friends.

Edited by Cameron on 10/03/2011 06:44:50 MDT.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Ask a kid on 10/03/2011 06:36:25 MDT Print View

There is no right or wrong with being homosexual. It's not a choice, it's how they are.

Nothing immoral either.

It's the 21st Century. Get with it BSA!

Edited by kthompson on 10/03/2011 06:38:12 MDT.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
discrimination merit badge. on 10/03/2011 07:01:34 MDT Print View

> They just have certain values that cause them to disagree with the lifestyle of others.

"I'm not a bigot, I just have certain values that cause me to disagree with black men being able to marry white women. And women voting."

The sooner off folks are willing to realize and/or admit that being a homosexual is like being tall or having blue eyes or being left handed, the better off we will all be. Talking about it like it's a lifestyle choice is as ridiculous as saying you or I thought about it and decided to be heterosexual. Continuing to discriminate based upon it has no place in society; if you do, it's you that has the problem, and it's you that is being left behind by society moving forward and evolving to a better place. If your "values" lead you to xenophobia, racism, homophobia, and/or bigotry, you should be looking at yourself, not others.

(However, I never really did trust the look of those left-handers. Something just not right about them. And now they are demanding special scissors and other accomodation for their lifestyle choice.)


"Well my understanding is the main opposition to the practice is from various religious groups that have teachings against it. You may not agree with it but that's a more principled reason to oppose something than just being narrow minded."

In the case of the Bible, if you pick and choose which line you want to hold up as Gospel (e.g. homosexuality) and which you want to conveniently ignore (e.g. divorce, polygamy, murder, incest, ad nauseum), you might find yourself on pretty shaky ground when it comes to taking a "more principled" stance on things.


As opposed to some of the posts above, I don't think it's a question about whether a private discriminatory group CAN exist, it's a question about 1) whether a "private" organization should be able to discriminate while also having a foot in the public realm (for dollars, support, access, facilities, etc.) and 2) should people support a group which openly discriminates?

Also FYI, I am supportive of the Boy Scouts and all their efforts to raise good kids and citizens and get them into the outdoors. I just want them to reflect the evolution of society towards a better place. Sounds like the rest of the world (e.g. Australia, Sweden) has moved forward already. (Adam, thanks for your excellent posts!)

Edited by DaveT on 10/03/2011 07:47:49 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/03/2011 08:13:19 MDT Print View

Tyler, link to where you find the info you posted. I cannot find it.

From Philmont Application:
Applicants are considered without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (if over 18, or 21 for certain positions), marital status, veteran status, or the presence of a disability that is unrelated to your ability to perform the job requested.

Found it,
http://www.bsalegal.org/duty-to-god-cases-224.asp

Edited by jshann on 10/03/2011 08:20:45 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Discrimination Merit Badge on 10/03/2011 08:16:11 MDT Print View

Dave by "principaled" I meant it at least makes sense. If a Christian or Muslim dissapproves of homosexuality they may be politically incorrect but at least they can point to a logical reason why based on other beliefs they already hold. In other words even if you disagree with them I think their stand is a lot less narrow minded then someone who just opposes homosexuality becuase its different than what they are used too (my friend's non religous dad would seem to fit this discription). If you aren't following a religion that bans homosexuality than I see no logical reason to oppose it.

Edited by Cameron on 10/03/2011 08:17:35 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Ask a kid on 10/03/2011 10:06:03 MDT Print View

"The crux of it was them asking me as a genuine question.....What is wrong with being g@y?

I couldn't come up with anything, but maybe someone else can?"

Ah, kids ask the toughest questions. For me the answer is something like this...

There is nothing wrong with being Gay. Some people are just born that way. Just as some people are born with extremely high IQs, great musical or athletic talent. Some people are born with handicaps. People are born with different skin colors. None of us have a choice with what we are born with. What is important is that each person try to live a good life with what they were born with, and that other people do not inhibit other people's attempt to pursue their own happiness.

Chas Ho
(i_charles) - F
Re: long response on 10/03/2011 10:11:38 MDT Print View

Chas, your comments about racists or Nazis being allowed in such groups is a very different story,
although I will concede that there are many who would put atheists and homosexuals in the same category with racists and Nazis.
This is about making an instutition that I think does a lot of good open to even more people.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
The reality is the BSA has it perimeters like any org.
If you do not fit those perimeters then you do not belong in that org.
I would not want to be a leader in a atheist oriented scout group and I wouldn't obcess over whether they would have me as a member.
I certainly wouldn't contemplate ways I could LIE to get into a atheist oriented scout group
and then try to OPEN their minds to group prayer...haha

BTW ..I wasn't comparing Homosexual to Nazis. Anyone who suggest I was, even subtly is full of crapola.
Although, during WWII there were homosexual who were Nazis but by no means were all Nazis homosexuals but such groups are a very differnt story.:)
I used neo-Nazis as an example ( I did actually use a bunch of examples including "egg lovers" org) but it could be any group.
Name any group and I could suggest individuals they would not want for a memember/leader.
Should a women's org allow a sexiest man to be a leader of their group? Why can't a 14 be President of the US? Why can't a 13 y/o legally drive a semi-truck?
Why can't a 10 y/o marry a 8 y/o?

WE ALL SET PERIMETERS..g@y,Staight,Religious,Atheist,pegan,black,red,yellow,white,young,old,rich,poor,conservative,liberal,independent,fat,skinny,ugly,handsome,smart,stupid,complicated,simple...

Edited by i_charles on 10/03/2011 10:22:57 MDT.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
narrow. on 10/03/2011 10:12:21 MDT Print View

"In other words even if you disagree with them I think their stand is a lot less narrow minded then someone who just opposes homosexuality becuase its different than what they are used to."


That's funny, because I think about that exactly the opposite way around.

Basing your views on some cherry-picked line out of some old book seems very conciously narrow-minded, especially when solidified into an organization - to me it is the opposite of logical, principled, with reason, etc. On the other hand, I think it's human nature simply to be uncomfortable (or opposed to or weirded-out by or whatever) around something you aren't used to, like being nervous around dogs if you didn't have them growing up, or black people if you grew up in a small all-white town, or heights or lightning or homosexuals or spiders or whatever.

Anyway, this isn't really a thread about whether being gAy is a sin or bad or whatever, it's more about whether BSA can/should practice discrimination, and if it is legal to while it also receives government/taxpayer support in the myriad ways it does.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: closet. on 10/03/2011 10:16:32 MDT Print View

"I was not aware that atheists and/or homosexuals are unable to be role models for youth"

Many are excellent role models, and many are not. It is the individual, not their religious beliefs or sexual orientation.

The BSA's mission includes teaching duty to God and reverence to God. I don't think an atheist can do this. Most religions have Gay followers, but some sects feel that homosexuality is a moral decision which is why some organizations exclude them.

I am straight. I would rather hang our with 10 Gay people than 10 evangelical Christians.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
see: Brad Pitt. on 10/03/2011 10:19:39 MDT Print View

Chas,

Logical fallacies and spelling errors are not helping your case. However, I can imagine that a woman's group might not be fully opposed to a SEXIEST man as a leader (e.g. Brad Pitt, George Clooney).

To put it in terms you might understand, if "breakfast choice" was a state and Federally-protected class, and you ran an egg-lovers group with some tax credits, special access to a government kitchen with All-Clad fry plans, and were sponsored by a state government agency, the bacon-lover might find themselves winning a discrimination suit in court after you barred them from entry.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/03/2011 10:57:17 MDT Print View

Why can't the BSA exist and have their exclusions without being persecuted for their beliefs? They are not discriminating unlawfully.

Any one or any organization can be called a bigot if you talk to them long enough and find out their beliefs. It's not homophobic for a religious group to believe it a sin to practice homosexuality and want their children to not be exposed to it at a young age.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
It is all about the local leaders on 10/03/2011 11:02:09 MDT Print View

Every large organization will have conflict and politics. The important
place to look at when deciding whether to join or not, is to the local leaders.

My relatives have their kids in a cub scout pack with several families with les bian parents. Those parents are some of that pack's largest supporters. They must feel the
benefits outweigh any discrimination encountered. I would guess they are involved enough
to help mitigate any difficulties that come up.

Many of the boy and cub scout volunteer leaders here do not go to a church, but do great
things for the youth. I don't know any that discourage the kids from their faith walk tho.


About public funding- Scouts should be treated like any other private organization.

Edited by oware on 10/03/2011 11:14:04 MDT.

Chas Ho
(i_charles) - F
Re: see: Brad Pitt. on 10/03/2011 11:41:05 MDT Print View

My bad spelling aside,you are making an assumption. Beside noone is demanding that a women's group MUST have a sexist leader in their group or else loose any g'ment money they may receive as a org.

The bottom line is certain groups get preferential treatment from the g'ment. If you remove one you will have to remove all.
Else, ye be full of crap. Or, at the very least picking nits.

"To put it in terms you might understand, if "breakfast choice" was a state and Federally-protected class.."
Hmmm..you mean like g@y charter schools using tax payer money or, hate crime legislation which picks and chooses what groups are haters, or affirmative action who gives bonus points based on specialness, or any number of other "protected classes" that recieve preferential treatment in the name of "fairness" All of which are at tax payer expense or who get special consideration while denying others...???
Im in favor of eliminating all the "protected classes" as well as SEPERATING marriage from government while we are at it. You know seperation of church and state.

Solyndra should get a break because why? Because the government picks and chooses who is the winner and who isnt? Seems they are doing a lousy job of it?

Edited by i_charles on 10/03/2011 12:14:14 MDT.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
kowtow. on 10/03/2011 12:13:53 MDT Print View

"Why can't a 14 be President of the US? Why can't a 13 y/o legally drive a semi-truck? Why can't a 10 y/o marry a 8 y/o?"


Yes, why indeed?! I bow to your logic. Unassailable.

I'm done here, but in closing I'd offer that just because a religion says it, doesn't mean it's not sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, immoral, crappy, or wrong.

If you want to raise children to discriminate based on religious beliefs, sexual preference or identity (or color of skin or because you think women are property or whatever), you should take a hard look at yourself, your beliefs, and what kind of world you want to have in the present and in future. And you shouldn't get any public funding/support for it!

Tyler, best of luck whatever you do!

Edited by DaveT on 10/03/2011 12:16:36 MDT.

Chas Ho
(i_charles) - F
Re: kowtow. on 10/03/2011 13:38:09 MDT Print View

I hardly have watched any TV in recent years.
I enjoy a few shows.. Chopped is good and some shows on Discovery are watchable. However, in my not so humble opinion TV is 86.89% pure unwatchable trash.
Still, I am not going to call for the elimination of all TV. Pubically funded or otherwise.
Yeah, though I walk through the shadow of death kind of thing.

You will never eliminate bad choices from the earth.
Even if you ended the BSA.:)
There would still be drugs,alcohol,red meat,Facebook,South Park,Walmart,idleness...whatever, you may perceive as bad including whatever your personal preferences that are different than someone elses.
Personally, I do not know of any Boy Scouts committing a hate crime? Im sure there are exceptions to the rule. Its sort of like when that guy shot Gabby Gifford in AZ The media was specualting it might be a member Tea Party who did the shooting when there was no substantial evidence.
Turns out it wasn't a tea party person at all.
Even the President has unfairly made blanket general accusations about groups that were not substantiated by any real facts.
Otherwise, if we are going to take away perifiental treatment from the BSA we need to be taking ALL funding away from all groups.
The government should not be in the business of picking and choosing what group's should or shouldn't get special consideration.

Edited by i_charles on 10/03/2011 13:48:22 MDT.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
Re: Re: BSA on 10/03/2011 15:34:04 MDT Print View

Yes they were pedophiles by definition.

But also by definition, unless the abusers were members of the opposite sex, which they have not been, they were also homosexuals. Undeniable.

No matter how much one dislikes the facts, they stand as they are.

Obviously all homosexuals are not child abusers, no one would imply that they are. As all heterosexuals are not child abusers either, theres plenty of cross gender abuse that occurs as well.

But in the BSA cases, they obviously were, and I stand by my statement. To wit that some such leaders were married as well, supports the "closet" aspect.

The simple matter is that it is a private organization that reflects values that its members want it too. They want role models for their children that adhere to their own beliefs. Regardless of what anyone else believes, that is still the choice of the parents, although there are groups out there that want to control everything our kids are taught to agree with "their" views.


If someone doesnt like it, I still say that they should simply go elsewhere.


Despite what many think, there is little absolute right and wrong. Look at how opinions on many topics throughout history have changed. There is only what you are taught to believe .... is right and wrong, and it is always changing. We are not more advanced, or enlightened than our ancestors, we have only been taught different versions of right and wrong.

Edited by livingontheroad on 10/03/2011 15:59:50 MDT.

Brian Feeney
(feenbot) - F
Legal Holding of National in this situation on 10/03/2011 16:16:42 MDT Print View

There is a very prominent Supreme Court Case on the matter; Boy Scouts of America v. Dale

To begin the Boy Scouts of America is a private, not for profit organization. NOT a quasi government organization.

Dale was an Eagle Scout, and an openly homosexual ASM. His membership was revoked on the homosexual basis. Dale actually challanged a State (New Jersey) statue that did not allow discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The Supreme Court ruled (5-4) that
1) associations do not have to associate for the "purpose" of disseminating a certain message in order to be entitled to the protections of the First Amendment. An association must merely engage in expressive activity that could be impaired in order to be entitled to protection,
2) even if the Boy Scouts discourages Scout leaders from disseminating views on sexual issues, the First Amendment protects the Boy Scouts' method of expression. If the Boy Scouts wishes Scout leaders to avoid questions of sexuality and teach only by example, this fact does not negate the sincerity of its belief discussed above,
3) Regarding whether the Boy Scouts as a whole had an expressive policy against homosexuality, the Court gave deference to the organization's own assertions of the nature of its expressions, as well as what would impair them. The Boy Scouts asserts that it "teach[es] that homosexual conduct is not morally straight," and that it does "not want to promote homosexual conduct as a legitimate form of behavior," While the policy may not represent the views of all Boy Scouts, the First Amendment "does not require that every member of a group agree on every issue in order for the group's policy to be expressive association." The Court deemed it sufficient that the Boy Scouts had taken an official position with respect to same-sex relationships. The presence of an openly homosexual activist in an assistant Scoutmaster's uniform sends a distinctly different message from the presence of a heterosexual assistant Scoutmaster who is on record as disagreeing with Boy Scouts policy. The Boy Scouts has a First Amendment right to choose to send one message but not the other. The fact that the organization does not trumpet its views from the housetops, or that it tolerates dissent within its ranks, does not mean that its views receive no First Amendment protection.

Rehnquist concludes: "We are not, as we must not be, guided by our views of whether the Boy Scouts' teachings with respect to homosexual conduct are right or wrong; public or judicial disapproval of a tenet of an organization's expression does not justify the State's effort to compel the organization to accept members where such acceptance would derogate from the organization's expressive message. While the law is free to promote all sorts of conduct in place of harmful behavior, it is not free to interfere with speech for no better reason than promoting an approved message or discouraging a disfavored one, however enlightened either purpose may strike the government."

In short because the BSA is a private, non-profit they are able to discriminate due to the message they intend to send and a leader of the association is openly against a message that the association attempts to promote they have the Constitutional right to sever ties with that leader due to the implied right of "freedom of association" in the 1st Amendment they also held that " all members of the association need not agree with the association" and "freedom of association....plainly presupposes a freedom not to associate"

legal references can be found here: http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1999/1999_99_699
End of Legal Jargon

While I do not agree what so ever with the ruling (and in my opinion Dale's lawyers would have been better off attacking it on strictly freedom of association grounds combined with a little due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th amendment they might have won but the Court is bound by law to rule only on questions presented) and as an Eagle Scout myself find the Scouts position in regards to homosexuals and the non-religious revolting, they are protecting in almost all actions they take in regards to homosexual and non-religious leaders due to the protections the Courts granted to them in this case. However due to the nature of the ruling (5-4) there is a possibility that another Scout leader (or similiar organizations leader with similar guidelines and beliefs ) may get the ruling over turned and with a later case as obvious with this posting there is still discontent among the community about the nature of this ruling

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/03/2011 18:52:32 MDT Print View

@John Shannon:

"From Philmont Application:
Applicants are considered without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (if over 18, or 21 for certain positions), marital status, veteran status, or the presence of a disability that is unrelated to your ability to perform the job requested."

Just to clarify, the "sex" is not the same as "sexual orientation". I read it to mean "gender".

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Re: BSA on 10/03/2011 18:56:00 MDT Print View

"But also by definition, unless the abusers were members of the opposite sex, which they have not been, they were also homosexuals. Undeniable. "

Sorry Martin, but you're either simply showing your ignorance or your bias. Pedophilia is a psychological disorder, not a sexual disorder or preference. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with it, rather the fixation is on age, not the sex of the child.

Certainly some homosexuals are also pedophiles, just as some heterosexuals are pedophiles, but to many researchers, pedophiles are neither homosexuals nor heterosexuals, they are simply pedophiles.

You can do some research on your own if you like, or you can continue to believe what you believe. But just because you believe it doesn't make it undeniable in any way, shape or form. In fact, it seems many researchers would disagree with you.

Edited by idester on 10/03/2011 18:58:20 MDT.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
BSA on 10/03/2011 19:27:36 MDT Print View

I dont recall anywhere in the definition of homosexuality where it makes exceptions for the age of the partner. If someone has a preference for sex with members of the same sex they are considered homosexual.

Many BSA victims have been past the age of puberty as well. Which would make the perpetrators NOT pedophiles, but ....just homosexual child offenders.

I have a minor in psychology since it was the easiest electives to take alongside engineering courses. I had collegiate classes once upon a time in abnormal psychology , including sexual psychology and sexual deviations.

There are pedophiles that prefer underage girls, and there are those which prefer underage boys. You are claiming that there is no distinction, that they just prefer children. That is a point which I think is not in unanimous agreement among researchers.

I would argue that there is a underage sex trade in some third world countries that is evidence that is most definitely NOT the case. The customers quite show a preference for one..or the other.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: BSA on 10/03/2011 21:43:07 MDT Print View

Very big +1 to all who support homosexuals, atheists, and agnostics. I think that people still arguing against them shows an enormous attachment to and stubbornness with outdated dogma. As others have said, it's 2011. Update your understanding of society, equality, and humanity. The time for bigotry is over.

I cannot agree with the idea that the BSA ought to be able to follow whatever bigoted tenets they adhere to because they are a private organization. They may be financially a private organization, but they very much operate in the public theater (they couldn't exist if they weren't in the public realm), and therefore they do not have the right to practice their exclusionary beliefs. Everyday they take what they believe out into the world, instilling it in the children within the organization, and then having those kids operate outside, where those bigoted ideas are spread. So the argument that they are private and therefore exempt from being prosecuted, doesn't hold. Sorry. They are publicly endorsing bigotry and discrimination. If I agreed with the right of private organizations to practice (legally... I am not including morally here) whatever they believe (and I don't, because nothing in society is truly private), then I'd say as long as the BSA kept to within its walls and never came out, never interacted with people in the public realm, then perhaps they'd have a right to do what they want. But it obviously is not the case.

I, and others here who support homosexuals, atheists, and agnostics (I am heterosexual and agnostic), are not, in general, anti-Christian, per se. We are anti-discrimination. There is a very big difference. I will not support a group which advocates discrimination, which Christianity to a large extent, very much does. And so does the BSA. The BSA needs to change. If they are to do any good in society (see, that is their mission, right?), they must stop their damaging way of thinking by making homosexuals, atheists, and agnostics into somehow "bad" people or influences.

(I used to be a BSA scout when I was in junior high school, Japan-based troop. I left because of the tenets they profess.)

And the statement that homosexuals are by default "pedophiles"... is so uninformed that it doesn't bear discussing.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/03/2011 22:44:46 MDT Print View

So essentially, what we've learned here is that Christians and Muslims are bigots (Christians being right-wing bigots), because they won't endorse the world view of anything, anywhere, anybody, anytime. And the only way for said Christians and Muslims to have a place in our world is to, essentially, quit being Christians and Muslims, regardless of how they currently treat athesists, agnostics, and homosexuals. And BSA is a place where young minds are twisted against all non-God fearing, non-male non-heterosexuals. In between learning knots, first aid, and LNT principles. Am I missing anything?

tyler marlow
(like.sisyphus) - F

Locale: UTAH
RE: Miguel on 10/03/2011 22:46:51 MDT Print View

Great response, I too stopped paying attention to those still harping on the 'right' to discriminate and devoted all my attention to those with positive things to say.

What i've gotten out of this discussion is that there is a large group of scouters/ex scouters/would-be scouters that are opposed to the doctrines of discrimination that BSA is currently endorsing. What this tells me is that we need to start being very vocal in our local troops as well as with BSA on an institutional level to show that those of us who dont fit their criteria for "positive role models" are no less capable (and might even be able to offer a perspective they cannot ;) )

Most importantly though, BSA needs to be a place where all youth can feel safe and accepted while enjoying all the great activities provided.


Thanks all, I'll be putting in my application this coming week!

tyler marlow
(like.sisyphus) - F

Locale: UTAH
RE: Joe on 10/03/2011 22:59:43 MDT Print View

Joe,

I sincerely apologize if anything in this discussion has come across as an attack on any faith. In fact, that is the opposite of what I advocate.

Christianity/Islam/Judaism all have a basic tenant of goodwill towards others and love for all people because GOD MADE THEM ALL. That doesnt mean to agree with everything everyone believes in but to respect that they believe what they do.

Mohammad created entire cities in which Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, and other religions were tolerated and accepted. A major part of his success was that he did not preach a doctrine of hate, in contrary to what many believe about Islam today.

While many religions may have beliefs that state that homosexuality is wrong, do they deserve punishment for what they feel or who they are? I highly doubt you condone stoning and death to homosexuals, or adulters, or idol worshippers. Isnt that what the gospel is all about? Loving those who others say dont deserve love? Jesus was all about compassion and a rejection of prejudice, why else would he hang out with sick people, prostitutes, the poor, and those who previously killed christians rather than the supposed priests?

I am sorry again if this discussion of acceptance has challenged you beliefs in some unstated way but i dont see the connection with my argument about BSA and your argument about religious conviction.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Joe on 10/04/2011 06:41:26 MDT Print View

Joe, if what I wrote also came across as being anti any faith, forgive me. That was not my intent. As a former Catholic who went to a Catholic school (but never practiced the religion, though I do study and learn a lot from Jesus' teachings), I am very aware of how Christianity operates from within. There is a lot of good in the teachings that anyone can learn from. But any time I hear anyone (Christians or any other group) calling for persecution of homosexuals or atheists or women, what have you, I cannot, in good conscience stay quiet about how I feel about that. It is simply wrong. I don't care what texts someone brings up to support that bigotry. It is wrong. And since it is official policiy in the Christian church, I stand up against them in protest. Take those discriminatory policies away and I'll be glad to support the Christian church and any other group that tries to do good in the world. BSA included. But two goods don't make one wrong right.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Joe on 10/04/2011 08:00:04 MDT Print View

"Take those discriminatory policies away and I'll be glad to support the Christian church and any other group that tries to do good in the world."

We'd be better off if we stopped thinking in terms of organizations, and started thinking in terms of people. I'm not sure I know of any 'organization' that doesn't discriminate in one form or fashion, including political parties who get taxpayer funding.

While the tenets of any organization may call for exclusion/discrimination, that doesn't mean everyone, or even a majority of people, who belong to such organizations believe in all of the tenets. Joe makes a very good point in his inimitable way, many of the PEOPLE in these organizations do wonderful work and provide a great benefit to society and don't believe in institutional bigotry or discrimination or exclusion, etc. For them, the organization is just the vehicle they've chosen through which to do their good deeds. The organization doesn't define them. We're wrong when we talk in such a fashion to infer otherwise.

Do I send money to the Boy Scouts? Nope, don't like the organization's policies. Do I give equipment to Boy Scouts and some of their leaders? Yup, because some that I know are some of the finest people I know who teach their charges understanding and tolerance. Do I fund any church? Nope, being an atheist I'd spontaneously combust if I did. Do I have close friends who are christians? Yup, and I'd give them the shirt off my back, and they would me (as long as, you know, I didn't actually take my shirt off right there in public, that would get ugly fast......).

When we focus on organizations instead of the people who make them up, I believe we miss the bigger picture. So, perhaps, we can focus on people instead of organizations. That is, after all, how real change happens. FWIW.

Edited by idester on 10/04/2011 08:01:26 MDT.

Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Thread moved on 10/04/2011 09:54:33 MDT Print View

I've moved this to Chaff at the request of a few, for not fitting the forum's description of "A place to share experiences, stories, techniques, and gear ideas for backpacking light with Scouts."

Thanks for keeping things civil, folks.
Addie

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
chaff. on 10/04/2011 10:07:49 MDT Print View

"I too stopped paying attention to those still harping on the 'right' to discriminate and devoted all my attention to those with positive things to say."

+1

Edited by DaveT on 10/04/2011 10:09:44 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: chaff. on 10/04/2011 10:50:37 MDT Print View

Ah, things are looking up in this thread.

To me, a BSA stated core value is a duty to God and reverence to God. So given that, why would they accept an atheist into their organization, who by definition does not accept or support the concept of God -- which is a stated BSA core value? That would undermine this core value. Remember, I am an atheist. I disagree with their concept of God, but support their right to believe in God and to teach it to their membership.

Now, to me, the stance on homosexuality is another issue. Unfortunately, many religions teach that homosexuality is a life style choice, when in fact it is how some people are "wired" from birth. So if "God" made someone homosexual, they have no choice in the matter. But that is my belief. We can try to force many of the BSA members to change their minds, but that will not work well. For the BSA to change this tenet, a lot of individuals in the BSA need to change their personal belief on the subject. It will happen eventually, given time. So the question is, do we try to force a mind-set change on them via laws and/or judicial rulings to accelerate individual belief change, or let it happen slowly over time. We can force them to accept homosexuals via court decisions and laws, but we have not changed core beliefs -- which is the basic problem. I believe that each individual has the right to pursue their own happiness and live a good life. I also believe it is wrong to inhibit anyone's pursuit of happiness. But joining the BSA is not an individual right. It is optional.

I do not support the BSA stance on these subjects, but I do support their right to their own beliefs... even if I think those beliefs are wrong. Do the teachings of the BSA encourage or advocate hatred? Maybe and maybe not. But we cannot legislate how people must think. Sort of like the Republican Party. Some Republicans think that atheists and homosexuals are immoral, and many homosexuals and atheists are Republicans. But a belief in God or viewing homosexuality as immoral are not stated core beliefs of the Republican party. I only present the Republican example, as I have heard some of them spew out this garbage. Another question... should we pass a law that requires the Catholic Church to appoint women priests that reflects the percentage of women in the population?

Terry Trimble
(socal-nomad) - F

Locale: North San Diego county
BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/04/2011 11:36:04 MDT Print View

I think the BSA leadership has been taken over by quite a few faith based churches that why their enforcing the believing in god.
When I was kid back in the 70"s. I was in cub scout and boy scout troop separate from a church and are meeting were held at public schools. I was in the school based troop we did a lot of backpacking every other weekend leave friday and come back sunday afternoon. Then a lot of schools in California stopped letting clubs not affiliated with a school activity hold meetings on there property.

A short history of my scouting in a faith based experience:

So my mom asked me to join a mormon troop. When I joined the troop we only went on car camping trips once a month left on fridays came back on saturday afternoon to get back to church on time. After the first trip I drove back with our scout master and we talked about this was not the scouting way with no weekend backpacking.
I told him what my old troop did and he agreed and being a new convert to the church so he went to the bishop and explained the situation that we had and want to go on two day backpacking trips we would have church in gods country on sunday morning.

The bishop agreed and it happened we were going on backpacking trips some monthly some biweekly. I advanced quickly in rank in the troop fast through merit badge accumulation and I was a life scout at 13 years old. I was leadership role on the backpacking trips from day one because I had more outdoor skills. The church liked the our troop because it was tool to get non members join that maybe they could convert in to a mormonism. We had one of the best troop in the area won a lot of jamboree and scout camp competitions.

But what the church did not know was my buddies and I drank at night and smoked herb and cigarettes on these trips introduced it to the good members. I was bad jack mormon and agonistic by 8th grade.
Then I moved to Falbrook,California from Los Angeles area I left my old troop as a Life scout 3 merit badges and service project away from eagle and long hair down to my shoulders.

I was for a rude awaking in Fallbrook. I get to high school and it was first year they did not have a strictly enforced dress code from the 1950's Crew cuts,slacks,dress shirts and knee length skirts for the girls, I had the longest hair there of the guys.

So I show up at the mormon church troop with senior patrol leader on my shirt shoulder and long hair smelling of cigarette smoke. They thought I was from hell, I asked questions what they did.I explained what life was like in my old troop we did backpacking trips and how we talked the church bishop into the idea. It was no go and the scout master did not really care.

Long story short quit scouting because of poor leadership in the area did not get eagle went backpacking and surfing trips with my buddies instead. If I were you like being part of the scouting experience so much tell a little white lie to them enjoy.
Terry

Edited by socal-nomad on 10/04/2011 11:44:55 MDT.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Re: Joe on 10/04/2011 12:28:08 MDT Print View

Good post Doug. Everyone forgets that churches, organizations, governments, etc are people. And people are not perfect. But, as a whole these groups can do a lot of good.

Personally, I agree with the Supreme Court's decision based upon the facts of the case. BSA says we want to create an organization with these values & should be allowed to do so provided it doesn't accept direct gov't funding. If a homosexual group wanted to create a group that wanted to preach homosexuality is XYZ and not allow Christians to join, then that's fine too so long as they meet the same requirements set forth by law. This is all my opinion so take it with a grain of salt.

On another note regarding homosexuality - I have a couple very close family members that are g.a.y. I'm a Christian so my beliefs tell me that it's a sin. But, you can bet that I'm going to love/hug/kiss them every time I see them. My same beliefs tell me that it's no more wrong than when I lie to a friend, curse at someone, etc. so for me to judge someone when I can do no better seems a bit hypocritical. Conversely, for anyone to look down on me for believing "some old book" is hypocritical also. Beliefs are beliefs. Mine aren't inherently correct because they are mine, as yours aren't inherently correct just because they are yours.

p.s.- One post opined that the Jesus of the Bible was compassionate and tolerant of sinners. Please note that he was compassionate, but not tolerant. I will spare you the references for this unless you want it by PM.


Ryan

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/04/2011 16:10:10 MDT Print View

Good points everyone. You're making me look critically at my own prejudices. Thanks.

We'd be better off if we stopped thinking in terms of organizations, and started thinking in terms of people. I'm not sure I know of any 'organization' that doesn't discriminate in one form or fashion, including political parties who get taxpayer funding.

Very good evaluation, Doug. Just to make it clear, I did write, "Christian church", and not, "Christians". To me there is a big difference. I know a lot of wonderful Christians and BS members who do important and great things for the world, including my mother, who is Lutheran. I don't think there is anything wrong with looking at groups of people, too, as long as those groups don't promote hatred and ignorance.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/04/2011 16:46:27 MDT Print View

Miguel,

As always good input. You and I have had some similar conversations in other threads. I think most people have a tendency to be "prejudiced" for their own "tribe." By "tribe," I mean anything characteristic or beliefs that are similar to most in our group, but not necessarily universal. One way to tell if we are, is to think about how we react if someone in our "tribe" tells a joke about a "characteristic" of another "tribe."

Eliminating discrimination can only happen when the majority of individuals change. This takes time. Laws and rules do not necessarily make it happen, sometimes they make it worse and sometimes they speed up the process.

If the BSA needs to change, then to be effective and real change, one of two things have to happen. The first is for the current membership to change the policy based on their own beliefs -- without outside pressure; or enough members leave because of the policies, and those remaining may review their policies if they are to remain a viable group to build character in our young men and boys.

Without doing any research, I would venture to guess that the percentage of Boys Scouts versus the number of boys in the US has been declining for several decades. If this is the case, one would think they may want to figure out why... which is probably because they are no longer aligned with the values of most Americans. And maybe they don't care they are not aligned... maybe they think their message is the correct one. And that is their right to do so, even if you and I disagree with them.

Clint Wayman
(cwayman1) - M

Locale: East Tennessee, US
My $.02 on 10/04/2011 21:23:52 MDT Print View

+1 Joe C., and certain points from Nick G. and Doug I.

Tyler, you do seem to be in quite the dilemma with your question. However, at this point, you might want to ask yourself WHY you are applying for the position. Are you applying because you enjoy the Philmont atmosphere and want to share that enjoyment with fellow outdoors-people or simply out of spite because you think BSA should change? I am not suggesting that you shouldn't apply, but wouldn't impressing your ideas/principles on the scouts be the same as BSA leaders impressing theirs (with the exception that you agree with yourself and not with them)?

Also, if BSA were to change, would it still truly be BSA? If BPL added a sub-forum for members to discuss 'Traditional Backpacking' methods (read 'super heavy'), would this still be BPL? Technically, yes, but fundamentally, no. Yes, I understand that 'LIGHT' is in the BPL title, but as mentioned, the BSA mission statement or creed clearly defines the organization's religious ideas and principles. Why should they be considered wrong just because someone else disagrees?

Side notes:

Isn't discrimination against Christian beliefs STILL discrimination? 'Just sayin'!

Calling someone out on grammatical errors is pretty lame-- there are PLENTY to be found on both sides of the discussion (even in the OP)

I will politely disagree that growing up in a particular denomination makes one 'very well aware of how Christianity operates from within'.

I don't believe that anyone ever assumed that all homosexuals are pedophiles.

Tyler, thanks for bringing the discussion back to its original intention and civility.

Edited by cwayman1 on 10/04/2011 21:38:35 MDT.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: My $.02 on 10/04/2011 22:13:01 MDT Print View

"Isn't discrimination against Christian beliefs STILL discrimination? 'Just sayin'! "

+1
I am not christian , but this is so obvious to me. Discrimination is discrimination is discrimination and it's wrong. But if you don't like discrimination against atheists you better not be ok with discriminating against people of faith. What seems ok now may not be ok tomorrow, so isn't it most important to allow one another to be and believe what they want? Discuss, make points, argue by all means, but if no one is getting hurt, don't take away someone's right to be~ even if it's a bigot. And being left out of a club , as annoying or sad as it may be, does not constitute "being hurt" in my opinion.
I get annoyed at sexist remarks, even here on BPL. Sometimes I post about it, sometimes I bite my keyboard....but I would not want to censor those that disagree with me, even when I feel they are just being ignorant and moronic. Best I can do is call them out, hopefully holding back an attitude or remark that will just prevent them from even considering my point ( and I could use some improvement here :( , and hope that it will eventually sink in.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
bsa. on 10/04/2011 22:16:53 MDT Print View

"if BSA were to change, would it still truly be BSA?"

Well, maybe not. Maybe it could be even better? It might advance beyond discrimination, or at least divest itself of all public support if it wishes to continue to discriminate. Or it can continue its multi-decade long decline, on the wrong side of history.


Side notes:

Grammatical errors? Nah. Logical fallacies, especially when enveloped in misspelled rants about neo-Nazi pedophiles and ten-year-old children marrying eight-year-old big-rig drivers in a ceremony presided over by a 14-year-old President bankrolled by Solyndra? Um... perhaps.

Ken K
(TheFatBoy) - F

Locale: St. Louis
Pleasantly Surprised on 10/04/2011 22:59:26 MDT Print View

I am pleasantly surprised to revisit this thread a couple days later and find that it has not devolved into a series of maniacal rants and personal attacks from both sides.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a very active scout leader, heterosexual, spiritual, but not Christian. I have at times questioned my own religous beliefs, and for a while, even stepped away from scouting while I came to grips with my own spirituality.

Tyler, I applaud your desire to help youth grow up to be responsible well-rounded, open-minded adults. As a scout leader, I must admit that I often find myself at odds with some of it's practices and teachings (as I have with many of the religions I've studied). In fact, I agree that there is nothing inheretly wrong with being homosexual, athiest, or agnostic, and I don't personally have issues with my kids being exposed to these influences. Ultimately, I trust that they will eventually develop a belief structure that works for them, even if it may not be a true reflection of my own.

The Scouts under my care, however, are not my kids. Those parents have entrusted me to teach and support a specific set of core values. Where my personal belief structure deviates from the BSA dogma, I do not attempt to influnce. Doing so would be a violation of the trust those parents put in me.

I worry that your definitions of right and wrong, moral and immoral, does not match that of many parents who intentionally choose the BSA for the beliefs it has upheld. The very fact that you question whether or not you should lie to get into the organization bears this out. If you join the BSA ranks and consciously influence youth with ideas counter to their parents wishes, you will have stepped on their parental rights.

I hope you find a different course more in line with your own belief structure. I am quite sure there are plenty of groups who could use your help and would welcome you with open arms.

Ken

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Tradition for tradition's sake on 10/04/2011 23:53:57 MDT Print View

I don't think that by changing BSA policies/beliefs that BSA will stop being BSA. Scouts don't ever stop being Scouts.

"I'm changing the world today". The lead line of the Jamboree Song for the World Jamboree that recently finished in Sweden. Scouts are all about change. We adapt, we change, we grow, we fix problems. If there is a problem, if things are unjust or not right or not fair, or the world isn't working as it should, then its the job of all Scouts to change it for the better (that's everyone's job too, Scout or not...). Keeping things the same is totally going against the grain of what Scouting is.

Remember, when BP started Scouts with the first Scout camp on Brownsea Island, 1st August 1907, what he was doing and proposing was radically different and cutting edge at the time. These days its seen as less so, but at the time BP was really, really out-there, as he was with every thing he did, including how he conducted his military career. Sure, at the time, societies in the UK and around the world had generally different ideas and standards and expectations about such things as religion and sexuality, but these things evolved. No doubt BP would have too.

Don't be afraid to hold onto tradition.

jennifer ross
(jenhifive) - F

Locale: Norcal
Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/04/2011 23:55:22 MDT Print View

At first I just thought maybe they had the common misconception that if you don't have religion you can't have ethics but why only people who believe in Christ? No jews, really? Do they know Jesus was a jew? He couldn't join?

As far as homosexuality, it's christianity's stance that it's not "legitimate" so they have to back up all their views so the issue is really the christianity snag, the most frustrating snag. There's no arguing the bible with people who believe in it.

My vote, infiltrate! Show them what's up.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Pleasantly Surprised on 10/05/2011 00:00:26 MDT Print View

I can definitely see the point Ken and others have made here about deliberately changing viewpoints against BSA policy and parent's wishes. Tyler, I wouldn't go out to do that specifically at Philmont (I didn't think that was your intention) in the company of youth members. If you don't want to preach any religion (and its not your job to preach about any specific religion anyway, though it is your job as a Scout leader to help provide factual answers about any religion to youth members that are interested-you can't deny them this), then there is nothing wrong with never saying anything to youth members on such topics or just saying that you don't know the answer to their questions.

If you want to instigate change, aim higher up. Talk with other leaders, and work your way up from there. Try not to get kicked out. If you do, join ISGF (also WOSM) and stay in Scouting that way.

But I'm sure you aren't going to go preach anti-christianity or atheism or whatever.

When it comes to homosexuality; if it comes up, just ask youth to be tolerant. I'm sure BSA doesn't say anywhere that you can't do that.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Pleasantly Surprised on 10/05/2011 00:22:14 MDT Print View

I think the real issue is those that are "openly" advocating views that are contrary to what the BSA believes. Of course if someone joins as a member or employee with the desire to change things, then they would need to be "open" in their attempts for change.

But they can only know if a potential employee is "openly" against their policies if they ask specific questions about their religious views or sexual orientation. We really get into murky water here when asking pre-employment questions. However if asking a question is relevant to the job, then it is acceptable. It would be interesting to see a BSA job application or interview questions if they are standardized.

But the way I look at it is if someone isn't interested in what I can bring to an organization, I move on. It is their loss, not mine :)

Ken K
(TheFatBoy) - F

Locale: St. Louis
Re: Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/05/2011 01:07:32 MDT Print View

>> At first I just thought maybe they had the common misconception that if you don't have religion you can't have ethics but why only people who believe in Christ? No jews, really? Do they know Jesus was a jew? He couldn't join?

You are misinformed. The BSA even has religious awards for Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and Jews. From the standpoint of religion, it is fairly inclusive... You just have to believe in some higher power.

>> As far as homosexuality, it's christianity's stance that it's not "legitimate" so they have to back up all their views so the issue is really the christianity snag, the most frustrating snag. There's no arguing the bible with people who believe in it.

Or with people who don't. I'm guessing there's not much chance in swaying your viewpoint. Fair enough. I won't try.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/05/2011 07:06:24 MDT Print View

""There's no arguing the bible with people who believe in it."

Or with people who don't.""

+1

Insert 'guns' or 'hunting' or any of the other myriad topics-turned-to-rants in these forums, eh? Telling that the word "argue" was used instead of "discuss." Seems to be the crux of the whole thing, doesn't it? I agree with Kat P.'s regular suggestion that we discuss more, argue less. That, and a little less of "I want you to hear my viewpoint but I'm not that interested in listening to yours".....

And stop all the name calling you fricking bunch of hosers.....

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: Re: Pleasantly Surprised on 10/05/2011 09:04:22 MDT Print View

+1 on Doug's very reasonable post.
Also + 1 on Nick's :
"Of course if someone joins as a member or employee with the desire to change things, then they would need to be "open" in their attempts for change."

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/05/2011 09:13:27 MDT Print View

>em>I will politely disagree that growing up in a particular denomination makes one 'very well aware of how Christianity operates from within'.

Well obviously, since you don't know me or my background, you are not going to know the extent to which I am "well aware of how Christianity operates within". And this is not the place for me to promote myself. But I can assure you, I can hold my own with the better religious scholars (not just Christianity, and I won't say "the best"...), plus I have quite a lot of unusual experience, even as a child.

I don't believe that anyone ever assumed that all homosexuals are pedophiles.

Some of the comments certainly sounded like it.

I do have to point out that comparing putting a regular backpacking forum into BPL to the Christian church's stance on homosexuality is not at all the same thing. Promoting belief in a supernatural being is one thing... promoting homophobia is quite another. The first deserves tolerance and protection and a right to exist... the second, no. I do not believe the Christian church or Christians or anyone else have a right to believe in persecuting and marginalizing and impeding the lives of homosexuals, and most especially not to preach it. It's no different at all from racism or sexism. I pick on the Christian church here, even though I know very well that lots of other people and groups have hatred or fear of homosexuals, only because of the focus of this thread and BSA. But the Christian church also has a very long history of persecuting... terribly... homosexuals. It is time to stop, and all efforts within society, by everyone, should focus on getting that way of thinking utterly eradicated. There is no place whatsoever for it. And there should be no support for it, none, on this website. There are homosexuals here, too, please remember.

The drift of this thread is pleasantly surprising... people are actually intelligently and tolerantly discussing some topics that could have blown up into a flame war, but it didn't. Even with all these people who see things differently.

