The Girl Scouts have been going through a strange period lately. There was the controversy over a transgender troop member, a boy who identified as a girl. Then it was revealed that the organization’s literature was promoting Media Matters as a means of civic education. This, however, takes the cake.
Stacy Hintz, a 28-year-old mother from West Bend, Wisconsin,was removed from her volunteer position as a Girl Scout troop leader because of her husband’s website. The site is called Wisconsin Sickness, is slick, professional, unique, and 100% batty. Here is its introduction:
“Whatever the reason, there is a deep and passionate psychosis that runs through the unstable synapses of those of us from Wisconsin, land of serial killers and cannibals. And we’re proud of it. Wisconsin Sickness, a Mental Shed project, is all about bringing the independent, underground Wisconsin scene together and spreading the sickness like a virus.”
And really, that’s nothing: wait until you see the site, which, among other things, celebrates Ed Gein, the serial killer/cannibal/necrophiliac whose horrific crimes and, uh, interior decorating style inspired “Psycho,” “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” and dozens of lesser horror films.
My rule is that it is unfair to punish or penalize one spouse for the other spouse’s occupation, conduct, opinions or transgressions, unless there is pro-active support and endorsement bordering on mutual participation, and the spouse is in a position where judgment and character matters. Still, there are limits: I’m not going to judge the Jewish Women’s Cotillion harshly for rejecting Eva Braun’s membership, are you? There is a point where the cognitive dissonance is too much, and it is expecting too much for normal people to get past it. We have experience. We know what legitimate warning signs look like.
The U.S. government is not going to give the highest security clearance to the wife of a convicted spy or a vocal advocate for the overthrow of our government no matter how squeaky clean her record is, and that makes perfect sense to me. And speaking of squeaky, if a Secret Service agent falls in love with and marries Squeaky Fromme, that agent is not getting assigned to the President, and I don’t care if he is Clint Eastwood, it’s not happening...and shouldn’t. Should Clint be fired because his wife tried to kill Gerald Ford? Absolutely not. But his odd choice of spouse creates legitimate doubts about how far he can be trusted.
If I have a daughter in the Girl Scouts, I am not going to be comfortable with her having a troop leader whose nearest and dearest spends his time and passion writing and thinking about serial killers, cannibals, mayhem, and the darkest reaches of the human soul. Maybe I watch too much “Criminal Minds”—okay, I DO watch too much “Criminal Minds”, but the fact remains that if something horrible happened, and it turned out that Mrs. Hintz was part of sick cult that entrapped young girls to be menu items for her husband’s mutant friends, I would never forgive myself. This is the Girl Scouts, and it is reasonable to want young girls as far away from the shadow of Ed Gein as possible. I’d want another troop leader for my daughter. She’s not a bus driver or a plumber, she’s a leader, a role model and a mentor, and the man she lives with celebrates mayhem.
This is an ethical conflict, where two ethical principles are in opposition. If one wins, the other loses. Hintz is a volunteer, not an employee, and that tips the scales for me. Responsibility and prudence, mine, trumps fairness to her.
I agree with the Girl Scouts.
[Thanks to Rick Jones–I think—for flagging this.]