"Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on 'I am not too sure.' "
H. L. Mencken
(1880-1956) American Journalist, Editor, Essayist, Linguist, Lexicographer, and Critic
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Reader comments about this quote:
One thing you can be certain of: God's Laws, The Ten Commandments, define our relationship to God and our fellow man. Even if you don't believe in God, it still defines your relationship and behavior toward your fellow man. One reason our society is in moral decay is because it has abandoned God's Laws and who is to blame: the church.
 -- Anonymous, Oakland     
  • 2 1
    Morals, or concepts of right / wrong conduct, vary by the number of individuals. Natural law, almost from inception, was a foundational label applied to theories of ethics, theories of politics, theories of civil / criminal law and theories of religious morality. The civilized founders of the U.S.A. redefined natural law by applying it to absolutes (a cause and effect if you will. Instead of morality being the foundation on which rules are made, the law of nature and of nature's God was the foundation of what is moral) The quote is based on the pre-U.S.A. theoretical concept of morals and law. The quote does display the cultural inferiority and exposes the uncivilized man of the current occupying statist theocracy infesting this land as compared to the government of law and morality intended by the founders.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
  • 3
    As usual. Mencken is right on target.
     -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
  • 3
    Anonymous from Oakland demonstrates the accuracy of this quote perfectly.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
  • 3
    Morality can not lawfully be legislated. Despotism, tyranny and totalitarianism in the name of morality can be legislated (obamacare and an inability to defend self, family and countrymen from an occupying government are great examples) AGAIN, law enforcement is an oxymorn (can man enforce fiscal law, gravity, etc.? - can man legislate that 2 + 2 = 123 because that would be moral to someone ?) In the name of morality, despotism, tyranny, and totalitarianism can be enforced
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
  • 3
    Wrong! The truly civilized man is the one who can say "I am."
     -- Scott L, Rumford, RI     
  • 1
    Even those who exercise a great degree of "civility" are some of the worst/best liars. Never judge a book by its cover. Yes, for those not so "civilized" tend to see people for who they really are. Beware the wolf in sheep's clothing, Never confuse morality with civility.
     -- Ronw13, OR     
  • 1
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