Honor! What a glorious word!
Or, maybe not so much.
This is a theme that's shown up in several books I've read recently, including Better Angels, that a "culture of honor" is actually a really damaging thing. Take offense easily, take it personally... run a much higher risk of violence.
Pinker (Better Angels author) talks at length about dueling, which used to be quite common and taken very seriously, but in a matter of a generation or so became the object of ridicule and then quickly disappeared.
(As an aside, the ridicule-leads-to-vanishing idea has me thinking a LOT. Is that the problem with climate change? Just think about who has the ridicule advantage there. The other side is so unstintingly EARNEST. Not that earnestness is always a bad thing. I'm much better at being earnest than at being humorous, myself, but this does have me thinking...)
Anyway, I'm thinking about the news last week, the assumption in the media that "of course" an insult to Islam will lead to violence. Of course? Surely Colbert isn't the only one capable of pointing out (with humor!) that plenty of people respond to insults with something ranging from indifference to disgust to anger, but that doesn't mean other people die.
The violent defense of honor, Pinker says, is going the way of witch hunts. Good riddance.