Last week’s young victims of the alleged Rolling Stone magazine article about rape in the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia were just getting into their pledging for the weekend. They were trying to learn how to be a man. They weren’t assaulted; they weren’t sexually assaulted. They were attacked, by their best friend, in order to poison the climate of campus, to justify a university’s belief that its job is to protect life over equality, to protect privilege over humanity.
At issue isn’t whether it’s true that the article was written in order to alert readers of what was a ticking time bomb on a college campus, but that it wasn’t so much a ticking time bomb as a 20-foot ticking time bomb. Were the editorial staffers at Rolling Stone careless when deciding to publish this article, or a pack of wolves toying with the lives of these women and their peers, at least partly out of a desire to help the university and campus rape awareness efforts gain critical mass?
What we do know is that in this instance, the university ended up having no choice but to fire the dean of students, and the men’s lacrosse team lost a national championship.
There’s no question that the common experience of decades has been that the Boy Scouts remain the best thing in young boys’ lives. Every fourth-grader starts his day with “hikes and talking.” It’s hard to remember life without them. The Scouts should be unbothered about the students’ right to ask questions when asked, and about the adults’ responsibility to find out that no attack occurred.
This is something that matters more than should, according to the statement put out by Scouts for Equality on Friday. For a resolution passed by the Boy Scouts of America General Assembly earlier this month to have any real meaning, it needs to be enacted by local units, and both the local unit and its local den leaders — in other words, parents of Boy Scouts — need to be informed of what’s going on.
If they’re not, then that’s a problem — one that happens because of (often political) power mismanagement. It can be addressed with enough technological innovation and capacity, and has potential for sweeping cultural change. If not, then it should be. And if not, then it ought to be, as the Boy Scouts did with gay scouts in 2013.