So as most everyone who's remotely connected to the SCA rapier community knows, yesterday the Board of Directors voted on whether to institute a peerage for rapier prowess, and it was voted down.
Okay, that was disappointing in the extreme, and more than a little surprising - I'd honestly thought that it had a really good chance of passing. Then things got weird.
Instead of repeating what other people who were present said, I'll just link to the two reports from folks in the audience; this was posted by Eyrny publicly to her Facebook page (there's a full description in the comments), and this was posted by Illadore to the SCA Facebook group.
Yeah, that's a thing. Additionally, individual members of the BoD have publicly posted to their personal Facebook pages, notably Ailgheanan.
After all this I'm left with a whole lot of feelings, most of them conflicted.
The people behind the Additional Peerage committee devoted countless hours, effort, brainpower, thought, and emotion into that work. They deserve our thanks for all this, because regardless of whatever else happens, what they were specifically working for failed. Besides those individuals, so many more people had a whole lot invested in that as well, and seeing the news about the downvote was a huge letdown.
That said... what happens now?
Based on the information from the discussions at the meeting itself, as well as a member of the Board, as well as a perceived tendency to allow decisions like this to be made at a Kingdom level, we can draw some pretty clear conclusions as to their intent. That said, I really wish we could get an official statement from them as to their specific intent. In some ways, I think this was the cheap and easy way out for them - they don't need to actively change anything in Corpora, but just sort of say, "Well, wait, you could really do this all along!" That feels like they're avoiding taking a strong stance for what it seems like they're saying, which is really sending a mixed message. They went out of their way to remove the language noting rapier as an "ancillary activity" in the SCA (good!) and to specify that Crown Tournaments must only be fought with rattan, but they couldn't take the last step and state in plain language what they really want to cause to occur?
Still though, this looks like it could be a possibility for a big step forward. Based on talking to folks in person, and reading a whole lot of social media, it doesn't seem like there's a huge amount of people against this? I'm not trying to imply that it's unopposed, certainly, but I haven't seen or heard any truly vehement opposition. I have though, seen and heard a pretty good amount of folks who are neutral, cautiously for it, or absolutely desirous of rapier being included in the Chivalry.
There are probably going to be lots of discussions in the next few weeks. If - if - any decisions are made to go forward on this, it's going to be hard. There'll need to be a lot of work on each side. Will the Chivalry need to change? Almost by definition. Will the rapier folks need to accept that the Chivalry has decades old traditions to which we'd need to adapt? Assuredly. What I think is most important is that when we have these discussions, to not assume you know what the stance of the person in the other group is before you hear it, and to hear it out, and actually talk about it. Maybe there are irreconcilable differences. Maybe not, I don't know, but if we just fly off into a pile of assumptions, then for sure nothing will be accomplished.
Part of the stated reason this happened was that so many people - from all groups in this debate - said, "Well, in a perfect world, rapier should be part of the Chivalry. That won't happen, so..." Well, now we have the chance to maybe, possibly, actually get a little closer to that perfect world. It'd be a shame, I think, if we didn't honestly try. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work, but we have a chance to see.
So, I guess, we'll see? Interesting times.