Historically, much that is not illegal by statute has been restrained by an unwritten social code. Nineteenth Century England, the closest approach to a classical-liberal polity in Europe of that era, had extensive codes of that sort. Because English society was stratified by class, there were several such codes, which included rules by which Englishmen interacted within their class and with members of other classes. Indications of this come through in the fictions of the time. John Galsworthy’s magnificent Forsyte Chronicles are probably the best example.
As the early United States was largely populated by persons of English descent, some of those codes made their way across the ocean and took root here. For a while you could hear Americans condemning certain kinds of behavior, actual or proposed, with the classically English phrase “It’s just not done.” The associated social opprobrium had a degree of force contemporary Americans – and contemporary Englishmen, for that matter – can hardly imagine. (“Enforcement” by dueling had only a little to do with it.)
Today there’s damned near nothing that “isn’t done.” The greatest imaginable outrages are performed shamelessly and in public. They who perpetrate them upon the rest of us do so precisely because they are outrages. The social codes that once restrained them no longer have force. They certainly aren’t respected by the outrageurs.
Some of this is attributable to “anti-discrimination” laws, but a far greater portion arises from cowardice among better men.
Yesterday evening, I cited the disturbance at Los Angeles’s Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels by pro-abortion protestors determined to disrupt Sunday Mass. The brief video embedded in that tweet depicts what occurs when a few good men find a scintilla of courage: enough, at least, to act against those who would ruin something precious to others. It was heartening to see…moderately so, at least. For I had to note a visible shortcoming: only a half-dozen of the Mass attendees rose to the occasion.
Why so few? There was no physical danger involved. I can’t see how there would have been any legal consequences to forcibly expelling the protestors. Yet only a handful of Angeleno Catholics rose to oppose the desecration of a sacred Catholic rite that involves the Body and Blood of Christ. Where was the righteous anger appropriate in response to such a profanation?
If we want such scurrilities to return to the status of “not done,” we’ll have to muster exactly such righteous anger – in quantity.
The matter is grave. Such invasions of the prerogatives of others, even when nominally within the law, are massively destructive to the sense of social order and public peace. That, of course, is why they occur. The perpetrators want to convey exactly that message: “Give us what we want or you will know no peace.” It’s their mantra.
What goes undiscussed is why such persons get away with their obscenities:
- It’s nominally legal for them to do so;
- The rest of us do nothing but wring our hands.
But the law does not reserve unto itself the punishment of all infractions against the social order. It cannot. What’s done that’s “not done” must be punished by those offended by it – and by punished, I mean the infliction of actual pain, embarrassment, and ostracism.
Minority groups determined to disrupt our lives, our gatherings, and our rituals will only get away with such behavior for as long as it fails to draw retaliation. We the Decent Majority must impose consequences so painful, embarrassing, and isolating that no one will be minded to repeat the offense ever again. Moreover, we have to be imaginative about it, for any tactic too often repeated can be countered, given time.
Imagine if those protestors at Our Lady of the Angels had been stripped bare, spanked to a bright red, and thrust out of the cathedral entirely unclothed. Possibly after having been figged, as well. And perhaps doused with a blend of caffeine and DMSO, for good measure. Do you think they’d have dared to repeat their impertinence?
Of course, preparation would be required, but that goes without saying.
Sounds outrageous, doesn’t it? “Not done!” But what lesser measures would ensure a return to public peace? The organs of the law either have no authority in such matters or refuse to use what they have. This is what is left to us.
Other commentators have spoken of a “cold civil war” in progress. Their perspective grows more applicable by the day. The Left has delved deeply into the “not done,” confident that We the Decent will not respond with more than words. When only one side is willing to fight, the outcome is foreordained.
The explosions of outrages in recent years have made this Curmudgeon yearn for “the good old days” when such violations of the public peace were constrained by the possibility of being challenged to a duel. Unfortunately, when dueling was accepted, women were regarded as immune to challenge. Perhaps the custom could use a spot of innovation.
Have a nice day.