Two days ago, we offered our “restricted release” of the Alchemia Dimicandi, a recently discovered 17th-century German text on how to fight in combat to the death.
We made it free to download for those “qualified researchers” who sufficed the Trump Administration’s America First policies pursuant to the Presidential Executive Order on Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda of President Donald J. Trump, dated February 24, 2017.
You only had to meet two measly criteria to be a “qualified researcher” under that Order: You had to be a U.S. citizen or legal resident. And you had to be a registered Republican.
Is that TOO much to ask??
Well, read on…
Baltimore, April 1, 2017
—by J. Christoph Amberger
“You’re such a troll,” my daughter said as I was holding my gut, where continuous fits of raucous laughter since last Thursday had resulted in washboard abs.
I’ve never claimed to be subtle. And sure, I’m easily amused.
But it seems that as long as you draw spurious legal authority from an (any!) Executive Order by President Trump, and pretend to limit access to something that others seem to get free, no subtlety is required to perpetrate yet another overly elaborate April Fool’s joke.
In fact, you can’t lay it on thick enough!
So, dear Friends, yes: You’ve been punked. I wish you a happy (or at worst an only moderately embarrassed) April Fool’s Day.
As my son texted from Wisconsin: “Damn you really got your Hema friends good didntcha”.
To avoid the obvious April 1 trigger date, we had to get an early start: Planned for months, placed strategically by various co-conspirators, and prepared several weeks in advance by cryptic references to the text, links to Your free download of the Alchemia Dimicandi spread like wildfire via Facebook and other social media: Within the first few hours, we had over 1,200 hits on the post, with commentary popping up in many a FB Group devoted to HEMA, with over 2,000 by the end of the day. By today, there’s over 5,000 hits on this subject. And that’s only on this site.
Co-conspirator Matt Galas calls it:
The Most Epic Troll in HEMA History!
Alas, ALL attempts to download our research came to a screeching halt, as the vetting algorithms we applied to segregate deserving downloaders from commie riffraff dumped people in a small but carefully designed circular clusterfuck of links and dead ends.
Of course, there were no “vetting algorithms” that monitor the political qualifications of potential downloaders. How would they work, by comparing people’s ISP with the Republican Party’s membership lists?? Really? Sure it ain’t the Russians? Think, people, think! (Then again, I may have some priceless piece of mangrove-front swampland in Florida to sell you…)
Looks like all you have to do these days is blame something on Trump or tell someone only Republicans or Americans can get something, and reason goes out the window.
The behavior we had the pleasure to observe used to be called Futterneid, now apparently labeled “social justice instinct”, and was considered a reaction of the lower biological orders that homo sapien children were supposed to grow out of in kindergarten. (See how it works in primates). Times have changed…
The results of this simple-minded experiment were astounding. Revealing! And they surpassed all expectations: There were dozens of lengthy conversation threads on FB, literally thousands of postings and comments—and few of them positive.
The left wing went ape-sh*t. Here’s an animated version of their reaction. (Click the pic!)
Within hours, white middle-class children of wealth and prosperity went into full persecution or persecution-by-proxy mode.
Many responses turned personal, enabled by the web’s presumed promise of anonymity and expected lack of consequence. (Hi, Hal Siegel!). Many—of course!—turned political, and there was the usual bit of ugly anti-Americanism bubbling up. (You Yanks are happily oblivious to that… but, like the Creme beneath the brulé, it’s right beneath the surface of your dear European HEMA mates!) We broadened minds in regard to social justice, entitlement, fake news, credulity v. credibility, and spurred serious discussions of copyright law and public access. Whew! And…
Apart from the original conspirators here were others who quickly caught on and did their share to stoke the flame wars. Special thanks to Gene Tausk and Ken Mondschein:
The following reactions are cut and pasted from the respective public Internet forums or were contributed by the co-conspirators. Some are printed in the actual sequence of the exchange, others I have grouped into categories. Running commentary in RED.
Reactions ranged from the mildly puzzled to raging activist unreason
On the milder spectrum, Christian W. wrote in the comments: “Despite the fact that I met the requirements for download, i.e., citizen of the United States and registered Republican, I was denied access when I clicked the appropriate button.” (Christian, EVERYBODY ended up there! Sorry, ’bout that!)
Over on FB, Jin K. sounded sad and dejected rather than angry: “Well, I’ll have to settle with imagini[n]g just what it is about, as I don’t qualify for downloading the pdf…” As did Arturo C.: “I don’t seem to be able to download it. Is it because I am Mexican?” (Take solace, Jin and Arturo, NOBODY qualified!)
