Friday, May 09, 2008

Honor Killing

I was reading an entry of one of the blogs that grandpa permitted me to visit and a post there was commenting on the honor killing in Texas. I turned to grandpa as he was reading his newspaper and asked

"Grandpa, what is an honor killing?"

"Boy, in our society it is a very despicable act but before we can understand what it means we first must understand the meaning of honor. There are many ways people will define honor whether it is personal, family, institutional or cultural. However, regardless of how it is defined it has one characteristic that is common with any definition. That characteristic is the fact of that it means being looked up to.

What makes this characteristic so important results from understanding what it means to be dishonored. Dishonor results from being looked down upon, deservingly, because of some behavior. It is with this understanding that honor is to be protected even if it means dying for.

Honor seems to be a characteristic that is more important to the male population than the female. Moreover, it appears to be a characteristic of men without regard to culture, religion, or time. Men are willing to die or kill for it. It involves living by a certain code, a very strict code of behavior. A man’s reputation and good name as known within the community is determined by how he is seen as living by this code of honor.

While I said that it is a characteristic without regard to culture or religion, the code of honor is dependent on both. It is the predominate religious beliefs of the culture that help to make up this code of honor. The reason for this is that it is our religious beliefs that determine the justification of our willingness to die or kill. Furthermore, it is those beliefs translated into the laws of a culture that determine our outlook of it.

Another aspect of honor it seems is that a man could be taken at his word. A man whose word was his bond is considered an honorable man and one to be honored. Moreover, the man who did not keep his promise dishonored himself along with the other who accepted his word of honor. This is exemplified in the term "honor system" that we hear so often in our school systems in regards to test taking or used in other institutions of society.

Historically, honor was an attribute a man should be willing to die for rather than kill for. The Japanese had the practice of what is commonly known as hara-kiri. Kamikaze pilots were another example of dying for honor. In the western cultures, duels were fought to protect one’s honor. Even in the old west, a man would die before he would allow his good name and reputation be tarnished. A handshake was all that was needed to consummate an agreement of business between men of honor.

Cultures treated women differently than what was expected out of men where honor was concerned historically. Even here there was a common thread between cultures. A woman’s sexual behavior determined her reputation. To a very real extent, it still does even to this day in all cultures. How a woman reacts to being raped shows how ingrained this is in her psyche along with how society is perceived to see her after she was raped. She is still a woman whose reputation has been tarnished.

Furthermore, it covers more than one religion. Even in the New Testament of the Bible, we see an example of this. Remember the words of Jesus, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." That was an example of an honor killing that was to happen but never occurred. The death of Jesus himself can be characterized as a death of and for the sake of honor.

Honor is an attribute, boy, which still is a very important one although in this society it is very seldom thought of in terms of its meaning except when we hear of these honor killings. May be it is time that we as a society did think about it more for if we don’t it will lose any meaning at all in time. There are times we use the term respect when in fact the term honor would be the more correct usage. Think about this for awhile."

I just nodded and could feel the wheels burning up my brain as it started thinking faster than it should.


BB-Idaho said...

Seems odd that 'honor' killings are directed towards women. Seems it would be more 'honorable' that
males involved be subject to the same punishment. 'Guilt' of both parties was established early:
"If a man commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death" (Lv 20:10)" Seems in this day and age when every other congressman is doing the same thing, the sin is treated, rightly or wrongly, rather more leniently.

The Griper said...

true, as honor is taken rightly or wrongly,more lightly also in this day and age. but it also seems as if throughout history it was the man who was to defend his honor or to do what was necessary to gain it back.

BB-Idaho said...

