Quotations about   abuse

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While then the worst man is he who displays vice both in his own affairs and in his dealings with his friends, the best man is not he who displays virtue in his own affairs merely, but he who displays virtue towards others; for this is the hard thing to do.

[κάκιστος μὲν οὖν ὁ καὶ πρὸς αὑτὸν καὶ πρὸς τοὺς φίλους χρώμενος τῇ μοχθηρίᾳ, ἄριστος δ᾽ οὐχ ὁ πρὸς αὑτὸν τῇ ἀρετῇ ἀλλὰ πρὸς ἕτερον: τοῦτο γὰρ ἔργον χαλεπόν.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics [Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια], Book 5, ch. 1 (5.1.18) / 1130a.5-8 (c. 325 BC) [tr. Peters (1893)]
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(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Now he is the basest of men who practises vice not only in his own person, but towards his friends also; but he the best who practises virtue not merely in his own person but towards his neighbour, for this is a matter of some difficulty.
tr. Chase (1847), ch. 2]

Worst of men is he whose wickedness affects not himself alone but his fellow with him; best of men is he whose virtue affects not himself alone but his fellow with him; for such a one has in all sooth a hard task.
[tr. Williams (1869)]

As then the worst of men is he who exhibits his depravity both in his own life and in relation to his friends, the best of men is he who exhibits his virtue not in his own life only but in relation to others; for this is a difficult task.
[tr. Welldon (1892)]

Now the worst man is he who exercises his wickedness both towards himself and towards his friends, and the best man is not he who exercises his virtue towards himself but he who exercises it towards another; for this is a difficult task.
[tr. Ross (1908)]

As then the worst man is he who practises vice towards his friends as well as in regard to himself, so the best is not he who practises virtue in regard to himself but he who practises it towards others; for that is a difficult task.
[tr. Rackham (1934)]

The worst sort of person, then, is the one who uses his depravity both in relation to himself and in relation to his friends, whereas the best sort is not the one who uses his virtue in relationship to himself but the one who uses it in relation to another person, since that is difficult work.
[tr. Reeve (1948)]

The worst man, then, is the one whose evil habit affects both himself and his friends, while the best man is one whose virtue is directed not to himself, but to others, for this is a difficult task.
[tr. Apostle (1975)]

So the worst person is the one who exercises his wickedness towards both himself and his friends, and the best is not the one who exercises his virtue towards himself but the one who exercises it towards another; because this is a difficult task.
[tr. Thomson/Tredennick (1976)]

So the worst person is the one who exercises wickedness in relation to himself and in relation to his friends, and the best is not he who exercises his virtue in relation to himself but the one who exercises it in relation to others, since this is a difficult thing to do.
[tr. Crisp (2000)]

Worst, then, is he who treats both himself and his friends in a corrupt way, but best is he who makes use of virtue not in relation to himself but in relation to another. For this is a difficult task.
[tr. Bartlett/Collins (2011)]

Added on 22-Feb-22 | Last updated 22-Feb-22
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Chickenshit refers to behavior that makes military life worse than it need be: petty harassment of the weak by the strong; open scrimmage for power and authority and prestige; sadism thinly disguised as necessary discipline; a constant “paying off of old scores”; and insistence on the letter rather than the spirit of ordinances. Chickenshit is so called — instead of horse- or bull- or elephant-shit — because it is small-minded and ignoble and takes the trivial seriously. Chickenshit can be recognized instantly because it never has anything to do with winning the war.

Paul Fussell (1924-2012) American cultural and literary historian, author, academic
“Chickenshit: An Anatomy,” Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War (1989)
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Sometimes misattributed to historian Stephen Ambrose, who used part of it (with attribution) in his Band of Brothers (1992).
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When public men indulge themselves in abuse, when they deny others a fair trial, when they resort to innuendo and insinuation, to libel, scandal, and suspicion, then our democratic society is outraged, and democracy is baffled. It has no apparatus to deal with the boor, the liar, the lout, and the antidemocrat in general.

J. William Fulbright (1905-1995) American politician
Speech, US Senate (2 Feb 1954)
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In the Congressional Record, Vol. 100, p. 1105.
Added on 22-Apr-21 | Last updated 22-Apr-21
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It might be argued that a man who employs this kind of skill with words for immoral purposes can do great harm, but the same goes for everything good except for virtue, and it goes above all for the most valuable things, such as strength, health, and generalship. After all, moral use of these things can do the greatest good, and immoral use the greatest harm.

