Words Mean Things

Originally published June 10, 2020.

I’m a bard, and more than once, I’ve said “words mean things.” Sometimes I say them because someone I’m talking to is using words in a manner I disagree with, sometimes I say it because I’m trying to get something very specific across.

Other bards say this, or something very like this, as well, including Mistress Lanea Verch Kerrigan, who inspired this post with her own.

There’s been a fair amount of fuss in SCA circles over the past week or so, because several terrible people — I’m pretty sure they’re mostly young or middle-aged white men — got banished from their kingdoms, with the BoD starting investigations that will (hopefully) result in Revocation and Denial of Membership for each. Why? Because each of them participated in bigoted and terrible conversations on social media.

There have always been some people who have stood up against racism and fascistic behavior, against normalizing sexual assault and harassment, and against bullying, but the reality is that the SCA has long had an unspoken rule that such things are private, and not to be discussed, especially when the perpetrator is a peer or a royal peer.

I’m not saying that about the SCA, Inc. The BoD has a legal responsibility to protect the Corporation, and they must act in a like manner, because if they don’t, they can actually go to jail. No, I’m saying that about the Society of people who are participants in the SCA. We’ve done it for a long time. We’ve equated this to blowing off shots, or being a weirdo with a cloven orange.

Well, that’s not gonna fly anymore. A critical mass has finally been reached in the SCA, and we are done with that. A big part of why the aforementioned men are in the process of being booted is because the people around them saw these conversations and reporting them.

In what is perhaps a related incident, the SCA Seneschal just put out a statement condemning “doxing“, said could potentially open the SCA up to litigation, and stated that doxing is a violation of the SCA Code of Conduct and the Anti-Bullying & Harassment Policy.

Doxing is gathering and publishing a person’s name, address, phone number, email address, and/or other sensitive information on the web so that people can harass them, or worse.

When I, or anyone else screenshots racist, or bigoted, or hateful, or homophobic bullshit that someone has posted on their FB page, and then report that bullshit to the SCA, that is not doxing. Nor is it censorship. It’s not anything other than your own stupid chickens coming home to roost. And if I notice that I have friends in common with someone who is saying this kind of bullshit, I will reach out to them and ask them why they’re associated with such un-noble behavior. (And it’s entirely possible that they’ve got a decent reason, which is just fine.)

In the past, I, personally, might have obscured the names of people posting such bullshit. I bought into the whole idea of “praise publicly, chastise privately.” And that still applies for some things.

But it doesn’t apply to this, not any longer. Bigotry and hatred are not part of my SCA. And in a very real way, it is my job, as a Peer of the Realm, to stand up and say, publicly, “I see you, and I’m not going to let you cover this up.” We are directly called to lift people up, to ennoble them, to help make the Society a better place.

It is no longer enough for us to shake our heads and say “how terrible” when we become aware of this kind of activity. We have to -do- something about it, even though it’s going to be uncomfortable. We may not be able to make people think differently — we’re not Thought Police — but we sure can make them think twice about espousing it publicly. Hateful actions have consequences.

This is the kind of peer — the kind of PERSON — I’m called to be. I hope it’s the kind of person we realize we’re ALL called to be. That’s the future I’m trying to give my kids, and everyone’s kids.

I hope you join me.

Andreas