crouchet at infinity.ccsi.com
Wed May 10 11:08:44 PDT 1995
Please forgive the lateness of this reply. I had rather a lot to say.
On Mon, 1 May 1995 STDDLY at TINY_TIM.SHSU.EDU wrote:
> Yes there have been Dons other than Jeremy who have done this. Robin
> of Gillwell from what I have heard in the past has done it quite a
> bit (his blow calling got a little rhino there for a while and he
> refused to mellow, but you know Robin, he got offended that anyone
> would ever question his honour) So has Edred and Juan (recently), I
> really can't remember the others at this time.
> Sutan was the first Knight to have his card pulled for six months.
> Patrick Michael the second. Several have voluntarily sat out of
> tournaments for a time period when they had realized or been warned
> with the consequences. Pat almost had his card pulled while he was
> king the last time. The stress of being king that last time and all
> the death threats really got to him. I hope this reign is smooth
Overall, it does not sound to me as though these problems are
particularly worse in one group than in the other. All these folks are
people, and there will be people problems that occur from time to time. I
believe this is espetialy true in any group where being a great fighter
is all you need to get in.
I have watched in horror as the idea that a good ENOUGH fighter really
should have a scarf has become stronger amongst the White Scarves. I have
watched some of those who oppose this idea drop out, having lost the heart
to fight it anymore. I have watched crowns make White Scarves over the
protests of the circle. And I have watched those new people try to
understand why they wre given a Scarf, and end up voting for people who
are just like they were.
Well, enough on this soap box. Suffice to say the Dons are a collection of
individuals with a common INTEREST rather than a common GOAL.
Anyway, somewhere along the line everyone seemed to loose the moral
authority to stop things when they go wrong, and to stand up and fight
for what they feel is right. All of Ansteorra seems to have fallen into
the idea that no one has the right to tell someone else, "No, we don't do
that here. That is not proper behavior." I have seen people argue that we
don't really have the right to critisize jeans & sneakers, using some
poppycock about, "what if it is all they can afford?" or "it's a personal
The answer is not to eliminate the Dons, replace the Dons or take away
the authority of the Dons. It is to insist that the Dons do their job.
This goes for the Knights, the Laurels and the crown as well.
In fact, I see this as a very important duty of the crown. We are the
experts concerning rapier play...that is why we are Dons. I don't think
the crown can be expected to know more about rapier play than a group with
over 500 years collective experience. They should not be expected to. They
should also not be expected to be THE EXPERTS on Armored combat. True,
the Sovern and sometimes the consort may consider themselves ONE OF the
experts, but they should not ignore the wisdom of the knights collective
and decide they know best.
I believe the duty of the crown in these circles is to bring a broader
view to the group, to give them a push if they are not doing their job,
and to inspire them. Here are some examples that may help clarify what I
- If the Dons/Knights decide they will not vote for anyone who has an A&S
award because time spent on A&S distracts from the fighting, the crown
should see the larger picture and tell the Dons they are being stupid.
- If the Dons/Knights are standing by while awful things happen on the
field and in the community, afraid to do anthing because they might offend
someone or it might be too much trouble, the crown should give them hell
about it and tell them to figure out what to do and to fix the problem.
- The crown should not unilaterally decide that schlagger blades or
fiberglass spears are safe or unsafe. They should let the experts hash it
out and accept their view. If the crown wanted to suggest a more cautious
approach, a limited number of testers, etc. that would be approprate.
- The crown should let the Dons/Knights know what they do is important.
- The crown should take great care in deciding to override or manipulate
the vote of these circles on candidates. There should not be at least one
Don/Knight made over the vote of the circles almost EVERY rein, yet there
have been. As these new Dons/Knights take their place in the circle they
strugle to understand what qualities they have that make them a
Don/Knight so they can judge candidates. In the end they end up voting
for candidates who are just like they were. That means if they were not
ready, they end up voting for candidates who are not ready. Each crown
that does this seems to thnk this is a special case and we are only doing
one. Or two. Of course, 3 per year adds up to 15 over 5 years. That is
almost a third of the Dons and better than half of the active Dons.
I assume the knights suffer from this too, but it seems to be less common
there (of course I don't see the votes...), probably because the sovern
tends to BE a knight and thus understand their issues better.
I am not trying to pass the buck here. I don't think the we have been
doing our job as Dons. And that is what it is -- a job. Too many people
see the award, but not the work. Think of the Don Test as a long job
interview. Once you get a White Scarf the real work begins. I wish more
people would ask themselves if they really want that kind of agravation.
If you become a Knight or a Don that will define the rest of your SCA
life. You will spend your time argueing, debating, encouraging, and
working on a never ending series of projects. You will take heat for
everything that goes wrong among the fighters in your community and will
be expected to solve problems that you have no control over. This is
heaven for some people, but for others it is hell. If more folks looked
beyond the award and asked whether the really want the JOB that goes with
it maybe there would be few inactive Dons and fewer Dons who don't do
So what can the Dons do? First, screw up our courage and agree to bring
our drifting brothers back into line. Second, start teaching the basics
again. No, I don't mean stance, grip and bladework. I mean Honor,
Courtesy, the Ideal of the Rennisance Man, Honesty, History and Persona.
The BASICS. We should listen to the people we represent and work to make
the game better for them. We should conduct ourselves respectably. If we
are going to be leaders in the rapier community we should get out there
and LEAD. And when we take authority over the rapier community we should
accept the responsibility too. When we screw up we should admit it, take
the blame, get up, dust off and try harder.
Ultimatly, any power we have comes from you, and in the end we must answer
to you. If you insist that we do a better job, we will. If a Don will not
listen to the first person who tells him, maybe he will listen to the
second, or the fifth. But we cannot be everywhere or see everything. Tell
us what you see. Tell us what you need. Give us hell if we wimp out.
Unless you have taken the time to talk to some of the Dons about a
problem, don't waste your time whining that we have not fixed it.
And as a hint, if the people who fix the problems don't have White
Scarves they will probably be the next to get one.
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