Gwnewch y pethau bychain

The stupid, it burns!

You know, every time I think I can no longer be utterly dumbfounded by the stupid things that politicians get up to, along comes a story like this one in Atlanta’s Creative Loafing:

Lawmakers want to punish bank for stiffing scouts
Bank of America quit donating to the Boy Scouts for its policy on gays

The Boy Scout motto is, “always be prepared.” And in an election year, one should be prepared for a flurry of grandstanding. So maybe we should have seen this one coming.

In April, Bank of America’s Charitable Foundation declined to give money to a local Boy Scouts council, citing the scouts’ national policy barring gays from serving as Boy Scout troop leaders.

Now, Sen. John Wiles, R-Kennesaw, and Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, say they will introduce a bill during the next legislative session that would punish Bank of America by allowing the state to refuse to do business with any company that “practices discrimination.”

Basically, what Wiles and Ehrhart are recommending is that the state be allowed to discriminate against a company that discriminates against a group that discriminates.

Wiles, who is a former scout and who has three sons in the Boy Scouts, says Bank of America has the right to donate to whomever the company wants.

“But we as a state,” he says, “we have the right not to do business with people who discriminate.”

Of course, the next legislative session is months away, and talk of a proposed bill at this point is a bit premature. But the announcement comes just in time — less than two months before the state’s primary elections — to send a message to the social conservatives in Ehrhart’s and Wiles’ districts.

Bank of America officials say the company is just trying to be consistent with its policy not to fund groups that discriminate on the basis of age, race, sex or sexual orientation. A letter from Bank of America to the Valdosta-based Alapaha council instructs the troop that if it were able to “depart from the current discriminatory practices of the national organization” the bank would consider donating to the Boy Scouts again.

Wiles says that’s not good enough. He calls Bank of America’s decision extortion.

“This is a new policy Bank of America’s taken on and they’re forcing local Boy Scout councils who rely on their money to change their policy,” Wiles says.

Lynne Hogue, a Georgia State University law professor, says it seems more like Wiles and Erhart are the ones trying to wrench money from Bank of America for the scouts.

“It sounds like an extortion plot,” Hogue says. “They’re saying, ‘If you want to do business with the state we’re going to stick a gun to your head, and you’ve got to give money to these groups that we want money given to.’ The mafia couldn’t do a better job.”

Hogue also says he believes it’s unlikely that Wiles’ and Ehrhart’s proposal would make it onto the House floor for a vote.

“I think this is just bluster and political pandering and not much else,” he says. “It’s hard to imagine that this is a serious legislative proposal.”

I don’t even know where to begin. Unbelievable. How do people like this manage to tie their own shoes?






  1. Speaking as the parent of two Scouts…

    This is ludicrous. Why should BofA (or, indeed, ANY organization) have to donate?

    Sometimes I worry for our species.

  2. How do people like this manage to tie their own shoes?



    • Damn. You got the Velcro comment in before me. 🙂

      Can one cross-stick the Velcro on one’s shoes? Let’s hear it for one-legged racing. [eg]

      Ann O.

  3. It’s actually very consistent with the notion that private organizations don’t have the right to decide whom they’ll deal with, and that in general people don’t have the right to make choices which are deemed “discriminatory” (even though in fact, an act of choice is an act of discrimination). On some college campuses, religious organizations aren’t allowed to have a religious requirement for members. Freedom of association? That’s been discarded in favor of the “right” not to be discriminated against.

    • In my view, what one things of the BSA’s anti-gay policy is almost beside the point. You and I have some fundamental disagreements about politics, but I’d like to think we can agree that attempting to use the power of the state legislature to coerce a private organization to give charity to another private organization is an inappropriate use of goverment power.

  4. “But we as a state,” he says, “we have the right not to do business with people who discriminate”.

    As does Bank of America.

    This sounds so much like a double-talking type of comedy bit…

    *sigh* if only.

    Hopefully they will be made to feel very silly for taking this route.

  5. Personally? I don’t like any of the organizations.

    B of A is a right royal bastard of an organization, and if I were the BSA I would be uncomfortable about it if they *did* want to give me money. But they do have the right to give to whom they want, and to not give to who they don’t want. Consistent, of course, with Maximizing Shareholder Value™ ® © EIEIO. Fnord, Fnord.

    BSA the central organization has been anywhere from outright discriminatory to about as wishy-washy as Charlie Brown on the subject of religion, sexual orientation, etc. since the topic first began to surface when I was still in short pants. Frankly, they ought to leave it up to the individual troops to decide, maybe with a blanket policy of “we’re celebrating scouting, and topics appropriate to polite conversation, and you simply don’t go there when putting a public face on scouting, one way or the other.” But they’re not doing that, so fie there, too. If they want to make a fuss, it’s their right as a private organization, but I have the right as a potential parent and as a potential donor to vote agin’em with my feet and my wallet.

    The government of the State of Georgia is no great shakes either; I left there in part because of how the politics were progressing. Or, more appropriately, regressing. The banking industry in Georgia is large and varied; if the State wants to include non-discrimination in its vendor selection policy, I believe it is permissible to do so. I do however think singling out B of A and making law that is almost but not quite ex post facto is probably pushing it. That and the fact that somebody from Cobb County will likely filibuster the bill makes it quite simply a waste of the taxpayers’ money to even try….

    The whole thing is one massive charlie foxtrot to me. Everybody’s got rights, and everybody seems determined to abuse’em. NMP, thank goodness.

  6. The legislators’ action is simple extortion, nothing more or less, and it would really gratify me to see a prosecutor in Georgia with enough balls to indict them for it.

  7. Rob! Now you’ve got me humming Tom Lehrer!

    Oh, and the story is just insane, too…

  8. That’s our tax dollars at work, lemme tell ya!

    “This is a new policy Bank of America’s taken on and they’re forcing local Boy Scout councils who rely on their money to change their policy,” Wiles says.

    I can’t help but keep thinking about eggs and baskets… FORCING? Since when does a non-profit RELY almost primarily on ONE donator? I don’t care how big the dollar signs are, that’s just poor planning.

    I remember being a Girl Scout and while I’m sure the organization as a whole received corporate donations, very little was allocated to the individual troops themselves. We had fundraiser after fundraiser on our own to get extra money, not including the yearly cookie offering. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t ever recall hearing about Boy Scout cookies or anything remotely similar… I can’t help but wonder what they do for fundraising, I never see them at the local stores peddling wares…

    I’d be happy to donate money if they’d come mow the lawn every week or even just rake up leaves in the fall. 😉 Maybe I should go pimp that idea to the Boy Scouts…

  9. Christ almighty.

    Whatever happened to the Republican party being the party that believes that government should mostly keep out of people’s lives? That government is best when it governs least? Didn’t that use to be the whole point of being Repbublican? Was that they wanted government to keep out of people’s lives wherever possible? I really remember reading that somewhere.

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