Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Henry Louis


The Sage of Baltimore.

He was a bit too elitist to be a perfect sage.  He didn't trust his fellow man.  But that was more that he thought he and people like him should be in charge rather than no one beholden to anyone else.  Or at least that the body politic should minimize such entanglements.  Mencken loved Liberty.  For him.  I don't think he thought it was for everyone, deserved, or even desired by most except as platitude.  He did think it better, for all, than alternatives.  Like here:

"I believe in only one thing and that thing is human liberty. If ever a man is to achieve anything like dignity, it can happen only if superior men are given absolute freedom to think what they want to think and say what they want to say. I am against any man and any organization which seeks to limit or deny that freedom. . . [and] the superior man can be sure of freedom only if it is given to all men."

'Superior men'.  Hmph!

Overlook that and there is plenty of other things to recommend him.  He didn't like FDR.  He DID like a good.  He never suffered fools.  And he sure knew how to turn a phrase.  That's why we still talk about him.
"The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it's good-bye to the Bill of Rights. "

Heh.  He didn't mean literally.  Well, not all the time.

Or maybe he did:

"I propose that it shall be no longer malum in se for a citizen to pummel, cowhide, kick, gouge, cut, wound, bruise, maim, burn, club, bastinado, flay, or even lynch a [government] jobholder, and that it shall be malum prohibitum only to the extent that the punishment exceeds the jobholder’s deserts."


"When A annoys or injures B on the pretense of saving or improving X, A is a scoundrel."

"It is inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office."

1 comment:

Wyowanderer said...

I dunno, friend. I tend to agree that there are superior men, especially these days. All are created equal: some don't rise to the top. I wouldn't follow most men into battle, just the best ones...