Not Even Vaguely Serious. Seriously.
This isn’t a serious post. I don’t actually mean to suggest that anything in it should be taken seriously. Honest, this isn’t something that I would actually advocate. That’s Ranty, up there, next to Political Me.
So, I’ve been staying the hell away from commenting about, well, a lot of things. The 2012 presidential election. The Sandy Hook shootings. The Fiscal Cliff. Disasters and people and loads and loads of general dickishness. One reason for this is pure cowardice; I really don’t want to put myself on the opposite side of anyone on any issues, which is a problem if one writes a pithy blog. Having opinions is kind of what blogs are about, and if I’m going to shy away from opinions, then I might as well start compiling recipes or something, in this space.
A number of things have gotten me good and riled up, though. I don’t want to say what they are, really… lots of people are talking about things that upset them. Lots of people, on both sides of the issues, and such statements are usually packed with angry responses full of knee-jerk responses and ill will. That’s what I decided to react to… the reactions to things that people are reacting to.
All of which is to say… maybe we should legalize dueling again.
Now, hear me out on this. I’m not saying that every internet argument should end in bloodshed and tears, here. I’m saying that we should institute a system whereby one can add the weight of pure physical personal responsibility to one’s public voice.
It’s not the kind of thing that anyone can just leap into willy-nilly. That would be irresponsible. There should be a registry for duelists; one would have to be able to prove that they were legally responsible for their own actions and their own safety in order to be registered. No minors or any who are mentally incompetent. Only those who can legally hold themselves as responsible for what they do and what they say. The registry would not be responsible for how well a person can take care of themselves in a fight; a person who is responsible for their own safety needs to be aware of that on their own.
Nor would this need to be some kind of sexist “men only” club. I’ve known as many women who could kick my @$$ as men who could, perhaps more. No, the national dueling registry would be an egalitarian institution.
It would also be almost completely voluntary. Just because it’s there, doesn’t mean that everyone who is able needs to register. Far from it… it’s not for everyone. It WOULD be, however, mandatory for anyone seeking public office. This is an important part of the whole process. If your’e running for public office, your name goes on the dueling registry. If you’re not capable of legally taking responsibility for yourself, then you shouldn’t be running for public office.
Also, if you’re applying for the permits to be involved in a public demonstration or protest, your name goes on the dueling registry.
Now, what does the dueling registry entitle one to, and what are the responsibilities?
Anyone can, of course, post their opinion online, either originating a post or commenting on someone else’s post. Social networks and other sites that have post and comment structures could then add a function where posters can add their Dueling Registry Membership to their profile, which identifies the person making the post or comment. It doesn’t mention their name, just that they are a registered duelist, and that they can be challenged to a duel (by another registered duelist). When someone goes to their social media site or other board, they can filter for posts by registered duelists.
“That post is pure drivel, what the hell? Oh, not a registered duelist, that figures. Let me turn those off.” Why is this a good thing? Because it immediately identifies the post as coming from someone who takes personal responsibility for their statements… they’re not just “putting their money where their mouth is,” they are confirming that they are prepared to cash the check their mouth is writing, so to speak. Either the person making the post is not prepared to take personal responsibility up to and including personal bodily risk for their statements, or they aren’t legally responsible for their own actions. I don’t know… that might cut down on a few posts.
If someone takes enough exception to the post to actually challenge them to a duel over it, the registry would cover the cost of transport to a neutral place and an evening of rest after the travel. They could maintain some nice hotels in some interesting and beautiful places, and pay for the transport and rooms out of their profits… this isn’t my area, but I think that’d be nice of them. The duelists show up, and the offended person officially offers the challenge, and how offended they are.
Are they lightly offended, so that the only thing that matters is who hits (or draws blood) first? That’s a duel to the First Blood.
Are they offended and angered so that they really need to see injury done? Will it be a fight until one opponent simply can not fight any more? That’s a duel to the Second Blood, and someone is going to the hospital.
Is this a level of offense so great that only the death of the opponent will see honor served? That’s a duel to the Third Blood, and any duelist should only get to offer that level of challenge once or twice a year. Duels to the death should be reserved for offenses that injure reputation or honor, or that involve actual injury to self, family, or friends.
Having been challenged, the person who is being challenged then chooses the weapons that will be used in this duel. It might be fisticuffs (although it would more likely involve either wild flailing or mixed martial arts, if not both). It could be knives (while the duelists have their non-weapon-wielding hands tied together), swords (epee’, saber, Katana, or Claymore), or even dueling pistols. One bullet only, please… and assault weapons are in poor taste.
The duel is had, and the results added to the dueling registry. The remaining participant(s) makes their way home, and probably post about how things went online.
Are people going to get hurt? Well, yes, they are. That’s the price of having people put themselves on the line for what they chose to make public.
There’s no more impotent rage at an anonymous internet troll… they can put up a dueling registry number or they can be the victim of a filter or an “ignore” button. Sorry, you’re only here to piss people off; I’ll listen to you when you back up your words with your buttocks.
No more will groups be able to find tremendously offensive venues to spew nonsense and hate and then retreat behind “civilized” society and legal maneuvering. “Oh, you want to protest the funerals of murdered children? Well, just fill in your dueling registry number on this request for a permit to gather in public. While you’re doing that, I’ll go fetch our ‘take-a-number’ machine for all the people who are going to show up to duel you to the death over this.”
People who want to voice strong opinions online might just hit the gym and take some Tae-Bo classes. You’d sure know who your friends were, pretty quick. “Hey, some guy is taking me to Hawaii for a duel over that thing I posted about Socialism. You wanna come along and be my second? All you got to do is hold a baseball bat and make sure none of his boys jump me from behind during the fight.”
People might give a little more thought to what they post online, too. “Man, I’m kind of fired up about this whole financial thing, but I’m not sure I want to take a day off of work to beat someone up over it.”
I know, I know… trying to solve problems of civility with violence seems kind of counter intuitive. I obviously wouldn’t want to actually advocate a system allowing someone to track down and shoot at someone who pissed them off on the internet. That wouldn’t be right; life is sacred, whether I like the person possessing that life or not. Heck, I try to like everybody.
I like to think that there IS some sort of solution to the ridiculously polarized environment our public discourse has become. I hope it doesn’t come to anything like this.
I WOULD be close to the front of the line if a dueling registry DID open, though.