[εἰ δ᾽ ὅτι μεγάλα βλάψειεν ἂν ὁ χρώμενος ἀδίκως τῇ τοιαύτῃ δυνάμει τῶν λόγων, τοῦτό γε κοινόν ἐστι κατὰ πάντων τῶν ἀγαθῶν πλὴν ἀρετῆς, καὶ μάλιστα κατὰ τῶν χρησιμωτάτων, οἷον ἰσχύος ὑγιείας πλούτου στρατηγίας: τούτοις γὰρ ἄν τις ὠφελήσειεν τὰ μέγιστα χρώμενος δικαίως καὶ βλάψειεν ἀδίκως.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Rhetoric [Ῥητορική; Ars Rhetorica], Book 1, ch. 1, sec. 13 (1.1.13) / 1355b (350 BC) [tr. Waterfield (2018)]
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(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

But if it be urged that a man, using such a power of words for an unjust purpose, would do much harm, this is common to all the goods, with the exception of virtue; and especially in the case of the most useful, as for instance strength, health, wealth, and command: for by the right use of these a man may do very much good, and by the wrong very much harm.
[Source (1847)]

If, however, any one should object that a person, unfairly availing himself of such powers of speaking, may be, in a very high degree, injurious; this is an objection which will like in some degree against every good indiscriminately, except virtue; and with especial force against those which are most advantageous, as strength, health, wealth, and generalship. Because employing these fairly, a person may be beneficial in points of the highest importance; and by employing them unfairly may be equally injurious.
[tr. Buckley (1850)]

If it is objected that the abuser of the rhetorical faculty can do great mischief, this, at any rate, applies to all good things except virtue, and especially to the most useful things, as strength, health, wealth, generalship. By the right use of these things a man may do the greatest good, and by the unjust use, the greatest mischief.
[tr. Jebb (1873)]

And if it be objected that one who uses such power of speech unjustly might do great harm, that is a charge which may be made in common against all good things except virtue, and above all against the things that are most useful, as strength, health, wealth, generalship. A man can confer the greatest of benefits by a right use of these, and inflict the greatest of injuries by using them wrongly.
[tr. Roberts (1924)]

If it is argued that one who makes an unfair use of such faculty of speech may do a great deal of harm, this objection applies equally to all good things except virtue, and above all to those things which are most useful, such as strength, health, wealth, generalship; for as these, rightly used, may be of the greatest benefit, so, wrongly used, they may do an equal amount of harm.
[tr. Freese (1926)]

And if someone using such a capacity for argument should do great harm, this at least, is common to all good things -- except virtue -- and especially so in the case of the most useful things, such as strength, health, wealth, and generalship. For someone using these things justly would perform the greatest benefits -- and unjustly, the greatest harm.
[tr. Bartlett (2019)]

Added on 2-Apr-21 | Last updated 1-Feb-22
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Where does discipline end? Where does cruelty begin? Somewhere between these, thousands of children inhabit a voiceless hell.

[Où finit la correction? Où commence le martyre? Dans l’entre-deux, des milliers d’enfants peuplent un enfer qui ne fait pas de bruit.]

François Mauriac (1885-1970) French author, critic, journalist
Second Thoughts: Reflections on Literature and on Life (1961) [tr. Foulke]
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Now the abuse of authority can be of two kinds. First, when what is commanded by the ruler is contrary to the purpose for which the ruler was appointed: for example, if some sinful act is commanded contrary to the virtue which the ruler is ordained to foster and preserve. In this case, not only is one not bound to obey the ruler, but one is bound not to obey him, as in the case of the holy martyrs who suffered death rather than obey the ungodly commands of tyrants.

Second, when what is demanded goes beyond what the order of authority can require: if, for example, a master were to exact a payment which a servant is not bound to give, or something of the kind. In this case the subject is not bound to obey; nor, however, is he bound not to obey.

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) Italian friar, philosopher, theologian
Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard [Scriptum super libros Sententiarium], Book 2, dist. 44, quest. 2, art. 2 (1252-56) [tr. Dyson (2002)]
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Alt. trans. [Dawson]:
With regard to the abuse of authority, this also may come about in two ways. First, when what is ordered by an authority is opposed to the object for which that authority was constituted (if, for example, some sinful action is commanded or one which is contrary to virtue, when it is precisely for the protection and fostering of virtue that authority is instituted). In such a case, not only is there no obligation to obey the authority, but one is obliged to disobey it, as did the holy martyrs who suffered death rather than obey the impious commands of tyrants.

Secondly, when those who bear such authority command things which exceed the competence of such authority; as, for example, when a master demands payment from a servant which the latter is not bound to make, and other similar cases. In this instance the subject is free to obey or disobey.
Added on 9-Jun-20 | Last updated 9-Jun-20
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The man that lays his hand on woman,
Save in the way of kindness, is a wretch
Whom ’twere gross flattery to name a coward.

No picture available
John Tobin (1770-1804) British playwright
The Honey Moon, Act 2, sc. 1 [Duke] (1805)
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                        It is the wit,
The policy of sin, to hate those men
We have abus’d.

William Davenant (1606-1668) English poet and playwright [a.k.a. William D'Avenant]
The Just Italian, Act 3, sc. 1 [Sciolto] (1630)
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No one can be as calculatedly rude as the British, which amazes Americans, who do not understand studied insult and can only offer abuse as a substitute.

Paul Gallico (1897-1976) American author, sports journalist
In the New York Times (14 Jan 1962)
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Added on 20-Sep-19 | Last updated 20-Sep-19
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It can truly be said: Men are the devils of the earth, and the animals are the tormented souls.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
“On Religion,” Parerga and Paralipomena (1851)
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If you want that good feeling that comes from doing things for other folks then you have to pay for it in abuse and misunderstanding.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) American writer, folklorist, anthropologist
Moses, Man of the Mountain [Moses] (1939)
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Added on 10-Jan-18 | Last updated 10-Jan-18
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Abuse is the weapon of the vulgar.

