Meditations on civility

When the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution of the United States, dueling was an accepted and honourable fact of life, in fact, three of our Founding Fathers met their deaths in duels.

Insults, mockery, verbal abuse — all and more were accepted grounds for an issuance of an invitation to a morning round of “Pistols for two; coffee for one”.

When the First Amendment Freedom of Speech was added to the Constitution, it was as the first of the Bill of Rights — controls upon the government. The government would not be allowed to abridge the right of free men to speak their minds.

At the time it was abundantly clear that — through the mechanism of dueling — society would provide a check upon the abuses of Freedom of Speech by way of dueling.

In simpler language, if a citizen were to use their guaranteed right to Freedom of Speech to insult, abuse, denigrate, mock, harass or distress another — then sooner or later that citizen was going to get the stupid beaten out of him with a cane, bleed out on a Vidalia sandbar from multiple knife wounds, wind up skewered on the end of a sword, or simply have a large percentage of their vital bits blown out through their spines by way of a heavy-calibre pistol ball.

In the America of the Founding Fathers you were polite and courteous, or you got your butt killed in a duel.

Which worked remarkably well, up until we decided that we was civilized and did away with the barbarity of the duel.

Probably not a bad idea — except that we never came up with a replacement for the check on incivility that the duel gave society as a whole. We left the right to speak your mind, but we took away any deterrent to being a jackass about it.

As I read that the Supreme Court has decided to take up the Phelps case I can’t help but note that the same Founding Fathers that enumerated Fred Phelps’ right to speak his mind … would have killed him graveyard dead for using the First Amendment the way he has. And no-one would have thought ill of the killing.

Not sure we’ve improved our lot, truth be told.


Political bingo
Wait a minute ...

66 thoughts on “Meditations on civility”

  1. I don't could be. I will say this though. If someone were to wipe Phelps off the face of the planet..along with most of his kin that are in it with him..I think I'd buy that person a beer.

  2. I agree.

    That said, you state it was a good idea that the duels ended, but what would be the replacement?

    I will say that I am glad that blood does not run due to the folly of youth as much as it once did. I would hear your thoughts on the remedy though if you may.

  3. I should clarify that by "youth", I mean that recent generations have not been taught how to interact with people and are handicapped if went back to the founding fathers' practices and understanding.

  4. I think the ablition of duelling was about the most uncivilized act ever perpetrated in America.

    In the Founders' days, you simply DID NOT disrespect another man. If you called him a liar, or grabbed his wife's butt, you took the chance of having to answer for your words or actions with your life.

    These days, the only time you take your life in your hands as a consequence of disrespectful behavior is when you associate with street thugs. The irony that gangbangers–at least in a pale imitation of days gone by–understand the natural consequences of uncivilized behavior, while supposedly civilized people do not, does not escape me. 🙁

  5. RAH had it 100% right.

    "An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life."

  6. I am amazed that someone has not yet stepped up and taught some of those a$$holes some manners. Where I came from behavior of that kind would long ago have resulted in massive and very serious injuries. And no one would have seen a thing. A cousin of mine was a very nasty jerk. Very, very nasty. About ten years ago it all came to a head and he was beaten to death in a bar fight. The winner was tried, found guilty and sentenced to six months unsupervised probation. It was several months before the poor guy could buy himself a glass of beer.

    Gerry N.

  7. If I may leave an observation, people?

    In my growing years (elementary and high school), I eventually made the observation that the ill-behaved kids almost always tended to have parents that were hardly much better. When I passed on these observations to my Grandmother (who, by the way, had grown up during the Great Depression), she stated that when a mother and father BOTH fail to set a good example for a child, that child is not going to do any better. Grandma then gave me a hug and said how proud she was that I could make such a mature, sensible observation (or something like that). It was a pretty sobering moment – for me, at least.
    Gentle souls, remember these words, for you will probably see them again: Civility and good manners start at home, and they start with Mom and Dad setting a good example; one worthy of emulation.
    If parents don't know right from wrong, then no one should expect their offspring to know either. Nor should people be surprised when these kids end up unexpectedly and horribly dead. As our Lawdog can unfortunately attest.

