[ANSTHRLD] Is the SCA going to recognize Kosovo?

Tim McDaniel tmcd at panix.com
Tue Feb 19 09:14:05 PST 2008

Juliana, did the AH revisions discussion consider whether flags can be
protected?  I think the point needs to be clarified.

On the question of protecting Kosovo's flag:

On Tue, 19 Feb 2008, Britt <tierna.britt at gmail.com> wrote:
> Magnus, to protect a flag it goes on an LoI for CoA review and gets
> 'registered' just like everything else. So if you want to see it
> listed in the Ordinary, send it up through channels.

I strongly suspect that you missed the subtlety in Magnus's question,
and that Orle Herald knows perfectly well how national flags are
protected.  I imagined Magnus asking the question with that
bright-eyed innocent eye-look and that mischevious little quarter-grin
he gets when he's metaphorically picking up a cat by the neck and
throwing it at my face ... again ...

     AH III.B.2. Armory of Significant Geographical Locations Outside the
     Society - All national arms and national flags are considered
     sufficiently significant to protect, even if not yet listed in the
     Armorial. The historical or modern armory of other geographic
     locations may be protected on a case-by-case basis if the location
     is associated with important administrative, social, political, or
     military events and the arms themselves are important or
     well-known. Armory so protected will be listed in the Society
     Armorial and Ordinary when it is brought to Laurel's attention,
     but is protected prior to that addition.

> The SCA will protect it as long as it's the flag in use and
> official.

"WILL" [emphasis added] begs the question: it's automatic only for a
*national* flag.  Whether Kosovo is a nation is a real-world question
that causes occasional incendiary action, and arguably a major NATO
bombing campaign.

And, unfortunately, the AH provision doesn't EXPLICITLY say that
non-national governmental flags are "armory" for the purposes of this
provision.  You could argue, for example, that "national arms" in
sentence 1 is equivalent to the term "armory" used elsewhere in the
paragraph, and that "national flags" is an addendum that wouldn't
apply without that explicit inclusion.  ("National arms" and "armory"
are based on "arms", but "flags" is not.)  Note in particular "the
ARMS themselves are important", emphasis added: flags are not arms
(except for badly-designed US state flags where they slap the arms or
seal on a blue background).

On the other hand, the SCA registers flags for SCA branches, and the
only authority for that is AH III.B.1:

     1. Armory Registered by the College of Arms - Devices and badges
        submitted to and registered by the College will be listed in
        the Society Armorial and Ordinary and protected from conflict
        against future submissions. ...

You'd have to argue that "Armory" in 1 includes flags but "Armory" in
2 does not.

On Duke Cariadoc's third hand,
<http://www.sca.org/heraldry/loar/1998/01/cvr.html> has Jaelle's
ruling on the Canadian provincial arms:

     There was, at the time of the initial implementation of the Modest
     Proposal, discussion in regards to the protection of the flags of
     sub-national regions such as provinces or states. National flags
     are automatically considered to be important non-SCA armory, but
     not the flags of smaller subdivisions. The question at hand is how
     to judge the arms rather than the flags of such smaller political
     units. This is anarrower issue: while most if not all provinces
     have flags, only a fraction of them have arms. Atthe same time
     such arms are by definition more relevant to SCA heraldry than
     flags. Therefore we are registering as important non-SCA heraldry
     provincial arms. At this time the arms being registered are those
     of the provinces of Canada. If similar coats from other nations
     are brought to our attention on a letter of intent we will likely
     register those as well. This ruling applies only to coats of arms
     of analogous regions: not to designs which happen to have an
     armorial appearance, and not to the arms of smaller regions than

Note in particular "such arms are by definition more relevant to SCA
heraldry than flags".

I think Kosovo's flag should be protected, but it would require some
close reasoning.  The applicable precedent might be that the United
Nations' flag is protected, as is the European Union's, and they're
not clearly nations.  (Though the European Union was registered
without comment, <http://sca.org/heraldry/loar/1998/12/lar.html>.)
If I had the capability at the moment, I'd search the O&A database for
"important non-SCA" and see if there's other precedents.

But, justin case someone wants to ever start a shire in Serbia, I'd
advise Laurel/Wreath to make sure that there's a statement of the form
"We are not ruling at this time as to whether Kosovo is or is not
currently a nation." followed by justification that any sufficiently
important flag may be protected (perhaps under the "Military Insignia"
later in the AH?)

So, Magnus, would you please hand me the extra-large bottle of
Mercurachome and a mirror?

Tim McDaniel, tmcd at panix.com

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