Cub Scout Den Kicks Out 11-Year-Old Who Asked Senator About Guns, Race
A Cub Scout in Broomfield, Colorado, has been dismissed from his den after asking a lawmaker some tough questions about gun control and racial stereotypes. The scout, Ames Mayfield, is in fifth grade and took part in a question-and-answer session with State Senator Vicki Marble (R., Fort Collins) during which scouts were able to ask about government and issues facing the country.
Mayfield began his turn by saying, "I was astonished that you blamed black people for poor health and poverty because of all the chicken and barbecue they eat."
Marble denied having said that. "I didn’t, that was made up by the media," she told Mayfield. "So, you want to believe it? You believe it. But that’s not how it went down. I didn’t do that. That was false. Get both sides of the story."
Here is a recording of the exchange, made by Mayfield's mother, Lori:
Mayfield's question was in reference to 2013 comments by Marble, for which she was criticized for being racially insensitive:
When you look at life expectancy, there are problems in the black race. Sickle-cell anemia is something that comes up. Diabetes is something that’s prevalent in the genetic makeup, and you just can’t help it. ... Although I’ve got to say, I’ve never had better barbecue and better chicken and ate better in my life than when you go down South and you, I mean, I love it. Everybody loves it.
She then added that Mexicans eat mostly vegetables until they come to America, when they start eating much less healthily.
Mayfield had more questions for Marble, though, in particular one about gun legislation. Marble is a Second Amendment proponent who supports laws expanding gun rights. Mayfield asked her, "I was shocked that you co-sponsored a bill to allow domestic violence offenders to continue to own a gun. Why on earth would you want someone who beats their wife to have access to a gun?"
The Scouts' den leader cut Mayfield off after he had spoken for more than two minutes, so that Marble could respond. She and the den leader praised him for his thorough question.
Ames later explained why he chose to ask about guns. "Given that the Las Vegas shooting happened, I felt that it should be a reasonable thing to ask," he said. “I don’t feel like I did anything wrong."
A few days after the Q&A, though, Mayfield was kicked out of the den, which he was a part of for five years. His mother told reporters, "He is heartbroken his den leader kicked him out. What does that teach scouts (about asking challenging questions)?" She later added, "He’s devastated. He has worked so hard for everything and he really liked his current den leader."
The Boy Scouts' Denver affiliate says that den membership decisions are made by the dens themselves, and that they are working to find Mayfield a new one. They released the following statement:
The BSA and the Denver Area Council are committed to working with families interested in Scouting to find local units that are the best fit for their children… It is important to note that the Scout is still part of the Cub Scout pack, and we are working with the family to offer the Scout options that will allow him to continue his Scouting experience in a way that fits his and his family’s needs. Beyond that, I hope you understand that we cannot discuss personal details regarding our youth members.
Marble was notified of the boy's dismissal following his pointed questioning of her. She responded saying, "I don’t blame the boy for asking the questions, since I believe there was an element of manipulation involved, and it wasn’t much different from the questions I normally field in other meetings. The invitation to meet with the Scouts was never intended to cause friction and controversy."
In explaining to Mayfield's mother as to why the boy had been dismissed, the den leader told her that he felt the questions were disrespectful. "I completely disagree," she told reporters. "[I] felt my son followed the directions of the assignment and asked hard-hitting, but certainly not disrespectful, questions."
Here is a report from local station KMGH in Denver: