“We Are All Gentlemen,” by Alpha Unit

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.

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2 thoughts on ““We Are All Gentlemen,” by Alpha Unit”

  1. i like duels a lot. i have definitely read that Wiki entry on dueling.

    i’ve often wondered if bringing back duels would fix some of the gangsta shooting bullshit. i doubt it, but it couldn’t hurt. i think you’d have to legalize drugs (to take the money out of it) and provide a legitimate social net for people who can’t get jobs…maybe with some extra reward for people who voluntarily get their tubes tied/vasectomy.

  2. That version of ‘honour’ (as we Brits spell it) is just a posh version of ‘respect’, once a fashion with the posh version of punk street thugs. Real honour of course is being bound by your word, fighting the good fight, not bullying women, the disabled etc, standing up for your beliefs and right and wrong against all adversity… not much of that about anymore.

    IF you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

    If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    ‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
    if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

    (IF, by Rudyard Kipling)

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