On My Honor, I Will Do My Best: The News Week in Review

The Boy Scouts' "Perversion Files" revealed more than 20,000 confidential Boy Scout documents identifying more than 1,000 leaders and volunteers banned from the group after being accused of sexual misconduct with boys.

“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.” ~ The Boy Scouts’ Oath

The Boy Scouts’ “Perversion Files” revealed more than 20,000 confidential Boy Scout documents identifying more than 1,000 leaders and volunteers banned from the group after being accused of sexual misconduct with boys.

As both a human being and an Eagle Scout, I was profoundly disturbed to read the reports about the child abuse that went unreported or actively hidden throughout the history of the Boy Scouts of America. The reports, released this week on account of an Oregon Supreme Court decision and entitled the “Perversion Files,” revealed more than 20,000 confidential Boy Scout documents identifying more than 1,000 leaders and volunteers banned from the group after being accused of sexual misconduct with boys.

The Perversion Files come at a time when the Boy Scouts were already under heat for not allowing homosexuals to either serve in Scouting leadership as adults or participate in the organization as teenagers. This had become such a heated debate both within and around the organization that a significant number of Eagle Scouts started publicly returning their Eagle Scout badges to the organization. The organization, however, remained steadfast, claiming that excluding homosexuals was both necessary to the safety of the children as well as demonstrative of the organization’s moral code.

The Boy Scouts have long used the potential for child abuse as a reason to keep homosexuals out of the organization. But new revelations indicate that the Scouts should have focused more on the actuality of abuse than the potential for it. The real threat seemed to not be homosexuals trying to infilitrate the Scouts but rather child molesters already within the Scouts’ leadership:

“An array of local authorities – police chiefs, prosecutors, pastors and town Boy Scout leaders among them – quietly shielded scoutmasters and others who allegedly molested children, according to a newly opened trove of confidential files compiled from 1959 to1985.” [1]

Allegations of abuse in Scouting troops struck a nerve not only nationally, but locally in Lane County. “A Eugene Police officer and Scoutmaster who ‘admitted abnormal conduct with boys’ in 1966 was allowed to resign from both positions, according to decades-old confidential files kept by the Boys Scouts of America and released Thursday by a Portland law firm…A KVAL News review of the files located at least nine so-called ‘Perversion Files’ kept by the Boy Scouts that involved local men.” [2]

Adults crossing the lines of appropriateness with children is a pervasive problem. And it is not unique to the Boy Scouts. Thurston High School had to face this fact this week when, “A 30-year-old man has admitted furnishing alcohol to players he coached on Thurston High School’s freshmen boys’ basketball team. Byron Parra, who resigned his teaching position at Thurston Middle School in July after the criminal allegations surfaced, pleaded guilty last week in Springfield Municipal Court to a misdemeanor count of furnishing alcohol to minors, a court spokeswoman said.” [3]

Children are vulnerable, and these situations place them in horrible situations that can affect them for the rest of their lives. But every now again, some kid comes around that knows just what to do when threatened. Like when you are home alone and people try to rob your house. In the real world, you can’t just booby trap your house like the movie “Home Alone.”

Two companies have begun an experiment to see if they can create a geothermal electrical generating plant at the dormant Newberry Volcano in Central Oregon.

Paityn Mock, a 10 year old girl, knew exactly what to do, because she “has nerves of steel. The 10-year-old Camas girl was home alone when three burglars broke in earlier this week…Mock said she didn’t answer the door Tuesday afternoon because she saw there was a stranger outside. Instead, she hid in the pantry and watched as the burglars broke in through a downstairs window. Mock called 911 and snuck outside to hide behind a tree in the yard and waited for police…Police arrived at the house about 10 minutes later and arrested one of the men, who is now cooperating with them. The other two men got away, but police are continuing their investigation. After the incident, police even gave her a new nickname. ‘They call me the Home Alone girl,’ she said, a reference to the 1990 hit movie that starred Macaulay Culkin.” [4]

Being home alone can be scary. And the fact that she was left by herself at only 10 years old is a bit fishy. What’s also fishy is the smell of fish — especially a truck-load of fish spilt all over the freeway: “Commuters on Interstate 5 sitting in stopped traffic Wednesday morning near Tualatin might be forgiven for thinking the situation stank. Considering the circumstances, it probably did. Oregon State Police said that just before 5 a.m., a semi hauling 10 tons of frozen fish left the southbound lanes of I-5 near Wilsonville and when the driver, Milan Zeba, 53, dozed off and lost control trying to get the truck back on the roadway. The big rig tipped over on the busy interstate just south of the junction with Interstate 205, spilling fish and blocking all four lanes of traffic.” [5]

