BVC - From the Society...

Tonessa West-Crowe twest-crowe at fulbright.com
Fri Jun 11 08:22:07 PDT 1999


Although I have been silent these past few months (due to work
obligations), I have been, nonetheless, reading the digest.  Actually, I
found some of our responses to the letter from the Society Chancellor of
the Exchequer very funny.  We sounded like we were defending our right
to alcohol, very much like prohibition days (except, I don't like
bathtub gin).  

Before we get in arms about this and resort to making threats and
promises we either don't mean or get out of hand, i.e., resorting back
to making weapons and torture chambers, we should first look at the
situation as to what would cause a such discussion to arise.  I know
that we are living in a society where popular opinion has a heavier
effect than the written law.  Sadly, such an effect is left to the moral
majority coupled with the fear of "influencing"  our children.   Such
phobias have caused many a witch hunt and many good and noble folks to
go to jail or worst, the slandering of their reputation or caused many
to become pariahs.  

Now, looking at the question as a possibility.   It is common knowledge
in this country that young folks as well as the public at large as of
late are experiencing a higher degree of alcoholism.  Also, as a nation,
we are experiencing a era of soft morality, meaning that we are trying
to impose certain conditions on the superfluities, i.e., tobacco,
coffee, certain vitamins, health foods as well as mild consumption of
alcohol.  (Recently, New York State in some local areas have adopted a
policy that if you have a rating of .11 level of alcohol in your blood
(the extent of 2 beers!) while driving they can confiscate your car on
the spot!  Even for first offenses! And, they will and can sell your car
at auction!  Given these radical changes in our policies and laws, such
is now extending to the liabilities of drivers and the damages that is
caused which effects insurance rates and liabilities.  We're not only
talking money here we are talking lives.  Given what happened at
Columbine, OH and other individual war attitudes, there will definitely
be a conversation on any group that promotes the making of such.  This
conversation is definitely coming.  

Now I am definitely caught within the same dilemma.  I produce and
amazing amount of brew every year.  Last year I produced 110 gallons!  I
love to drink my own meade and love the warm effects that I get from it.
 (I like tying one at times like anyone else.)  I am known for my
parties at the war where meade flows like water.  I have had to rethink
this behavior because of the liabilities that I put the Society, Pennsic
and the like at risk.  We have come of age.  Our children are now
begging to drink besides us.  (I had to throw out 30 kids from my party
last year and for the first time in 13 years, had to police the gate
because kids were trying to sneak into to a party where the age for
entry was 21.  I had to proof them.)  I remember when to see  a young
person have a meade or two was considered no consequence (there weren't
many children around then even close to drinking age.  Boy has that
changed!  Although I admit that the Society-raised children are far more
responsible than  most mundane society is at large, because they "grew"
up with such behavior and such was not seen as "evil," we still live in
a society where such responsibility is not at critical mass.  (A good
example of this is the fact that AIDS in the Society is still at
neglible levels in the SCA than mundane society in the homosexual sector
as well as heterosexual sector).  

It is because we so openly promote those things that we love and find
educational that we also leave ourselves open to being used as example
of abuse.  

Now back to the question of liability.  I would suggest that rather
than get bent out of shape on this letter that we ask to see  the policy
of the insurance company to get our own personal understanding of it so
that if we have questions, we might address those issues to have them
clarified.  I must say that we are indeed an educational organization. 
If they request that the focus be on educating its members as to what is
period then that attitude is why we are who we are.  We must promote
what is educational as far as historically rather than what tastes good
to the modern palate, e.g., promote that one should try it.  This is
keeping the focus on what is period and period techniques.  It also
leave the responsibility of creating or reproducing such to the attendee
and does not "look" as if we are encouraging folks to drink.  (I know of
many brewers who do not drink.  They just enjoy making it and
researching the recipes.)   The time probably has come when we should
include in our teaching and publications that we do not promote the use
of alcohol rather study its history for educational purposes.  (This
covers our butts and sends a message to those who come to events to just
"tie one on.")  I think we all, me included, could use a little
temperance at times or at least show that we can.)  

I know that I am preaching to the converted and I also know that the
majority of brewers are very very responsible for what they brew and 
their behavior.  And we now, dear brother and sister brewers, are living
in a real world with real issues  that affect our very being in the
world.   I would never, ever seek to squelch anyone's self expression
and creativity.  Yet I further would not want our good evil spoken of. 
This could be worse for all and may bring up the issue of the SCA having
to strike the use of alcohol from all of its events.

Rather than protest, we might want to show the mundane society that we
are responsible and set an example of that.  This is the good that we
can do.  Believe me this is also hard pill for me to swallow.  Yet we
are living in different times and we must pay attention to the
conversation and act responsibly so that our children can carry on the
tradition we have set and the SCA not looked upon as a hidden place to
carry out hedonistic (as well as cultish) desires.

My soapbox is over and thanks for reading this lengthy and heavy
missive.   I wanted to give us something else to think about and to know
what the "listening" is of the insurance companies as well as mundania.

In service to the Society and its Brewers,

Baroness Mistress Isabella of York
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