  8. Gerry N.

    The Phelpses actually make their living by videotaping any assaults their actions provoke, and then sue whoever hit them into a smoking crater.

    As others have said, I wouldn't mind someone shutting them up permanently, so long as it wasn't the gub-mint that did the shutting.

  9. Incidentally, dueling isn't illegal here in Louisiana. Granted, stabbing or shooting someone still is against the law, regardless of it it's done with a G-Lock in a drive-by or with smoothbore flintlocks not more than nine inches long under the Oaks.

  10. Four years ago a colleague of mine was interested in writing a study of the Phelps "organization." His supervisor said that it was a wonderful idea, BUT that our institution could not afford all the suits Phelps et al would file if the young gentleman even acted as if he were interested in writing about the group in other than an absolutely glowing and sainted manner.


  11. Typoes. Trying again.

    The only problem with dueling being the check/balance on behavior is that it's entirely a matter of physical prowess.

    Now, I am a pretty decent shot with a pistol, had a laser shot at my face to fix the whole "crappy eyesight" thing and am young enough to have a steady hand and quick reflexes. I could wander about calling people names all day and likely come out fine.

    A person who is elderly, has bad eyes, weak wrists, slow reactions and so on basically does not have freedom of speech under that system. I guess the code of dueling would forbid people from challenging someone who was grossly inferior to a duel, but that just leaves other problems.

    With that said, two pistols, 20 paces, and I'll even give Phelps the first shot. It would be totally worth it to shut him up.

  12. It wasn't just understood this way then. At the very end of Trace Adkins' song "Fighting Words", you hear this:


    "What's that? First Amendment? Son, the first Amendment protects you from the Government, not from me."

  13. I think the answer to your objection is partly correct, but would lie more in the expectation that men of honor would not stand by and do nothing when those unable to reasonably take to the field were abused. To wit, pick on arthritic grandpa and a young buck would be asking for the name of your kin and where your corpse should be sent.

  14. Dave, smoothbore, single-shot, flintlock pistols at 10 paces (or 30 yards each, 60 yards total) is not about physical prowess.

    That's the sort of thing that, if the ball kills you, everyone (back then) figured God wanted you dead.

    It wasn't so much about trying to kill someone as it was a deterrent, there was certainly the risk of death, but that was unlikely.

    I also would support the revival of dueling laws. The local police department would officiate with their pair of short dueling flintlock pistols.

    The local PD would be in charge of finding a safe location and officiating the event. The offended party would be in charge of publicizing the event. Etc.

    I'm sure someone will object based on the offending party being more likely to require public payment of his medical bills, but I say no public medical treatment. I'm sure all that would be taken care of in the law authorizing dueling.

  15. Dave, think of the gun as the great equalizer. Bigger muscles can be made, through exercise. Fighting skill can be learned. And certainly prowess with a gun can be learned.

    But, despite the above, you're still going to have people who are bigger, stronger, faster, more intelligent than the average mope. Does this advantage then give them the right to impose their own concept of free speech onto those who are less blessed?

    Take these same folks, and put them on the trigger side of a .45 pistol, while a lesser blessed person is standing 20 yards away with an identical pistol, sharp end facing. Both with the same level of power, as it were, but perhaps now, the only inequity might be nerve.

  16. I'd say that I'm ashamed of being from the Phred's hometown, but he's been terroizing us for years. The interesting things I've found out about him (disclaimer – just my opinion, not indended as libel or defamation of character. Who knows who's reading this……)

    1) they are all life long rabid Democrats

    2) he started out as a civil rights lawyer (since disbarred) before he went plum bugF*#K crazy.

