SCA Purchases

dennis grace amazing at
Tue Jul 22 10:20:08 PDT 1997

Greetings, Cosyns,

Lyonel ici.

Galen of Bristol agains:

>Galen of Bristol again...
>The bulk of the following was written on Monday, but I held it overnight
>to be sure:
>In an uncharacteristically hostile tone, Lyonel replies to me:

Whoops!  Hostile?  Damn.  First decent debate I get to join in the past
several months, and my best opponent calls me hostile.  C'est la guerre.
Okay, so I was a bit terse, but I was responding to His Excellency Sir
Galen's rather moralistic and, I thought, overly patronizing letter.  

By the way--before anyone starts posting to tell me to use winks and
smileys--I won't insult my good Cosyn's intelligence by assuming he can't
distinguish sarcasm from assault.

Sorry, Cosyn.  I had no hostile intentions (well, beyond the rhetorically
hostile intent of overcoming as much of your argument as possible--the same
intent I perceive in your response.)

Much in the following has been snipped for legibility.

In response to my:
>>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."
>Sir Lyonel.  You know full well the difference between an obligation and   
>a requirement.

Yes, I do.  The point is moot.  An obligation may carry the full force of
law, as might a requirement.  My point still stands.  The original question
was, should a group pay to restock a chirurgeon's kit with condoms.  I have
argued in favor of this practice.  I have not argued that a chirurgeon
*must* stock condoms in her or his kit.  Frankly, I'm beginning to think HL
Eowyn is correct; we should make condoms available in unmonitored areas.

>>Nor has anyone claimed a condom is a first aid supply.
>This entire debate has been about including condoms in first aid kits.

Correct.  We have not, however, established that only first-aid supplies can
or should be stocked in chirugeons' kits.  We've also mentioned sunscreen
and insect repellent which are occasionally stocked in chirurgeons' kits.

>>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.
>Nonetheless,  expressing our feelings and opinions is an important part
>of what this mailing list is for.  The balance of my posting was intended
>to illuminate the reasons for my feeling.  It also happens that I feel   
>your reply to be one of the least courteous and indeed hostile notes I have
>seen posted to this list in many a month, and I had thought better of you   
>than this.

My apologies, Cosyn, if this sounded unnecessarily harsh.  Yes, I agree, we
should express our opinions.  As for feelings, as I noted, my feelings are
just as strong as yours but in the opposite direction.  Therefore, as a
point of contention, I respectfully submit, we should forego further
discussion of our individual feelings.  This is an irreconcilable contention
of passions (just this one point, mind, not the entire debate).  I
understand that you will be upset if SCA groups distribute or allow the
distribution of condoms; you understand that I will be upset if SCA groups
refuse to distribute or allow the distribution of condoms.  It would be
unfair of either of us to claim supervenience of passion.  We don't want
this whole discussion to degenerate to: my passion is bigger than your passion.

As I suggested previously:  let's call this part of the argument a draw.

>As a parent, I have to believe that individual behavior can be modified.   
>Otherwise I must resign myself that my 8-year-old will go through the
remainder >of his life occasionally throwing temper tantrums when I won't
let him play >Sega, and arguing with him ad inifinitum about whether he is
tired and will go >to bed.

As a parent and a grandparent, I can all but promise you that the next ten
years will serve to convince you that he *will* go through the remainder of
his life in exactly the way you describe.  Moreover, he will likely one day
openly confront and defy you.  Such is the nature of teenagers, especially
intelligent teenagers raised in a home where debate and rhetorical power are

Fortunately, teenagers eventually leave home and are placed in situations
we, as parents, can never provide for them:  they are forced to become
self-sufficient. At that point, they can begin to develop a true sense of
responsibility.  Yes, your admonitions and lessons can provide a model and
some suggestions, but your son will ultimately develop a sense of
responsibility only if allowed to do so. Adults must be allowed to make
their own mistakes, no matter how much it terrifies their parents, if
they're to develop any kind of maturity.

Thus, you see, it is not only *not* our job to parent all of society (which,
by the way, is what you objectivists are always accusing us so-called
collectivists of doing, n'est-ce pas?), but it is our responsibility to
allow them, as individuals, room to grow.

>People, especially young people, want acceptance.  Today, casual sex is
>widely accepted, and I believe that the result has proved to be a great   
>deal of unhappiness.

Sorry, Your Excellency, but I don't fully accept this.  Young adults want
each other's acceptance, not ours.  Our acceptance or refusal to provide
same has little effect on their actions.

As for this matter of "casual sex," I think we have a problem of definitions
and assumptions.  I don't believe you can fairly assume that every person
requiring a condom at an SCA event is engaging in "casual sex."

>Someone else questioned whether distributing clean needles mightn't be
>next, and I thought that an excellent question.  People are going to do
>drugs anyway, we should help them be more "responsible", no?

*Sigh* I knew you'd bring this up.  Your Excellency, this is a Red Herring.
I'll be happy to debate the issue of providing free needles to drug addicts
with you in private, if you like.  We're not talking about needles.  I've
used condoms.  My children have used condoms.  You've probably used a
condom.  I doubt any of us have used intravenous drugs.  Yes, I see the
connection, but I consider it a tenuous connection at best.  To the best of
my knowledge, intravenous drug abuse is not a widespread problem in the SCA.

