11 December 2012

Manly Honor - Southern, Northern & Modern Views

Blogger Brett McKay has written an excellent series on Manly Honor. Moderns often poo-poo the concept preferring relativism over what they view as an "outdated" concept. This despite the fact that they are still - knowningly or not - influenced by the ancient concept of honor - when it works to their advantage (relativism). Here's an excerpt from McKay's latest installment:

Yet, a shadow of honor in its most basic form – bravery for men, chastity for women – continues to linger on. “If you doubt it,” Bowman writes, ”try calling a man a wimp, or a woman a slut.” And you can’t reverse that either; men will generally shrug if you call them a slut (tellingly, there still really isn’t a popular derogatory word for a man who sleeps around), and women won’t usually be offended if called a wimp . . . Take the case of Sandra Fluke. When Rush Limbaugh called her a slut in February, his comments provoked widespread outrage…and then the wave crested and went away as quickly as it had risen. In a traditional honor culture, Fluke’s father would have challenged Rush to a duel (now that is something I would have paid to watch) in order to defend her honor and to resolve the scandal in a clear and definitive way. The interesting thing about the Fluke affair is that at the same time she advanced a liberal, progressive cause, she appealed to the ethics of traditional honor. That she considered being called a slut the basest of insults, and that she appreciated President Obama for standing up for her and essentially defending her honor, directly harkened back to an ancient culture of honor. It was an interesting juxtaposition.
The concept of honor can still be found "lingering" in our legal system as well - don't laugh. For example, when I served as a Magistrate for the Commonwealth of Virginia, I was intrigued to find out that it was still a misdemeanor in Virginia to impugn a woman's "virtue and chastity." At the time, my supervisor was an attorney and graduate of Washington & Lee law school. He explained to me that the history and intent of the statute assumed that female virtue was so important to the well-being of the Commonwealth, that it was "assumed" that all females within its borders were chaste. Suggesting otherwise - without conclusive proof - would contribute to the collapse of Virginia's moral foundations. Though the law falls under the general heading of slander and libel and pertains to impugning the character of men as well, its emphasis concerned the virtue of the fairer sex. The law remains in the Virginia Code today:

§ 18.2-417. Slander and libel.
Any person who shall falsely utter and speak, or falsely write and publish, of and concerning any female of chaste character, any words derogatory of such female's character for virtue and chastity, or imputing to such female acts not virtuous and chaste, or who shall falsely utter and speak, or falsely write and publish, of and concerning another person, any words which from their usual construction and common acceptation are construed as insults and tend to violence and breach of the peace or shall use grossly insulting language to any female of good character or reputation, shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.
The defendant shall be entitled to prove upon trial in mitigation of the punishment, the provocation which induced the libelous or slanderous words, or any other fact or circumstance tending to disprove malice, or lessen the criminality of the offense.
In a couple of the previous installments, McKay discussed the Northern & Southern concepts of honor. Here's how he introduced the his essay about Southern honor:

In our last post about the history of honor, we took a look at how honor manifested itself in the American North around the time of the Civil War. Yet when most folks think about honor in the States, both then and now, what first comes to mind is invariably the South. There’s a reason for that. While honor in the North evolved during the 19th century away from the ideals of primal honor and towards a private, personal quality synonymous with “integrity,” the South held onto the tenets of traditional honor for a much longer period of time. Unlike the Northern code of honor, which emphasized emotional restraint, moral piety, and economic success, the Southern honor code in many ways paralleled the medieval honor code of Europe — combining the reflexive, violent honor of primitive man with the public virtue and chivalry of knights.

The whole series is worthwhile and I recommend it to readers.


Anonymous said...

great article, but Sandra Fluke is still a slut - lol.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Anon - thanks for the comment, though I'd prefer not to use that term for Miss Fluke. It's not "gentlemanly." A woman of "ill-repute" would be the preferable term to use, if in fact she meets the criteria. I typically do not follow such nonsense and don't really know if Miss Fluke was arguing for the "rights" of women in general, or for her own lifestyle choices. If Miss Fluke wishes to exercise her freedom, then that's her choice. Just don't ask me to pay for it nor bear the consequences for her choices.