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Don 't be so fast to put down the rural Southern Culture of Honor

In August, some namby-pamby media members, many of whom don't understand exactly why they get to publicly say the things they say, hitched their coattails to "new" data regarding the Culture of Honor.

University of Oklahoma associate professor of psychology Dr. Ryan Brown, had his ah-ha moment and 15 seconds in the spotlight when he produced research findings implicating the Culture of Honor in accidental deaths because of frivolous risk-taking, primarily among males.

Brown narrowly defines the Culture of Honor as a mindset of placing a high value on one's personal reputation and defending it at any cost. And he says that it is predominantly prevalent in rural areas and Southern states.

As we mark the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, I take issue with him and his findings and his railroading of the Culture of Honor. Brown, cloistered within the walls of academia, has a lot to learn. The Culture of Honor is so much more than defending one's reputation. It is willingness to take a stand for one's convictions. It is holding high expectations for the conduct of others. It is protecting the weak, rescuing the stranded and opening a door for a lady.

As a rule, men have accidents. That's why so many more males than females are conceived. That's why after a woman hits a certain age, she complains that she can't find a good man. Men, by nature, do stupid things, most of which can be categorized as risky, but don't necessarily relate in any way to misplaced pride.

Maybe you remember Jonathan Metz, a single male living alone, who decided to service his furnace one Sunday; not an unusual activity for a 31-year-old man on a weekend. But then he went and did something dumb. He wedged his arm so far into his furnace that he couldn't get it out.

He spent Sunday night stuck. He spent Monday like that, and Monday night. Tuesday came, and with it fear and infection. Desperately, he began sawing his arm from his body. He continued the amputation on and off into Wednesday, when friends finally missed him and investigated. Rescue workers finished the surgery Mr. Metz initiated.

Metz's accident had nothing to do with honor. But the Culture of Honor is why rescue workers showed up.

It's the reason why firefighters and police ran into the burning, disintegrating Twin Towers when everyone else ran out; risking their own lives to save others. Yes, Dr. Brown, as you say, it is the stuff of country songs, courtesy of Toby Keith and the Red, White and Blue. And it's why professors get to sit in their air-conditioned university offices surrounded by dusty books, thinking up dusty thoughts, and impugn the very thing that ensures their opportunity to do that.

Did you know that, according to a 2005 study by The Heritage Foundation, U.S. military recruits are disproportionately from rural areas? Did you know that over 40 percent of U.S. military recruits hail from Southern states? Before you argue the tired old Southerners-are-so-dumb cacophony, did you know that U.S. military recruits are better educated than the general population? Did you know that they protect our ideals, our borders and our bodies with their lives and that they voluntarily accept that risk?

I expect my three sons, in whatever they choose to do and wherever they go, to hold fast to their values, to give aid and assistance to those less fortunate than themselves, and to never ever be afraid to step up and defend what they hold dear. Doing what's right always involves risk, but it's the cultured, honorable thing to do.

Lucy Adams is a Southern daughter and the author of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run. She lives in Thomson. E-mail Lucy at and visit her Web site,

Web posted on Thursday, September 08, 2011

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