It’s hard being a medievalist. You have to read so much to stay abreast of your field. And it’s not just Speculum and Highlights Magazine;* new discoveries are being made every day. Here are a few things recently deemed medieval around the world that medievalists must now become expert on:
- Wearing bright orange vests while doing community service — According to Liberty, a UK human rights group, a new policy forcing people sentenced to community service to wear flourescent bibs that say “Community Payback” while paying back the community is nothing more than “medieval justice,” as cruel and unusual as forcing them into stocks. I agree. Wearing a vest is completely like being locked up so you’re unable to move. Except for the part where you can move.
- Austrian girl-on-girl full-mouth kissing, bans upon — According to an Austrian political action group, a recent ban on some 14-year-old girls’ new habit of “theatrically falling into each other’s arms and kissing each other on the mouth, sometimes very intimately and for many minutes” reflects an “outdated, medieval world-view.” Apparently, the girls were threatening a “kiss-in” in response to the headmaster’s belief that he was a “monarch who can impose [his] ridiculous values on pupuls.” I’d never considered what, say, Henry II thought of underaged girls playing at lesbianism at school and now I have to, or they’ll never give me the keys to the executive medievalist washroom at Kalamazoo.
- Charging rent by the quarter rather than by the month — This most medieval of practices was apparently still going on in the UK until just last month.
- Walking prisoners across the street — Can prisoners not catch a break? In Yolo County, California, prisoners are subjected to the “medieval… ludicrous and dangerous” shame of having to walk across the street from the holding tank to the courthouse, because said “medieval” courthouse–built in 1917!–lacks onsite jail facilities. I can only hope that the definition of medieval isn’t further expanded to include all buildings built in 1917 or I’m really going to have to start waking up earlier.
Sorry to add to your workload, everybody, and right in the middle of exam season, too.
*Stay tuned for my paper on the shocking Cistercian slant to the theology found in Goofus and Gallant. I’m planning on building a panel at Leeds around it.