    3) they do fund everything they do by sueing or threatening to sue everyone and everybody. Oh and sending out the kids to sell candy door to door – lying about what group it's for. So that legit kid's baseball teams, etc, can't fundraise that way in this town. I only buy from kids that I know just so I don't inadvertently help the WBC nutjobs.

    4) whenever they are home, they picket my church because we won't cesure our gay members and clergy.

    5) The church is basically one family – it's (IMHO) a cult, not a church. In a "compound" – shades of other famous cult churches.

    6) They spit on my son when he was wearing his dress blues home on leave. I was on his arm that day, and his hand clamped down so hard that I had finger shaped bruises, but his face didn't even flicker. I've never been so proud of him.

    7) my late husband once had to stand on the police line between Phred's group and the local KKK nutjobs at a statehouse protest (the person who gave those two groups parade permits for the SAME DAY should be fired!). He said he felt "like I was standing in a cesspool".

    Sorry that he's our most famous export, but at least if he's THERE, he isn't HERE.

  17. Reed –

    Damn good point. Provided there are other people around to be the good guys. Bullies tend to check to make sure there are no defenders around before picking on folk though.


    The gun is the great equalizer, true. I have lost many, many marksmanship bets to quivery 70-year-old retired deputies and 80-year-old VFW members over the years, so I should know better. I guess my objection to duels would be more appropriate when it comes to sword duels or some such things, which is not what LawDog was talking about and thus I should shut my yap.

    Threadbndr –

    If anyone ever gets tossed in the clink for beating the %&*^#@$ out of them for spitting on your son in uniform, just tell me where to send my donation for bail & defense. Those that defend us should not have to defend themselves from us.

  18. A few problems with the _code duello_:

    Dave and Anon shut down the "physical prowess" argument a little too quickly. This sort of system allows someone with fast reflexes and a steady hand the right to talk smack all day long.

    How would a dueling code for the 21st century address women? Back in the day, I understand that ladies did not take place in such activities, but they also were not nearly so outspoken. Things are a little different today.

    What about the person who can't lift a pistol…the quadriplegic, the amputee, etc? Is there a check for bad behavior on the part of the invalid who is also an @$$#013?

  19. I agree, 'Dog. Of course, I'm from Tennessee. We had a feller named Andy Jackson who wasn't above defending his (or his wife's) honor.

  20. I disagree. In the founders' time, the challenged party could refuse the duel.

    The check on incivility wasn't the fear of dying, it was the fear of being put in a spot where you had to choose between risking death or, by refusing the duel, giving up your honor and reputation.

    Duelling has never had anything to do with people like Phelps, who have neither honor nor reputation nor concern over their lack.

    The period remedy for an honorless man who persists in harassing you is, I seem to recall, beating him senseless with a walking stick or horsewhip. If nothing else, anybody who dealt that way with Phelps could definitely cover his legal costs by selling tickets.

  21. I must jump in here and point out that a sword duel does not depend on "physical prowess." It does not depend on strength or speed; it depends on skill, cunning and composure.
    It is not uncommon for an elderly person with a high level of skill to beat the pants off of some young gun who thinks he's hot because he's fast.

    Being fast in a fight just means that when you make a mistake, you get killed quicker.

    I mean, of course, real swordsmanship, and not the current ridiculous fad promulgated by olympic fencing, which is more closely connected to flyfishing than to the sword.

  22. I was just reading about the practice of declining to duel with folks who "weren't gentlemen."

    So if your standing in society wasn't approximately equal you couldn't expect a challenge to be accepted.

    In a book on dueling there's a look at old time dueling in some Nordic coutries. Women could be involved but the man challenging them was put in a pit and had to stay in it while the woman could move around. I bet that cut down on challenging women.

    I think I'd have been more polite at times if dueling was still legal.

  23. the Phelps are always careful to insure there are plenty of cops around to protect their lousy butts. There is a group of bikers here that provides escorts for military funerals. Surprisingly, the Phelps don't appear when the bikers are present. (BTW, some of the bikers are Legionnaires.)

