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H. L. Mencken

American Writer
Henry Louis "H. L." Mencken (September 12, 1880 – January 29, 1956) was an American journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, critic of American life and culture, and scholar of American English. Known as the "Sage of Baltimore", he is regarded as one of the most influential American writers and prose stylists of the first half of the twentieth century. Many of his books remain in print. Mencken is known for writing The American Language, a multi-volume study of how the English language is spoken in the United States, and for his satirical reporting on the Scopes trial, which he dubbed the "Monkey Trial". He commented widely on the social scene, literature, music, prominent politicians, pseudo-experts, the temperance movement, and uplifters. A keen cheerleader of scientific progress, he was very skeptical of economic theories and particularly critical of anti-intellectualism, bigotry, populism, fundamentalist Christianity, creationism, organized religion, the existence of God, and osteopathic/chiropractic medicine. In addition to his literary accomplishments, Mencken was known for his controversial ideas. As a frank admirer of German philosopher Nietzsche, he was not a proponent of representative democracy, which he believed was a system in which inferior men dominated their superiors. During and after World War I, he was sympathetic to the Germans, and was very distrustful of British propaganda. However, he also referred to Adolf Hitler and his followers as "ignorant thugs." Mencken, through his wide criticism of actions taken by government, has had a strong impact on the American left and the American libertarian movement.
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Quotes by H. L. Mencken
The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself... Almost inevitably, he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable.

The worst government is often 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.

by H. L. Mencken
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It is not materialism that is the chief curse of the world, as pastors teach, but idealism. Men get into trouble by taking their visions and hallucinations too seriously.

by H. L. Mencken
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Most people are unable to write because they are unable to think, and they are unable to think because they congenitally lack the equipment to do so, just as they congenitally lack the equipment to fly over the moon.

by H. L. Mencken
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Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.

by H. L. Mencken
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Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what sting is justice.

by H. L. Mencken
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A professor must have a theory as a dog must have fleas.

by H. L. Mencken
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Unquestionably, there is progress. The average American now pays out twice as much in taxes as he formerly got in wages.

by H. L. Mencken
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Platitude: an idea (a) that is admitted to be true by everyone, and (b) that is not true.

by H. L. Mencken
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Wealth - any income that is at least one hundred dollars more a year than the income of one's wife's sister's husband.

by H. L. Mencken
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Legend: A lie that has attained the dignity of age.

by H. L. Mencken
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In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.

by H. L. Mencken
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A Sunday school is a prison in which children do penance for the evil conscience of their parents.

by H. L. Mencken
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Morality is the theory that every human act must be either right or wrong, and that 99 % of them are wrong.

by H. L. Mencken
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Archbishop - A Christian ecclesiastic of a rank superior to that attained by Christ.

by H. L. Mencken
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Alimony - the ransom that the happy pay to the devil.

by H. L. Mencken
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A man always remembers his first love with special tenderness, but after that he begins to bunch them.

by H. L. Mencken
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To be in love is merely to be in a state of perceptual anesthesia - to mistake an ordinary young woman for a goddess.

by H. L. Mencken
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The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.

by H. L. Mencken
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There is always an easy solution to every problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.

by H. L. Mencken
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Love is like war: easy to begin but very hard to stop.

by H. L. Mencken
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To die for an idea; it is unquestionably noble. But how much nobler it would be if men died for ideas that were true!

by H. L. Mencken
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Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.

by H. L. Mencken
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No man ever quite believes in any other man. One may believe in an idea absolutely, but not in a man.

by H. L. Mencken
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When women kiss it always reminds one of prize fighters shaking hands.

by H. L. Mencken
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The only really happy folk are married women and single men.

by H. L. Mencken
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