In Britain, drain0 was more annoyed than anything: “I just want to read it, what’s all the claptrap about? Presidential exec… whatever”
Then it got more tense. From Poland, Bart W. got a bit irate: “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS???” His countryman Bartosz S. affirmed: “At least I’m disgusted!” And one Alberto Miguel P. was torn between emotions: I would laugh but I’m so angry about this
Even my dear friend Christopher Treichel went klassizistisch: What did Goetz von Berlichingen say to the Emperors impertinent messenger? [I believe the correct response to Götz’s famous line was “kleiner Arsch ist schnell geleckt“.]
But wait, there’s more!
Sparks started flying as, by not doling out free stuff for all, the Spirit of HEMA as an all-inclusive “safe space” with trigger warnings and communal singing & clapping for all was being slighted, nay—middened AND besmirched:
Michael O.: “Ho-ly shit. As someone who works on both fencing and alchemy I was really interested in this text, but the idea of restricting access to registered Republicans isn’t “political sanctimoniousness and left-wing faddery”, it’s counter to the very spirit that allowed the HEMA movement to flourish in the present age. … Just went and read the actual executive order he’s citing and it in no way justifies this. It’s hardly even relevant – it’s just culling relevant-sounding language from an order about the establishment of regulation-review bodies. … Methinks I shall be boycotting Amberger’s works in my future publications. Deeply disappointed.” I hope I will be able to financially cope with that boycott—waydaminnit, Michael O., I haven’t made a penny on your PAST publications on fencing and alchemy, let alone seen one!
A co-conspirator forwarded me a text exchange, whose correspondent shall remain anonymous:
“Is this a joke or is this guy for real?
Co-conspirator: “It’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen. He’s become very weird since getting his law degree.”
“This is the first time for years that I got legitimately pissed off in HEMA.”
Co-conspirator: “It seems to be having that effect on a lot of folks.”
“The big irony is that he is using European document as his original source.”
Co-conspirator: “Exactly, it makes no sense!”
It indeed does not, my friend! That was the point.
Others went all Pink Pussy Hat on my politics:
Although it was hard to hear what was said over the Greek chorus of “mimimimi”:
Eric M. The very second I can and not be denied for not being a qualifying researcher I will.
Stevie T. Yes, the artical does directly oppose the ethos and Manifesto of HEMAC.
Chris B. My issue is that some Cis white dudes decided to attack the idea that HEMA should he invlusive and accepting at a time when LGBTQA+ peeps, women and minorities are facing really tough times ahead. [O! M! G! No liberal buzzword left behind.]
Stevie T. The author statez you mist be US citizen to download it or apply for an exemption if you’re European. God knows what African’s and Asain’s can expect. … From what I have read it’s already being used to condem the community for breaking with “national traditions” in favour of more “exotic” traditions. … I’d agree if it wasn’t for the fact that it is a hugely polictical statement about elitism and preventing people of differing political views from gaining access to knowledge.
No doubt it will be used by those who think doing DNA tests help you find your “natural system”.
Wha’?? Stevie, do you listen to yourself spouting off garbage?
Jay M. Wow… anyone who believes HEMA is an inclusive and accepting community only has to read this thread to put that notion to bed… 0.0 (Boo-hoo… No safe spaces, either!)
Josias A. “Something something, I hate leftists and PC culture, so I’m releasing it carefully, something something irrelevance.”; Johanus H.: “Too much B.S. to download… Just sell the thing for $1 or $2, then I can get past his politics.”; Ian Michael MacPh.: “Yeah, interesting read up until those last two paragraphs…. Then it was like “yep, if you ddn’t know who wrote this entry yet, you sure as hell do now”. Ben S.: “if if ya qualify, it’s really none of his damn business”.
I particularly loved the following exchange:
Abraham R.: “A registered republican”? What the ever loving fuck? Apparently it has some ability to check party affiliation because it won’t let me download the text.
Clae O. No joke thats whats got me irritated.
Johanus H.: It’s the site owner’s politics and his way of expressing his feelings on Trump, it seems. … If we read his commentary, he states that he’s upset with far-Left idiocy. Stupid to put his politics in this. Like I really give a — about it, especially not even being American. I’ve seen the BS from the US before and we all lived through it.
Chris B. This would be one of the funniest things I’ve ever read if it was so fucking pathetic. I will make a stand against the left wing loonies in HEMA by only letting my friends read my work. What a grade A Bellend.