Edited by butuki on 10/05/2011 09:17:51 MDT.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/05/2011 09:19:11 MDT Print View

The BSA even has religious awards for Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and Jews.

For the sake of a more complete understanding .... while the sense of this statement is correct it is not exactly true. Technically there are no BSA religious awards. BSA provides a way for various religions to work within scouting.

It is left to members of those religions/denominations to establish organizational structures that define the criteria for those awards, provide support materials and instruction and organize the presentation of the awards. BSA's role is to recognized those organizations and to sanction their activities withing scouting.

Terry Trimble
(socal-nomad) - F

Locale: North San Diego county
BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/05/2011 11:35:14 MDT Print View

One thing I left out about my mormon based scouting experience was when they held church services on sunday morning it was completely voluntary to attend as member of the troop. Because my scout master felt it should not be forced on the scouts he was in charged of he also had the foresight not to push his own views on religion on the scouts.

My father was also a cub scout/ scout master when my little brothers 10 years my junior were in a mormon troop. He was a non member of the church but the church bishop gave him a calling upon to do it because he was the best person for the job they knew he would not push his belief system on the kids. My father was also agnostic, drank beer and did things against the mormon church views but he was better scout master than past scout master who were members before him.

Basically religious, sexual views should not come up in scouts. When they do in conversation just listen politely . Do like most people who say the pledge of allegiance just leave out the word god if it goes against your belief system.

So like I have written in my last posting on this subject if you like the the scouting experience that much go for it and I will add keep your personal beliefs to yourself when your around the scouts.

I just don't understand why every little view on life style,religion,politics has to be a struggle with people to change or force their views on each other. What ever happened to the free to be you and me out look on life.
Terry

Edited by socal-nomad on 10/05/2011 11:43:36 MDT.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/05/2011 13:43:42 MDT Print View

"But the Christian church also has a very long history of persecuting... terribly... homosexuals. It is time to stop, and all efforts within society, by everyone, should focus on getting that way of thinking utterly eradicated. There is no place whatsoever for it. And there should be no support for it, none, on this website. There are homosexuals here, too, please remember."

Miguel, I agree that homosexuals should not be persecuted in any way. I don't think anyone here has come close to expressing they support that. At most, some have expressed that their beliefs are in line with the Church's ,which I take to mean that they consider homosexuality a sin. That belief, while upsetting, is not something that can be eradicated with a law. Through education, through examples of the many outstanding homosexuals in society, through people coming out in the open, through intolerance for inciting any kind of violence and harm directed at our friends, through meaningful discussion even here on BPL, we will hopefully get there sooner rather than later.

Everyone else, please don't take this as my either endorsing or promoting any kind of discrimination here, because that is not what I am doing. I want to enjoy and preserve my choice to go against the grain if I wish, as long as I am not hurting anyone, nor encouraging others to do so. The only way I can ensure and justify that freedom to think and say what I believe, even if it is not popular, is to let others do the same. And yes, I know that I have failed at that even here on BPL.
We are just a snapshot in time, so much of what we think is accepted or not accepted for good, may change in the future.
Does Christianity in general not consider poligamy a sin? Would most people here not be somewhat in line with that, because they are against it and it's illegal? But if a number of GROWNUPS, voluntarily want to engage in that....how does that affect us here? I sure would want nothing to do with that one, and it creeps me out, but who am I to tell someone else with the above criteria, that they may not, should not, are wrong etc. ?
Let's ensure children are safe and no one gets hurt, past that..it's up to the individual, including if they want to believe that homosexuality is wrong ( which I don't ).
The immediate flaw that I see in my approach, and could use some help with, is how do we keep children safe, if they are homosexual, and are being damaged by their parent's beliefs that it is a sin and all the negative stuff, or if they are downright abused because they exhibit "sinful" tendencies? I can see how having the influence of grown ups ( perhaps at BSA?) that are open and accepting of homosexuality could make all the difference in a young person's life, and the parents choosing to limit who the child has contact with....hurts the child. Someone help me get out of this corner, please.

Edited by Kat_P on 10/05/2011 14:52:49 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/05/2011 14:46:29 MDT Print View

In a way, I am somewhat insulated from the homosexual controversy. I have lived in a predominately Gay and Lesbian community for over 30 years. The official population is over 50% G & L. As such, I really don't give it much thought, as it is the norm around here. I like most of my non-straight neighbors and acquaintances. Some I do not like, but I would not like them if they were straight.

I don't go to church, but am not ignorant of Evangelical doctrine. I was a Sunday School teacher when I was in high school. But today I reject all of Christianity and any religion. Also, it is a subject I do not care to debate or discuss. People have their faith and beliefs, and very few are willing to inspect them. Many hold beliefs that I call "hand-me-downs" just like clothes.

Because of this thread, last night I watched Piers Morgan's interview with Joel and Victoria Osteen. Apparently the Osteens have the largest church congregation in the US.

Piers tried to engage them into a conversation regarding homosexuality. Their stance is that they do not judge people at all. God judges people. The Osteens only repeat and present what the Bible tells them is God's word. They did say that homosexuality is a sin. They said that is not their opinion, it is God's. And since it is God's opinion, they do not have to give it further consideration. At least that was my take. You can read the transcript below. I took a quick look at the transcript and it seems to be missing a part of the conversation where Morgan asked Joel if he would marry a Gay couple. His answer was a definite, "No." But he said he would attend a Gay wedding if it was a friend or person he respected. WTF? Anyway, there is a disclaimer at the top that says this transcript is a rush copy and maybe updated.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1101/26/pmt.01.html

I also spent some time looking at comments from people who watched the show. Some pretty scary comments from people who just recite the dogma. So today I think less of our society than I did yesterday. Sigh.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/05/2011 15:12:37 MDT Print View

"Some pretty scary comments from people who just recite the dogma. So today I think less of our society than I did yesterday. Sigh."

But then there's this, which helps restore a bit of faith in many of the folks who make up our society.....

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Re: Re: Pleasantly Surprised on 10/05/2011 15:20:54 MDT Print View

"I think the real issue is those that are "openly" advocating views that are contrary to what the BSA believes. Of course if someone joins as a member or employee with the desire to change things, then they would need to be "open" in their attempts for change."

There is a bit of a difference here in Tyler's case Nick. That is that Tyler is already a Scout, and has been for a long time (I'm assuming a relatively long time as I think he mentioned he got his Eagle award). You don't stop being a Scout, once a Scout, always a Scout. Minor lapses in actual paid-up membership mean nothing (pretty common to lapse in any NSO (National Scout Organisation) when you hit 18 and have to transition either to Rovers or to a leader role, and you have other pressures on you at the time, like the transition to work or University).

I think its the right of Scouts to be able to change their organisation for the better.

tyler marlow
(like.sisyphus) - F

Locale: UTAH
RE: lying to get in on 10/05/2011 15:22:49 MDT Print View

A couple people have brought up the possibility of me lying to get the job and also that i aim to preach to the scouts.

Just want to clear it up a little.

I have no intentions of lying to anyone. I believe what is being interpreted as my proposal to lie is this statement:

"if pressed i could fit my own beliefs into their "declaration of beliefs"'

This is something i intentionally didnt elaborate on because i didnt want this to become a debate of personal beliefs about specific religions/faiths/ect. But now, i think i should for clarification.

What I believe could be considered atheism, agnosticism, or even science depending on who you talk to. In short, I believe that we live in an impossible existance (something cannot come from nothing, right?) and it takes just as much faith to believe in the big bang as it does a Creator. What I believe is in what i like to call the Universe . I treat it like a deity, an impossibility that absolutely exists and guides all of life.

So, in short, this could fit into the BSA declaration of beliefs, the biggest stretch is that BSA specifically mentions god as a He while I reject the idea of god as a person/individual.

Finally, the only thing I aim to preach in BSA is love for people and for the outdoors. Plain and simple.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
preach on. on 10/05/2011 15:54:22 MDT Print View

"Finally, the only thing I aim to preach... is love for people and for the outdoors."


Tyler,

If you do start your own organization, tell me where to sign up!

:)

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Pleasantly Surprised on 10/05/2011 16:57:59 MDT Print View

Adam,

That quote was in no way directed at Tyler. It was just a clarification that folks who do not openly advocate positions against BSA guidelines are probably not going to be bothered by the BSA. Those who openly advocate will be singled out.

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Parent's Perspective on 10/05/2011 18:15:21 MDT Print View

I saw this statement early on in this thread and thought I could shed some light:
The people who put their kids in Boy Scouts do so, at least in part, because of what it preaches.

So, I just saw this thread and thought it interesting because, as the parent of a cub scout, it's something I've wrestled with the past few years. My faith (nature=God) probably wouldn't stand the BSA litmus test, and I have many g4y (BPL doesn't allow the "g" word?) friends that I wouldn't want to see discriminated against, and therefore of course I am against antig4y discrimination.

What I've seen so far is that the actual cub scout pack behavior doesn't touch on these hot buttons at all. In Ohio, the most that was ever done in either direction was one day a year, the scouts had the opportunity to participate in a church program and light candles. It wasn't mandatory or anything, just the opportunity was there. Now that I'm in the Seattle area, it's less than that. I know the cub scout pack is associated with a church, but I can't remember which one for the life of me.

Is this covering my eyes? Yeah, I guess in a way it is. Do I want the BSA to change the discriminatory position? Absolutely. Most importantly right now though, my son is in the local pack where things are pretty good. There actually are some g4y folks in our pack. No one appears to be religious or if they are, they keep it to themselves. My son is learning some great things - civic pride, how to be a good friend, respect for nature, etc. without being exposed to any of the discrimination.

My son is a Webelo right now, so he's still in that "age of innocence" thing. Before he crosses over to Boy Scouts though, we're going to be having a talk. I'm going to be explaining to him some of these darker secrets of the BSA, which are definitely counter to our values as a family and to him as a person. And I'm going to explain to him that he has a choice: he can choose to leave the organization and not be associated with such a thing, and that is a respectful path to take. Or he can choose to try to change the organization, in whatever way he feels he best can, and that is also a respectful path to take.

I know some on here have said that if you don't agree with an organization's rules or standards that you shouldn't be a part of that organization. But I don't think that's the only path. The BSA does not belong to the people running it today, they're only it's stewards till it transfers to the youth of tomorrow. The BSA belongs to my son and all the other kids out there today and tomorrow. If they want to change it, to make it better, then I can't see any good reason against that.

After all, what's more American than working to make the greater civic body better than it was yesterday?

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Pleasantly Surprised on 10/05/2011 18:56:51 MDT Print View

No worries Nick. Yep you are dead right there...you'll be singled out if you make noise :-)


"I know some on here have said that if you don't agree with an organization's rules or standards that you shouldn't be a part of that organization. But I don't think that's the only path. The BSA does not belong to the people running it today, they're only it's stewards till it transfers to the youth of tomorrow. The BSA belongs to my son and all the other kids out there today and tomorrow. If they want to change it, to make it better, then I can't see any good reason against that."

Dead on :-)

Edited by oysters on 10/05/2011 18:59:11 MDT.

Clint Wayman
(cwayman1) - M

Locale: East Tennessee, US
ok, so this makes $.04 =D on 10/05/2011 19:59:55 MDT Print View

"Finally, the only thing I aim to preach in BSA is love for people and for the outdoors. Plain and simple."

+1+1+1+1 (I feel like the teacher from 'A Christmas Story' A++++++)

+1 to Doug's last post. Discussion is more fun than arguing.

Miguel,
You are absolutely right; I do not personally know you or your religious background. I was simply refuting the implication that an individual knows the 'inner operations' of Christianity simply because he/she grew up in a specific denomination and attended a religious school, as your post suggested. I have known plenty of individuals who attend _________ Church but couldn't tell you the first thing about real Christianity.

As for the BPL-BSA comparison, it was just that (a comparison) and NOT a direct relationship. Lightweight backpacking seems to be fundamental to the BPL community and the religious beliefs/principles of BSA are fundamental to the organization. That was the correlation drawn between the two--nothing more.

Jennifer McFarlane
(JennyMcFarlane) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
nm on 10/05/2011 20:51:48 MDT Print View

nm

Edited by JennyMcFarlane on 10/05/2011 20:53:22 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/06/2011 19:32:17 MDT Print View

Miguel, I agree that homosexuals should not be persecuted in any way. I don't think anyone here has come close to expressing they support that. At most, some have expressed that their beliefs are in line with the Church's ,which I take to mean that they consider homosexuality a sin. That belief, while upsetting, is not something that can be eradicated with a law. Through education, through examples of the many outstanding homosexuals in society, through people coming out in the open, through intolerance for inciting any kind of violence and harm directed at our friends, through meaningful discussion even here on BPL, we will hopefully get there sooner rather than later.

Yeeees. I'm not sure why you decided to single out my statement... How did I differ from what you just said in any way? Aren't I discussing and joining in the effort to educate just by posting here? And where did I mention anything about a "law"? Even though I do not believe in Christianity, I nowhere said anything about getting rid of Christians, didI? I did not once write that Christians don't have a right to believe in their god or to live the way they want to... I merely pointed out that, as in all other parts of American society, bigotry and discrimination do not have a place in the society. If Christians promote harassing or ostracizing or making life difficult for, or even violence toward homosexuals, sorry, I will stand up and call it out. I'd do the same if homosexuals did that. Just because "Christians believe homosexuality is a sin" does not mean that it is all right to hold that belief and act upon it. Christianity is a belief system, a construct, homosexuality is not. The belief system can be changed, homosexuality cannot. Polygamy is a product of belief, too, and can easily be engaged in or not. Not so with homosexuality. When Christians start preaching, everywhere, that "homosexuality is a sin" and influencing how people see homosexuals, that is bigotry and discrimination and hate mongering, pure and simple. You can be laissez-faire about that if you want and just let the abuse and marginalization and withdrawal of their rights (marriage for instance) go on without protest, but I can't sit idly by while one gigantic and powerful group like the Christian church goes about influencing and goading millions of people around the world into hating homosexuals. Sorry it is simply wrong. If that makes me discriminatory, then so be it.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/06/2011 19:40:39 MDT Print View

Miguel, I did not single you out to attack you .Only part of my post was related to yours. I think we want the same thing but may not have the same approach to how that will be achieved. I actually asked for help in my dilemma.
And I do think homosexuals should be able to marry, FWIW

Edited by Kat_P on 10/06/2011 19:43:04 MDT.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
? on 10/06/2011 19:45:08 MDT Print View

"You can be laissez-faire about that if you want and just let the abuse and marginalization and withdrawal of their rights (marriage for instance) go on without protest, but I can't sit idly by while one gigantic and powerful group like the Christian church goes about influencing and goading millions of people around the world into hating homosexuals. Sorry it is simply wrong. If that makes me discriminatory, then so be it."

where did I say "without protest" ?

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: ? on 10/06/2011 20:33:56 MDT Print View

All these posts in Chaff are really starting to hurt my head.
E

Edited by kennyhel77 on 10/06/2011 20:37:39 MDT.

jennifer ross
(jenhifive) - F

Locale: Norcal
Re: Infiltration and my own defense on 10/06/2011 21:00:51 MDT Print View

"I think the real issue is those that are "openly" advocating views that are contrary to what the BSA believes. Of course if someone joins as a member or employee with the desire to change things, then they would need to be "open" in their attempts for change."

I know every single thing I post anywhere is completely twisted, people attempt to demean me and make me look stupid, I frequently "argue" while never making my stance. I had a discussion with a teacher I work with (yes at walmart, at one point we had 5) yesterday. He doesn't know I'm g@y so while he complained about california public school books being changed to let the kids know that being g@y is normal. I wasn't sure about the new law but I let him know that suicide is the highest within lgbtq teenagers. I never said my stance I just presented facts and said maybe there was a good reason. I have conversations with people about meat all the time and never say I don't eat it, but I discuss it. So it is completely plausible that he could be a leader and just suggest different ideas, promote understanding and acceptance.

In regards to the comments regarding me personally (not my thoughts or ideas) I'd like to let it be known arguing is NOT horrible. If you have a point and I have a point, we each argue our points. Since the word "argue" has been twisted I'd like to remind everyone that "argue" is not so different than the word "discuss" (semantics) here is the definition:
"to present reasons for or against a thing: He argued in favor of capital punishment." This is different than what goes on in here. Please don't presume to know me either.

jennifer ross
(jenhifive) - F

Locale: Norcal
Re: A preference for eggs vs. being g@y on 10/06/2011 21:35:21 MDT Print View

"On one hand you say you "get it" and on the other you say "BUT"..I think it has more to do with wanting to make others who don't agree with your particular position to have to inforce your brand of "institutional requirements""

There is a huge difference between "egg likers" and constantly hearing bigoted remarks about yourself. People don't say "egg likers" are going to h3ll, they're sinners, they're disgusting, they need therapy to fix them because they are mentally ill, that they're sexual deviants and yes, that they shouldn't have or be left alone with children. You're also talking about a preference which would mean we have a choice. This is who we are, I don't know why anyone would choose to have such a tough time.

Personally, being a girl, I haven't had it so bad. But my brother is also g@y and after hearing all the harassment he's endured (mostly from his supervisors at work in manufacturing) over the years I can understand and appreciate why someone would want to help keep the playing field neutral. A lot of people here talk about love and respect for other human beings and after watching t.v. preachers preach about us and the things that come out of people's mouths that don't know about me, some of these kids might need to hear "just because they're this way doesn't make them a bad person". Maybe we wouldn't be feared and ridiculed if there was an open-minded individual they can talk to. Also, maybe struggling children and teens would be able to confide in this open-minded individual.

"Should G@y group have to allow Christians to be leaders in their group?
Its endless..."

Most lgbtq are christians. Many of them just don't go to church because they don't take the bible literally. Not to get into a big debate and I know many people here can quote a lot of the bible, some of the stuff in there is a little off (thus making me an athiest at 11 years old).

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Re: A preference for eggs vs. being g@y on 10/06/2011 21:43:41 MDT Print View

I have to say, I feel for you and your brother Jennifer. Must suck copping crap like that.

jennifer ross
(jenhifive) - F

Locale: Norcal
Re: Re: Re: A preference for eggs vs. being g@y on 10/06/2011 23:53:56 MDT Print View

Don't feel sorry for me. I hear it but I haven't experienced anything compared to what the guys get. My best friend from high school came out to me when he was 20, he's now 27, still a "virgin", and still not out. He's out to all of his girl friends but won't come out at work for fear of being treated differently from the guys. His twin brother and little brother are also g@y. His little brother's been out since he was 15 and his twin can finally come out since dadt has been repealed.

Literally as I type this I'm watching cbssac news about a 16 year old in sac that has stopped going to school because he's being harrassed. Kids throw trash and pennies at him. He hears f@ggot everyday. He's going to try to go back and the school's solution is having him use the faculty bathroom.

I think the point about the discrimination is how can they stand for all these good things yet teach intolerance of different religious beliefs or sexual orientation? It is one of those things that "I can kind of understand BUT..." Someone compared nambla, white supremacists and boys and girls scouts of america for their free right to organize but I wouldn't patronize nambla's or a racial discriminatory cookies twice a year. Even if they never preach about religion or sexual orientation I don't like that they don't promote diversity so I just won't buy their cookies. Keebler makes a samoa-type cookie anyway so...

Arapiles .
(Arapiles) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Re: Re: BSA on 10/07/2011 08:04:28 MDT Print View

""BSA has had more than enough trouble in the past with child abuse from closet homosexuals. "

They were not closet homosexuals, they were pedophiles. There's a difference, and a rather large one at that."

+1

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: ? on 10/07/2011 09:21:06 MDT Print View

Come on Ken. Don't pick on me now ;)
This is not a bad thing. Chaff come in waves. No one has to read it, only legitimate beef is from those that have to scroll through recent posts and don't want to deal with this. Other than that this has been a good discussion. I have come away from it with some food for thought.Several posts, including Jennifer and Tyler's have given me some insight that is helping me shape my approach. While I have lunch with two Lesbian coworkers every week, we don't discuss this much, because I feel like we are on the same page and all is good. We butt heads on Union talk, but that is another issue.
For the most part I think our Chaff is great! We share a love for the outdoors, we are not brought together by our political views, so we get to hear all kinds of perspectives and that is really good. We get to see how we are not divided into two or possibly 3 factions and if more of us can draw from every side on different issues and come away less married to one party or another....it's good.
I am guilty, as are a few others, of talking down or disrespectfully at times, and for that I am sorry, including to you Jennifer.
If we could only find a way to not annoy those that don't want to scroll through all the chaff in recent posts, then this would be perfect. But everybody has a choice to click on it or not, just like the ads :)

jennifer ross
(jenhifive) - F

Locale: Norcal
Re: BSA on 10/07/2011 18:55:36 MDT Print View

"If your beliefs arent in line with theirs, fine. But if thats the case you dont belong, and probably would not be welcome anyway.

BSA is not a backpacking/hiking/outdoor club. It is an organization that shapes young people to be model citizens, and uses the outdoors as part of that process."

Is that the requirement to be a model citizen now? Straight and god-fearing? So I can be everything else but still be a second rate citizen? Hmm, sounds familiar...

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Discourse on 10/07/2011 19:13:51 MDT Print View

Ken, I realize that a lot of these kinds of discussions in Chaff may seem like just a bunch of malcontents slugging it out, but, aside from occasional uncontrolled crash landings, for the most part the people discussing things in Chaff really enjoy the intellectual challenge these discussions present. Sure it's not backpacking, but, ( like it seems to me for instance) maybe you can see it as what it is that people end up talking about when the day's walking is done and you're sitting around the fire swapping thoughts and tales. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's serious, sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes everyone connects. We're all people here, interacting with one another. Some people may not like intellectual discussions, but others certainly do, and this is where we can find people who think in the same way (which doesn't mean "agree") and open up. There are a lot of very interesting people here, some very well educated and knowledgeable, some with the ability to see what the rest of us can't see... and together it allows us to look at important topics and learn about them. If you're wondering what use this might have, perhaps a good example might be, for you Americans with your precious "Forefathers", how it is that those early leaders managed to come up with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The ideas didn't just pop into everyone's heads and everyone immediately agreed on all the points. It took a lot of discussions just like we're having here, and I'm certain there must have been a lot of emotional spats and disagreements, perhaps even big fights. But in the end, because everyone wanted to make a difference and to actually talk, they whittled down their ideas till they became what you have today. I love these kinds of discussions, even if at times I get a headache, feel mortified, or get outraged by what someone is saying. They keep me on my toes, they force me to reevaluate myself, and they allow me to think hard beyond the obvious. I learn something nearly every time, including things I never would have expected. I think, as you have invited in your other thread, if we all got together to go hiking, most of us would get along really well, probably many of us would become fast friends.

Edited by butuki on 10/07/2011 19:43:08 MDT.

jennifer ross
(jenhifive) - F

Locale: Norcal
Re: Discourse on 10/07/2011 19:22:09 MDT Print View

+1 @ Miguel

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: BSA on 10/07/2011 19:28:21 MDT Print View

Is that the requirement to be a model citizen now? Straight and god-fearing? So I can be everything else but still be a second rate citizen? Hmm, sounds familiar...

This is exactly the point that people who have anything against Gays just don't understand, and what I am so against the BSA policy about. It's as if there is something inherently wrong with being Gay (I won't argue against the BSA's desire to remain religious... that is their prerogative) and they, unlike other people, don't have a moral and dignified right to be part of society. As I said earlier, and so many Gays before, homosexuality is not a "belief". It's an inborn, natural part of those people, just like being heterosexual.

Edited by butuki on 10/07/2011 19:28:54 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Discourse on 10/07/2011 19:30:54 MDT Print View

"for you Americans with your precious "Forefathers","

Hey, stop generalizing. They weren't precious to me. I always thought they were pretty Gay, what with those wigs and hose and all.... No way they could have been model citizens dressed like that....

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Discourse on 10/07/2011 19:40:38 MDT Print View

Doug, now that you put it that way... I never thought of it like that! I think I just discovered that I'm an incorrigible fop, perhaps even one with inconstancy and consumption, further plagued by the ague, and too big for my breeches! :-D

Sorry about the poke at the Forefathers. I just think it's kind of funny talking about normal human beings as if they are like demi-gods. "Forefathers" is just such an imperial term, like "Fatherland" and "Our Dear Leader". Most people in the States are not even related to those men (notice no "Foremothers", not even a term for that). It's like an anachronism from a Golden, Pastoral Age where the leaders could do no wrong and everything was pure. Why not "Our Early Leaders"? You can still have reverence, but still keep them down on earth.

I believe in all-out equality, down to the last person, and reaching all the way back to all our beginnings. No elevation to blinding pedestal status.

Edited by butuki on 10/07/2011 19:53:09 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Discourse on 10/07/2011 20:08:08 MDT Print View

"I believe in all-out equality, down to the last person, and reaching all the way back to all our beginnings. No elevation to blinding pedestal status."

I completely agree. Except, of course, for Jennifer Anniston.....

James Lantz
(jameslantz) - F

Locale: North Georgia
BSA "discrimination" policy on 10/07/2011 21:46:16 MDT Print View

Looks like a bunch of you guys should read "How Evil Works" by David Kupelian. The attacks on BSA are another prime example of the book's premise of how the left cannot tolerate anything that is wholesome, moral, or good. Why don't you pick on Norman Rockwell paintings next;)

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: Discourse on 10/07/2011 21:56:48 MDT Print View

Discourse and discussion is a good thing. My point was that the original topic seems to be forgotten, and the discussion veers out of control.
Everyone is paying nice here which is cool

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: Discourse on 10/07/2011 21:59:44 MDT Print View

And Kat my comment was a generalization, obviously which you knew.... I just needed to clarify :)

Carry on

Robert Perkins
(rp3957) - M

Locale: The Sierras
BSA Policy :) on 10/07/2011 22:20:28 MDT Print View

+1 James.

It is amazing how a few vocal folks 'infiltrate' clubs, media and society in general to paint average Christians and parents as racist, bigots, and homophobes because we want a traditional, moral place to allow our young men to learn outdoor and leadership skills. It reminds of a bunch of spoiled kids who don't really want a toy, but don't want 'Johnny' to have it either, so they work to wreck the toy for 'Johnny' instead of getting their own. I know I will get lambasted over my subjective use of the word moral, but contrary to what some believe, there is still a lot of Americans that are not in the vocal minority that still believe in God, family, country and many of the tenants that the Boy Scouts hold to. As happens everyday in our 'left-leaning' media, the silent majority are the ones made out to be the 'bad guys'.

I am not here to debate the issue of homosexuality, but if you want to join a group, join one that you can be a proud part of and make it a success, don't join one under false pretenses just to 'infiltrate' as another person stated. You know the guidelines going in, if you go in to make a change, your going in for all the wrong reasons.

Edited by rp3957 on 10/08/2011 13:15:53 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: BSA "discrimination" policy on 10/08/2011 00:46:05 MDT Print View

The attacks on BSA are another prime example of the book's premise of how the left cannot tolerate anything that is wholesome, moral, or good.

Like anyone else, homosexuals, atheists, and agnostics... again, I say, "like anyone else... are also "noble, wholesome, and good". Unless you disagree and maintain that they are evil people. And yet the BSA officially singles them out. There isn't anyone here who has said the BSA is "evil" or that they should be eliminated. If you believe so, please point their statements out. We are saying that the BSA should remove that clause from their hiring rules, and treat all people like equals. ALL people. Because that, above all denominations, is "noble, wholesome, and good".

Ken, when talking about something like bigotry, which is the focus of this thread and the criticisms of the BSA, we are necessarily going to have to address causes and effects of the bigotry, and that necessarily means going on related tangents. But the reasons are still the same. Many of us here are trying to explain why we are criticizing the discriminatory practices of the BSA, not the good that the group does, which it certainly does do, too.

Edited by butuki on 10/08/2011 00:48:11 MDT.

jennifer ross
(jenhifive) - F

Locale: Norcal
Re: BSA Policy :) on 10/08/2011 01:02:01 MDT Print View

I didn't mean "infiltrate" to change BSA. I explained that an open-minded individual would be beneficial for boys who are told "we want a traditional, moral place to allow our young men to learn outdoor and leadership skills" and gays and athiests do not "belong". I think it's immoral to teach children to isolate and reject "others".

It's funny because in HS I was discriminated against by my Jehovah Witness' friend's mothers because I was an atheist yet I dressed more conservatively and was raised by the same "tenants". After HS one of the mothers was forced by her church to disown her daughter (my bff's 18 y.o. little sister) for being with a boy out of town. So she kicked her out and stopped talking to her yet it was okayed by the church that she could stay married to and visit her husband in prison that was sent to prison for raping her daughter (from a previous marriage mind you). That was okay because he didn't become a witness until after he was a rapist.

I only came back in to this thread to say I'm watching the doc "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" on demand (hbo). So far it's really good and coincides with the BSA debate.

Arapiles .
(Arapiles) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Re: BSA "discrimination" policy on 10/08/2011 01:23:13 MDT Print View

"Looks like a bunch of you guys should read "How Evil Works" by David Kupelian. The attacks on BSA are another prime example of the book's premise of how the left cannot tolerate anything that is wholesome, moral, or good. Why don't you pick on Norman Rockwell paintings next;)"

I don't know which "left" you're referring to, but the bases of socialism were ideas like the universal franchise and human rights - which I would suggest are implicitly wholesome, moral and good.

The "attacks" on the BSA's are in respect of the current leaderships position on religion and gays, which are bigoted and discriminatory - and anything but "wholesome, moral or good".

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Discourse on 10/08/2011 01:41:26 MDT Print View

Except, of course, for Jennifer Anniston.....

Jennifer, Jennifer, Jen... OH! HER!

I can see where you might disagree with her... ;-)

I'm more of a Yuki Uchida fan. She's the one wearing the read kimono.

Yuki Uchida

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
hmmm. on 10/08/2011 03:38:17 MDT Print View

"...to paint average Christians and parents as racist, bigots, and homophobes because we want a traditional, moral place..."


Sometimes it's too easy.

Edited by DaveT on 10/08/2011 04:07:58 MDT.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: hmmm. on 10/08/2011 07:01:03 MDT Print View

Miguel I completely understand your point, and agree

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Re: Discourse on 10/09/2011 19:15:50 MDT Print View

I love your taste Miguel, that pack and that trekking pole totally do it for me...mmmm

Daryl Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/10/2011 09:55:11 MDT Print View

Here are my thoughts on this issue.

I'm guessing the BSA policy is based on, at least partly, fear.

Fear that godless gaaas might tempt the god-fearing heteros to go godless or gaaa? (possible)
Fear that godless gaaas might harm the god-fearing heteros? (unlikely)
Fear that god-fearing heteros might harm the godless gaaas? (likely) Religion allows people to do some strange things.

Godless gaaa humans are OK in my book. So what fears do I have that might be similar to the fears I've listed above? Well I wouldn't want my kids (if I had any) to go to camp with gang members. The gang members might hurt my kids or tempt them to perform criminal acts.

So I can wrap my head around the BSA policy intellectually.......but I still don't agree with it.

"gaaas" used to get around profanity detector

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/10/2011 10:16:34 MDT Print View

"gaaas" used to get around profanity detector

Just capitalize the first letters, so you can write Gays and you'll be fine.

Though I think this censoring of words such as Gay is yet another example of the discrimination that shouldn't be on this site either. You might as well censor the words "men" and "women", while you're at it.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Discourse on 10/10/2011 10:20:53 MDT Print View

I love your taste Miguel, that pack and that trekking pole totally do it for me...mmmm

I love your dedication to the buoyantly burdened, Adam. All else cometh before romance, eh?

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/10/2011 15:32:53 MDT Print View

""gaaas" used to get around profanity detector

Just capitalize the first letters, so you can write Gays and you'll be fine.

Though I think this censoring of words such as Gay is yet another example of the discrimination that shouldn't be on this site either. You might as well censor the words "men" and "women", while you're at it."

+1

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Re BSA Discrimination Policy on 10/10/2011 15:49:14 MDT Print View

"G@y," at least in America, is not simply used to refer to man to man orientation but also as a slang that probably wouldn't be viewed as complimentary by certain people. So maybe censoring it for that reason is appropriate.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re Re Re BSA Discrimination Policy on 10/10/2011 16:01:15 MDT Print View

"but also as a slang that probably wouldn't be viewed as complimentary by certain people"

neither would dumbass or idiot or jerk, but they're not censored....

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Re Re Re BSA Discrimination Policy on 10/10/2011 17:48:12 MDT Print View

"neither would dumbass or idiot or jerk, but they're not censored...."

True, but I think using "Gay" in derogatory sense can be quite a bit more hurtful than those colorful words. Similar to some racial slangs that I'm assuming are also censored.

Ryan

Edited by ViolentGreen on 10/10/2011 17:49:05 MDT.

Andrew Lush
(lushy) - MLife

Locale: Lake Mungo, Mutawintji NPs
BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/26/2011 04:44:52 MDT Print View

>> True, but I think using "Gay" in derogatory sense can be quite a bit more hurtful than those colorful words.

Hurtful?

There was a libel case here in Australia a few years back that centred on that very issue. Someone accused someone else of being "Gay". The accused sued the accuser for libel and sought damages for loss of reputation.

The case was dismissed. The judge ruled that calling someone Gay was hardly an insult in modern Australian society so there was no case to answer.

Seems a fair call by the judge. You're Gay. I'm Gay. She's a Lesbian. And your point is.....?

Roger Heward
(green1) - F

Locale: Alberta, Canada
The state of Scouting in the USA on 10/28/2011 22:42:27 MDT Print View

As someone who has been an active scouting member for 27 years, I am saddened by what the BSA hold as policies. It is really unfortunate that an organization founded by such a forward thinking man has been twisted in such a way. It is not the same in the rest of the world.

I'm Canadian, Scouts Canada has allowed girls in for 20 years, and in the past 10 no group has been allowed to deny them membership. Homosexuals are also allowed, and I know several openly homosexual scouting members. Atheists have unofficially been allowed in Scouting here for a long time, but as of this year Atheists are now officially allowed to join. I have never heard of any of those 3 policies causing any problems (except among a few 70+ year old group committee members with the attitude that nothing should ever change, and that if it wasn't like that when they were a scout it shouldn't be that way now)

Daryl Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
BSA discrimination policy on 10/29/2011 09:33:27 MDT Print View

A friend of mine (former Eagle Scout) says the Mormons are big contributors to scouting and that is why there is a ban on homosexuals. Anyone know if this is true?

(Please forgive me if I posted this before. I thought I did but I can't find it.)

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: The state of Scouting in the USA on 10/29/2011 09:48:48 MDT Print View

Too bad we just have the BSA here. They need some open minded competition. If I was a parent I would not allow my child to join an exclusionary association.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 10/29/2011 11:55:26 MDT Print View

Andrew,

My point is that using Gay in a derogatory sense can be upsetting for those who are indeed Gay. Example: I'm not Gay, my brother is not Gay. But, if I called my brother "Gay" as an intended insult, my sister(who is Gay) will certainly not appreciate my choice of words. Which is why I hypothesized that the forum software filters it. Could be wrong of course.

Ryan

Edited by ViolentGreen on 10/29/2011 11:56:55 MDT.

Robert Perkins
(rp3957) - M

Locale: The Sierras
BSA discrimination policy on 10/29/2011 15:40:07 MDT Print View

I agree with Ken. The Boy Scouts need some competition. So then all of the parents that agree with their policies can continue to send our kids there and have them continue to be a great organization, and then all of the open minded, all accepting, parents can send their kids to the alternative 'new' organization and leave the Boys Scouts alone! That was a point I had made to the OP awhile back. If your views and lifestyle choice don't line up with the Boy Scouts, start your own and good luck with it.

Edited by rp3957 on 10/29/2011 18:31:43 MDT.

Roger Heward
(green1) - F

Locale: Alberta, Canada
Re: BSA discrimination policy on 10/29/2011 15:40:45 MDT Print View

Daryl: I have heard this same thing before, it really does sound like the religious zealots have run away with the BSA.

For an interesting view of the BSA you can see Penn & Teller's episode on the BSA... not exactly flattering...

James Lantz
(jameslantz) - F

Locale: North Georgia
BSA "discrimination policy" on 10/29/2011 16:53:17 MDT Print View

The problem is the "open minded" people will not start their own organization because that defeats the whole mindset that the BSA must conform to their will or be destroyed. There is no "peaceful" coexistence with the left.

Robert Perkins
(rp3957) - M

Locale: The Sierras
BSA discrimination policy on 10/29/2011 17:51:31 MDT Print View

I'm also amused at how the 'open-minded', all-tolerant, all-accepting crowd is good with opinions UNTIL it is a christian or jewish opinion, then it is fine to label and throw expressions like "religous zealots" out there, and all is well in their minds. Christians are still 'fair-game' to degrade to the left.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
yes! on 10/29/2011 18:08:02 MDT Print View

Yes, why is it that The Left always wants to try to eliminate homophobia?! It's like they have an obsession with civil rights and fair treatment for all, or something. We had a good thing going with our little Down with Gays and Atheists thing... ya know, shaping the next generation of closed-minded young non-thinkers... and then The Left had to come along and try to screw it up.

Why can't I keep my little "private" organization that practices discrimination yet accepts Government funding, special treatment, and access? It's like they hate the separation of Church and State... oh wait... oh... whatever.

James Lantz
(jameslantz) - F

Locale: North Georgia
No! on 10/29/2011 21:51:17 MDT Print View

The "left", "progressive", "socialist", "communist", "anarchist" mindset, whatever, has no new thinking. There is "nothing new under the sun". All compassion, love, kindness, tolerance, peace, gentleness, joy, self control, patience, goodness, & faithfulness comes from the Almighty & not from the mind of man. So called agnostics or atheists who live in a society built upon Judeo-Christian principles acquiesce to the reality of God by their willingness to live in such a society. I am continually amazed by the willingness by many to accept the benefits of this grace without acknowledging its source. In the 27 years I have practiced medicine, not once have I encountered a death bed atheist. Freedom as western society understands the concept is a relatively new concept in world history & is a direct result of Judeo-Christianity, not as a result of "religion" but as a result of minds transformed by the Spirit of God within. God reaches out to & wishes a relationship with all people (regardless of sex, race, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation), but ultimately it must be on His terms. Therein lies the crux of the matter. Truth confronts, convicts, & makes us uncomfortable. This is why 7 pages of posts have been devoted to this thread as the BSA is a faith based organization

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Anyway! on 10/29/2011 21:59:52 MDT Print View

As long as the BSA is exclusionary and not inclusive, there is going to be conflict. Tolerance of other beliefs and all...

The Golden Rule, still the only rule needed.

Daryl Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: No! on 10/30/2011 01:51:19 MDT Print View

James,

"All compassion, love, kindness, tolerance, peace, gentleness, joy, self control, patience, goodness, & faithfulness comes from the Almighty & not from the mind of man."

So where does the homosexual person turn for love, kindness, tolerance, peace, gentleness, joy, self control, patience, goodness and faithfulness if the Almighty has forsaken him/her?

Daryl

Edited by lyrad1 on 10/30/2011 01:57:17 MDT.

Robert Perkins
(rp3957) - M

Locale: The Sierras
BSA discrimination policy on 10/30/2011 10:30:33 MDT Print View

Dave, With both of your snide posts on this thread you have proven my point on how Christians are 'fair game' to throw any label or smart-a@# comments you want to make and they are cool! You are making very large assumptions that all Cristians are racist, bigots, homophobes, and religious zealots when there have been no derogatory remarks made against any of those groups by me or anyone else defending the BSA policy on this site. You can continue to unravel America's Judeo/Christian values with all of the ACLU-style and vocal minority attacks and wrap yourself up in the cloak of civil liberties, but the fact remains that there are still a majority of people that want to follow those 'narrow-minded' values, (your words), and become very successful, articulate, and valuable members to American society as many past Boy Scouts have become. I will reiterate my position, in reference to the OP's original question, (does anyone know or care what it was anymore), I still say start your own organization and do well with it by making it everything you want it to be, don't try and change a successful organization you don't agree with.

Edited by rp3957 on 10/30/2011 21:34:46 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: BSA discrimination policy on 10/30/2011 11:54:06 MDT Print View

"you have proven my point on how Christians are 'fair game' to throw any label or smart-a@# comments you want to make and they are cool! You are making very large assumptions that all Cristians are racist, bigots, homophobes, and religious zealots"

Robert, your comments seem to reflect the view that all people on the left who support the ACLU and other organizations are not christians. Nothing could be further from the truth, christians are a wide ranging lot. It's just that some christians take a very different lesson from the teachings of jesus than others.

"don't try and change a successful organization you don't agree with."

I'd say there are many who are rather glad that jesus didn't think the same way.....

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
BSA discrimination policy on 10/30/2011 12:32:28 MDT Print View

Merle Haggard said it best: "If you don't love it, leave it".

Robert Perkins
(rp3957) - M

Locale: The Sierras
BSA discrimination policy on 10/30/2011 14:09:08 MDT Print View

Douglas, Both good points. I didn't say that Christians couldn't support the ACLU, I just meant to say overall I do not support them or agree with many of their positions. I think that that they are slowly trying to erode what our founding fathers based our country on the guidance and wisdom of Judeo/Christian values with frivolous lawsuits.

We do agree on the second point though. Jesus did excactly what I am telling the OP to do, ( without the crusificition and resurrection part ). Jesus did not agree with the established Jewish religious establishment of the time and He did start his own movement...Christianity! Now both exsist, and a person knows up-front, what they are committing to when they come into either faith.

I think many folks interpret what they want to out of my comments, but I think all of the lawsuits and talk of the Boy Scouts is just a 'smokescreen' until it is completely 'infiltrated' , ( again, using an earlier posters words ), and completely changed until it fits some 'politically correct' mold and it will cease to be The Boy Scouts Of America.

As far as the commandment to love one another goes. I have many friends that are lesbi@n that I go to church with, play softball with and work with that I love as sisters, but that doesn't mean I have to agree with their lifestyle. I think sexuality of ANY kind isn't talked about, nor should be talked about as a Boy Scout. I would feel the same if anyone had that discussion in Scouts with my son. Like I mentioned earlier, I think once the 'firewall' of BSA's ethics are breached, it becomes like any other generic organization.

I have a suggestion for the name for the new organization, All-Accepting Scouts of America. No drop the America part, too restrictive, make it the All-Accepting Scouts of the Universe or something equivelant.

Edited by rp3957 on 10/31/2011 20:15:36 MDT.

tyler marlow
(like.sisyphus) - F

Locale: UTAH
Exclusion policy reversal on 01/30/2013 20:20:02 MST Print View

This is an old thread but its become relevant again.

boy scouts is seeking the opinions of the general public on whether they should continue their ban on homosexual scouts and leaders.

they have set up a hotline to find out if people are FOR the policy change to include all scouts and leaders, or AGAINST the change and want to keep homosexual scouters and leaders out.

the hotline number is 972 580 2330 if you would like to share your opinion.

thanks,
tyler

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Exclusion policy reversal on 01/30/2013 21:08:34 MST Print View

I called and they said to email nationalsupportcenter at scouting dot org so I did

I am an Eagle scout but have dropped any support of the organization because of anti-gAy policy.