    Strange, that.

  24. We're a much politer lot these days. We forgo violence, since it only solves problems that are created by those that most need to receive the violence.

    I remember, even in my short life, when a good ass whipping was all many needed to learn the fine skills of living in society. Of course, this removed the ability of many law schools to churn out attorneys like pellets from the butt of a goat.

  25. Regarding pistol duels, I recall two events… the first was Burr v. Hamilton. Hamilton goaded Burr into it by insulting his daughter and lost because he tried to cheat by altering the trigger pull. Hamilton missed; Burr didn't.

    The other event I was just thinking of involved a little short guy who got mad and challenged. The guy he challenged chose, for weapons, sledge hammers in 8' of water. Everyone present burst into laughter, the short guy let it go. The guy he challenged… that was Sam Houston… they became good friends.

    I always go back to the idea that, while not always possible, it's always best to de-escalate.

  26. But, Sam Houston's duel that didn't happen didn't involve pistols. If it had, they'd not have had the de-escalation as I just posted my understand of it.

    Swords… somebody comes after me with one, they ain't gettin' that close.

  27. Ted-

    No reason why women shouldn't be subject to the same Code as men. As has been noted previously, the gun is the great equalizer. And regarding a quadriplegic or arthritic offender, well, that's what seconds are for.


    Have you ever fenced before? I am a fencer, and I assure you there is a great deal of "actual swordsmanship" involved. It might not be all swashbuckly like Errol Flynn or PotC, but it is still swordsmanship nonetheless.

    Come to think of it, you have slandered myself and my companions…

  28. Ted, I disagree. The idea is using inaccurate pistols at a distance far enough away to make a vital hit unlikely even for a skilled marksman.

    It's not about killing the other guy, it's about making him defend his honor with his life, or admit that he has no honor.

  29. But the weapon of choice was up to the challenged. Physically fit wasn't an essential ingredient of a duel (a code of honor was, which, unfortunately, we have also abandoned), as the challenged, you could specify a duel with wet noodles if you wanted to.
    We do need something that reestablishes manners and respect in this country. However, with the shining example of the president and his cohorts, and of television programs which encourage disrespect, insult, and downright rudeness, where are we going to go to recover ethics and honor?
    Maybe reestablishing dueling ain't such a bad idea.

  30. The Phelps came to Spokane Wa. when they saw the huge amount of people lining the streets, they beat feet out of town.
    I reckon they did't want to duel.
    Gunsmoke 45441

  31. There is a fascinating chapter about dueling in the 1841 book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. A European head of state tried to outlaw it because he was losing too many of his army officers.

  32. I've been saying for years that it is a shame that they ever did away with dueling. I happen to be a knife, sword and gun affectianodo but I'm also extremely polite and courteous to everyone. "An armed society is a polite society" is definitely true. I wish that there were consequences when people crossed certain lines.

  33. Maybe a modified version of dueling that's not so dramatic? I think people should mind their manners, but I am not willing to kill a man for calling me as ass. Hell, a good 50% of a cop's job involves being insulted without reacting; if every pig joke resulted in a duel I would have gone broke my first year in law enforcement buying ammo.

    Can't go with swords/"first blood" though, it eliminates the great equalizing of the pistol. Most other variants (drag racing, fistfighting, etc) are unequal due to either ability or money (whoever buys the best car wins most races).

    My preferred method? Buy them a beer. They are honor bound to buy me one the next round, and everyone knows it. It de-escalates things, and sort of gets an apology out of them without them having to lose face. If they refuse, they look like an ass in front of all their friends. If they REALLY refuse, well . . . I don't carry my great equalizer when I drink but I bet whoever the designated driver of the evening is will have one. They can chose de-escalation, capitulation, or perforation.

  34. Elmo above correctly points out that Duels are for honorable men.

    In the Founder's time, someone like Phelps would have been horsewhiped.

