"An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty.
It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and
to misapply even the best of laws.
He that would make his own liberty secure
must guard even his enemy from oppression;
for if he violates his duty
he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."
Thomas Paine
(1737-1809) US Founding father, pamphleteer, author
Dissertation on First Principles of Government, 7 July 1795
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Reader comments about this quote:
Hmmm, like Little Bushie Junior's torture camp.....So a fore father opposes persecution? Man have NAG gotten it all wrong. Hey Bush Jr. and Pals, move to China so a real president can run a free country of united states.
 -- Gölök Zoltán Leenderdt Franco Buday, Vancouver, GVRD(Paine Cnty), Coastal Lwr Mainland BC(State of Neo Sumer), U.S. of Eh!     
  • 1
    That we have 54 congressional representatives who are registered members of the Socialist Party, in clear violation of their oath of office to defend the United States Constitution against all enemies, is evidence enough that we are far too lenient. Add to that the miillions of violent offenders who walk the streets, instead of the prison yards, and it makes the quote seem extremely archaic.
     -- David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood     
  • 1 3
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US      
    Avidity to punish is also sometimes a precursor to terminal delusions and judgementalism. What's a day without a good rationalization for the absurd anyway?
     -- Harold Levy, Hermosa Beach, CA     
  • 1
    David: You don't seem to understand the quote... And if you think it is archaic, then the Constitution and everything our Founders stood and fought for is archaic... And while you're obsessing about a bunch of alleged socialists the fascists have been invading your house through the back door.
     -- Andy, Portland, OR     
  • 5
    yes, yes, yes when will we learn this simple rule
     -- Robert, Sarasota     
  • 3
    The clarity of Thomas Paine and the graveness of the importance of the message cannot be misunderstood by any but the most dense of minds.. First they came and arrested the communists, but I said nothing for I was not a communist, then they came and arested the liberals,but I said nothing, for I was not a liberal. then they came and arrested all the democrats but I said nothing, for I was not a democrat... Republicans who critisised all the mass jailings of the Soviet Union now laugh if socialists or democrats, liberals or Ron Paul supporters get jailed... some very sic people in that crowd. Justice and democracy is on its way out. Open Fascism has finally begun..
     -- Thomas Sankara, Oagadougou     
  • 5
    I guess Dave Rosenthal believes the Pledge of Allegiance is Communist propaganda. I mean, it was written by a Socialist.
     -- Gurn Blanston, Redlands, CA     
  • 1
    That I could rate this with innumerable stars, a countless number of times. An avidity to punish the unlicensed and those that commit legal positivism's victimless crimes is always not just dangerous to liberty but, a death blow. The occupying statist theocracy now infesting this land is an enemy to and, oppressor of the once sovereign individual(s) - We The People, by misinterpreting any semblance of liberty and establishing a precedent of lawlessness.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
  • 3
    Whenever man tries to play God, we inevitably get a devil.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
  • 3
     -- watchman 13, USA      
    David Rosenthal nailed it. The most pressing problem in America today is that we have not imprisoned a sufficient proportion of the population. (Tongue planted fimly in cheek)
     -- Michael Schleifer, Kauneonga Lake, NY     
  • 3
     -- Mary, MI      
    Oh the silence is so deafening... 
     -- Robert, Somewhere in the USA     
  • 1
    David, with that kind of rhetoric you should join your friends in Israel, you would fit in nicely....
     -- Robert, Somewhere in the USA     
  • 1
    I've played this quote in several forums before and yet it's deafening on how much backwash I get when I do. FYI it's most of the Conservatives that do OMFG!
    Cops OMFG they're the worst as well but should be the ones who most support this quote but don't. The meaning is clear but in case it's not, here it is. Having a yearn or being so quick to demand punishment over anyone or anything for all reasons even those that should be punished for IE: murder rape and even the dreaded sex offenders if you're so quick to judge and want punishment then at some point those laws could in fact turn on you at some point. We're innocent until proven guilty and not the other way around, but seems in modern times that's been put in the back seat. I know most will contest that they won't commit such things but there is always the false witness,
    There's always someone around who looks like you and or that real perp was the one who did in and you was just in the area at the time. Even those you feel are guilty you have to give them the benefit of the doubt no matter how bad the accusation is.
    Socialist are rampant in the world that's not a crime, and even if some violent offenders get off scot-free it's better that than to have millions of innocent people in jail for something they didn't do, which is what our country is coming to now.
    The"OH they all say they are innocent " crap is worthless because it negates the fact that some are and if you judge all by what others have said then we are destroyed.

     -- AP, MF     
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