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The Boy Scouts cover-up news this week - Elf M. Sternberg
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The Boy Scouts cover-up news this week
Let me be the first to say I'm not surprised that the Boy Scouts of America covered up hundreds of child molestation accusations over the past five decades. First, it should come as no surprise that such things happen: a boy scout troop is a target rich environment for pedophiles, and I'm pretty sure the average pedo has at least enough brain cells to figure that out.

I'm not surprised at the cover-up. This is institutional groupthink at its core: the institution is more important than its members, and protecting the institution in the immediate mode presses greatly on the minds of those involved in covering for a single case. What happens, though, is that after you've compromised your personal values to avoid embarrassing the institution in the current case, it becomes easier to compromise in the future and the fact that there are previous cover-ups makes the potential for future embarrassment greater. The problem snow-balls out of control.

Like the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America wear their morality proudly on their chests. Compromising those values once must have hurt, but eventually the core of the institution institutionalizes compromise. That's what we've seen with both.

I don't believe that all instituitons that minister to children are corrupt, but they will attract the corrupt-- and therefore those who go into those institutions with the best of intentions must have the right incentives to remain uncorrupted. The first is to acknowledge that institutions that serve children do attract people who would do them harm; that this neither makes them an attractive nuisance in the legal sense or makes them liable for attracting those with harmful intent; and than when an institution uncovers someone who has acted with malice the insitution's immediate action is praiseworthy.

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Comments
dr_memory From: dr_memory Date: September 17th, 2012 04:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, this is approximately the least surprising news ever. And much like the Catholic Church, their public stance on homosexuality is part and parcel of the issue: they may as well have a sign on their HQ stating: pedophiles apply here, we are totally vigilant about keeping an entirely different class of people away.
lovingboth From: lovingboth Date: September 17th, 2012 06:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Quite.
tagryn From: tagryn Date: September 18th, 2012 01:08 am (UTC) (Link)
OTOH Penn State football under Paterno had no active stance on homosexuality one way or another, but that didn't stop the protect-the-institution-at-all-costs instinct from kicking in when the first indications they had a serious problem with Sandusky started to emerge. Ditto Syracuse basketball with Bernie Fine, the Miramonte Elementary School scandal, etc.
dr_memory From: dr_memory Date: September 18th, 2012 02:33 am (UTC) (Link)
True! I do tend to think that the BSA and Catholic Church are particularly special examples, but you don't need institutionalized homophobia to have unexamined self-protective groupthink; it just tends to exacerbate matters in cases like this.
shunra From: shunra Date: September 17th, 2012 09:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

I think the issue is less about serving children & more about the morality stance

Since they see themselves as so moral as to be a priori non-criminal, there must be some other thing going on when they commit crimes.

I think the same thing is going on in the US Army (they cannot be war criminals, NOT POSSIBLE) and kibbutzim and in the Catholic church and among the Jewish ultra- and just-plain- orthodox groups. They feel above criminality - which means some of them can act with impunity.
And do.
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