  35. From Joe in PNG:

    There is another time honored tradition for cads and scoundrels: Tar and feather them, then ride them out of town on a rail.

    If only we could get the Phelps folks and a particular other lawsuit happy pseudo religion to go after each other in court…

  36. For what it's worth, I believe duels should be brought back. One should be willing to back up what one says. The potential of someone calling them out for acting lick a boor I believe would have an overall positive effect.

    True, there will be people who work the system to their own advantage, potentially becoming professional duelists, but every system can be gamed.

    On the other hand, every confrontation has an element of risk. Even in the most unequal match-up, the opponent might get lucky. I've seen it happen.

    To Raptor, I've fenced. There is a difference between fighting in the round or upon the strip. There is a difference between the flexible "blades" of modern foils, epee, and sabre and nasty bit of business affixed to the hilt of my rapier. That does not even take into account the rules. I've lost count of the number of "kills" I've gotten because my opponent was a strip fencer and disregarded my attack slipping back on line after he parried it because it was now /their/ attack. Or I have accepted a non-lethal touch in exchange for one that is. There is quite a difference between the fencing of today and its roots. That I believe is what Hilinda's point was.

  37. I think the reinstatement of a dueling code would probably be beneficial for us as a country. I seriously doubt it will ever happen, but it's nice to dream.

    These days, there's no real accountability for anything said or done. You have the court system, but anyone sufficiently practiced at it can drag consequences on for years or decades after the original ruling has been handed down. Case in point, Phelps and his brood. Having a dueling code that allows an immediate verdict that is incontestable would be much more preferable. (and, to be honest, much more satisfying. A monetary award against Phelps would be nice, but how much nicer would it be to have him have to answer for his insults? and with more than just a checkbook?) (and with credit to threadbndr: disclaimer – just my opinion, not indended as libel or defamation of character. Who knows who's reading this……)

    And Dave, I don't think anyone is suggesting that the code be used to answer for every negative thing said (you said those jeans made my wife's butt look fat, I challenge you to a duel!) but more of a way for the unbearable insults to be answered. After all, you're putting your life on the line as well, every time you step onto the field. It's a decision each of us would have to make to decide where the line we refuse to back down is.

    For me, Phelps has crossed over that line. Bring back the code, I'll get in line.

  38. Just had a wee reminder….

    Anyone who wants some interesting insights into the nature of dueling (and honor) in a Science Fiction setting, I urge them to read David Weber's book, "Honor Harrington: Field of Dishonor" if they can find a copy.

    Therein are two separate protocols for fighting a duel, and some very noteworthy observations on the nature of civility and honorable behavior…not to mention a couple of loathesome bastards getting their just desserts at the hands (and the gun barrel) of a woman who is, at the end, an amazing example of honor personified. It's an excellent and timely book.

  39. Greyson,
    there is also the duel in the Meeting Hall of Greyson, with Katanas.
    Interesting psychological aspect to that duel. I've always wondered how much of that is based on real life Japanese sword fights.

  40. The commandment 'Do not take the Lords Name in vain' is usually twisted to mean 'do not use profanity'. That is not the proper meaning.

    The commandment really means 'Do not do evil in the name of a Good God'. To really obey God, if you're gonna sin, you must do it in the name of some other deity and NOT the God of the Bible.

    Phelps and his congregation violate this principle/commandment with every one of their first-amendment-protected protests. They do evil things in the name of a good God. This same God will judge them at the appropriate time. It will not be a good day for them then. He takes such activities very seriously. He does not want His name sullied by such self-righteous bastards.

    There is no copyright on the word 'Christian' and even 'Baptist' has no trademark. Hence anyone who has any belief whatsoever can call him/her/itself a Christian and start a Baptist church. In Phelps case, they defame the name Baptist and even Christian. They sully the very name of the God they claim to follow.

