By Christian Lee | Alamocityguards.com

Your division reunion is swiftly approaching. You’re excited to meet other compatriots and make new connections. You read someone wants to amend the constitution to add a bylaw that restricts your rights which you fervently oppose. You only have one camp meeting between then and when the proposition makes its way to the floor for a vote. What do you do? You take to social media.

Begin meaningful discussion with your camp about the amendment. Use social media as a tool to network and connect with other division camps and compatriots. This way you can reach more delegates and help them understand the wording and implications of the amendment.

I received my copy of the TexDiv Reporter and there was a proposed amendment, new section to article four regarding social media. It began by basically reiterating Texas Division Amendment 4.6.1 (which gives your camp its autonomy) followed by restrictions on how you must govern your camp and how you interact on social media.

Knowing full well that it isn’t consistent with any superseding governing document, I’ve prepared an assessment to help you and your delegates navigate the nuances of the proposed new section to Article 4.

ASSESSMENT: The Amendment is not consistent with Sons of Confederate Veterans National Constitution, Texas Division Constitution, Camp Procedural Manual nor Standing Orders. It is in clear violation of all governing documents. The camp’s rights to govern itself and its affairs, freedom of speech and of the press, while costing an exorbitant amount of money to accomplish. Our current Constitution already establishes our rights and should remain unaltered.

Bylaw 4.7 Social Media places limitations which infringe upon the rights of all SCV members in good standing within the Texas Division. Even though many camps do not participate in social media, let alone have a website, everyone would be required to adhere to Hood’s Texas Brigade Camp 153’s governing guidelines which are arbitrary to the operation of any camp except their own.

Reasoning: The Will of the Camp is Sovereign.

(National) 4.6. Administration. All Camps shall have the full enjoyment of the right to govern themselves, provided that they shall be subject to this Constitution and the Standing Orders of the Confederation. Each Camp shall be the judge of its own members, subject to the provisions of this Constitution and Standing Orders. By accepting a charter a Camp acknowledges irrevocable jurisdiction and declares itself to be in all things subject to the Constitution and the Standing Orders of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Division under which it is organized, if any, and the rules, regulations, orders and laws promulgated in pursuance thereof, and further, the said Camp pledges itself, through its members, to uphold the principles of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and to assist in the accomplishment of the praiseworthy objects and purposes of the Confederation.

It’s important to know that Facebook and similar social media pages are not yours. Those businesses (Social Media Companies) own your page. Anyone, including non-members have access to posting politically charged comments on camp pages. Since we cannot stop political discussion in their realm, our recruits already pledged to uphold the principles of the SCV upon becoming a member. It is at the discretion of the camp commander to determine whether an offense has been made and his choice alone to impose discipline.

(National) 4.5.1. The Commander shall be the principal officer of the Camp. He shall be the president of all meetings of the Camp and the Camp’s Executive Committee. He shall have those duties of administration and supervision usually incumbent upon the office. The Commander shall perform such other duties as may, from time to time, be prescribed by the Camp.

Who is going to police every single camp’s social media? Who will be our Fact Checkers? Who will determine what is fake news? Who is going to write the handbook on SCV Social Media Community Standards? Who is going to head the committee? Who’s going to police the police? I would expect to have a neutral, 3rd party with comprehensive guidelines of what is or is not acceptable for Texas Division SCV members to post online. According to ziprecruiter.com the salary of an Online Content Moderator averages $20 to $80k a year and we’re looking at the higher end considering all the camps in the division and all the platforms they moderate.

The alternative is giving SCV social media vigilantes a license to circumvent camp autonomy, act on behalf of another camp’s commander at their discretion. In other words, this bylaw would allow camps to bring charges against other camps and their members if they disagree with how another camp chooses to govern itself, specifically online. Meaning not only must we be wary about our opposition, now we must be wary of our own compatriots forming online lynch mobs in the guise of “keeping you and the SCV safe.”

(Texas Division) 6.4.1.2 The Division Commander has full responsibility and power to enforce the provisions of the Division Constitution, the will of the Division Convention, and the decisions and orders of the Division Executive Council, and to this effect he may issue all necessary orders that concur with this Constitution, the General Constitution, the SCV Standing Orders, and are in accordance with the laws of Texas, the rules of the IRS, and the current Robert’s Rules of Orders.

(Texas Division) 13.2 Standing: Camps, being the judges of their own Compatriots, may impose discipline upon their own Compatriots in accordance with the provisions as set forth in the Division and General Constitutions. Complaints proffered by a Camp to the Division must be against one of its own Compatriots. The Division Executive Council or Division Convention may proffer charges against any Texas Division Compatriot. Charges may not be proffered by any individual.

Will these SCV social media vigilantes target camps who publicly advocate for/against a proposition, amendment, resolution or candidate (within our own organization) on social media? A camp publicly states they oppose a candidate they deem unqualified for office then engages in meaningful conversation with other division delegates on the matter. Will the SCV Social Media Gestapo round up their candidate’s opposition to censure, suspend or expel them from the organization? Just writing this would make me Enemy Number One!

