Please visit the new home of Majikthise at bigthink.com/blogs/focal-point.

« The Skeptical Gawker: "Cleanses", "toning shoes", and cookie diets | Main | Jazz police are looking through my folders »

December 09, 2009

Scout's honor: Founder of Boy Scouts executed a POW

First Tiger Woods, and now this. Role models are dropping like flies.

Lord Baden Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts, may have illegally executed a prisoner of war--according to documents sold at auction this week. The papers indicate that Lord Powell, then colonel in the British Army, ordered the execution of a captured African chief during the Second Matabele War in 1896. The chief had been promised that his life would be spared if he surrendered. The record states that Powell knew this, but had the chief shot anyway. In his own defense, Powell claimed he had the prisoner killed in order to "save lives." An official inquiry cleared him of wrongdoing, mostly because his old school chums swore up and down that he was a good guy.

Comments

"Role models are dropping like flies."

Haha. Love it!

And here I thought that the Boy Scouts only became an immoral organization after they banned gays and atheists. It seems the seeds for their eventual corruption were planted early (or maybe it's just a coincidence, but for the time being I'm going with Evil Seed).

1896....get over it.
They're *still* good role models.

His full name was "Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell."

I dislike how British journalists tend to drop someone's first name when he has the "Lord" title.

"I dislike how British journalists tend to drop someone's first name when he has the "Lord" title"

That is the generally accepted mode of address (in the third person) in Britain for a peer or peeress. It's not a quirk of journalism. I understand that Americans are unfamiliar with it, of course.

Anyway, as far as Lord Baden-Powell goes, eveyone in Scouting just calls him B-P.

I thought it was interesting that the BBC sub-hed described B-P as having "illegally" executed Uwini. No law would have applied at the time, not even customarily. It's an appallingly unjust and dishonourable act to execute someone to whom a safe-conduct has been given (extraordinarily bad form as well of course) but not against any law of war as such existed at the time. As far as I can tell, Britain hadn't even signed the first Geneva Convention in 1896 and no customary law of war would have existed to cover the situation.

I still think it's revolting. Even by the standards of the time (let alone ours now).

That reminds me to make the annual donation to this most worthy of causes.

Once again, those in favor of "gay this" and "gay that" or who do not believe in God use opinion to try to pull down the Boy Scouts. "And here I thought that the Boy Scouts only became an immoral organization after they banned gays and atheists." For 100 years the Boy Scouts have held the standard of Duty ot God and A Scout is Clean. It wasn't until recently that people have begun to think that sticking one's penis up some guys butt is normal, clean behavior.

"An official inquiry cleared him of wrongdoing, mostly because his old school chums swore up and down that he was a good guy." So the only way for his "old schoo; chums" to have been right would be to convict him regardless of the true facts in the case.

Got to love you folks...

Relax, I'm not hating on the Boy Scouts. You conservatives have no sense of humor. Neither Baden Powell nor Tiger Woods is a serious role model. (Though they each accomplished impressive things.)

I thought about putting "role model" in quotes, but that seemed unsubtle. The joke is about people who are held up as role models having feet of clay.

My brother was a Queen Scout (the Canadian equivalent of an Eagle Scout). The scouting was a huge positive influence on him. He's an atheist, but that was never an issue.

Tybalt -

The British military may have had its own laws against executing enemies after they surrendered.

And Chip, according to the story, it's obvious from the papers that Baden Powell knew the guy was a prisoner who had been promised mercy and killed him anyway. Those are the facts of the case. Evidently, killing prisoners violated some kind of military law or policy even in those days, or else there wouldn't have been an inquiry. According to the article, he brought forward a bunch of blue blooded character witnesses to swear he was a good guy. His niceness to his buddies may also have been a fact, but that isn't relevant to whether he killed a prisoner in cold blood.

This, of course, would make 'conservative' types admire him more. After all, he killed an African dude, who was probably a terrorist, and didn't wait around for no namby pamby judge to tell him what he could or couldn't do with a known terrist!

He may well have been breaking local tribal laws...