    Hell is very hot for some of these people. God is the Perfect Judge, however. ABAICT: they aren't even Christian, much less Baptist. God will judge even if SCOTUS does not.

  41. Am I the only one opposed to dueling? I agree, it would be satisfying, and there are some I would relish dueling with (do you think Warbows would be an acceptable choice of weapon?), however, there are many good reasons for why it is not acceptable.

    I personally like the phrase given to Captain Pelew by Forrester, 'I will not loose men to no more than the satisfaction of their own vanity'

    As many have pointed out, there's no dueling with those who lack honour. So it doesn't help us with people like Phelp's.

    Rather, I'd look to simplifying the libel laws, making them clear and understandable so that those defamed can have recompense, and those who speak the truth are protected, and do not need to hazard their life.

    I should also point out. I'll Kill some one in war, I'll kill someone in self defence, or that of another. I will not kill someone over name calling.

  42. I move that all disagreements between Democrat members of the Senate and house be resolved with flamethrowers at 10 paces

  43. Fenris,

    You're right, I think I did miss what Hilinda's point. She was referring to Olympic-style fencing with all the stupid rules, while I meant European-style fencing with actual points on the blades. Even my instructor refers to Olympic-style as being, and I quote: "A sissified, wussified, watered-down perversion of fencing." Thank God we start Kendo next week (it's a college class)

    Also, I took Taekwondo for a number of years, and you're right; there is a huge difference between fighting in the round and fighting in a strip (I can't tell you how many matches I lost because I instinctively went out of the strip when the match started).

  44. @Ted
    Actually "fast reflexes and a steady hand" don't have everything to do with it.
    Look into the 1986 FBI Miami shootout. The suspect Michael Platt had to be shot 12 times, and William Matrix had to be shot 6 times before he died. Other incidents at other times have the hit count into the 30's on some targets before they go down.

    Getting the fist shot off means less than you would think.
    A story I remember but which I can't reproduce had a pretty good moral that I will try to put into a scenario:

    Dual to the satisfaction. Challenged parties gets to pick the weapons.
    20 year old Hotheaded challenger with "fast reflexes and a steady hand".
    70 year old grandpa who's has no backup in him for BS and who has the shakes due to neural injury.

    Hothead challenges grandpa. Grandpa picks the weapons: Grenades at 5 feet or shotguns at 10 feet?

    Question: Will the hothead stand his ground of principle and let grandpa aim a 12 gauge at his 1) head, or 2) manhood? Answer: not very many times.

    As for the amputee or quadriplegic, we have choices:
    1. A champion either paid, volunteer, family member, friend etc.
    2. If the quadriplegic is challenged then he will need to use his brains rather than his arms. The challenged has the choice of weapons. Maybe the choice is first to starvation while locked in a cage? Anybody can do that.

    As for the check on $@&*?, yeah kill em in a duel, the only people who can't dual are those who are legally judged incompetent (i.e. the crazy, the mentally impaired, and some classes of minors)

    Also: Women get to play, remember they are equal now.

  45. I think the argument about lack of dueling recourse for the handicapped is not a valid point. In my experience, people who a pricks are pricks to everyone, and will eventually smart off to someone who is bigger/faster/stronger.

    Secondly, even if the $5 million judgment is upheld, there's no was on earth the family will ever see a dime, whereas beating the crap out of Phelps would at least leave them feeling a little better.

  46. Sprinkle itching powder on them as they do their thing. Start with the cameramen. Avoid the children, of course.

    Ulises from CA (& a crack shot to boot!)

  47. Makes me wonder whether you would get caught if you aimed a home-made warbler at Phelps and his band of antichristians. Back in the 1960s, it cost so much to build one, only the government really could; Nowadays, you could probably do it with Radio Shack parts.

