If there are sane/smart ways to change our back compat policy, I think you have seen that no one would object.
It's not a matter of finding a smart way. It is a matter of sacrifice that has to be made and readiness to take the blame for decision that can be unpopular with someone.
You go zealously for back-compat - you sacrifice readability/maintainability of your code but free users from any troubles when they want to 'simply upgrade'. You adopt more relaxed policy - you sacrifice users' time, but in return you gain cleaner codebase and new stuff can be written and used faster.
There's no way to ride two horses at once.
Some people are comfortable with current policies. Few cringe when they hear things like above. Most theoretically want to relax the rules. Nobody's ready to give up something for it.
Okay, there's an escape hatch I (and someone else) mentioned on the list before. Adopting a fixed release cycle with small intervals between releases (compared to what we have now). Fixed - as in, releases are made each N months instead of when everyone feels they finished and polished up all their pet projects and there's nothing else exciting to do. That way we can keep the current policy, but deletion-through-deprecation approach will work, at last!
This solution is halfassed, I can already see discussions like "That was a big change, let's keep the deprecates around longer, say - for a couple of releases.", it doesn't solve good-name-thrashing problem, as you have to go through two rounds of deprecation to change semantics on something, but keep the name.
But this is something better than what we have now, a-a-and this is something that needs commiter backing.
Thats a great indication to me that the issue is not simple.
The issue is simple, the choice is not. And maintaining status quo is free.
Giving up is really not the answer though
It is the answer. I have no moral right to hammer my ideals into heads that did tremendously more for the project, than I did. And maintaining a patch queue over Lucene trunk is not 'that' hard.