The American credo

By Mencken and George J. Nathan

I like Mencken, I really do even with his faults. In this book they make a contribution toward the interpretation of the national mind. Some of the anecdotes I think still seem true today as they were when they penned this book. 

They write for example that it is part of the national psyche that Bob Ingersoll is in hell. 

What I found interesting was this

The constitution of his country guarantees that he shall be a free man and assumed that he is intelligent, but the laws and customs that have grown up under that constitution give the lie to both the guarantee and the assumption.  It is the fundamental theory of all the more recent American law, in fact, that the average citizen is half witted and hence not to be trusted to either his own devices or his own thoughts. If there were not regulations against the saloon, he would get drunk every day, dissipate his means, undermine his health and beggar his family. If there were not postal regulations as to his reading matter, he would divide his time between Bolshevist literature and pornographic literature and so become at once an anarchist and a guinnea pig. If he were not forbidden under heavy penalties to cross a state line with a wench, he would be chronically unfaithful to his wife.

Advertisements