After nearly a month’s absence on this blog, and a couple of months of silence on the SCA front, I think I need to let folks know… I’m not doing well.
A lot of the not-doing-well revolves around my PTSD issues, which under the stress of the last half-year has become increasingly difficult to ignore or work around. In fact, the problems related to my PTSD have become sufficiently strident that I’ve reached out to mental health services, and I had my first meeting with a psychiatrist yesterday to start the ball rolling on a plan to get me better. I’m not sure how much of that I’ll be discussing in a public forum, but suffice it to say that these issues are taking up a lot of my mental and emotional energy at the moment.
Exacerbating this problem is the fallout from my ill-considered attempt to call out the sole moderator of the “unofficial” SCA Reddit, a person calling themselves eadmund, an anonymous and self-appointed individual with no oversight and whose virulent homophobia under that name on various subreddits is absolutely disgusting. I say “ill-considered” not because I was wrong to call that person out… but I should have gone in with more backup. I’ve spent months dealing with a flood of bullshit from eadmund’s supporters, wading through a tide of gaslighting, griefing, flaming and harassment which has thankfully tapered off some since I deleted my Reddit account.
Perhaps I should have stuck it out… but at a certain point you just have to ask yourself whether a given hill is worth dying on. And the SCA Reddit is not a hill worth fighting for: It is so hopelessly compromised by trolls and homophobes – encouraged by a moderator who has no accountability whatsoever – that it cannot be saved. I’m not going to re-hash that battle here, because there’s no point. I’m sure that eadmund and his coterie of trolls are strutting around, pleased with their “defence” of the SCA Reddit and “free speech.” As it is I can barely muster enough emotional energy to state, unequivocally, fuck those assholes and I hope the BoD lands on the SCA Reddit like a meteor aiming for the dinosaurs.
Still, good things have been happening. At their Coronation, King Evander and Queen Marioun gave the Baron and Baroness of Rising Waters a writ summoning me into court at Baronial Birthday Bash, the 30th anniversary celebration of Rising Waters’ establishment as a barony – and an event held approximately twenty minutes from my house, so it was a good bet I could make the effort to be there.
I was not the only person in this Kingdom to be given such a writ; their Majesties have apparently decided to dial back on the Ealdormerean custom of just surprising people with a summons in court and instead giving them enough warning to show up and dress nicely, a approach which I wholeheartedly support. After a couple of months of jokes about Their Majesties summoning me to be hurled from a tall building, last week at the event I was given an Award of the Orion for my efforts at period-accurate armouring, along with a lot of good-natured ribbing about being given an award for being pretty.
Another thing happened at Baronial Birthday Bash which gave me pause, though. I was quietly taken aside and spoken to about something that had happened on-line. Not here on this blog, but in an SCA discussion group. A few weeks ago, there was a brief upset about a Midrealm archery event where the organizers had decided to make “Canadian-themed” targets, including our national flag, for the attendees to shoot at. I do not want to re-ignite the discussion around that event – it’s been hashed over, apologies have happened, lessons have been learned, let’s move on – but during the online discussion around that event I had rather forcefully stated that it was “so incredibly, offensively inappropriate that a mere apology doesn’t cut it. People need to lose offices over this.”
The friend who approached me over this issue was also a friend of the organizers of the event, and they just wanted to make sure that I understood the effect my comment had.
I wasn’t being criticized for making the comment, let me make that clear. The concern my friend had was that people saw what I wrote and got on the lose-offices bandwagon because it had been me who wrote it. I’d made a statement, and because it was Fulk Beauxarmes who made that statement, people got behind it.
It took me a few moments to understand what they were driving at, and I instinctively rejected their statement because after all, I’m nobody… but I’ve been thinking about it ever since. And the truth is they’re right to be concerned because in SCA circles, I’m not nobody anymore.
Ever since this blog went viral back in August, I’ve become someone whose voice is one that is heard in the SCA. And it’s heard internationally. I checked my WordPress statistics this morning, and I’m averaging about two hundred views from around the world, per day every day. And this is at a point where I haven’t written anything for bloody weeks. Time was, I’d be lucky to get two hundred views per month. Every time something happens in the SCA I get messages asking for information or my opinion. (Heck, this morning, I had a request for an interview from a campus paper in Maryland.)
Why do people read this blog? Because I write well. Because I write clearly and interestingly and forcefully. Because I give a damn about what I’m writing about, and that resonates with many people. This is not a bad thing; my friend wasn’t criticizing me for expressing my opinion forcefully. They weren’t even telling me my opinion was wrong. They were telling me that I’ve become – in marketing parlance – an influencer in the SCA… and that I need to start thinking about how that influence can effect others.
I made a statement about a minor controversy in the SCA that other people agreed with and acted upon. That’s not, in itself, a problem. But I did it without thinking about the consequences, and it caused a friend-of-a-friend considerable upset when they found themselves the focus of the community’s negative attention because of what I said. And that is a problem, because I never intended that.
I’ve just spent weeks as the focus of a small group of assholes who deliberately and maliciously decided to target me for daring to condemn a moderator’s public homophobia and challenge their comfortable little fiefdom of power. The notion that someone else would suffer a similar situation simply because I’d run my mouth without considering the consequences is… well that’s pretty upsetting to me.
It’s taken a few days of hard thinking, but I think I understand what they were trying to tell me. So… to my friend (and you know who you are) and to the SCA community as a whole, I want to be clear: Message received. I’m going to be more conscious of the fact that my word carries weight in our community.
I’m not saying don’t listen to me. I’m not saying stop reading what I write. I’m not even saying I won’t use my influence, from time to time, to try and effect change. What I am saying is that I’ll do it mindfully. I’ll do it deliberately. I’ll do it with the understanding that people read what I write and view my opinions as worth considering and acting upon. And I’ll go forward with a conscious acknowledgement that my status as an influencer in this community is a privilege, and one which comes with a corresponding responsibility.
Lord Fulk Beauxarmes
“There are a lot of ways to practice the art of journalism, and one of them is to use your art like a hammer to destroy the right people — who are almost always your enemies, for one reason or another, and who usually deserve to be crippled because they are wrong. This is a dangerous notion.” –Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, Better Than Sex: Confessions of a Political Junkie