There’s no badge for thinking for yourself

On Oct. 9, a group of Cub Scouts in Broomfield, Colorado met with Colorado State Senator Vicki Marble (R-Fort Collins) in a meeting organized by the Boy Scouts. The young scouts were instructed by their den leader to prepare questions to ask the senator, as they were made aware she would be speaking beforehand. The scouts all asked respectful, yet challenging questions, as reported by the Denver Post. However, one scout, 11-year old Ames Mayfield, was kicked out of his den for asking Sen. Marble about comments she had made in 2013 about poverty in the black community and, most notably, why she would support a bill against “common-sense gun laws.”

The bill Mayfield referred to, SB13-140, prevents any Colorado state employee or agency from enforcing any federal law that limits firearm, ammunition, ammunition magazine or firearm accessory that is made or manufactured in Colorado.

Mayfield asked the senator, “I was shocked that you co-sponsored a bill to allow domestic violence offenders to continue to own a gun. Why on Earth would you want somebody who beats their wife to have access to a gun?” Despite Mayfield following the instructions that his den leader gave him, the pack leader informed Mayfield’s mother, Lori Mayfield, that her son was not welcome back to the den, and would have to find a different one. “He let me know in so many words that the den leader was upset about the topic of gun control,” she explained, and went on to say that the leader felt the matter was too politically charged. However, moving Ames Mayfield into a different troop sets a bad precedent, one that conveys an oppressive, censorship-minded order of business.

Removing Mayfield because he asked a question that the leader did not agree with seems to be in pretty stark contrast with the Boy Scouts’ stance of being “A wholly nonpartisan organization (that) does not promote any one political position, candidate or philosophy,” considering the pack leader did everything that statement said he should not. The mentality this leader displayed is exactly the mentality that does not allow for social reform to take place, and more importantly, it punishes a young boy for speaking his mind. Of course, there is speculation that Mayfield was put up to the question by his mother, though she denies it and asserts her son did all of his own research. Even if Mayfield was put up to the question, that would not change the fact the ideas he expressed were unfairly considered “too politically charged,” and necessitated his removal — despite the fact they were tasked to ask political questions to a senator, so of course things were inevitably going to be politically charged.

The Cub Scouts are supposed to be grooming their members to become Boy Scouts, whose motto is “Be Prepared,” not, “Be prepared to be kicked out if you don’t express the ideas we like.” Now, the gun control debate is about as charged as anything, and while there are surely valid reasons to support the idea of common sense gun control, the bigger issue at hand is the fact that this leader found it within his power to remove this child from his den altogether.

This sets a bad example for Cub and Boy Scouts alike, because these young men are supposed to be developed into well-rounded adults by the Scouts. But that seems pretty difficult to do when these scouts can apparently be removed from their den for voicing an opinion they have formed on their own. The den leader should have met with Mayfield and his mother and expressed his concerns with questions asked and then come up with a solution, instead of taking a boy away from his friends and the den he’d been in for five years.

Ultimately, the actions of this pack leader speak to a bigger problem of preventing children from developing their own ideas and voicing their concerns with the world they live in. Leadership programs are supposed to cultivate young minds and expand their horizons, not pigeon-hole them into thinking like the adults who run the program. Mayfield should have been commended by his den and pack leader for showing his awareness of national issues and his desire to see his local lawmakers implement change. Instead, he was stifled, and the Boy Scouts should not stand for it.

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