Quotations about   excuse

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Historians have a word for Germans who joined the Nazi party, not because they hated Jews, but out of a hope for restored patriotism, or a sense of economic anxiety, or a hope to preserve their religious values, or dislike of their opponents, or raw political opportunism, or convenience, or ignorance, or greed.

That word is “Nazi.” Nobody cares about their motives any more.

They joined what they joined. They lent their support and their moral approval. And, in so doing, they bound themselves to everything that came after. Who cares any more what particular knot they used in the binding?

Andrew R. Moxon (contemp.) American writer, critic [a.k.a. Julius Goat]
Blogspot (16 Jan 2017)
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Frequently mis-attributed to Twitter, where Moxxon also posts under his @JuliusGoat handle. The original Julius Goat Blogspot site is no longer online.
Added on 14-Nov-18 | Last updated 14-Nov-18
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Being cruel to be kind is just ordinary cruelty with an excuse made for it.

Ivy Compton-Burnett (1884-1969) English novelist
Daughters and Sons, ch. 6 (1937)
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Added on 9-Aug-18 | Last updated 9-Aug-18
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The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason.

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
Murder in the Cathedral, Act 1 [Thomas] (1935)
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Added on 15-May-17 | Last updated 15-May-17
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When it comes to a question of our forgiving other people, it is partly the same and partly different. It is the same because, here also, forgiving does not mean excusing. Many people seem to think it does. They think that if you ask them to forgive someone who has cheated or bullied them you are trying to make out that there was really no cheating or no bullying. But if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive. They keep on replying, “But I tell you the man broke a most solemn promise.” Exactly: that is precisely what you have to forgive. (This doesn’t mean that you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart — every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.) The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
“On Forgiveness”
Added on 18-Oct-16 | Last updated 18-Oct-16
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A thief believes everybody steals.

Edgar Watson "Ed" Howe (1853-1937) American journalist and author [E. W. Howe]
Country Town Sayings (1911)
Added on 9-Oct-16 | Last updated 9-Oct-16
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It’s okay if you don’t want to feed the hungry, or heal the sick, or house the homeless. Just don’t say you’re doing it for their own good. Don’t say you’d like to help people, but your hands are tied, because if you did it would cause a “culture of dependency,” or “go against the Bible,” or, worst of all, “rob them of their freedom” to be sick and hungry. Just admit you’re selfish, and based on how little your beliefs mirror the actual teachings of Jesus you might as well be worshiping Despicable Me.

William "Bill" Maher (b. 1956) American comedian, political commentator, critic, television host.
Real Time with Bill Maher (8 Nov 2013)
Added on 15-Jun-16 | Last updated 16-Jun-16
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There are two kinds of Friends in our Society, and two kinds of people in the world: there are therefore people, and there are however people. Therefore people say, “There are children going to bed hungry in our community, Therefore …” and they proceed to devise and define the ways in which they can meet the need in their community. However people make the same beginning statement, “There are children going to bed hungry in our community,” but they follow that statement with, “However …” and they explain why nothing can be done about it.

Henry Joel Cadbury (1883-1974) American biblical scholar, Quaker historian, writer, activist
(Attributed)

Quoted in Synthesis (8 May 1994).
Added on 17-May-16 | Last updated 17-May-16
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MICHAEL: I don’t know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations. They’re more important than sex.

SAM: Ah, come on. Nothing’s more important than sex.

MICHAEL: Oh yeah? Ever gone a week without a rationalization?

Lawrence Kasdan (b. 1949) American screenwriter, director, producer
The Big Chill (1983) [with Barbara Benedek]
Added on 29-Jan-16 | Last updated 29-Jan-16
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We lie to ourselves, in order that we may still have the excuse of ignorance, the alibi of stupidity and incomprehension, possessing which we can continue with a good conscience to commit and tolerate the most monstrous crimes.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Words and Behavior,” The Olive Tree and Other Essays (1936)
Added on 28-Oct-15 | Last updated 28-Oct-15
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The more lies are told, the more important it becomes for the liars to justify themselves by deep moral commitments to high-sounding objectives that mask the pursuit of money and power.

Bertram M. Gross (1912-1997) American social scientist, academic, bureaucrat
Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America, ch. 9 (1980)
Added on 30-Sep-15 | Last updated 30-Sep-15
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There are many who find a good alibi far more attractive than an achievement. For an achievement does not settle anything permanently. We still have to prove our worth anew each day: we have to prove that we are as good today as we were yesterday. But when we have a valid alibi for not achieving anything we are fixed, so to speak, for life.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American writer, philosopher, longshoreman
The Passionate State of Mind: And Other Aphorisms (1955)
Added on 28-May-15 | Last updated 28-May-15
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If you steal from one author, it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many, it’s research.

