The Denver Post
The Post Editorial Overreaction to Scout’s queries
Surprising news that a Broomfield Cub Scout has been kicked out of his den after he asked pointed questions of state Sen. Vicki Marble is troubling indeed. Certainly, exiling the fifth grader from his peers strikes us as an unnecessary and hurtful overreaction.
The story is difficult to comprehend, in part because of the radio silence coming out of the local scouting office over the boy’s dismissal. But the guts of it despair.
Last week, Broomfield Boy Scouts invited Marble, a polarizing Republican from Fort Collins, to speak. According to Lori Mayfield, mother of the dismissed boy Ames, the event came with an assignment as part of the Scouts’ educational mission. Scouts were to read or watch news stories about Marble and form questions for her. Ames, a gifted and talented student with a passion for politics and news, came with a list.
We wrote about one of his questions on Tuesday, as it elicited Marble’s false assertion that journalists fabricated comments she made in 2013 that attribute high mortality rates among African Americans to their eating too much chicken and barbecue. We panned those remarks in 2013, and criticized Marble this week for her untruthfulness before the Scouts.
At the time of our editorial, we didn’t know Ames had been kicked out of his den.
Lori Mayfield says officials were upset by how Ames phrased his questions. And while his demeanor was respectful, his questions were pointed. For example, the one about the mortality rates: “I was astonished that you blamed black people for poor health and poverty because of all the chicken and barbecue they eat.”
But state senators get those kinds of questions all the time. And officials should have expected trouble given their choice of speakers. What’s more likely is that officials were upset by the fact Lori Mayfield posted videos of the exchange on YouTube, including one with the headline: “Vicki Marble denies chickengate.”
Lori Mayfield tells us her post was meant to draw attention. She reached out to the liberal Colorado Pols website that posted its own take on Marble’s comments with video and transcriptions.
Mayfield feels her son’s dismissal, which has been devastating for him, was meant to punish her, and who can blame her?
Yet, Scout officials have told Mayfield that her son would be welcome in another pack. And she also tells us that a leader at a pack convenient to her family was aghast at Ames’ dismissal.
The Scouts’ willingness to offer Ames another den to enjoy and benefit from speaks well of the organization, and provides this sordid tale a ray of hope.
But was the dismissal really necessary? Couldn’t the former den and pack leaders have worked with the Mayfields to avoid such trauma for an 11-year-old?
One thing at least is clear. For such a young person, Ames’ desire to probe for answers to controversial issues is admirable. His research into questions about gun control, race and immigration reform is laudable as well.
We think he’s got a bright future, and hope he learns from this more than he suffers. Those willing to stand up and ask tough questions in these divisive times face incredible pushback, but the questions are worth asking nonetheless.
We stand with Ames Mayfield on this one, and hope he’s able to find a new home with the Scouts. The members of The Denver Post’s editorial board are William Dean Singleton, chairman; Mac Tully, CEO and publisher; Chuck Plunkett, editor of the editorial pages; Megan Schrader, editorial writer; and Cohen Peart, opinion editor.