Ames Mayfield is a smart, gutsy 11-year-old, and this episode in his life may work to his eventual advantage. Nonetheless, his treatment by his Cub Scout den was nauseating, cruel and wrong, and contradicts the very values Scouting exists to imbue.
There is another likely villain here as well.
Ames’ Cub Scout den met with a Colorado State Senator, Republican Vicki Marble, last week. Ames came prepared with a long list of typed-up questions. (I wonder where THOSE came from?) He raised his hand to ask his first one , involving gun legislation. “I was shocked that you co-sponsored a bill to allow domestic violence offenders to continue to own a gun,” Ames said, according to a video posted to YouTube by …hmmm, not Ames but his mother. “Why on earth would you want someone who beats their wife to have access to a gun?”
Ames’s questions continued until a den leader suggested that he pause and allow the Senator a chance to answer. I wonder if Marble noted the Supreme Court’s decision n Voisine v. United States, holding that a federal statute banning firearms possession by anyone convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” including individuals who have “misdemeanor assault convictions for reckless (as contrasted to knowing or intentional) conduct.” Maybe Ames, who I’m sure is an avid reader of Ethics Alarms, quoted my post on the issue, which concluded in part,
The real question, from an ethical standpoint, is whether Congress can and should remove a citizen’s Second Amendment right based on a misdemeanor conviction for domestic abuse. Is that fair? Sure it is. It is already settled law that it is constitutional to prevent convicted felons from owning guns, even if it was a non-violent felony. From an ethical public policy standpoint, why would it be overly restrictive to ban gun ownership from those who engage in a violent misdemeanor?
…The majority covers the legal logic of the decision; the ethics logic is simpler. How difficult is it not to physicality abuse a spouse to the extent that one is found guilty of breaking the law? It shouldn’t be hard. Nor do I weep for any degree of spouse-beater who is denied the right to purchase a gun. Good, I say to such a person. I don’t trust you, and I don’t trust your judgment. If having access to a gun was so important to you, you should have thought about that before you started knocking loved ones around. If the threat of losing gun rights makes hot-heads think twice before engaging in domestic violence, that’s good too.
After the meeting, the leader of Ames’s Cub Scout pack, which oversees various dens, met with the boy’s mother, Lori Mayfield, and told her that that her son was no longer welcome in the den. Her son’s question was disrespectful and too political, Lori was told. (Her son’s question…)
Accepting for the nonce that this was all Ames’ idea, which we should know is baloney, why would he be kicked out?
Was it for daring to ask legitimate question of an elected representative? For inadvertently embarrassing an incompetent official who wasn’t prepared to defend her positions? For showing his fellow scouts what civic literacy and participation is, and how one petitions the government, a constitutional right?
Or perhaps Ames’s “crime” was not behaving like a quiet, submissive, naive and easily brushed aside 11- year-old. Was that it? Is he being censored and punished for the content of his question, which was reasonable and civil? Scouting exists in part to train young Americans to be active, informed and caring citizens. Ames’ conduct was completely consistent with that goal. There can be no justification for punishing the boy. An ethical Cub Scout pack would hold him up as a role model.
But we all know, don’t we, that Ames was just a pawn, if an admirable one. Is there any doubt that his activist mother unethically used him in her own scheme? It seems self-evident that she hijacked the den’s visit to further a political agenda. She made her son into her mouthpiece, her placard, her dummy. She wrote his script; it was her words, not his, that he read to the senator. Lori Mayfield, a cowardly exploiter of her own child, was the worst ethics offender here, and her son was her victim.
The Cub Scout pack’s leadership should have visited Mother Mayfield, all right, but to tell her that she was beneath contempt, using her innocent son as lobbying surrogate. Punishing Ames victimized the boy twice.
One can only speculate what bitter life lessons Ames has learned from this fiasco. If you can’t trust your elected representatives, your mother or the Cub Scouts, who can you trust?