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The Good, The Bad...

Wow, wow.  Wow!  Hello new people!  I am so happy you are here!  If you want to get a feel for what my journal is all about, feel free to read my profile page.  I'm a random little poster, flying all over the place, so not all my posts are about the SCA. 

(This random nature of mine also means that if I get into a tangernt for a little while on something you don't care for, don't worry; wait a week, and I'll be writing about something else entirely.  Yay for short attention spans and wide interests!)

I am happy that my previous post garnered such a positive response - feel free to keep linking people to it.  All I ask is that you don't copy/pasta it to another page.  Otherwise, this post, like all my public posts, can be linked to your heart's content.  Yay for sharing with credit!

\0/ \0/ \0/ \0/ (<-- happy cheering people)

I'm not as scary as some people think, in that I refuse to bite the heads off people simply seeking knowledge, but I also don't suffer fools.  The SCA has a bad habit of falling into Geek Social Fallacy #2 and then taking it to absurd extremes, where not only must everyone accept everyone's bad manners, to call them on the damage they do to other people is far worse than the original damage (i.e., "calling me rude is really rude, so therefore you are the bad person, not me, even though I have collapsed entire groups and driven people out by my rudeness!").  I do not care for this shenanigans (as the icon says), because I think people who cause real psychological damage should be corrected or encouraged to leave, not coddled at the expense of perfectly nice, innocent people who made the mistake of inteacting with Lord Rudey McRudeyson of Clan Rude.

All this is in aid of saying that when someone is going around being nasty, I'm okay with being the bad guy (Mistress Rudeslayer of The Justice Mountains) and telling someone that what they just did is unacceptable.  Yes, they don't like it.  Yes, they will almost always tell everyone that I am evil incarnate.  But they will also think twice about pulling nasty shit when they know that someone will call them on it.

Look, the SCA is people-driven, and for all the positives that come with that, the negatives will follow along close behind.  We're not exactly mainstream society, y'know?  We do welcome socially awkward people into our ranks, and (hopefully) give them the space to blossom in an atmosphere that is less judgemental of their outsider status than the outside world.  We like non-conformists.  At our best, we give the people who have not had their worth recognized in a lookist, sizeist, conform-or-be-ostracized society a place to realize their potential.  And when it works well, it works spectacularly. 

But what we have to watch out for is the people who take advantage of the system to advance their private agenda, not the greater good.  We also attract people who believe that society is too stupid to see their worth, and see the SCA as a sphere to increase their power.  Our structure turns them into petty despots, determined to reward their cronies and destroy their enemies.  This is where we get the Peer who trashes everything anyone coming after them has done, to make themselves seem more important, and the low level bureaucrat who makes sure that only their friends get to hold local office.  Suddenly, the SCA turns into high school again, with cliques declaring war on each other, and people who just want to have a good time caught in the crossfire.  The new person who just got told their outfit sucked has no idea that they've been jumped on by someone who is bitter that they haven't been recognized as the next sliced cheese, all they know is that the first person who commented on their costume has left them feeling miserable.

And, because almost all of us have experienced being trashed, we shy away from confronting people about their bad behaviour.  There is actually also a good practical reason for this:  People who are keen on being nasty to other people are quite ready to start yelling and whining when they're called on their behaviour.  This often leads to uncomfortable situations where the person trying to correct the issue is painted as the mean rude person, and who wants that?

This is where people like me come in.  We've been character assassinated by the best, and we're still going strong.  We're happy to sit someone down and tell them the unvarnished truth, and we can handle the consequences.  We have the experience to handle this kind of thing, without thowing on the Cloak of Uninformed Righteous Indignation[tm], even. 

Usually what happens is that the offending party wasn't aware their "help" was causing pain.  This kind of person (really, the majority) is just trying to be helpful, but lacks the requisite social skills to realize that everyone is not panting for their opinion.  They usually learn pretty quickly, and can often go on to be really good, helpful people.  Though it may require some harsh unvarnished truth to get through to them, they do listen, and there is hope for them.

If we're less lucky, the person is oblivious to their behaviour, and has twenty million excuses or evasions to get out of owning their failings.  This kind of person has to find their own way to the light side, and it may or may not happen.  We can't force them, so we generally just tell people to ignore them - all the way up to the top.  This is actually quite a bit of work - not only do we have to keep an eye out for their attacks on new people, we also have to inform order members (who may only see the sucking up side of this person) about what they are doing to people, and the damage they cause.  Fortunately, there aren't too many peope like this, but boy, do they stick in our minds.  The best we can do is make sure they don't end up in any positions of responsibility.