Hal S. Publish and sell, no problem. This is pure out and out dickweedness. (Hi, again, Hal Siegel!)
Thomas H. Posting politically restricted HEMA material because you are tired of politics in HEMA. Logic failed.
Pat “Klassenkämpfer” C. But who cares what the peasants think? Only those with enough capital for “collecting” get to decide (where that capital came from, don’t ask..) what’s worth saving/knowing…
And then there was this denier of history who waxed lachrymose over the virtues of Soviet Communism-Stalinism, including a link to the hymn of the USSR national anthem:
Anders Nelle N. Its a sad way to cover up the earlier fascist exposed in HEMA. The extreme right is sadly strong. The comments they make in the text is awful. When did it become wrong to be decent and caring? … Yep. Liberal, leftwing, socialist. And proud of it. Workers of the world, unite. From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs. [Link to the International in Russian]. (What, and leave out the paean to Maoism?!)
And then there were those who set out to prove correct my vocalized sentiment about all the left-wing morons in HEMA:
One Paul D., a previous and in all probability future nullity to me, deserves special accolades for conforming to the stereotype of the censorious left-wing fool that the spurious Trump Order was supposed to exclude. He got activist-copyeditor on my rear: “According to my interpretation of the blurb, you’re not entitled to download the PDF unless you’re american. On applying for an exception you’re told that you’ve failed but you should leave a note of “200 words or less” (Shouldn’t that be fewer?!) explaining why you should be granted a special exception, which just leaves a comment on the site.
“I’m assuming that the author of the piece, if the piece actually does exist, only wants people who agree with him to read it and not people who would potentially disagree.
“If it’s politically motivated then surely that is a form of discrimination. I would view any spread of material that segregates people into the “haves” and “have nots” as not in line with the overall aims and character of the HEMA community. In any case I shall be reporting the link discriminatory … call me petty but I detest intentionally divisive links and so called propaganda.”
Speaking of Left-Wing Sanctimonious Twits, unsurprisingly we met some of the usual suspects who mingle long-held personal resentments in with the political:
Ben Michels I mean, no, Amberger is certainly a narrow minded ideologue.
Marcos A. A bit mean-spirited and unfunny if it turns out to be an April first prank, but what do I know
Ben Michels I mean, he’s also that.
Of course, there’s always that certain latent, bitchy current of anti-Americanism I mentioned above that comes out on those occasions:
Max Ronnby Am I in there? I won’t give him clicks.
Aleksandar R. Yes,yes you are,as an example of ‘anti-americanism’.
Max Ronnby HAHAH, well I do hate that shitty country.
Then there’s my former compatriot who also posted the following image—because that’s how we Murcan Republicans look like:
Torsten Sch. Holy crap! Muricans, leave the Kunst des Fechtens and stick to shooting with revolvers and throwing lassos.
Stevie T. Do you not realise ‘they’ are at war with all those threaten who their fragile concept of National Identity, and you just shared restricted knowledge with the enemy?
Filip P. fellows europeans, should we reciprocate this? or to remain meek toward murricans (I apologize americans for this – your fellows are not doing USA favor) (Because only a weak Murican is a good Murican…)
Per Magnus H. Der terk er jerbs!!
Bill C. Ironically, charging some money for it and selling it to any interested customers would seem to be far more in line with ‘USA values’ then dangling it like an unreachable carrot. 😉
Matthew B. American republicans are assholes. Got it. 😒
Hal S. Not necessarily, but Amberger certainly seems to be. [Hi again, Hal S.!]
Alexander E. Erm… HEMA for europeans! (A real, bad, bad joke. Sorry, as a German I did not develop humour that much. Seems Amberger either.) That would explain the crude logic to emigrate to the US to feel like a “real murcian”…
Nelson McG. dont underestimate an americans ability to appropriate other cultures…
Per Magnus H. Here we see a school example of history repeating. Remember that Clements guy? Yeah. Wonder what he’s up to nowadays. Well, at the harsh competitive aspect of HEMA, there is the plain fact that there’s only so much you can do with a pointy stabby stick and your own body, and in that respect, the smallsword scene is just as good without it as with it. There are other sources on how to stab someone with most efficiency. On the historical level on the other hand, the one where we get to the mind and mindset of an unknown fencing scholar, there is a great loss. But it’s more his loss than ours. After all, it was he who cancelled his seminars in Europe, because he didn’t deem us worthy enough. C’mon, you get to see Europe and meet cool people who dig your work and can spread the knowledge of that cool stuff you got your hands on. Who wouldn’t? I sure would. Except for this guy, because, you know, Murcuh furst, or whatever. (add someone to shout “derr terk er jerbs!” in the background). (Because it’s less racist the 2nd time around…)
There was some talk of trying to locate a copy of Lochner’s book in the British library—maybe even crowdfunding an effort just to tell me off:
Bill C. Bastian, you would have no trouble raising the 75 € by doing a bit of a crowd funding exercise to procure a copy. Maybe something could be arranged with Wiktenauer? I’d pledge 5€ right now, to help make a point about the ‘community’ in the ‘HEMA community.’ ;) … If we were to buy it, better do it soon. I have a feeling a certain someone might try to nab it first to slight the community. (5 Euros “right now”…. impressive!)
