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

H. L. Mencken Quote

“It is the theory of all modern civilized governments that they protect and foster the liberty of the citizen; it is the practice of all of them to limit its exercise, and sometimes very narrowly.”

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

Ratings and Comments

David L Rosenthal

Well, in this respect, Bill Clinton was quite honest, when he plainly stated his opinion that our rights should be more limited. O, right...the quote refers to civilized governments. Are there any? Well, after all, we really do have more liberty than half the world.

Mike, Norwalk

That may be true, I don't know. I do believe that modern governments fain claim liberty to be the legislature, judiciary, and executive powers' ability to control the populace at large.

Mike, Mount Holly, NC

People are hard to control if they have too much liberty.

E Archer, NYC

I agree with Mencken -- he simply identifies the hypocrisy of politicians who in the end simply desire power.

Jack, Green, OH

I am curious, David, where and when Bill Clinton said the rights of the people should be limited. It is not the policy of Democrats to limit rights. That's the province of Republicans, but maybe he had something in mind I am not aware of. I would really like to know. It has been the current government which want to take away women's rights, gay rights, demonstrators' rights, the rights of the incarcerated and anyone else who disagrees with them. When did Clinton do that? As for Menchen, I know he was a cynic and a satirist, so I expect him to speak in hyperbole so that's the way I read his exaggerated quote. It is meant to show the difference between theory and practice of government. He always spoke wisdom in that way.

David L Rosenthal

You can find it by using your search engine, Jack. It is not hard to find. Or you can deny it out of hand. Do as you please. But first, try to remember that only a short time ago you added comments to the page on one of Clinton's quotes on the subject on this site. You don't remember? See: http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/Bill.Clinton.Quote.7332..........and women's rights do not include killing a fetus. That is not a right. And what are Gay Rights? The right to plunge reproductive organs into excretory canals? The government made sodomy legal when it abolished all the anti-sodomy laws. And when has the government taken away demonstrators' rights? I have participated in dozens of demonstrations in South Florida. Ocassionally the police become abusive, but isn't that what they do best? It hasn't stopped anyone I know of. On the contrary, one day we were just four people standing on a street corner, NOT EVEN protesting, when three police cars pulled up to demand our permit. After that I wrote to the mayor of Miami and some commissioners, and I stated that I would never again request a permit for a protest, while less than 50 people were to participate, as the local rule stipulates that requirement, and that I expected them to inform the police not to interfere with our legal demonstrations. The police have NEVER again asked me for a permit. Jack, do you get out much, or do you just listen to what the leftist press broadcasts?

Jack, Green, OH

David, I wanted to know where you claimed Clinton "plainly stated his opinion that our rights should be more limited".(your words). The Clinton quote you referred to at: said: because now "there's a lot of irresponsibility", comparing now to the "..radical limitation of the government's rights in the radical Bill of Rights, giving a radical amount of individual freedom to Americans, it was assumed that the Americans who had that freedom would use it responsibly". ...(but now) "a lot of people say (he didn't say he did) there's too much freedom. When personal freedom's being abused, you have to move to limit it." maybe when criminals break the law, abusing their freedom, their rights may have to be curtailed. Any quarrel with that? but Clinton was not for limiting people's rights in any way. That's the way right-wingers spin what Clinton (or Kerry) says to suit their needs I repeat it is Republicans who want to limit rights - including, and especially women's rights, but many, many others - never Democrats. All the freedoms you enjoy are because of liberal Democrats, like Clinton, not Republicans. Incidentally, my comment to the Clinton quote originally was, "Right on! The Bill of Rights was a very radical idea in the 18th century. It was added to the Constitution to limit the power of the government, guaranteeing certain rights of the People. It is sad to see them being eroded today in the name of "Security"."

David L. Rosenthal

Clinton said what Clinton said: "When personal freedom's being abused, you have to move to limit it." Clinton said that. He did not say that others said that. How do you think the children at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco felt about Clinton's stand on rights, which he demonstrated by sending in a flamethrowing tank to free them from their skin? ..................... "If the personal freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution inhibit the government's ability to govern the people, we should look to limit those guarantees." --President William Clinton, August 12, 1993 .......... -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "I can do any goddamned thing I want. I'm President of the United States. ..." -- Clinton, Oct.,1993 "The United States can't be so fixed on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans..."--President Bill Clinton, March 1, 1993, during a press conference in Piscataway, NJ Boston Globe, 3/2/93, page 3, USA Today, March 11, 1993 .........Thgere is more, Jack, but you have your idol on a pedestal, and that is where you will keep it.

David L Rosenthal

"The purpose of government is to rein in the rights of the people." Bill Clinton, during an interview on MTV in 1993

Jack, Green, OH

Searching the Bosgon Globe archives for: Clinton press conference, Piscataway, NJ, 3/1/1993 (closest match) between 3/1/1993 znd 3/4/1993 returned no articles. Same for all dates 1979 to present. I was willing to pay but no such article were found. I have to assume you don't have the information right. Can you come up with a better search? How much time or money should I devote to finding a doubtful article? Where did you obtain your reference?

David L. Rosenthal

Can't live with the reality that your idol is a false god, huh, Jack?

Jack, Green, OH

One more thing, David. Kindly give us some references that check out for the claims you make. I am serious about knowing anything Clinton, or any Democrat, said that called for limiting rights of anyone, except those who abuse their freedom - like criminals. The assault on rights I refer to are those on gays, or ethnic groups, or women, or those who would disagree with others but do them no harm, or where Clinton says "some people say..." and attribute it to his opinion.

David L Rosenthal

Do you need a defibulator, Jack, or an electroshock applicator? Do your own research, like a big boy. You still haven't responded to most of the references I gave, so either respond to them or otherwise it will look as though you really agree with them. I guess you don't believe that Three Dollar Bill ever did anything wrong, since you seem to be his greatest living advocate. Try being honest for a change, Jack. It won't hurt too much.

Jack, Green, OH

I searched hard, David, for the easiest reference you gave and got nowhere. How much time should I spend on a wild goose chase? I have come to one conclusion. You never got very far in a debating club did you? Bluffing works in poker, if you're good at it, and it is vital part of the game. A good bluffer will always win, but not in a debate. You have to have your facts or you'll end up resorting to name calling and lose everything.

David L Rosenthal

Anyone can find these references, Jack, and can prove to themselves whether you or I mislead them here. I am satisfied that you either have not the capacity to reason or have not the desire to be honest. You have my disrespect.

David L Rosenthal


David L Rosenthal


David L Rosenthal


Jack, Green, OH

Are you saying "We can't be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans..", by Clinton, says he wants to limit freedoms? What freedoms? Part of a quote says nothing by itself. What rights is he advocating be reduced What else did Clinton say, since you're such an authority on him?

David L Rosenthal

It's hard to lose an idol.

Jack, Green, OH

Not lose an idol, but greatly enhance him, since no points were scored against him.

David L Rosenthal

Whatever you say, Jack. Clinton is a saint, a hero, a legend, a philanthropist, a tireless advocate for the rights of Waco' children, and a really great interpreter of the verb "to be"(it depends on what the meaning of is is). Just wait till he gets the headship of the UN and see what he does with that. You know (or maybe not) that the UN has on its agenda the worldwide promotion of worship of Gaia (the Earth), and removing everyone's guns (just like Hitler, Stalin, and Castro). I hope you are lucky enough not to be here when it happens, Jack. It would break your heart.

Ken, Allyn, WA

The very business of government is to govern, regulate, control, and direct, and that means to limit the actions of individuals "sometimes very narrowly." The more government you ask for, the more governed you become. It matters very little if the cwazy liberals or the eeeviill conservatives are in charge. Even if a libertarian were to somehow magically come to governent power, he would exercise it on his fellows. The only difference is the size of government that we are forced to live with, and the amount of control we allow over the minutae of our lives.

Me Again
  • Reply
Me Again    11/16/06

I agree with this quote. It speaks Truth.

Mark W, Aurora, CO

Mencken perfectly describes the democrat plantation m.o. Either you believe in Liberty, and MAGA -- or, you believe as dems like Jack Green in Ohio: that Slick Willy is above reproach, as long as he and Crooked Hellary pitches for the govt globalists.

GOVT IS PURE EVIL, THAT'S WHY THE DEMS LOVE IT - and it's also why the GOP refuses to relinquish its illicit elite stranglehold over We People!.

Patrick Henry, Red Hill

The corruptive potential of power is such that:

" That government which governs least governs best."

Henry David Thoreau

" Civil Disobedience "

Ronw13, OR
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  • Reply
Ronw13, OR    3/1/18

Original intent of our form of Constitutional Republican government at Natural law is not "modern." therefore the quote is right to point out the degrading effects upon Liberty of modern forms of democratic governments. Hear, Hear Patrick Henry, Red Hill.


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