I’ve been collecting quotes to a Word file for the last few years. Any time I stumble across something I like, I copy it to that file. It’s 61 pages long at present.
Since I haven’t felt much like writing long, involved essays recently, and since I was perusing that file tonight I thought I’d post a selection from the list for your reading enjoyment. Without further ado, other people’s words:
Rome remained free for four hundred years and Sparta eight hundred, although their citizens were armed all that time; but many other states that have been disarmed have lost their liberties in less than forty years. — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Art of War, 1521 AD (E. Farneworth translation, pg. 30, 1965)
I suppose I could have blown up a few trucks, put bad food back on the deli counter or accused the military of nerve-gassing deserters and kept my journalistic integrity throughout. But I realized early on, it is easier to sleep at night if you can say at every step that you reported the truth as you knew it. — Matt Drudge
One of the common failings among honorable people is a failure to appreciate how thoroughly dishonorable some other people can be, and how dangerous it is to trust them. — Thomas Sowell
The world is filled with violence. Because criminals carry guns, we decent law-abiding citizens should also have guns. Otherwise they will win and the decent people will lose. — James Earl Jones
The truly and deliberately evil men are in a very small minority; it is the appeaser who unleashes them on mankind; it is the appeaser’s intellectual abdication that invites them to take over. When a culture’s dominant trend is geared to irrationality, the thugs win over the appeasers. When intellectual leaders fail to foster the best in the mixed, uninformed, vacillating characters of people at large, the thugs are sure to bring out the worst. When the ablest men turn into cowards, the average men turn into brutes. — Ayn Rand, Altruism as Appeasement
Avoid the legal nets
That entangled Bernie Goetz,
Just shout “Help! Help! Police!”
Like Kitty Genovese…
I do believe that where there is a choice only between cowardice and violence I would advise violence. — Mohandas Gandhi
The ruling class doesn’t care about public safety. Having made it very difficult for States and localities to police themselves, having left ordinary citizens with no choice but to protect themselves as best they can, they now try to take our guns away. In fact they blame us and our guns for crime. This is so wrong that it cannot be an honest mistake. — former U.S. Sen. Malcolm Wallop (R-Wy.)
No government, of its own motion, will increase its own weakness, for that would mean to acquiesce in its own destruction … governments, whatever their pretensions otherwise, try to preserve themselves by holding the individual down … Government itself, indeed, may be reasonably defined as a conspiracy against him. Its one permanent aim, whatever its form, is to hobble him sufficiently to maintain itself. — Henry Louis Mencken
Many politicians are in the habit of laying it down as a self-evident proposition, that no people ought to be free till they are fit to use their freedom. The maxim is worthy of the fool in the old story, who resolved not to go into the water till he had learned to swim. If men are to wait for liberty till they become wise and good in slavery, they may indeed wait forever. — Lord Thomas Macaulay
To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it. –Thomas Jefferson
If everyone in America had been tied to a chair and forced to watch the debate Clockwork-Orange style, we’d all realize that the Senate is just a holding tank for people whose self-regard and cretinous reasoning is matched only by their demonstrable contempt for the idiots they think will lap this crap up. -– James Lileks
…people will sometimes do stupid or evil things with their freedom. But without their freedom, they will seldom do great things. So by protecting society against one, you also deprive it of the other. The Armed Liberal
Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women. When it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it. — Justice Learned Hand
“On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.” –Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823, The Complete Jefferson, p. 322
Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government. — James Madison
The Constitution is a written instrument. As such, its meaning does not alter. That which it meant when it was adopted, it means now. — South Carolina v. US, 199 U.S. 437, 448 (1905)
Day by day, case by case, [the Supreme Court] is busy designing a Constitution for a country I do not recognize. — Antonin Scalia
As an individual, I believe, very strongly, that handguns should be banned and that there should be stringent, effective control of other firearms. However, as a judge, I know full well that the question of whether handguns can be sold is a political one, not an issue of products liability law, and that this is a matter for the legislatures, not the courts. The unconventional theories advanced in this case (and others) are totally without merit, a misuse of products liability laws. — Judge Buchmeyer, Patterson v. Gesellschaft, 1206 F.Supp. 1206, 1216 (N.D. Tex. 1985)
Perhaps the most accurate conclusion one can reach with any confidence is that the core meaning of the Second Amendment is a populist / republican / federalism one: Its central object is to arm ‘We the People’ so that ordinary citizens can participate in the collective defense of their community and their state. But it does so not through directly protecting a right on the part of states or other collectivities, assertable by them against the federal government, to arm the populace as they see fit. Rather the amendment achieves its central purpose by assuring that the federal government may not disarm individual citizens without some unusually strong justification consistent with the authority of the states to organize their own militias. That assurance in turn is provided through recognizing a right (admittedly of uncertain scope) on the part of individuals to possess and use firearms in the defense of themselves and their homes — not a right to hunt for game, quite clearly, and certainly not a right to employ firearms to commit aggressive acts against other persons — a right that directly limits action by Congress or by the Executive Branch and may well, in addition, be among the privileges or immunities of United States citizens protected by §1 of the Fourteenth Amendment against state or local government action. — Laurence Tribe, American Constitutional Law 902 n. 221 (2000)
Personally, I’m interested in keeping other people from building Utopia, because the more you believe you can create heaven on earth the more likely you are to set up guillotines in the public square to hasten the process. — James Lileks
Basically, I figure guns are like gays: They seem a lot more sinister and threatening until you get to know a few; and once you have one in the house, you can get downright defensive about them. — Teresa Nielsen Hayden
The Republic will endure as long as the ideals and principles of the Founders remain dominant in the hearts of the people. — James Russell Lowe
The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money. — Alexis de Tocqueville
When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know, the end result is tyranny and oppression no matter how holy the motives. — Robert A. Heinlein
To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil. — Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post, Friday, July 26, 2002; Page A33
If you don’t have enough hair on your ass to tell your child “NO!” when he’s doing wrong, or to bust his ass when he needs it, you are not a parent. You are a piss-poor gardener growing a wild weed. — Rob Smith, the Acidman
Prohibition was introduced as a fraud; it has been nursed as a fraud.
