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H. L. Mencken quotes page 3

Imagine the Creator as a low comedian, and at once the world becomes explicable.
H. L. Mencken

Demagogue: One who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be
idiots.
H. L. Mencken

Any man who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them
misunderstood.
H. L. Mencken

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

Believing passionately in the palpably not true... is the chief occupation of mankind.
H. L. Mencken

Philosophy consists very largely of one philosopher arguing that all others are jackasses. He
usually proves it, and I should add that he also usually proves that he is one himself.
H. L. Mencken

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

The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men
they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.
H. L. Mencken

A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.
H. L. Mencken

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

Truth would quickly cease to be stranger than fiction, once we got as used to it.
H. L. Mencken

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

Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking.
H. L. Mencken

A newspaper is a device for making the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy crazier.
H. L. Mencken

All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it.
H. L. Mencken

Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and
begin slitting throats.
H. L. Mencken

A man full of faith is simply one who has lost, or never had, the capacity for clear and realistic
thought. He is not a mere ass; he is actually ill. Worse, he is incurable.
H. L. Mencken

There is only one honest impulse at the bottom of Puritanism, and that is the impulse to
punish the man with a superior capacity for happiness.
H. L. Mencken

Firmness in decision is often merely a form of stupidity. It indicates an inability to think the
same thing out twice.
H. L. Mencken

Sunday: A day given over by Americans to wishing that they themselves were dead and in
Heaven, and that their neighbors were dead and in Hell.
H. L. Mencken

Equality before the law is probably forever unattainable. It is a noble ideal, but it can never
be realized, for what men value in this world is not rights but privileges.
H. L. Mencken

The capacity of human beings to bore one another seems to be vastly greater than that of
any other animal.
H. L. Mencken

Adultery is the application of democracy to love.
H. L. Mencken

If, after I depart this vale, you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost,
forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl.
H. L. Mencken

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

If the average man is made in God's image, then such a man as Beethoven or Aristotle is
plainly superior to God.
H. L. Mencken

A poet more than thirty years old is simply an overgrown child.
H. L. Mencken

The essence of science is that it is always willing to abandon a given idea for a better one;
the essence of theology is that it holds its truths to be eternal and immutable.
H. L. Mencken

Misogynist: A man who hates women as much as women hate one another.
H. L. Mencken

The believing mind is externally impervious to evidence. The most that can be accomplished
with it is to induce it to substitute one delusion for another. It rejects all overt evidence as
wicked.
H. L. Mencken

Lawyer: One who protects us against robbery by taking away the temptation.
H. L. Mencken

I am suspicious of all the things that the average people believes.
H. L. Mencken

Life is a constant oscillation between the sharp horns of a dilemma.
H. L. Mencken

Why assume so glibly that the God who presumably created the universe is still running it? It
is certainly perfectly conceivable that He may have finished it and then turned it over to
lesser gods to operate. In the same way many human institutions are turned over to grossly
inferior men. This is true, for example, of most universities, and of all great newspapers.
H. L. Mencken

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