    And if you use the right sort of directional speakers, nobody but the antichristians would notice anything in particular causing the crowd of antichristians suddenly falling over, unable to stand, and crapping themselves…

  48. Isn't there some legal phrase about 'fighting words' not being protected speech?

  49. Not that I am advocating or promoting anything mind you, but given the number of people Phelps and kin have pissed off (and on) over the years, you'd thinks somebody would have visited the bugger one dark night wearing gloves and a black baklava and beaten him and his kith and kin to death with a 25 pound sledge in their beds. I'd almost bet nobody would have seen anything. I'd be willing to bet some of the patriot riders used to ride with some of the rougher bike klans back in the day (I used to know a guy that ran with the Banditos back in the day.) and aren't particularly opposed to such a "brass verdict".

  50. 1. Dueling was an upper class practice.
    2. People of my class beat each others heads in, bare knuckles or club.
    3. Having said that, challenged a major to a duel after he accused me of lying.
    4. Specifically forbidden under the UCMJ.
    5. He responded by saying it was lucky for me he wasn't taking me up on the offer, since he would kill me.
    6. Had gone as far as I was prepared to go along the disrespect for a superior officer highway.
    7. There things stood.
    V/R JWest

  51. I am a former member of the military, and a woman… and if you don't think that I can hit what I'm aiming at… you have another think coming.

    Phelps is a perfect example of the "he needed killing" defense. The man and his kin are part of the disease, and like most diseased tissue, should be cut out. But… we are a compassionate and kind society. ACK!

    Dueling was a useful method of dealing with the rot that infected society. Maybe it SHOULD come back.

  52. You folks need to get familiar with David Weber's Honorverse series of science fiction. There's one whole book that revolves around satisfying honor and the Code Duello that exists in that series.

    You'd like it.

    From here:

    Code duello
    The Duellists Code, or Code Duello, is the legal convention used in the Star Kingdom of Manticore for legal duelling
    using duelists pistols, in the Honorverse, a series of military science fiction novels written by David Weber.
    The Duellists Code provides for two duelling protocols.
    Ellington Protocol
    The Ellington Protocol of the Duelists Code, is generally regarded as more suited for pistol experts. Many lawmakers
    have long sought for it to be outlawed in the Star Kingdom, because of the possibility of 'unfair' exploitation by such
    experts. However it remains that any man or woman of the Star Kingdom who is challenged may choose this option
    before they meet an adversary. In Landing City, there is even an officially prescribed Dueling Grounds, supervised by
    members of the Landing City Police Department.
    Under these rules each duellist faces his or her opponent at a distance of forty meters, and upon the command of the
    Master of the Field, may fire at a sustained rate until:
    * one duellist is killed.
    * one duellist drops his/her weapon in surrender.
    * all twenty rounds have been expended.
    Dreyfus Protocol
    The Dreyfus Protocol the Duelists Code demands less pistol experitise. Any man or woman of the Star Kingdom
    challenged may choose this option. This Protocol is thought to benefit expert shooters less than the Ellington Protocol
    and so to be 'fairer'; it also results in fewer deaths. Both are factors in political opposition to duels; if they cannot be
    eliminated, this Protocol is the least unappealing.
    Each duelist is limited to five rounds and may fire only single shots. Unlike the Ellington Protocol which requires a
    distance of forty meters and begins with one signal from a neutral party, the Dreyfus Protocol commences with the
    opponents standing back-to-back. At the Master of the Field's command of "Walk" the two duelists each walk thirty paces
    and stop. Upon the command of "Turn", each faces around, and fires one shot only, after which each must lower the
    pistol. If neither has been hit, the Master of the Field must ask if honor has been satisfied. If one or both reply "Yes", the
    duel is over. If neither does so, then at the command of "Walk" the duelists will take two steps forward, waiting for a
    command of "Fire" before they may fire again. This procedure is repeated until the duel is over, which occurs:
    * at first blood, regardless of whether a duelist is killed or not.
    * the honor of either duelist is satisfied.
    * one duelist is killed.
    * all ten rounds are fired.
    If the command of "Turn or "Fire" has been made, and a pistol is dropped after firing a shot, the other duellist may still
    return fire. You must await the opponents return shot before you can surrender the duel.
    In addition, if either party violates the specific terms of engagement under either protocol, the life of the offending party is
    forfeit, usually by means of a pulser dart from the Master of the Field. Such an incident is recounted in the novel Field of

    It's a start towards a 21st Century dueling protocol. Bear in mind in this series, the weapons of choice for a duel are "archaic" chemical projectile firearms surprisingly similar to a .45 caliber M1911A1.