Speaking of fishy: Elections can get a little fishy, especially when campaign financiers get involved. Local races are not different: “The man behind Citizens United is putting money into the effort to beat the populist Democratic congressman [Peter deFazio]. Conservative litigator James Bopp Jr.’s Republican Super PAC Inc. (RSPAC) purchased $139,985 in advertising on local television stations KVAL (CBS), KEZI (ABC), KMTR (NBC) and KLSR (Fox) between Oct. 3 and Oct. 12, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) public data records. Bopp formed the PAC with Republican National Committee members Solomon Yue of Oregon and Roger Villere of Louisiana. In the world of campaign finance, Bopp Jr.’s shadow stretches farther than most; he is the legal mind behind Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court decision that prohibited the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and unions.” [6]

As it is an election year, debates about political issues can erupt just about anywhere. One of the most explosive political debates is that of alternative energy. And on the subjects of eruptions, explosions, and energy — did you know companies are trying to use volcanic eruptions and explosions as energy?

Two companies have begun an experiment to see if they can create a geothermal electrical generating plant at the dormant Newberry Volcano in Central Oregon. They’re pumping cool water thousands of feet down to crack the rocks. They hope to create fissures that will store millions of gallons of boiling water so it can eventually be drawn to the surface and create steam to turn power turbines. The federal government and private investors have put up a total of more than $40 million for the experiment. The rock-cracking work is expected to continue over the next month.” [7]

All the mudslinging during election year can make me feel sick, in the same way that malls make me feel sick. I don’t like malls, personally. But for some people, shopping at malls is to die for. And for others — well, for one person in particular — the mall is where you literally die:

A body was discovered in the undergrowth between the Riverbank Bike Trail and the Willamette River on Sunday night, near the Valley River Center mall. Eugene Police said that the deceased appeared to be a male transient around 40 years old. Police suspect that he was living in a campsite nearby where his body was found. Police said that the body was found by another transient Sunday evening off of the Riverbank Trail near the Valley River Regal Cinemas. The transient reported the location of the body to mall security, who in turn relayed the information to police.” [8]

Project Truth, a group that travels around to different colleges to promote pro-life beliefs, displayed graphic images of the abortion process in front of the EMU Amphitheater Monday afternoon.

Not everything that happens at malls, though, depresses me. Sometimes they can be places of economic opportunity. For example: “In a spacious room at Gateway Mall in Springfield, David Wells is opening a door of opportunity for vendors like himself. ‘It is a 14,000 square foot space,’ Wells said. ‘We have room for 55 merchants who want to come in and bring a home-based business … and bring it to the mall.’ The new marketplace, called the EuGenius Market, is open to anyone who wants to sell their own inventions or products. The only rules are that vendors can’t sell animals, guns, or knives. All vendors pay a flat fee of $25 for a 10-by-10-foot space.” [9]

Not selling animals, guns, or knives in a crowded, public place is a probably good idea. But what about airing your political opinions with graphically violent images in a crowded, public place? That is apparently up for debate at the University of Oregon:

“Project Truth, a group that travels around to different colleges to promote pro-life beliefs, displayed graphic images of the abortion process in front of the EMU Amphitheater Monday afternoon. Pro-choice student protesters took a place right in front of Project Truth to try to comfort students and to defend women’s rights. ‘We find that their tactics are really wrong. It’s using other people’s suffering for political gain, and it’s just wrong,’  said Aurora Laybourn-Candish, the organizer of the counter protest…’We think abortion is the biggest Holocaust in the world,” Don [from Project Truth] explained, ‘and we have biological facts on our side.’ When asked why his group uses such controversial graphic images in their displays, Don responded, ‘My team has been to over 76 schools, and we hear the same thing at every campus: “I never knew this is what it looked like'”.'” [10]

The fact is, sometimes we don’t know what things look like. Like the many decent and good people in the Boy Scouts that didn’t know what abuse looked like and therefore couldn’t stand up for the abused. But we cannot let ignorance be our excuse. I know I can’t. Because I took an oath years ago to “do my best, to do my duty” to help others and make this world a better place. And that’s something we should all — Scout or not — commit to doing each and every day.

R.L. Stollar writes the Local Nation segment at EDN. He has a B.A. in Western philosophy and literature from Gutenberg College in Oregon and a M.A. in Eastern religions from St. John’s College in New Mexico. Follow him on WordPress (rlstollar.wordpress.com/), Twitter, (@RLStollar), or Facebook (facebook.com/rlstollarjournalist).

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