In response to my point:
>>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.

His Excellency replies:
>So would tent stakes be, but I haven't noticed a tent stake conssession
>going on, and so many of us pitch tents.

As I noted further on in my missive, my old barony *did* keep spare ropes
and stakes (the big nail type--they're cheap and easily obtained from Army
Surplus places) at gate point at large camping events.  For groups not
already doing so, it's quite a relief to folks who've come several huindred
miles only to find they've lost or forgotten a stake or two.

>>Moreover, if a fighter can't get a helmet, he won't rationalize the need
and >>fight without it.
>I would rather teach people not to rationalize in such a dangerous   

I agree.  Unfortunately, refusing to provide condoms does not teach this.

>>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.
>But they are indispensible to attendance at events.  Sex is not.

Yes and no.  Tent space and showers are not indispensible; they're a
convenience.  Toilets, yeah, I'll give you that one.

>>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.
>Indeed, nor have I noticed any mention of what measures, if
>any might/are/should be taken to avoid distributing condoms
>to minors.

>Now, "ad populum" is a Latin phrase I hadn't encountered, and I don't
>quite catch the meaning from the context, so I don't know whether to
>plead guilty or not to that charge.  You were right that no one had
>mentioned minors but me, until Her Ladyship Eowyn, arguing for
>condoms being made freely available in restrooms, posted the following:
>"They should be made available in an area that is not being monitored. "

Well, you got me there.  Why should you wnat to avoid distributing condoms
to minors?  Condoms don't cause sex, Your Excellency.  If kids decide to
have sex, however, the availability of a condom at least offers a measure of
additional safety.  We provided our kids with condoms as soon as they
started to evince an interest in the opposite sex.

*Ad populum*, literally means "to the people."  In an *ad populum* argument
(a form of rhetorical fallacy) an excessive appeal to pathos is used to
cloud an issue.  Our argument wasn't about minors, it was about adults.
Bringing minors (and, therefore, children) into the debate fires people's
emotions without regard to logic.

Still, you're correct--since HL Eowyn has shifted the question to one of
free, unmonitored distribution--minors will have access to the condoms. 

>Now, I've had things I'd written banned from SCA newsletters because
>the Chronicler's office has a policy that nothing should be in an SCA
>newsletter that you couldn't show to the mundane father of a 16-year-old
>girl who was joining the Society.  While I think that is far too   
>restrictive a policy, Eowyn's suggestion seems like the other extreme to me.

While I agree with your concern over such undue censorship, I don't see your
point with regard to condoms.  Why would you not want a 16-year-old to have
access to a condom?  Condoms do not cause sex.

>>>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.
>You're way off target Your Excellency, and you know it.  Sex is
>not an involuntary response like blinking your eyes or going to
>the restroom.  And it certainly does not follow that because I
>disapprove of SCA officers distributing condoms, especially
>when paid for by SCA funds, that I therefore likewise disapprove
>of port-a-johns being stocked with toilet paper.

First, defecation is not an involuntary response except in birds.  Second,
yes I'm offering an extreme example, but I know I've always brought toilet
paper to camping events.  Portajohns sometimes run out.  It seems a simple
matter of personal responsibility to bring your own.  

Besides, I never said *you* objected to providing toilet paper.  It's a
joke, son, a joke.

>>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.
>It wouldn't hurt my feelings if Chirurgeons didn't stock sunblock.
>As to helmets, I think your collectivist tendency might be showing.
>Tax all to provide what you feel most of us need.  As long as it's
>not too hard.  Condoms are easy.  That's about the best thing
>you can say for them.

As to my collectivist tendencies, sure we can go there if you like, but
first I'd like to note that you have not responded to my point on this
matter--i.e., that the motorcycle analogy doesn't work.  I'll give you the
inadequacy of the toilet paper analogy, but the motorcycle helmet analogy is
equally lame.

As for ease being the *best* thing I can say about condoms, no.  I've said
they are preferable to unwanted pregnancy, pain, and death.  Yes, it
certainly helps that they're convenient and inexpensive.

>>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.
>I'm impressed.  I've never heard of such a thing in Meridies, Ansteorra,   
>or Drachenwald.

Nice to know we can offer something of use to this Kingdom.  Never too late
to learn, you know.

>>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...?
>Lots of people have done this sort of automotive assistance, but I've   
>never seen it formally provided by an SCA branch.

Depends what you mean by "formally."  I meant as an official at events I
provided these services.  I guess you could call that formally.  No one ever
said I had to do this, but then that's why they call it "service," right?
Same with offering such aids as condoms--they're a service.