Some went onto philosophical rants for some length:
Wolfgang R. Well, well, well….I read about C. Amberger restricting the download of his transcription to a certain citizenship and membership of a a certain party or for “applying for special consideration”. My first reaction was “HEMA has reached a new low”.
But of course, HEMA has always been just a wild mixture of people with just few things in common. … But reasoning the restriction to a growth of political correctness, left-wing faddery, general collective compulsions affecting publishing and mumblings about a tradition of masters, being elitists themselves and giving away their knowlegde only to those deemed worthy, is indeed a new peak of narrow-minded bigotry and self-delusion. Of course, Amberger will not give a shit about what I or others think of him. [Man you are SOOO right!!!] Never mind, so do we.
But why then this whole rant? And sharing a meme? Well, because I worship the efforts of certain others. I probably disagree with Matt Galas on A LOT of political matters, phew, maybe we even differ on everything from favourite colour to favourite band.
But I admire his enduring and nearly lifelong dedication to the research and training of HEMA.
I actually cannot imagine anyone in HEMA who has not taken profit from his efforts in the past 20 years in one way or another.
Threatening legal actions against Matt G. may be be completely within the boundaries of the laws. Yet it is the most disrespectful thing I can imagine coming from someone who claims to know and follow a certain mindset of old masters and the background of HEMA. Nah, keep it simple: it sucks arse. A. already canceleled his participation in various HEMA events? What a pity, we will miss you, NOT.
Others flashed their own genderist-ageist tendencies: Lisa L.: “when you do, you can explain middle aged white guy humor to me…” (Nah, Lisa, no-one can. But I hear Amy Schumer is a laff riot!)
One Marcos A.: Are you suggesting Christoph Amberger is NOT a narrow-minded bigot? If so, quite the long con
And of course, there are those who are furthering the hyper-inflationary inclusiveness of the term “Nazi”—as in “you’re a Nazi if you don’t dole out free stuff”.
Double-gloved and wielding foot-long tongs, I picked these defamatory dingleberries from the filthy, matted underbelly of alt-left ignorance and hate.
Pat C. Do we need a brown shirt to read it?..
Gavin P. Doing an April fool joke on a different day is the sort of thing that sounds clever in primary school, until you do it and everyone thinks you’re a bit of a dick. Then you spend the rest of your life being shunned by people you were at school with, which turns you into a misanthropic Nazi. Years later, you decide to retry your shameful junior school faux pas, and call it “epic”. Everyone still thinks you’re a dick, and loads more people shun you.
gilbride of the Cateran Society: Interesting. When i read your one and only substantial contribution to the HEMA community all those years ago, I took your assertion that Mensur fencers were not closet fascists a bit too seriously. My mistake. [Not your last, apparently: sic tacuisses, philosophus manisses.]
Then there was this hater:
Then there’s these two libelous loons hating on anything right-of-center and American. Disgusting:
And then there was this post—you figure it out…
And then, suddenly, there was legal drama in the air!
Co-conspirator Matt Galas and I even set up a little legal tiff for people’s benefit! Matt started posting the transcription, and I reminded him of the US Copyright Act. It resulted in a spurious, pre-litigious Mexican stand-off. Matt then made sure HEMA groups were alerted that here was that fascist Amberger was threatening to sue the Altmeister of HEMA:
That made for additional fireworks:
Matt Galas, Co-Conspirator: It really is a fascinating text. It’s really a shame he is limiting access to this.
Gene Tausk (In on the joke) It’s his text, he can do as he wishes. I, for one, am glad that Amberger has taken a stand against the insane left-wing politics of the last eight years and is doing something, albeit in a limited way, to stand up to it. Just for the record, FYI, I was unable to download the text also because I am not a registered Republican.