Also ant-aetheism policy - they should allow any religions or non-religions, in my opinion

Thanks for posting that

profanity filter detected gAy so you have to capitalize one of the letters

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Exclusion policy reversal on 01/31/2013 06:18:41 MST Print View

Curious why you're an Eagle then, Jerry, if you had an issue with the policy? It's always been this way (maybe not spelled out specifically as it is now since it was a much smaller issue when you were a Scout).

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Exclusion policy reversal on 01/31/2013 08:15:08 MST Print View

Perhaps as time passes and the eyes open, it becomes apparent that what looked like virtue was not.

There is a lot of good, but there is also some not so good. In many parts of our society, the unspoken is easy to miss in our enthusiasm about the good stuff.

Edited by greg23 on 01/31/2013 08:24:06 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Exclusion policy reversal on 01/31/2013 08:31:11 MST Print View

"Curious why you're an Eagle then, Jerry, if you had an issue with the policy?"

Gay people and aetheism were "in the closet" then.

Each troop kind of made their own decisions more. I don't think that if a troop had someone that was gAy or an aetheist that the main office would tell them to throw that person out.

I don't think the scouts are evil or anything, just behind the times. There was a time when slavery was accepted.

Rick Adams
(rickadams100) - M
Scouting on 02/01/2013 17:38:37 MST Print View

I am currently an assistant scout master and have been active in scouts for 10 years. There are members of our troop who hold strong views on both sides. I have never seen this dealt with at the local level and unless someone has an agenda to push it never will be. Scouts is not a place for adults to teach kids sexuality in any way shape or form. And boys in the required age range are in a very ackward period and typically don't have a real sense of sexuality anyway. I don't have any opinion about god whatsoever and have never been asked. It's worth noting that these issues haven't come up with the LDS troop or the Catholic troop i'm affiliated with.

It's about a love for the outdoors and helping guide the boys to manhood. The boys listen to what the adults say to each other and how they behave more than what we, their church or others tell them. They are literally soaking it all in. And they know right from wrong and good from bad.

The BSA policy should be set at the troop level and should not reference sexuality in any way.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Scouting on 02/01/2013 21:27:42 MST Print View

Do you express tolerance for Catholics?
Do you express tolerance for women?
Do you express tolerance for people of color?
Do you express tolerance for democrats?
Do you express accepting people for who they are and what they can do?

Guiding boys to adulthood is a good thing.
I'm glad they listen.
I hope they are hearing good things.

Carry on.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Still in the news and in our minds. on 02/02/2013 01:58:12 MST Print View

As the 2nd of 4 generations of Boy Scouts (my own Eagle- and Scoutmaster-father, my Eagle-Scout Uncles, various Star-, Life- and Eagle-scout cousins and myself, Eagle-scout nephews, and First-cousin-once-removed-Scouts, etc) (but not my grandfather, born in 1898 who theoretically could have been a Scout, if he had been born in England and not in a small, Nevada mining town), I have a few thoughts:

One of Scouting's greatest gifts was that people who weren't otherwise included (for reasons of economics, race, or non-Christian religion) could rub shoulders with some of the upper crust*, learn some skills, and be judged for their character rather than their origins.

*Portions of each of those four generations lived in Piedmont, California. Which is both more elitist on economic grounds but more inclusive on other grounds. Their "Council" - a single troop council - doesn't discriminate on the basis on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or home address.

35 years ago, I remember thinking of BSA as being inclusive - you could be almost any flavor of Christian, Jew, or Muslim, as long you believed in one(!), male (!), singular (!) God. 35 years later, more aware of the variety of people in the world, I don't think of them as inclusive. I'm no longer 15 years old and I'm no longer such a product of a middle-class, suburban bedroom community. So I now see unfortunate limits to BSA's concept of the world/universe/morality.

It saddens me that BSA can't see that some of the practices that made them noble - seeing beyond racial and religious persecution - can't still be part of their mandate. Just look at GSA - inclusive not just of race, class, and orientation but of gender itself.

To be blunt - BSA has two great hurdles. (1) pedophiles are almost all male. Sorry, guys, it's true. Men are, overwhelmingly, the butt/mouth/t-w-a-t F'ers on the planet (among bipeds). And (2) the LDS church is both incredibly homophobic AND 1/3 of Scouting. They've made it clear to BSA (reference, Time magazine, circa 2010) that if BSA is more inclusive, LDS walks away and the organization (the fear goes) implodes. Should you trust your sons to a group who (when they knock on your doorstep) deny that until 1978, the "son of Cain" was unworthy of priesthood in their church?!? Let me go on record as proclaiming that the only kid in my high school who was smarter than I was, was a "son of a Cain" - a dark-skinned black boy who ALWAYS knew more math, science, and current events than I did. So, yes, I call foul on the Mormon Church's claim that Howard (now a university math professor) wasn't as least as human as I was in 1978.

So we've got a group that could be a tremendous force for positive morals, ethics, and self-sufficiency becoming a regressive organization all because of a Utah-based religion founded by someone convicted of bank fraud and because of a closeted g.a.y guy in Rome who wears red shoes and pointy hat. What are WE to do? We, who see the value of being in the outdoors, learning skills, and leadership? I've told an MD in town - the Mormon on the School Board* - that I can't support his campaign for higher office because I've seen him vote against protecting g.a.y students and staff from discriminatory practices.

*Call out to Nels Anderson, MD, Soldotna, Alaska - I don't think you should be able to escape a Google search for imposing your bigotry on the very students I think you should protect.

Back to the original question: Do you fight from within or from outside?

Is BSA like Nazi Germany and anything is worth the price of their downfall? No, it is not that bad.

Is BSA like your neighbor, the tax evader, who only damages the USA a few thousand dollars? No, it is more than that.

Personally, I try to use both a stick and a carrot. I call them out for their bigotry, even if some locals think that defending the "f.a.g.s" isn't as noble as defending Christians, Jews, Republicans, and Y2Kers. I (and my far richer wife) donate a ton of money to more progressive organizations. Oh, look, BSA - people who've gone to college, met different kinds of people, learned a profession, and gotten a state license - we would support you like other forces for good, if only you were more consistently a force for good.

Does BSA have a "right" to discriminate? Yeah, sure. In the USA. Germany, at least, doesn't give their resident Nazis a pass.

Is it a wise political or financial decision? I aim to make it not a good choice. Again - bluntly - those of us who have been to college, met (and loved) a variety of people, and earned a bunch of money - we get to have more influence. And I vote for inclusion and moving forward. For a more inclusive society, a less fearful society. How does your "right" to marry ONLY an opposite-gendered partner trump their right to keep their job if someone discovers they love someone with similar genitals?

Your fears don't negate someone else's Civil Rights. They shouldn't have in 1863 and they shouldn't in 2013!

The more miles I hike through the forest and along the rivers, the clearer this becomes.
-David

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Still in the news and in our minds. on 02/02/2013 02:09:43 MST Print View

It is truly amazing how offensive and self righteous some of you self proclaimed "progressives" are.

"closeted g.a.y guy in Rome who wears red shoes and pointy hat"

Are you serious? I love how you espouse tolerance and acceptance when it suits your cause but casually throw out the same offensive slurs when you get all worked up.

Kettle... Pot.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Still in the news and in our minds. on 02/02/2013 03:03:17 MST Print View

Michael:

"throw out the same offensive slurs"

That Louis Farrakhan might have argued for Civil Rights doesn't prevent me from critiquing his racism.

Perhaps unfairly, I give more of a pass to JP II: War Hero, Freedom fighter, while still being regressive on the civil rights. I probably should hold him to a higher standard.

>"guy in Rome who wears red shoes and pointy hat"

But B16, Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith? I'll just quote from WP: "Pope Benedict XVI has re-introduced several papal garments which had previously fallen into disuse. Pope Benedict XVI resumed the use of the traditional red papal shoes, which had not been used since early in the pontificate of Pope John Paul II."

So, yes, "The Devil wears Prada".

"g.a.y." is NOT a slur. "Closeted" is. Make a note of it.

If you find my statements offensive, is it because I am stating anything that isn't patently obvious, or because you think that the Pope's hat isn't pointy?

I would LOVE IT if the Pope in Rome could come out and live openly and honestly. I hike and stay in shape (hence my lifespan might be long) so that maybe it will happen in my lifetime. More likely, my children will.

If we'd been blogging in 1939 would you have called out Hitler? He was only defending capitalists. In 1973, I was one of two students in my entire elementary school to oppose Nixon's re-election. Sorry, but progressives are, you see, progressive. We are on the side of progress. Slavery, white-only-vote, male-only-vote, poll-tax-only-vote, income-tax, DC-current: Conservatives don't have a great track record.

Engage me. Give me some evidence that Ratz is straight. Name an XGF. Tell me how discriminating on the basis of orientation advances our country, culture or world. I'm listening.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Dave on 02/02/2013 09:25:25 MST Print View

You are a hypocrite sir. I have no wish to "engage" you. You are intentionally offensive to some things certain people hold quite dear. I just lost all respect for you.

I have no love for the Boy Scouts or Catholics. I actually dislike both groups a certain amount. But I am happy enough to let them do what they want if they leave me alone.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Michael on 02/02/2013 09:45:36 MST Print View

"But I am happy enough to let them do what they want if they leave me alone."

Wow.

I realize you are talking about the Boy Scouts, but what about other groups that have an exclusive slant on how things should be?

Don't care if women are marginalized?
Don't care if someone drags a black man behind a truck?
Don't care if someone blows up the Methodist church?

Do you draw any distinctions, or is it all OK, as long as "... They leave me alone?"



Edit: Oh yea...look up the word "hypocrite". I don't know much about Dave, but he does seem to "walk his talk". I have yet to notice him taking opposite positions on the same issue.

Edited by greg23 on 02/02/2013 10:28:17 MST.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Re: Michael on 02/02/2013 11:02:01 MST Print View

Greg,

I'm just going to laugh at you right now. BSA with its many religious affiliations serves those members interests. Dragging a black man behind a truck. GTFO. Not the same thing at all. Blowing up a church? Pull your head out with your asinine examples.

If a private club has its own rules so be it. Black panthers, KKK, Augusta National, etc. I may disagree with them, but they have their rights. Since when is it a right to infringe on other people rights?

I feel the same way about the Gov't trying to tell catholic hospitals they should preform abortions or hand out birth control. That goes against their very tenants. So yeah, I think the gov't should get out.

And as for hypcrite...maybe you should go read the garbage he just spewed. Lambast the BSA for excluding homosexuals but then mock the leader of an entire religion and call him a closet g.a.y. Pretty cut and dried. Don't preach tolerance if you aren't going to practice it.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
tolerance on 02/02/2013 11:30:25 MST Print View

Being tolerant of different views/beliefs/lifestyles also means being critical of others' intolerance towards those things. What's the point of preaching tolerance if you can't lambast those who are intolerant?

A big reason that the LGBT community is gaining cultural ground, especially in legislation, is because people spoke up and are actively fighting against bigotry and intolerance in the highest offices of this nation. Same thing happened in the 60's.

I'm pretty sure the point of David's post was to mark the internal hypocrisy of the Church, not call the Pope g.a.y.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Nope on 02/02/2013 12:26:58 MST Print View

Sorry trav. Dave and a bunch of others think they have a monopoly on right and wrong. Your intolerant unless you conform to their world view.

I don't agree but if the Catholic Church believes homosexuality is a sin they can. Don't go there. But don't sit here trashing them while pretending to be tolerant.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Nope on 02/02/2013 12:41:12 MST Print View

The Catholic Church has the right to believe what it wants, yes. I agree. But so many of their teachings are about love and forgiveness and tolerance.

They pick and choose, too. They impose their will in places people don't want it.

I'm not being critical of God or spirituality, but I will be critical of a religion bastardized by men over a couple of dozen centuries when it creates discord and intolerance.

Edited by T.L. on 02/02/2013 12:44:33 MST.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Nope on 02/02/2013 12:46:31 MST Print View

"I'm not being critical of God or spirituality, but I will be critical of a religion bastardized by men over a couple of dozen centuries when it creates discord and intolerance."

Can you name a time when a religion didn't create discord and intolerance?

Edited by xnomanx on 02/02/2013 13:16:28 MST.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Tolerance on 02/02/2013 13:21:43 MST Print View

I'm sorry Michael L., but I think all religious and cultural bigotry, intolerance, and other such nonsense should be called out as the B.S. that it is.

I don't buy the idea that I have to be "tolerant" of discriminatory, racist, or sexist practices; just because a belief may be religious or cultural in nature doesn't mean I have to give a bigot a free pass.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Tolerance on 02/02/2013 13:50:08 MST Print View

See there you go. You are right. Only your opinion counts.

Glad we solved that problem.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Tolerance on 02/02/2013 14:00:01 MST Print View

Out of respect for my homosexual friends I don't entertain apologist arguments on behalf of those that seek to discriminate against them.
So yeah, problem solved.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Re: Re: Tolerance on 02/02/2013 14:29:06 MST Print View

Buts its perfectly ok to bash, insult, and call people's religious leader cliset g.a.y.?

That kind of tolerance is what you are preaching?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Still in the news and in our minds. on 02/02/2013 14:59:05 MST Print View

The BSA is an organization with the "right" to limit members to the views of the organization, and especially those that are tied to certain other organizations (i.e. Church of LDS). And in the US, we need to defend these rights...

... But that does not absolve us of the responsibility to criticize or fight the teachings of groups, if their beliefs are immoral or unethical. Restricting or teaching the limitation of every individual's civil rights is wrong. It is immoral. So yes, some of the teachings of many religions is immoral. So the BSA, LDS, and other groups do not get a pass. Some of their teachings are immoral. Teachings that inhibit or try to restrict the civil rights of any group or individual is immoral.

So shame on them.

And shame on anyone who would support any group who teaches that any individual's civil rights are wrong, or who would attempt to restrict or deny those rights.

----------------------

Remember the movie, "A Few Good Men?"

Very important quote at the end that is often overlooked in preference to Jack Nicholson's character's charismatic quotes:

Downey: "What did we do wrong? We did nothing wrong."

Dawson: "Yeah, we did. We were supposed to fight for the people who couldn't fight for themselves. We were supposed to fight for Willie."

----------------------

You cannot balance the good BSA does against the hatred that is taught in some troops. I did carefully choose the word "hatred."

These are the kinds of things I abhor about many liberals AND conservatives. Both want to restrict some of our individual rights. They want to restrict freedom.

----------------------

This thread reminded me of a song that was published in 1973.

One blue sky above us, one ocean lapping all our shore
One earth so green and round, who could ask for more?
And because I love you I'll give it one more try
To show my rainbow race, it's too soon to die

Some folks want to be like an ostrich
Bury their heads in the sand
Some hope that plastic dreams
Can unclench all those greedy hands

Some hope to take the easy way
Poisons, bombs, they think we need 'em
Don't you know you can't kill all the unbelievers?
There's no shortcut to freedom

One blue sky above us, one ocean lapping all our shore
One earth so green and round, who could ask for more?
And because I love you I'll give it one more try
To show my rainbow race, it's too soon to die

Go tell, go tell all the little children
Tell all the mothers and fathers too
Now's our last chance to learn to share
What's been given to me and you

One blue sky above us, one ocean lapping all our shore
One earth so green and round, who could ask for more?
And because I love you I'll give it one more try
To show my rainbow race, it's too soon to die

One blue sky above us, one ocean lapping all our shore
One earth so green and round, who could ask for more?

- Pete Seeger

---------------

Lastly, to David Thomas. Kudos to you for taking a FIRM stance knowing you would draw a lot of criticism. Principles trump pragmatism every day.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Sigh on 02/02/2013 15:27:39 MST Print View

There you go too nick. Your dislike of religion clouds your view. Do you really feel it is ok to say the pope as a closet g.a.y.?

Do you want to stand up to the church on abortion too Nick? Or just their stance that homosexuality is a sin? Why do you get to be the person whose morals are right?

What about the age of consent? What about multiple wives? Or husbands? When and where do YOU get to draw the line? Why are you even getting in the morals game to start with?

And so on.

Why do people always have to judge others beliefs? If they aren't going out and attacking you, then why should you feel the need to attack them?

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Sigh on 02/02/2013 15:36:01 MST Print View

Michael, you said -

"Why do people always have to judge others beliefs? If they aren't going out and attacking you, then why should you feel the need to attack them?"

For instance, when people or organizations discriminate against or attack gays simply because they don't share the same beliefs?

Good point. I think we are in agreement.

Edited by greg23 on 02/02/2013 15:42:53 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Sigh on 02/02/2013 15:52:31 MST Print View

Mike L,

I have no idea whether or not the Pope is Gay. I don't even know who the actual Pope is. That being said, it would be unfair of me to call the Pope anything. And if there is no proof that the Pope is anything and is accused of unsubstantiated labels, that would not be right.

Yes, abortion is up to the woman. It is her body.

Sexual orientation is not a preference or choice.

Children have basic rights; the right to be free from physical force -- same basic right as adults. Our rights derive from our ability to live independently with the ability to make rational decisions. Children do not have the ability to make rational choices. As a matter of fact, if left to their own devices, giving children the freedom of choice could be damaging to them. At what exact moment in life do children gain the mental capacity to take care of themselves? It varies. But a child must go through a period of development. Thus we make laws to govern this.

None of my business how many spouses one chooses to have or what sex either. One wife is more than enough for me. Two would drive me crazy :)

I don't get to choose whose morals are right. Each person decides that; but we cannot restrict any person's right to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, or property. Nor can any other person, group, or government restrict our own rights to such.

And I am really ticked that I cannot buy a 20 ounce soft drink in NYC :(


Why should we attack beliefs that deny human beings their civil rights? Watch the movie...

Downey: What did we do wrong? We did nothing wrong.

Dawson: Yeah, we did. We were supposed to fight for the people who couldn't fight for themselves. We were supposed to fight for Willie.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
BSA discrimination policy :( on 02/02/2013 17:24:34 MST Print View

If they aren't going out and attacking you, then why should you feel the need to attack them?

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 02/02/2013 17:59:17 MST Print View

Nick. I didn't say is an abortion up to a woman. I said should we be able to force religious organizations to do them. It is against their core tenants. But many here say its perfectly moral. Where are you drawing the line?


Jason.

Nobody is coming or anyone. Except maybe you guys. Forcing the world to conform to your morals. First they can for the religious and the BSA would be more apt an example.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 02/02/2013 18:44:26 MST Print View

I sort of agree with Michael, no reason to call the pope a closeted gAy. Some people revere him and that's offensive to them.

Although the evil Jerry got a good laugh.

If the Catholic church runs a hospital, and hires people, and gives them health care as an employee benefit, the Catholic church should not force those employees to follow Catholic beliefs, like not using birth control.

What is it, maybe half the hospitals are run by Catholics who want us to follow their beleifs? And the other half of the hospitals are run by profit making corporations who don't want us to get treatment that would reduce their profit? Something wrong here.

Obama and the Catholic church reach some compromise where their employees can get health care without compromising the Catholic Church beliefs. And the Republicans seize on the opportunity to go after Obama for being anti-religious.

"May you live in interesting times"

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 02/02/2013 20:09:05 MST Print View

"Nick. I didn't say is an abortion up to a woman. I said should we be able to force religious organizations to do them. It is against their core tenants."

Whether or not to have an abortion is up to the woman. Whether or not to perform an abortion is up to the doctor (or hospital). If an abortion will save a mother's life, I would hope all doctors (or hospitals) would opt to save the mother's life.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Discrimination Policy :( on 02/02/2013 20:23:10 MST Print View

"...I would hope all doctors (or hospitals) would opt to save the mother's life."


"ACLU Moves To Extend EMTALA To Force Catholic Hospitals To Provide Emergency Abortions

"The letter cites circumstances in three cases where Catholic Hospitals transferred patients with pregnancy related emergencies under circumstances the ACLU believe mandated a primary abortion that could have been provided at the Catholic facility."

One would hope, but alas....

Edited by greg23 on 02/02/2013 20:24:16 MST.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Discrimination Policy :( on 02/02/2013 21:33:14 MST Print View

I'm surprised.

Directly from Wiki -


"Popes Accused of Having Male Lovers"

Pope Paul II (1464–1471) is popularly alleged to have died due to indigestion arising from eating melon in excess,[42][43] though a rumour was spread by the pontiff's detractors that he died while engaging in sodomy.[citation needed]

Pope Sixtus IV (1471–1484) was alleged to have awarded gifts and benefices to court favourites in return for sexual favours. Giovanni Sclafenato was created a cardinal by Sixtus IV for "ingenuousness, loyalty,...and his other gifts of soul and body",[44][better source needed] according to the papal epitaph on his tomb.[45][verification needed]

Pope Leo X (1513–1521) was allegedly a practising homosexual, according to some modern and contemporary sources (Francesco Guicciardini and Paolo Giovio). He was alleged to have had a particular (albeit one-sided) infatuation for Marcantonio Flaminio.[46]

Pope Julius III (1550–1555) was alleged to have had a long affair with Innocenzo Ciocchi del Monte. The Venetian ambassador at that time reported that Innocenzo shared the pope's bedroom and bed.[47]"

Thanks, Dave, for piquing my curiosity.
I guess the Vatican eventually learned how to keep the lid on.

Somehow I can't help but wonder....

Edited by greg23 on 02/02/2013 21:36:36 MST.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Re: Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 02/02/2013 21:34:28 MST Print View

Nick,

Your bobbing and weaving like a politician. I'm surprised.

You pulled out one extreme example. There is also the discussion about forcing Catholic hospitals to preform non life or death abortions. Weather they have to pay forth birth control for employees. Etc... These issues are coming up or have come up. I see the discussion surrounding BSA to be similar.

I'm really am surprised that you and your typically extremely libertarian views don't extend to protection/hands off of the church. But considering you disdain you have expressed for any religion, perhaps I shouldn't be.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 02/02/2013 22:30:50 MST Print View

"There is also the discussion about forcing Catholic hospitals to preform non life or death abortions. Weather they have to pay forth birth control for employees."

I think I said, whether to perform, or not to perform an abortion is up to the doctor (or hospital). If a doctor is against abortions, or for abortions, he doesn't sign up with a clinic or hospital that does things against his personal beliefs. The decision whether a clinic or hospital will perform abortions is up to the clinic or the hospital; NOT the government. Just to clarify, by abortion I am talking about non life or death situations for the mother.

Now... regarding requiring ANY company or organization to provide birth control for employees -- or anything else that goes with this train of thought to include health care. This is not the government's job. It should be up to the company or organization to decide what benefits it chooses to provide, or not to provide. BTW, I distain Libertarians, Liberals, and Conservatives.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Ah well on 02/02/2013 23:49:38 MST Print View

Bout beaten this dead horse twice as long as I should have.

Out.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 02/03/2013 02:59:43 MST Print View

"that's offensive to them."

This IS assuming that there is something offensive about GAY people, right? If the Pope is GAY, what's the harm? As long as he isn't a pedophile, right? But then, there are people who equate GAYS with being pedophiles. And there seem to be a disproportionate number of Catholic priests who are pedophiles. So I'm assuming, by the logic, that it's okay to be a pedophile, but not GAY? Or in even more screwy logic, since GAYS are pedophiles, then all those pedophile priests are GAY? Or is it the other way around, since the priests are GAY they must all be pedophiles? Doesn't that then mean that it is okay to be GAY since it is okay to be a pedophile?

Let me see if I have this right: Abortion is wrong because the Church says it is so, and pedophiles are okay, but GAYS, who tend to be pedophiles, are evil, whereas pedophiles are swept under the table, but because GAYAS cannot have children, they therefore cannot get abortions, therefore , they can't be bad, but by being pedophiles they are the harbingers of the end of all things abortion, while being impossibly GAY, which is bad, because GAYS are pedophiles, which automatically makes them good, and thereby equated with abortion, which is bad, and priests, having taken a vow of chastity, cannot possibly be pedophiles, and therefore cannot be GAY, and thereby having every possibility of having something to do with abortion, which cannot be instigated by GAYS, but very possibly be instigated by pedophiles, who cannot get an abortion. So all good. Makes sense.

My point is: it is just as offensive to imply there is anything at all wrong with being GAY. Why does no one defend GAY people here on BPL?

Edit: GREAT! So "GAY" is considered profanity (which is DISCRIMINATION here at BPL! Hello!!!!), but "pedophile" is perfectly okay to write?!?

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 02/03/2013 07:03:11 MST Print View

Scout Oath 

On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

Scout Law
A Scout is: 

Trustworthy – A Scout tells the truth. He keeps his promises. Honesty is part of his code of conduct. People can depend on him.


Loyal – A Scout is true to his family, Scout leaders, friends, school, and nation.


Helpful – A Scout is concerned about other people. He does things willingly for others without pay or reward.


Friendly – A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He seeks to understand others. He respects those with ideas and customs other than his own.


Courteous – A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows good manners make it easier for people to get along together.


Kind – A Scout understands there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated.


Obedient – A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobey them.


Cheerful – A Scout looks for the bright side of things. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.


Thrifty – A Scout works to pay his way and to help others. He saves for unforeseen needs. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property.


Brave – A Scout can face danger even if he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at or threaten him.


Clean – A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He goes around with those who believe in living by these same ideals. He helps keep his home and community clean.


Reverent – A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 02/03/2013 08:04:34 MST Print View

There's nothing wrong with being gAy

But, if you call the pope gAy, then you'll just argue about that rather than BSA descrimination. It's just a strong, emotional subject. Maybe it's better to adress it head on though.

Piers Morgan should use that line, maybe that will increase his ratings more than his "strong" gun control stance.

And the profanity filter is just a list of words in some computer software. Just don't use all lower case.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
@ John Shannon on 02/03/2013 12:55:58 MST Print View

If you go to the beginning of this thread, you will see I posted the vision statement, scout law, and the scout oath. Irrespective of my view of religion, I posted that agnostics and atheists are not aligned to the organization's core mission in regards to God. We need to respect BSA's right to limit membership to those who profess a belief in God. We cannot criticize them for this. BSA is non-denominational.

Restricting Gays is not aligned to non-denominational belief in God. Sexual orientation is not a moral issue; deny membership based on sexual orientation is a moral issue.

The OP had a problem with the restriction against all 3; agnostics, atheists, and Gays. He also had a problem signing the "Principles" document. He wondered if he should just sign it and work within the organization to change views. My suggestion was to "move on."

We have religious freedom to worship as we please, and we must allow any group to do this. It is a civil right. Parents who seek organizations for their children with an emphasis on "duty to God" should be able to do so without individuals inside the organization challenging the concept of God.

We do not have the right to restrict civil rights. As a private organization, BSA does have them legal right to restrict membership to Gays, but not the moral right. They need to change this and it is good that public pressure may force the to do so.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: @ John Shannon on 02/03/2013 14:48:03 MST Print View

The LGBT community does not have the civil or moral right to shove their alternative lifestyle down BSA throats. No pun intended.

Edited by jshann on 02/03/2013 14:50:18 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: @ John Shannon on 02/03/2013 15:03:51 MST Print View

John,

It isn't a lifestyle. It isn't a choice. It isn't a preference.

Just as none of us has any choice as to the color of our skin.

I don't know a single Gay person that has suggested I change my sexual orientation. In fact I would imagine the thought would be irrational to a Gay person - to try and convince someone to change their orientation; and this why so many Gay and non-Gay people are criticizing the BSA. Time to shed the bigotry.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: @ John Shannon on 02/03/2013 15:10:17 MST Print View

What exactly IS an "alternative lifestyle?" Last I checked, there are about 6,999,999,999 alternative lifestyles to my own on this planet.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: @ John Shannon on 02/03/2013 15:13:19 MST Print View

Last I checked, there are about 6,999,999,999 alternative lifestyles to my own on this planet.

Thank "god." Pun intended. :)

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: @ John Shannon on 02/03/2013 15:14:23 MST Print View

Ha! Lord knows one of me is enough! :D

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: @ John Shannon on 02/03/2013 15:35:43 MST Print View

"The LGBT community does not have the civil or moral right to shove their alternative lifestyle down BSA throats. No pun intended."

Which is sort of what businesses like Woolworths used to argue when they wouldn't allow blacks to sit at lunch counters. And eerily similar to what some southern states and governors argued when forced by the govt. to end segregation.

1

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: @ John Shannon on 02/03/2013 15:44:59 MST Print View

And don't forget about women. The nerve they had, fighting for equality.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: @ John Shannon on 02/03/2013 16:00:22 MST Print View

Remember when interracial marriage would've been called an "alternative lifestyle"?

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: @ John Shannon on 02/03/2013 16:14:59 MST Print View

>Remember when interracial marriage would've been called an "alternative lifestyle"?


Still is, to a lot of people.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: @ John Shannon on 02/03/2013 16:16:34 MST Print View

It is an alternative lifestyle...



marriage versus bachelorhood :)

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
[x] on 02/03/2013 22:55:54 MST Print View

[x]

Edited by RogerDodger on 02/07/2013 15:33:03 MST.

Eric Johnson
(unimog) - MLife

Locale: Utah
Tax Free on 02/03/2013 23:50:48 MST Print View

Sorry, I don't get the connection between non-profit and groups that conform to all-inclusive government standards. From my understanding, tax-free status is based on not making a profit, not based on whether the government likes what you are trying to accomplish.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Tax Free on 02/04/2013 06:50:13 MST Print View

"...all-inclusive..." is a long way off when it comes to government rules.


There are IRS rules that describe the requirements to operate in a tax-free mode. The IRS doesn't really care what you do, provided you follow their rules.

One of them is -

"The [social] club's governing instrument may not contain a provision that provides for discrimination against any person on the basis of race, color, or religion."

Notice that sexual orientation is not a "protected" class.

So, discrimination is condoned.



(Nor is gender equality mentioned - hence the allowed status for all-male clubs)

Edited by greg23 on 02/04/2013 09:06:16 MST.

Green Thumb
(greenthumb)
Re: There already are OTHER clubs on 02/04/2013 07:04:00 MST Print View

Roger - You are incorrect about the Mormons. All LDS scout troops are chartered under the BSA.

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
[x] on 02/04/2013 08:28:26 MST Print View

[x]

Edited by RogerDodger on 02/07/2013 15:31:52 MST.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Tax exempt on 02/04/2013 10:00:07 MST Print View

"The [social] club's governing instrument may not contain a provision that provides for discrimination against any person on the basis of race, color, or religion."

And isn't this the crux of the matter?

If any organization is going to receive any sort of tax-exempt (read: preferential) treatment from the United States government, I think they should be held to a basic standard of non-discrimination.

And it's high time that "sexual orientation" be added to that list.

I suspect (and hope) that in 50 years our children will be wondering why it was ever OK to discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation; much like my kids have difficulty today even comprehending how the US government once legally discriminated against non whites and people thought it was acceptable.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Tax exempt on 02/04/2013 10:24:36 MST Print View

Is it okay to have seperate groups for boys and girls? Like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts?

You could argue that segregating them will have less distractions or whatever.

Or you could argue that advantages of being integrated exceed disadvantages.

Seperate subject, is it okay for a country club that hosts the most famous (?) golf tournament not allow black or women members? Or have they finally moved into modern times?

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
BSA discrimination policy :( on 02/04/2013 10:30:28 MST Print View

So when are some of you tough guys going to go down to the local mosque and complain about their exclusion of GLBT? I've noticed everyone is pretty brave when it comes to the Boy Scouts or Christians, but the silence is deafening when it comes to Islam.

spelt !
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Re: Tax exempt on 02/04/2013 10:31:36 MST Print View

Jerry,
I think that both groups should be open to kids of any gender. Most will choose the one that matches their own, but some won't and they shouldn't be ostracized for that. Maybe in the future there will not need to be two groups, but we're not there yet.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 02/04/2013 11:25:07 MST Print View

"So when are some of you tough guys going to go down to the local mosque and complain about their exclusion of GLBT? I've noticed everyone is pretty brave when it comes to the Boy Scouts or Christians, but the silence is deafening when it comes to Islam."

Damn right Joe, glad you agree. Nobody should get a free pass. I'd be happy to send you some links to groups fighting for reform in Islam.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: BSA discrimination policy on 02/04/2013 12:54:19 MST Print View

I am a very tolerant person. The only thing I am intolerant of is intolerance.

However, sexuality covers a broad spectrum. Many people try homosexuality for a while, then go back to hetero. Many people just like variety and live happily as bisexuals. So I would be interested to know if BSA has defined what constitutes a homosexual? You know, sometimes sexual orientation IS a choice, and not hard-wired from birth. Sometimes it is not a choice. I would hope the BSA doesn't lump anyone who has tried homosexual encounters out of curiosity as homosexual. That would eliminate a very large portion of the American male population.

And a pedophile is a pedophile. I guess it would be OK for a heterosexual male pedophile to work for the BSA, as they pose no risk to the boys!

I am an atheist (AKA Buddhist). I wonder if the BSA would let me in? I am also pretty much asexual, and many people find that to be the oddest and most uncomfortable of all orientations. Shouldn't be a problem with the BSA though.

But as many other posters have pointed out, these are topics that shouldn't really come up in a scouting encounter. However, on principle alone I certainly would never consider working for such an organisation. I also think it's time for the government to amend its discrimination policy to include gender and sexual orientation. Then, if the BSA wanted continued government funding they would HAVE to change their hiring policy.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Tax exempt on 02/04/2013 13:12:36 MST Print View

If any organization is going to receive any sort of tax-exempt (read: preferential) treatment from the United States government, I think they should be held to a basic standard of non-discrimination.

-----------

Here is an easier solution. No one gets exemptions, preferential treatment, special franchises, etc.

Eric Johnson
(unimog) - MLife

Locale: Utah
Re: Tax Exempt on 02/04/2013 14:07:17 MST Print View

OK, so I get that some folks disagree with the IRS policy towards tax exempt status. Sounds like a good issue to take up with your lawmakers. The BSA didn't write the law, they are just conforming to it.

"Then, if the BSA wanted continued government funding they would HAVE to change their hiring policy."

Again, Where is this so-called "government funding" that the BSA receives? To my knowledge, the only funding the BSA receives is from donations and membership/activity fees. I don't count tax-exempt status of a non-profit organization as "funding" any more than my annual tax refund is "funding". The federal government doesn't own all private resources by default - not yet at least. ;)

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Tax Exempt on 02/04/2013 14:26:31 MST Print View

Eric,

What would you say if the IRS didn't tax your income?
Make you "tax exempt" as long as 1) you smile, 2) pretend to be a nice guy and 3) do good work.
Sound like a good deal?

Sound like "indirect funding"? You just gained 25% more spending power.

BTW, I won't qualify,something about the "nice guy" clause. But my taxes will go up to cover what you are not contributing. Doesn't sound like a good deal to me.

Edited by greg23 on 02/04/2013 15:16:45 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Tax Exempt on 02/04/2013 14:59:39 MST Print View

How about special leases of Federal Land. For over 50 years Camp Whitsett (80 acres) has been leased to the Boy Scouts. Even though the USDA prohibits discrimination in all its programs.

But in all fairness they lease land for mineral extraction, lumber operation, grazing, etc.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Changes are afoot on 02/04/2013 17:32:59 MST Print View

Rumor has it, the sponsoring organization will be deciding each troop's rules.

For example if your troop is sponsored by a church denomination that endorses happy pastors, you would likely find a similar
attitude about who can join the troop.

Boy Scouts are to be morally straight. How this is defined has changed over the years and now it sounds like the definition will
be left to local officials.

There are Scouts of all religions, it was inclusive when I was a kid. Hopefully they are coming back to that now.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Changes are afoot on 02/04/2013 17:43:55 MST Print View

"Boy Scouts are to be morally straight. How this is defined has changed over the years and now it sounds like the definition will
be left to local officials."

Tom Lehrer has always had a way of bringing people with diverse views together. I think you will all agree that his Boy Scout Creed is one for the changing times we live in:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSwjuz_-yao

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Changes are afoot: from BSA Website on 02/04/2013 17:50:16 MST Print View

MEDIA STATEMENT

Boy Scouts of America
Monday, Jan. 28, 2013
Attributable to: Deron Smith, Director of Public Relations

“For more than 100 years, Scouting’s focus has been on working together to deliver the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. Scouting has always been in an ongoing dialogue with the Scouting family to determine what is in the best interest of the organization and the young people we serve.

“Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families.

“The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue. The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents. Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.”

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Changes are afoot: from BSA Website on 02/04/2013 18:46:50 MST Print View

Wow, that's a relief. The BSA is devolving its responsibilities to community level bigotry and exclusion criteria. That should help a lot. Let's just hope some of these communities will be MORE inclusive, and not less. However I am not holding my breath!

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: Changes are afoot: from BSA Website on 02/04/2013 18:56:36 MST Print View

"Let's just hope some of these communities will be MORE inclusive, and not less. "

Want to place any bets on the direction for BSA in Utah?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Changes are afoot: from BSA Website on 02/04/2013 19:03:08 MST Print View

"Want to place any bets on the direction for BSA in Utah?"


???

Texas?
Mississippi?
Alabama?
South Carolina?
Oklahoma?
Iowa?
Nebraska?
Arkansas?

Others?

:)

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Changes are afoot: from BSA Website on 02/04/2013 19:42:36 MST Print View

Highlighting the interesting parts...

MEDIA STATEMENT

Boy Scouts of America
Monday, Jan. 28, 2013
Attributable to: Deron Smith, Director of Public Relations

“For more than 100 years, ...bla bla bla....This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation...

Yet reading further down "...bla bla bla..... The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents."

If there will "no longer be a national policy" [of discrimination] it is disingenuous to then proclaim that "...The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position..." Well, you Did for the past 100 years.

It seems that Deron has a bit of a problem with continuity and tracking.

What a crock.

Edited by greg23 on 02/04/2013 19:55:19 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Changes are afoot: from BSA Website on 02/04/2013 20:30:04 MST Print View

So if they did institute a national policy for the local units to follow, they would loose a lot of local organizations. Basically BSA might be kaput.

Of course, that means the policy makers would lose their jobs.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Changes are afoot: from BSA Website on 02/04/2013 20:32:02 MST Print View

Fhg

Eric Johnson
(unimog) - MLife

Locale: Utah
Re: Tax Exempt on 02/04/2013 21:27:57 MST Print View

"What would you say if the IRS didn't tax your income?
Make you "tax exempt" as long as 1) you smile, 2) pretend to be a nice guy and 3) do good work.
Sound like a good deal?"

Greg, I would say that if I spent 100% of my income to benefit the nations youth, then tax exemption seems like a fair deal.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Tax Exempt on 02/04/2013 21:41:19 MST Print View

But unlike BSA, you wouldn't impose any sort of arbitrary restrictions.

Erik Basil
(EBasil) - M

Locale: Atzlan
Definitely Chaff on 02/05/2013 08:27:19 MST Print View

It's interesting and sad how many posts there are in this thread that are really just ventings blurted in deliberate ignorance. Well, if it makes you feel better spittin' in the wind, I guess it's cheap therapy.

To the actual news topic at hand, the potential movement IS quite significant: BSA National had just "reaffirmed" the policies on homosexuality and religiosity and now, only months after a pretty firm statement that seemed to foreshadow a whole not of no-progress, the statement published above in this thread suggests a massive change. If it is adopted, there will certainly be units across the country that immediately "come out" with non-discrimination policies they've already been acting upon in contravention of the National policy. Of course, there will be other units that stay as-is. De Colores.

Now, to some folks, perhaps more accustomed to reading between the lines and around either applause or crisis words, there's a very important aspect to the potential change: it shifts liability to the local unit and charter organization. Perhaps the meaning of that is better discussed by Scouters (rather than folks that are only commenting on the applause/crisis topic) who will have to navigate this in the future, if it becomes "so".

I guess that, at this point, we wait a day and find out what happens.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Definitely Chaff on 02/05/2013 09:31:03 MST Print View

"Perhaps the meaning of that is better discussed by Scouters (rather than folks that are only commenting on the applause/crisis topic) who will have to navigate this in the future, if it becomes "so".

"I guess that, at this point, we wait a day and find out what happens."


BPL is brutal and far ranging. I doubt you would have had this array of views, or the layers of implications, from a couple of 2 hour meetings within the Scouting community. When it comes to a discussion at the local level, you will have the advantage.

BSA headquarters, tail between its legs, has already passed the buck. (What a fine example of Leadership.) I wouldn't sit back and wait. I'd be plotting and planning.

Edited by greg23 on 02/05/2013 17:37:01 MST.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Fine. But end federal benefits for BSA. on 02/05/2013 16:58:08 MST Print View

When you donate to BSA through, for instance, CFC it goes to the national level. Some of that will filter down to bigoted troops. Thus, BSA will still never get one cent from me. If they feel that they can function without my support- all the more power to them. Go ahead. That's just the way it is- they have a right, but so do I. I choose not to support them in any way. I don't know why the bigots on this board get so bent and defensive about that. Go on about you're business- I certainly am. But if BSA is SMART they'll see the writing on the wall and drop the bigotry. I'd be all for ending the government leases of Boy Scout camps, as well as all of the facilities they use free of charge on military bases. If they want to accept government largess, then they have to accept the government's rules. That's just the way it is. For years Lousianna did without federal infrastructure funding bbecause they didn't want to raise their legal drinking age.

If I can figure a way to benefit a non-bigoted troop and screw national, I guess I would.

For people who say that anyone who is otherwise excluded can pick a different organization than BSA, well, they're being petulant and disingenuous. There is no realistic competeter to BSA in the United States, either in resources or prestige. Everyone knows what you're talking about when you say you're an Eagle Scout. Claim that you're in CampfireUSA and you get a big "Huh?"

Girl Scouts is a very different animal. Thank God that I have a daughter and no son- I would NEVER allow my son into BSA.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Bigots? on 02/05/2013 17:07:13 MST Print View

The exclusion is bigotry. But sometimes those who go along with insane rules are not bigots, just uneducated or lacking enough knowledge about a certain subject.

Perhaps the debate here and in other venues will encourage folks to review their views on the subject and do some research.

Discrimination is a nasty animal and hard to kill.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Bigots? on 02/05/2013 17:18:09 MST Print View

"Discrimination is a nasty animal and hard to kill."

And it takes time, which is frustrating to people fighting the discrimination

slavery ended in 1865

civil rights act was in 1964

there's still a big economic difference which is a consequence of slavery and discrimination

people are fighting efforts to further equalize, like sueing for white discrimination

uh oh - agreement between Nick and I didn't last long : )

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Re: Changes are afoot: from BSA Website on 02/05/2013 17:52:36 MST Print View

I don't doubt that the sudden change of heart comes after major corporate donors have pulled or postponed their donations because of the Boy Scouts' exclusion policy for Gays. In the last six months, those companies include UPS, United Way, the Merck Company Foundation and the Intel Foundation (one of the biggest donors).

