Sometimes things just need to end. In 2017 Ringling Bros. circus shut down after 146 years. The concept of The Circus feels like it should have been dead and gone 30-40 years ago, and the fact that it endured in the age of the Internet is remarkable. Yet we now live in the post-Ringling Bros. circus world.
Pluto was a planet until 2006. Now it’s a lesser classification of non-classical planet (or something scientific-sounding), as Pluto no longer meets the new standards of what constitutes a planet, which is fair. Who am I to question experts?
“All My Children” ran for 40-something years before biting the dust. Windows XP got support for almost 13 damn years before Microsoft finally mercy-killed it in 2014. The Western Black Rhinoceros was declared extinct in 2009. Things end. Kinda happens sometimes.
Just recently the Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy amidst too many sexual abuse cases to count. Another institution that like the Ringling Bros circus had endured for well over a century. That’s not to say that the Boy Scouts is officially dead, but it’s certainly at a point to where some may question whether or not its existence is still worthwhile.
I was a boy scout, well, at least a Cub Scout and maybe a Webelos for a brief interim. I have so few memories of that time that stand out, but from what I can remember is:
- The Pinewood Derby: My dad and I cobbled together a unique looking car (he did like 98% of the work, I’m pretty certain), complete with a sleek dark green paint job and some sparkling gold racing stripes. I don’t think I ran a great race, but I remember being very happy with how it turned out.
- Meetings: I have almost no recollection of what we did at these meetings, but I remember going. For whatever reason there’s just nothing that was retained regarding the average get together. Kind of shows my overall interest/investment in Scouts.
- Badges: I vaguely recall consulting a field guide for earning badges. It was, if I remember, a pain in the ass, and not worth it (in my view).
That’s about it. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of my parents or old friends chimes in and says, “dude, you were in Scouts for like 5 years and we did all these (insert fun things here)!” I simply don’t recall in the slightest. My mind was infinitely more preoccupied with Super Nintendo games, Legos, and WWF storylines. Building character and cultivating friendships were slightly lower on the totem pole.
But for many others, thousands and more probably millions, the Boy Scouts is (was?) a life-changing institution that’s taught them invaluable lessons, harvested friendships, etc. I’ve only ever associated the Boy Scouts with good feeling, even if it wasn’t necessarily for me.
That said, when hundreds of thousands of young boys (currently; 130 million+ since 1910) are involved, there is simply too much appeal to pedophiles. The New York Times published reports back in the 1930s that hundreds of “degenerate” scout leaders had infiltrated their ranks:
Last year, the Abused in Scouting group began advertising around the country for people who were abused as scouts to come forward, and found nearly 2,000 people with complaints, including one in every state. The clients range in age from 8 to 93.
The truth is a gummy, writhing fog, and once you stir in abuse, court settlements, and scandal, you can pretty much assure an unclear portrait in the end for the Boy Scouts. That said, I hope the good people and kids still involved in it do their best and savor the fun parts.
Meanwhile we can all hope the pedophiles that permeate our species collectively disintegrate into the ether. Don’t sexually abuse children. Stop that. Does Smokey the Bear need to come around to every Boy Scout campfire and crack a few pederasts over the face with his shovel?
“Only YOU can prevent destroying a child’s innocence!” *WHAP*
The circus was full of romance and mystery. Families could come from miles around to watch the performers pull off seeming-miracles with elephants, lions, tigers, acrobats, and more. There were calliopes, clowns, jugglers, cotton candy, peanuts, and the carnival atmosphere.
The elephants were bleeding to death during shows and shackled in the dark until they died. The tigers and lions were whipped into submission.
A subset of our species – the abusers, the violent, the sexually vile – can’t help it. They can’t resist. Sometimes things just need to end. People suck.