SHOULD WE BRING BACK THE CODE DUELLO?
A round of interesting comments from some of the more thoughtful commenters set me off on a train of thought. The question bouncing back and forth addresses the issue of street shootings involving non-players and civilians. I was going to post some thoughts on the LA Times' recent addition of a Homicide Blog to its web page. This is a good idea that's been long overdue. It was something I wanted to do here, but as a one-man-band lacking the resources of the Tribune empire, it was beyond reach. The Homicide Blog, as some readers have pointed out, underscores the vile nature of kids shooting kids based on the question to which there is no correct answer - "Where you from?"
The son of an old friend of mine was shot and killed in front of a movie theater ten years ago after two guys rolled up on him and his girlfriend and asked that infamous question. The kid said, "I don't bang." It was the last thing he ever said. Trust me. I watched this kid grow up. He learned to swim in my pool, I cooked him and his friends burgers and we watched my Monty Python videos. He didn't know one end of a gun from the other and he was walking the straight and narrow.
His girlfriend said that when the two guys pointed the gun, he didn't run. He threw himself on the girl and they back shot him. Not real sporting. It doesn't take much courage to shoot an unarmed non-player in the back. It takes even less to shoot girls in Highland Park or Harbor. Ultimately, it's this type of episode that has finally motivated our politicians and law enforcers to bring out the heavy hammer and start using it. Even Barbara Boxer is calling for a nationwide anti-gang Task Force. And she wants enforcement, not midnight basketball.
My sense is, if you want to play at being a gunslinger, go find another gunslinger to play with. Don't ruin innocent lives and shoot the defenseless. That's not courage. It's slaughter and it brings shame, not respect.
When Jimmy "Character" Palma shot and killed the 5-year-old and 9-month-old Moreno children after he took care of Tito Aguirre and Lido Moreno, the Brothers had no stomach for that. Character got his in SQ as soon as they could get their hands on him. The outrage over killing innocents obviously isn't reserved strictly for the law abiding. Unfortunately, that message isn't being sufficiently enforced.
In the old days, some people invented logical ways of dealing with personal or factional enemies. In Europe, they even published books and manuals on how to do it right -- the Code Duello. They met at dawn with loaded pistols and settled problems face to face at 25 paces. May the best man win.
According to those old manuals, the choice of weapons was up to the challenger. It was guns, knives, swords or whatever. One of the wierdest duels ever took place inside a moving horse-drawn coach. The challenger chose knives and the opponent accepted. The terms were that the two would climb in and stab it out for the length of time it took the coach to circle a small park.
The coach went around once and stopped. Neither of the bloodied combatants had achieved satisfaction, so they went around once more. Second time around, still no satisfaction. So they went around a third time. At the end of the third trip, both parties had bled out and died. Sure it's crazy, but hey, it was their beef and they both had the courage to handle it mano a mano.
You've got to at least respect them for settling it man to man and having the brass balls to do it without dragging innocent people into their problem.
In the not too distant past, cowboys handled their business at high noon on Main Street with Peacemakers. First hit wins the fight. They had terms like "Bushwacker" for those who didn't handle their business correctly and the citizens strung them up not so much for killing, but for not doing it right.
So you have to ask yourself, is it possible that pasty aristocrats in frilly shirts and powdered wigs had more balls than a backshooting gangster who takes out people who have no part in a neighborhood or personal beef? Just something to think about.