Thoughts on “Ban the Fencers”

“Simply put, We are banning fencing throughout the Kingdom of the West. This is a carefully considered decision on Our part, and We understand that some may feel slighted or offended. Understand in return that, while We apologize for any hurt feelings, We do not apologize for this action. Fencing has never been an integral part of how the West Kingdom plays S.C.A., and after many years of inconsistent handling of this issue, it is time to resolve it. We have heard the argument that there was some fencing in Europe prior to 1600. Even so We feel most strongly that emulating the practices of street thugs of that era is not appropriate in a chivalric, medieval society of ladies and gentlemen.”

It was that last sentence that really got me.

“Even so We feel most strongly that emulating the practices of street thugs of that era is not appropriate in a chivalric, medieval society of ladies and gentlemen.”

I posted “Ban the Fencers” to rec.org.sca on Sept. 17th, 1996.

There’s a long tradition of political satire in SCA bardic music. “Weapons at the Door” by Ioseph of Locksley is perhaps most widely known, but there are a host of others. The best of them all have one thing in common, and the best summary I’ve ever heard for this common trait comes from my friend (and my laurel) Owen Alun.

Treason must be true.

Treason must be obvious.

Treason must be preferable.

“Ban the Fencers” was written with a very strict set of criteria. Everything had to have happened in front of me,  or to me directly. Nothing could be second hand. No proper names, and no uniquely individual practices could be included. I wrote it over the course of an afternoon and showed it to Angelina when she got home. She was amused, but also worried about the consequences. In truth I was concerned about losing friends, and justifiably so, because to some people from the West, “Ban the Fencers” was treason.


In the end I did lose one friend, a knight and a writer whom I’d known and respected for several years was staying with us while on vacation. I told her that I’d written a piece of political satire about the West’s fencing ban, and I played it for her in my living room. She called it a “vicious hit piece” that I should be ashamed of. Her companion called it “an unfair attack on an entire kingdom.” Neither of them ever spoke to me again, and that makes me sad.

But I stand by what I wrote.“Ban the Fencers” did was it was designed to do. It showed the absurdity of the ban and the attitudes it was based in, and I think it forced a change in the conversation about fencing in the West.

Almost 23 years later everything about fencing has changed.  We have Masters of Defence (I still think they should be knights, but that’s a whole different argument) and a lot of people who were vocally opposed to fencing in the SCA in 1996 are authorized and fighting rapier throughout the Known Word.

The West has changed too. Like the rest of society, both in the modern world and the Current Middle Ages, some things that were ignored are no longer tolerated. We’ve all grown older, with any luck wiser. We are still learning to be more inclusive, and we need to do a much better job supporting women and non-men in our activities.

The Trials and Tribulations of a Newsletter…

Image result for head deskWhen I was setting up the reward tiers for my supports at patreon.com on of the things I included in every one of them was a newsletter. Not only did it seem to me that this would be something I would have fun doing, but I thought it would be easy.

Sadly I was mistaken. After some research I settled on MailChimp for the creation and distribution of the newsletter. MailChimp gets good reviews and it’s free if you have less than 2000 subscribers. Really, it seems like just what I was looking for. Of course, if that were the case my newsletter would have gone out as I intended.

I’m not actually sure what happened, but after futzing around here and there as I learned my way around the system I was suddenly confronted with an ominous message.

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Well, that’s not good.

I checked the terms of service….

  • selling porn?
  • Sending spam?
  • Incitement?

Nope, none of that. In fact as far as I can tell I didn’t do anything. I’m not sure what their automated system thought I was trying to do, but since I only have 13 subscribers, and all I’d managed to do so far was make a “Welcome to My Newsletter” message I don’t actually believe it’s possible that I committed any violation at all.

I didn’t hear from them today, so I sent a follow message. All I can do at the moment is wait for human to review the situation and unlock my account.

Pennsic: Calontir Bardic

We arrived on Saturday, in the early evening, and set up most of our stuff in the dark. This is not as big a deal as it once was, we’re all old hands at this part. Sunday was spent fine tuning the details, picking up things in town and such. On Monday morning I was dressed and ready to do stuff.

The “stuff” we were doing was Calontir Bardic on Monday night, 9 PM. It’s a big circle, I’m told that it’s traditionally the first (or perhaps just the first big) bardic circle of the event. I’d say there were between 30 and fifty people there, and except for the part where it started raining (it had been doing so on and off all day) a good time was had by all.

I played twice, once when the circle came to me, once on request. The first song was Tinker’s Minstrel, which went by without a hitch. The request song was I’m a Duke and You’re Not, in which I swapped the second and third verse, but in that piece it’s not really all that important.

Overall I’d say it went well, though I was constantly concerned about the weather and my guitar. When it actually started raining consistently I opted out, Arwa and I loaded our things in the wagon and went back to our encampment.

Pennsic Panic!

Related image Tomorrow, 10:30 AM my friends and I are leaving for Pennsic 47. I have so much packing still to do! I know that, regardless of what I forget everything will be alright, it’s not like my life depends on any of this stuff, but I’m still stressing about it. I have an incredibly long and detailed list, and I’m doing a good job of packing things neatly and not using more space than I need, but still I find myself wondering what stupid mistake I’m making. Of course something is always bound to be forgotten, and I’ll only remember what that is when I’m on the road somewhere in Ohio.

Packing for Pennsic

On Friday my friends and I are off to Pennsic. For some of us this is old hat, they’ve been going to Pennsic for decades. But this will be my first Pennsic and I have to say that I’m just a wee bit intimidated.

I’m going for the entire two weeks. The longest event I’ve attended so far was Gulf Wars last March. That was 10 days including travel, but Pennsic is four days longer, not counting travel. So the first hurdle is getting mentally prepared for being away from home for so long. The good news is that I’ll be camping with friends and they know that I may need some emotional support from time to time. Also, I do have medication to treat my anxiety if it comes to that.

Then there’s the list making and packing. Clothes, toiletries, musical instruments, and me being me, electronics. There’s the tent, the bed, the stove, the lantern, the heater and all the things to put them on. Feast gear, water bottles, bath towels; the list seems endless.

Tomorrow people will start bring their stuff to my house, and Thursday Owen and I will start packing the big stuff in my tuck and trailer. I don’t know how ready I’m going to be, but I’m giving it my best shot.