Is the Idea of "Being a Gentleman" a Threat to Freedom?

It's possible.

At least according to New Threats contributor Mark T. Mitchell in his recent piece on the Iowa wrestler who refused to wrestle with a female opponent in the first round of the Iowa state championships. The male wrestler, who was apparently a real contender for the title, said that he was raised to be a gentleman and gentlemen don't inflict violence on ladies. Both sides in the matter seemed to treat each other with respect, the gentleman in question forfieted, and that was the end of it, but the media has been buzzing about this story, especially in Iowa, a state where wrestling is what football is to Texas or what hockey is to Canada.

The young man's statements on the nature of "being a gentleman" roused in Mitchell philosophical musings on times gone by, on liberty, and on gender roles:

"The gentleman is a social role that implies a recognition of forms and limits that constrain action even as those very forms and limits elevate the meaning and nobility of actions they enjoin.

"Forms and limits are not welcomed in a culture that sees freedom as the highest good, a culture that fairly worships at the altar of individual choice. The history of the liberal project has been a steady and determined attempt to defy limits, to destroy forms, to expand the idea and practice of liberation to all spheres of existence. How can the idea of the gentleman, the essence of which necessarily depends on the propriety of limits, co-exist with the goals of liberalism?"

That last question remains unanswered, both by Mitchell and by society at large, but the rest of his article is interesting nonetheless and well worth checking out.

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