The last kind is actively evil, and you know what?  I'm stumped.  I wish I knew how to deal with these people, but short of banishing them entirely (which is much harder than you think, because even the most incredible asshole will have friends and apologists who are happy to throw several dozen people under the bus to protect their "friend" from the consequences of their actions), there isn't much we can do, but act as mop-up crew for the people they hurt.  If we're lucky, they will manage to alienate enough people that they can no longer gain the power they need to cause trouble, but it's amazing how many people will put up with an asshole as long as they're only hurting other people.

This post isn't meant to depress you - remember, for every asshole, there are twenty fantastic people around them to hitch your star to.  The good people show through their actions, not their words - see what people do, not what they say, and judge accordingly.

None of this is to say that you should throw on your own boots of Stompy Righteousness and go out and Fight Evil, Wherever it may Be.  Leave that sort of thing to people more experienced than you.  Too often, Stompy Boots of Righteous Rage have done far more harm than good, and exacerbate most problems.  Righteous Boots tend to squash everyone in the vicinity, not just the one you're aiming for, so don't do it.  In fact, most of the major blow-ups I can remember started because someone got a Justice Hard-On and went out and caused all sorts of damage without getting a proper picture of the issue.

This is less than helpful, as you can imagine.

In the end, the SCA has far more good people than bad.  The bad things that happen will stick in our memories - look at the stories people were sharing in the comments! - but it also helps to remember the good things.  The SCA is full of great people, great friends, brilliant research, beautiful things, and all the pomp and circumstance you can shake a wall-hanger sword at.  Keeping my mind on those things has allowed me to continue finding the SCA a great place to be for more than 20 years now. 

Just stay away from the dark side, y'all.


Comments

( 29 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
gwacie
Jul. 14th, 2010 06:11 pm (UTC)
something must be wrong... I don't see any comments! *pokes!* ;)
attack_laurel
Jul. 14th, 2010 07:34 pm (UTC)
uh... of the previous post. My bad. :)
gwacie
Jul. 15th, 2010 12:45 pm (UTC)
No, more that this is the longest I've seen one of your posts go without any comments! I thought the Internet must be broken ;)
mistressarafina
Jul. 14th, 2010 06:14 pm (UTC)
Right on.

In my neck of the woods, we deal with the pure evil kind of people by shunning. It takes committment and a bit of time, but it really does work well in the end. Evil people need an audience and if it goes away, they tend to go away. We've had it be very successful.
chargirlgenius
Jul. 14th, 2010 06:14 pm (UTC)
Heh. A find example of Catch-22. :-D
(Anonymous)
Jul. 14th, 2010 06:16 pm (UTC)
Ah, the Boots of Stompy Righteousness. My Laurel has a pair of those, but I think they were developed as a survival characteristic of the Landed Baroness Job (AKA, Mom.), rather than being a component of her Laurelness. Nonetheless, she wears them well, and I'm happy to bow to her Superior Stomping Power.
bonacorsi
Jul. 14th, 2010 06:36 pm (UTC)
We have an "Attack Duchess" in these parts that I explain to people that one must use very sparingly, aim precisely and be ready and willing to deal with the collateral damage.
mightyjesse
Jul. 14th, 2010 08:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, I wouldn't describe my Laurel (I have no idea why I wasn't signed in for the previous post.) as an "Attack Anything," so much as she has a firm understanding of what the average preschooler needs when they act out. A Nap ("Perhaps you need a nap. You are acting as though you got up on the Wrong Side of the Bed."), a Hug ("It's OK. We can fix this!"), or a Cookie ("Yes, yes. You ARE a beautiful flower.") usually solves the Behavior.
bonacorsi
Jul. 14th, 2010 10:18 pm (UTC)
one example
I am part of an acting group (although I don't act). One 12th Night coronation we were scheduled to go in between courts in the middle of the day (which is now a tradition). It had been approved by both sets of royalty. But, the incoming King as the final act of the coronation called for a private meeting for the chivs on the dias right after the coronation.

Since the dias is the stage we were to use and we needed to set up the set at the very time of the meeting we were set at standing outside the court wondering what to do. Somebody needed to go ask the King to either hold a short meeting or if he could move the meeting off the dias so we wouldn't be holding up the schedule.

Over walks our "A.D." and offers to take care of it.

I don't know what she said or anything, what I do know is that moments after she closed the door behind her we were escorted in and told to go ahead with our business as the belts talked on the other side of the courtroom.

And yes, we have been invited back every year since.

The thing is, your Laurel doesn't have to be an attack anything. He or she may have insight into the one that has given you problems and may be able to give you better clarity in dealing with the situation. If you are in a Laurel/Apprentice relationship I belief that they should be teaching you how to be a peer as much as they are teaching you about the art that you are interested in. Part of that is how to deal with criticism, both asked for and not.

