It was a good talk, fun, but the need for it was based on cultural differences. Deep ones. And not overt ones, like THEY are okay with violence and WE aren't. It was deeper than that, more basic. Too deep to question. The initial problem that sparked the whole thing centered on what it is to be a man.
In some cultures, maybe, manhood is a clear thing. I don't believe that it is ever clear for the young. You may have a ritual that declares you are in fact a man and yet still live with your parents and act and be treated as a dependent. If manhood was clear, in any culture, there wouldn't be all these weird ways to prove or maintain it.
And so, we have a man from one culture where he is taught and believes that if someone insults you, if you are a man, you must fight or at least be willing to fight. That is what a man does. That is who a man is.
And he is living in a cultural (the Atticus Finch-influenced part of America) where it is common sense and practically written into law that a real man would never lower himself to fighting over mere words.
Not a value judgment here, just had a few things pop up lately where my definitions of deep behaviors may not match those around me.
The second is polite rudeness. I don't want to hit this with cultural identifiers because I don't want people to try to throw a label on my thinking process ("That bastard is anti-anglo!") and quit listening... but it's going to come up.
I was raised to respect lines. "Cutting lines" or even allowing lines to be cut was a big social no-no in grade school. We stand in lines, we wait. The very thought of cutting lines implied not just that you were special but that you thought you were better and more deserving than people who had made the effort to get there first. It was a personal and calculated insult to everyone else in line.
My friends from the old Soviet bloc don't respect lines. When they were kids, it wasn't a good idea. If you waited your turn, there was a good chance that there would be nothing at the end of your wait. We can wait in line because, though we may not like it, we are generally sure that it will pay off. Remove that assurance and our politeness, which just seems common sense, becomes a failing strategy.
I've seen some "polite rudeness" in the last few days. It comes from a very particular social set. In my social caste asking to cut lines is nearly as unthinkable as just doing it. I've sat on planes with people terrified of missing a connection who refused to ask for a little consideration in getting off the plane early. But in the last few days: "Excuse me, may I go ahead? I have this bag of oranges, you see."
The man he was asking had an entire cart... but he was raised very much as I was and had a hard time saying 'No.' Work a couple of years in a jail and you get over that quick.
Thinking about it, I don't think the person was being rude, just as I don't think the Iraqi was or was not being manly. He was following the rules as he saw them.
In the other gentleman's world, maybe politeness is in the form. Asking nicely enough, even if you were asking something far more terrible than just cutting line, doesn't involve any violation of social rules. Ripe territory for villains, if they can do evil with Captain Hooks 'good form'.