SCA Purchases

dennis grace amazing at
Mon Jul 21 09:30:43 PDT 1997

Greetings, Cosyns,

Lyonel ici.

Viscount Galen of Bristol chimes:

>I don't believe the SCA Chirurgeonate has any obligation to distribute
>condoms or other birth control, nor do I feel it appropriate to do so.
>Condoms are not first-aid supplies.

Now, Your Excellency, let's stay on the subject, shall we?  As Baroness Zara
Zina has already noted, no one is *requiring* chirurgeons to distribute
anything.  They aren't even required to distribute band-aids, if you want to
get right down to "requirements."  Nor has anyone claimed a condom is a
first aid supply.  We have claimed, however, that a condom is a preventative
measure--sort of a pre-aid, you might say.  As for your "feeling" that the
distribution of condoms is inappropriate--well, my feelings on this matter
are diametrically opposed to yours. I guess we'll have to call it a draw on
the feelings issue.

>I wonder how many other preventatives
>_are_ distributed by SCA Chirurgeons, but I don't wonder so much that
>I've taken the time to ask my good friend, Baroness and former
>Kingdom Chirurgeon Zarazina about that.  I tend to doubt that many
>preventatives other than sunblock are carried.

We've already discussed the occasional distribution of sunblock and insect
repellent.  If you really want to split hairs, a chirurgeon friend of mine
back in Atenveldt used to do athletic taping for those of us with a tendency
to twist ankles or wrists.  But this is a side issue.  Even if the
chirurgeonate had never distributed any preventatives, what's your point?
The question here isn't whether or not they should, have, or do distribute
preventatives.  The question is condoms.  The original question was whether
an SCA group should provide remuneration to a chirurgeon who has elected to
distribute condoms.  

>To contradict Aquilanne, sex is not something that "happens".  It's
>not like sunburn or accidental injuries.  Sex is something that
>people decide to do.  For many people, condoms are equipment
>for a particular activity.  

Well, if you really want to split hairs, sunburn belongs in the same
category with sex.  You only get a sunburn by putting bare flesh in direct
sunlight.  If you wear proper protective clothing or just remain indoors,
you never need sunblock.  As for Aquilanne's statement that "sex happens";
you're an adult; you know what she meant, Excellency.  Aquilanne was using a
shorthand phrase.  If you really want it spelled out:

Adults--especially young adults--upon experiencing sexual attraction for one
another, will often act upon that attraction and attempt to consummate their
feelings in a sexual act.  This string of circumstances is preventable but
rarely prevented.  Making condoms available to these individuals increases
the likelihood that they will use said protective devices.  Refusing to make
said protective devices available will not, however, decrease the likelihood
of the consummation of this string of circumstances.  Now, if any of this
description sounds less volitional than Your Excellency prefers to see it,
feel free to re-phrase as necessary.

>Generally speaking, the SCA doesn't
>provide equipment, except for those new to the activity.  I hope no
>one's advocating we distribute condoms to minors the way we loan
>armor to new fighters.  And sex isn't even an SCA activity, even so
>much as brewing is, let alone fighting, which is uniquely SCA.
>Yes, sex is practiced at SCA events.  So is automotive repair.

No, the SCA doesn't generally distribute protective equipment, but a condom
is a far cry from a barbute or even an athletic cup.  Condoms are far less
expensive, are small and easily stocked, and are disposable.  Moreover, if a
fighter can't get a helmet, he won't rationalize the need and fight without
it.  As to your other claim, no sex isn't an SCA activity.  Nor is sleeping,
bathing, urinating. Should we, therefore not make spaces and facilities
available for sleeping, bathing, and urinating?  I mean, if you really think
we can, we should do away with this stuff.  Tent space, showers, and toilets
all cost a good deal of money.

As for the question of distributing condoms to minors--aren't you engaging
in a bit of ad populum argumentation here, Your Excellency?  I don't recall
anyone discussing "minors" in any portion of this string, until now.

>I don't believe that the SCA's officers need to take responsibility
>to equip adults for non-SCA activities which they may choose to
>engage in at SCA events.  

Yeah.  That's right, let 'em bring their own damned toilet paper.  C'mon,
Your Excellency, you're making this too easy.

>I don't place condoms in a category
>with band-aids.  I place them in the same category with motor-
>cycle helmets:  a device intended to make a risky activity
>slightly less risky, but by no means safe.