If you think you stop being criticized when you are elevated, you are only kidding yourself.
bonacorsi
Jul. 14th, 2010 10:50 pm (UTC)
I also just realized, I must have hit the wrong button when I first posted. I wasn't trying to respond to your post, No wonder it looked indented weird.

Sorry if I confused you.

alphafemale1
Jul. 14th, 2010 06:52 pm (UTC)
But how does the "structure" of the SCA fit into all this? If I'm an apprentice, and a Laurel is rude, obnoxious, etc., and I call them on it, I'm in danger of coming up short on the dreaded PLQs if I ever make it onto a poll. And even if "everyone" knows that this Laurel is a lunatic, the aforementioned friends/apologists will inevitably also be trashing my PLQs to no end, thereby making it very "dangerous" for someone to approach them.

So how does that come into play?

This is just hitting a nerve- I've been doing a lot of thinking for a variety of reasons on what makes someone a Peer- and how come every Peerage has those people that every other Peer roles there eyes about, but no one ever deals with.

And yet another question for you to address:

What is the balance between knowledge and "PLQs". Should you let someone into the Peerage who's documentation isn't quite up to par, but who seems to be a nice person? Or vice-versa? And without a consistant standard applied to everyone, what then becomes of the value of the Peerage?
(Anonymous)
Jul. 14th, 2010 07:00 pm (UTC)
If you're going to go down that dangerous road of thought, you might as well question the different standards between the peerages.

In my experience, two of them care more about the skill, and one cares more about the PLQs.
strawberrykaren
Jul. 14th, 2010 07:11 pm (UTC)
Here's the thing, alphafemale1, the dirty secret of the peerages. It's going to come off as jaded, and maybe snarky, but ... here you go.

The members of the peerage don't "let" candidates in. We discuss candidates, we try to think of areas where we can encourage the candidates to improve, we talk about the cool & nifty stuff that they do.

But it's really up to Their Majesties to decide who gets a peerage, and who doesn't. The Order may be overwhelmingly in support of a candidate, but if Their Majesties just don't like the candidate, they're under no obligation to make 'em a peer just because the order says they'd like to have 'em. (And likewise, if a candidate is polled but the response isn't overwhelmingly positive, but Their Majesties want to give them that peerage, they can do so. Their Majesties are only under the obligation to ask the order's opinion on a candidate -- they don't have to follow it.)

What makes someone a member of the orders of the Pelican, Laurel, or Chivalry is that somewhere along the line, somebody who won a Crown Tournament (or served as "consort" to the Crown Tournament winner) decided that person really ought to be a Pelican, Laurel, or Knight. There's no consistent standard.

(This is also why I generally don't drag out my alphabet soup and/or medallions, etc. If what I'm doing doesn't tell you about who I am, then all of that foofaraw is of little consequence, you know? Well, there's other factors too ... it means that there's a lot less "Peer fear" -- and a whole lot more anonymity, I kind of like it when I can blend into the background and swoop in & help when I'm needed. And it means that I don't look quite so ludicrously like a Christmas tree, with all kinds of gewgaws hanging off of me. I like trying to dress like a picture from an illustration, and when I'm trying to look like a 14th century peasant, it's silly to have a bunch of necklaces and stuff. It's not that I don't appreciate the recognition, or whatever, it's just that the recognition isn't who I am; but by wearing symbols of the recognition, it makes that part of my visual identity. It's complicated. It's not just that I'm lazy.) ;-)
copper_oxide
Jul. 14th, 2010 07:18 pm (UTC)
For your first question, I wonder if we shouldn't use "I" messages when it's feasible. For example rude person says something like "That garb is a mess". A response of "Ouch, saying it like that makes me feel terrible" or if said to another person "Wow if someone said something like that to me it would really hurt". Rather than "Wow, you are rude". A reasonable person might stop and consider how they are expressing themselves and how they affect other people. An unreasonable person might not like to have people around them be aware of their rudeness.
I'm sure this wouldn't work in every case, but it might help in some.
attack_laurel
Jul. 14th, 2010 07:39 pm (UTC)
I've written a number of posts about peerage and the things that go into it - click on "sca" tgs and see what you find.

As for dealing with assholes, we do - it's just hard to see on the ground, sometimes. And other times, if they're the pet of the sitting royalty, ain't much we can do. People-driven, it's a good and a bad thing.

But yes, a person can be sunk in Atlantia if their PLQs don't add up. We're usually quite firece about it. However, there will always be apologists. We have no real control over what the crowns do, we just advise. And we do our best to ameliorate the damage.

I wish I was SuperLaurel[tm] and could fix every asshole, but I can't.
bonacorsi
Jul. 14th, 2010 07:48 pm (UTC)
how does the structure fit into this
First off, if you are an apprentice and you have problems with another Laurel. Talk with your Laurel about the situation.