  53. Will –
    Thank you for the reminder; it's appreciated.

    Matt –
    Thank you for a proper outline of the two protocols; I still have not been able to find any of my Honor Harrington novels, yet.

    Kudos to you both, gentlemen.

  54. Just to clarify, I thought one had to HAVE character for said character to be defamed, and for this group to call itself Baptist or Christian and engage in such behavior is reprehensible. One would think they had never picked up a Bible.

    But this is just an example of how the country I love and shed blood for is fast becoming something very different. And it's happening without a fight, and that is the saddest part of all to me…

  55. Re: The Phelpses

    What's publicly known about their beliefs indicates that they are not in fact believers in Baptism or Christianity. (Or Jewish. Or anything.) They think they're descendants of one of David's "mighty men", destined to kill everybody else when the end of the world comes. Until that time comes, the world owes them a living.

    Re: dueling

    Mortal duels, and even first blood duels in many cases, are also outlawed by pretty much every Christian denomination in this country that's old enough. For the powerful, it settled nasty arguments. For the weak and poor, it mostly put a gun or sword into the bully's hand and gave him a profession — getting rid of the enemies of the powerful.

    Fistfights, if they didn't descend into brawling with weapons, were something that even a churchman could engage in. 🙂

    Re: age

    It was forbidden by all codes of honor to duel someone of a wide age disparity with yourself. No middle-aged man of honor would challenge a kid ten years younger than himself, even though the kid was an adult and possibly quicker. Disparity of experience was taken into account.

    Beyond that, it was just below one's dignity to duel, when one had reached a certain age. Old men didn't duel other old men; they were too old for that kind of silliness. Dueling was serious and honorable, yes; but it was also one of the frills of life, and the serious-minded avoided it and felt degraded by it. (And of course, most churches felt that it was at least a small social sin, and possibly a very grave one. Depended a lot on how much damage you did.)

    Re: male and female dueling

    Oh, come on. Like you really want to see one sex challenging the other, because they feel disrespected by being rejected? You want turning down a date with a creep, or even someone you just don't want to date, to become a death sentence? Isn't the war between the sexes bad enough already?

    People who think duelling is a good idea haven't read a lot of eighteenth and nineteenth century newspapers. Better somebody be addicted to drugs than blood. I don't want to be somebody else's collateral damage.

  56. It seems one point has been forgotten: the challenged party was not required by law, or anything but his/her own idea of personal honor, to accept the challenge.
    In other words, if a person didn't feel compelled for whatever reason, he didn't have to indulge in a lethal form of check-grabbing macho shit.

  57. I suggest paint guns. At least you could get your frustrations out on the person!

    Phred and Co. need to be dropped in a deep dark hole and covered up. I'm sure that they're in for a very rude awakening when they meet their maker.

  58. see my plan involves a bit of breaking into the compound when they are away burning a satanic ritual pentegramic ward on the grass and alert the press.

    Voila asatisfaction for moi and a reason to completly shatter the 'christian' front they hide behind. I then go to confession and am absolved from sin.

    Ahh sweet dreams to pass the time

    as for dueling I have cp and I will duel because real men duel with cannon!

  59. When they appeared in our town, one of them screamed into the face of a teenager that she looked forward to the kid's violent death in the path of an oncoming train.

    And what had the kid done? Had the temerity to live in California. That was THE only thing that Phelps woman knew about her personally.

    Someone, please, charge her with child abuse and hate charges.

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