Things of the Week – Boy Scouts, LePage, and some dangerous drugs

Troy R. Bennett / Bangor Daily News

Posted on February 11, 2013 in Henry's Head, Perspectives
By Andrew Henry

National controversy of the week

Trustworthy, loyal, helpful – but not gay. The Boy Scouts of America have postponed a vote to lift the ban on including gay members. Prospective gay Scouts who would like to join will now have to wait until May, when the next vote will be held. The ban has been in place since 1991, when the BSA released a statement saying that “homosexuals do not provide a desirable role model for Scouts.” The board cited the complexity of the issue as the main reason for putting off the vote, but the BSA has been dealing with this for a long time. While I can understand the caution involved in making this decision within a primarily male organization, the ban should just be lifted already. As someone who is a former Scout and knows several gay Boy Scouts, the motion to postpone the vote is flat-out evasive, and I know I’m not the only one who has this view. Steven Spielberg even left his position on the BSA Advisory Board in 2001 because he strongly disagreed with their exclusion of gay people. The BSA website says that “The BSA provides a program for young people that builds character, trains them in the responsibilities of participating citizenship and develops personal fitness.” That is, unless you’re gay. Get over your homophobia, BSA. It’s time that the board earned their social tolerance merit badge. And while you’re at it, lift the ban on atheists being able to join as well. It’s equal rights, after all.

State of the State address of the week

Governor Paul LePage seemed assertive and frank as he addressed issues and leadership criticisms during his State of the State address on Tuesday. He opened saying “I am here to update you, the people of Maine, about the condition of our great state.” Unfortunately, the state of our state is, in fact, not so great, but he spoke honestly toward the potential for a brighter future in Maine. LePage discussed our business-friendliness (or lack thereof), inflated energy costs and our public schools’ supposed lack of success in giving students what they need educationally. “The path forward offers two choices,” he said. “We continue to accept the status quo, or we can make the tough decisions to create a better Maine for everyone.” However, LePage didn’t give any examples of these “tough choices.” At least he wants to “…put ideologies aside and get to work to make Maine a competitive and prosperous state.” I truly hope that he means what he says, but I have trouble believing that he can put ideologies aside. His past track record as someone with a fiery temper left a mark on his reputation though he claims to just be “passionate.”
In reality, it’s a combination of both. Storming out of press conferences, calling for a repeal on the ban of the cancer-related chemical BPA and taking down a mural that represented a working-class people are just a few of the times he has refused to put ideologies aside. As someone who claims to have come from a working-class background, LePage seems to be confused on where he stands. But his State of the State address this year shows a calmer, more confident governor who pines for success in the working-class section of Maine. I’m optimistic but skeptical that he’ll do what he says. So please, prove me wrong, LePage.

Worrisome local drug outbreak of the week

Portland police say that new, more potent strains of heroin are the cause of four near-fatal overdoses in the past week. As if heroin wasn’t dangerous enough already, these new batches are un-cut black tar heroin, and one simply called China White. According to an announcement from the city of Portland, China White in particular has been cut with prescription drugs, making it all the more lethal. The city has also put up flyers around the greater Portland area giving tips to people who might use the drug, saying they shouldn’t use the drug alone, and that a tester shot would be a good idea. This outbreak, while relatively contained, is reminiscent of the beginning of the bath salts craze over the last year or two. I grew up just a few miles from Bangor, which seems to be the epicenter of bath salt problems, and now that I live in Portland and there’s a dangerous drug outbreak, it makes me realize how unavoidable the entire thing is. Whatever the case for doing these drugs is, it’s a dangerous habit with permanent damage.