SCA Restricts “Symbols of Hate” and Updates Policies and Mission Statement To Be More Inclusive

The Society for Creative Anachronism has revised its mission statement to be more inclusive, and published updated restrictions on the use of symbols associated with hate speech.

MISSION STATEMENT: The revised statement now reads:

The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is an international non-profit volunteer educational organization.

The SCA is devoted to the research and re-creation of pre-seventeenth century skills, arts, combat, culture, and employing knowledge of history to enrich the lives of participants through events, demonstrations, and other educational presentations and activities.

The primary difference from the previous version is the elimination of the phrase “focused on Western Europe and its cultural contacts.” The revision addresses concerns that have been raised about the lack of representation of other cultures in the Middle Ages

BANNED SYMBOLS. The Society for Creative Anachronism’s College of Arms has published additional guidance on “Symbols of Hate”.

From Wreath: Symbols of Hate

The resurgence of white supremacist organizations and other hate groups has been in the news recently, and the SCA has not been immune to its effects. The use of Norse and Saxon symbols by such groups directly affects both submitters and the College of Arms.

Apart from the designs which are instantly recognizable as offensive (e.g., a swastika or a burning cross) it is nearly impossible to make a ruling on the offensiveness of an armorial motif that is objective, useful for consulting heralds, adaptive to the changing tactics of hate groups, and fair to submitters who have no malicious intent and merely seek to register armory. For this reason, the Laurel office has long been averse to making sweeping rulings on offense, preferring adjudication on a case-by-base basis.

Recently, Laurel and Wreath, with the assistance of Drachenwald’s heralds, reviewed several European laws and policies to try to determine a path forward in evaluating armory for offense. Going forward, if a symbol is banned as hate speech in all of its forms in a jurisdiction in which the SCA has a substantial presence, that symbol will be unregisterable in the SCA (the swastika, long banned by Laurel precedent, falls into this category). If a symbol is banned as hate speech in some forms, but is exempted for others (especially heraldry), it will not be disallowed immediately in the SCA; however, it will be scrutinized for context….

Examples and analysis follow.

STATEMENT OF CORE VALUES. In connection with the new Mission Statement, the following Statement of Core Values was also passed by the Board:

SCA Statement of Core Values

In pursuing its mission, the SCA is committed to excellence in its programs, communications and activities and to

  • act in accordance with the chivalric virtues of honor and service;
  • value and respect the worth and dignity of all individuals;
  • practice inclusiveness and respect pluralism and diversity;
  • promote a safe and respectful environment for all SCA events;
  • act with transparency, fairness, integrity and honesty;
  • be a responsible steward of SCA resources; and,
  • be committed to maintaining the trust of its members and participants.

It is the expectation of the SCA that its members and participants, in all events and activities of the SCA, will conduct themselves in accordance with these tenets.

LOCAL INITIATIVE. In a comparable spirit, the Society for Creative Anachronism’s Kingdom of Ealdormere, which takes in most of the Canadian province of Ontario, is circulating a “Declaration of Virtues of the Kingdom of Ealdormere” which members are invited to sign.

(Declaratio Virtutum Regni Ealdormeriensis)
These are the virtues of the Kingdom of Ealdormere to which we aspire and strive in thought, word, and deed: Honour: In all our acts, we strive to be true to the ideals that are the foundation of our Society and to keep our word.

Inclusiveness: We welcome those of all backgrounds, regardless of ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious beliefs, or abilities, and will endeavour to make all spaces open and safe for all.

Kindness: We strive to be generous and considerate, breaking down barriers, drawing strength from our community, rejecting bigotry, combating hate. Above all, Equity and Justice, respecting the rights of others, giving each person their due in keeping with the laws and customs of Society and Kingdom.

There shall be no place within our halls for those who by their words or actions reject these laws and customs, regardless of rank or status. We who here witness this document hold ourselves to this pledge This document shall not be sealed and is not complete. This strength of unity shall ever increase in perpetuity.

11 thoughts on “SCA Restricts “Symbols of Hate” and Updates Policies and Mission Statement To Be More Inclusive

  1. Clickity

    Here in 909, we are just deeply puzzled by all this. But due to lack of books and need to milk the cows, we can’t research it right now.

  2. I’ll bet that deleted sentence was meant to end in “cultural context” rather than “contacts”. Well done to the SCA for getting rid of it either way, and firming up other rules. I hope they’ll be able to enforce that and clean out some haters. Culture change is hard.

  3. Following the racist idiocy of the Kings of Caid (southern California and Hawaii) and Trimaris (Florida), groups of the Peerage in several Kingdoms put together inclusion statements. Here’s the one from the Kingdom of the East.

    For those not in the SCA, we’ve divided up the World into regions, which we call Kingdoms. Periodically we choose a Ruler by combat, who reigns with their Consort for usually six months.

    Peers are those who have either reigned as consort at least once, or have earned one or more of our highest awards for Arts and Sciences, Service, Fighting, or Fencing.

    Mike has covered the SCA’s racist controversies On Here at least twice.

    These two incidents, and others that haven’t made such headlines, have prodded many in the SCA, and the SCA itself, to make strong statements of inclusion.

    Medieval reenactment draws racists due to their misunderstanding of the racial “purity” of the middle ages. Which is of course utter bunk. The Middle Ages, as with every other time period in Europe, contained myriad people of color in a vast variety.

    Go find the thousands of wonderful posts by People of Color in European Art History. Medievalists around the globe are moving to confront racism in their discipline. The SCA has had racists for ages, but they’ve really come out of the margins in the last few years.

    Racists have no place in the SCA or any other aspect of human society. You’re not welcome. I’d rather you come to your senses and embrace all of humanity in it’s glorious, beautiful variety. But if you can’t do that, go find a grotty cave and stay in it.

  4. Lenore Jones / jonesnori on November 6, 2018 at 7:07 am said:

    I’ll bet that deleted sentence was meant to end in “cultural context” rather than “contacts”.

    No, it was contacts.

    The idea was, we could re-create anything from Western Europe or cultures that Western Europe had contact with. From early days, people were interested in the Middle East, Japan, Mongolia, Eastern Europe, and South America.

    The new mission statement removes the focus on Western Europe. I am hoping that folk will delve into any pre-1600 culture and widely expand what we study.

    I remember reading about Nestorians from China visiting western Europe, in the 13th or 14th century, so contact was possible. Eastern Europe should be easy – there definitely was contact there. (One of the Spanish kings married a Polish princess, and Henri I of France married a Russian princess.)

    It’s 2608, and researchers keep expanding the knowledge of contacts in the past.

  6. Oh, “contact with” covered vast amounts of territory. There are very few places Western Europe didn’t have some kind of “contact with” before 1600.

    But the focus was still Western Europe. With White Supremacists swarming over the medieval time period, removing that focus makes all kinds of sense.

  7. In view of the unfortunate incidents reported here, not to mention awful stuff happening outside the SCA, I’m glad to hear this, and to get the additional detail from Ultragotha.

  8. ULTRAGOTHA, thanks, that makes sense.

    I have SCA friends, and participated a little bit in college (Barony of Northwoods then, and I live near Settmour Swamp now), but never got in very deep. Still, I have fond feelings for it and will be glad if it succeeds in cleaning up the racism.

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