[Ansteorra] To waterbear, or not to waterbear . . . the long version.

Faelan Caimbeul faelancaimbeul at gmail.com
Wed Jun 18 16:58:09 PDT 2008

To waterbear, or not to waterbear . . .

Oh what a question . . .

Well, here’s my two pence worth as someone who’s done a lot of varied 
things in the SCA over the years, including heavy and light fighting, 
Chiurgeon, water bearer,  and herald, among other things, but this does 
not include lawyer.

First off, I’m with the lawyer, add it to the waiver. One would think 
that any activity means just that, ANY activity. However, as 
disreputable and dishonorable attorneys have proven over the years that 
if something isn’t expressly mentioned, talked about and covered, it 
doesn’t apply. Take for instance, common sense (an oxymoron, BTW). 
Common sense dictates that one would not use an electrical appliance in 
a water environment (except in cases where the machine is specifically 
designed for it). I found this on my hair dryer, “Do not use while 
bathing.” Another one states, “Warning: Do not use while sleeping.” No 
folks, I’m NOT making this up. As a friend of mine so eloquently put it, 
“There are stupid warning signs because a statistically significant 
number of morons have actually done it.” Here’s some more useless 
warnings http://www.dumbwarnings.com/warnings.php?sid=&a=top25

The simple fact is that no matter what the corporation does, the biggest 
liability it possesses is simple the fact of its existence. People see 
“Inc.” and assume bottomless pockets of expendable capital that they 
want a piece of for any moronic and flimsy excuse they can come up with. 
The simple fact of the matter is if we weren’t a corporation, we would 
never get sued. Period. Know why? Because there’s nothing to sue. This 
happens in Hollywood ALL THE TIME. It’s why it’s so hard to “break in”. 
They won’t talk to you due to sue-fear. I’m sure everyone’s familiar 
with the Great McDonalds Coffee suit, where some idiot woman put a paper 
cup full of scalding coffee between her knees and burned herself. I 
don’t care what the courts said, that’s a lack of common sense, and the 
painful result was righteously disserved, but I digress . . .

There’s also the problem that no matter what disclaimers, procedures and 
what not we put on any piece of paper, we can STILL be sued. Look at the 
incident in Pennsylvania. From what I know about it, a child or two was 
molested at the event by someone who’s not even in the SCA, but the 
company got sued anyway. Again, the waiver just doesn’t seem to be worth 
the paper it’s printed on. Maybe I’m wrong, but it sure looks that way.

So I propose, if the BoD wants to make sure we don’t get sued, that we 
disband the corporation immediately and that we just go back to our 
roots and become “that weird group of people swinging sticks at each 
other in the park.” This would not only relieve us of the burden of 
liability insurance, lawyers, annual reports and the BoD itself, but 
would remove any chance of us ever being sued. Sure, individuals can 
still be sued, but there’s no profit in it because they’re just as broke 
as everyone else. Hence, it’ll never happen. People today sue primarily 
for profit and personal gain, not for justice.

And no, I’m not serious; I’m being sarcastic about dissolving the 
corporation, although I think the point is valid. I think instead of 
focusing on avoiding being sued, we should focus on winning when we are 
sued, deterring people from suing in the first place, and above all, 
MAKE THE SOCIETY FOR OURSELVES, not the rest of the world. I propose the 
following addendum to the waiver:

“The SCA makes no representations or claims as to the condition, 
quality, or safety of the land, structures, foodstuffs, service, 
equipment, volunteers, surroundings or any other item, person or place, 
whether or not owned, leased, operated, associated with or maintained by 
the SCA.

I understand that all activities are VOLUNTARY and that I do not have to 
participate, or accept any service or item offered, unless I choose to 
do so. I understand that these activities are potentially dangerous or 
harmful to my person or property, and that by participating I 
voluntarily accept and assume the risk of any illness or injury to 
myself or loss of or damage to my property.

I understand that the SCA does NOT provide any insurance coverage for my 
person or my property. I acknowledge that I am responsible for my safety 
and my own health care needs, and for the protection of my property. I 
further understand that the SCA makes no provision or guarantee of the 
quality of any food provided, and that I may consume any food provided 
at my own risk.

In exchange for allowing me to participate in these SCA activities and 
events, I agree to release from liability, agree to indemnify, and hold 
harmless the SCA, and any SCA agent, officer, volunteer or SCA employee 
acting within or without the scope of their duties, for any illness, or 
injury to my person or damage to, or loss of, my property in any manner 

Now, as I said, I’m not a lawyer, but it would seem to me that Johnny 
Cochran would have a hard time tap dancing through this one and getting 
away with it. It’s over the top, and a bit ridiculous, but if the main 
worry is not getting sued, then there you go.

Personally, I’d stop worrying so much. I completely agree with those 
that have expressed the opinion that removing water bearing would place 
the populace, especially the fighters, at unnecessary risk of injury. 
Now that part is NOT covered by any waiver I know of. It’s called 
reckless endangerment. In Ansteorra, as well as Meridies, Gleann Abhann, 
Atenveldt and Caid, risk of heat injuries far exceeds that of the milder 
climate kingdoms up north. However, medically speaking, it’s possible to 
get heat stroke in the arctic from heavy clothes and overexertion. So I 
put forward that by removing water bearers from the official roster we 
are indeed opening ourselves up to a greater possibility of lawsuits by 
being irresponsible. Face it, every sports team in the world has water 
and gator-aide provided and they’re not so worried about getting sued 
that they even consider the reckless and irresponsible step of not 
providing it. If fact, I’d be willing to bet it’s exactly the opposite 
and they are, in fact, required to provide such service to the athletes.

Now, speaking as a Big-Dumb-Fighter ™ I think that the children and most 
especially the charming ladies that patrol the lists carrying water and 
pickles are, in fact, saving lives. It’s a well known, and completely 
accepted fact that many, if not most fighters will forget some basic 
things when fighting a long day of battles, such as food and water. As 
several people have pointed out, fighters must sometimes be persuaded to 
stop fighting before they really do keel over dead from heat exhaustion, 
injuries or what-not. These afore mentioned charming ladies seem to have 
quite the success at this most important, and indispensible activity. I 
honestly think that the fact these wonderful people are well supplied 
and onsite at every event is the reason why we don’t have the cases of 
heat injury we would have otherwise.

This also doesn’t take into account the spectators. The water bearers 
don’t just water fighters, they water marshals, heralds, list babes and 
anyone else standing around in the sun without their own supply of water 
readily apparent (and even those that do). This greatly reduces 
everyone’s risk, not just that of fighters. It is entirely possible to 
get heat stroke and heat exhaustion at an event, especially here in 
Ansteorra or Atenveldt just from being at an event and going about 
non-combat activities in the sun and heat all day.

 From a practicality standpoint, since the group can still pay for 
everything the water bearers need, I don’t see where the line is. 
Wouldn’t the fact that the group provided money for the “unofficial” 
water bearers still open us up to litigation? I seem to recall that it’s 
possible to be sued for the actions of your sub-contractor. Wouldn’t 
this be more of the same?

In conclusion, I think we should just leave things well enough alone, 
save for changing the waiver. We’ve already let too much of the mundane 
world interfere with our hobby as it is, and it needs to stop. People 
come to the SCA to get away from their mundane life for a while, not 
jump into a whole new pile of problems and worries.

		Yours in praying the dream isn’t killed by the mundanes,

Faelan Caimbeul
"Mad Brewer"
Barony of the Steppes
The Most Magnificent and Stellar Kingdom of Ansteorra

"Beer is proof that God loves us, and wants us to be happy."

			Ben Franklin

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