There's a bit of irony in discussing whether a British officer broke laws, while engaging in institutionalized mass murder and pillaging.

But then the writers of history books decide who's righteous.

That reminds me to make the annual donation to this most worthy of causes.

Conservative snark/shadenfreude for: "What's with the PC hand wringing? After all, he was just a barefoot spearchucker."

Cecil Rhodes had a plan for those savages. There simply wasn't any room for them if they couldn't get with the program.

Tybalt said:

"No law would have applied at the time, not even customarily."


The retort to the Nazi war criminals who argued "Nullum crimen sine lege" was that murder has been illegal from time whereof the memory of man runneth not to the contrary.

El Cid and cfrost are onto something, though. It was contrary to custom (and illegal) for Europeans to murder European captives, but to kill colonial "savages"? Not so much (indeed, in King Leopold's Congo, European murder of black Africans was close to customary at the time.)

And now I'm going to knock out the ignoble lord's rear windows with a nine iron.

Happy Chanukkah, everyone!

When I was a boy forty years ago, Chip, the Boy Scouts was a gay organization. That is, it provided the opportunity for many boys to have sex with each other.

The Boy Scouts are probably one of the most important gay organizations in the history of America; think of all the boys who learned what it meant to be gay in the Scouts.

I don't know anything about the Boy Scouts now, but I'd be very surprised if the homosocial nature of the organization didn't still provide crucial opportunities for curious boys to develop intimate relationships with their peers.

My understanding is that the whole reason why Baden Powell started the scouts was that he thought British men had become a bunch of wimps who wouldn't do things like murder prisoners. (We were also told he liked to paint his office with blood but I suspect that might just be a story.) In the Boor war they'd been unwilling to kill women and children, especially, so the scouts were started to help turn them into proper militaristic sorts.

it provided the opportunity for many boys to have sex with each other

Ok, that's seriously funny. I'd never thought of that.

the scouts were started to help turn them into proper militaristic sorts

That was more like my experience in the scouts. I was in a troop with fellow army brats in Germany. We'd do most of our camping in areas where military practice and maneuvers were conducted. We spent a lot of time scouring the landscape for stuff that would explode. M-80s, blank rifle rounds, flares, etc. The best were German army training grenades. They were shaped like the potato-masher grenades you see in old war documentaries but made mostly of plastic. Some were duds where the fuse had lit but hadn't burned into the explosive canister. We'd dissect out the canister and arrange things so a cigarette would set it off. They'd make a huge explosion and a big cloud of bright yellow smoke. Flare shells filled with rifle round powder and hammered one over the other to make a small pipe bomb affair then tossed into a fire were another favorite. Unfortunately the scouts have no merit badges for explosive ordnance.

We also were given a lot of of scout spirit loyalty to God and country baloney to swallow. I never gave a shit about that. I was in the scouts because I liked to camp and I was a borderline pyromaniac.

it provided the opportunity for many boys to have sex with each other

Ok, that's seriously funny. I'd never thought of that.

the scouts were started to help turn them into proper militaristic sorts

That was more like my experience in the scouts. I was in a troop with fellow army brats in Germany. We'd do most of our camping in areas where military practice and maneuvers were conducted. We spent a lot of time scouring the landscape for stuff that would explode. M-80s, blank rifle rounds, flares, etc. The best were German army training grenades. They were shaped like the potato-masher grenades you see in old war documentaries but made mostly of plastic. Some were duds where the fuse had lit but hadn't burned into the explosive canister. We'd dissect out the canister and arrange things so a cigarette would set it off. They'd make a huge explosion and a big cloud of bright yellow smoke. Flare shells filled with rifle round powder and hammered one over the other to make a small pipe bomb affair then tossed into a fire were another favorite. Unfortunately the scouts have no merit badges for explosive ordnance.

We also were given a lot of of scout spirit loyalty to God and country baloney to swallow. I never gave a shit about that. I was in the scouts because I liked to camp and I was a borderline pyromaniac.

The comments to this entry are closed.