Friday, August 23, 2013

A Gang Member Explains the Importance of Honor

A description of what it means to enjoy honor among your peers, and how important it is to maintain it, transcribed from a BBC interview of a young English gang member in the 1960s. From Lionel Tiger's Men in Groups (1969). The same sentiments might have been expressed by a French nobleman in the court of Louis XIV, if in different words.
“If I lose face in front of me mates, well I mean that is it I mean I have got no right to say anything, I have got no right to say well, no right to walk into a pub and say ‘that is my girl’ sort of thing. I might be out with my girl one night and someone starts some thing, I mean what can I do? They can all turn around and say we might as well have a go at Tony's girl, I mean he won't do any thing about it anyway. So I just can't afford to lose face.... There is a lot of us hang about together you know and they are pretty terrific, they are not like average blokes, I mean they would help each other out, but what they all depend on--if you can't fight for yourself, you can't fight, you are not fit to fight with them.... I don't think I could lose face, I would rather get hurt and be put in hospital than refuse to fight whether the geezer, whether the bloke is ten times bigger than me, I mean the thing is you have lost such a terrible lot not to be able to fight. I mean how could you walk out, how could you speak to them, I mean, you just could not, I mean, they could always just throw that back in your face. You could never argue a point with them after that because they would say he would go to one extreme but he won't fight so we win the argument anyway.... One day (a bloke) refused to fight two people . . . and every time he says anything now, they say, it’s all right, we remember the time you refused to fight. And his standards have got so low now that he would not fight anyway. I mean everybody was scared of him, but now even the littlest one of them says you are a load of rubbish. And no one likes him and they won't let him, they just won’t, no one will talk to him, but if we ever go out he is never included, never included in anything we do or say.”

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