A Wisconsin mom says she was booted from her position as a Girl Scout troop leader because she and her husband run a goth website. Is this a case of Middle American moral panic, or is there more to this story?
Stacy Hintz helps her husband Charlie run his website, Wisconsin Sickness. Last week, Charlie wrote that his wife's co-leader in the Girl Scout troop had discovered the website and asked Stacy to resign because of it. The co-leader apparently cited the website's section on serial killer Ed Gein (inspiration for The Silence of the Lambs) and a mention of Wisconsin porn stores as evidence that the Hintzes were steeped in sin. When Stacy refused to resign, Mary Black, Chief Program Officer of Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast, sent her an e-mail officially dismissing her. The e-mail read, in part,
Following an internal review, we are reaffirming the notice of February 9, 2012 removing you from all of your volunteer positions with Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast. This action is being taken due to violations of policy, including your endorsement, while in a Girl Scout capacity, of a website service that does not live up to the Girl Scout standards and principles.
Based on the content of Wisconsin Sickness, this certainly seems like an overreaction. The site contains some talk about ghosts, heavy metal, and serial killers, as well as some photos of (clothed) women in sexy poses, one of whom is Stacy Hintz. There's nothing particularly graphic. The Milwaukee AV Club's description is apt: "You know, the sort of harmless, dopey junk we all dug when we were 15." Wisconsin Sickness probably isn't appropriate for little kids, but there's nothing there that should disqualify its operator from working with them.
On the other hand, the Hintzes don't seem like the most conciliatory people. When Stacy's co-leader approached her, Charlie's response was to immediately post on Wisconsin Sickness decrying her "satanic panic" and "primitive belief systems." He also wrote,
Wisconsin Sickness began in 2007, years before Stacy became a Girl Scout leader. Prior to that I ran the original Mental Shed, my website made famous by photoshopped zombie porn, amputees and my daily satiric writings of self-deprecation and social commentary, which launched in 2002. Poor taste? Yes. That was the point. Did we hurt anyone? Were we worshipping Satan and exposing children to pornography? Nope.
Not necessarily helping your case there, dude. Stacy, meanwhile, began making YouTube videos. Lots of YouTube videos. She posted the first one, detailing her conversation with her co-leader, on Feb. 9, and followed that up with thirteen more over the next few days. Titles include "The Injustice Continues" and "Deeper in to the madness." Throughout the videos, Hintz seems to care a lot for her daughter and for Girl Scouts, but taking to YouTube doesn't seem like the best way to resolve her dispute.
Watching her videos, I started to wonder if she'd had personality conflicts with other parents or troop management. Hintz is clearly unafraid of a public fight — did the other moms have trouble getting along with her? Charlie Hintz says this isn't the case, saying the co-leader who asked his wife to step down was "a woman who previously praised my wife for everything she did." Stacy Hintz hasn't yet responded to my request for comment. Nor has Mary Black. Her email does refer to multiple "violations," but beyond Wisconsin Sickness, it's not clear what those are. In all this, there's no evidence that Hintz was a bad troop leader. Whether the culprit is prudery or personal vendettas, it seems like the girls are the losers.
Update: I just talked to Tracy Wayson, spokesperson for Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast, who told me that the only reason Hintz was removed from her leadership position was because she included links to Wisconsin Sickness, a website that goes against Girl Scout values, in emails about official Girl Scouts business. She assured me that the decision was based on this alone, and not on prior conflicts or problems with Hintz.
Update 2: I've reached Stacy Hintz, who says,
Girl Scouts still holds to the website being the ONLY reason for my removal. I have NEVER in 4 years had any complaints on ANY level having to do with the children, nor have they EVER been exposed to the site or any elements of the site in any way via me at any time.
She says she did have "one case of personal conflict with one mom that was a leader earlier this year, however that was dealt with and unrelated to this issue at hand." Regarding her next steps, she told me,
I do not know what is going to happen going forward and am taking everything one step at a time as this unfolds. I do know that as this is getting more attention there is a lot of misunderstanding and misrepresentation happening right now. However, I will not be backing down on this issue in any way.
Girl Scouts volunteer removed due to controversial website [Fox 6]
Zombie prom and serial killers in Girl Scouts? [CBS 58]
Satanic Panic [Wisconsin Sickness]
Image by Jim Cooke