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Changes are afoot for BSA - Depends on Who's Talking on 02/06/2013 09:42:49 MST Print View

"Texas Gov. Rick Perry, an Eagle Scout ... weighed in.

"Perry, the author of the book "On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For," said in a speech Saturday that "to have popular culture impact 100 years of their standards is inappropriate."


Oh yea, and no blacks in the community swimming pool ...

Edited by greg23 on 02/06/2013 09:45:07 MST.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
football kids on 02/06/2013 10:22:07 MST Print View

I think it is so sad kids are being kicked around like a football by various special interest groups.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Changes are afoot for BSA - Depends on Who's Talking on 02/06/2013 11:48:19 MST Print View

Looks like they won't make a decision until May at the earliest. My guess is they were testing the waters to see public reaction, and will now slowly & quietly back away from changing policy. Definitely a hot button issue. Regardless of my feelings on homosexuality, I do think the BSA has the right to include & exclude whomever they desire provided it doesn't violate any state or federal laws.

Ryan

Erik Basil
(EBasil) - M

Locale: Atzlan
Kick the can on 02/06/2013 18:19:41 MST Print View

Without commentary, here's a news link:

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/boy-scouts-america-delays-decision-membership-policy-banning/story?id=18420287

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Kick the can on 02/06/2013 19:29:56 MST Print View

So maybe in May?

Given today's coverage, I think the general consensus is "appalling". I don't think this will go away in 3 months.

Three months to rationalize a siege mentality, or to tear down walls that are already gone in most places.

We do live in interesting times.

tyler marlow
(like.sisyphus) - F

Locale: UTAH
Glad to see so much discussion! on 02/06/2013 22:50:15 MST Print View

Slowly but surely it seems that BSA may be opening up, lets just hope that Rick Perry and the lot dont come out on top.

I'd like to hear Ryan Jordan's view on all this, as a big proponent of BSA and someone very involved with it on many levels (leader, father, trainer, ect). It seems that many of us posting here are doing so from outside of BSA.

Lynn, as a atheist (Buddhist) you would NOT be allowed in scouting, they are quite adamant about the singular, male, human god - excludes a lot of us unfortunately.

As far as community decision making goes, it seems like such a policy wont make very much of an 'on the ground' impact, rather one of statement.

Still, its encouraging that the fight for rights continues!

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Glad to see so much discussion! on 02/07/2013 12:51:28 MST Print View

"Lynn, as a atheist (Buddhist) you would NOT be allowed in scouting, they are quite adamant about the singular, male, human god - excludes a lot of us unfortunately."

Oh, so no Hindus either :( Or Earth Goddess worshippers, or Baha'i...Are you kidding, or is that really a policy of the BSA?

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Glad to see so much discussion! on 02/07/2013 13:13:57 MST Print View

Lynn,

I remember in my Boy's Life magazine, 1970 to 1980, one page each month detailed one of the medals you could earn for, essentially, religious study and service within your faith. Even as a pre-teen, it struck me as an over-reaching claim of diversity to describe various Islamic and very small Christian sects when they surely were a tiny fraction of membership in that decade. But looking at BSA's description of the program currently:

http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/Awards/ReligiousAwards.aspx

there are programs for Bahai, Buddhist, and Hindu. Which doesn't square with my understanding of their insistence on a single, male-type deity. They've even got Meher Baba - who was at least a male and single (and quite recent b. 1894 d. 1969) incarnation of God.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Glad to see so much discussion! on 02/07/2013 13:25:22 MST Print View

Yeah, same here, I remember in the 1960s they had publications that had pictures of people with turbans so they included Muslims/Hindus

I don't remember anything about aetheists

And does the constitution include aetheism in the freedom of religion?

Some religious people freak out at the thought of aetheism - we are sinners and the only thing keeping us from going out of control is a god that will punish us if we mis-behave

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Re: Re: Glad to see so much discussion! on 02/07/2013 13:57:20 MST Print View

>"Some religious people freak out at the thought of atheism"

I think those who freak out tend to fixate on some of the odd, pathetic, and/or evil examples: Woody Allen, Kim Jong-il, Hugh Hefner, Che Guevara, Larry Flynt, Joseph Stalin rather than the ones who have made various contributions: Margaret Sanger, Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, Mark Twain, Helen Keller, Bill Nye, Vincent van Gogh, etc.

Just as they lack a good answer (if religions prevent people from behaving badly) for: Jim Jones, Pat Robertson, Obama bin Laden, David Koresh, Sun Myung Moon, the KKK, Ayatollah Khomeini, Adolph Hitler, etc, etc.

Although I'm pretty sure, on days that Windows crashes and takes down my document in progress, that Bill Gates IS the Anti-Christ.

Jeremy B.
(requiem) - F - M

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Glad to see so much discussion! on 02/07/2013 14:08:54 MST Print View

Yes, the BSA already has all the groundwork and justification needed (if any) to permit atheists. I suspect "atheist" religions like Buddhism slipped in only because they looked like a religion and it appeared consistent with ecumenical harmony.

Still, they've already in effect acknowledged that a relationship with an Abrahamic deity is not necessary for good moral development. (This is not a particularly new idea, refer to the old Christian idea of "virtuous pagans".)

The problem for the BSA may simply be that until acknowledging atheism, they can still shy away from dealing with the contradictions between their "Declaration of Religious Principle" statement and the idea of a virtuous pagan. They want to be ecumenical, but only insofar as other beliefs can be interpreted within a Christian context. (I.e. "Those people may be pagans, but they still believe in God even if they call him the wrong/different name.")

That last statement may seem troubling to non-Christian BSA supporters, but as evidence I'd point out the interplay between the BSA and Wiccan churches. Different is OK, so long as it doesn't hit too close to home (Wiccans) or contradict core fundamentalist positions (Unitarians on homosexuality).

In some respects the Old Norse "theory of courage" might even be regarded as ethically superior to the Classical if not to the Christian world-view, in that it demanded commitment to virtue without any offer of lasting reward.... - Tom Shippey, writing on Tolkien

Edited by requiem on 02/07/2013 14:17:38 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Glad to see so much discussion! on 02/07/2013 14:09:11 MST Print View

"Obama bin Laden"

I hate it when I juxtapose Osama and Obama : )

Actually I just laugh because the names are so close

Erik Basil
(EBasil) - M

Locale: Atzlan
Re: Re: Kick the can on 02/07/2013 16:07:56 MST Print View

Yes, a delay to May and a deference to a larger voting body. My perception is that the folks in the meeting were trepidatious over any decision and were also inundated with lobbying calls and contacts. Some of this perception comes from having received emails containing contact points at BSA National, from folks on both sides of the issue, designed for broadcast and soliciting folks to make such calls.

So, I reckon folks were quick to justify kicking that can down the road, with assurance that --the bell having been rung-- they'll receive plenty of feedback in the coming months. Cry Havoc! Let slip the lobbyists of yore!

Brian UL
(MAYNARD76)

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Glad to see so much discussion! on 02/07/2013 16:35:15 MST Print View

The irony is the Christians were thrown to the lions for being atheist ( denying the existence of all other Gods)as well for illegally and immorally practicing cannibalistic rituals (the Eucharist).
Now they they have the gall to do it to others.
But its sill mindblowing to me that the BSA can't decide if wants to be a hate group or not. There are already a few well know groups that discriminate against non-Christians and gays if the BSA wants to be in the same category as them I will continue to treat BSA members as I would any bigot, this is the BSA chance to join civilization.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs of America? on 02/07/2013 18:06:41 MST Print View

Many scholars consider the AFSCA to be part of the "New Religious Movement" (NRM), which also includes Scientology.

As a member of AFSCA, would I be eligible for membership in the BSA?

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs of America? on 02/07/2013 18:42:15 MST Print View

It's the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster for me...

FSM


I certainly Expect to be eligible!

Edited by greg23 on 02/07/2013 18:42:47 MST.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs of America? on 02/07/2013 19:21:19 MST Print View

Wow, I just had a look at some pretty funny religions...I wonder if the BSA would allow them in?

Creativity Movement

The Creativity Movement (formerly known as World Church Of The Creator), is a white separatist organization that advocates the whites-only religion, Creativity. It was also a descriptive phrase used by Ben Klassen, that included all adherents of the religion. The use of the term creator does not refer to a deity, but rather to themselves (white people). Despite the former use of the word Church in its name, the movement is atheistic. Creativity is a White Separatist religion that was founded by Ben Klassen in early 1973 under the name Church of the Creator. After Klassen’s death in 1993, Creativity almost died out as a religion until the New Church of the Creator was established three years later by Matthew F. Hale as its Pontifex Maximus (high priest), until his incarceration in January 2003 for plotting with the movement’s head of security, Anthony Evola (an FBI informant), to murder a federal judge.

Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth

Obviously spelling is not a fundamental part of this religion! Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth (TOPY) was founded in 1981 by members of Psychic TV, Coil, Current 93, and a number of other individuals. The ever-evolving network is a loosely federated group of people operating as a unique blend of artistic collective, and practitioners of magic. TOPY is dedicated to the manifestation of magical concepts lacking mysticism or the worship of gods. The group focuses on the psychic and magical aspects of the human brain linked with “guiltless sexuality”. Throughout its existence, TOPY has been an influential group in the underground Chaos magic scene and in the wider western occult tradition. TOPY’s research has covered both Left-hand path and Right-hand path magick, various elements of psychology, art, music, and a variety of other media. Some of the influences on the network have been Aleister Crowley, Austin Osman Spare, and Brion Gysin.

Nation of Yahweh

The Nation of Yahweh is a predominantly African-American religious group that is the most controversial offshoot of the Black Hebrew Israelites line of thought. They were founded in 1979 in Miami by Hulon Mitchell, Jr., who went by the name Yahweh ben Yahweh. Their goal is to return African Americans, whom they see as the original Israelites, to Israel. The group departs from mainstream Christianity and Judaism by accepting Yahweh ben Yahweh as the Son of God. In this way, their beliefs are unique and distinct from that of other known Black Hebrew Israelite groups. The group has engendered controversy due to legal issues of its founder and has also faced accusations of being a black supremacist cult by the Southern Poverty Law Center and The Miami Herald. The SPLC has criticized the beliefs of the Nation of Yahweh as racist, stating that the group believed blacks are “the true Jews” and that whites were “white devils.” They also claim the group believed Yahweh ben Yahweh had a Messianic mission to vanquish whites and that they held views similar to the Christian Identity movement.

Church of All Worlds

The Church of All Worlds is a neo-pagan religion founded in 1962 by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and his wife Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart. The religion evolved from a group of friends and lovers who were in part inspired by a fictional religion of the same name in the science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein; the church’s mythology includes science fiction to this day. They recognize “Gaea,” the Earth Mother Goddess and the Father God, as well as the realm of Faeries and the deities of many other pantheons. Many of their ritual celebrations are centered on the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece. Following the tradition of using fiction as a basis for his ideas, Zell-Ravenheart recently founded The Grey School of Wizardry inspired in part by Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the school in the Harry Potter novels.

Universe People

Universe people or Cosmic people of light powers (Czech: Vesmírní lidé sil sv?tla) is a Czech religious movement centered around Ivo A. Benda. Its belief system is based upon the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations communicating with Benda and other “contacters” since October 1997 telepathically and later even by direct personal contact. According to Benda those civilizations operate a fleet of spaceships, led by Ashtar Sheran, orbiting the Earth. They closely watch and help the good and are waiting to transport their followers into another dimension. The Universe People’s teachings incorporate various elements from ufology (some foreign “contacters” are credited, though often also renounced after a time as misguided or deceptive), Christianity (Jesus was a “fine-vibrations” being) and conspiracy theories (forces of evil are supposed to plan compulsory chipping of the population).

Church of the SubGenius

The Church of the SubGenius is a parody religion that promotes slack, while in a meta-commentarial way, satirizes religion, conspiracy theories, UFOs, and popular culture. The church claims to have been founded in the 1950s by the “world’s greatest salesman” J. R. “Bob” Dobbs. “Bob” Dobbs is depicted as a cartoon of a Ward Cleaver-like man smoking a pipe. The church really started with the publication of SubGenius Pamphlet #1 in 1979. It found acceptance in underground pop-culture circles and has been embraced on college campuses, in the underground music scene, and on the Internet. An important SubGenius event occurred on July 5, 1998: X-Day. The Church had been predicting that on this day the world would be destroyed by invading alien armies known as the X-ists (which is short for “Men from Planet X”). When the event didn’t come to pass, the church administrator who predicted it was tarred and feathered – but allowed to continue on as administrator. Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman) is a SubGenius minister. Patrick Volkerding, the founder and maintainer of Slackware Linux, is also a SubGenius affiliate, and he has confirmed the Church and “Bob” inspired the name for Slackware.

Prince Philip Movement

The Prince Philip Movement is a cargo cult of the Yaohnanen tribe on the southern island of Tanna in Vanuatu. The Yaohnanen believe that Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the consort to Queen Elizabeth II, is a divine being, the pale-skinned son of a mountain spirit and brother of John Frum. According to ancient tales the son travelled over the seas to a distant land, married a powerful lady and would in time return. The villagers had observed the respect accorded to Queen Elizabeth II by colonial officials and came to the conclusion that her husband, Prince Philip, must be the son from their legends. When the cult formed is unclear, but it is likely that it was sometime in the 1950s or 1960s. Their beliefs were strengthened by the royal couple’s official visit to Vanuatu in 1974 when a few villagers had the opportunity to observe the prince from afar. Prince Philip was made aware of the religion and has exchanged gifts with its leaders and even visited them.

The Church of Euthanasia

The Church of Euthanasia (CoE), is a political organization started by the Reverend Chris Korda (pictured above) in the Boston, Massachusetts area of the United States. According to the church’s website, it is “a non-profit educational foundation devoted to restoring balance between Humans and the remaining species on Earth.” The CoE uses sermons, music, culture jamming, publicity stunts and direct action combined with an underlying sense of satire and black humor to highlight Earth’s unsustainable population. The CoE is notorious for its conflicts with Pro-life Christian activists. According to the church’s website, the one commandment is “Thou shalt not procreate”. The CoE further asserts four principal pillars: suicide, abortion, cannibalism (“strictly limited to consumption of the already dead”), and sodomy (“any sexual act not intended for procreation”). Slogans employed by the group include “Save the Planet, Kill Yourself”, “Six Billion Humans Can’t Be Wrong”, and “Eat a Queer Fetus for Jesus”, all of which are intended to mix inflammatory issues to unnerve those who oppose abortion and homosexuality.

And my favourite, Nuwaubianism

Nuwaubianism is an umbrella term used to refer to the doctrines and teachings of the followers of Dwight York. The Nuwaubians originated as a Black Muslim group in New York in the 1970s, and have gone through many changes since. Eventually, the group established a headquarters in Putnam County, Georgia in 1993, which they have since abandoned. York is now in prison after having been convicted on money laundering and child molestation charges, but Nuwaubianism endures. York developed Nuwaubianism by drawing on a wide range of sources which include Theosophy-derived New Age movements such as Astara as well as the Rosicrucians, Freemasonry, the Shriners, the Moorish Science Temple of America, the revisionist Christianity & Islam and the Qadiani cult of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the numerology of Rashad Khalifa, and the ancient astronaut theories of Zecharia Sitchin. White people are said in one Nuwaubian myth to have been originally created as a race of killers to serve blacks as a slave army, but this plan went awry. Here is a list of some of the more unusual Nuwaubian beliefs:

1. It is important to bury the afterbirth so that Satan does not use it to make a duplicate of the recently-born child
2. Furthermore, some aborted fetuses survive their abortion to live in the sewers, where they are being gathered and organized to take over the world
3. People were once perfectly symmetrical and ambidextrous, but then a meteorite struck Earth and tilted its axis causing handedness and shifting the heart off-center in the chest
4. Each of us has seven clones living in different parts of the world
5. Women existed for many generations before they invented men through genetic manipulation
6. Homo sapiens is the result of cloning experiments that were done on Mars using Homo erectus
7. Nikola Tesla came from the planet Venus
8. The Illuminati have nurtured a child, Satan’s son, who was born on 6 June 1966 at the Dakota House on 72nd Street in New York to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis of the Rothschild/Kennedy families. The Pope was present at the birth and performed necromantic ceremonies. The child was raised by former U.S. president Richard Nixon and now lives in Belgium, where it is hooked up bodily to a computer called “The Beast 3M” or “3666.”

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Re: Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs of America? on 02/07/2013 19:44:17 MST Print View

>"7. Nikola Tesla came from the planet Venus"

Well, duh!

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla

Kevin Buggie
(kbuggie) - M

Locale: NW New Mexico
can BPL just delete all CHAFF? on 02/07/2013 20:07:07 MST Print View

All chaff distracts from BPL!

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: can BPL just delete all CHAFF? on 02/07/2013 20:11:05 MST Print View

"All chaff distracts from BPL!"

It only subjugates those lacking the willpower to ignore it.

For the rest of us it is the social glue that makes the gram counting tolerable.

Have you consider joining a Church?

Edited by greg23 on 02/07/2013 20:11:41 MST.

Kevin Buggie
(kbuggie) - M

Locale: NW New Mexico
amen on 02/07/2013 20:25:22 MST Print View

Put that on BPL's tombstone; many of don't want to scroll through endless personal baggage at the cost of content

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: can BPL just delete all CHAFF? on 02/07/2013 20:43:18 MST Print View

"All chaff distracts from BPL!"

Uh oh, someone over in MYOG just ran out of Cuben.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: can BPL just delete all CHAFF? on 02/07/2013 21:08:51 MST Print View

It's that time of year again...

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: can BPL just delete all CHAFF? on 02/07/2013 21:15:19 MST Print View

Really?

I find the majority of posts seem to be Gear Swap. I just skip them.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: can BPL just delete all CHAFF? on 02/07/2013 21:56:20 MST Print View

There should be a way to filter out anything from chaff.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: can BPL just delete all CHAFF? on 02/07/2013 22:00:23 MST Print View

Kinky sex makes...I mean CHAFF, makes the world go 'round.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: can BPL just LOVE all CHAFF? on 02/07/2013 22:05:31 MST Print View

It's so freakin popular. All the kids are doing it.


Like I've said before. Chaff is how you find out who you should hike with and those who you should avoid at all cost.


Half the stuff posted in Gear is in the wrong forum.


GGG trip reports are in the Photo Gallery. Easy to find there as nobody uses it.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: can BPL just delete all CHAFF? on 02/07/2013 22:06:40 MST Print View

"Kinky sex makes...I mean CHAFF..."


Nope Craig, had it right at first.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Re: can BPL just delete all CHAFF? on 02/07/2013 22:16:26 MST Print View

"It's so freakin popular. All the kids are doing it."

Kinky sex? Or Chaff?

Crap...where are my kids....

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: can BPL just delete all CHAFF? on 02/07/2013 22:22:24 MST Print View

Delete Chaff?

What would we do at work all day?

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Can BPL just delete all CHAFF? on 02/07/2013 22:25:52 MST Print View

@ Kevin:

Careful what you ask for!! Without Chaff, all that personal baggage stuff will find their way into the Gear branch. Do you r-e-a-l-l-y want that??

tyler marlow
(like.sisyphus) - F

Locale: UTAH
Long Live Chaff! on 02/10/2013 21:25:46 MST Print View

I've spent more time on this thread than any ever, how else am I going to spent my time!

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Can BPL just delete all CHAFF? Sure, but why not just ignore it? on 02/10/2013 21:40:13 MST Print View

I find all the FS postings much more tedious to wade through than Chaff postings. No, I don't want your $125 whatever for $20 off plus $10 shipping. The PIFs are heartwarming, at times, though.

Click on "Recent Threads" instead of "Recent Posts". Then a hot Chaff thread with 35 posts since your last visit will show up exactly as often any other thread - once.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Can BPL just delete all CHAFF? Sure, but why not just ignore it? on 02/11/2013 04:56:16 MST Print View

I just had to ask, "Woody Allen" and "Che Guevara™ are "odd, pathetic, and/or evil examples"?!?

What an odd statement. Especially for Che Guevara. He is very much loved throughout the Latin American world, and was a great humanist, who cared deeply about people. He gave a lot of people hope in places that were horribly downtrodden and abjectly poor. He also gave people in Latin America a sense of solidarity and dignity, which certainly no North Americans had ever done. Probably more than anyone else, he brought Latin America together and helped pave the way for the slow development of the more progressive societies that are emerging today.

As to Woody Allen... Have you seen his recent movie, "Midnight In Paris"? Very sensitive and beautifully done. And immensely sad and joyful at the same time. Woody Allen has a way of seeing beneath the veneer people carry around.

Edited by butuki on 02/11/2013 05:00:05 MST.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: Can BPL just delete all CHAFF? Sure, but why not just ignore it? on 02/11/2013 06:15:42 MST Print View

@Miguel.
If you read up on Che, you will find that he was a fanatic, black and white thinker who believed in executing without due process Not that everything he did was bad, but he was a young, rich, adrenaline junkie. He was also homophobic.
Woody? Great director, sure sensitive too. Still creepy in my opinion. I also love Hitchcock's movies but he was an Ass, by most accounts.

Even jerks get some things right.

Edited by Kat_P on 02/11/2013 08:55:35 MST.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Can BPL just delete all CHAFF? Sure, but why not just ignore it? on 02/11/2013 14:32:33 MST Print View

@Miguel- "What an odd statement. Especially for Che Guevara. He is very much loved throughout the Latin American world, and was a great humanist, who cared deeply about people."

And there are circles in Russia in which Stalin is still beloved, too. What's your point?

Kat's right- Che did a lot of underhanded, well, murdering, not to put too fine a point on things. He just had a frighteningly competent publicist or something. There are places in Mexico where multi-murderer drug dealers are popular, and places in the Balkans where ethnic cleaners are lionized. Being lionized doesn't make you Not Evil- it just makes you lionized.

And I agree- Woody Allen is a creepazoid. I'm not sure about evil, but he's creepy enough that I won't give him any money, which is easy because based on what little of his work I've seen his work is moronic. (I hated Seinfeld, too. Thank God that I was out of the country when it was really big.) But I admit that I haven't seen any of his more recent work (last decade or two).

Edited by acrosome on 02/11/2013 14:38:31 MST.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: The Misery That Che Helped to Bring on 02/11/2013 14:57:23 MST Print View

Che -- How very, very sad that a dashing and caring and dedicated figure cut down in the prime of life -- espoused bringing justice to the world via the dead end of Communism -- and delivered through violence no less!

I traveled to Cuba last year. Cubans are survivors. But it is not a happy place.

The average position in Cuba pays the equivalent of US$30 a month. A dollar a day. I looked high and low for an umbrella when I was there. Finally found an ugly one for US$7. I asked around -- quite confused how a lousy umbrella could be sold for a week's salary?? I talked to people...

The overwhelming majority of Cubans (I was quoted 90% but that figure might be a tad high) depend on family, relatives and/or friends working abroad (US, Mexico, Spain, etc.). The unlucky ones without foreign relations or friends live in abject poverty.

The government provides a baseline sustenance -- the first couple of kilos of rice, bread, etc. are sold in government stores for pennies. No one actually starves to death. But beyond bare sustenance -- things quickly jump right up to "market price" -- and that's where foreign remittances come in.

Cubans use their "national currency" to buy things in government stores. Want a drinkable beer? Then you need that other currency called "convertible pesos" -- which can be obtained only by swapping with US dollars or Euros. No hard currency means no quality in life (as far as goods are concerned).

I visited with a family who had no relatives or friends abroad. They did't call it living -- but just existing and barely surviving.

When I visited Santa Clara -- and the huge MEMORIAL where Che and his fellow revolutionaries are buried -- I kept wishing I could resurrect them -- for just a day -- just so they could see the misery all around.

Edited by ben2world on 02/11/2013 15:08:08 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Can BPL just delete all CHAFF? Sure, but why not just ignore it? on 02/11/2013 15:21:20 MST Print View

+1 Dean.

Methinks maybe Miguel was trolling to get a rise out of some of us?

:)

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
BSA discrimination policy :( on 02/11/2013 18:55:20 MST Print View

369r

Edited by kthompson on 02/12/2013 18:42:40 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: The Misery That Che Helped to Bring on 02/11/2013 19:51:18 MST Print View

"When I visited Santa Clara -- and the huge MEMORIAL where Che and his fellow revolutionaries are buried -- I kept wishing I could resurrect them -- for just a day -- just so they could see the misery all around."

Do you think the US embargo might have anything to do with the misery? Just wondering....

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Che on 02/11/2013 20:30:18 MST Print View

"Do you think the US embargo might have anything to do with the misery? Just wondering...."

Yeah and every other country the US trades with is rich and prosperous?
Che was a murdering thug who happened to be romanticized. Sorry I don't care what nice ideas he had, he presided over show trials that murdered Castro's political opponents.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Che on 02/11/2013 20:35:13 MST Print View

"Yeah and every other country the US trades with is rich and prosperous?"

Most are a darn sight better off than Cuba.

I'm not defending Che here, but there is no doubt at all that the US embargo has had a devastating effect on Cuba's economy. Why should the Cuban people pay for Che's actions. It's not like they voted for him.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Che on 02/11/2013 20:50:52 MST Print View

I don't want to be to argumentative. Drop the embargo I say. It definitely isn't hurting the people we want to hurt (the crooks in charge).

However my pessimistic side says that it might not help much. We trade with African countries that are still poor, other countries trade with Cuba.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Che ... on 02/11/2013 21:03:35 MST Print View

But what about Fulgencio Batista?
Squeaky clean, he was a man America could work with.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: Re: The Misery That Che Helped to Bring on 02/11/2013 21:58:08 MST Print View

"Do you think the US embargo might have anything to do with the misery? Just wondering...."

Our embargo added to the misery of ordinary Cubans. Interestingly though, I didn't meet any Cubans telling me their system could have worked beautifully if the US hadn't thrown up an embargo -- which I believe was the official government line. What some of them did say, was that our idiotic embargo fostered a "siege mentality" which only served to prolong the Castro regime!

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: The Misery That Che Helped to Bring on 02/12/2013 00:37:35 MST Print View

Okay, I admit ignorance on Che Guevara. Just read up quite a lot about him, and forced myself to look at as many accounts as possible so I could get a balanced view (not necessarily influenced by American propaganda). I was wrong about him.

I won't change my view of Woody Allen, though. Say what you will. All the hang up about father marrying "daughter", etc... As long as she was legal and they love each other and are not abusing anyone, what's the harm? They're still together, so it must be real. Certainly more real than what Allen and Farrow had. My own family is pretty chaotic in that way, but I've come to accept that people tend to be chaotic that way. I know a LOT of families around the world that are. It's the clinging to rigid rules about who should be with whom in what capacity that causes all the trouble, the same way that people get all worked up about GAY (BPL, you really have to do something about this... it's discriminatory toward GAY people not to be able to write the word without the filter coming in) people or transvestites or transgenders. The feeling of it being creepy is your own inability to come to term with what makes others happy. Here, I'm NOT saying that I agree with things like pedophiles or rapists. It has to be mutual and both parties have to understand what they are doing. If someone can be tried for murder at 21 or legally go kill people in other countries, then they are old enough to decide whom they want to marry. To me the most important thing is that two people are happy. That is the most and rarest thing we can expect out of life.

I'm pretty certain he would very much be against the present BSA policy.

Bush, Chaney, Rumsfeld, Palin, Romney, Limbaugh, Caitlin Dickson, and Matthew Perry (bet a lot of you don't know who he is, and if you do, I'm talking from the other country's point of view)... now there are some creepy, scary, uncomfortable, and morally reprehensible characters.

As to the misery of Cuba... almost all of it is because of the American embargo, not just because it stops anything from getting in, or out, but because it very effectively stops any change from taking place within the country. America never had the right to place an embargo on Cuba. What form of government they choose to follow is up to the Cubans, even if that is a dictatorship (just as no one would have the right to come into America to overthrow the government if America was led by a dictator), and if they decide to continue with a communist system that is their prerogative, whether or not Americans agree with communism or not (though I have to add that "communism" in it's original intended form has nothing to do with dictatorship. The very ideas are contradictory). The Cubans have a right to trade with whomever they choose, whether or not Americans agree with their choice of partners or not. America has no right to continue the embargo. Cuba is no threat (these days) to anyone.

Did you know that, despite its limitations and lack of resources, Cuba has one of the most effective and progressive medical systems in the world? Two doctor friends of mine from the States visited Cuba in 1989 to evaluate the system there and came back quite astounded by what they found. They suggested to Harvard to study the system more and adopt some of the practices.

Also, if you want to buy new parts for your 1950's model American cars, go to Cuba where cars have been stuck in time and locals have learned to re-manufacture worn down parts. One of my doctor friends is a 1950's car aficionado and bought quite a few parts that he could no longer find in the States, new.

Enough pontificating.

My main point is that I was wrong about Che Guevara.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: The Misery That Che Helped to Bring on 02/12/2013 00:51:22 MST Print View

Howdy, Miguel:

Cuba's famed medical system has deteriorated badly since the heady days of the late 1980's -- due mostly to the wholesale withdrawal of Soviet aid. The know how is still there (so I was told) -- but much of the equipment is now outdated or out of order -- and various supplies of medication low or nonexistent. :(

But not everything is bleak. Small-scale private businesses are opening up (restaurants, hostels, etc.). Indeed, certain segments of Cuba reminds me of China 30 years ago -- when that country was just opening up. Everything is open to haggling now -- even restaurant menu prices!

Speaking of old cars, they are EVERYWHERE in Cuba -- lots and lots of old cars -- from the 50s especially -- but many even older. I took this snapshot when I was in the city of Santiago, Cuba -- an old man and his old car -- not sure which was older...

a

Edited by ben2world on 02/12/2013 01:21:09 MST.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 07:16:58 MST Print View

If the Cubans have a right to trade with whomever they choose, well, so do Americans. That includes NOT trading with whomever they choose, doesn't it? Many of us here refuse to buy products from manufacturers whom we loathe for various reasons. Same thing- free market.

That said, I very much agree that the embargo is now pointless. But it is also high farce to blame the state of the Cuban economy on the embargo- they trade with the rest of the world. Their system is simply f-ed up.

Also, re: the Cuban medical system. Yes, a communist dictatorship can do any ONE thing well if it decides to, because if nothing else dictatorships can be politically efficient, sort of like a monarchy- there is only one font of power. But communist systems (and China no longer counts) simply don't have the economic clout to do everything well. For the Soviets this one thing was building a war machine. For the Cubans it was a medical system- because it had been one of Castro's big talking points during the revolution. But if absolutely everything else goes to hell it's sort of a Pyrrhic victory, isn't it? Pro-Cuban folks ALWAYS talk up the medical system, but that's sort of like saying of the Titanic "but the music was very nice."

But... a dictator is a dictator. Castro, Batista, Assad, Shah Pahlavi, Tito, Somoza... whatever. It's embarrassing to support any of them, no matter what the realpolitik involved, but difficult to harm them without harming their subjects (victims) as well. One problem with some parts of the world- most of the Middle East comes to mind but also for instance Russia- is that as a cultural issue they WANT dictators. They have a long and cherished history of strong leaders and patronage systems- it's simply what they are used to.

Edited by acrosome on 02/12/2013 07:21:49 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 08:18:17 MST Print View

"But... a dictator is a dictator. Castro, Batista, Assad, Shah Pahlavi, Tito, Somoza... whatever."

--------------------

And over 1 million Cubans have left since 1959. Most coming to the US.

Brendan Swihart
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 08:55:26 MST Print View

meh, and how many have also left Mexico, Guatemala, etc in the same time?

I spent some time in Cuba on a couple occasions while working for a Latin American studies program (as well as working with Cubans and people who had lived in Cuba long term), and Cuba is really, really complex. I've don't thing I've ever experienced anything that challenged how I think more than spending time in Cuba. They've done some horrible things, as has every other country in the region (us included). They're a long-time enemy and Castro's an almost cartoonish villian to most of us, but just want to throw it out there that black and white judgements (good or bad) probably miss the mark...

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 11:12:43 MST Print View

We must ask, why has Cuba continued to be a miserable place for most of its citizens when most of the communist countries around the world failed; many of them collapsed two decades ago?

Part of it is the martyrdom of Guevara and the "cultist" reverence for Castro. Both Castro and Batista gained illegitimate power.

To say the US is the main problem due to the embargo doesn't hold water. Cuba can trade with other countries around the world, and has received significant aid from the Soviet Union and Venezuela over the years. The bottom line is that communism doesn't work, and Cuba is another in a long line of communist failures.

For the most part embargoes should not be put in place unless a country is a military threat to the US. Missiles in Cuba were a threat. That threat no longer exists. We should lift the embargo, and if businesses want to risk investing in and trading with Cuba, then let them. Our government should stay out of it.

One may wonder if the Cuban government really wants to trade with the US. Do they want the populace to deal with capitalism? Would this cause unrest? Look at China, freedoms have grown for the populace. Do the Cuban leaders want this?

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 11:40:45 MST Print View

My wife and I went to Cuba for our honeymoon. We loved it. Great people. Some of my favorite memories were watching all of the old 1940 to 1960 cars driving around in perfect shape (parts are scarce so the locals fabricate engine and chassis parts from scratch).

We went to a pizzaria a few times owned by Canadians and employing Cubans. There has never been Communism in Cuba and always bouts of Capitalist drive. The issue is that the US Embargo helped make Cuba poor with no access to the basic needs. The misalignement with the USSR (and then Russia) didn't help the situation. Canada has provided imports to Cuba for many years without ill effect, not to mention several joint ventures that have proven fruitful for the Cuban people.

When did I go to Cuba? 1994.

Does Cuba want trade with the US? Only because that is where the glut of product is.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Comparing Chinese and Cuban Diaspora on 02/12/2013 11:55:19 MST Print View

"Look at China, freedoms have grown for the populace. Do the Cuban leaders want this?"

Very interesting to compare these two countries... I mentioned earlier that Cuba is slowly opening up, and some aspects of Cuba reminded me of China 30+ years ago, when it was opening up as well.

But one BIG difference: The Diaspora.

After China opened up, all through the 1980's, 1990, 2000s all the way up to the present -- the Chinese Disapora in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and other parts of southeast Asia were the largest investors in the Chinese economy -- beating out US and Japanese investors. Overseas Chinese were eager agents of change to their 'motherland'.

Contrast that with the Cuban Diaspora. While most all of them eagerly sent remittances home to family and relatives and sometimes friends -- most were also adamant against any kind of investment or trade relations! A big part of the continued US embargo came about because of solid Cuban-American support!

Today, China is freer in many ways than Cuban -- and quantum leaps ahead in economic well being overall. I have never understood why Cuban Americans are so willing to sacrifice the 11 million little people in Cuba -- in their woefully ineffective attempt to hurt the Cuban leadership... Even in religion, which can be a big catalyst of change (as in Poland) -- back when the late pope John Paul II visited Cuba -- the archbishop of Miami wanted to go, but couldn't (and didn't) -- not because of any US government interference -- but because Miami Cuban-Americans were practically up in arms against their archbishop visiting! So no go. Was Castro hurt in any way? Nope.

Edited by ben2world on 02/12/2013 12:00:04 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 11:58:30 MST Print View

"The issue is that the US Embargo helped make Cuba poor with no access to the basic needs."

Castro and communism made Cuba poor.

The Cuban economy is planned and controlled by the government. It has one of the worst human rights record of any country in the world. Cuba has been involved in many wars in Latin America and Africa.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 12:01:18 MST Print View

Castro and communism make Cuba poor. The US Embargo prolongs it. And stupidly (IMO), Cuban Americans support that Embargo.

Edited by ben2world on 02/12/2013 12:02:53 MST.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 12:08:26 MST Print View

"Castro and communism make Cuba poor."

Wait, I thought Boy Scouts discriminating against Gays made Cuba poor. I am really confused.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 12:11:09 MST Print View

And the Pope quit.

I wonder how that will affect the poverty of Gay Cuban Boy Scouts.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 12:15:50 MST Print View

"Castro and communism made Cuba poor."

Because of the inability to get the basic goods. From the US. Without trade, economies suffer.

"The Cuban economy is planned and controlled by the government."

Every economy in every capitalist nation is planned and controlled by the government to some degree. Given the inability to get goods through trade, quite frankly there isn't much to control. Notably, the country has some of the best health care available.

"It has one of the worst human rights record of any country in the world."

Current? How far back do you want to go? Shall we discuss China? Or what about slavery in the US?

"Cuba has been involved in many wars in Latin America and Africa."

And so has the US, significantly.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 12:18:18 MST Print View

"Castro and communism make Cuba poor. The US Embargo prolongs it. And stupidly (IMO), Cuban Americans support that Embargo."

Ben,

I agree we should lift the embargo -- let those businesses who choose to do business in Cuba do so. Let them assume the risks if they want.

Why make the US the scapegoat? Cuba apparently got what they wanted with Che and Castro. Remember they were ANTI-America. Seems they got what they wanted. It was their revolution. Why is the US responsible to make the rest of the world economically feasible?

Interestingly, I have met a lot of Cuban Americans in Florida -- most who are working people. They love Cuba and hate the government. They blame most of Cuba's problems on Castro. They would go back if private property and capitalism were allowed. They are for human rights first.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 12:24:58 MST Print View

You misunderstood me, Nick. If you read my posts again, starting with my criticism of Che -- I place the blame squarely on the "revolutionaries" -- who are now the political leadership -- for wrecking Cuba. Our embargo, however, does play a role by stupidly providing Castro the rallying point he needed to get Cubans behind their government, in its struggle against the big, bad US bear.

Most overseas Chinese I know dislike the Beijing government -- but they realize that "money talks" -- and the best way to bring about change is to be the agents of change themselves. Quite a contrast to most Cuban Americans who would rather keep their homeland down on its knees, just to spite Castro some more.

Edited by ben2world on 02/12/2013 12:27:37 MST.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 12:28:10 MST Print View

"They would go back if private property and capitalism were allowed. They are for human rights first."

You are mistaking human rights with capitalism and the ability to get goods.

I agree with Ben. Fine that some Cuban Americans are living the 'American Dream,' but why penalize those that are still in Cuba by supporting the embargo.

You should know that not only Canada does successful business with Cuba but so do the Italians, Germans, and British, to mention a few.

I have a sense you think Cuba is an economic wasteland, but this is not the case (and to trust the word of Cuban Americans who have been in the US for 30 years is probably not sufficient).

It isn't perfect but it is coming along. Once the centrally planned government begins giving more autonomy to the economy, conditions will improve. Ending the US embargo can only help.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 13:17:11 MST Print View

"You should know that not only Canada does successful business with Cuba but so do the Italians, Germans, and British, to mention a few."

Then the US embargo should be of little consequence, right?

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 13:25:57 MST Print View

"Then the US embargo should be of little consequence, right?"

If this, then that. So simple? Sure, Cuba could trade with any number of countries beside the US. And the fact it does poorly in trade reflects its own uncompetitiveness.

But NOTHING rallies a small island nation than convincing people that the HUGE neighbor next door is out to get them. Do you not see this as a consequence of our embargo?

Edited by ben2world on 02/12/2013 13:59:43 MST.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 14:12:06 MST Print View

Not really, Nick. Given that California has about the same GDP as Canada, 'we' are still a little fry economically speaking.

Canada, England, Italy, and Gernamy have a combined GDP of a little more than 1/2 that of the US.

Just imagine what the US could do to help Cuba.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Holy thread drift, Batman! on 02/12/2013 16:12:04 MST Print View

But the Entire Rest Of The World's GDP beats the US handily. Significantly- since someone mentioned a "glut of goods"- China trades with Cuba. All of Europe trades with Cuba and, as mentioned, the EU has a GDP almost identical to the US.

It is FARCICAL to claim that the US embargo significantly hurts Cuba's economy. Communism hurts Cuba's economy, not the US embargo. The US State Department's own analysis admits this! This is actually one more reason to stop the embargo- it doesn't work, it's pointless. And, as mentioned, it gives the Castro dictatorship a rallying cry. Ending it would remove the embargo as an false excuse for the poor state of Cuba's economy- when it becomes obvious that the problem is simply their government's policies rather than some Americano boogeyman then perhaps the Cuban people will throw the bastards out. But trying to make the US out as some sort of bad guy for economically hurting the poor Cubans is disingenuous, Dave. Even with the embargo the US is the world's fifth largest exporter to Cuba!

It's also worth noting that the original embargo wasn't placed until two years after the Communists came to power- when they nationalized the property of Americans. It was retaliatory, not preemptory. It's also an EMBARGO and not a BLOCKADE as the Cubans and their apologists (e.g. Chavez) insist upon calling it.

But that was all long ago and we could effect much more political and economic change by ending the embargo and going in with our checkbooks blazing.

I mean- can you imagine the market for resort property? It boggles the mind. That's assuming, of course, that the Cuban government would even allow outside investment and property acquisition on that scale- which seems doubtful. They're pretty determined to stay backward, at least until the old guard revolutionaries die off. They just want us to buy their sugar.

Edited by acrosome on 02/12/2013 16:22:26 MST.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Holy thread drift, Batman! on 02/12/2013 16:26:04 MST Print View

Drift indeed. But I think we have agreement here that the embargo is pointless. I'd say that's progress right there.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Holy Thread Drift on 02/12/2013 16:47:14 MST Print View

Yeah, this might be a record for thread drift...

But back to where we'd drifted...

"That's assuming, of course, that the Cuban government would even allow outside investment and property acquisition on that scale- which seems doubtful. They're pretty determined to stay backward, at least until the old guard revolutionaries die off."

I have a good friend who has traveled dozens of times to Cuba. I asked him why Cuba didn't just open up to investment and become a tourist destination. The basic answer I got was that they wouldn't know where to start, even if they wanted to reform. They've been doing socialism so long (and relying on USSR money during the cold war) they don't know where to start changing. Sad.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re Re Che on 02/12/2013 17:08:42 MST Print View

"I don't want to be to argumentative. Drop the embargo I say. It definitely isn't hurting the people we want to hurt (the crooks in charge)."

Me neither. I'm just adamantly opposed to economic embargoes in general. They always end up hurting the common people, because the guys we're after just find other ways to get what they need. We're about the only country that initiates them, only occasionally twisting the arms of other nations hard enough to get them to go along. The embargo we imposed on Saddam in the 90's, for instance, is generally held to be responsible for the deaths of over 500,000 Iraqi children, mostly due to lack of clean water because the importation of chlorine was proscribed on the flimsy pretext that it is a precursor for some toxic gas. Madeline Albright publically admitted it during a 60 minutes with Mike Wallace a few years back. One can only wonder how the current embargo is affecting Iran. The results for Cuba were economically crippling, but not as bad as for Iraq.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Che ... on 02/12/2013 17:15:13 MST Print View

"But what about Fulgencio Batista?
Squeaky clean, he was a man America could work with."