"throughout history it was the man who was to defend his honor.."
There is a school of thought among
biologists, etc, that among our earlier ancestors (as well as parts of the animal kingdom) the nature of sex and birth resuls in the 'mother' being obvious: the question of the 'father', less so.
Eg. 'fatherhood' is somewhat questionable among a promiscuous
society (or species). Thus, the
male Lion, Elk, Wolf, etc. drives
off any potential rival genetic donor and maintains his harem; the thinking goes, it's hard work to
provide protection & leandership which the male invests..he will not waste it on another male's progeny. Should he detect any
offspring not his 'own' he will kill them. Sort of 'honor' among the beasts. The school of thought is based on individual relation to the 'gene pool' and the inate drive to introduce as many of and individual's genes as possible. [explaining the 'sex drive' in these lines of thought] This seems true of primitive human society as well, see
for example. As societies developed and became more complex, the issue was more formally recognized. Thus the proto-religions often addressed 'paternity' and adultery and certainly by the literate times of the the early Hebrews, we find legal definition as well as punishment codified. It is instructive that the Hammurabi
Code permitted the offended husband to forgive both wife and
transgressor (or let them both be
excecuted), whereas the subsequent
Hebrew Law simply directed execution: the offense moving from against man (the husband, who still held options) to against
Jehovah, hence the husband, a mere mortal, was precluded. In later religious law, such as Islam, the
codifications IMHO intensified the
crime of the woman and the 'honor' of the man; in secular Law such affairs are only indirectly addressed. So, we observe, ponder and wonder....

The Griper said...

"So, we observe, ponder and wonder...."

with a grin he says "yes, so we do, so we do"

here is a interesting link addressing the laws of old testament along with eastern laws and islamic laws dealing with the topic of sexual behavior and penalties.

The Griper said...

Anonymous said...

Dishonor killings are usually directed toward women because, in some cultures, it is believed a family's honor resides in its females. That is why, even in cases as extreme as rape, in such cultures the perpetrator walks free while the rape victim is either killed or forced to live in prison in protective custody.

Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
"Reclaiming Honor in Jordan"

BB-Idaho said...

Thanks for the link. Although
'hermaneutics', 'exegises' and
'epistimology' are beyond my ken, it was an enlightening paper. The author, Susanne Scholz, is a professor at Merrimack College, a tidy Augustinian catholic school;
she writes ( from a narrow, but robust, religious philosophy, somewhat critical of modern evangenlical (dare I say
Epistimology) thought regarding
theological/gender issues. My ignorance in these areas is vast enough to refrain from arguement and common sense prohibits crticism of any particular Christian belief (at least on my part). But it is fascinating that
on occasion, secular history, with which I am least minimally familiar' dovetails with theological interpetation of the same. Fascinating..thanks for the link. (must stop repeating 'fascinating' less I
be compared to the cold Vulcan, Mr. Spock of Star Trek) :)

The Griper said...

"secular history, with which I am least minimally familiar' dovetails with theological interpetation of the same."

a lot of this dovetailing has to do with the leader of these societies. monarchy was the norm not the exception, bb. thus as the monarch believed so were the laws of that society. a good example of this would be Constantine who was purported to have converted to Christianity.

other examles being france, spain, portugal, even england with england actually wedding itself to religion by making the king both head of state and head of religion.

The Griper said...

"in some cultures, it is believed a family's honor resides in its females"

this statement needs further explanation. in what cultures? and how do you mean "resides"?

honor as far as i understand was a possession not something within a person.

to say it resides in the female would, in essense, make the female of the species more valued than the male.

also to say that is to declare that men could not know honor without having a woman. and that cannot be true.

if you were to say it resides in a woman because it is she who was to honor the man that might be more defendable. but it still lacks credibility since it doesn't cover all the bases of how honor is depicted.

dcat said...

It's honor killing right to MURDER in COLD BLOOD!!!

I want the guys penis on a skewer that killed those two girls!

I don't want to hear about a f-up culture! I DON'T CARE about it! They need to be deported off this planet while I am here!

The Griper said...

he grins at dcat, don't get that blood pressure up so high my lovely friend and you may just be around long enough to get your wish granted. lolol


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