MOUNT HOPE, W.Va.—Hundreds of boy scouts, including many Eagle Scouts, have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after watching the president of their country insult people who don’t agree with him, threaten to fire someone whom he had just said was doing a good job, and make a bawdy allusion to sex parties on expensive boats.
“I . . . I just don’t know what to believe anymore,” said one boy scout who was diagnosed with PTSD after attending the speech by President Donald Trump at the National Boy Scout Jamboree here on July 24. “We’ve always been taught that the United States is a great democracy but our president was demeaning the loyal opposition and making it sound like their motives were bad rather than just taking a different position on policy priorities. Then he threatened to fire one of his own officials if the health bill doesn’t pass even though he himself has called provisions to replace the health law ‘mean.’ I’m just so uncertain what values were supposed to be aiming for now.”
“We’ve trained our boys to be self-reliant and resourceful in the wilderness but nothing in our training has prepared them for what they witnessed the other day,” says Richard Stevens, president of the Boy Scouts of America. “They don’t know how to navigate what they heard or what tools to use to make sense of the president’s remarks. We have our work cut out for us to help them be prepared in today’s environment.”
One 16-year old boy, who credited the Boy Scouts with instilling in him high standards of behavior, says the speech left him dazed at first but now he says he feels liberated because the president made it clear truth is relative and values are a social construct to put a veneer of respectability over base animal desires for money, sex, and power. “What I took away from the speech is to grab the old lady’s wallet if she’s having trouble crossing the street, introducing her granddaughter to alcohol, and paying off police to look the other way.”
Boy Scout officials say they observed problems even before the president wrapped up his speech. “We had boys staring blankly at their merit badges and absently tying their neckerchiefs into slipknots after the president had been speaking for only five minutes,” says Stevens. “t was clear even then we were going to have a problem comparable to when we voted to allow gays to join.”
Looking ahead, Stevens says, the organization might have to add a merit badge to recognize skill in hurling insults and demeaning people. “I think we’ll come through this crisis stronger than ever,” Stevens says. “But the next few months will be difficult, no doubt about it. We have many scared and confused boys right now, but once we give them new values to uphold, we should be okay. Are we going to lose a few boys along the way? Of course, but they probably weren’t Trump supporters anyway.”
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