This is strictly SCA related.
Feedback on the proposed laws regarding “Symbols of Rank” has been requested. I have drafted and sent a letter to the feedback email address listed on the FAQ page. The letter, in its entirety is below, and it free and open to the populace to read and consider.

If you have an opinion on the proposed changes to Kingdom law regarding symbols of rank, I urge you to consider submitting your feedback, but it is vital that you do so with respect and courtesy.

Greetings unto Your August Majesties, Michael and Seonaid:

I am writing in response to the request for commentary on the proposed changes to §§ 13.2 and 13.3 et seq. of the Great Book of Law.

I would like to begin by saying that while I am impacted by the proposed changes, I do not find myself particularly outraged or passionate about the matter, and I have no strong emotional response to the proposed changes.

That being said, for the following reasons, I do not support the majority of the proposed changes.

A. The Laws Create More Problems Than They Are Intended To Solve

As I understand it, the main problem needing to be solved is that there are so many gentles walking around wearing symbols of rank or regalia that new members of the Society are have difficulty distinguishing between the ranks and understanding precedence.

It seems to me that this is more of a problem of education than of regalia. It should fall on us, the longer serving members of the Society, to reach out to those who might be confused and introduce them to the finer points of regalia and heraldic displays. This would not only engage newcomers in discussion and allow them to feel more included, but would educate them and could even provide the opportunity to change the culture regarding regalia as the Society goes forward.

There are a number of problems that these proposed changes will create. First, there is the issue of enforcement. The College of Heralds is being asked to enforce this, but many of them are Baronage of the Court themselves, and none that I have spoken to support the changes. If the changes go into effect, the end result will be one of two things: either they will be ignored and unenforced altogether, making this entire discussion moot, or they will end up somehow being enforced, but the nature of the Society is such that enforcement will be uneven; some people will be called out, others will not, and inevitably, drama will ensue. The creation of drama where there was none does not serve the Society’s best interests.

Second is the issue of the grandfathered symbols of rank. People will still wear their grandfathered symbols of rank and coronets made before these laws will be passed. Further, “legacy pieces” will be gifted to newly created Court Baronage, and so the non-compliant coronets are not going to disappear. What you will have will be a second “tier” of Court Baronage whose coronets might fall in line with the proposed laws, but it still does not fix the stated problem of “Symbols of rank serve two purposes: 1) a mark of distinction for the bearer of certain achievements, and 2) the easy recognition of those achievements, particularly by newcomers to the Society.” (Emphasis mine) We will still have to fall back on the education issue I brought up above.

B. The Proposed Changes Lack Popular Support

Whether a law is popular or not is not a benchmark of its overall worth. In this case, however, I am not hearing, in general, any popular support for the proposed changes. When a law does not serve to correct a serious problem, and it does not enjoy at least some popular support from the Populace at large, then it is doomed to failure, either in being ignored and unenforced, or being enforced on people already unhappy with the laws and creating drama.

Further, in lacking popular support, it is highly likely that sometime in the future, a new King will be crowned who is opposed to the laws and will either repeal them or try to “fix” them to make them more palatable.

C. A Particular Group Appears to be Targeted

Whether it is actually the case or not, it appears that Court Baronage are particularly singled out by the restrictions. Checking the Atlantian Order of Precedence, I can see that as of May 20th, 2011, there are 471 award recipients. That is a huge number, but as I see it, we should count ourselves lucky to have so many people who have served their Kingdom so dutifully and for long enough to have earned such recognition. I do not believe that more people wearing beautiful and medieval regalia denigrates or cheapens the rank, honor, or achievements of anyone else.

In summary, I see these proposed changes as being generally unnecessary. The stated purpose for the proposed changes, as stated on the FAQ page, states:

Symbols of rank for awards and Orders have existed in the SCA for a long time. They encompass more than just coronets. Examples include white belts for Knights or embattled coronets for Counts/Countesses. Some kingdoms go so far as to regulate cloaks, collars of state, chains, spurs, medallion hangers, banners, and on and on. We have chosen to be less restrictive, while still providing a basic set of guidelines that follow our Kingdom traditions.

Just because other kingdoms have enacted very specific regulations and standards for regalia is not a good reason for Atlantia to regulate symbols of rank, however less restrictive those regulations might be. If the purpose is really to make things less confusing for newer members, then I do not believe a law is needed when simple education and communication would be more effective and beneficial to the Society and its newcomers as a whole. The proposed changes already have and will continue to cause distress and mistrust among the populace.

During my tenure as Baroness of Caer Mear, the question I would ask myself before attempting any significant change of policy or tradition within the Barony was “How does this benefit the Barony and its People?” I believe the same question has to be asked in this case. How do the proposed changes benefit the Kingdom and its Populace? Do the overall positives outweigh the negatives?

That is for You, Your Majesties, to decide.

In fealty and respect, I remain,
Mistress Melisent la Rusé, OP


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