The rationale presented for restricting your rights is someone said something, and it hurt someone’s feelings and the offender went unpunished. This way if someone says something disagreeable anyone can proffer charges against anyone even superseding due process of another camp and Division Executive Committee.

Yourdictionary.com says “Disparage is defined as to belittle or discredit someone or something.” An example of disparagement is telling a musician they don’t know how to play their instrument. Explaining why a compatriot is unqualified to hold an office within our organization is disparaging though not illegal. Nor should meaningful conversation be labeled conduct unbecoming or potentially injurious to the good operation and representation of the Texas Division and the Sons of Confederate Veterans when the meaningful conversation is meant to prevent such.

Should a candidate become offended with the reasons a delegate finds him unqualified to serve in an official position, it doesn’t make a comment slander. (Slander is the legal term used to describe false statements made by one party against another.) If a candidate linked to a coup or insurrection within our organization was running for office, I would want to know. I would want my camp to know. It’s our duty to educate our delegates with who and what we’re dealing with.

(National) 3.1.2. Each Camp shall be the judge of its own members, subject to the restrictions of this Constitution and the Standing Orders, and each Camp shall be further charged with the responsibility of making the principal determination of an applicant’s character, temperament, and qualifications for membership.

Proposed No Discussion of Finances? Not only would this prevent us from posting fundraisers with a meter to let our donors know how close we are to a goal, by law, a nonprofit 501c3 must make public its annual return for up to 3 years. The reality is, even if it is our opposition requesting it, it must be provided. Texas Division Tax Year 2016-2020 Form 990 EZ can be found at irs.gov “Open to Public Inspection” meaning anyone can get a copy of our financials and distribute them online. If malicious actors were going to do so, they would have done so a long time ago. The Tax Return also lists Officers, Directors, Trustees and Key Employees and hours per week they’ve devoted to the position.

Bringing up the data breach reported in 2021 of data from 2017, is a fear-mongering tool to make camps give up their camp rights so those who don’t know any better can feel safe. It’s the same narrative as ‘Ban guns because guns kill people,’ or ‘Ban spoons because spoons made me fat.’ Rest assured, all the same data that was hacked was already on the internet somewhere being exploited by data brokers and the majority of that data we put there willingly. By agreeing to the social media companies Terms of Service, we’ve unwittingly, already given them our data to do with as they please. To scrub such data from the internet would require hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per compatriot. Much more to scrub data of an entire organization.

Now, if a camp determines it wants to post minutes and financials, that is its sovereign right. Transparency is the way a nonprofit builds trust. As a nonprofit being transparent pays. By building trust within your community your support grows. And since we depend on public donations, trust goes a long way.

Let’s say Mississippi imposed this bylaw. The Rankin Grey’s Camp 2278 live streams their meetings from start to finish where they discuss internal business, finances, minutes of camp meetings, lectures and all, making them in breach of this proposed bylaw. As our Constitution stands unaltered, it is the Constitutional right of their camp to operate as they see fit. To punish them would be absurd and unreasonable when such transparency increases recruitment.

Proposed No Discussion of Religious topics? Since we cannot stop religious discussion in their realm, our recruits already pledged to uphold the principles of the SCV upon becoming a member. It is at the discretion of the camp commander to determine whether an offense has been made and his choice alone to impose discipline. Alamo City Guards Surgeon Edwin Walker wears a Bindi and sacred ash on his forehead as a practicing Hindu. When his picture is posted to camp social media, compatriots across the confederation get inquisitive and this leads to some religious discussion. This bylaw implies that images of camp surgeon Walker posted to social media that require a response about “the red dot on his forehead” would lead to ramifications for him not even proffered by his Commander.

We are charged with the defense of Southern Heritage. That doesn’t mean just from public servants, it also includes defending it from those who would pervert that trust within our own organization. This seems like a costly waste of time and resources when we should be focused on real, tangible Heritage Defense.

It is my recommendation that this proposed bylaw amendment be voted down due to the extravagant expense of hiring a neutral, 3rd party social media moderation firm, that it would lead to the usurping of Camp and Division Executive responsibilities by self-appointed social media vigilantes, for its Constitutional inconsistencies and infringement upon Camp’s Rights.

Compatriot Christian Lee is the Commander of the Alamo City Guards Camp 1325. He is an award winning actor, author, publisher, producer and historian.

FURTHER READING:

TEXDIV REPORTER- https://scvtexas.org/files/documents/61e01956-44d3-4616-be03-cfa28f7bb68f.pdf
SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS NATIONAL CONSTITUTION- https://scv.org/forms-and-documents/scv-constitution/
SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS TEXAS DIVISION CONSTITUTION- https://www.dropbox.com/s/obvpzlnmq1w4nbx/Current_TX%20Constition.pdf?dl=0
SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS STANDING ORDERS- https://scv.org/forms-and-documents/scv-standing-orders/
SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS CAMP PROCEDURAL MANUAL- https://docs.google.com/viewerng/viewer?url=https://scv.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Camp-Handbook-2020.pdf&hl=en