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 H.L. Mencken Quotes
51 Famous Quotes by H.L. Mencken

A judge is a law student who marks their own examination papers.

Cliches and one-liners Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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It is hard to tell if a man is telling the truth when you know you would lie if you were in his place.

Lying Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught.

Honor Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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It is the invariable habit of bureaucracies, at all times and everywhere, to assume...that every citizen is a criminal. Their one apparent purpose, pursued with a relentless and furious diligence, is to convert the assumption into a fact. They hunt endlessly for proofs, and, when proofs are lacking, for mere suspicions. The moment they become aware of a definite citizen, John Doe, seeking what is his right under the law, they begin searching feverishly for an excuse for withholding it from him.

Politics / government Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it's good-by to the Bill of Rights.

Politics / government Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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No one ever heard of the truth being enforced by law. Whenever the secular arm is called in to sustain an idea, whether new or old, it is always a bad idea, and not infrequently it is downright idiotic.

Politics / government Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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It is the fundamental theory of all the more recent American law...that the average citizen is half-witted, and hence not to be trusted to either his own devices or his own thoughts.

Politics / government Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.

Politics / government Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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War will never cease until babies begin to come into the world with larger cerebrums and smaller adrenal glands.

Politics / government Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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To wage a war for a purely moral reason is as absurd as to ravish a woman for a purely moral reason.

Politics / government Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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We suffer most when the White House busts with ideas.

Politics / government Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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The idea that the sole aim of punishment is to prevent crime is obviously grounded upon the theory that crime can be prevented, which is almost as dubious as the notion that poverty can be prevented.

Politics / government Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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Demagogue: one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.

Politics / government Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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Of government, at least in democratic states, it may be said briefly that it is an agency engaged wholesale, and as a matter of solemn duty, in the performance of acts which all self-respecting individuals refrain from as a matter of common decency.

Politics / government Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage.

Politics / government Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule--and both commonly succeed, and are right.

Politics / government Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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All I ask is equal freedom. When it is denied, as it always is, I take it anyhow.

Politics / government Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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The only kind of freedom that the mob can imagine is freedom to annoy and oppress its betters, and that is precisely the kind that we mainly have.

Politics / government Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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I believe there is a limit beyond which free speech cannot go, but it's a limit that's very seldom mentioned. It's the point where free speech begins to collide with the right to privacy. I don't think there are any other conditions to free speech. I've got a right to say and believe anything I please, but I haven't got a right to press it on anybody else. .... Nobody's got a right to be a nuisance to his neighbors.

Politics / government Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic.

Politics / government Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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Government, in its very essence, is opposed to all increase in knowledge. Its tendency is always towards permanence and against change...[T]he progress of humanity, far from being the result of government, has been made entirely without its aid and in the face if its constant and bitter opposition.

Politics / government Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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All government, in its essence, is organized exploitation, and in virtually all of its existing forms it is the implacable enemy of every industrious and well-disposed man.

Politics / government Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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The worst government is the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.

Politics / government Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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People constantly speak of "the government" doing this or that, as they might speak of God doing it. But the government is really nothing but a group of men, and usually they are very inferior men. They may have some better man working for them, but they themselves are seldom worthy of any respect.

Politics / government Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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The New Deal began, like the Salvation Army, by promising to save humanity. It ended, again like the Salvation Army, by running flop-houses and disturbing the peace.

Politics / government Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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