For a long time, I have had the category 'A Punch in the Nose'. I use this blog category to virtually slap around some idea or activity that I find distasteful, immoral or stupid. But it has deeper associations for me.
I happen to be one of those people who firmly believes that a certain amount of chivalry is necessary. By chivalry, I mean a code of honor among free men that allows them to adjudicate matters of dispute independently of institutions of law. The aim is not to counter the law, but to uphold its spirit without enduring its tedium and expense.
Americans remain fascinated by television shows that dramatize small claims courts. I've watched a few episodes of Judge Judy and Judge Joe Black and I sense that the intended audiences are to bring their own judgments into sharper relief. Watching is an ethical exercise. We all judge. Do we judge well?
If a society is to have liberty then there must be balance between the freedom of the individual and the oversight of the republic. I sometimes question whether American society is sufficiently grounded, on the whole, with the proper amount of good sense to uphold a reasonable common law in the breach of official enforcement. It is not that I think we are essentially too barbarian. On the contrary, I think we have accepted too much policing and lawyering, and having done so atrophied our native civil abilities. Because of this long held belief on my part, I have always been of the opnion that a punch in the nose is better than a lawsuit. If I would have my way, the blood in the streets of America would come more from fists than from billy clubs.
I readily admit that it is a complicated matter. Between the extremes of Hobbes and Rousseau, I can be a bit confused. Let me go back...
For your edification, I grew up in what I would call a 'knuckle-up' neighborhood. One in which bicycles were abused in the manner that give birth to what we now call 'extreme sports'. There was a certain amount of violent action in several dimensions of life that we no longer find socially acceptable, for one simple example, roller derby. My theory is that the suppression of this acceptable level of violence and action has changed our patterns of dealing with risk. IE people who feel safe because they wear helmets might drive faster, or having eliminated risk in one area of activity balance it out with a completely new risky activity. My own one-off experience says that people who grew up with Tom Sawyer's expectation of and experience with fistfights doesn't generally need to go rock-climbing for adventure. And my own slightly biased opinion is that people trade sex for violence - which is to say we have traded away a society where arguments could be settled with a chivalric punch in the nose instead have one in which the most childish disputes engage attorneys.
If it can be said that I prefer a masculine society, then I must agree.