attack_laurel (attack_laurel) wrote,

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.

Tags: all are welcome, blah blah blah, deep thoughts, sca
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