The 1st Tenure of Da'ud Ibn Auda (1st year)
"Despite Laurel's personal feelings on the matter, in formal and informal polls taken by a number of heralds (including Laurel) of both heralds and general populace members a significant percentage of Society members (in my poll, over half) had problems with the pentacle on the grounds of offensiveness because of association with black magic and 'Satanism', especially given the recent publicity in relation to events in California in which inverted pentacles (only a 38 degree rotation of the charge) were prominently displayed in a number of newspapers and news magazines. Negative reactions ranged from being uncomfortable with the charge to a forthright 'If I had to face that on the field I would not fight.' As a consequence, I believe that a significant percentage of the populace finds the charge offensive and so cannot register it." (LoAR 8/90 p.16).
"I feel it incumbent upon myself to answer as best I may Lord Dragon's comments...regarding the return of the device of [submitter using pentacle within a circle] (August 1990 LoAR, p.16). I will state outright that this was NOT returned under IX.2 ('Magical or religious symbolism that is excessive or mocks the belief of others will not be registered.') I do not find that a single symbol of a religion on a device to be excessive in any sense of the word. Nor does it in any way 'mock the beliefs of others'. It was not returned 'solely because hers is a minority religion whose symbols arouse unusually strong feelings in some members of the populace (Lord Dragon's words, emphasis mine). In polls which I myself and which others took, not just of heralds but of the general populace, a significant percentage of those responding found a pentacle to have modern connotations which they found offensive. Not just a small, or even significant, minority: In the poll I took of the populace in Dallas1 (a relatively cosmopolitan area), the percentage ran well over 60%. A percentage that large is NOT just 'some members of the populace'; it is too large a percentage to ignore or discount.
That a Wiccan symbol has been adopted (inverted, admittedly, but on a five-pointed object that requires a rotation of only 36 degrees) by so-called 'Satanist' groups and has received a lot of publicity as being a symbol used by those groups is very unfortunate2. But when a symbol shows up on the front pages of major daily newspapers, and in Newsweek and Time magazines, labelled as symbols used by 'Satanic cults' in 'evil rituals' it creates an atmosphere which all of the good will and attempts at educating the populace (within and without the SCA) simply cannot overcome.
Arguments that use of the symbol was 'tantamount to casting a spell' were not even considered in the return of this device. Arguments on religious grounds were not considered. I personally consulted with the submitter last April before this resubmission was made, and I have written her since the return. I have a lot of sympathy for her position, and wish it could be otherwise. (I am not going to say that 'some of my best friends are pagans', though I have a number of friends who happen to be such.) (I did note in the LoAR that the device was being returned in spite of my personal feelings, too.) but to ask me to register something which more than half the general populace finds disturbing or offensive because of the 20th century connotations it has acquired is asking more than I can in good conscience do.
When I took the poll in Dallas, I informed the populace at a general meeting that I had a submission which was in controversy and which I desired their opinion of. Did they have a problem with it? I did not tell them what about the submission was in controversy, and was scrupulous not to 'coach' answers in any way.
That a perfectly good form of cross used in cultures the world over in period has received some extremely negative 'bad press' through association with a single political group is also unfortunate, but we are not going to register fylfots (or swastikas), no matter which direction they rotate, because of the negative associations they have for a significant percentage of the populace. Based on the surveys which I and others took, pentacles (inverted or not) are in a similar situation." (CL 11/5/90 pps.2-3). [note that the Board of Direction declined to overturn this ruling in their meeting of 4/20/91: discussion can be found in the CL 5/13 p.2].
[A horned and winged demon] "There are two issues which came up in the commentary... The second issue is compatibility and offensiveness. It would appear that demon imagery was symbolic of evil in every period religion which used it at all. All in all, the submitter would be better advised to use a different charge." [The device was returned for these reasons] (LoAR 10/90 p.18).
[A scythe surmounted by a savage's head couped distilling goutes de sang] "The effect of the combination of scythe, severed head, and blood issuing from the neck are simply too much." [The badge was returned for this reason only] (LoAR 11/90 p.16).
[A monster composed of the body of a naked man and the head, wings and tail of a dragon] "While this is within the bounds of permissibility (Lord Batonvert came up with some research documenting similar-looking demons and their usage in period heraldry), a number of commenters felt it was pushing at the limits of acceptability." (LoAR 12/90 p.12)
"It was felt that Maggiesbane was marginal, but was only one 'weirdness'." [the epithet was registered] (LoAR 7/90 p.4).
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