Yeah, sort of like Somoza, Trujillo, Montt, and Pinochet. Hale fellows well met, the lot of them. The kind you'd like to have a beer with.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: The Misery That Che Helped to Bring on 02/12/2013 17:20:35 MST Print View

"Interestingly though, I didn't meet any Cubans telling me their system could have worked beautifully if the US hadn't thrown up an embargo -- which I believe was the official government line."

Perhaps, perhaps not. But I have this quaint idea that intelligence is more or less equally distributed across the various peoples of this planet and that, therefore, they should be allowed to figure out how they want to govern themselves and distribute the fruits of their labor without outside interference. It would have been interesting to see how things worked out in Cuba, had they been given that opportunity. Probably the Castros would have been history long ago and the Cuban people would have been thriving under another system by now, but we'll never know.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: The Misery That Che Helped to Bring on 02/12/2013 17:22:42 MST Print View

"Cuba's famed medical system has deteriorated badly since the heady days of the late 1980's -- due mostly to the wholesale withdrawal of Soviet aid. The know how is still there (so I was told) -- but much of the equipment is now outdated or out of order -- and various supplies of medication low or nonexistent."

Another casualty of the embargo. This is one we can really be proud of.

Brendan Swihart
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Tourism in Cuba on 02/12/2013 17:34:36 MST Print View

"I have a good friend who has traveled dozens of times to Cuba. I asked him why Cuba didn't just open up to investment and become a tourist destination. The basic answer I got was that they wouldn't know where to start, even if they wanted to reform. They've been doing socialism so long (and relying on USSR money during the cold war) they don't know where to start changing. Sad."

Cuba is a pretty major tourist destination. There's huge, modern resorts (mostly foreign owned) just like anywhere else. Not many American tourists because of our travel ban, but there's tons of foreign tourists in Cuba (mostly Canadian, lots of Europeans). Verdadero looks like any other resort beach I've ever been to. A cursory google search shows Cuba had more tourists than Jamaica and the Cayman Islands combined last year.

Edited by brendans on 02/12/2013 17:36:21 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 17:38:58 MST Print View

"That said, I very much agree that the embargo is now pointless. But it is also high farce to blame the state of the Cuban economy on the embargo- they trade with the rest of the world. Their system is simply f-ed up."

Apparently the UN disagrees with you, as does the Cato Institute, of all organizations. Both cite the extension of the Helms-Burton Act to foreigh companies doing business with Cuba in 1996 as having a serious negative impact on Cuba, and contravening international law. The UN general Assembly recently called for the end of the embargo for the 21st consecutive session. The vote was 188-3, with only Israel and Palau supporting us. There were also 2 abstentions, The Marshall Islands and Micronesia. Hardly the stuff of farce, I'd say. As to whether their system is f-ed up or not, we'll never really know, now will we? It never really had a chance to f up on its own.

http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2012/ga11311.doc.htm

http://www.cato.org/publications/speeches/four-decades-failure-us-embargo-against-cuba

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 17:40:37 MST Print View

"Cuba has been involved in many wars in Latin America and Africa."

Against some of the most abhorent dictators on the face of the earth, who were supported by guess who?

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 17:42:56 MST Print View

"Remember they were ANTI-America. Seems they got what they wanted."

Does the name Fulgencio Batista ring a bell?

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 17:45:05 MST Print View

"Then the US embargo should be of little consequence, right?"

The damage was done long ago, when our allies were much more reluctant to offend us than they are now.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Comparing Chinese and Cuban Diaspora on 02/12/2013 18:03:08 MST Print View

"Contrast that with the Cuban Diaspora. While most all of them eagerly sent remittances home to family and relatives and sometimes friends -- most were also adamant against any kind of investment or trade relations! A big part of the continued US embargo came about because of solid Cuban-American support!"

There were, and still are, tight restrictions on investing in Cuba in any significant way, so even if the Cuban Diaspora had wanted to invest, they would have been blocked by Treasury Dept restrictions. Remittances to family and friends has very little effect on the economy as a whole.

I heartily agree that opening up to cuba would be a far greater generator of political/economic change in Cuba. Iran, too, for that matter. Embargoes and isolation just don't cut it.

David Lutz
(davidlutz)

Locale: Bay Area
Cuban embargo on 02/12/2013 18:06:49 MST Print View

Interesting and timely article in the WSJ today.


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324590904578293790195650224.html


When will folks, including BPL posters, figure out that centralized control doesn't work?

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 18:07:08 MST Print View

I love how we go to great lengths to denounce Castro and Che for human rights abuses against the Cuban people post-revolution, as if the Untied States had some great interest in Cuban rights prior to the revolution.

Of course ol' Fulgencio was good enough for America, or at least good enough for American businesses, draining the Cuban economy dry and exporting the profits from the sugar and nickel industry. Cuban peasants work the land, American companies take the profits.

Funny that America's new found compassion for the rights of the Cuban people doesn't begin until after Cuba nationalizes its farms and kicks American businesses out...

All a coincidence, I'm sure.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: Comparing Chinese and Cuban Diaspora on 02/12/2013 18:10:51 MST Print View

"There were, and still are, tight restrictions on investing in Cuba in any significant way, so even if the Cuban Diaspora had wanted to invest, they would have been blocked by Treasury Dept restrictions."

Tom, my point is that Cuban-Americans themselves are the ones who support these restrictions.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 18:14:45 MST Print View

Funny that America's new found compassion for the rights of the Cuban people doesn't begin until after Cuba nationalizes its farms and kicks American businesses out...

Craig -- America cared every bit as much about the plight of the Cuban people as it did the Iraqi people! It's ALWAYS about defending freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law -- wherever in the world they are threatened. C'mon, get with the program!

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Holy thread drift, Batman! on 02/12/2013 18:14:55 MST Print View

"That's assuming, of course, that the Cuban government would even allow outside investment and property acquisition on that scale- which seems doubtful"

There are Canadian, German, and Italian resorts there and have been for 25 years. Perhaps the land is leased (likely), but the development is there.

As far as the US being instrumental in preventing Cuba from accessing goods and services for at least 40 years, well of course they were. The US had (albeit in significant decline) substantial negotiation power over the other democracies early one and encouraged other economies to stick Cuba in the corner. Nose to the wall.

The nationalization of land in Cuba is interesting, and clearly a reaction to the US backing Batista only to protect their monopolistic investments dating back to the early 1800's (by 1877, the US controlled over 90% of Cuban exports). My goodness, the US was involved in military control of the island after acknowledging its independence! Say what? Then the Teller Ammendment that no Cuban would want and no cuban agreed too. That is funny stuff there.


Cuba was never completely Communist. It, like the USSR cherry picked what it wanted, ruled by a egomaniac. To penalize the people of Cuba because of what Castro did 50 plus years ago is getting old, don't you think? The US government got spanked by Castro and then took it out on the Cubans. Kind of like a time out. Times up.

So what is it? The human rights violations or the purported $6 billion in financial assets ($6 billion my azz) still owed the US that continues to drive the embargo?

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Cuban Embargo on 02/12/2013 18:34:21 MST Print View

The American governments interest in Cuba and some other parts of Latin America goes back over a century and has nothing to do with human rights or corrupt business interests (although they are involved at times).

The main goal of the US is to protect the shipping lanes through the Gulf of Mexico.
Above all it does not want hostile powers dominating any of these countries, especially one like Cuba. A hostile navy or air force their could tie up shipping in the entire Gulf or threaten the continental US (remember the Cuban Missile Crisis).

When it was clear that Castro was going to be allied with the USSR the US was quit within reason to be concerned. Our attempts to weaken Castro were a continuation of past policy.

Now that Cuba is an economic basket case and is no longer allied with any real threats to the US we could end the embargo but such things move slowly.

rowan !
(romonster) - M

Locale: SF Bay Area
Cuban Embargo... on 02/12/2013 23:15:11 MST Print View

For the past day I've kept reading this as Cuben Embargo and thinking, "What? No more cuben fi... Oh. Never mind."

Edited by romonster on 02/12/2013 23:16:58 MST.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/13/2013 07:31:41 MST Print View

@ "Apparently the UN disagrees with you, as does the Cato Institute, of all organizations."

Wow. Big surprises, there. The general assembly of small and/or liberal nations who hate it when the US throws it's weight around say we should end the embargo, as does a libertarian free-trade organization. Shockers, both of them. :)

In the UN link you provided the only verbage in that motion that said anything about the negative effects on Cuba were quotes from Cuban officials. Note the US insistence that the Cuban regime's policies are really the cause for Cuban ills. Most of the attached statements by national representatives actually complain that the embargo is a violation of "the sovereign rights of states" and/or complain that it violates UN policy against unilateralism, and make at best token reference to Cuban complaints of suffering. (And some are just plain delusional, talking about how the Cubans "were establishing the foundations of a genuine democracy." Surely, you can't help but laugh at THAT one!)

The Cato Institute link you provided says absolutely nothing about the embargo's effectiveness- it's merely a rant for free trade and libertarianism. In fact it mostly talks about the economic losses to AMERICANS from the embargo. It also argues as I did- that we can effect more change by using our checkbooks. So, thanks for supporting my argument with that one!

On the other hand, for an idea about just how badly the Cuban government has f-ed up their nation, see:

http://www.state.gov/p/wha/ci/cu/14776.htm

For instance, yes, it's true that Cuba has the second lowest infant mortality in Latin America. But pre-revolution they had the first lowest... etc., etc.

I remain opposed to the embargo- not because it works, but rather because it does not (as even the US State Department admits). I say remove this source of excuse by the Castro regime and go in with our checkbooks blazing.

Edited by acrosome on 02/13/2013 16:34:08 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/13/2013 17:29:58 MST Print View

"Big surprises, there. The general assembly of small and/or liberal nations who hate it when the US throws it's weight around say we should end the embargo, as does a libertarian free-trade organization. Shockers, both of them. :)"

Note that the vote was 188-3 with 2 abstentions. That would suggest that a few non-small and/or non liberal nations also saw fit to express their displeasure. China, Russia, Germany, France, India, Canada, Australia, Uzbekistan(decidedly non liberal and just thrown in for laughs) come to mind. Check my math, but I believe that leaves 180 more of all sizes, shapes, and colors. In other words, doggone near the entire world. Wasn't is Jefferson who once admonished us to conduct ourselves with a decent respect for the opinions of mankind? World opinion seems nearly unanimous that the embargo has caused enormous harm to Cuba, implicit in their consenting to allow the Cuban Ambassador to speak to that and then signing the declaration.

" But pre-revolution they had the first lowest... etc., etc."

Cuba under Batista? Source?

"I say remove this source of excuse by the Castro regime and go in with our checkbooks blazing."

On this we agree. :)

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Comparing Chinese and Cuban Diaspora on 02/13/2013 17:42:17 MST Print View

"Tom, my point is that Cuban-Americans themselves are the ones who support these restrictions"

No argument there, Ben. But those same restrictions apply to a lot of other potential American businesses and investors. Those Cuban Americans are the primary reason there is still an embargo, due to Florida being a electoral swing state.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Cuban embargo on 02/13/2013 17:44:21 MST Print View

"When will folks, including BPL posters, figure out that centralized control doesn't work?"

When will America start letting other countries figure that out for themselves?

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Cuban embargo on 02/13/2013 17:57:05 MST Print View

"When will America start letting other countries figure that out for themselves?"

+1,000!! We Americans are the top dog in our own minds... and too many of us can't resist the arrogant urge to moralize everyone else. Imagine how angry we ourselves would be if the EU imposes an embargo on us -- just because, as an example, they view our death penalty as barbarous. Point is, we need to respect the right and freedom of different countries to build/ evolve their own societies -- as we demand that others respect our own...

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Cuban embargo on 02/13/2013 18:36:56 MST Print View

Tom, Ben, isn't more control from the Federal Government occurring in the US right now? Are policies pushing toward more centralized control, away from the individual states? I don't know specifically so this is why I am asking.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Cuban embargo on 02/13/2013 19:36:33 MST Print View

"Tom, Ben, isn't more control from the Federal Government occurring in the US right now? Are policies pushing toward more centralized control, away from the individual states? I don't know specifically so this is why I am asking."

David, We have always had a federal structure with a legal hierarchy where federal law, if deemed constitutional, takes precedence over state law. But, in addition, the increasing dependence of the states on federal money for things like school funding, infrastructure, etc has greatly increased federal leverage(control). More disturbing to me is the increasingly close cooperation between the federal security organs and those of the states and even municipalities. When combined with the growing technical sophistication of surveillance technology and computing, I fear for our civil liberties in the near future. My 2 cents.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/14/2013 10:21:59 MST Print View

@ "Cuba under Batista? Source?"

Check my link. I was polite enough to read yours. :)

That said, I will concede that this was probably more a function of just how bad things were elsewhere in Latin America in the 1950s rather than any degree of beneficence on the part of the Batista regime.

OK, I'm now going to initiate severe and dangerous thread drift. Pregnant women and those with weak stomachs should exit the thread...

But what the hell, right? We've already gone from alternate-lifestyle Boy Scouts to the Cuban embargo.

@ "More disturbing to me is the increasingly close cooperation between the federal security organs and those of the states and even municipalities."

So, if that disturbs you, do you have objections to state and lower municipalities reporting the diagnoses of mentally ill people to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, for background checks on gun purchases? Many states refuse to report because they consider it a violation of HIPAA.

Personally I think that there are rights and there are RIGHTS, and that this is definitely a lower-case issue. Other people's right not to have a madman running around armed trumps HIPAA. But that's just my $0.02.

Edited by acrosome on 02/14/2013 10:40:05 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/14/2013 17:10:33 MST Print View

"Check my link. I was polite enough to read yours. :)"

You are absolutely correct, Cher Acrosome, and you have my humble apology for the slight. That said, the reason I didn't initially read your source is the source itself. The US State Department is hardly unbiased. With no aspersions cast on you, I have seldom seen a more self serving article than that in your link. But that is only to be expected from State, which was, after all, charged with justifying our support for the odious Batista dictatorship. Nary a mention of the impact of the embargo, or the incredible inequality of Cuban society under Batista, nor his human rights record. That Castro was able to bring down the regime with an initial group of 80 men, reduced to ~20 within 3 days after landing at Playa Las Coloradas on December 2, 1956, speaks to the conditions that prevailed in Cuba at the time. He had no outside support to speak of at the time, certainly not from the USSR.

But I digress; on to the good stuff.

"OK, I'm now going to initiate severe and dangerous thread drift. Pregnant women and those with weak stomachs should exit the thread..."

How could I resist such a teaser? ;0)


"@ "More disturbing to me is the increasingly close cooperation between the federal security organs and those of the states and even municipalities."

So, if that disturbs you, do you have objections to state and lower municipalities reporting the diagnoses of mentally ill people to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, for background checks on gun purchases? Many states refuse to report because they consider it a violation of HIPAA.

Personally I think that there are rights and there are RIGHTS, and that this is definitely a lower-case issue. Other people's right not to have a madman running around armed trumps HIPAA. But that's just my $0.02."

I have no objection to that whatsoever, so long as the lower levels of government report a diagnosis of mentally ill in response to a specific inquiry by NICBCS. Blanket requests, likely used to build a database of mentally ill people is another issue entirely, and should rightly fall under HIPAA restrictio0ns, IMO. My main concern is related to multi level government surveillance of US citizens deemed to be terrorists without producing evidence in a court of law. It began under Dubya and, to my dismay, has been expanded under Obama. Under secret "legal opinions" ginned up by the Deprtment of Justice, not subject to judicial review for constitutionality, people can be deemed terrorists and incarcerated by the military with no access to a lawyer, habeas corpus, or the right to a trial by a jury of their peers. There is not even a FISA secret court to rubber stamp the proceedings. To have such a pernicious system extend downward to our local police departments is a frightening thing, at least to me. My 2 cents.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/21/2013 08:53:16 MST Print View

So... You're implying that the General Assembly and the Cato Institute lack bias? That's chutzpah! Really, if you wait for a totally unbiased source you will be waiting a LONG time, Brother. I mean, I'm pro-UN but who is unbiased? Venezuela?!? Not to mention that the proposition that the US Government in 2013 is still trying to justify supporting Batista back in 1956 is simply laughable. It's the Cuban expats driving this, which I guess to some extent I understand. After all, if Obama (or whoever) started a campaign to murder me and all of my family and friends thus forcing me to flee the country, then nationalized all of my property, all for the sake disguising his own power-grab behind a half-baked and failed ideology, I think I might hate him, too. Nonetheless it's about time they moved on.

I'll also point out that neither of your links provide any data at all about the "suffering" produced by the embargo beyond ridiculous made-up numbers which are clearly meant to be some sort of justification for a suit against the US in the future. Well, and Cato complaining about profits lost to Americans. Cuba's economy is screwed because they forbade any use of foreign currency (which REALLY messes up trade) and accrued massive debt all during the fat years of Soviet aide. Their economy simply does not function.

Actually, if State were to be biased I would expect them to claim that the embargo DOES have an effect. Else why continue it? THAT'S the lie I would expect from them, yet State keeps calling for an end to the embargo. As do I (a point that I'm not sure you're getting, here- I'm on your side). The paltry $60 per citizen per year that the embargo costs Cuba does NOT explain the massive degree to which their economy is screwed. Because it is MASSIVE.

Edited by acrosome on 02/21/2013 08:54:37 MST.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/21/2013 09:00:05 MST Print View

So, you have no objections to the Commonwealth of Virginia keeping a database of the dangerously mentally ill, but if the Feds had one it would upset you? I'm not sure that I understand that. But then, I have opinions on public health issues that would shock a lot of people, given that I tend libertarian on most social issues. So maybe I'm the extremist on this one.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/21/2013 09:17:05 MST Print View

Maybe Castro, brother, and expats have to die off to resolve this.

Sort of like homo-phobes and racists.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Give your feedback about the BSA policy on 02/21/2013 16:07:47 MST Print View

Here is the official email address.

feedback@scouting.org

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/21/2013 17:09:11 MST Print View

"So... You're implying that the General Assembly and the Cato Institute lack bias? That's chutzpah! Really, if you wait for a totally unbiased source you will be waiting a LONG time, Brother."

Again, the vote was 188-3, with 2 abstentions. This indicates that most, if not all, of our allies voted against our embargo of Cuba. If it were only the smaller nations of Africa, Latin America, and Asia, you might have a point worth arguing about, but this reflects the opinion of practically the entire world.

"Not to mention that the proposition that the US Government in 2013 is still trying to justify supporting Batista back in 1956 is simply laughable"

The report is a bit more circumspect than that. It merely points out what a glorious existence Cubans were enjoying under Batista. Now that IS laughable. Who would have thought the Foggy Bottom types had such a great sense of humor? In any case, the US Government, like all others, is loath to admit to past sins, for fear of them coming back to haunt them in the future, so no surprises there. Sort of like Allende in chile, Arbenz in Guatemala, Mossadeg in Iran, Lumumba in Congo, and on and on.....

"It's the Cuban expats driving this, which I guess to some extent I understand."

No argument about who is driving the bus and, like you, I understand. But do you support them?

"After all, if Obama (or whoever) started a campaign to murder me and all of my family and friends thus forcing me to flee the country, then nationalized all of my property, all for the sake disguising his own power-grab behind a half-baked and failed ideology, I think I might hate him, too. Nonetheless it's about time they moved on."

Again, I will refer you to the fact that Castro brought down Batista with an initial force of 20 survivors. How do you suppose he pulled that off. A power grab, to be sure. That is what revolutions are all about. Just like our own. That his has failed, is a complex matter beyond what we can usefully debate here, IMO, but the embargo certainly played a part in it. Whether our own much longer endures concerns me more, and its continued success is not a foregone conclusion, IMO. If it fails, we certainly will not be able to blame it on an embargo.

Time out break.

"I'll also point out that neither of your links provide any data at all about the "suffering" produced by the embargo beyond ridiculous made-up numbers which are clearly meant to be some sort of justification for a suit against the US in the future. Well, and Cato complaining about profits lost to Americans. Cuba's economy is screwed because they forbade any use of foreign currency (which REALLY messes up trade) and accrued massive debt all during the fat years of Soviet aide. Their economy simply does not function."

Again, the 188-3 vote. Apparently the entire rest of the world feels to the contrary, else why would they be calling for an end to the embargo. What are they missing?

"Actually, if State were to be biased I would expect them to claim that the embargo DOES have an effect."

It has already had it's effect, and the rising disgust of the rest of the world, at a time when our influence is already declining, has started to have an impact on our thinking. We are finding it increasingly difficult to ignore Jefferson's sage advice. Then there is the increasing pressure from commercial interests here for an end to restrictions on doing business with Cuba.

"Else why continue it?"

As you mentioned earlier, the Cuban Diaspora. Politics, pure and simple.


"yet State keeps calling for an end to the embargo."

I haven't come across anything from State calling for an end to the embargo but, if so, that is good news, a harbinger of welcome change to come. that said, I'll believe it when I see it.


"As do I (a point that I'm not sure you're getting, here- I'm on your side)."

I get that loud and clear. You and I may disagree on some things, but we also agree on a number of others. That is as it should be, and I wish more people could have this kind of discussion.

"The paltry $60 per citizen per year that the embargo costs Cuba does NOT explain the massive degree to which their economy is screwed. Because it is MASSIVE."

I have not seen any numbers in the past even close to that and, while I will not call BS on it simply because I don't want to spend a lot more time digging for sources to the contrary, I am inclined to be skeptical. Again, that troubling 188-3 vote. Why would all our allies and "friends" risk our displeasure over a paltry $60.

Edited by ouzel on 02/21/2013 17:31:29 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/21/2013 17:39:38 MST Print View

"So, you have no objections to the Commonwealth of Virginia keeping a database of the dangerously mentally ill, but if the Feds had one it would upset you? I'm not sure that I understand that."

Actually, I'd prefer the information be collected and maintained by a non state actor, either an insurance consortium or perhaps the state medical associations, subject to full HIPA protections except for access on a case by case basis for things like background checks before purchasing a weapon. I don't know if that is politically workable, but I sure would be a lot more comfortable with something like that. I just don't trust our increasingly intrusive governments with that kind of knowledge on a broad level.

"But then, I have opinions on public health issues that would shock a lot of people, given that I tend libertarian on most social issues."

I'd be most interested in hearing them as the occasions arise. I don't shock easily.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/22/2013 00:08:26 MST Print View

Actually, I'd prefer the information be collected and maintained by a non state actor, .... I just don't trust our increasingly intrusive governments with that kind of knowledge on a broad level.

Man! Has this thread drifted! But since we're already there ...

Had the interesting experience of backpacking with two people of very different political positions last year, both mad as Hades over health information privacy issues ... one fearing the government and the other fearing corporations.

Me? I think they're both right! I also think the idea of a benevolent non-state actor is a pipe dream.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/22/2013 09:03:53 MST Print View

"both mad as Hades over health information privacy issues"

But, the key to reducing health care costs is to keep statistics on what's effective. Make sure people are getting the effective treatments and quit wasting money on ineffective treatments.

Health care costs keep increasing, now a signigicant fraction of economy, "bankrupting" Medicare and also private companies, local governments, and individuals.

If we all don't have to worry that our health care will be cut off because some evil corporation has our data, then it won't matter.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/22/2013 09:51:47 MST Print View

@ "I have not seen any numbers in the past even close to that and, while I will not call BS on it simply because I don't want to spend a lot more time digging for sources to the contrary, I am inclined to be skeptical."

Well, that sort of is BS, in fact- it was just back-of-the envelope math. Since I've been reading up on it for this discussion most sources are quoting $600-700 million (today's dollars) per annum effect on the Cuban economy. Well, except for the clearly delusional, like Venezuela, and Cuba itself. Cuba officially has a bit over 11 million citizens... some long division... Ta-da.

And, mind you that's $600-700 million in losses to a nation whose GDP is around $110 Billion (with a b). The embargo means almost nothing- about 1/2%.

@ "Again, the 188-3 vote. Apparently the entire rest of the world feels to the contrary, else why would they be calling for an end to the embargo. What are they missing?"

Oh, that's droll. I've addressed this. They didn't miss anything- they merely detest US unilateralism. Their statements pay lip service to the plight of the Cubans but really they are just rants for the sovereignty of states, against unilateralism, etc. (I read them!) But, I mean, c'mon. Syria doesn't care about its own citizens let alone some starving Cubans. That's farcical. The European nations in particular hate that they didn't get a vote regarding this US action.

Which, again, I guess I don't blame them- it sucks when the big kid throws his weight around on the playground. I have my problems with unilateral US action, too. It may be needed for immediate righteous retaliation, or oftentimes, yes, it's needed so that a response can be timely, but you can't exactly claim either of those of a 50-year embargo, eh?

Well, the embargo will end with the Castros and the older expats die, I guess. And in the meanwhile the plight Of the Cubans is the fault of their own government, not the embargo.

One thing that does annoy me about the embargo is that I'm not sure if we've ever actually made any demands of the government of Cuba. I.e. I'm not sure if we've ever told them what actions they could take that might predispose us to easing the embargo. The US hoots a lot about the plight of dissidents- which granted is a serious issue in Cuba- but, hell, we even managed to tell Saddam what we expected of him before we'd lift his embargo...

@ "I haven't come across anything from State calling for an end to the embargo"

Really? I could have sworn that it was a recommendation they made, once. Maybe I'm thinking of another agency. I'll research...

@ "The report is a bit more circumspect than that. It merely points out what a glorious existence Cubans were enjoying under Batista."

Well, clearly, yes, it is being very circumspect- it was so circumspect that you missed the point, because that isn't what it is saying at all. It says nothing about what life was like under Batista. It just points out that many ECONOMIC indicators have taken nose-dives since the revolution. Hell, I certainly wouldn't want to live under Batista- any more than Castro. :) That report challenges some of my own assumptions, too- for instance I had always thought that Cuba was basically owned by the US sugar industry, but it turns out that the industry was in the midst of disengagement. At it's height US companies controlled 90% of Cuban sugar production, but by the revolution US companies only owned 40 of 161 mills (I think?). Personally, I think that they merely saw that SOMETHING bad was about to go down... And you can thank collectivisation for the starving Cubans, not the US embargo- Cubans ate much better pre-revolution than they do today, and though Batista certainly oppressed them I would propose that they were no more oppressed than they are today, albeit in different ways.

@ "Again, I will refer you to the fact that Castro brought down Batista with an initial force of 20 survivors."

Again, I'm ignoring that statement, because it's pointless. Unless you are trying to portray la Revolucion in some sort of romantic light, that is. All revolutions start small and grow, as did Castro's. Surely you're not going to claim that 1950s Cuba under the dictator Batista wasn't a fertile ground for revolution?

And, while I'm thinking of it, I have to ask-

There are a LOT of failed economies throughout the world and the US trades with all of them. Clearly, US trade isn't helping them. Why are you assuming that a US embargo is the cause of Cuba's ills, rather than that it is just another f-ed up economy? There really aren't many places where communism is WORKING, after all- and, no, China doesn't count. I'm not sure what China is any more, but it isn't communist.

Your biggest argument- the US resolution- is political, not economic.

Edited by acrosome on 02/22/2013 13:42:07 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cuban Embargo on 02/22/2013 20:42:34 MST Print View

"And, mind you that's $600-700 million in losses to a nation whose GDP is around $110 Billion (with a b)."

Would you mind sharing your sources? I'm having a hard time finding what I would call reliable data.

"The embargo means almost nothing- about 1/2%."

The data I have found, however, is troubling to me, and I should think it would be even more troubling to you, a physician.

And, mind you that's $600-700 million in losses to a nation whose GDP is around $110 Billion (with a b). The embargo means almost nothing- about 1/2%.

From The American Journal of Public Health

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1380757/

From The American college of Physicians/American Society of Internal Medicine

http://www.hawaii.edu/hivandaids/Effect_of_the_U.S._Embargo_and_Economic_Decline_on_Health_in_Cuba.pdf

From Amnesty International, sourcing data from a number of UN sources and the WHO, all irredeemably biased I'm sure ;0)

http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR25/007/2009/en/51469f8b-73f8-47a2-a5bd-f839adf50488/amr250072009eng.pdf

If you read these, I think you might realize that it is not quite so simple as monetary impact on Cuba. The Torricelli Act of 1992 and the Helms-Burton Act of 1996, by all accounts I have read, caused enormous suffering among children in particular. The Cuban embargo bears an errie resemblance to that imposed on Iraq, although the impact in Iraq was far worse, where the FAO estimated that over 500,000 Iraqi children perished from the sanctions. This was confirmed by Madeline Albright in her infamous interview on 60 minutes where she confirmed the number and said she thought it was worth it to try to bring down Saddam, a statement she later tried to retract. Interesting that both policies were pursued under the same aministration.

"Oh, that's droll. I've addressed this. They didn't miss anything- they merely detest US unilateralism. Their statements pay lip service to the plight of the Cubans but really they are just rants for the sovereignty of states, against unilateralism, etc. (I read them!)"

Do you really believe that? That they would go against the most powerful nation on earth merely to rant against unilateralism and schoolyard bullying? I have no response other than to propose that perhaps leaders and peoples elsewhere, having tasted economic suffering themselves in recent memory, may be slightly more empathetic to the suffering of others.

"But, I mean, c'mon. Syria doesn't care about its own citizens let alone some starving Cubans. That's farcical."

Syria has a different set of grievances against us, and additional reasons for opposing darn near anything we do, but the Syrian people definitely empathize with the plight of the Cubans, or at least did when I was over there. I doubt that has changed in the intervening years.

"I have my problems with unilateral US action, too. It may be needed for immediate righteous retaliation, or oftentimes, yes, it's needed so that a response can be timely, but you can't exactly claim either of those of a 50-year embargo, eh?"

On this we agree.

"Well, the embargo will end with the Castros and the older expats die, I guess. And in the meanwhile the plight Of the Cubans is the fault of their own government, not the embargo."

See my above links as to at least part of the fault.

"One thing that does annoy me about the embargo is that I'm not sure if we've ever actually made any demands of the government of Cuba. I.e. I'm not sure if we've ever told them what actions they could take that might predispose us to easing the embargo."

Our requirements for lifting the embargo are laid out in either the Torricelli or Helms-Burton Acts, can't remember which offhand. You can find it in the Amnesty International link if you're interested.

"The US hoots a lot about the plight of dissidents- which granted is a serious issue in Cuba- but, hell, we even managed to tell Saddam what we expected of him before we'd lift his embargo..."

And yet our silence on the plight of the dissidents in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia,et al is deafening. The hypocrisy is nauseating.

"Really? I could have sworn that it was a recommendation they made, once. Maybe I'm thinking of another agency. I'll research..."

I'll be interested in your results.

"Well, clearly, yes, it is being very circumspect- it was so circumspect that you missed the point, because that isn't what it is saying at all. It says nothing about what life was like under Batista."

The were implications in their statement about Cuba having the best health care in Latin America, etc. You're right, I missed the point.

"It just points out that many ECONOMIC indicators have taken nose-dives since the revolution. Personally, I think that they merely saw that SOMETHING bad was about to go down..."

A natural after effect of a revolution. The Castros were not technocrats and most of those who were fled because they were part and parcel of an exploitive system that led to something bad going down.
I will alway wonder how things would have turned out if we had, as you suggested, gone in with checkbooks blazing.

"And you can thank collectivisation for the starving Cubans, not the US embargo- Cubans ate much better pre-revolution than they do today, and though Batista certainly oppressed them I would propose that they were no more oppressed than they are today, albeit in different ways."

I am not here to defend the Cuban economic system, contrary to what you may think. My beef is with our reaction to the revolution and the suffering it caused to the innocent. Again, refer to my links, above.

"Again, I'm ignoring that statement, because it's pointless. Unless you are trying to portray la Revolucion in some sort of romantic light, that is. All revolutions start small and grow, as did Castro's. Surely you're not going to claim that 1950s Cuba under the dictator Batista wasn't a fertile ground for revolution?"

That is precisely my point, and I made it in response to the State Department document you linked to.
Circumspect is one way to describe it, deceptive might be even better. I don't see revolutions in a romantic light at all. They are always messy, bloody affairs, undertaken and supported only in desperation, as was certainly the case in Cuba. The best health care in Latin America? For who? Certainly not the campesinos who risked all to support Castro.

"And, while I'm thinking of it, I have to ask-

There are a LOT of failed economies throughout the world and the US trades with all of them. Clearly, US trade isn't helping them. Why are you assuming that a US embargo is the cause of Cuba's ills, rather than that it is just another f-ed up economy? There really aren't many places where communism is WORKING, after all- and, no, China doesn't count. I'm not sure what China is any more, but it isn't communist."

As I said above, I am not defending the Castro economic system. Rather I am criticizing our response to his takeover as immoral, and just plain bad foreign policy. It has badly tarnished our image worlswide, as can be seen in a succession of general Assembly votes that have left us isolated and damaged our moral authority. In combination with similar actions throughout Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East, we are increasingly left with only brute force as an option for advancing our foreign policy goals. This is not a good position to be in, as we are in the process of discovering. As for Communism working, probably not. It is an idea the human race is not ready for, and may never be. However, I am a firm believer in letting different nations find that out for themselves.

"Your biggest argument- the US resolution- is political, not economic."

It is not a black and white question for me. There has definitely been an economic impact, but I have not seen any data that pins down precisely how much. What has been the impact of Torricelli and Helms-Burton in discouraging other countries companies from dealing with Cuba? I don't know, and I haven't seen any data quantifying it.There has definitely been an impact on health care in Cuba, as I think the data I linked to above proves pretty conclusively. What is the follow on economic impact of that? I don't know, but it has to be substantial. My Argument, therefore is both, and also has a moral dimension. Interfering with access to health care for the most vulnerable vulnerable in a society in criminal, and I suspect that is a major reason our allies vote against us every time the subject of the embargo comes up in the General Assmebly.

Edited by ouzel on 02/22/2013 21:29:41 MST.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
So.. what are you arguing, then? on 02/23/2013 10:52:09 MST Print View

@ "I am not defending the Castro economic system."

Well, then, what? You're just being contrary? Because my entire point is that the Castro economic system is far more to blame than the embargo, so if you're arguing with me you sort of HAVE to address that issue, eh? :)

@ "Would you mind sharing your sources? I'm having a hard time finding what I would call reliable data."

Yeah, I hear you. You're not going to find "reliable data" because the Castro regime doesn't report any. They obfuscate, for obviously self-serving reasons. Thus, we must rely on other estimates. The ones I found for GDP ranged from about $60 billion to about $110 billion, so admittedly I used the higher end. But even using the lower end we're only talking about 1% of their economy lost to the embargo.

@ "The data I have found, however, is troubling to me, and I should think it would be even more troubling to you, a physician."

I'm more likely to blame the Castro regime, for reasons that I have already demonstrated. Would I like to go on a humanitarian mission to Cuba? Certainly! I'd have my worries about being sentenced to 30 years in some show-trial, though- I have a background in military intelligence. FWIW medical aid is allowed under current embargo regulations, especially after the changes in 2000 and 2009 removed many of the obstacles people used to complain about (one of the reasons that the US is still Cuba's fifth largest trading partner even with the embargo in place, as well as the number one source of Cuban food and agricultural imports), and Europe is perfectly capable of producing medical supplies, so arguing that the US is killing Cuban children is a bit delusional. Communism is killing Cuban children. But, in short, everyone is still trying to make a stink about the impact of the embargo on the Cuban medical system- on which I call BS, since medical supplies are ALLOWED under the current embargo. Read your own source- the Amnesty International paper. Even that first paper you cited was honest enough to say that the sad state of the Cuban economy is to blame-

"lack of currency made it difficult to purchase drugs and medical equipment from western Europe" after the Soviet subsidies ended.

They mention some very bad past policies that contributed too- "In 1983, I gave a lecture about HIV and was bluntly told that because homosexuality and intravenous drug usage did not exist in Cuba, AIDS would never become an meaningful issue." At least THAT has changed.

The authors try to blame much on shortages caused by the embargo, but frankly they don't do a good job of it. The "nutrient shortage?" well, if they had an functioning economy and cash reserves they could buy from Europe, which has a quite substantial medical infrastructure. The authors mention that such a large chunk of the pharmaceutical industry has ties to US companies- which is true- but there ARE other alternatives if Cuba were only able to show up with the cash. Even if the US would trade with them, they STILL couldn't buy the supplies. They'd basically rely on US humanitarian aid, because they'd still be unable to PAY for any of it. (Which is another issue- I'd LOVE to see the US send humanitarian missions to Cuba, but I'm not sure they'd accept it.)

And, Amnesty International? Yes, they call for an end to the embargo, but did you read their reasoning? Here's a quote from their opening abstract:

"The Cuban authorities portray non-violent political dissidents and human rights activists as foreign sympathizers supporting US policy against Cuba. The embargo has helped to undermine the enjoyment of key civil and political rights in Cuba by fuelling a climate in which fundamental rights such as freedom of association, expression and assembly are routinely denied."

and:

"Amnesty International believes that the impact of the embargo on the human rights of Cubans has received insufficient attention from the US government."

THAT'S their major issue with the embargo- with which I agree. It gives the regime excuses for repression. Most of that paper talks about "Economic and Social Rights", and the little bit it mentions about "Health Rights" is complaining about issues from the 1990s- before the 2000 and 2009 changes to the embargo, as they admit. I'm not even sure if I can say that the AI paper tries to make a case that the embargo is affecting Cuban healthcare (except for those dated 1990s references) so it is really just a call for an end to the embargo on the same grounds that I espouse. Thanks for the source. :)

@ "Do you really believe that? That they would go against the most powerful nation on earth merely to rant against unilateralism and schoolyard bullying?"

Do you REALLY believe otherwise? Really? You ACTUALLY believe that?

Am I making my point about how condescending that question was?

Anyway- yes, clearly when nations deal with one another it is on a rather juvenile level. They have tantrums, test nukes, detain UN inspectors, etc. I don't think you will ever go far wrong betting on the childishness of nations- was that you I had the argument with about Iran?

But I agree with the UN resolution's meta-issue: that the embargo should end. I'm just a bit more realistic about the motivation behind the grandstanding of some of those nations. And no I don't think that the primary motivation of very many of them was the suffering of Cuban children. Even Cuba!

EDIT-- But, clearly we're just at the point of repeating our arguments. I guess I'll bow out.

Edited by acrosome on 02/23/2013 12:08:32 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: So.. what are you arguing, then? on 02/23/2013 17:33:23 MST Print View

"Well, then, what? You're just being contrary? Because my entire point is that the Castro economic system is far more to blame than the embargo, so if you're arguing with me you sort of HAVE to address that issue, eh? :)"

Contrary? Not at all. My point is that the issue is not quite that simple. The indirect effects of people not having access to medicines, which I think my links fairly well document, are one area where economic development has been impeded. The disruption of the very close economic ties between Cuba and the US post Batista made it extremely for the Cuban economy to progress, and would have been the case no matter what system Castro adopted. Being forced to rely on the technologically and economically backward USSR & co thereafter was another impediment to economic development. The reluctance of many Western companies to do business with Cuba for fear of US retaliation caused further problems. These are a few of the contributing factors, as I see it. The system Castro imposed doubtless is a major reason for Cuba's problems, but certainly not the only one. As I said earlier, we will never know how things would have turned out had we gone in with checkbooks blazing, but I am fairly certain in my own mind that the results would have been far better for both parties than the sorry mess we have on our hands today. We stand isolated with our moral credibility severely diminished and the Cuban people continue to suffer needlessly.


"Yeah, I hear you. You're not going to find "reliable data" because the Castro regime doesn't report any. They obfuscate, for obviously self-serving reasons. Thus, we must rely on other estimates. The ones I found for GDP ranged from about $60 billion to about $110 billion, so admittedly I used the higher end. But even using the lower end we're only talking about 1% of their economy lost to the embargo."

We have other means of gathering that information, satellites, human intelligence,
corporate espionage, etc. I find it interesting that this information is not publically available, which would enable folks like us to draw our own conclusions.
That the Cuban government obfuscates is entirely understandable. They do not want us to have an accurate picture of the damage the embargo has caused, and also do not want to own up to their own shortcomings. That the government of a supposedly free, transparent society obfuscates troubles me far more, because an informed citizenry is one of the bedrock requirements of a free society.

Edited by Ouzel: You mention 'only' a 1% loss. What would happen here in the US today if our economy took a 1% hit?


"I'm more likely to blame the Castro regime, for reasons that I have already demonstrated."

That you discount the informed judgement of several respected organizations composed of your peers also troubles me. Could you explain your reasoning in a bit more detail?

"Would I like to go on a humanitarian mission to Cuba? Certainly! I'd have my worries about being sentenced to 30 years in some show-trial, though- I have a background in military intelligence."

A valid concern. I wouldn't go either were I in your position, especially given our past attempts at subversion down there. It didn't end with The Bay of Pigs, you know.

"FWIW medical aid is allowed under current embargo regulations, especially after the changes in 2000 and 2009 removed many of the obstacles people used to complain about"

Under current regulations. That was not always the case.

"Europe is perfectly capable of producing medical supplies, so arguing that the US is killing Cuban children is a bit delusional."

But Cuba was not always capable of paying. There was a very difficult period after the USSR collapsed and Cuba was cast adrift. What was available was allocated to women and children and so it was primarily Cuban men who suffered. Earlier, foreign corporations, including pharmaceuticals, feared retaliation under US extraterritorial sanctions, and US producers of precursors used by foreign pharmaceutical manufacturers, feared prosecution even more, which led to shortages in Cuba. This is mentioned in the articles I linked to.

"Communism is killing Cuban children. But, in short, everyone is still trying to make a stink about the impact of the embargo on the Cuban medical system- on which I call BS, since medical supplies are ALLOWED under the current embargo. Read your own source- the Amnesty International paper. Even that first paper you cited was honest enough to say that the sad state of the Cuban economy is to blame- "

Under CURRENT regulations. It did not say that the sad state of the Cuban economy is the only source of blame.

As for calling BS, frankly, I'll go with the opinions of the American Society of Internal Medicine:

http://www.hawaii.edu/hivandaids/Effect_of_the_U.S._Embargo_and_Economic_Decline_on_Health_in_Cuba.pdf Sorry, I can't get the text to copy over. I think it's a restricted PDF. The author's conclusion is in her preface to the article. It is very much along the lines on the AJPH conclusion, below.


And The American Journal of Public Health: "CONCLUSIONS: To be consistent with international humanitarian law, embargoes must not impede access to essential humanitarian goods. Yet this embargo has raised the cost of medical supplies and food Rationing, universal access to primary health services, a highly educated population, and preferential access to scarce goods for women and children help protect most Cubans from what otherwise might have been a health disaster."





