It was only a few days ago that I found out one of the most interesting things about Texas. Did you know Texas still has a mutual combat law? In essence, dueling is still legal according to sections 22.01 and 22.06 in the Texas penal code.
The law states that any two individuals who feel the need to fight can agree to mutual combat through a signed for or even just verbal or implied communication and have at it (fists only, however). As long as no “serious” bodily injury occurs and both participants know what degree of risk they are hazarding, mutual combat is a defense for a criminal or civil suit that may be leveled against you.
Several states still have this as an active law, but the restrictions vary. For example, in California, the law is only applicable under the authority of a professional fighting association. But not in Texas!
I was decided on my career as a journalist until I made this discovery through a random Internet search and the chance reading of a few comments on Reddit. Now that I know dueling is still legal, there is no reason for me to pursue truth and justice through words.
Forget hoping that more people will muster the wherewithal to pick up a newspaper and get informed on important issues. Forget arguing with people through editorials and columns on problems we can’t really solve. As a result of this discovery I’ve decided to shed the veneer of civility and educated reason and replace it with the simplest answer to everything: physical violence.
I can easily see how things might escalate between two parties who seriously think they’re going to fight and not reap any legal consequences. But what if the restrictions for this law were the ultimate code of honor? What if honor in a fair fight was still a respectable way to handle disagreements? Wouldn’t it be beautiful? In a perfect world, if mutual combat was the first and last course of action in any conflict, then we would have our arguments, fight with respect and honor and leave the problems at the door the next day. But alas, I dream. I also have dreams where everyone knows kung fu and can speak any language they want with no effort.
I suppose it’s too much to ask that our modern, supposedly more civilized society, not degenerate every argument into childish slap-fests or passive aggressive actions that only make things worse for everyone involved. The world we live in is way too complicated and trivial to ever have the seamless coordination and equal codes of honor all around that I envision. And perhaps the prolific use of automatic weapons since their invention has complicated things.
But now that you know about this law, think twice about the next argument you have with a friend (or enemy). It may just save your relationship. You can decide not to complicate matters with excuses and rack your brain for eloquent (or not so eloquent) arguments and instead duel (the legal way) and accept the outcome.
Ashley Davis is a senior journalism major from Killeen. She is a copy editor at The Baylor Lariat.