Wilson Mizner (1876-1933) American screenwriter and wit
In Alva Johnson, The Legendary Mizners, ch. 4 (1953)
Added on 7-Apr-15 | Last updated 7-Apr-15
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How convenient does it prove to be a rational animal, that knows how to find or invent a plausible pretext for whatever it has an inclination so to do.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
The Life of Benjamin Franklin (1791)
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Often paraphrased: "Man is a rational animal. He can think up a reason for anything he wants to believe." Sometimes attributed to Anatole France.
Added on 20-Mar-15 | Last updated 20-Mar-15
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The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience. It would be easy, however, to destroy that good conscience by shouting to them: if you want the happiness of the people, let them speak out and tell what kind of happiness they want and what kind they don’t want! But, in truth, the very ones who make use of such alibis know they are lies; they leave to their intellectuals on duty the chore of believing in them and of proving that religion, patriotism, and justice need for their survival the sacrifice of freedom.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
“Homage to an Exile” (1955)

Published as an essay in Actuelles III, originally a speech (7 Dec 1955) at a banquet in honor of President Eduardo Santos, editor of El Tiempo, driven out of Columbia by a dictatorship". Reprinted in Resistance, Rebellion, and Death (1960).
Added on 5-Jan-15 | Last updated 5-Jan-15
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Don’t excuse yourself by accusing Satan.

Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) English Puritan divine, writer
(Attributed)
Added on 7-Oct-14 | Last updated 7-Oct-14
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Liberty, next to religion, has been the motive of good deeds and the common pretext of crime.

John Dalberg, Lord Acton (1834-1902) British historian
“The History of Freedom in Antiquity,” Speech, Bridgenorth Institute (28 Feb 1877)
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Added on 11-Feb-14 | Last updated 25-Feb-14
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Necessity can make a doubtful action innocent, but it cannot make it commendable.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
Added on 21-Oct-13 | Last updated 13-May-16
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We live in an age of Wrath. It is to be found in the terrorist, the kidnapper, the hijacker, the looter, and in the clenched fist of the demonstrator. […] When we ask what is their justification, they hardly have to give an answer, because our age finds it for them. They are angry. That is apparently enough. We justify their Wrath, so we justify their violence. If someone thinks that he has cause to be angry, he may act from his Anger as destructively as he sees fit. In fact, we have come close to the point of giving to Wrath an incontestable license to terrorize our society, just as an angry man may terrorize his family, but whereas we do not excuse the husband or the father, we extend our sympathy and understanding to the terrorist.

Henry Fairlie (1924-1990) British journalist and social critic
The Seven Deadly Sins Today (1978)
Added on 23-Aug-13 | Last updated 31-Mar-17
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Necessity can make a doubtful action innocent, but it cannot make it commendable.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
Added on 15-Jul-13 | Last updated 13-May-16
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Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare;
At whatever time the deed took place — MACAVITY WASN’T THERE!

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, “Macavity: The Mystery Cat” (1939)
Added on 22-Feb-13 | Last updated 26-Apr-16
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Don’t make excuses — make good!

Hubbard - make good - wist_info quote

Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) American writer, businessman, philosopher
A Thousand and One Epigrams (1911)
Added on 10-Mar-10 | Last updated 11-Feb-16
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We are all exceptional cases. We all want to appeal against something! Each of us insists on being innocent at all cost, even if has to accuse the whole human race and heaven itself!

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
The Fall (1956) [tr. J. O’Brien]
Added on 23-Jan-09 | Last updated 12-Jan-16
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Such are the evils made acceptable by Religion!

[Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum.]

Lucretius (c. 100-c. 55 BC) Roman poet [Titus Luretius Carus]
De Rerum Natura [On the Nature of Things], I.101
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 29-Jul-15
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A man always has two reasons for what he does — a good one, and the real one.

John Pierpont "J. P." Morgan (1837-1913) American banker and financier
(Attributed)

Quoted in Owen Wister, Roosevelt: The Story of a Friendship, p. 280 (1930). There's no record in Morgan's writings, and versions of the quote from others can be found in the early 1800s. See here for more details.

Sometimes given as "A man generally has two reasons for doing a thing: one that sounds good, and a real one."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Aug-15
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Whenever people say “we mustn’t be sentimental,” you can take it they are about to do something cruel. And if they add, “we must be realistic,” they mean they are going to make money out of it.

Brigid Brophy (1929-1995) Anglo-Irish writer, novelist, playwright
Unlived Life
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 4-Sep-16
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When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
Caesar and Cleopatra, Act 3 [Apollodorus] (1898)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Feb-15
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EDMUND: This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune, — often the surfeit of our own behavior, — we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars: as if we were villains by necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treachers, by spherical predominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on: an admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star!

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
King Lear, Act 1, sc. 2 (c. 1605)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Mar-15
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Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
In More Maxims of Mark [ed. M. Johnson (1925)]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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What I like most about myself is that I is that I’m so understanding when I do something wrong.

Ashleigh Brilliant (b. 1933) Anglo-American writer, epigramist, cartoonist
Pot-Shots, #1189
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 4-May-15
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