"The authors try to blame much on shortages caused by the embargo, but frankly they don't do a good job of it. The "nutrient shortage?" well, if they had an functioning economy and cash reserves they could buy from Europe, which has a quite substantial medical infrastructure. The authors mention that such a large chunk of the pharmaceutical industry has ties to US companies- which is true- but there ARE other alternatives if Cuba were only able to show up with the cash. Even if the US would trade with them, they STILL couldn't buy the supplies. They'd basically rely on US humanitarian aid, because they'd still be unable to PAY for any of it."

So it boils down to cash? How sad. Especially when the lack of cash is at least partially due to the embargo and the unfortunate shift of the Cuban economy to the Soviet model, which was at least partially the price extracted by the USSR for subsidizing them. this is NOT to absolve the Castros for their mistakes, but to reinforce my main theme, which is that the difficulties experienced by Cuba are not simply a result of Castro's mistakes.

"(Which is another issue- I'd LOVE to see the US send humanitarian missions to Cuba, but I'm not sure they'd accept it.)"

I think we might both agree that there is one way to find out.

"And, Amnesty International? Yes, they call for an end to the embargo, but did you read their reasoning? Here's a quote from their opening abstract:"

'the Cuban authorities portray non-violent political dissidents and human rights activists as foreign sympathizers supporting US policy against Cuba. The embargo has helped to undermine the enjoyment of key civil and political rights in Cuba by fuelling a climate in which fundamental rights such as freedom of association, expression and assembly are routinely denied.'

and:

'Amnesty International believes that the impact of the embargo on the human rights of Cubans has received insufficient attention from the US government.'"

That doesn't cancel out what they had to say about the impact of the embargo. I read all of the article and decided to use it precisely because of its even handed approach to the issue. I certainly am not defending the Castros' human rights record, nor can anything I posted be so construed. Note they mention this as one more unfortunate effect of the embargo. That way you can't accuse me of cherry picking my sources. ;0)

"THAT'S their major issue with the embargo- with which I agree. It gives the regime excuses for repression. Most of that paper talks about "Economic and Social Rights", and the little bit it mentions about "Health Rights" is complaining about issues from the 1990s- before the 2000 and 2009 changes to the embargo, as they admit. I'm not even sure if I can say that the AI paper tries to make a case that the embargo is affecting Cuban healthcare (except for those dated 1990s references) so it is really just a call for an end to the embargo on the same grounds that I espouse. Thanks for the source. :)"

Health care and economic rights are difficult to separate, and both occupy a secondary place in the US value system, behind freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, etc. That is not the case in most of the world. As even you admit, the embargo did have an impact on access to health care prior to 2000, an impact that is still being felt in Cuba today, as those who were affected are very likely to not be fully productive members of society. Early access to health care and nutrition are well known to affect physical and cognitive development. On this basis, one could build a case for another negative effect on the cuban economy if one were able to get into Cuba and gather the data, IMO. An epidemiologists wet dream. ;)

Glad you enjoyed the article. As a physician, what did you think of the other two, just out of curiosity?



"Do you REALLY believe otherwise? Really? You ACTUALLY believe that?

Am I making my point about how condescending that question was?"

Sorry, my righteousness got the better of me; I guess the Lord ain't finished with me yet. :( Here's the official EU position on the matter. It's a bit less condescending, but also a bit more nuanced than your schoolyard bully metaphor.

http://www.eu-un.europa.eu/articles/fr/article_5273_fr.htm

"Anyway- yes, clearly when nations deal with one another it is on a rather juvenile level. They have tantrums, test nukes, detain UN inspectors, etc. I don't think you will ever go far wrong betting on the childishness of nations- was that you I had the argument with about Iran?"

See immediately above for slightly more adult behavior, even though all it really proves is that you neglected to add greed to your litany of complaints about the state of international relations. ;0)

"was that you I had the argument with about Iran?"

Ah, how I long for the good old days. I had more fun with that one than even the Great Carbon Flame War, and have treasured our conversations ever since.

"But I agree with the UN resolution's meta-issue: that the embargo should end."

Darn near everybody agrees with you on this one, even here in the US.

"I'm just a bit more realistic about the motivation behind the grandstanding of some of those nations. And no I don't think that the primary motivation of very many of them was the suffering of Cuban children. Even Cuba!"

This one boils down to our differing views of human nature. I think I'm inclined to cut the human race a little more slack. But only a little. And I'll freely admit you have seen far more of the dark side than I. Who knows? Perhaps you're right, but I hope not.


"But, clearly we're just at the point of repeating our arguments. I guess I'll bow out."

Until next time, then. I enjoyed this one.

Edited by ouzel:

One last link, just because it's an interesting ground level account of the effects of the embargo by a Cuban who lived there until 2002. He is by no means a fan of the Castros, BTW. I found it a very informative, anecdotal account of how things played out and why.

http://www.joselatourauthor.com/2009/12/21/the-american-and-the-cuban-embargoes/

Edited by ouzel on 02/23/2013 18:05:12 MST.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: So.. what are you arguing, then? on 02/26/2013 07:36:44 MST Print View

Well, it's good to see that you're at least acknowledging that Cuba's economy is screwed. But you're sucking me back in...

@"You mention 'only' a 1% loss. What would happen here in the US today if our economy took a 1% hit?"

Uh... not much. The US GDP contracted by 9% in late 2008, which caused one hell of a crisis as we all know, but we didn't nationally fall to Cuba's level. But I'll be the first to admit that your choice of the US as a comparison was a bad one. In addition to having sane trade practices (because really what I'm talking about here is Cuba's INSANE trade practices) the US simply has a very large economy capable of absorbing such vicissitudes.

Iceland might be a better comparison- a small, isolated island nation. Their entire banking industry failed and THEY weren't reduced to living on 2400 calories a day. They lived on stuff like rotten shark but, hell, they do that at baseline. :)

@"Could you explain your reasoning in a bit more detail?"

I have already addressed every question you raise. Please don't troll me.

@"Under current regulations. That was not always the case."

Yet all of the negative papers you're citing cite the 1990s. Heck, the one you really seem to like from Ann In Med was published in 2000, before the reforms. So yes, things actually do change, and frankly it is VERY hard to be critical about the modern form of the embargo regarding medical, humanitarian, and agricultural materials. The US is the single largest agricultural importer to Cuba, remember? And those reforms have been in place for over a decade! And even before that the same exceptions existed, but the world's humanitarian-industrial complex complained that the paperwork required was too onerous. (On which I call BS.) But, it got corrected, at any rate.

@"Under CURRENT regulations. It did not say that the sad state of the Cuban economy is the only source of blame."

It sure talks it up much more than anything else, and cites exactly what State did- a legacy of insane trade policy coupled with over-reliance on Soviet aid and foreign debt.

@"That you discount the informed judgement of several respected organizations composed of your peers also troubles me."
@"As for calling BS, frankly, I'll go with the opinions of the American Society of Internal Medicine:"

Well, let's actually get this one right. That's the paper I was talking about, published in 2000, before the reforms. And it was NOT any sort of consensus statement on the part of the Society as you seem to think- so really you're placing all of your faith in a SINGLE author, Michele Barry. Who, it turns out, relied heavily on official Cuban statistics. (It took me a while to read through all of the references.) He seems like a rather admirable guy in general; he helps run the Global Health Corps. But that probably does color his outlook, though- he wants unrestricted access to Cuba.

But, anyway, you are NOT "going with the opinions of the American Society of Internal Medicine." Let's make that clear. You're going with the opinions of Michele Barry. Yes, his paper passed peer-review, which just means that his data analysis probably wasn't flawed but does not discount the questionable source of his data. You'd be shocked at some of the stuff that gets past peer-review in medical journals.

@"That doesn't cancel out what they had to say about the impact of the embargo. I read all of the article and decided to use it precisely because of its even handed approach to the issue."

True. But they say almost nothing about the impact of the embargo, whereas they go on for PAGES about economic rights, etc. I'm just saying that this is what their real concern is. If they were concerned about the medical situation in Cuba they would have given the issue more than a few paragraphs in that monstrously large paper. Truly- I'm not kidding here- that paper sounds much more like MY argument than yours. They're saying that the embargo only serves to prop up the Castros.

@"As even you admit, the embargo did have an impact on access to health care prior to 2000, an impact that is still being felt in Cuba today,..."

Ah, no. The embargo had exceptions even before 2000- they just required a bit more effort from the NGOs, who basically abandoned the issue. And, frankly, if Cuba can't turn things around in a decade that says something about their economy, doesn't it? Their economy and trade practices remain f-ed up, which is not the fault of the embargo.

@"Here's the official EU position on the matter. It's a bit less condescending, but also a bit more nuanced than your schoolyard bully metaphor."

More nuanced, yes, but my metaphor was essentially correct, given that source. And also, note how critical they are of the Castro regime as a source of Cuban ills. I actually don't find ANYTHING in that which addresses the impact of the embargo except for two throw-away sentences near the end. They're just addressing their distaste of unilateralism. Like I said.

@"This one boils down to our differing views of human nature. I think I'm inclined to cut the human race a little more slack."

Humans I'm willing to cut some slack, but we're not talking about humans- we're talking about GOVERNMENTS, about which I am endlessly suspicious. The sole purpose of all governments is to perpetuate itself, nothing else.

@"One last link, just because it's an interesting ground level account of the effects of the embargo by a Cuban who lived there until 2002. He is by no means a fan of the Castros, BTW. I found it a very informative, anecdotal account of how things played out and why. "

Uh, so have I convinced you or something? Because that link looks like a long analysis of everything that's wrong with the Cuban economy and I lost track of how many times it says "The American embargo had nothing to do with this." (Direct quote.) Actually, it does mention some things the embargo did, but none seem very relevant to what we're discussing- tooling and the like. It is damned interesting reading, though, I'll give you that. I'll sit down with it in more detail when I have the time.

But if by some miracle anyone other than Tom and I are still here, you really should read that last link he provided. Yes, the author CLEARLY has his biases, but as Tom said it's interesting to get some insight from someone who lived in Cuba until 2002.

Edited by acrosome on 02/26/2013 08:04:30 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: So.. what are you arguing, then? on 02/27/2013 21:05:43 MST Print View

"Well, it's good to see that you're at least acknowledging that Cuba's economy is screwed. But you're sucking me back in..."

;0)

"@"You mention 'only' a 1% loss. What would happen here in the US today if our economy took a 1% hit?"

Uh... not much. The US GDP contracted by 9% in late 2008, which caused one hell of a crisis as we all know, but we didn't nationally fall to Cuba's level. But I'll be the first to admit that your choice of the US as a comparison was a bad one. In addition to having sane trade practices (because really what I'm talking about here is Cuba's INSANE trade practices) the US simply has a very large economy capable of absorbing such vicissitudes."

That was back when we were riding high before the bubble burst, with a much larger, more diversified economy than Cuba's. Fast forward to the present, when our economy is a bit wobbly and the clowns in D.C. are getting ready to drive it into the ditch. There are all sorts of dire predictions about how this may turn out, and even a few relatively rosy ones similar to yours. But the preponderance of opinion seems to be that the CBO's predicted 1.4% drop in economic output that will result if the sequestration continues until year's end will put us back into recession. Not much? I would disagree. Although I admit that 1.4% is not 1%. ;)

"@"Could you explain your reasoning in a bit more detail?"

I have already addressed every question you raise. Please don't troll me."

I'm not trolling you, and you haven't addressed every question I raised, as you implicitly admit by addressing the article in The American Journal of Internal Medicine, below. And you still haven't addressed the article in The American Journal of Public Health.

@"Under current regulations. That was not always the case."

Yet all of the negative papers you're citing cite the 1990s. Heck, the one you really seem to like from Ann In Med was published in 2000, before the reforms. So yes, things actually do change, and frankly it is VERY hard to be critical about the modern form of the embargo regarding medical, humanitarian, and agricultural materials. The US is the single largest agricultural importer to Cuba, remember? And those reforms have been in place for over a decade! And even before that the same exceptions existed, but the world's humanitarian-industrial complex complained that the paperwork required was too onerous. (On which I call BS.) But, it got corrected, at any rate."

In other words you only want to assess the impact of the embargo post 2000, and not back when it did its real damage? As I see it, there were 2 critical periods when the embargo had a huge impact on Cuba, in the 1960's and then the 1990's , after the collapse of the USSR. Those are the periods addressed in the articles I cited, and in the last article by Jose Latour in the final article I linked you to. I will copy his comments here to refresh your memory, as you seemed to find him supportive of your position:

'Its effects were extremely prej­u­di­cial in the early 1960s.'

'Yet, to their com­plete sur­prise Cubans dis­cov­ered that even though Soviet space explo­ration tech­nol­ogy was cut­ting edge, the U.S.S.R. lagged forty or fifty years behind Amer­i­can know-how in almost every­thing else. Russ­ian internal-combustion engines guz­zled three times more fuel than Amer­i­can engines. Size was a fac­tor fre­quently over­looked in Com­mu­nist indus­trial design, so walls had to be demol­ished, pipes re-laid, to make space for much big­ger elec­tric motors, pumps, etc. Stan­dards were dif­fer­ent in prac­ti­cally every­thing, from screws and nuts to tele­vi­sion sta­tions. To fur­ther com­pound the prob­lem, the Soviet economy’s rigid plan­ning cre­ated obsta­cles that could only be sur­mounted when Moscow’s polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment egged on its state-owned com­pa­nies to serve orders filled by the new ally.'

Such was the disruptive impact of the embargo on a then particularly vulnerable Cuban economy that had been dependent on US machinery, technology, etc prior to the embargo.

"@"That you discount the informed judgement of several respected organizations composed of your peers also troubles me."
@"As for calling BS, frankly, I'll go with the opinions of the American Society of Internal Medicine:"

Well, let's actually get this one right. That's the paper I was talking about, published in 2000, before the reforms. And it was NOT any sort of consensus statement on the part of the Society as you seem to think- so really you're placing all of your faith in a SINGLE author, Michele Barry. Who, it turns out, relied heavily on official Cuban statistics. (It took me a while to read through all of the references.) He seems like a rather admirable guy in general; he helps run the Global Health Corps. But that probably does color his outlook, though- he wants unrestricted access to Cuba.

But, anyway, you are NOT "going with the opinions of the American Society of Internal Medicine." Let's make that clear. You're going with the opinions of Michele Barry. Yes, his paper passed peer-review, which just means that his data analysis probably wasn't flawed but does not discount the questionable source of his data. You'd be shocked at some of the stuff that gets past peer-review in medical journals."

I'll try to deal with this one as one package, since you seem to be treating the entire peer review process pretty cavalierly. Here is a reply to a query I sent to a friend who is a clinical professor of psychiatry at a major university, and himself the author of a number of peer reviewed articles published in scientific journals:

"All articles that are submitted to a peer reviewed journal are reviewed by at least 3 and usually 5 independent experts in the field. They're not reviewed by the editors or by the editorial staff except for formatting etc. once an article has been accepted. The 3 to 5 reviewers are asked to look at the article in its entirety: relevance, contribution, methodology, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, strengths, weakness, conflict of interest, references, etc., etc.

The article can be out right rejected, asked for modification in response to all reviewers comments, reanalyzed, resubmitted, and very rarely accepted after the 1st run through the reviewers. Unless every single reviewer's comment is addressed and the appropriate modifications made in the manuscript, it is unlikely to ever be accepted.

Finally, there has been a unification of the rules across all peer-reviewed journals that this protocol is pretty much followed by everyone.

The editors are responsible for everything that is published but they only do so after this rigorous process has been completed."

Given these comments by one who has been thru the process many times, I question your comments about the quality of Barry's data. Whether or not his conclusions reflect the opinions of the American Society of Internal Medicine I cannot know, but I would be surprised if they dismissed his article and its conclusions as cavalierly as you have, given the rigorous process it was subject to before being published. By the way, there are numerous articles on the same subject in PubMed, drawing pretty much the same conclusions. You can look them up if you're interested.

"@"That doesn't cancel out what they had to say about the impact of the embargo. I read all of the article and decided to use it precisely because of its even handed approach to the issue."

True. But they say almost nothing about the impact of the embargo, whereas they go on for PAGES about economic rights, etc. I'm just saying that this is what their real concern is. If they were concerned about the medical situation in Cuba they would have given the issue more than a few paragraphs in that monstrously large paper. Truly- I'm not kidding here- that paper sounds much more like MY argument than yours. They're saying that the embargo only serves to prop up the Castros."

What I'm after is as close an approximation of the truth as we can, between us, come up with. To that end, I have no qualms about including data that supports your position as well as mine. In this case, it does both. They obviously have problems with the behavior of both the US and Cuba. Economic rights and access to health care are intertwined, IMO, simply because health care is a function of an economy. It requires resources that cost money, simply put, and are produced by various sectors of an economy.

@"As even you admit, the embargo did have an impact on access to health care prior to 2000, an impact that is still being felt in Cuba today,..."

"Ah, no. The embargo had exceptions even before 2000- they just required a bit more effort from the NGOs, who basically abandoned the issue. And, frankly, if Cuba can't turn things around in a decade that says something about their economy, doesn't it? Their economy and trade practices remain f-ed up, which is not the fault of the embargo."

Exceptions that Cuba couldn't pay for in the economically chaotic period after the abrupt withdrawal of Soviet support. That is the period the articles I cited deal with.

"@"Here's the official EU position on the matter. It's a bit less condescending, but also a bit more nuanced than your schoolyard bully metaphor."

More nuanced, yes, but my metaphor was essentially correct, given that source. And also, note how critical they are of the Castro regime as a source of Cuban ills. I actually don't find ANYTHING in that which addresses the impact of the embargo except for two throw-away sentences near the end. They're just addressing their distaste of unilateralism. Like I said."

Beyond unilateralism, there are important legal questions like extra territoriality, in this case subjecting foreign companies to US law and banning foreign ships that have docked in Cuban ports within 6 months. This is not throw away stuff, Dean. Nor is their moral outrage at the impact of the embargo on health care in Cuba. You don't get in excess of 180 nations voting against the most powerful nation on earth in the UN year after year without some substance to their disapproval. It is no surprise that it is also reflected in the official EU position as well.

"Humans I'm willing to cut some slack, but we're not talking about humans- we're talking about GOVERNMENTS, about which I am endlessly suspicious. The sole purpose of all governments is to perpetuate itself, nothing else."

Governments are conceived by people, administered by people, and in many cases act in the perceived best interests of the people they govern. Many are actually chosen by the people these days. Many are also corrupt, not by design but due to the nature of the people who administer them. I don't see how you can separate the two. In any case, governments are the best thing we have been able to come up with to date to keep us from the law of the jungle. What would you propose as an alternative?

"Uh, so have I convinced you or something? Because that link looks like a long analysis of everything that's wrong with the Cuban economy and I lost track of how many times it says "The American embargo had nothing to do with this." (Direct quote.) Actually, it does mention some things the embargo did, but none seem very relevant to what we're discussing- tooling and the like. It is damned interesting reading, though, I'll give you that. I'll sit down with it in more detail when I have the time."

As I said above, I am interested in getting a better understanding of the subject, and if that means including data that you can use against me, so be it. I'm more interested in the truth than winning a debate. But for me, the issue is decidedly more nuanced than you seem to see it. As I said early on, I am no defender of the Castros' performance, but neither can I defend our odious behavior which, in addition to driving the Castros into the arms of the Soviets, caused enormous unnecessary suffering for the Cuban people. Better we had engaged them and tried to influence their path peacefully. Check books blazing, student exchanges, cultural exchanges, that kind of touchy feely stuff. Instead, we let macho pride and a cabal of Cuban
expats lead us into a fiasco that has tarnished our reputation worldwide and helped perpetuate a humanitarian disaster.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Re: So.. what are you arguing, then? on 03/01/2013 09:46:30 MST Print View

Sucking me in again... But seriously, we're just repeating ourselves, so I'll limit commentary to a few points:

@ "I'm not trolling you, and you haven't addressed every question I raised.."

OK- that was meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek (I should've smilied) but statements like that often are a troll, even if unintentional. It implies that the other person has the burden of proof, and they have to expend time and effort composing a response while you just get to sit back and be reactionary. REAL trolls do it so that they can suck up time and attention from people- which is what they want.

I think I've explained my reasoning well enough. If you truly don't understand my argument it's due to cognitive dissonance or something. It's a rational argument. We simply disagree.

@ "In other words you only want to assess the impact of the embargo post 2000, and not back when it did its real damage? As I see it, there were 2 critical periods when the embargo had a huge impact on Cuba, in the 1960's and then the 1990's , after the collapse of the USSR. Those are the periods addressed in the articles I cited,"

So, yes, you're citing old data. :)

But, seriously, if you're going to criticize the embargo then yes you should criticize the current form. Doing otherwise is like criticizing US voting laws by attacking Jim Crow- it's old news. There have been essentially no roadblocks to medical or agricultural trade between the US and Cuba for over a decade and relatively few even before that, which completely nullifies the supposed "humanitarian" argument against the embargo. There are better arguments, as I have been endorsing. I'm also not saying that the embargo had NO effect on the Cuban economy- heck, I quantified it! I gave you a dollar figure. But it isn't enough to explain why Cuba's economy is in the toilet. Did the embargo cause annoying hardships involving re-gauging all of the pipes? Yeah, I imagine it did. But this did not sink the Cuban economy. The Cuban government sank the Cuban economy. You keep asking me to read papers from medical journals; did you read the parts of the State Department paper and the Amnesty International paper that spell out the ridiculous policies of the Cuban government which led to the death of their economy? You say that my analysis lacks complexity- I'll turn that around and say that perhaps you need a more complex take on the issue, too, than just "the embargo is to blame!"

You asked why I'm not placing much stock in medical journals. Ok. Those medical journal papers that you tout understandably focus on one issue- that healthcare in Cuban is declining. Which it is. They make a few token attempts to explain this via the embargo but, brother, these are NOT insightful economic analyses. Are you really going to accept a paper in a medical journal as an authority on the Cuban economy? Cuba has less and less medical infrastructure because they can't PAY for it, not because of the embargo. So, regarding the Cuban economy and why it is in such poor shape I'll stick with the Department of State and the US Chamber of Commerce.

Because I think that's the nut of our disagreement- the degree to which the embargo killed the Cuban economy. Am I wrong? Because access to medical supplies is not an issue- they have it. They just can't PAY for it.

If you want to convince me you'll have to find reputable economic analyses, not medical ones. And, yes, I'm suspect of the UN- academic sources would be better. Seriously, I'm not being persnickety- that might move my opinion. But even then I suspect that we would just start producing papers with conflicting conclusions, and in a field in which I'm not any great authority and thus much less able to critique them intelligently, so I'm not sure their would be any point. Unlike below:

@ "Given these comments by one who has been thru the process many times, I question your comments about the quality of Barry's data."

As someone who is familiar with the medical literature and the peer-review process I will assure you that a LOT of garbage gets published, especially on subjects with a clear political angle. If you or your psychiatry friend try to tell me otherwise I will laugh in your faces. (A good though nonpolitical example that I just discussed with my partners recently are all of the papers that supposedly "proved" that laparoscopic inguinal hernia repairs cost less and have quicker return-to-work times than open hernia repairs. Ha! Cui bono? I'll tell you who- the MIS surgeons!) Barry's paper remains a single-author paper with a few interesting anecdotes but with much of it's conclusions based on data from questionable sources. Now, a lot of papers are published with imperfect data- that's life. We often have nothing better, and we have to base decisions on something. But it's not an invalid criticism. The reviewers check a lot things, including the integrity of data- meaning that they try to see if it looks fictional. Barry chose to use data derived from Cuban sources. It's "valid" official data per se, but a rational person would still question it. (Christ, I do HOPE you question it...) Also, a medical paper written by a doctor is not necessarily a reliable economic analysis, as I mentioned above.

@ "Beyond unilateralism, there are important legal questions like extra territoriality, ... This is not throw away stuff, Dean."

And I'm not saying that it is. There are many GREAT arguments that the embargo has to go. I merely maintain that Cuba's decrepit economy isn't one of them- that's on the Cubans.

You're sort of preaching to the choir on this one. I'm not sure what your point is- I AGREE with you on this stuff. Just not that the embargo has throttled Cuba's economy, and it's their economy that I blame for their unfortunate humanitarian issues.

Edited by acrosome on 03/01/2013 12:05:37 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So.. what are you arguing, then? on 03/01/2013 16:02:25 MST Print View

"But seriously, we're just repeating ourselves, so I'll limit commentary to a few points:"

Agreed. I think we're about ready to call it a day on this one, so I'll be brief as well.

"OK- that was meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek (I should've smilied) but statements like that often are a troll, even if unintentional. It implies that the other person has the burden of proof, and they have to expend time and effort composing a response while you just get to sit back and be reactionary. REAL trolls do it so that they can suck up time and attention from people- which is what they want."

In a back and forth discussion like ours, when a person cites sources, the burden IS on the other person to react, as you rightly pointed out to me when I neglected to read your link to the State Dept report. It's how such discussions are conducted if they are to avoid merely exchanging opinions. But as long as you don't think I'm
a real troll, I'll let it go at that. ;)

"I think I've explained my reasoning well enough. If you truly don't understand my argument it's due to cognitive dissonance or something. It's a rational argument. We simply disagree."

I think by now I understand your argument perfectly well, and it is a rational one. I just don't entirely agree with it. Your focus has been on the impact of the embargo on the Cuban economy in general, while mine has been focused more on the impact of the embargo on Cuban health care, and secondarily on its impact on the Cuban economy in general.

"So, yes, you're citing old data. :)" Definitely, because the impact of the embargo
at those critical times had effects that last to this day. As Jose Latour, who you cite as supporting your argument said, the impact was particularly severe in the 60's just after the revolution. This put the Cuban economy behind the 8 ball from the very beginning and forced them into the arms of a waiting USSR with disastrous long term consequences for reasons you and I mostly agree on, as can be seen from the downward spiral of the Cuban economy after the USSR withdrew its support in the early 90's. The Torricelli and Helm-Burton Acts were crafted precisely to take advantage of this, and the timing was no accident. This period is the one which the medical articles I cited address, with justifiable, IMO, moral outrage, given the oath all physician take. As I said, there are more articles out on PubMed along the same lines.

"But, seriously, if you're going to criticize the embargo then yes you should criticize the current form."

And I do, although for a different reason: It is a foreign policy disaster, particularly in the aftermath of our Iraq debacle, in which I include the embargo we imposed on them during the 90's. We are squandering our moral credibility at a time when it is most needed if we are to avoid being reduced to brute force as a way of pursuing our foreign policy objectives. One morally illegitimate embargo is bad enough, but the two of them together have earned us an incredible amount of enmity around the world. We can ill afford to continue along this path, IMO. BTW, Hillary reaffirmed her support for the embargo a couple of weeks ago in one of her last public appearances. :(


"There have been essentially no roadblocks to medical or agricultural trade between the US and Cuba for over a decade and relatively few even before that, which completely nullifies the supposed "humanitarian" argument against the embargo."

Here we disagree.

I'm also not saying that the embargo had NO effect on the Cuban economy- heck, I quantified it! I gave you a dollar figure. But it isn't enough to explain why Cuba's economy is in the toilet. Did the embargo cause annoying hardships involving re-gauging all of the pipes? Yeah, I imagine it did."

Mr Latour seemed to think they were more than annoying.

"But this did not sink the Cuban economy."

It hamstrung it at a critical time and forced them down a path that completed the job
by making them dependent on the USSR and its unworkable economic system to survive.
So, I would posit that in that sense it contributed hugely to sinking the Cuban economy. You can say the cuban Government sank the Cuban economy, and in one sense that is partially true, but what was their alternative at the time?

"You keep asking me to read papers from medical journals; did you read the parts of the State Department paper and the Amnesty International paper that spell out the ridiculous policies of the Cuban government which led to the death of their economy?"

Yes, I read them all, and I will be the first to agree that Castro's policies contributed hugely to the sorry state of the Cuban economy. However, as I said immediately above, what choice did they have in the beginning? After they accepted the Soviet economic model in return for aid and protection, the die was pretty much cast. That they had to do this was largely in response to the initial impact of the embargo and a constant threat of invasion by the US/proxies. You do remember the Bay of Pigs and attempted assassination of Fidel Castro during JFK's brief administration?

"You say that my analysis lacks complexity- I'll turn that around and say that perhaps you need a more complex take on the issue, too, than just "the embargo is to blame!""

I have never said that the embargo is entirely to blame anywhere in my posts to this thread, merely that it was a bigger factor than you state. Is the above reasoning complex enough for you? I don't expect you to agree with it, but it has been a recurrent theme running thru my posts from the beginning.

"You asked why I'm not placing much stock in medical journals. Ok. Those medical journal papers that you tout understandably focus on one issue- that healthcare in Cuban is declining. Which it is. They make a few token attempts to explain this via the embargo but, brother, these are NOT insightful economic analyses. Are you really going to accept a paper in a medical journal as an authority on the Cuban economy?"

Nope, just an authority on Cuban health care. Hopefully we can agree that the 3-5 reviewers of the article were selected for their expertise in the field? Do you have any reason to question their credentials? Otherwise, it seems to me you are calling the entire peer review process into question.

"Cuba has less and less medical infrastructure because they can't PAY for it, not because of the embargo. So, regarding the Cuban economy and why it is in such poor shape I'll stick with the Department of State and the US Chamber of Commerce."

Again, I'll go back to that initial period after the revolution, when they were forced down a disastrous path.

"Because I think that's the nut of our disagreement- the degree to which the embargo killed the Cuban economy. Am I wrong?"

Precisely.

"Because access to medical supplies is not an issue- they have it. They just can't PAY for it."

If you can't pay for it, you can't access it. Just like here in the USA. Does that make it right? Not in the view of a vast majority of the nation of the world, where access to health care is ocnsidered a basic human right. To the degree we are perceived as being largely responsible for that sad state of affairs, we have a major foreign policy disaster on our hands.

"If you want to convince me you'll have to find reputable economic analyses, not medical ones."

I've done about as much as I have time for. I rest my case.

"And, yes, I'm suspect of the UN- academic sources would be better. Seriously, I'm not being persnickety- that might move my opinion. But even then I suspect that we would just start producing papers with conflicting conclusions, and in a field in which I'm not any great authority and thus much less able to critique them intelligently, so I'm not sure their would be any point. Unlike below:"

Pretty much why I feel like I would be wasting my time digging up academic sources, especially given your reaction to my medical sources.

"As someone who is familiar with the medical literature and the peer-review process I will assure you that a LOT of garbage gets published, especially on subjects with a clear political angle."

That's odd; I thought it was a humanitarian issue regarding access to health care.

"If you or your psychiatry friend try to tell me otherwise I will laugh in your faces. (A good though nonpolitical example that I just discussed with my partners recently are all of the papers that supposedly "proved" that laparoscopic inguinal hernia repairs cost less and have quicker return-to-work times than open hernia repairs. Ha! Cui bono? I'll tell you who- the MIS surgeons!)"

Laugh, if you will. I can take it, and my friend could care less. ;0) My response would be that the exception proves the rule. Again, unless you are calling the entire process, which is the best the scientific community has been able to come up with to date, suspect, it would seem that you would give a certain deference to a peer reviewed article barring concrete evidence to the contrary. Else why bother citing sources in the first place? Which is what we have been doing throughout this thread. My 2 cents


"Barry's paper remains a single-author paper with a few interesting anecdotes but with much of it's conclusions based on data from questionable sources. Now, a lot of papers are published with imperfect data- that's life. We often have nothing better, and we have to base decisions on something. But it's not an invalid criticism. The reviewers check a lot things, including the integrity of data- meaning that they try to see if it looks fictional. Barry chose to use data derived from Cuban sources. It's "valid" official data per se, but a rational person would still question it. (Christ, I do HOPE you question it...) Also, a medical paper written by a doctor is not necessarily a reliable economic analysis, as I mentioned above.

The reviewers, presumably selected for their expertise, didn't seem to think the sources were questionable enough to refrain from citing them. What would be your grounds for deeming them questionable, other than that they are Cuban? As you said, we have to base decisions on something. I might question the sources but, lacking the necessary expertise, I would still tend to give deference to 3-5 independent experts unless I had equally competent sources who held otherwise. As I mentioned above it was, IMO, an analysis of a health care situation, not a larger economic analysis.

"And I'm not saying that it is. There are many GREAT arguments that the embargo has to go. I merely maintain that Cuba's decrepit economy isn't one of them- that's on the Cubans.

You're sort of preaching to the choir on this one. I'm not sure what your point is- I AGREE with you on this stuff. Just not that the embargo has throttled Cuba's economy, and it's their economy that I blame for their unfortunate humanitarian issues."

We'll just have to disagree on tis one, at least partially. I think part of our disagreement is which time frame we use to assess the embargo's impact, and partly how much the decrepit state of Cuba's economy is responsible for the health care issues.

Thanks for another interesting exchange.

Edited by ouzel on 03/01/2013 16:35:28 MST.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So.. what are you arguing, then? on 03/02/2013 08:38:51 MST Print View

"so I'll be brief as well."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2y8Sx4B2Sk

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
3-5 experts on 03/06/2013 10:12:02 MST Print View

Re" brevity. Yes, clearly Tom and I both have problems with this...

I have to tell you, Tom, that the constant trumpeting about "3-5 experts in the field" strikes me as a great bit of obfuscation of the patent fact that Barry is arguing an economic issue in a medical publication. And that's really what it comes down to.

Clearly there ARE failures of your "3-5 experts", since clearly garbage does get published. Not to mention all of the CONTRADICTORY stuff that gets published- how can they BOTH be right? Yet both passed peer review... Jesus- I can't tell you how much garbage is out there. Seriously- talk to your psychiatry friend, again, and ask him about the bad papers that get published. If he's being honest he'll tell you. How many "experts" on Cuban healthcare and economy do you suppose Ann In Med could scrape up for that one? Really? On a subject like outcomes from bariatric surgery, yes, it is easy to produce a ton of reviewers who can critique intelligently and in an unbiased way, but not on this! And if they could find some that might qualify as "experts" they undoubtedly would have humanitarian backgrounds themselves, and thus share his desire for an open Cuba. And they'd still be more experts on delivery of humanitarian aid than on embargo effects. More likely, though, these reviewers weren't of any particular expertise on the subject. I do understand why Ann In Med published that paper- all journals publish the equivalent of a "human interest story" now and then. They're fun. But Barry's conclusions should have been something along the lines of "healthcare in Cuban has been in a steady decline", rather than "the embargo is killing Cuban healthcare." Because he didn't PROVE the latter. But stuff like that slips through in conclusions ALL THE TIME.

Talk to you friend about the peer review process some more. It's the best we have, yes, but it isn't perfect, and medical journals are just as guilty as anyone else about trumpeting agendas. And if as you claim you don't understand how this has an agenda then, well, you don't understand that.

Edited by acrosome on 03/06/2013 10:13:23 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: 3-5 experts on 03/06/2013 17:38:27 MST Print View

"I have to tell you, Tom, that the constant trumpeting about "3-5 experts in the field" strikes me as a great bit of obfuscation of the patent fact that Barry is arguing an economic issue in a medical publication. And that's really what it comes down to."

And here I thought he was arguing about the impact of an economic issue on health care, the latter of which is a legitimate issue for the journal to be concerned with.

"How many "experts" on Cuban healthcare and economy do you suppose Ann In Med could scrape up for that one? Really?"

I don't know, Dean. Do you have any idea? Seriously. Ideally, they would be assembled from international sources, the WHO perhaps, but I'd speculate that in this case they were probably from the US. But even if the supply was limited, how does that impugn their expertise? Ultimately, if Ann In Med wants to maintain its reputation as a reputable journal, it can't go around publishing garbage, can it? Given the intense animosity toward the Castro regime here in the US, I should think there would have been an immediate and overwhelmingly critical response if the article was as far off the mark as you seem to assume.

"Seriously- talk to your psychiatry friend, again, and ask him about the bad papers that get published. If he's being honest he'll tell you."

This guy is my best friend, so there is no question of honesty involved. I will definitely inquire as to the frequency of garbage in peer reviewed journal, though, as you have piqued my curiosity. It may be that I phrased my original question to him too narrowly.

"but not on this! And if they could find some that might qualify as "experts" they undoubtedly would have humanitarian backgrounds themselves, and thus share his desire for an open Cuba. And they'd still be more experts on delivery of humanitarian aid than on embargo effects. More likely, though, these reviewers weren't of any particular expertise on the subject."

This is where I start to have trouble with what you are saying. You are making a lot of unsubstantiated assumptions in an effort to destroy the credibility of the source I linked you to. How do you know the sources had no particular expertise, and why would a journal Ann In Med put its reputation on the line by publishing garbage? Again, seriously, why would they do that?

"But Barry's conclusions should have been something along the lines of "healthcare in Cuban has been in a steady decline", rather than "the embargo is killing Cuban healthcare." Because he didn't PROVE the latter. But stuff like that slips through in conclusions ALL THE TIME."

AS I asked above, why wasn't there a response along those lines from experts espousing your point of view, given the controversial nature of the subject? I should think the Cuban expat crowd, among others, would have jumped all over that one. It just doesn't compute, at least not to me. As you say, there are all sorts of peer reviewed articles coming to exactly the opposite conclusions. Why not in this case? Also, as I mentioned in my last post, there are a number of other articles arriving at pretty much the same conclusions over on PubMed. Where are the peer reviewed countervailing arguments?

"Talk to you friend about the peer review process some more. It's the best we have, yes, but it isn't perfect, and medical journals are just as guilty as anyone else about trumpeting agendas. And if as you claim you don't understand how this has an agenda then, well, you don't understand that."

Agreed, not perfect but the best we have, which is why I cited articles written under its protocols. It was the best I could find to support my point of view, and certainly better than my opinion. What else would you have me do? Can you point me to any peer reviewed articles, or other academic sources to support your point of view? I promise to read them if you do. But, so far, all I am hearing from you is how flawed the process is and how biased the author is. Yes, the author probably does have an agenda, as do many physicians familiar with the embargo on humanitarian grounds, but he submitted his article to presumably dispassionate, neutral review, and it was passed. I suppose the jury could have been stacked, but it seems a stretch to me. Again, the journal's reputation would potentially be on the line.

In any case, I will definitely talk more with my friend about the review process, for my own enlightenment. Like I said, I am more interested in the truth here than in being right.

Getting briefer. ;0)

Jeremy B.
(requiem) - F - M

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: 3-5 experts on 03/07/2013 01:39:22 MST Print View

Ultimately, if Ann In Med wants to maintain its reputation as a reputable journal, it can't go around publishing garbage, can it?

That assumes it is able to tell the difference, but "garbage" may be taking things a bit far. To briefly jump in on the issue of journal articles, I'll toss in a few links.

First, an account of reproducibility issues increasingly cropping up in science can be found here:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203764804577059841672541590.html

In case that was behind a paywall, this Reuters piece is more entertaining:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/28/us-science-cancer-idUSBRE82R12P20120328

Short summary: Most results can't be reproduced. Many causes may be benign, but there's a huge pressure for scientists to publish, and a massive volume of papers. For industry or venture capitalists, that means anything coming out of academia needs to be verified before it can be trusted to base a project on.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: 3-5 experts on 03/07/2013 08:59:02 MST Print View

@ Jeremy- that's more of an issue in basic science, I suspect. And, usually you can spot the papers with clear commercial bias. But, no, IMO "garbage" is not too strong a word for some stuff I see in medical journals.

I've discovered that when a layman tries to cite a medical article, it's usually a BAD one. Kind of like how bad money drives out good, or something. A great example was that one paper about vaccines and autism from Lancet, which was horrible. The authors retracted and disavowed it (after the lead author was found guilty of misconduct), the editor admitted it never should have gotten published, etc., yet it is still cited on all the wingnut websites.

But I'll grant you this- I've been taught to be very critical of journal articles, so perhaps my suspicious nature colors my outlook. My residency program hit that subject pretty hard. If you're going to be practicing medicine you've got to be able to spot BS. I am definitely capable of going through a paper and deciding if it's a "good" one or not. And, yes, there are a lot of "not good" ones out there. That's the simple truth. I will also grant you this: Ann In Med is a higher-end journal, so probably less garbage, but also certainly not garbage-free.

A good example- a recent study found that about 30% of recent journal articles were ghost-written. Translation: some drug company or other third party approached a doctor with data about one of their products and offered an honorarium if they'd put their name on it and publish it.

@ "And here I thought he was arguing about the impact of an economic issue on health care, the latter of which is a legitimate issue for the journal to be concerned with."

And yet it was published in Ann In Med rather than a public health journal or somesuch. Huh. Stuff like that always makes one wonder. (Trained to be critical- remember?) It's kind of like when a laparoscopy paper gets published in the Journal of Endoscopic Treatment rather than JACS- it's just not quite right...

"I don't know, Dean. Do you have any idea? Seriously. Ideally, they would be assembled from international sources, the WHO perhaps, but I'd speculate that in this case they were probably from the US. But even if the supply was limited, how does that impugn their expertise?"

Well, if we're being serious, I'd guess they were Americans, yes. But I think that you are clearly misinterpreting the word "expertise" on this one, Tom. That probably sounds harsh but I'm really not trying to be snide- please listen. Actually, if he used the word "expert" your friend misled you a bit- there is far too much stuff submitted for publication to get the true experts to review it all. On obscure subjects you can usually only produce reviewers who are competent at data analysis, but not experts in the field. One gets to be a reviewer slowly. You publish a few things in a journal yourself. Then that journal asks if you'd like to review someone else's paper, and if so they send you a minor work of little import, and they examine your critiques. Most critiques involve study design or data analysis- that's where a reviewer can shine. (And Barry's paper, frankly, has almost none of either.) For instance, if the reviewer points out that the statistical test used wasn't a valid one for the question asked that pretty much sends the author back to the drawing board. The best critiques involve hard points like that. (As I said, a lot of sloppiness gets sneaked through in the conclusions section, which is more subjective. That's why it is important to review the data presented and not just read the conclusions.) If you produce good critiques the journal starts sending you more important papers to review. "Important" meaning more data-heavy, analytical, and on a timely subject and thus likely to change practice. The editor himself has finite time to go through all of this- unless the paper is important, often reviewer comments are just forwarded to an author to be addressed before re-submission.

Being a reviewer does NOT necessarily mean that you are an Expert on the paper's subject, though you can be, especially if the paper is capital-I Important. For instance, if some paper claimed to overturn the nonoperative management of solid viscus injuries they might well ask Maddox to be a reviewer. There are certainly enough bariatric surgeons out there that they can always have them critiquing articles on that subject, but even then unless the article is very important it probably won't include one of the dozen or so true national bariatric gurus. There are simply too many papers submitted. Hell, I've both published and given presentations at conferences, and believe me I am no particular expert on any of those subjects!

