In the comments section of Don’t Tread On Me, Randy asks:
Have you ever heard a man say, “I’m offended”?
Of course, I haven’t, but after replying I realized that there was, in fact, a class of men who would make it known that they had been offended and would not rest until someone had paid for it. They were known as gentlemen.
Gentlemen had something called honor, and a gentleman’s honor had to be defended at all costs. From medieval times, a European gentleman defended his honor by challenging the offender to a duel. According to Wikipedia:
The traditional situation that led to a duel often went something like this. After the offense, whether real or imagined, one party would demand satisfaction from the offender, signaling this demand with an inescapably insulting gesture, such as throwing his glove before him, hence the phrase “throwing down the gauntlet…”
Those engaging in duels could use either swords or pistols, but the goal was often:
not so much to kill your opponent but to gain “satisfaction,” that is, to restore one’s honour by demonstrating a willingness to risk one’s life for it.
The challenger to a duel could decide whether the duel would be fought to “first blood” or to death – or something in between. In a pistol duel, the challenger could decide that his honor had been satisfied even if no one actually got shot.
In other words, it was all for show. Countless men have died doing this. And even though the practice is generally outlawed in the world today, men still challenge each other to duels, most notably in Latin America, according to Wikipedia. Some US states still have no statutes expressly prohibiting duels.
The notion that honor was reserved for gentlemen is one of those social artifacts people smile at and consider quaint. Today we are all equals, at least in some places, and hence we all have unassailable honor. A person who declares “I am offended,” has been robbed, and you are obligated to give them satisfaction. That way everything will be smooth and even the way it was before.
We are all gentlemen now.