>>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   
>Appointing a person whose job it is to take care of us is the opposite
>of taking responsibility for ourselves.  I think most of us expect events
>to provide things like a place to do what we do at SCA events, a feast
>that we buy, and various other traditional things that we've established   
>over the years, such as list ropes, toilet facilities, and first aid on a   
>volunteer basis.  We bring our own stuff; camping gear, artistic supplies and
>materials, armor, clothing, medicines, food, feast gear.  We try to
>help those who've forgotten some things, but we can't stock everything,
>and I believe there are things we shouldn't try to stock, and that
>birth control devices including condoms is among those.
>Being "responsible" means being prepared to personally deal with
>the results of one's own actions.  Using a condom is not being
>responsible, it is being cautious.  But not very.  Especially if
>you've forgotten your own condoms and are only going to use
>one if you can get it with extreme convenience, on-site.

Sorry, Your Excellency, but you're splitting hairs here.  "Responsibility"
and "care" are essentially the same thing.  Again, I'm not suggesting that
we supply something complex or expensive like armor.  I'm talking about
something small, inexpensive, and helpful.  If armor could be provided for
under a dollar, could be stored 100 to a small box, then, sure, I'd say we
could stock that for events.  Why not?

>No, the heart of our disagreement is that I believe that sex is for
>responsible adults and you believe that the SCA should make
>sex safer for irresponsible people.  

No, I'm suggesting that we stock condoms to make sex safer for folks who may
have forgotten or simply not thought that they'd need to bring their own to
an event.  You keep insisting that these people are "irresponsible" or that
the sex involved is "casual."  I certainly wouldn't label you irresponsible
if you showed up to an event without a key piece of armor or a major
component of your tent.  Everyone forgets things now and again.  As for
condoms, not only are they small and easily misplaced or forgotten, they
have a definite shelf life.  I'd rather see my friends availing themselves
of a fresh supply than using older, possibly unsafe profilactics.

>I would rather see the SCA
>membership, as a --little "s"-- society foster a bit more restrained
>conduct as a virture, in the same way that we've had such success
>fostering courtesy, chivalry, honor and honesty as virtues.

I agree.  The two positions are *not* mutually exclusive.  As I've noted
before, refusing to provide condoms will not make people act more responsibly.

>>the medical profession has come down firmly on the side of condoms as the best
>>available means for limiting the spread of STDs.

>Except abstinence.  Sexual intercourse is not an involuntary response.

True.  If I could provide a jar of abstinence alongside the condoms, I would
cheerfully do so.  Unfortunately, I can't.  Refusing to provide condoms will
not ensure or even promote abstinence.

>>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
>>was faithful to her.  You could, in such an event, sleep with a woman who
>>recently contracted AIDS or another STD, unknowingly.
>True enough, but a recently-bereaved widow of a 10-year marriage isn't
>that likely to be having casual sex at SCA events, either.

By "departed," I meant only that he was gone.  "Dearly departed" suggests
deceased, but I didn't use that phrase.  A recent divorcee might engage in
sex at an event, and I would say calling such activity "casual" is a less
than generous label.  

>>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.
>Reduce likelihood, yes.  But to call condoms "safe" is simply to lie.

No.  Safe is a comparative term.  A driver who uses a seatbelt can still die
in an automobile accident.  Driving with a seatbelt is still safer than
driving without, and we label such use as safe.  As HL Eowyn noted in a
previous posting, the pores in latex are *not* large enough to pass viruses.
Yes, condoms sometimes fail, but as C. Everett Koop noted, the failure rate
is exacerbated by improper use (i.e.--use of old, brittle condoms, late
withdrawal, late application of condoms, et cetera). Use of condoms is a
safe practice.  I certainly hope no one reads Your Excellency's arguments on
this matter as a suggestion that they forego use of condoms. 

>>By all means, disapprove; I hope no one wants to deprive you of that   
>>right. I disapprove of unprotected promiscuous sex.
>But it's apparant from the tone of your note that you don't want to hear
>about it.  Still, there are many things which we in the SCA openly and
>loudly disapprove of when we see it:  lying, stealing, poor blow-calling,
>not keeping promises, discourtesy, unchivalrous or dishonorable
>behavior.  Because we openly disapprove of these things, we see them
>far more rarely in the SCA than in the wider world.  We can and do
>change people's behavior, each of us has been or is being changed,
>usually for the better, and I believe that that is one of the SCA's   
>greatest strengths.

Sorry, Your Excellency.  Guess I let my passions carry me away.  I was
enjoying myself.  Thank you for joining the debate in the first place, and
thank you for responding to my reply.

>>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 Excellency's.
>Agreed.  What is my business is whether I want the club I support
>through both my dues and my efforts to subsidize and protect -- rather
>than condemn -- such conduct.  My answer is no.  That is not the
>official policy of my office -- this has all been carefully couched as
>opinion -- but it is my considered opinion.

Again, I'm glad of the opportunity to note that providing condoms does not
support or condone or subsidize sex.  People will engage in sex whether the
condoms are available or not.

>Wondering what the phrase "legal, therefore moral" would translate
>to in Latin.  

No pasa nada.  "Legalis est, ergo moralis est."  Can't see why you'd want to
use such a phrase, though.

Looking forward to your response, je reste

lo vostre por vos servir

Sir Lyonel Oliver Grace,

unrepentant collectivist
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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