But Barry's paper DEFINITELY qualifies as one of those "low import" papers on which new reviewers cut their teeth. I mean- there really isn't much in it to review- he just cites some other sources and discusses what they say, and presents some "conclusions." (And, yes, the scare quotes are intentional.) These conclusions are rather subjective- it's not like saying 12% died on antibiotic A and 42% died on antibiotic B, so A must be better. There's no hard data or analysis there. In essence, it's an opinion paper- what we call class 4 or 5 data. See:

http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Types_of_Evidence_in_Medicine

For instance, when you read a Cochrane review they always specify what class of evidence their recommendations are based upon. (This is a 5-point scale, with 1 being the best and 5 the worst evidence.) Now, sometimes bad evidence is the only evidence you have, but you should still keeps it's quality in mind. An opinion paper by Maddox probably carries a lot of weight, without better evidence to the contrary. (I admit ignorance as to Barry's standing in this field.)

Just as in the media, journals occasionally re-visit issues, and I think this paper is an example of that. "Well, it's about time we made it clear that we don't support the Cuban embargo again, eh, fellows?"

And, yes, I'll go out on a limb and suppose that no one who reviews for Ann In Med is going to be terribly familiar with the effects of the Cuban embargo. Papers like this get published for the same reason that papers about war wounds get published in surgical journals- even though high explosive injuries aren't really applicable to civilian practice they are interesting and different, and a nice break from the glut of the usual stuff. Oddly, this means that the reviews tend to be a bit less rigorous, since they want to publish them, for the sake of interest.

Whew! Well, I'll calm down a bit now. (The subject of critiquing journal articles always gets me going.) I'm not trying to be totally dismissive of the Barry paper- it is certainly a brick in your argument. I'm really just trying to say that you shouldn't hang your hat on it to the degree that you seem to be. It isn't gospel. And, in fact, it's a poor argument. An argument, yes, but far from your strongest. Honest- it's a fluff piece. IMO your best argument is the one about residual or continuing effects from when the embargo was much more strict. But, as I mentioned, we need to look at something from economic sources to decide if that's valid. From an admittedly layman's perspective I would propose that if Cuba didn't have mandated asinine economic practices they would have recovered since those stricter versions were stopped. Saying that the embargo "forced" Cuba to adopt the Soviets' bankrupt economic system sounds like another weak argument. They chose that economic system. They could liberalize today, and their recovery would be swift, even with the current embargo in place. They could have liberalized any time in the past fifty years.

Now, what would REALLY be fun would be to switch sides in this debate and see what we could each produce!

Edited by acrosome on 03/07/2013 09:47:32 MST.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: 3-5 experts on 03/07/2013 12:57:21 MST Print View

Nice thread drift, once again. I know nothing about the realities of the Cuban embargo. I know too much about the peer review process, and agree with Dean on this one, I'll take it one step further and add that a large proportion of articles submitted for potential publication get rejected, so you never even read about the research. Often this rejection is due to poor study design or interpretation, but just as often it is because the research doesn't 'jive' with the reviewers world view, or because it is what we call a 'negative' study. In other words, if someone submitted a paper which concluded the embargo had no impact on health care in Cuba, it may be less likely to get published merely because it is boring to read about studies that don' show anything exciting. There are powerful biases at all levels of the peer-review process, to the extent that what is published is not necessarily the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: 3-5 experts on 03/07/2013 19:51:08 MST Print View

"I've discovered that when a layman tries to cite a medical article, it's usually a BAD one. Kind of like how bad money drives out good, or something. A great example was that one paper about vaccines and autism from Lancet, which was horrible. The authors retracted and disavowed it (after the lead author was found guilty of misconduct), the editor admitted it never should have gotten published, etc., yet it is still cited on all the wingnut websites."

Are you arguing that because I'm a layman every medical article that I cite is a bad one? I've cited a fair number of them, all coming to pretty much the same conclusion. Are they all bad? If so, where are your countervailing good sources to support your argument?


"But I'll grant you this- I've been taught to be very critical of journal articles, so perhaps my suspicious nature colors my outlook. My residency program hit that subject pretty hard. If you're going to be practicing medicine you've got to be able to spot BS. I am definitely capable of going through a paper and deciding if it's a "good" one or not. And, yes, there are a lot of "not good" ones out there. That's the simple truth. I will also grant you this: Ann In Med is a higher-end journal, so probably less garbage, but also certainly not garbage-free."

In one sense, your training has taken this discussion to a higher level, at least as far as concerns me, by forcing me to choose my sources with extra care, knowing I shall have to defend them against a formidable opponent. On the other hand, your self described ability to decide which articles are "good" and which are "not good" troubles me, especially when the subject at hand is one outside of your field of expertise, as you freely admit. I am relieved that you consider Ann In Med to be a higher end journal, which should make articles published by it at least admissible in support of my position.

"A good example- a recent study found that about 30% of recent journal articles were ghost-written. Translation: some drug company or other third party approached a doctor with data about one of their products and offered an honorarium if they'd put their name on it and publish it."

How does that concern our discussion? Do you think the Cuban Government paid some of my sources to write these articles, and the journals cited to publish them? ;0)

"And yet it was published in Ann In Med rather than a public health journal or somesuch. Huh. Stuff like that always makes one wonder. (Trained to be critical- remember?) "

OK, then lets go back to a source I initially cited, which you have ignored so far in this discussion, The American Journal of Public Health. My original citation linked to an abstract, but I will link to the complete article here for your convenience. It seems to this layman to be well written and copiously references a variety of sources, including The New England Journal of Medicine, The WHO, AJPH, Lancet, and a host of others. I will be interested to know your opinion about its contents, as well as whether or not it falls in the garbage category. If it passes muster, I think you will have to admit that it pretty well nails down the connection between the embargo and Cuba's deteriorating health care and nutrition situation in the early 90's, with results which far outlast the date when the embargo restrictions were loosened.

Edited to include link to full article. Another senior moment. Sorry to keep you in suspense, Dean. ;)

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1380757/pdf/amjph00500-0017.pdf

"Well, if we're being serious, I'd guess they were Americans, yes. But I think that you are clearly misinterpreting the word "expertise" on this one, Tom. That probably sounds harsh but I'm really not trying to be snide- please listen. Actually, if he used the word "expert" your friend misled you a bit- there is far too much stuff submitted for publication to get the true experts to review it all. On obscure subjects you can usually only produce reviewers who are competent at data analysis, but not experts in the field. One gets to be a reviewer slowly. You publish a few things in a journal yourself. Then that journal asks if you'd like to review someone else's paper, and if so they send you a minor work of little import, and they examine your critiques. Most critiques involve study design or data analysis- that's where a reviewer can shine. (And Barry's paper, frankly, has almost none of either.) For instance, if the reviewer points out that the statistical test used wasn't a valid one for the question asked that pretty much sends the author back to the drawing board. The best critiques involve hard points like that. (As I said, a lot of sloppiness gets sneaked through in the conclusions section, which is more subjective. That's why it is important to review the data presented and not just read the conclusions.) If you produce good critiques the journal starts sending you more important papers to review. "Important" meaning more data-heavy, analytical, and on a timely subject and thus likely to change practice. The editor himself has finite time to go through all of this- unless the paper is important, often reviewer comments are just forwarded to an author to be addressed before re-submission.

Being a reviewer does NOT necessarily mean that you are an Expert on the paper's subject, though you can be, especially if the paper is capital-I Important. For instance, if some paper claimed to overturn the nonoperative management of solid viscus injuries they might well ask Maddox to be a reviewer. There are certainly enough bariatric surgeons out there that they can always have them critiquing articles on that subject, but even then unless the article is very important it probably won't include one of the dozen or so true national bariatric gurus. There are simply too many papers submitted. Hell, I've both published and given presentations at conferences, and believe me I am no particular expert on any of those subjects!"



But Barry's paper DEFINITELY qualifies as one of those "low import" papers on which new reviewers cut their teeth. I mean- there really isn't much in it to review- he just cites some other sources and discusses what they say, and presents some "conclusions." (And, yes, the scare quotes are intentional.) These conclusions are rather subjective- it's not like saying 12% died on antibiotic A and 42% died on antibiotic B, so A must be better. There's no hard data or analysis there. In essence, it's an opinion paper- what we call class 4 or 5 data. See:

http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Types_of_Evidence_in_Medicine

For instance, when you read a Cochrane review they always specify what class of evidence their recommendations are based upon. (This is a 5-point scale, with 1 being the best and 5 the worst evidence.) Now, sometimes bad evidence is the only evidence you have, but you should still keeps it's quality in mind. An opinion paper by Maddox probably carries a lot of weight, without better evidence to the contrary. (I admit ignorance as to Barry's standing in this field.)"

I don't dispute any of this as a general description of the shortcomings of the peer review system, even though it is the best thing we have going at present. How could I, as a layman? Still, you haven't shown me any hard data to support your characterization of the Barry article as flawed, and both its data sources and reviewers as being of dubious quality, other than to say that data from Cuban sources is, ipso facto, flawed.
Were someone to write an article about child malnutrition in the US, citing US sources, be similarly flawed, or is US data, by definition, valid? Just curious. Or would this be just another example of American Exceptionalism? ;0)

"Just as in the media, journals occasionally re-visit issues, and I think this paper is an example of that. "Well, it's about time we made it clear that we don't support the Cuban embargo again, eh, fellows?""

I seem to recall you telling me several posts ago that the article could not be construed in any way as reflecting the opinion of the editors of Ann In Med. Have you had a change of heart. ;0)

"And, yes, I'll go out on a limb and suppose that no one who reviews for Ann In Med is going to be terribly familiar with the effects of the Cuban embargo. Papers like this get published for the same reason that papers about war wounds get published in surgical journals- even though high explosive injuries aren't really applicable to civilian practice they are interesting and different, and a nice break from the glut of the usual stuff. Oddly, this means that the reviews tend to be a bit less rigorous, since they want to publish them, for the sake of interest."

That does seem to be going out on a limb a bit, in the absence of supporting evidence.

Off on a tangent, given the increasing incidence violence in this country and the ever more powerful weaponry employed by both the bad guys and the good guys, I should think that the knowledge of how to treat war wounds would be of more than passing interest to trauma surgeons here in the US.

"Whew! Well, I'll calm down a bit now. (The subject of critiquing journal articles always gets me going.) I'm not trying to be totally dismissive of the Barry paper- it is certainly a brick in your argument. I'm really just trying to say that you shouldn't hang your hat on it to the degree that you seem to be. It isn't gospel. And, in fact, it's a poor argument. An argument, yes, but far from your strongest. Honest- it's a fluff piece."

It appears to me to be more a case of you trying to hang my hat on it. If it were the only article I had cited reaching the same conclusion, I would have to agree with you, especially given that I would be presenting it to a medical professional like you. However, I have cited 2 articles from medical journals, one from Amnesty International, one from a Cuban who lived thru the embargo from its beginning up until 2002, one from the president of the EU, one reflecting the near unanimous opinion of the UN General Assembly, including all of our NATO allies and the Scandinavian countries, practically every nation on earth excepting our toady buddies in Israel, Palau and Micronesia, and two abstentions also from the Pacific Island group. In other words, there is near unanimity among the nations of the world. But, just for the heck of it, I'll add 3 more medical sources on PubMed, from a list of 8 hits I got with a layman's simplistic search argument of (Cuban embargo) AND (health care):

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9648115

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8942780

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7798873

"IMO your best argument is the one about residual or continuing effects from when the embargo was much more strict. But, as I mentioned, we need to look at something from economic sources to decide if that's valid. From an admittedly layman's perspective I would propose that if Cuba didn't have mandated asinine economic practices they would have recovered since those stricter versions were stopped."

As I think we have agreed, part of the fault lies with Cuban economic policies. That said, it is nigh impossible to turn an economy around on a dime, especially when the leaders of a country perceive themselves under siege by a superior power bent on their destruction waiting to exploit the disruption. Remember, they had to slowly and painfully convert to the Soviet system of industrial standards for all the bits and pieces of industry, etc, and would have had to reconvert if they were to integrate with the Western economies. It could be done, and doubtless was being done piecemeal as more and more Western nations decided to defy the US and trade with Cuba, but to turn things around completely would take far longer. Then there is the human reality that positions had hardened on both sides, and not all decisions were being made rationally. Speaking of asinine positions, you could as well argue that we should have turned on a dime and dropped the embargo. Had both sides dropped their asinine positions, I have no doubt the Cuban people would be far better off today than they are, and we would have a slightly lower unemployment rate and far stronger moral standing in the eyes of the world.

"Saying that the embargo "forced" Cuba to adopt the Soviets' bankrupt economic system sounds like another weak argument. They chose that economic system."

Given our attempts to strangle their revolution in the crib, what other choice did they have? The Soviets were the only supporter with the muscle to give us pause, and had a system that was viewed at the time by many less developed nations as offering a credible economic alternative to Western style democratic capitalism in parts of the world where issues of economic justice were far more important than freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, and democracy as a system of government. There simply was no other practical alternative. Keep in mind that the fatal flaws in the Soviet system were yet to be laid bare, and by the time they were, the transition to their model was complete.

"They could liberalize today, and their recovery would be swift, even with the current embargo in place. They could have liberalized any time in the past fifty years."

They are liberalizing today, slowly to be sure, given their well founded suspicions about our intentions, but liberalizing nonetheless. As to whether or not they could have liberalized anytime in the past 50 years, well that is highly debatable. We have discussed that subject peripherally here, but to really get into it would require starting another thread, IMO. It is at heart a geopolitical question where economics and health care would play a supporting role instead of being the center of attention, as they have been here.

"Now, what would REALLY be fun would be to switch sides in this debate and see what we could each produce!"

Your setting me up, Dean. Where would I find any sources to support my new position? ;0)

Edited by ouzel on 03/08/2013 09:36:43 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: 3-5 experts on 03/07/2013 20:12:22 MST Print View

" but just as often it is because the research doesn't 'jive' with the reviewers world view,"

In which case it would be reasonable to assume that if an article IS published, it would likely reflect the reviewer's world view, or at least not offend it? Thinking back to the Barry article published in Ann In Med.

"or because it is what we call a 'negative' study. In other words, if someone submitted a paper which concluded the embargo had no impact on health care in Cuba, it may be less likely to get published merely because it is boring to read about studies that don' show anything exciting."

Even on a subject as controversial in the US as the Cuban embargo? Surely there must be something out there? One teeny weeny little article? Where are the Cuban expats and the various other assorted right wing nutters and Ayn Rand acolytes, including at least a few docs willing to defend the embargo against all those godless Comm-symps over at Ann In Med and the AJPH? The silence has so far been deafening.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: BSA discrimination policy :( on 03/08/2013 08:21:55 MST Print View

"Now, should I boycott BSA

or

undermine their ranks and subvert them with my heathen, godless, ### passion for the outdoors!"

I don't agree with their stance on the exclusion of homosexuals and I'm happy to hear that they are readdressing the issue. While there has always been a spiritual foundation to the BSA, I have no memories of it being oppressive or in my face. I went backpacking with people of all faiths and backgrounds (some of who were de facto agnostic or atheist) and I can't remember it every becoming an issue.

I don't see anything to be gained by trying to subvert the BSA from the inside. The boys are not the guilty parties and don't need that kind of drama. I see this in a similar vein to if I choose to send my kids to a Lutheran camp, I should expect that they will be exposed to Lutheran dogma.

FWIW my new favorite hobby is to read the first and last pages of these lengthy threads and let my imagination resolve what happened in between!

Edited by IDBLOOM on 03/08/2013 09:08:23 MST.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Re: 3-5 experts on 03/08/2013 13:02:46 MST Print View

OK, now we're just getting irritable...

I'm replying very quickly, before my PM clinic starts, so please forgive my bruskness- I haven't had time for my usual re-re-re-editing...

@ "Are you arguing that because I'm a layman every medical article that I cite is a bad one? etc, etc."

No. That was sort of an aside. Step back from the ledge, Tom. For all I know you are NOT a layman, after all. I have no idea what you do.

I was just trying to point out as a general observation that a lot of laymen put great stock in something simply because it was published in a medical journal, and that they shouldn't. There's quite a bit of useless crap in the journals.

I can see how that might have been easily misinterpreted, though. My bad.

@ "On the other hand, your self described ability to decide which articles are "good" and which are "not good" troubles me,..."

Why on earth would that "trouble" you? It's MY JOB. You're sounding rather alarmist here, Tom. Sorry- I'll call that one like I see it. I assume that's just poetic license on your part or something. But there is a lot of garbage, not to mention CONFLICTING data out there, and part of my job is to pluck the wheat from the dross. If that upsets you, well, then that upsets you. I'm sorry.

Yes, this is outside my area of expertise. (As it is outside of yours.) But I am capable of critiquing the basics of a paper. I can tell you if a given statistical test was appropriate, for instance, and I can tell you if something stated in conclusions wasn't even addressed by the data presented.

For instance...

@ "OK, then lets go back to a source I initially cited, which you have ignored so far in this discussion, The American Journal of Public Health...."

OK, lets.

First- it's from 1997! You are again complaining about an embargo that no longer exists. But, whatever, I'll let that slide.

Second, and more to the point, that paper does not say what you seem to think it says. Actually, maybe it DOES say what you think it says, but it shouldn't. They again include statements in their conclusion section that are not supported by their data. That paper is a long analysis of just how degraded the Cuban healthcare system is becoming. In fact, it seems to do a decent job of listing those issues- but I haven't checked their sources to comment on how accurate they are. But that's not the issue. In their conclusions the authors do blame this on the embargo, yet they presented absolutely no evidence to back that up. They seem to assume it as a given. Well, actually, they didn't label it "conclusions", they called it "discussion", which I guess is more forgivable. But my critique stands. Stuff like that gets past reviewers all the time.

You are presenting these medical journal articles as arguments that the embargo is killing Cuban healthcare, and they patently are NOT such evidence. They are evidence that Cuban healthcare is withering, yes, but give no weight to the argument that the embargo is causing this. Most of them ASSUME that the embargo is causing this, and they so state, but none even TRY to present anything to prove that. Which isn't really shocking, since these are MEDICAL journals.

Ugh, clinic. More later...

EDIT- Actually, I read that paper rather quickly. Give me a bit more time to go through it...

By the way, those three abstracts you cite were all from the 90s, too. And abstracts aren't helpful- give me links to full articles, because if you aren't willing to read your own sources I'm certainly not going to do so.

But, honestly, you're moving me on just how bad the 90s were, after the loss of Soviet aid. It's all still mostly the fault of screwed up Cuban economics, mind you, but if all the NGOs were complaining that loudly about how onerous the requirements were that prevented them from protecting the Cubans from themselves then there probably was something to it. And, since everyone complained about the onerous paperwork needed to ship humanitarian aid to Cuba- tada!- the US loosed restrictions in 2000 (and even more later in 2009). A decade of delay probably was reprehensible, but they did it. So, where are all the papers about the Cuban embargo that post-date 2000? None? Perhaps because the issue is now moot?

@ " Speaking of asinine positions, you could as well argue that we should have turned on a dime and dropped the embargo."

Well, as I'm trying to point out, we sort of did. Not on a dime, true, but we greatly eased restrictions in 2000. Arguing that the US should have just dropped the embargo is pointless- I agree with you on this root point, remember?

@ "Had both sides dropped their asinine positions, I have no doubt the Cuban people would be far better off today than they are, and we would have a slightly lower unemployment rate and far stronger moral standing in the eyes of the world."

I'll certainly agree with you, there. And if one of the "asinine positions" you're referencing is a command economy I'd propose that improvements in Cuba would be profound.

EDIT-

Ok, I've re-read the Am J Pub Health article in greater detail and my critique mostly stands. It proves that healthcare in Cuba was on the skids in 1997. It does not prove that this was caused by the embargo. The authors ASSUME that it was caused by the embargo, and even rather disingenuously title some sections things like "The Embargo's Effect on Nutrition." But those sections present nothing to prove that the embargo is to blame.

The penultimate section actually is a quite good one, though. It at least presents some numbers showing that after the 1992 restrictions that healthcare imports dropped significantly. They are still left with the issue that correlation does not prove causation... but it sure hints strongly, doesn't it? They also better argue that US companies dominate certain healthcare sectors. But was the drop in imports due to the embargo, or because without Soviet aid they couldn't afford it? The authors claim that Cuba applied for licenses to import far more medical supplies from 1992-95 than they were granted, but I didn't see a reference cited for this critical point. Probably just an oversight, but an annoying one, and at least mildly suspect if it came from Cuban sources. If you don't understand why Cuban sources are suspect, I weep for you. :) I also have to wonder if licenses were denied because funds couldn't be produced or something. I'm not sure how that works.

But, as I said, you've moved me on the subject of the 1990s. I'll mail you my sword. Nonetheless, that's still old news. Those issues have been corrected since 2000- there are now essentially NO roadblocks to the importation of medical or agricultural supplies. The root fact remains that Cuba's insane economic policies have rendered it incapable of recovering from the withdrawal of Soviet aid. Really, Cuba was a welfare nation throughout the Cold War- it could not exist economically without Soviet aid. When the aid disappeared the Cuban GDP dropped by 35%, for the love of God! That is not a viable economy.

@ "Still, you haven't shown me any hard data to support your characterization of the Barry article as flawed, and both its data sources and reviewers as being of dubious quality, other than to say that data from Cuban sources is, ipso facto, flawed.
Were someone to write an article about child malnutrition in the US, citing US sources, be similarly flawed, or is US data, by definition, valid? Just curious. Or would this be just another example of American Exceptionalism? ;0)"

Barry's paper is poor because it lacks substance. There's no there there. He states a conclusion not supported by the data presented. I've explained this. And trusting official American data has nothing to do with American Exceptionalism. It's merely NOT knee-jerk American self-loathing. Ahem. :) But I'm still critical of official American data, too.

It's also looking like Barry's paper was basically a very poor plaigiar- Er- well, let's say that it "heavily cited" the Am J Pub Health paper. He basically just added a few of his personal anecdotes, and condensed some information. You should stop trumpeting Barry and stick to Garfield. At least the info on import rates is cogent. Barry didn't even try. No kidding- the Barry paper sucks. You can believe me or not, at this point. I really don't care.

To summarize-

I'm now willing to grant that the effects of the 1992 reforms were probably greater than I'd thought- most especially since the Cuban economy was simultaneously imploding from withdrawal of Soviet aid.

Nonetheless, I remain convinced that since the 2000 reforms the true issue is simply that the Cuban economy is bankrupt. If they are still having a humanitarian crisis since 2000 (which I don't know, honestly) it is impossible to blame that on the embargo. I challenge you to show me a post-2000-reform paper that proves otherwise. Because we're talking about NOW, not 1997 (a point on which I've let you slide for too long) and NOW the Cubans simply can't afford it.

Ergo, NOW (i.e. not 1997) the issue is how much the embargo is strangling the Cuban economy. I propose that it does not do so to a very great degree, for reasons that I have already shown.

So, if the embargo doesn't DO much, we should end it. It makes us look bad, and gives the Castro regime a boogeyman to blame. Go in with our checkbooks blazing.

Edited by acrosome on 03/08/2013 16:43:57 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 3-5 experts on 03/08/2013 20:08:52 MST Print View

OK, now we're just getting irritable..."


I apologize if I have upset you. Me, I'm thoroughly enjoying the exchange, which is hard to convey via the Internet without seeming really crude. Smiley faces and winky faces are no substitute for face to face communication, with all its nuances.

"No. That was sort of an aside. Step back from the ledge, Tom."

See above. Wish I could find a way to articulate a mischievous twinkle in the eye.

"For all I know you are NOT a layman, after all."

WOW!!! I must be faking it really good.

" I have no idea what you do."

Retired from database/data comunication system performance analysis and tuning.


"I was just trying to point out as a general observation that a lot of laymen put great stock in something simply because it was published in a medical journal, and that they shouldn't."

I figured as much. Seriously, I was just trying to get your goat a little. Like I said earlier, the Lord ain't finished with me yet. :)

"There's quite a bit of useless crap in the journals."

I am starting to move in your direction on this. As a matter of principle and innate suspicion of my own, that is why I never cite just one source when trying to make a point, although I admit to having more faith in peer reviewed journals that is perhaps warranted. It seems nothing is sacred. My faith in science is shaken. :(

"I can see how that might have been easily misinterpreted, though. My bad."

Absolutely no offense taken.

"Why on earth would that "trouble" you? It's MY JOB. You're sounding rather alarmist here, Tom. Sorry- I'll call that one like I see it. I assume that's just poetic license on your part or something. But there is a lot of garbage, not to mention CONFLICTING data out there, and part of my job is to pluck the wheat from the dross. If that upsets you, well, then that upsets you. I'm sorry."

I was just trying to make the point that perhaps when a subject is out of your field, maybe the capacity is diminished, and with it the certainty. That said, it is not a major issue for me.

"OK, lets.

First- it's from 1997! You are again complaining about an embargo that no longer exists. But, whatever, I'll let that slide."

Hopefully, because my point all along has been that the damage done in two critical periods, the early 60's and the early-mid 90's, has had effects that have lasted to the present. Sort of like if you knee cap somebody, he's going to limp for a long time thereafter. I could make a similar case for infants/kids who were malnourished and deprived of adequate health care in the early 90's being cognitively and/or physically impaired for the rest of their lives

"By the way, those three abstracts you cite were all from the 90s, too. And abstracts aren't helpful- give me links to full articles, because if you aren't willing to read your own sources I'm certainly not going to do so."

The abstracts were the only things I could get. No free articles. Nonetheless, I think they give a pretty good summary of the authors' premise(s). Also, if you look at any of these abstracts, there are numerous related citations, all making the same point, from presumably reputable sources, e.g. Lancet, Journal of the Florida Medical Association, Neuroepidemiology(from which I have copied the abstract, below), American Public Health Association, American Association of World Health, the latter two cited in the abstract I copied verbatim, below. In this regard, I assume you have done your due diligence, but have yet to see you cite even a single medical source disputing the conclusions reached by the sources I have cited. Surely, there must be something out there? Or maybe these guys are onto something?
They can't all be wrong, can they? Even given the garbage factor in medical journals.

Here's the link to the Neuroepidemiology abstract. Maybe you, as a medical professional, can access the full article.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9648115

'In 1992, the USA embargo on Cuba was tightened through the passage of the Cuban Democracy Act (CDA) that explicitly restricts food and medical supplies. The embargo has contributed to cause a number of public health problems in Cuba including: (1) an epidemic of more than 50,000 cases of optic and peripheral neuropathies in 1992-1993, resulting from dietary deficiency; (2) an epidemic of esophageal stenoses in toddlers who inadvertently drank liquid lye as a result of a soap shortage for which liquid lye was substituted; (3) an outbreak of Guillain-Barré syndrome in Havana, in June and July 1994, resulting from water contamination due to lack of chemicals for water treatment to eliminate Campylobacter sp.; (4) outbreaks of self-inflicted disease and injuries caused by rioting among Cubans detained at the US Naval base at Guantánamo Bay, and (5) a decline in medical practice standards and public health indicators in Cuba resulting from the enactment of the CDA, documented by the American Public Health Association in 1993 and confirmed in March 1997 by the American Association for World Health. Despite this evidence, the Cuban embargo remains a politically sensitive subject in the USA, resistant to public health concerns, as evidenced by the recent passage of the Helms-Burton Act. The public health effects of the CDA need to be reviewed with possible revocation or at least modification.'


"Ok, I've re-read the Am J Pub Health article in greater detail and my critique mostly stands. It proves that healthcare in Cuba was on the skids in 1997. It does not prove that this was caused by the embargo. The authors ASSUME that it was caused by the embargo, and even rather disingenuously title some sections things like "The Embargo's Effect on Nutrition." But those sections present nothing to prove that the embargo is to blame.

The penultimate section actually is a decent one, though. It at least presents some numbers showing that after the 1992 restrictions that healthcare imports dropped significantly. They are still left with the issue that correlation does not prove causation... but it sure hints strongly, doesn't it? They also better argue that US companies dominate certain healthcare sectors. But was the drop in imports due to the embargo, or because without Soviet aid they couldn't afford it? The authors claim that Cuba applied for licenses to import far more medical supplies from 1992-95 than they were granted, but I didn't see a reference cited for this critical point. Probably just an oversight, but an annoying one, and at least mildly suspect if it came from Cuban sources. If you don't understand why Cuban sources are suspect, I weep for you. :)"

True, correlation does not prove causation but the association is overwhelmingly strong, given the dominant position of the US. The "Effects of the CDA" section, BTW, applied to both food and medical imports unless I have misunderstood what they were saying, always a possibility. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions on this one. Things like the export licenses granted by State, increased shipping fees that inflated the costs to Cuba by 400%, etc, are matters of public record, so I'm not overly surprised they neglected to cite their sources. Still, I can see how the scientist in you might be annoyed. That kind of data would come from US government sources, by Freedom of Information Act request if necessary, or publicly available commercial sources for shipping costs, not Cuba.

"But, as I said, you've moved me on the subject of the 1990s. I'll mail you my sword. Nonetheless, that's still old news. Those issues have been corrected since 2000- there are now essentially NO roadblocks to the importation of medical or agricultural supplies. The root fact remains that Cuba's insane economic policies have rendered it incapable of recovering from the withdrawal of Soviet aid. Really, Cuba was a welfare nation throughout the Cold War- it could not exist economically without Soviet aid. When the aid disappeared the Cuban GDP dropped by 35%, for the love of God! That is not a viable economy."

We're rehashing a past discussion here, and have already partially agreed. Our points of disagreement are also clear, so I'll not repeat myself . My point is that Cuba's problems are partly embargo, partly being forced in the 60's to rely on the Soviets, and partly due to their own homegrown mistakes. You've admitted that the embargo had an impact in the 90's, so we've pretty much narrowed our disagreement down to a question of how much past policies continue to affect Cuba today and the early effects of the embargo, i.e. industrial disruption, driving Cuba to the Soviets, etc. . And, hopefully, had a good time in the process. BTW, have you ever seen the movie "The Duelists", with Harvey Keitel? Hang onto your sword; you're going to need it. :)

"Barry's paper is poor because it lacks substance. There's no there there. He states a conclusion not supported by the data presented. I've explained this. And trusting official American data has nothing to do with American Exceptionalism. It's merely NOT knee-jerk American self-loathing. Ahem. :) But I'm still critical of official American data, too."

The Barry article has become a distraction, so I'll concede the point. I just wish I could have had access to the articles whose abstracts I cited on PubMed to replace him with. Ah, well. Like yourself, I am suspicious of a lot of what comes out of the US Government, but that is a long way from knee jerk American self loathing. I would like nothing more than to see my country conduct itself abroad, and at home for that matter, in a way that would make me proud again. Why I feel that way would probably take at least a couple of threads, but suffice it to say for now that it is grounded in an academic background that has nothing to do with computers, years spent overseas observing the impact of misguided policies, and even more years here watching our society crumble from within, due to other misguided policies, to the point where I am beginning to fear for the future of the Great American Experiment. I am sad, yes, but not self loathing on behalf of either myself or my country. Rather, I am sad for what we have lost, and the suffering it has brought to so many innocent people, both here and abroad.

"To summarize-

I'm now willing to grant that the effects of the 1992 reforms were probably greater than I'd thought- most especially since the Cuban economy was simultaneously imploding from withdrawal of Soviet aid.

Nonetheless, I remain convinced that since the 2000 reforms the true issue is simply that the Cuban economy is bankrupt. If they are still having a humanitarian crisis since 2000 (which I don't know, honestly) it is impossible to blame that on the embargo. I challenge you to show me a post-2000-reform paper that proves otherwise. Because we're talking about NOW, not 1997 (a point on which I've let you slide for too long) and NOW the Cubans simply can't afford it."

As I said, above, we have narrowed our differences considerably. The main outstanding one that I see is that you underestimate the impact of the past on the present, IMO, and I can't see us coming to an agreement on that one, no mater how long we argue.

"Ergo, NOW (i.e. not 1997) the issue is how much the embargo is strangling the Cuban economy. I propose that it does not do so to a very great degree, for reasons that I have already shown."

Not strangling, but certainly not making things any easier for them, and giving us a very bad name in the process, as the UN GA votes indicate. Also, we still insist that the Cubans pay cash instead of allowing export credit guarantees as we do with normal trading partners. That cuts into trade considerably, as they are very short of foreign exchange.

"So, if the embargo doesn't DO much, we should end it. It makes us look bad, and gives the Castro regime a boogeyman to blame. Go in with our checkbooks blazing."

On this, we are in accord, but without trying to force them to adopt our economic system as a precondition. Let them evolve at their own pace and in their own way, and count on broad, unconditional engagement to persuade them of the merits of our system. Or not.

Edited by ouzel on 03/08/2013 20:15:44 MST.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 3-5 experts on 03/09/2013 17:51:22 MST Print View

@ "Hopefully, because my point all along has been that the damage done in two critical periods, the early 60's and the early-mid 90's, has had effects that have lasted to the present."

Well, I thought one of your bigger complaints about the immorality (per se) of the embargo was the way it supposedly caused a medical crisis and starvation. And, since I brought it up, I've been looking for more up to date information on those issues- i.e. since 2000. Truth is, as I suspected, there isn't much in the way of convincing condemnation of the emabrgo on those grounds. Certainly nothing like those papers you cited.

Mind you, this is a VERY early take, based on a few hours of googling, and I'm still looking, so don't hold me to it. I'll look again when I'm back at work Monday and can get on PubMed or Ovid.

So I can't find any papers similar to the ones you've cited, for post-2000. I do find a lot of magazine and newspaper articles which SEEM to imply that there is no longer some sort of humanitarian crisis. I find many that again praise the Cuban healthcare system, in fact. I found a few anecdotes about areas in which Cuban healthcare seems to trail the rest of the world, but in at least one article doctors who were interviewed blamed this on their lack of access to travel and conferences. There's also mention of a recent cholera epidemic, which seems to have been brought back from Haiti. There is quite a bit of mention of the bureaucratic mess their pharmacy system is, and that it can still be hard to find some drugs- but that can no longer be blamed on the embargo.

Hmm. So far it's seeming like complaining about the 1990s is moot...

@ "Also, if you look at any of these abstracts, there are numerous related citations, all making the same point, from presumably reputable sources,... Surely, there must be something out there? Or maybe these guys are onto something?
They can't all be wrong, can they?

Well, to be frank, all of those sources you cited reference one another. It's all the same argument. It's all the same OLD argument. Most of them in fact refer to Garfield. Show me something post-2000, or better yet post-2009.

Regarding the call for a medical publication disputing that the embargo caused a humanitarian crisis- such a "negative" paper would never get published. Plus, who would be motivated to publish it? I showed you the State Department and the US Chamber of Commerce's economic analyses, which hold a lot more weight with me ( and any rational person) than the economic opinions of Am J In Med.

And I repeat- I really have to make this point- except for the economic bit in the Garfield paper NONE of any of the medical articles you cited make any sort of case that the embargo contributed to the collapse of the Cuban medical system. Really- can you address this? You haven't, yet. They all document the failures of Cuban medical care and ASSUME that the embargo caused this, and then disingenuously try to state that in their conclusions, but none actually present any data. So you haven't really produced many medical articles that support your position, either! You've got Garlied, which is out of date by a quite a bit.

So mostly, I want you to produce something more timely. I don't think it's out there.

@ "My point is that Cuba's problems are partly embargo, partly being forced in the 60's to rely on the Soviets, and partly due to their own homegrown mistakes."

True, we've agreed on this. My point is merely that since we're talking about ending the embargo NOW we should be talking about the embargo as it exists NOW. I see (I think) three issues pertinent to our argument that affect the humanitarian situation in Cuba:

1. Any direct effects of the embargo due to limiting importation of medical supplies, etc.
2. Indirect effects of the embargo, by the degree to which it damages the Cuban economy and thus limits their ability to pay for a medical system.
3. Innate inefficiencies of the Cuban economic system NOT due to the embargo, which limits their ability to pay for a medical system.

I say that #3 is the major effector, here, post-2000 (i.e. NOW). You disagree. I can leave it at that.

@ "The main outstanding one that I see is that you underestimate the impact of the past on the present..."

That's odd, because your major failing that I've identified is that you underestimate the inefficiencies of a command economy, and the deleterious effect it is having on the Cuban medical system. :)

More seriously, I do think that you got the "the embargo is causing a humanitarian crisis in Cuba" meme rooted in your brain a couple of decades ago and aren't moving past it. So, you went looking for sources to back you up and produced those journal articles, and never even noticed that they are very dated. My State and Commerce analyses are much more recent.

I also think that you keep ignoring the effect of the withdrawal of Soviet aid. The Cuban GDP contracted 35%! Jesus- 35%! And this was also temporally associated with the crisis of the 90s. As I said, I've been moved- the tightened embargo of 1992 probably went too far. But mostly it's effect was potentiated by very unfortunate timing- imposing it just as Cuba imploded when the aid went away. They were very reliant on Soviet aid, since their economy was not otherwise viable. And that was not really a result of the embargo. And their economy continues to languish. Show me something more recent.

@ "Not strangling, but certainly not making things any easier for them, and giving us a very bad name in the process, as the UN GA votes indicate."

It's really odd to hear you say that, since that's sort of been my argument all along- that the embargo is not strangling the Cuban economy and gives us a bad name.

@ "Also, we still insist that the Cubans pay cash instead of allowing export credit guarantees as we do with normal trading partners. That cuts into trade considerably, as they are very short of foreign exchange."

Indeed, that is a requirement that we don't insist upon from others. Meh. I'm not moved. The lack of foreign exchange is entirely the Cubans' own fault, though, as the sources I've cited indicate (and a few of yours, too). It stems from very bad fiscal policy on their part, in particular refusing to allow stocks of any foreign currencies to be maintained- a policy that was eased only very recently.

Edited by acrosome on 03/09/2013 18:20:51 MST.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
abstracts on 03/11/2013 09:55:35 MDT Print View

I said I’d look up those PubMed abstracts:

I can't find the full text of the PubMed abstract about epidemic neuropathy anywhere. I'd have to have my library send out for a copy, and I can't really do that ethically for the sake of an internet argument. :)

The Kirkpatrick article from Lancet is, again, old (1996). It’s also odd, because it mentions that the 1992 reforms exempted medical supplies, but what it really seems to attack is the Helms-Burton Act from the same year, which could not have had a lot of effect by then. It had only been passed a couple of months prior. (Political motives?) It’s basically a bunch of anecdotes- case studies, if you will, class 4 data. Frankly, the whining about the bureaucratic requirements to meet the exemption criteria still sounds like whining to me. To SOME degree at least Kirkpatrick agrees- he mentions that in a few cases Cuba did allow the required on-site inspections and that importation then went unimpeded. He calls this “an intrusion on Cuba’s sovereignty.” Pffft. It sounds like if Cuba wanted to import this stuff and had the money that they could have, by allowing the inspections. And these weren’t US government inspections, they are just checks by the exporters so that they could honestly sign an end-use certificate. Also, the article quotes a lot of “personal communication” with representatives at medical equipment companies about how hard it was to get licenses- and that’s class 5 data, Brother. The companies complained they were “unable to establish a meaningful dialog with the US Department of Commerce in a manner consistent with standard business practices”, which again sounds like whining. There was an embargo in place- practice was not going to be standard. In general, though, there are NO numbers in the entire article- no data- nothing is quantified. It is basically an editorial- which, when I think of it, is really what most of your sources are.
But, as I’ve said, I’ve been moved on just how restrictive the 1992 reforms were. I still think they are clearly less important that the baseline nonviability of the Cuban economy, though. Yes, Helms-Burton in effect made medical supplies more expensive by addind administrative costs, but how expensive could it be to send a couple of guys to Cuba to verify that a clinic the item is intended for actually exists? That’d be an issue in the US system where an independet clinic might order one spare part for a device, but presumably not in the centralized Cuban system. But most importantly- THOSE RESTRICTIONS NO LONGER EXIST.

And then your sources reveal their connection… the Kirkpatrick/Garfield paper from that giant among medical journals, the J Fla Med Assoc. Which with a title like “The time has come to lift the economic embargo against Cuba” sounds straight up like an editorial, and pre-dates the works you’ve already cited. So, probably the same arguments and data- or lack thereof. Needless to say I can’t find that full text anywhere, either- my library certainly doesn’t stock it.

Since the subject came up, here is EVERYTHING I could find on PubMed about the embargo that was published since 2000:

Int J Health Serv. 2005;35(4):797-816.
Economic crisis and access to care: Cuba's health care system since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Nayeri K, López-Pardo CM.
SourceUniversity of California, Survey Research Center, Berkeley, CA 94720-5100, USA.

Well, it's no surprise that this travesty came out of Berkely. They mention an economic recovery around 1995. Since the embargo didn't change then, presumably this is a recovery from the withdrawal of Soviet aid. The article is based on interviews conducted in 2003, mostly Cuban government officials but also a few patients- class 4 or 5 data at best, Cuban government propaganda at worst. It does include some economic figues that in no way show that medical hardships were caused by the embargo. It's just a litany of the collapse of Cuba's economy. By 1993 Cuban GDP had dropped to 65% of it's 1989 level due to withdrawal of Soviet aid. They mention the drop in caloric intake. They show that Cuba's medical budget in 1993 was 25% of what it was in 1989- and that wasn't due to the embargo, Brother, it was simply a function of a failing economy. Etc. They mention that the recovery was incited by changed economic policies, such as legalizing possession of foreign currency, and allowing entrepreneurship and even some free markets. Then the paper just becomes a list of remarks by official Cuban sources that blame all ills on the embargo (i.e. the offical Castro regime's excuse). "The combined effects of the well-functioning universal and equitable health care system in place before the crisis, the government's steadfast support for the system, and the network of social solidarity based on grassroots organizations mitigated the corrosive effects of monetary and market relations in the context of severe scarcities and an intensified U.S. embargo against the Cuban people." That's not a very convincing paper.

Not to mention that it simultaneously tries to argue that as Cuba climbed out of the crisis of the early 90s that everything improved again to 1989 levels, but that the embargo nonetheless causes terrible suffering. (So, at least from my perspective of debating the emabrgo as it is NOW, this paper supports me, even using official Cuban figures.) And from what I've been reading elsewhere their conclusions about differential access to care- which seems to have been the main goal of the study- sound like utter BS. It's probably also another official position of the Castro regime. Countless other sources I've seen mention that the Cuban elite and foreign medical tourists get much better care than average Cubans. The acknowledgements mention all of the help the author got from various official Cuban government agencies. Also, one of the responses to the article is titled "Cuban health care: consider the source", and questions the proposition that ANYTHING the Cuban government says about healthcare can be believed, so clearly it isn't just me... :)

Finally, I googled the authors. The first author is a Cuban and Iranian apologist, and a little left of Vladimir Lenin. He has a website fawning over the Cuban revolution, and publishes other works for communist audiences. Both authors work for, among other institutions, the Marxist School of Sacramento. Not being fluent in Spanish I can't read most of the hits for the second author, since they seem to originate from Cuba. :) But clearly they are both communist True Believers, which explains this horrible paper.