But how likely are folks to need motorcycle helmets at events?  Besides,
your logic can just as easily be applied to sunblock.  If a large portion of
our populace were riding motorcycles, and if helmets could be as readily
made available, I'd say go for it.  Sorry Your Excellency, the analogy to
the motorcycle helmet just doesn't hold up.

>If condoms must be distributed at SCA events, I suggest someone
>other than Chirurgeons should be the ones.  Aren't they usually set
>up at a central point during the _day_?  Haven't they usually gone
>to take part in other activities when the fighting is done?  Or should
>they be asked to man Chirurgeon's Point from dusk to midnight,
>as well?  Better it should be seneschals.  Or perhaps some new
>officer with a suitable title, "Minister of Responsibility", or something
>equally Orwellian.  Perhaps they could distribute other equipment
>for the amorous, such as vibrators (why should we discriminate
>against those who _haven't_ "gotten lucky"?) and more ... esoteric
>devices.  Rope, for those who... whose tents need setting up!  (Yeah,
>that's the ticket!)  They could also set up their point on Sunday, to   
>motorcycle helmets for the bikers who've forgotten theirs, and new tires
>for those whose tires have gone bald.  I can't wait to see the first   
>for this service.  (This paragraph has been an exercise in satire.)

How sad that this was all intended as satire.  Most of what you describe
sounds like the sort of things my old barony always set up at gate point for
camping events.  We had a chirurgeon on duty (at larger events) or on call
(at smaller events) around the clock.  Hey, people get up and twist ankles
in the middle of the night.  In any event, we always had *someone* awake at
gate point, and the gate guards had access to the chirurgeon's
distributables.  Our gate people also kept hammers, ropes, and spare stakes
on hand for tent emergencies.  Fire extinguishers, too.  Furthermore, as
Baron of 1000 Eyes, I helped jump start cars, tow vehicles, and change
tires.  I'd be surprised to find that none of the officials at Ansteorran
events have ever done likewise.  You know, they never DID tell me what I got
that Pelican for.  Say, you don't suppose...?

As for "Minister of Responsibility"--hmmm, not bad, Your Excellency.  We
called them autocrats and security.  I thought the currently popular term
was "stewards."  That's all a steward is:  someone who takes care of things.

As for distributing vibrators--here I think you've touched on the very heart
of our disagreement.  Condoms (with a few exceptions that don't work very
well anyway) are not pleasure enhancement devices.  Making condoms available
does not increase the likelihood of sexual activity.  Giving out condoms
increases the likelihood of SAFE sexual activity.

>Finally, much as been said to equate the use of a condom with
>being "responsible".  Given condom failure rates, and their unreliability
>in stopping the transmission of viruses (a virus is far smaller than
>the sperm a condom is designed to stop -- latex is a _porous_
>material), I am forced to question the assertion that a condom
>constitutes "protection".  I can't agree that a decision to have
>sex with a partner whose history you don't know, and with whom
>you don't intend to pursue an exclusive relationship is made
>"responsible" because a condom is involved.  Sex has consequences,
>and nothing can change that.  Reckless driving is not made
>responsible with the addition of seat belts.

While an interesting bit of propaganda, Your Excellency, the medical
profession has come down firmly on the side of condoms as the best available
means for limiting the spread of STDs.  As for "a partner whose history you
don't know," I would submit that you NEVER really know.  All you know is
what you've been told. And even that reportage--no matter how honest your
partner--doesn't ensure your safety.  If you decide to have sex with a woman
you trust implicitly and who has been faithful to, say, a recently departed
husband for the past ten years, you still don't know that the husband was
faithful to her.  You could, in such an event, sleep with a woman who
recently contracted AIDS or another STD, unknowingly.  

As to your analogy concerning seatbelts, I concur.  Seatbelts DO, however,
make driving safer despite the many other bad drivers on the road. Likewise,
condoms have been shown to prevent the spread of disease--the porosity of
latex notwithstanding.

>I would encourage people who disapprove of unprotected
>promiscuous sex to show a little disapproval of it, rather than
>finding some way to assuage their conscience by making
>it "safe".

By all means, disapprove; I hope no one wants to deprive you of that right.
I disapprove of unprotected promiscuous sex.  That's why I want to see
condoms made available.  Then it won't be "unprotected."  Another's
promiscuity is none of my business and, I respectfully submit, none of Your

Until the whip comes back, je reste

lo vostre por vos servir

Sir Lyonel Oliver Grace
Dennis Grace
University of Texas at Austin
English Department
Recovering Medievalist
amazing at

Micel yfel deth se unwritere.
                           Ælfric of York

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