Second, if that Laurel is a known problem (and sometimes they just turn that way) the most important word in that sentence is "known". Each Laurel gets one vote, and I believe that I am not giving away any secrets in saying that not everyones voice carries the same weight in council.

Depending on the kingdom, orders are "polled" they may not vote, but only advise the royalty (there are some where they vote). The Royalty can decide they will go against council in either direction if they choose. ( although this is a patented "bad Idea" (tm) as it marks that person with a big "F" (fiat) on their head for a long time). It also depends on who shows up for any particular meeting too, since a polling may only be done in person at a particular event (again, depending on the kingdom)

Then there is always a chance that they will let the peerage get to them. Sometimes candidates just go wonky in the head. This sometimes happens to new peers, until the more seasoned among us slap them back down a peg or two. Sometimes it happens to the old guard, when they come back after ten or twenty years and they find themselves no longer on the cutting edge of things.

sarahbellem
Jul. 14th, 2010 08:07 pm (UTC)
*applauds your bravery in bringing this up for general discussion*
snailstichr
Jul. 14th, 2010 10:31 pm (UTC)
In a nutshell - Knowledge (or Skill might be a term that fits all the peerages equally) brings one to the table to be discussed. PLQs are what get discussed once one has come to the table (among other things). At least this has been my experience.

And furthermore, at least in my experience, there is no consistent standard applied to everyone, because each candidate has different skill sets and often even people in the same field cannot be compared. Peerage discussions are subjective because you are dealing with individuals (and I chose that word carefully).
gwacie
Jul. 15th, 2010 12:55 pm (UTC)
"Should you let someone into the Peerage who's documentation isn't quite up to par, but who seems to be a nice person? Or vice-versa?"

I remember a thread on the Armour Archive where someone asked a similar question of the Chivalry; if you have two candidates, one is a great fighter but lacks PLQs and the other has the PLQs in spades but his fighting isn't quite there; which do you elevate? The answer given by most knights was "Neither" because it's about both, or all three, actually. Service, Skill and Sensibility.

Personally, I think if a person shows extremely good people skills when dealing with a Meanie, that could only help their reputation and renown.
(Anonymous)
Jul. 14th, 2010 06:58 pm (UTC)
Sometimes the evil ones have spent decades positioning themselves as the light (talking the talk, just don't look at what they're doing, and remember, history is told by the winners) and there's no way to stop the damage they're doing to others.

What I'm seeing lately is people who are more 'mainstream', 'normal', 'were the popular kids in HS' and thus actually are good at the manipulation of social constructs joining and taking over areas, and rebuilding the SCA as another version of high school, with them at the top, and nepotism all over just like in period.

This is why I'm on the edge of quitting. High school didn't treat me so well the first time around, either.
attack_laurel
Jul. 14th, 2010 07:41 pm (UTC)
I don't know where you are, so I can't speak to what you're seeing. In my area, that is not the case. I don't think we have anyone who was popular in high school, except Bob.
sstormwatch
Jul. 14th, 2010 07:41 pm (UTC)
Well said. I can see this being very helpful to folks who don't know what to do, and I like the suggestion to not get into Stompy Righteousness boots as a generally good idea. It takes a certain diplomacy skill to turn wrong back to right which comes from practice.
aliskye
Jul. 14th, 2010 09:07 pm (UTC)
Shouldn't we all be fighting evil when we see it? I think the problem is identifying what is truly evil and not just the thing that offends one's personal sense of Society rightness. Boots of Stompy Rightousness though, should clearly be left to professionals. :)
thatpotteryguy
Jul. 14th, 2010 10:09 pm (UTC)
"I think people who cause real psychological damage should be corrected or encouraged to leave, not coddled at the expense of perfectly nice, innocent people who made the mistake of inteacting with Lord Rudey McRudeyson of Clan Rude."

This. So very this. There are a few people who need to be told "You? Are no longer welcome here. Go. Away."
asagormsdottir
Jul. 15th, 2010 12:23 am (UTC)
Love the Righteousness Hard-On! I have felt that way myself a few times but never really went off, thanks to helpful friends who reminded me I might not have all the facts in hand.
elizabethankat
Jul. 15th, 2010 12:27 am (UTC)
"It's amazing how many people will put up with an asshole as long as they're only hurting other people."

This is so very true. Which is why I think all collegiums should have a track on developing people skills and dealing with difficult people.
(Deleted comment)
attack_laurel
Jul. 15th, 2010 01:51 pm (UTC)
no stems. :D
mistressrhi
Jul. 15th, 2010 02:10 pm (UTC)
But...I like the Dark Side. They wear groovy black outfits, with lots of leather and stuff. ;-)
( 29 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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