There was once a time in New England when men, brothers and neighbors killed for the honor of their daughters. (Of course, some of those same men were actually upholding something other than honor – and were invariably engaged in myriad forms of brutality against their own wives, sisters and daughters…but that’s another post for another time.) It was a violent, patriarchal time not much different from our own. Our time may retain the hallmarks of violence and male domination, but what seems to have passed away is the notion of “code.” The code of collectives like New England’s Irish American immigrant population used to be a singular, unifying mechanism for the intergenerational commutation of values. The erosion of that mechanism began many generations ago. As each successive generation of youth becomes acculturated into something larger than Old World-Old School values, the notion of applying the “code” to egregious transgressors sounds barbaric.
This morning, while watching ESPN’s coverage of the upcoming NFL day, I wondered how this world and its many media outlets would frame, report and cover the murder of Tom Brady – if it resulted from avenging angels seeking to defend the honor of his former partner and mother of his child. There was a time when a man guilty of “moving on” in the way in Brady has might be subjected to the ultimate form of correction. Of course, there might be instances where murder would be unintended, but severe bodily harm would not be a mistake. It would be a tremendous spectacle – all the grief; considerations of the future of the franchise; and, the damning criticism that the Patriots QB had brought all of this on himself.
Fortunately for everyone concerned, times have changed.