At the January 17, 2015 Board of Directors meeting in Milpitas, CA, the Board voted against revising Corpora to establish a rapier peerage. The Board also voted to delete wording that labeled rapier as an ancillary activity of the SCA and replace it with wording that unambiguously established rattan as the only permitted weapons in a Royal List. The ramifications of the two votes has generated quite a bit of discussion on social media about a number of things, but the Board did not make any decisions concerning anything at all except turning down the rapier peerage proposal and adding a statement that Royal Lists may only be fought with rattan weapons. This letter is intended by the Board to respond to the most prevalent rumors circulating in response to the Board actions of Saturday.
The Board Votes.
The Board was split on the question of the rapier peerage. Three directors voted to approve the Corpora changes and the resulting establishment of a rapier peerage because they believe that while rapier should really be recognized by the Chivalry, trying to force inclusion in the Chivalry by Board fiat would not work, and they were willing to vote yes on the proposal as a good compromise. Two directors felt rapier should be recognized as part of a peerage that recognizes all non-rattan martial arts and not a separate peerage. Two directors believed rapier should be recognized in the Chivalry. So, with a 4-3 vote against the proposed Corpora changes, which would have established a separate rapier peerage, no change will take place at this time.
The only other action the Board took concerning rapier in the SCA was removing language dating from 1979 saying that rapier was an “ancillary” activity of the SCA and, to make it clear that we are not discarding the traditions of Crown Tourney, the Board then made it very clear that only rattan combat may be used in a Royal list. This change to Corpora received the unanimous approval of the Board.
Response to Social Media Discussions.
First, the Board received commentary from less than 2% of the membership over the entire 3 years and all requests for comments on the rapier peerage issue. Many people wrote in more than once, but repeating an opinion doesn’t count as a separate opinion. However, it was not the lack of commentary that influenced some Board members to vote against the proposal; it was the fact that the small amount of commentary the Board did receive trended against a separate rapier peerage. The majority of comments received in favor of recognizing rapier with a peerage said that rapier should either be included in the Order of the Chivalry or in a new peerage that included all non-rattan combat. The result of such a relatively small number of people commenting is that the opinions the Board did receive were given greater weight – if a larger number of those who supported the separate rapier peerage had commented, a different result might very well have resulted. There’s no way to know that for sure, but it underscores the importance of writing in to let the Board know your opinions about proposed changes to Corpora.
Second, the Board did not open the Order of the Chivalry to inclusion of rapier fighters. There is a 1999 policy interpretation from the Society Seneschal (upheld by the Board at that time) specifically stating that the Order of the Chivalry is intended for rattan combatants only. It would take a new policy interpretation (which would need to be upheld by the current Board) or other Board action to change that fact. The Board’s intention in removing the “ancillary activity” language had nothing to do with making rapier knights. The Board removed the “ancillary activity” language because it was simply no longer accurate or true. It may have been true long ago when it was added to Corpora, but times have definitely changed. Rapier has permeated the fabric of the Society, and the Board felt that the language needed to be removed. However, in order to clarify that we weren’t changing the rules regarding Crown Tourneys by the deletion of the “ancillary activity” language, the Board added language restricting Crown Tourneys to rattan weapons.
The Board discussed removal of the “ancillary activity” language months ago and sent it out for comment at the same time as the additional peerage language. We understand that some people are unhappy the various changes weren’t put out in separate announcements, but it never occurred to us to send out multiple announcements on the same general subject at the same time. The Board received commentary on that section, as well as the rapier peerage sections, and we can’t recall any comments that disagreed with the deletion.
People will always understand what they read through the filter of their own opinions and biases, and the fact that some have made certain interpretations and raised them on social media does not make those interpretations factual. Also, a strongly expressed opinion by one or two Board members does not constitute the opinion of the entire Board of Directors of the SCA, so any assumptions made based on one or two such opinions are also not based in fact. It takes a vote of 5 out of 7 directors to make changes to Corpora, individual director opinions notwithstanding. Any official opinion of the Board of Directors will always be labeled as such, will always come through the approved communication channels and will always be posted on the corporate web site.
We welcome your comments which can be sent to: SCA, Inc. Box 360789 Milpitas, CA 95036. You may also email firstname.lastname@example.org.