Matt, do me a favor. Learn German as fluently as Christoph Amberger, become a lawyer (wait, you already are one) then spend what little free time you have outside work and take some more time away from your family and spend it transcribing cribbed notes from a 400 year old dead German and then translate this antiquated German into modern English for 21st century historical fencers. Then you can give away this work all you want to any freeloading parasite who desires it. Amberger’s standards are a bit higher. Like I said, I’m not benefiting from Amberger’s stance – I’m not a registered Republican and when I told Amberger I was a Libertarian and desired a copy, he told me to get off my Russian ass and learn a real language. But I respect him for his stance. As far as I am concerned, he is a modern day John Galt.
Johanus H. [turning larcenous] Unbelievable! So who has access to the original? If it’s in German, I’ll start translating! If someone else has access to the original document we can work on transcriptions and translating… I’ve been looking for a new project.
Matt Galas [trolling] Standing up for what? Seriously, that makes no sense. I understand private collectors having their dragon’s hoard, but to publicly rub people’s noses in it is pretty obnoxious behavior.
Johanus H. That’s exactly right, Matt! IT shows a special kind of personality to say, “Here it is, but no-one can actually have it.”
Johanus H. Especially if we’re willing to pay something for it.
Stephen H. Not going to even try. As much as I do (do) like Christoph, I think this is kind of beneath him, but,this stuff has waited generations to be read. Its out there, available to posterity, if not me.
Mattias A. N. I cannot believe this.
Nelson McG. im no lawyer, but I doubt there would be much point in sueing an international for what is essentially internet piracy
Bill C. Even assuming a successful suit (in the USA for argument’s sake), what losses or damages could he recover when the pdf transcription and translation was ostensibly advertised as ‘free?’ Edit- ah, seems USA has some statutory damages.
Matthew B. I’m all for sharing, but honestly, if he has taken the time to translate such a text (which is by no means an easy task, which I’m sure you know), it’s his choice. I understand that it is frustrating, but he has that right to protect his intellectual property.
Mattias A. N. Yes, and charge a fee for it. But he is just denying everyone that does not happen to be born in the US … Well, we can play the nationalist game too.
Dragos M. nobody wins from that…
Bill C. The correct response to petulant grandstanding is a measured, generous, adult response. If the community can procure a separate copy and release it openly for free, that would make a far more important statement than going tit for tat. You know, ‘when they go low, we go high.’
James E. pardon my scots vernacular, but fuck me, this cunt’s a right cunt.
Andrew Ian MacD. Wow. Public-domain treatises being hoarded by one lone asshat with sketchy intentions, and only lets certain questionably-approved people view them… When did we return to the early 2000’s?
Javier Andrés C. B. This is sad. But at least you are fighting the good fight. Historical sources should be availeable for everyone. If not we couldn’t be practicing here in Chile. HEMA should spread. … Also maybe you could filter the material over the internet. Piratebay style. None have power there XD
Tea K. Legally he certainly can be crappy. But we also have every right to call him an asshole for doing it. And it’s not even clear that he *does* have the exclusive rights he’s trying to exercise, at least when it comes to the original treatise in question (obviously his own translation is another matter). Sharing of source material is the cornerstone which has allowed HEMA to grow so effectively. People compromising that for petty political partisanship must be rejected.
Mishaël Lopes C. Mr Doushe is a bit right. But Torsten and Matt Galas are more right . In the big picture its ludicrous. And threatening Matt Galas with legal sanctions feels to me as smart as black mailing Al Capone. Looking at his page I only see people in white, jumproping with steel wire. And a grumpy face that clearly didn’t get laid in months. So if u are reading this. I don’t know you, but your attitude sucks ass and is killing for HEMA. Threats however are always fascinating. Like lawyer threats always arrive in your mail box, but biker threats just come straight through the front door. Wha’? Biker threats? Front door? Doushe? What does that even mean??? Drunk that early in the morning? Hitting’ the wacky weed a it too much? Keep braiding yer long and curlies, dude.
But here’s my grumpy face, or, as I call it, my morning resting bitch face:
So here you go. You witnessed yet another cruel HEMA-targeted April Fool’s joke, courtesy of FencingClassics.
And here you go again: This is the Alchemia in all its glory—free access to all, unlimited by evil U.S. presidents and American conservatives, free to carpet-baggers of all colors, creeds, and nationalities! (Click on the picture below for the .pdf! No, really, I promise, this is IT!)
For everyone who got their tail feathers ruffled: Nix für ungut and it was all in good fun. For those feeling hurt in the nether regions, President Trump has the following message: