Henry David ThoreauHenry David Thoreau, (1817-1862) American author, poet, philosopher, polymath, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and transcendentalist

Henry David Thoreau Quote

“Somehow strangely the vice of men gets well represented and protected but their virtue has none to plead its cause -- nor any charter of immunities and rights.”

Henry David ThoreauHenry David Thoreau
~ Henry David Thoreau

Ratings and Comments

Jack, Green, OH

If true, it could be there is no reason to plead the cause of virtue. Only wrongdoings create any stir as examples of what not to do. It is not literally true, however and is obviously a tongue-in-cheek bit of irony, and hardly worthy of Thoreau. Not very good semantically either

Joe, Rochester, MI

Wrong according to whom? Semantics? You're sounding like Clinton and what the definition of "is" is.

Mike, Norwalk

well said and very true

E Archer, NYC


Me Again
  • Reply
Me Again    1/19/07

Sadly true.

  • 1
  • Reply
EGL, LA    1/19/07

There is something with the human psyche that gravitates to the negative. Consider anything critical anyone has ever said to you as compared to praise, from childhood on--we remember the slgihts forever, the compliments fade.

Jack, Green, OH

Semantics? I don't get Thoreau's point of vices being well protected, or virtue having no one to plead its case (does it need one? ..after all, virtue is its own reward) or having no charter of immunity(what does that mean?). If there is a message there it escapes me. Words are meant to clarify, not obfuscate. I lower my rating to 0 as I reconsider it.

Ken, Allyn, WA

Well, Jack, you can see ACLU lawyers falling all over themselves to represent a hardcore pornographer on freedom of speech issues, but only crickets chirp in defense of some student who is not allowed to read a Bible in school. You may believe the Bible is nothing more than a dusty, old book of superstitions, but it is certainly the student's right to possess and read it. Thoreau is a bit cynical here, but correct.

Jack, Green, OH

You are right, Ken. Cynical is what I meant by; If true, and tongue-in-cheek,. I don't think Thoreau literally meant that vice is protected but virtue is ignored,. It might seem that way to some when the ACLU (of which I happen to be a proud member) defends someone's freedom of expression, in its place, at the expense of someone else's sensitivities. The Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, not freedom from vexation. That is not the same as protecting vice, however.

Ken, Allyn, WA

Jack, I certainly can't read anyone's thoughts, but I have often noticed a certain sense of glee when an ACLU lawyer comes to the defense of someone whose "speech" is demonstrably damaging to others, yet they seldom seem to have the time of day for "speech" with which they don't agree. But, maybe I'm just a bit cynical myself.

Mike, Norwalk

Jack, you make me smile. Your religion's in the box platitudes, cliches, and new interpretive definitions are at least, if not more, predictable than mine. Semantically speaking, one man's vexation is another man's sensitivity. Thanks for the continuity in support of the individual sovereign's demise. ;-) (this way, we know what those against the Constitution are thinking and saying)

Jack, Green, OH

Why do people approve Voltaire saying; “I disagree with what you say, but will defend to death your right to say it”, but condemn anyone who actually does it? The ACLU does not condone Nazis, or pornography, or other unpopular things, but they will stand up for the right of those who do, as their freedom of expression. Like an attorney, defending a criminal, he is performing his duty to give the accused the best mitigating case he can, and the defendant is innocent until proven guilty. Why don’t they do that for Christians, then, they ask? Because Christians want to do it from the courthouse walls, or public classrooms, or government documents, etc. which are expressly forbidden by the Constitution. I still say Thoreau was making a joke or a satire on the appearance of vice getting protected and virtue being ignored. He did a poor job of it, in my opinion

Editor, Liberty Quotes

Jack, Please rate the quotes only once. Thanks.

Felipe, São Paulo

As always, Thoreau is right to the point. Sad some people don't see it.


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