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I believe all government is evil-Mencken
I believe all government is evil-Mencken

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One morning in 1926, an energetic and popular writer woke up and went to work, earnestly hoping that he would be arrested by the police. It was, after all, what his lawyer recommended. The writer’s name was Henry Louis Mencken, contributing editor of the sassy counter-establishment magazine, The American Mercury. His lawyer was Arthur Garfield Hays, notorious civil rights lawyer who spent the previous year masterminding Scope’s defense against Tennessee’s prohibition on teaching evolution. The two men were probably the most famous in America for promoting the cause of civil liberty, and by the end of this day they would be yet more famous. Mencken’s hope was fulfilled; he was arrested by the civilian patrol Watch and Ward Society for the crime of selling his ‘impure literature’, a copy of his own magazine.

Like any purposeful arrest, it was well-staged. Thousands of Mencken’s supporters were on hand for the event, as were photographers and reporters. Foolishly, the Watch and Ward Society still decided to go through with the arrest in the midst of all this publicity, and they paid for it. Faced with the absurdity of convicting a man for selling printed material so high in demand, Judge George Anderson declared he would not interfere with Mencken’s right to “raise hell” in Boston. Hays’ strategy of depicting the enemy as laughable and backwards paid off, just as it had during the Scopes trial. The self-appointed moral police WWS would languish on for a few more years, but before the thirties, it was completely gone.

H.L. Mencken never did have much patience for others interfering in his business. He was an independent spirit, a passionate hater of FDR and his New Deal, and of most government in general. Though he did not stay with any one publication very long, Mencken spent his entire career writing, tirelessly churning out brilliant articles and essays on freedom. To him, the freedom to think for oneself, unshackled by government or religious dogma, was more precious than any other. His sharp wit and lively prose had many Americans agreeing with him, and thus kept alive the flame of liberty during the Depression. Celebrate his contrary spirit by picking up this bumper sticker for your car!