Samuel Griswold Goodrich (1793-1860) American author [pseud. Peter Parley]
(Attributed)

Quoted in Maturin M. Ballou, Edge-Tools of Speech (1886)
Added on 19-May-17 | Last updated 19-May-17
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Oppressed people are frequently very oppressive when first liberated. And why wouldn’t they be? They know best two positions. Somebody’s foot on their neck or their foot on somebody’s neck.

Florynce "Flo" Kennedy (1916-2000) American lawyer, feminist, civil rights activist
“Institutionalized Oppression vs. the Female” (1970)
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Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to J. H. Tiffany (31 Mar 1819)
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The tyrant grinds down his slaves and they don’t turn against him, they crush those beneath them.

Emily Brontë (1818-1848) British novelist, poet [pseud. Ellis Bell]
Wuthering Heights, ch. 11 [Heathcliff] (1847)
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A torn jacket is soon mended; but hard words bruise the heart of a child.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“Table-Talk,” Drift-wood (1857)
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All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.

Frank Herbert (1920-1986) American writer
Chapterhouse: Dune (1985)
Added on 17-Oct-16 | Last updated 17-Oct-16
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For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) American writer, feminist, civil rights activist
“The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House” (1979)
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Call me a “rube” and a “hick,” but I’d a lot rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the man who sold it.

Rogers - Brooklyn Bridge - wist_info quote

Will Rogers (1879-1935) American humorist
(Attributed)
Added on 9-Dec-15 | Last updated 9-Dec-15
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God loved the birds and invented trees.
Man loved the birds and invented cages.

Jacques Deval (1895-1972) French playwright and director [pseud. of Jacques Boularan]
Afin de vivre bel et bien (1970)
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Abuse is an indirect species of homage.

William Hazlitt (1778-1830) English writer
“Common Places” (22), Literary Examiner (Sep-Dec 1823)
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Morality in sexual situations, when it is free from superstition, consists essentially of respect for the other person, and unwillingness to use that person solely as a means of personal gratification, without regard to his or her desires.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
Marriage and Morals, ch. 11 (1929)
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In every kind of debauch there enters much coldness of soul. It is a conscious and voluntary abuse of pleasure.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
Added on 30-Sep-13 | Last updated 13-May-16
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Though I’ve belted you an’ flayed you,
By the livin’ Gawd that made you,
You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) English writer
“Gunga Din,” st. 5 (1892)
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Nothing discloses real character like the use of power. It is easy for the weak to be gentle. Most people can bear adversity. But if you wish to know what a man really is, give him power. This is the supreme test. It is the glory of Lincoln that, having almost absolute power, he never abused it, except upon the side of mercy.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“Abraham Lincoln,” Lecture (1894)
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Ingersoll used the final phrase here frequently about Lincoln, e.g., in The Liberty of Man, Woman, and Child, an 1877 lecture, he wrote: "Abraham Lincoln was, in my judgment, in many respects, the grandest man ever president of the United States. Upon his monument these words should be written: 'Here sleeps the only man in the history of the world, who, having been clothed with almost absolute power, never abused it, except on the side of mercy.'"

The phrase "But if you wish to know what a man really is, give him power" is often attributed, without citation, to Lincoln.
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Facts too shocking to be contemplated occasionally force their way to the public ear, and the comment that one often hears made on them is more shocking than the thing itself. It is said, “Very likely such cases may now and then occur, but they are no sample of general practice.” If the laws of New England were so arranged that a master could now and then torture an apprentice to death, would it be received with equal composure? Would it be said, “These cases are rare, and no samples of general practice”? This injustice is an inherent one in the slave system, — it cannot exist without it.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Conclusion (1852)
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Added on 12-Jan-11 | Last updated 17-Dec-13
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As an atheist, I believe that all life is unspeakably precious, because it’s only here for a brief moment, a flare against the dark, and then it’s gone forever. No afterlives, no second chances, no backsies. So there can be nothing crueler than the abuse, destruction or wanton taking of a life. It is a crime no less than burning the Mona Lisa, for there is always just one of each.

So I cannot forgive. Which makes the notion of writing a character who CAN forgive momentarily attractive … because it allows me to explore in great detail something of which I am utterly incapable.

J. Michael (Joe) Straczynski (b. 1954) American screenwriter, producer, author [a/k/a "JMS"]
rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5, “JMS on Compuserve: Gesthemane Questions” (4 Dec 1995)
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Added on 5-Feb-10 | Last updated 17-Jul-20
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The highest proof of virtue is to possess boundless power without abusing it.

Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859) English writer and politician
“The Life and Writings of Addison,” Edinburg Review (1843)
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Review of Lucy Aikin, The Life of Joseph Addison (1843).
Added on 15-Sep-08 | Last updated 16-Jan-20
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