Quotes: H.L. Mencken.

The Palace Library’s quote collection has been sorely neglected as of late, and in what can only be described as a truly embarrassing and inexcusable oversight, has until today boasted only a single quote from H.L. Mencken (1880-1956):

The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it. –H.L. Mencken

Fortunately, to the rescue comes our newest contributor Don Ardell, who sent the Palace a missive this morning consisting entirely of the following:

Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant.
H.L. Mencken

Astounded by Mr. Mencken’s perceptiveness for the eleventy-millionth time, I spent my morning collecting a few more gems:

The kind of man who demands that government enforce his ideas is always the kind whose ideas are idiotic. –H.L. Mencken

It is inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for any public office. –H.L. Mencken

Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy. –H.L. Mencken

For every problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. –H.L. Mencken, H.L. Mencken on Religion

As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. –H.L. Mencken [Note: that day was January 20, 2001. -Ed.]

It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics and chemistry. –H.L. Mencken

Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey-cage. –H.L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy

You can’t do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth. –H.L. Mencken

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. –H.L. Mencken

No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby. –H.L. Mencken

Finally, here is a particularly cherished favorite, one that may as well be carved in stone over the Palace gates:

The way to deal with superstition is not to be polite to it, but to tackle it with all arms, and so rout it, cripple it, and make it forever infamous and ridiculous. Is it, perchance, cherished by persons who should know better? Then their folly should be brought out into the light of day, and exhibited there in all its hideousness until they flee from it, hiding their heads in shame. –H.L. Mencken

Mencken held some problematic views, particularly of women, but his political and religious satire is brilliant, sharp-tongued and incisive.  The Palace is pleased to announce the addition of these fine quotes to our collection, for the enjoyment of our beloved tens of loyal readers.

[h/t Don Ardell]

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