I live across the street from a family that is very involved with Boy Scouts of America. The father is a scout leader and two of the sons are Eagle Scouts. And they are all very nice people. One couldn’t ask for better neighbors. But here’s the thing: I find the Boy Scouts a deeply creepy institution. And this is not some liberal thing. I’ve always felt this way.
Although it might not be clear to look at me now, when I was a child, I was a very typical boy. I loved my army men and when I got older, I ran around with the other boys playing war with sticks fashioned into guns. So when my friends started becoming cub scouts, you would have thought I would have followed along. But I didn’t. Then, as now, I thought it was all very creepy.
It probably comes from the core of my being—my fascination with the Romantic hero archetype. But the idea of everyone dressing up the same way just wasn’t my idea of what it is to be a man. And more to the point, it wasn’t what my idea of what it is to be an American. As I noted last year:
So I wasn’t exactly surprised to see an old article in The Atlantic by Jennie Rothenberg Gritz about the announcement that the Boy Scouts were going to let gay scouts into their club, Christopher Hitchens on the Mildly Fascist Founder of the Boy Scouts. I’m afraid she’s soft-pedaling it. Robert Baden-Powell was very supportive of fascism. And you can see why. Socially, fascism pushes the same kinds of ideas that that the Boy Scouts do: duty to the group and conformity.
Now let me be clear: I don’t think that the Boy Scouts of America are a fascist group. I don’t think that at all. But it wasn’t hard for Mussolini and Hitler to change the Boy Scout programs in their countries to fascist youth groups. And I think that is what is creepy about the group. But that is completely expected. I am the kind of person who rebels against authority. I am an equally bad leader and follower. A society made up of people like me would be no kind of society at all. So we need a lot of people who are willing to conform to create social cohesion.
Just the same, I think it is a major mistake to turn conformity into a fetish. The military does this because it is an unfortunate necessity, just as the very existence of the military is an unfortunate necessity. But to push boys into blind and ostentatious conformity before they are able to make the choice seems wrong to me. It’s too much like indoctrination. What’s more, it is a particular kind of paramilitary indoctrination. And for me, that’s what tips it from concerning to creepy.
 But they still aren’t allowing gay leaders. It is not clear what they think they are doing by this ban. Are they afraid gay leaders might rape the boys? Well, their straight leaders seem to already be doing that.