Quote of the day—H.L. Mencken

Most people want security in this world, not liberty.

H.L. Mencken
Minority Report, 1956
[Also note that security comes in two flavors. You can feel secure and you can actually be secure. Liberty has a strong tendency to make people feel less secure at the expense of true security. For example you can feel secure that the government will provide you with food and housing but your property will not be secure from government takings for redistribution. You can feel secure that the government will be able to find and extract a confession from criminals but the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures may be infringed or you may be compelled to testify against yourself or not have due process.

The vast majority of people have a strong preference for feeling secure. Hence there is a strong tendency to give up liberty for imagined safety and get neither.

I was reminded of this by this video (via Alan and Ry who also points out this relates to Brady Campaign board member Joan Peterson) from Bruce Schneier:

Schneier points out that even when there is lots of data available, such as with cigarette smoking, it takes a long time to get people to change their behavior. It should come as no surprise it has taken us decades to make progress on the gun rights front.–Joe]


One thought on “Quote of the day—H.L. Mencken

  1. I’m surprised that there haven’t been more comments; I watched it a couple of times. It’s a really good, insightful lecture & I think it reveals some hard truths about human nature. Maybe the Constitution is a model that has largely been replaced in people’s minds?

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