Honor dishonors; the language of honor and principle can as easily be used to disguise calumny. Ironically, the power of this sort of calumny serves as well to mark their users as inferior even as its use suggests to the weak a false appearance of strength. More ironically still, its use brings no honor to the creatures who invoke it.
I have been observing the patterns of behavior of university faculty for a long time. Like other communities, faculties tend to use language as a code--to hide what they do not have the courage to utter publicly, or to mask what prudence might counsel against suggesting bluntly. Yet that exercise suggests the bad motives of the speakers and the essence of the weakness of the utterance, one that must be coded in order to me uttered. This is a coded language mimicked by other communities--judges, lawyers, business, religious and political elites. And it is powerful. It shapes discourse and thought without appearing to. Its power was brought home to me again in the context of a recent successful effort to undermine the candidacy of a famous and academically well reputed person.
What Goethe says in the Westostlicher Divan is quite true: it is useless to complain against your enemies for they can never become your friends, if your whole being is a standing reproach to them:--Was klagst du uber Feinde?Solten Solche je werden FreundeDenen das Wesen, wie du bist,Im stillen ein ewiger Vorwurf ist?It is obvious that people of this worthless description have have good cause to be thankful to the principle of honor, because it puts them on a level with people who in every other respect stand far above them. If a fellow likes to insult anyone, attribute to him, for example, some bad quality, this is taken prima facie as a well founded opinion, true in fact; a decree, as it were, with all the force of law; nay, if it is not at once wiped out in blood, it is a judgment which holds good and valid to all time. In other words, the man who is insulted remains--in the eyes of all honorable people--what the man who uttered the insult--even though he was the greatest wretch on earth--was pleased to call him; for he has put up with the insult--the technical term I believe. Accordingly, all honorable people will have nothing more to do with him, and treat him like a leper, and, it may be, refuse to go into any company where he may be found and so on. (Arthur Schopenhauer, The Wisdom of Life and Other Essays -- Part IV, Position, Or a Man's Place in the Estimation of Others, Sec. 4, Honor at 71-72 (Ben Ray Redman, trans, and ed., Roslyn NY: Walter J. Black, 1932)).