Qual Prim Care. 2008;16(4):269-77.
The health of a nation: perspectives from Cuba's national health system.
Offredy M.
SourceUniversity of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK. m.v.offredy@herts.ac.uk

This article actually isn't very relevent except in that it demonstrates that there is no current healthcare crisis in Cuba. It's really a sort of overview of how the Cubans run primary care. Admittedly, they are clearly better at disease PREVENTION than almost anyone else. Most other systems focus on disease treatment, instead. We could certainly learn something from them. It does mention Helms-Burton and other aspects of the embargo but only briefly as a historical aside in the background section. (It also admits that it avoids including any comments from the AIDS patients who are segregated into sanitoria. I wonder why.) In conclusions it fawns over the Cuban primary care system and their polyclinics, though in this case the fawning might be warranted- their system of primary care is clearly an excellent one.

Science. 2010 Apr 30;328(5978):572-3. doi: 10.1126/science.1189680.
Global health. Fifty years of U.S. embargo: Cuba's health outcomes and lessons.
Drain PK, Barry M.
SourceSchool

Note- Barry is second author. The first half of the paper does again bemoan the 1990s- it is essentially a restatement of Barry's prior paper. The second half lauds the current state of Cuban healthcare (so, even Barry agrees with me about there not being much of a crisis NOW) and again fawns over their primary care system.

It does mention the 2009 US Senate report, which concluded "the unilateral embargo on Cuba has failed to achieve its purpose," with which I agree, as I have said. End the embargo because it doesn't work and gives the Castro regime a boogeyman to blame for everything.

That's it- three articles, all told. (Other than a few more epidemiologic papers about optic neuropathy, the abstract for one of which mentions that the Cuban epidemic ended in the late 90s.) One paper is clear propaganda, and two support my position that since at least 2000 there is no healthcare crisis in Cuba. Heck, even the propaganda one supports my position, it just simultaneously tries to complain about the US in any way possible.

Garfield is still by far the best source you have, and he's dated- he's a source on Cuba in the early-to-mid-90s. So, what do you think about NOW? Do you still think that the embargo is causing medical hardship in Cuba as of 2013?

Edited by acrosome on 03/11/2013 10:06:28 MDT.

Jeremy B.
(requiem) - F - M

Locale: Northern California
Re: abstracts on 03/11/2013 13:15:55 MDT Print View

I can't find the full text of the PubMed abstract about epidemic neuropathy anywhere.

See if this works (I suspect it's access-restricted):
http://www.karger.com/Article/Pdf/26161

It's a review article (i.e. summary of existing literature), rather than a primary source. Its references include the Kirkpatrick and Garfield articles. On the specific topic of epidemic neuropathy, attribution is assigned based on this article:
http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199511023331803

The NEJM article attributes it to a lack of nutrients (methionine, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and carotenoids) combined with tobacco use and possible cassava consumption. It suggests economic troubles around '91-'93 contributed to decreased food availability, particularly animal products. An anti-smoking campaign and vitamin supplementation program were implemented to address this.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: abstracts on 03/11/2013 18:16:07 MDT Print View

"Garfield is still by far the best source you have, and he's dated- he's a source on Cuba in the early-to-mid-90s. So, what do you think about NOW? Do you still think that the embargo is causing medical hardship in Cuba as of 2013?"

Last things first, because you still seem to be misunderstanding my position. I have stated at least three times now that the effects of the embargo were felt most severely in the early 60's just after it was imposed, and again in the early-mid 90's after the withdrawal of Soviet aid, with consequences that are still felt today. The embargo is no longer the problem it once was, and I have never stated that it is. Period. In the beginning, it was disruptive to the industrial infrastructure of Cuba, and forced them into the arms of the Soviets because nobody else in the developed world would do business with them and risk retaliation by the US. At that point the die was cast, because Cuba became locked into a system that was not suited to human nature at this point in our evolution, and may never be. When the Soviets withdrew and left Cuba pretty much on its own, the shortcomings of the system became clear. There is no question about that. The CD and Helms-Burton Acts were cynically devised and timed to take advantage of Cuba's plight and hopefully bring the Castro government down. They failed at that, but in the process caused considerable suffering to the Cuban people due to the impact on food and health care. The Cuban government adjusted and things became better as time went on, partly because more and more Western nations, outraged by our actions began to trade with Cuba again, but there was a period in the early-mid 90's when the Cuban people suffered enormously from the embargo. That is the gist of all the medical articles I cited, and the outrage of those sworn to do no harm is palpable in all of them, so no surprise that they wax political at times.

"I can't find the full text of the PubMed abstract about epidemic neuropathy anywhere. I'd have to have my library send out for a copy, and I can't really do that ethically for the sake of an internet argument. :)"

I couldn't access it either, which is too bad considering that it was potentially a strong argument for my position. :(

"Since the subject came up, here is EVERYTHING I could find on PubMed about the embargo that was published since 2000:

Int J Health Serv. 2005;35(4):797-816.
Economic crisis and access to care: Cuba's health care system since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Nayeri K, López-Pardo CM.
SourceUniversity of California, Survey Research Center, Berkeley, CA 94720-5100, USA.

Well, it's no surprise that this travesty came out of Berkely. They mention an economic recovery around 1995. Since the embargo didn't change then, presumably this is a recovery from the withdrawal of Soviet aid. The article is based on interviews conducted in 2003, mostly Cuban government officials but also a few patients- class 4 or 5 data at best, Cuban government propaganda at worst. It does include some economic figues that in no way show that medical hardships were caused by the embargo. It's just a litany of the collapse of Cuba's economy. By 1993 Cuban GDP had dropped to 65% of it's 1989 level due to withdrawal of Soviet aid. They mention the drop in caloric intake. They show that Cuba's medical budget in 1993 was 25% of what it was in 1989- and that wasn't due to the embargo, Brother, it was simply a function of a failing economy. Etc. They mention that the recovery was incited by changed economic policies, such as legalizing possession of foreign currency, and allowing entrepreneurship and even some free markets. Then the paper just becomes a list of remarks by official Cuban sources that blame all ills on the embargo (i.e. the offical Castro regime's excuse). "The combined effects of the well-functioning universal and equitable health care system in place before the crisis, the government's steadfast support for the system, and the network of social solidarity based on grassroots organizations mitigated the corrosive effects of monetary and market relations in the context of severe scarcities and an intensified U.S. embargo against the Cuban people." That's not a very convincing paper.

Not to mention that it simultaneously tries to argue that as Cuba climbed out of the crisis of the early 90s that everything improved again to 1989 levels, but that the embargo nonetheless causes terrible suffering. (So, at least from my perspective of debating the emabrgo as it is NOW, this paper supports me, even using official Cuban figures.) And from what I've been reading elsewhere their conclusions about differential access to care- which seems to have been the main goal of the study- sound like utter BS. It's probably also another official position of the Castro regime. Countless other sources I've seen mention that the Cuban elite and foreign medical tourists get much better care than average Cubans. The acknowledgements mention all of the help the author got from various official Cuban government agencies. Also, one of the responses to the article is titled "Cuban health care: consider the source", and questions the proposition that ANYTHING the Cuban government says about healthcare can be believed, so clearly it isn't just me... :)"

AS you say, they don't sound very convincing, and I would not have cited them had I run across them. They are also considerably later than the period I was addressing.
What I find at least as interesting is that you still can't find any articles from the period I was addressing that contradicted the articles I cited. Telling me that such "negative" articles would never have been published does little to assuage my concerns, especially when the subject is as controversial as this one. Generally, in scientific/medical journals, if someone publishes something really egregious there will be critical responses; is this not so?




"Qual Prim Care. 2008;16(4):269-77.
The health of a nation: perspectives from Cuba's national health system.
Offredy M.
SourceUniversity of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK. m.v.offredy@herts.ac.uk

This article actually isn't very relevent except in that it demonstrates that there is no current healthcare crisis in Cuba. It's really a sort of overview of how the Cubans run primary care. Admittedly, they are clearly better at disease PREVENTION than almost anyone else. Most other systems focus on disease treatment, instead. We could certainly learn something from them. It does mention Helms-Burton and other aspects of the embargo but only briefly as a historical aside in the background section. (It also admits that it avoids including any comments from the AIDS patients who are segregated into sanitoria. I wonder why.) In conclusions it fawns over the Cuban primary care system and their polyclinics, though in this case the fawning might be warranted- their system of primary care is clearly an excellent one."

As before, I was not addressing the period after 2000. They did mention Helms-Burton, presumably for a reason. Fawning is a pretty value laden word. Might they not have been expressing genuine admiration for the Cuban achievement under such difficult circumstances. Even you are expressing grudging admiration. ;)

"Science. 2010 Apr 30;328(5978):572-3. doi: 10.1126/science.1189680.
Global health. Fifty years of U.S. embargo: Cuba's health outcomes and lessons.
Drain PK, Barry M.
SourceSchool

Note- Barry is second author. The first half of the paper does again bemoan the 1990s- it is essentially a restatement of Barry's prior paper. The second half lauds the current state of Cuban healthcare (so, even Barry agrees with me about there not being much of a crisis NOW) and again fawns over their primary care system."

So, the first half supports my position, and the second half lauds them for overcoming the obstacles thrown up by the US and achieving a world class primary health care system in spite of them? As an aside, do you automatically consider anything with which Barry is associated to be suspect, without assessing the content? Just wondering. :)

"It does mention the 2009 US Senate report, which concluded "the unilateral embargo on Cuba has failed to achieve its purpose," with which I agree, as I have said. End the embargo because it doesn't work and gives the Castro regime a boogeyman to blame for everything."

And also demonstrating once again our total inability to let other people pursue their destinies in peace, using tactics that are perennially reviled by the vast majority of the nations of the world, 188 of them at last count. The embargo not only failed to achieve its purpose, it has been a major foreign policy disaster.

"That's it- three articles, all told. (Other than a few more epidemiologic papers about optic neuropathy, the abstract for one of which mentions that the Cuban epidemic ended in the late 90s.)"

Which also confirms that it was a problem in the 90's, i.e. 6-7 years of unnecessary suffering in a failed attempt to bring the Castro government down.

"One paper is clear propaganda, and two support my position that since at least 2000 there is no healthcare crisis in Cuba. Heck, even the propaganda one supports my position, it just simultaneously tries to complain about the US in any way possible."

Again we are talking about 2 different periods, but I am delighted that you have finally brought some new information to the discussion. It has broadened my understanding of how Cuba has evolved since the Soviet withdrawal and confirmed that
it has far outlived its original misguided purpose. The only losers now are the US
government and companies that could be doing a land office business down there. Thanks for going to the trouble, Dean.

I think we are at the point of truly going into hamster wheel mode. We've been going back and forth now for about 3 iterations of our positions with incremental refinements and some new information. There is actually a fair bit of agreement, although we disagree on the overall impact of the embargo and its roll
in bringing Castro into the Soviet orbit, with ultimately severe consequences for Cuba. That I have moved you at all on a medical issue is to this layman a minor miracle. It gives me a warm and fuzzy, along with newfound respect for your intellectual integrity. So, I'm going to call it a day for now. I've learned a lot from this one, among other things the dark side of the peer review process, and look forward to our next encounter, whenever that may be.

Edited for sloppy syntax, typos, etc and content.

Edited by ouzel on 03/11/2013 20:14:46 MDT.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: abstracts on 03/12/2013 07:55:11 MDT Print View

@ "[your entire first paragraph]"

Yes we are arguing different things- you about the 90s, me about right now. I'm not misunderstanding anything- I pointed that entire point out before, several times. My point is that your argument was that one good reason to end the embargo was because it was evil because it was causing a humanitarian crisis. (Well, actually the INITIAL argument was about economics, back on pages 13-15 or so, and then you brought up the medical crisis as some sort of smoke-and-mirrors distraction.) I claimed it was not causing a humanitarian crisis. I'm now willing to grant that it at least significantly contributed in the 90s, but I maintain that whether it caused a crisis in the past is moot. That's why I've kept harping on the subject. What YOU clearly still don't understand is that I'm arguing with your basic premis that the humanitarian crisis in the 90s is even relevent right now. It is pointless to the debate on the embargo today. Heck, as you say you did grant that "The embargo is no longer the problem it once was..." I just get puzzled when you keep trying to establish how horrible the 90s were after you've said something like that, because TO ME this discussion appears to be taking place in 2013.

But, at least I've moved you to the point that you are willing to mention Cuba's bankrupt economic policies instead of just knee-jerk blaming the US for everything that's wrong in the world while implying that everyone else is an innocent victim. I'm not sure that trying to say that Cuba got better because the "rest of the world" suddenly decided to trade with them is correct, though. Source? :) I'm more inclined to put that one on the liberalization of the Cuban economy. They are trading more with the rest of the world now because Cubans are now finally allowed to keep reserves of foreign currency, which makes trade much, much easier.

@ "The CD and Helms-Burton Acts were cynically devised and timed to take advantage of Cuba's plight..."

Got a source for that one, too? I mean- it wouldn't surprise me, but I'm more inclined to cut it with Hanlon's Razor: 'Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.' We are talking about Congress, after all. :)

And, can you address this? :"By 1993 Cuban GDP had dropped to 65% of it's 1989 level due to withdrawal of Soviet aid. ... Cuba's medical budget in 1993 was 25% of what it was in 1989."

Given that you made such a big deal out of the 1% hit to Cuban GDP caused by the embargo, can you argue with a straight face that this didn't affect Cuba more than the change in the embargo in the 90s? I mean, look at that drop in medical funding! I still think that their joke of an economy was more to blame (which they are liberalizing). The more I learned about the 1992 embargo the more it seems to have clearly contributed significantly, but I'll still put more blame on the Cuban economy and the degree to which it imploded without Soviet aid. They improved in the 2000s by liberalizing.

@ "I couldn't access it either, which is too bad considering that it was potentially a strong argument for my position. :("

From Jeremy's description I doubt it. (Thanks, Jeremy, and yes, the link was pay-per-view. I didn't know that anyone else was still listening.)

@ "AS you say, they don't sound very convincing, and I would not have cited them had I run across them."

Nice to know that you have standards. :) But seriously, I could almost argue that the only reason I included that one was for laughs. It was quite blatant propaganga.

@ "What I find at least as interesting is that you still can't find any articles from the period I was addressing that contradicted the articles I cited."

As I've explained ad nauseum, the period you're addressing is moot. Show me something from the period I'M addressing- i.e. after 2000 or so- that proves that the embargo is 1) causing a humanitarian crisis as of 2013, or 2) so crippling the Cuban economy that they can't buy medical supplies or food.

@ "...if someone publishes something really egregious there will be critical responses; is this not so?"

You'd be surprised. If the paper is bad it usually simply gets ignored. Maybe someone is spiteful enough to write a response, like with the propaganda piece, but mostly the professionals in the field just sort of talk amongst themselves. A good example are those papers I mentioned that tried to argue that laparoscopic unilateral inguinal hernia repairs are cheaper and faster than open repairs. Ha! I didn't search for responses to your papers- they are often not indexed well in the search engines, especially for older articles, so they can be hard to find. Now, if you do something really bad like falsify data THEN there is hell to pay.

@ "As before, I was not addressing the period after 2000."

Correct. You are not. Why not? :) In all seriousness, though, I acknowledge that you grant that the current state in Cuba is not the disaster it was in the 90s. I just think that you're saying that... but still harping about the 90s.

@ "Fawning is a pretty value laden word."

Hmm. Yeah, probably. I may have had it on my mind because it was used more appropriately to describe that first joke of a paper. Oh, and my admiration isn't grudging. As I said, clearly the Cubans are good at primary care- something we are bad at. I suspect that some things are just easier in a dictatorship. :) For instance, an organized, centralized primary care schema. As I said earlier- communist dictatorships can do any ONE thing very well if they make it a priority, but when everything else is going to hell it becomes sort of a Pyrrhic victory.

@ "As an aside, do you automatically consider anything with which Barry is associated to be suspect, without assessing the content?"

Would you automatically be suspicious of anything that Hwang Woo-suk published? If not then you're a fool. People have reputations, for good or ill. But to answer your question, no, I was more trying to point out that much of the flap you're describing is really just the same small cabal of people. And then other people who are actually doing research- such as those neuropathy articles- then just reference their drivel in their discussion sections and claim "this was all caused by the embargo."

@ "And also demonstrating once again our total inability to let other people pursue their destinies in peace, using tactics that are perennially reviled by the vast majority of the nations of the world,..."

Presumably under the heading of "pursue their destinies in peace" you would include being able to be critical of their own government without being thrown in jail or shot? :) I mean, let's not be disingenuous, here- the Cuban government are Bad Guys. The debate about whether or not sanctions ever work or if they just entrench a regime while causing suffering in the populace at large is a complex issue that is still being argued in the halls of power today. Clearly it didn't work with Cuba, though...

@ "... Cuba has evolved since the Soviet withdrawal and confirmed that it has far outlived its original misguided purpose. The only losers now are the US government and companies that could be doing a land office business down there."

Yes, clearly on all of that we agree. Except that I would include the Cuban people among the 'losers' here, too. They are getting the shaft from both ends.

@ "So, I'm going to call it a day for now."

Oh, no! I tried to leave this debate and you wouldn't let me. Hippocrite. :)

Edited by acrosome on 03/12/2013 13:08:07 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: abstracts on 03/13/2013 19:49:36 MDT Print View

Sorry to interupt thread hijack : )

I just got email from Boy Scouts to Eagle Scouts asking them (me) how they feel about allowing homosexuality.

I will allow that Boy Scouts are "between rock and hard place"

Although maybe "they made there bed so now they have to sleep in it" - when I was in Boy Scouts in 1960s homosexuality and religion were non-issue, but recently the Boy Scouts have moved in the direction of more controlled by a few religious groups that pushed their agenda, and now more moderate people are un-happy how Boy Scouts has been hijacked.

As has been the rest of the country - hijacked by extreme right wingers.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: abstracts on 03/14/2013 20:19:19 MDT Print View

To quote a well known provocateur: "You're sucking me in again". ;)

"Yes we are arguing different things- you about the 90s, me about right now. I'm not misunderstanding anything- I pointed that entire point out before, several times. My point is that your argument was that one good reason to end the embargo was because it was evil because it was causing a humanitarian crisis. (Well, actually the INITIAL argument was about economics, back on pages 13-15 or so, and then you brought up the medical crisis as some sort of smoke-and-mirrors distraction.)"

I think the difference here is that you seem to me to be trying to compartmentalize the two periods, whereas I see them as two points on a historical continuum, where events in one period had effects that persist into the present. I have been trying to approach the issues we have been discussing that way from the beginning. Thus I connect the initial impact of the embargo with Castro's decision to rely on the Soviet Union, which led to adopting their economic system, which left his economy in a shambles when they withdrew, which left Cuba particularly vulnerable to the CDA and Helms-Burton, which led to the humanitarian crisis whose effects very likely persist to this day in some segments of the Cuban population, i.e. those who were children then who are now impaired to some degree, cognitively and/or physically, or adults who were blinded by their neuropathy. This is just the way I was trained to analyze issues like this, and I think it is a valid approach. Cuba since 2000 did not just appear out thin air like some deus ex machina. As for smoke and mirrors, more of the same; I consider health care and an economy to be inseparable, each influencing the other. Do you consider them as entirely separate issues? Can an unhealthy population be as productive as a healthy one? Consider one historical example, the impact of opium on China back in the 18th and 19th centuries, after the British forced the Chinese to allow it to be imported. Estimates are that upwards of 25% of the civil service became addicted, not to mention business people, etc. Do you think that might have had an impact on the Chinese economy and society, say 10-15 years later? Or would you consider that a moot point as well?


"I'm now willing to grant that it at least significantly contributed in the 90s, but I maintain that whether it caused a crisis in the past is moot."

Which would indicate that you consider at least part of the data I supplied reliable?


"That's why I've kept harping on the subject. What YOU clearly still don't understand is that I'm arguing with your basic premis that the humanitarian crisis in the 90s is even relevent right now. It is pointless to the debate on the embargo today. Heck, as you say you did grant that "The embargo is no longer the problem it once was..." I just get puzzled when you keep trying to establish how horrible the 90s were after you've said something like that, because TO ME this discussion appears to be taking place in 2013."

Again, you want to compartmentalize and forget the past, whereas I see the past as connected to the present. I said the embargo per se is no longer the problem it once was. I also said its impact earlier had lingering effects, as I reiterated above for perhaps the 4th time in our dialogue.

"But, at least I've moved you to the point that you are willing to mention Cuba's bankrupt economic policies instead of just knee-jerk blaming the US for everything that's wrong in the world while implying that everyone else is an innocent victim."

I have never argued otherwise, Dean. For me it's a matter of degree. There is no question that the Soviet economic model ultimately proved unworkable, that is history. It will also ultimately be the case with Cuba. What I have argued is that the embargo made things even more difficult for Cuba and was responsible to a considerable degree for the humanitarian crisis of the 90's. I have also argued that the embargo forced Castro to rely on the Soviets and adopt their economic model in the early 60's, which set Cuba on a course to the near economic collapse we are seeing today. As for the knee jerk remark, it always gives me a warm and fuzzy when you start to flail around. ;)
"I'm not sure that trying to say that Cuba got better because the "rest of the world" suddenly decided to trade with them is correct, though. Source? :) I'm more inclined to put that one on the liberalization of the Cuban economy. They are trading more with the rest of the world now because Cubans are now finally allowed to keep reserves of foreign currency, which makes trade much, much easier."
Trade helps, especially when the Cubans are trying to recover from the huge disruption caused by the Soviet withdrawal of support. Liberalization helps, too, no doubt about it. My guess is that they will end up with a more market oriented economy, but without some of the excesses that characterize the current US system

""The CD and Helms-Burton Acts were cynically devised and timed to take advantage of Cuba's plight..."

Got a source for that one, too? I mean- it wouldn't surprise me, but I'm more inclined to cut it with Hanlon's Razor: 'Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.' We are talking about Congress, after all. :)""

Some things shouldn't require a source. I mean, if you think that CDA and Helms-Burton were introduced and passed because Torricelli and ol' Jesse woke up with hangovers one morning and decided it would be a good day to rattle Fidel's cage, well, all I can say is I've still got one bridge left in my portfolio that I might be willing to let go to a fellow BPLer for a very reasonable price..... ;0)

""And, can you address this? :"By 1993 Cuban GDP had dropped to 65% of it's 1989 level due to withdrawal of Soviet aid. ... Cuba's medical budget in 1993 was 25% of what it was in 1989.""

I could speculate that it doesn't do much good to budget for things that are not available, due to the embargo, withdrawal of the Soviets, and a lack of hard currency, but I don't know what their thinking was. They put a very high priority on health care, so they had to have had their reasons. Do you have any other ideas?

"Given that you made such a big deal out of the 1% hit to Cuban GDP caused by the embargo, can you argue with a straight face that this didn't affect Cuba more than the change in the embargo in the 90s?"

I would respond that both had an impact. Can I quantify it? No. Can you? In any case, both had an impact due to the embargo, by your own words. I doubt it makes much difference to some kid with a vitamin deficiency which one had the greater impact.

"I mean, look at that drop in medical funding! I still think that their joke of an economy was more to blame (which they are liberalizing). The more I learned about the 1992 embargo the more it seems to have clearly contributed significantly, but I'll still put more blame on the Cuban economy and the degree to which it imploded without Soviet aid. They improved in the 2000s by liberalizing."

Can you quantify which had the greater impact? I think we both agree that the embargo had a significant impact, and that their economy was a mess after the Soviet withdrawal. Yes, they improved by liberalizing, but who knows how much they would have improved without the embargo had they stayed the course? Probably not as much as by loosening up, but I'll bet things would have been better than they were with the embargo. It caused a lot of unnecessary suffering. As I said above, I'd guess they'll end up with some sort of mixed economy along the lines of the Scandinavian countries if we just get out of their face.

"Nice to know that you have standards. :) But seriously, I could almost argue that the only reason I included that one was for laughs. It was quite blatant propaganga."

Did you really think I'd bite on something like that? :)

@ "What I find at least as interesting is that you still can't find any articles from the period I was addressing that contradicted the articles I cited."

"As I've explained ad nauseum, the period you're addressing is moot. Show me something from the period I'M addressing- i.e. after 2000 or so- that proves that the embargo is 1) causing a humanitarian crisis as of 2013, or 2) so crippling the Cuban economy that they can't buy medical supplies or food."

This IS getting to be ad nauseum. I have stated and restated my position that the events of the 60's-90's had effects that persist into the 2000's, including the economic model that Castro was forced to adopt early on due to the embargo, not to mention a very likely a cohort of permanently impaired Cubans who were unable to get the nutrition and medical treatment they needed because of the embargo. You probably know better than I the outcome of untreated nutritional optic neuropathy, Guillain Barre syndrome, and esophageal stenosis in infants. Would not a lot of these people be less productive, perhaps require extended care, etc, all contributing to a drain on the economy? The ones that survived, that is.

"You'd be surprised. If the paper is bad it usually simply gets ignored. Maybe someone is spiteful enough to write a response, like with the propaganda piece, but mostly the professionals in the field just sort of talk amongst themselves. A good example are those papers I mentioned that tried to argue that laparoscopic unilateral inguinal hernia repairs are cheaper and faster than open repairs. Ha! I didn't search for responses to your papers- they are often not indexed well in the search engines, especially for older articles, so they can be hard to find. Now, if you do something really bad like falsify data THEN there is hell to pay."

So presumably the articles I cited at least did not falsify their data. In which case, they present a sobering view of the embargo's impact.

"Correct. You are not. Why not? :) In all seriousness, though, I acknowledge that you grant that the current state in Cuba is not the disaster it was in the 90s. I just think that you're saying that... but still harping about the 90s."

See above, I can't make myself any clearer than I already have.

@ "Fawning is a pretty value laden word."

"Hmm. Yeah, probably. I may have had it on my mind because it was used more appropriately to describe that first joke of a paper. Oh, and my admiration isn't grudging. As I said, clearly the Cubans are good at primary care- something we are bad at. I suspect that some things are just easier in a dictatorship. :) For instance, an organized, centralized primary care schema. As I said earlier- communist dictatorships can do any ONE thing very well if they make it a priority, but when everything else is going to hell it becomes sort of a Pyrrhic victory."

I wouldn't consider achieving a world class primary health care system in spite of our considerable efforts to undermine them a Pyrrhic victory. :) For me a Pyrrhic victory is more like the one we say we achieved in Iraq. But if you want to experience a real Pyrrhic victory, be patient just a little longer. There's one just around the corner, when we start our next war, with Iran.

@ "As an aside, do you automatically consider anything with which Barry is associated to be suspect, without assessing the content?"

"Would you automatically be suspicious of anything that Hwang Woo-suk published? If not then you're a fool. People have reputations, for good or ill. But to answer your question, no, I was more trying to point out that much of the flap you're describing is really just the same small cabal of people. And then other people who are actually doing research- such as those neuropathy articles- then just reference their drivel in their discussion sections and claim "this was all caused by the embargo."

I've been called worse. However, I at least attempt to assess what they are saying before making a fool of myself. Interesting, though, from my perspective that no counter cabal has come forth to present the true picture of how the embargo affected Cuba and send those comm-symps scurrying back into the bushes.

@ "And also demonstrating once again our total inability to let other people pursue their destinies in peace, using tactics that are perennially reviled by the vast majority of the nations of the world,..."

"Presumably under the heading of "pursue their destinies in peace" you would include being able to be critical of their own government without being thrown in jail or shot? :) I mean, let's not be disingenuous, here- the Cuban government are Bad Guys. The debate about whether or not sanctions ever work or if they just entrench a regime while causing suffering in the populace at large is a complex issue that is still being argued in the halls of power today. Clearly it didn't work with Cuba, though..."

Ideally, yes, but that is really none of our business, particularly given the current deteriorating state of civil liberties in our own country. Then there is the troubling question of why we don't apply that same standard to the likes of the Saudis, Bahrainis, Ethiopians, and so on, not to mention a long list of our former buddies down in Latin America, The Philippines, various parts of Africa. The list is long. Why the solicitous concern for the long suffering Cubans? Disingenuous? A government that establishes a world class primary care system is not all bad, at least IMO. As for sanctions, show me a case where they have worked. North Korea? The centrifuges are still humming away and they just conducted test #3. Iran? Undeterred to date. Iraq? There emerges that troubling question about the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children due to lack of clean drinking water and access to medicine, and it still took two wars, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths, several million refugees, 4500 plus US combat deaths and over 32,000 visibly wounded, along with hundreds of thousands of soldiers apparently suffering with varying degrees of PTSD, and the complex issue of whether sanctions are effective is still being debated in the halls of power? Sanctions have never worked. Their impact falls almost entirely on the innocent, and we stand alone among the nations of the world in employing them, or at least initiating them and then assembling coalitions of the more or less willing to join us. This is not knee jerk criticism, Dean, so please don't go there again. It is a well considered position. Argue against it if you will, but don't call it knee jerk.

@ "... Cuba has evolved since the Soviet withdrawal and confirmed that it has far outlived its original misguided purpose. The only losers now are the US government and companies that could be doing a land office business down there."

"Yes, clearly on all of that we agree. Except that I would include the Cuban people among the 'losers' here, too. They are getting the shaft from both ends."

There is a Russian proverb: The shortage will be divided among the peasants.

So it has ever been, and so it will always be I fear. It doesn't make much difference what economic system we are talking about, there will always be peasants. And shortages. We've got more than a few "peasants" of our own these days, wouldn't you agree, particularly as regards health care. Best to take care of our own peasants and stop making things more difficult for Cuba's.

"Oh, no! I tried to leave this debate and you wouldn't let me. Hippocrite. :)"

OK, OK. Anything but a hippocrite. Have at it. ;0)

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Re: abstracts on 03/16/2013 07:29:24 MDT Print View

@ "I think the difference here is that you seem to me to be trying to compartmentalize the two periods, whereas I see them as two points on a historical continuum, where events in one period had effects that persist into the present..."

Gimme a little credit- I understand that the past shapes the present. I have considered the the 90s crisis- I've just come to different conclusions about its significance than you have. All things considered, if there currently is no medical crisis in Cuba then it is moot to argue to remove the embargo because of the medical crisis that it is not causing. Eh? Because, again, this debate is about removing the embargo NOW. (I'm repeating myself for more than the 4th time, here...) That there was a medical crisis in the past to which a more restrictive form of the embargo contributed is worth noting, yes, but it isn't an argument to repeal the current form of the embargo which IN NO WAY restricts importation of medical and agricultural supplies to Cuba (other than any smaller effect it has on the economy in general).

Let's spell this out: the current embargo does not restrict food or medical exports to Cuba. So arguing that a PRIOR form of the embargo did so is utterly moot when we're debating ending the current form of the embargo. Let's say solely for the sake of argument that the 1992 embargo was solely responsible for the crisis. As of 2000 that embargo no longer exists, so even in this hypothetical case I'd argue that the current for of the embargo allows essentially unrestricted food and medical exports and thus you can't argue to end it because a prior embargo DID limit those exports.

Am I making sense, here? Because this seems so self-evident to me that I wonder if I'm just communicating very badly.

@ "Thus I connect the initial impact of the embargo with Castro's decision to rely on the Soviet Union, which led to adopting their economic system, which left his economy in a shambles when they withdrew, which left Cuba particularly vulnerable to the CDA and Helms-Burton, which led to the humanitarian crisis whose effects very likely persist to this day in some segments of the Cuban population..."

No. Just... no. I'm pretty sure that Castro was an ardent communist long before the embargo. (If you can show otherwise feel free- I haven't read extensively on the subject.) We didn't "push" him to be a communist. Heck, the embargo was in response to his nationalizing billions of dollars worth of US-owned property in Cuba. It has since morphed into something... else.

@ "i.e. those who were children then who are now impaired to some degree, cognitively and/or physically, or adults who were blinded by their neuropathy."

Clearly, yes, this will have an effect. But you do realize that now I'll want to see numbers before I commit to HOW MUCH of an effect this has? For instance, yes there was an optic neuropathy epidemic, but an 'epidemic' of something like that can still be a damned small number. I'll review that paper again when I get a chance. And also- this still ignores the issue of which was the more significant cause of the medical crisis- the embargo or the collapsing Cuban economy? Just saying "there will be residual effects of the medical crisis" is not helpful when we at root disagree about what was the most important cause of that medical crisis. You seem to think that I'm granting that the embargo was. I'm not. I'm granting that the embargo was significant, but still put more blame on the Cuban economy.

And, that was still a prior embargo we're talking about. The embargo that we are arguing to end today does not in any way contribute to a medical crisis. If you're arguing to end the 1992 embargo, well, mission accomplished. It no longer exists in that form.

@ "I consider health care and an economy to be inseparable, each influencing the other. Do you consider them as entirely separate issues?"

Clearly not. I have pointed out several times that when you can't pay for a medical system, that system suffers. But I severely doubt that the 'residual effects' of the medical crisis of the 90s is sinking today's Cuban economy. If there is any medical difficulty in Cuba today it is due to economics or policy- because it surely is not due to the embargo or these 'residual effects.' But all indicators are that Cuba is improving in almost every way as it liberalizes a bit.

@ "Which would indicate that you consider at least part of the data I supplied reliable?"

I'm saying that Garfield at least tried to find data to support his proposition. Most of it was still from Cuban sources, but it at least looks believable. None of your other sources tried- they just cited Garfield. I've also read other sources that we haven't discussed.

@ "Again, you want to compartmentalize and forget the past, whereas I see the past as connected to the present."

You really need to stop saying that- it's a bit insulting. Sort of like our Iran argument (wherein I very much did understand WHY the Iranian government act like puerile psychopaths at times, but I just didn't think as you seemed to that it EXCUSES their behavior). I'm not compartmentalizing anything. I merely acknowledge that the situation has changed in the past two decades. As do you. What are we arguing about? Are you saying that the crisis of the 90s is still a good argument to remove the embargo as it exists today? You seem to be. I'm merely arguing otherwise. There are better reasons to do away with the embargo than a crisis that has been resolved. You mention "lingering effects", which certainy are present, but probably not significant to the embargo debate circa 2013. After all, those papers I cited show that Cuban healthcare has recovered quite well. That's why I say that the "medical crisis" isn't much of an argument to remove the embargo- because there is no medical crisis, and there is unlikely to be another. (At least, not due to the embargo.) Do you dispute that?

So... I understand the past, I have included it in my analysis, and I don't find it terribly pertinent to the debate about ending the current embargo.

@ "Some things shouldn't require a source."

But this isn't one of them. If Jesse et al really wanted to hit Cuba while it was down I wouldn't be surprised AT ALL if they stated so somewhere. Supposedly you could produce a quote. But, as I said, I wouldn't be surprised- I'm more curious. I'm also more inclined to blame idiocy than malice. After all- consider who we're talking about. :)

@ "I could speculate that it doesn't do much good to budget for things that are not available,..."

You also can't budget when you don't have the money, eh? :) Well, unless you're the US... But look at that GDP drop! You're really reaching on that one, Tom.

@ "Do you have any other ideas?"

Well, no, Brother, beause that's exactly what I'm saying- that the poor Cuban economy was the 'most significant' factor in the crisis of the 90s. They had no money. I'm boggled that you can see numbers like that and not say to yourself "Christ, that looks Really Bad. That HAD to be a major factor." Instead you put it squarely secondary to the embargo. And this is the root of our disagreement- which was the larger factor, the embargo or Cuba's travesty of an economic system? I think that we just have to agree to disagree on some of these points- thus far they seem very subjective.

@ "Interesting, though, from my perspective that no counter cabal has come forth to present the true picture of how the embargo affected Cuba and send those comm-symps scurrying back into the bushes."

Correct, there is no 'cabal.' There is the State Department and the US Chamber of Commerce.

@ "I have never argued otherwise, Dean."

Well, for a bit I felt that you did, by implication, by trying to utterly dismiss my economic argument in favor of attributing the medical crisis to the embargo. But I know what you mean- yes, when needed you readily made formal statements about the Cuban economy. I still think that you underestimate it's effects in the crisis of the 90s, though.

@ "What I have argued is that the embargo made things even more difficult for Cuba and was responsible to a considerable degree for the humanitarian crisis of the 90's."

At this point I'm quite willing to agree with you on this, subject to discriminating exactly what "considerable" means. I maintain that it means something like "significantly, but less than effects of the collapsing economy." Feel free to debate what is to blame for the collapse of the Cuban economy in the 90s.

But... I maintain that that's moot. That's the 90s. The current embargo- the one we're talking about ending- is NOT contributing to a humanitarian crisis in Cuba.

I'm going to keep repeating that.

@ "I would respond that both had an impact. Can I quantify it? No. Can you?"

I thought that I did. Even if we assume that the entire drop in the value of licenses to import medical equipment was due to the red tape imposed by the 1992 embargo, we can compare that to the drop in medical funding to 25% of the 1898 level and see that the latter is clearly much, much larger. I'm not asking for a doctoral-level economic analysis here, Tom. I just want you to look at those numbers and form an opinion. I'm trying to decide if I'm really not making my point, if my point is in error, or if we are just caught in a cycle of being argumentative.

@ "Yes, they improved by liberalizing, but who knows how much they would have improved without the embargo had they stayed the course? Probably not as much as by loosening up..."

I'm sure you'll want to re-state that. That last sentence sounds like an admission that the effect of the economy was more than that of the embargo. Since I doubt that's what you mean, either you or I are mis-communicating.

@ "This IS getting to be ad nauseum."

Yes, it is. You seem to have latched on to this 'residual effects' argument, but IMO that's still pointless to the current embargo. If you're trying to argue something like "Let's not take a chance on anything like that happening again", then that sounds more reasonable to me, though not very strong.

@ "I can't make myself any clearer than I already have."

Oh, you've made your position clear. It's just wrong. :)

@ "So presumably the articles I cited at least did not falsify their data."

The authors? Probably not. :)

But there are reasonable doubts about their sources. But as I said I give Garfield credit- he used some statistics from US agencies, too. These show that budgets changed, imports changed, etc., but the correlation/causation issue remains. Why did imports drop? because of licensing issues or because Cuba ran out of money> because CLEARLY Cuba ran out of money. This is why I only acknowledge that the 1992 embargo contributed, but I'm still doubtful it was the MOST significant factor.

And, again, as you said- ad nauseum, this is moot because we aren't arguing about ending the 1992 embargo.

@ "I wouldn't consider achieving a world class primary health care system in spite of our considerable efforts to undermine them a Pyrrhic victory."

I consider it a Pyrrhic victory when one is starving outside of the Worlds Best Health Clinic, yes.

@ "But if you want to experience a real Pyrrhic victory, be patient just a little longer. There's one just around the corner, when we start our next war, with Iran.

@ "Then there is the troubling question of why we don't apply that same standard to the likes of the Saudis, Bahrainis, Ethiopians, and so on, not to mention a long list of our former buddies down in Latin America, The Philippines, various parts of Africa."

@ "Iraq? There emerges that troubling question about the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children due to lack of clean drinking water and access to medicine, and it still took two wars, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths, several million refugees, 4500 plus US combat deaths and over 32,000 visibly wounded, along with hundreds of thousands of soldiers apparently suffering with varying degrees of PTSD, and the complex issue of whether sanctions are effective is still being debated in the halls of power?"

All ignored as off-topic attempts to start a different argument. That we don't sanction Saudi Arabia shows that the US, like all nations, is hypocritical, but does not prove that Cuba is undeserving of sanctions. Etc.

@ "A government that establishes a world class primary care system is not all bad, at least IMO."

then by your definition no government is all bad. They all do SOMETHING for their citizenry. probably even North Korea. But that's ok- we don't live in a world of absolutes. This does not mean that we cannot make value jugements. Otherwise we end up excusing everything. Something that I seriously suspect of you at times. :)

@ "This is not knee jerk criticism, Dean, so please don't go there again. It is a well considered position. Argue against it if you will, but don't call it knee jerk."

My 'knee-jerk' comment wasn't about sanctions. I have my doubts about them, too, as I indicated. They HAVE worked, though- just not reliably, and not against dictators. Dictators can weather them, and just seem to entrench more.

My 'knee-jerk' comment was more about having a default position critical of the US, which I feel is unwarranted. But I shouldn't have used that, as you say, value-laden term. Lord knows I am critical of the US, too- it just isn't my default position. I have no default position- I have no litmus issues. I find them limiting. But clearly the US does Good Works.

We've got more than a few "peasants" of our own these days, wouldn't you agree, particularly as regards health care

Yes, my opinions on the healthcare debate are ever-evolving, and I tend to lean a hair left of center on the issue. But do you really want to go there? :)

@ "Anything but a hippocrite."

Come, now. EMBRACE your hypocrisy. I do. :)

After all, pointing out someone's hypocrisy isn't a good argument. A smoker is still justified in preventing his child from picking up the habit.

Edited by acrosome on 03/16/2013 07:33:11 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: abstracts on 03/16/2013 13:07:13 MDT Print View

"Gimme a little credit- I understand that the past shapes the present. I have considered the the 90s crisis- I've just come to different conclusions about its significance than you have. All things considered, if there currently is no medical crisis in Cuba then it is moot to argue to remove the embargo because of the medical crisis that it is not causing. Eh?"

OK, I think I just wanted you to say it out loud, because I wasn't getting that impression from your seemingly single minded focus on the "NOW" of it all. :) Beyond that, I think we are talking past each other a lot of the time, which I attribute to this having gone on so long that we have each lost track of what the other has said in the past. To wit: I have not argued that a current medical crisis in Cuba is a reason for removing the embargo. There are several other reasons that currently apply. What I have argued is that the embargo did have a serious impact in the past, some of whose effects persist to this day. I have also argued that this plays into other nations' perceptions of us and thus the sooner we drop it the better for us. And Cuba to the degree that the embargo still hinders their development. Go back thru my posts and see if this is not so.

Oops, got to go. To be continued.

Edit: I'll be out of town for a few days and will reply briefly when I get back. Suffice it to say for now, that I think we've arrived at an end point where we have come to agreement on a few points and know where we disagree on others. If this is the case, there is not much point in doing another lap in tandem around the hamster wheel. I'll apologize if you feel I have insulted you; rest assured it was not intentional. As for my perceived default position that the US is at fault for everything that is wrong in the world, that is flat out wrong. I think you perceive that because the two discussions we have had involve situations where I do feel the US is seriously off course. The one involving Iran, and by extension Iraq and Afghanistan,is by far the more serious of the two. We don't need to get into my reasoning here, at least not in this thread, but let me just say that it originates not from self loathing or left wing sympathies, but from a genuine concern about the
long term impact on our country, as well as the peoples of those nations. Perhaps we can get into that one next winter, when cabin fever once again slips unnoticed into our psyches. For now, I just can't spare the energy it takes to deal with someone as intelligent and tenacious as you, as I am starting to seriously ramp up my training for another season in the Sierra. It has been a most interesting debate, at least for me, and I look forward to our next one somewhere down the road. :) :)

Edited by ouzel on 03/16/2013 16:13:48 MDT.