June 29, 2001 11:00 pm

The Public Boardcasting System may have started a war that it cant win. The public and privately funded television network recently aired a program called Scouts Honor that was critical of the Boy Scouts of America because the organization excludes gays from being scoutmasters. Whos hot under the collar? The American Legion and National Commander Ray G. Smith.

Smith is quoted as saying, PBS has driven one more nail into the coffin of the moral and cultural values of our society, attacking one of Americas greatest traditions simply because they exercise their right to set their own membership and leadership standards.

During last years 82nd national convention, the American Legion delegates unanimously passed a resolution calling for the Legion to support the Boy Scouts of America in its efforts to maintain and practice traditional family values with regard to their membership and their leadership standards.

Free speech is a wonderful thing here in America. It allows PBS to air programs that may offend millions of viewers and it allows the American Legion and its national commander to call for Americans to stand up for the Boy Scouts. It also allows those who disagree with the Boy Scouts policy to pressure corporations and local governments to stop funding the Boy Scouts. And it allows those who wish to stop purchasing from groups boycotting the Boy Scouts to do that.

But what is most interesting about this ongoing engagement is that the level of tolerance for those who disagree with each other is almost non-existent. We wonder why gay-rights groups, who lambast those who are openly outspoken against gay rights, arent more tolerant of those groups. Where is the willingness to allow others the opportunity to disagree and be vocal about it?

Since the Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts have the right to exclude gays from the organization, some groups have stopped funding scouting and some schools no longer will allow scouts to use their buildings. That is too bad. The Boy Scouts are still doing wonderful work with millions of young Americans who deserve the support of corporations and government entities. And so is PBS. This unique television network offers programming that is important to have available for all Americans. Just because it airs a program such as Scouts Honor doesnt mean it doesnt still deserve to get funding. Lets show some tolerance for various opinions from both sides of the aisle.

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