H. L. MenckenH. L. Mencken, (1880-1956) American Journalist, Editor, Essayist, Linguist, Lexicographer, and Critic

H. L. Mencken Quote

“Whenever 'A' attempts by law to impose his moral standards upon 'B', 'A' is most likely a scoundrel.”

H. L. MenckenH. L. Mencken
~ H. L. Mencken

Ratings and Comments

Roy Johnson, Detroit

This quote is as pertinent today, maybe more so, than when it was originally said.

Annette, Los Angeles

How very true!

Terry Berg, Occidental, CA

I guess I'd almost be willing to remove the "most likely" part of the quote given today's 'MORAL' climate.

John-Douglas, Nassau

Well, there's the CIA, FBI, FDA, FEMA, HSO, ACLU, IRS - to name a few alphabet soup miscreants, all of who seem determined to force their 'laws' upon US. I think it polite to call them scoundrels.

JDoN, Michigan

I reckon all them "alphabet soup" outfits can be characterized by the initials -SOB

daigu, sillycon valley

I met Mencken's niece and she said she'd "never met anyone with such integrity." Would that this quote could be emblazoned upon the sky o'er this former republic as the "A's" multiply like bees.


ATF? www.ATFabuse.com

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

Some moral impositions or consensus is inevitable in a society. These quotes today point out that things never change. Adams and Thoreaues quotes show they felt in 1800 and 1830 the same way we do today and we think our times are so bad. I suggest the presence of some psychological condition at work in the human personality, for these guys were just as miserable as we are.

E Archer, NYC

'Most likely'? Definitely! Morality cannot be legislated. I guess when trying to scare the hell out of people to get them to do what you want doesn't work, then just pass a law requiring it. For the most part, humankind is easily yoked and tied. Just turn off the TV and suddenly most of the 'problems' just aren't any more.

Eric, Atlanta, GA

Amen brother. True wisdom here folks.

  • Reply
RobertSRQ    1/24/08

Most definitely; yes, those dirty rotten scoundrels

warren, olathe

All legislation is to define what is moral or immoral concerning the question at hand. If it were not there would be no point to it. That is not to say all legislation is good when the moral compass of so many is askew. I know that those that say "You can not legislate morality" mean that morality can not be forced on someone, but legislating morality is all that legislators do.

  • 1
  • Reply
anonymous    4/4/14

Hobby Lobby.

Mike, Norwalk

warren, legislation is NOT ! to define what is moral or immoral, good or bad, etc. concerning the question at hand. If it were, the only point to it would be pure despotism and tyranny. Legislation is to define an order of natural law.

Ron w13, Or

Godliness with contentment is great gain. With out it, you are miserable. Well said Archer !! I don't care if you dance, drink, smoke or play cards. Some little chickens, and hen pecked rosters in the back row do. All the while the elite watch from their towers of ivory.

jim k, austin tx

Mencken is usually right and this is no exception.


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