It is wrapped in the livery of Heaven, but it comes to serve the devil.
It comes to regulate by law our appetites and our daily lives.
It comes to tear down liberty and build up fanaticism, hypocrisy, and intolerance. It comes to confiscate by legislative decree the property of many of our fellow citizens. It comes to send spies, detectives, and informers into our homes; to have us arrested and carried before courts and condemned to fines and imprisonments. It comes to dissipate the sunlight of happiness, peace, and prosperity in which we are now living and to fill our land with alienations, estrangements, and bitterness.
It comes to bring us evil – only evil – and that continually. Let us rise in our might as one and overwhelm it with such indignation that we shall never hear of it again as long as grass grows and water runs.” — Roger Q. Mills, 1887
Tex’s first law of government: The inevitable failure of legislation will be seen as a justification for even more legislation. — Tex (obviously, but I don’t know where I found it.)
The opinion of the press corps tends toward consensus because of an astonishing uniformity of viewpoint. Certain types of people want to become journalists, and they carry certain political and cultural opinions. This self-selection is hardened by peer group pressure. No conspiracy is necessary; journalists quite spontaneously think alike. The problem comes because this group-think is by now divorced from the thoughts and attitudes of readers. — Robert L. Bartley, OpinionJournal editor emeritus.
Most of the time we let our government speak for us, but we can speak for ourselves. Each individual voice is very small, but if enough of us commit to something, it is impossible to ignore. We can directly reward friends and directly punish enemies. We don’t need our government’s permission and our government can’t stop us, because though the US government is the most powerful in history and more powerful than any other in the world, we are even more powerful yet and will replace the US government if it tries to do so. That is part of the power we retained, and every two years the government submits itself to us for reapproval. — Steven Den Beste
Here’s a truly American Revolutionary idea. You let me pay for my own health care. In return, I get to eat all day and drink all night if I want to. If I start missing work, fire me. If I commit a crime, imprison me. If I die, bury me. Until then, leave me the hell alone. –- Ravenwood from Ravenwood’s Universe
It makes one look like a savage to say so, but if your house burns down, blows over, or floats away, it’s not the job of the federal government to fix it for you. Charity is one thing, but federal tax dollars coerced at 1040-point from a single working mother of two in Dubuque (and then filtered through a morbidly obese federal agency) to rebuild your bungalow in Destin is not charity, okay? It’s extortion. — Tamara K. from View from the Porch
This is America. Has your neighborhood ever been invaded by state troopers from another state? I will leave when I am dead. Treat me with benign neglect. — Ashton O’Dwyer, New Orleans lawyer in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
It stands to reason that self-righteous, inflexible, single-minded, authoritarian true believers are politically organized. Open-minded, flexible, complex, ambiguous, anti-authoritarian people would just as soon be left to mind their own fucking business. — R.U. Sirius, How To Mutate and Take Over The World
The two best anti-poverty programs are work and marriage, and the government withdrew its assistance from any poor person who openly engaged in either of these activities. To put it bluntly, the ‘Great Society’ implemented by the 1960s liberals was one where the government supported poor young women, but only if they never had a job themselves, never got married, and raised their children without a father even contributing to the support or nurture of the family. Unsurprisingly, this experiment turned out to be a massive failure. — Sen. Jim Talent, R-MO
So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men. — Voltairine de Cleyre
The EU is built on a fantasy–that men and women can do less and less work, have longer and longer holidays and retire at an earlier age, while having their income, in real terms, and their standard of living increase. And this miracle is to be brought about by the enlightened bureaucratic regulation of every aspect of life. –Paul Johnson, 10.06.03 Forbes Magazine, “Europe’s Utopian Hangover”
Perhaps the biggest mistake an intellectual can make is to try to parlay his one brilliant insight into a unified theory of existence. Ayn Rand made this mistake with Objectivism. Objectivism was useful for thinking in certain limited realms, but Rand sought to apply Objectivist thinking to every aspect of the human experience, including love. The result is a sterile philosophical landscape, extending out of sight in all directions. Tellingly, Rand was unable to live according to her ideals. This is part of what makes Rand so disagreeable; the almost hysterical denial of subjectivity’s inevitable, essential role in our lives. And it makes her not only disagreeable, but wrong. – Dipnut from Isntapundit
When a private entity does not produce the desired results, it is (certain body parts excepted) done away with. But a public entity gets bigger. — P.J. O’Rourke, All the Trouble in the World.
Government subsidies can be critically analyzed according to a simple principle: You are smarter than the government, so when the government pays you to do something you wouldn’t do on your own, it is almost always paying you to do something stupid. — Ibid.
When government does, occasionally, work, it works in an elitist fashion. That is, government is most easily manipulated by people who have money and power already. This is why government benefits usually go to people who don’t need benefits from government. Government may make some environmental improvements, but these will be improvements for rich bird-watchers. And no one in government will remember that when poor people go bird-watching they do it at Kentucky Fried Chicken. — Ibid.
Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. –Mark Twain
Liberty’s too precious a thing to be buried in books, Miss Saunders. Men should hold it up in front of them every single day of their lives and say: I’m free to think and to speak. My ancestors couldn’t, I can, and my children will. Boys ought to grow up remembering that. — Jefferson Smith (Jimmy Stewart) in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
That’s enough for now. Got any of your own to share?