Of late, even a cursory perusal of the B-section of the Houston Chronicle reveals a disturbing trend. Gang crime, of the most odious sort.
In today’s paper alone, there are accounts of three MS-13 members accused of stabbing Ernesto Garcia to death on Wednesday. Three other gangbangers shot up a house on the southeast side, killing one teenaged girl and wounding another. Yesterday’s paper carried an account of the sentencing of yet another gangster, this one in the docket for shooting an unarmed Hindu gentleman in the head.
And so on, and on, and on…The thing is, whenever you see these gangster types on TV, there’s one word they use over and over: “It’s all about respect,” they claim.
And respect’s opposite: the diss. Like it as not, at least two out of the three incidents above were the result of some sort of diss. These run the gamut from severe to trivial, with senseless killing the result often as not for one as much as the other. Hell, a few months ago some guy in town killed his friend for “dissing his dog.”
But why do gangsters deem themselves worthy of respect when their methods are so patently cowardly and beyond the pale of gentlemanly combat? Three against one stabbings? Shooting old unarmed men in the head? Unloading on a house full of girls and then driving off?
Come on. Methods like that are so…beneath the dignity of those who would be worthy of a gentleman’s regard.
You gangsters want respect? Kick it old-school -- bring back the duel. Issue challenges to one another, pick seconds, choose your weapons, announce your time and place and go all Burr-Hamilton on each other.
The advantages are numerous. First, nobody can honestly say that someone willing to stare down a pistol at 20 paces is a coward. Second, you’d be in good company. For much of American history, a duel was as much a rite of passage en route to success as birth in a log cabin and a backwoods law degree. Henry Clay fought a duel and people still call him the Great Compromiser. Portraits of America duelists appear on five, ten and 20-dollar bills. In addition to Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln accepted a challenge to a duel with broad-swords, but it was called off at the last second. On the other hand, Andrew Jackson actually shot and killed his challenger. Maybe that’s why he got the highest denomination.
Second, they have a way of settling long-simmering conflicts before they get out of hand. Imagine how the mission would truly have been accomplished if George W. Bush had accepted Iraqi vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan’s offer of a duel with Saddam Hussein in 2002. (This really happened, and it didn’t stop there. Ramadan wanted a piece of Cheney, and Secretary of State Colin Powell was supposed to have fought his counterpart Tariq Aziz, Baghdad Bob was to have been pitted against Ari Fleischman and on down the line, all in a neutral country with Kofi Annan officiating.) More to the point of this proposal, imagine if a leader of the Crips and a counterpart from the Bloods had settled their differences in this manner instead of sending armies of proxies to fight their battles.
Third, with duels, you almost never take out non-combatants, which is not the case when you indiscriminately spray a house, packed car or block party. Especially if you hold these combats in empty spaces, such as the Astrodome or the field that was formerly home to Astroworld.
And last, and best of all, dueling is still legal in Texas. Or at least that is what it says on Wikipedia. If it isn’t, maybe the lawyers would be willing to sue a few of the principals, or better yet, duel each other at ten paces with sniper rifles. – John Nova Lomax