Quotations about:
    injustice


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Men can be unjust, because it is in their interest to act so, and they prefer their own satisfaction to that of others. They always act with themselves in mind. No one is gratuitously wicked; there must be a determining cause, and it is always one of self-interest.

[Les hommes peuvent faire des injustices, parce qu’ils ont intérêt de les commettre et qu’ils préfèrent leur propre satisfaction à celle des autres. C’est toujours par un retour sur eux-mêmes qu’ils agissent: nul n’est mauvais gratuitement; il faut qu’il y ait une raison qui détermine, et cette raison est toujours une raison d’intérêt.]

Charles-Lewis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755) French political philosopher
Persian Letters [Lettres Persanes], Letter 84, Usbek to Rhédi (1721) [tr. Healy (1964), # 83]

Montesquieu's argues that an omnipotent God must be just, because God has no interest that cannot be satisfied through injustice.

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Men may commit injustice, because it is in their interest to do it, and they chuse rather to satisfy themselves and others. It is always with an eye to themselves that they act: no body is wicked gratis: he will have some reason to sway him; and that reason is always a reason of interest.
[tr. Ozell (1760 ed.)]

Men may do injustice, because it is in their interest to commit it, and because they prefer their own private satisfaction to that of others. It is always with a view to themselves that they act: nobody is wicked for nothing: he must have some reason that determines himl and this reason is always a reason of interest.
[tr. Floyd (1762), # 83]

Men act unjustly, because it is their interest to do so, and because they prefer their own satisfaction to that of others. They act always to secure some advantage to themselves: no one is a villain gratis; there is always a determining motive, and that motive is always an interested one.
[tr. Davidson (1891)]

Men act unjustly, because it is their interest to do so, and they prefer their own satisfaction to that of others. In acting they always have in view the effect their action will have on themselves: no one is bad for nothing; every one must have a determining motive, and that motive is self-interest.
[tr. Betts (1897)]

Men can commit injustices, because it is in their interest to do so, and they would rather satisfy themselves than others. It is always through thinking of themselves that they act unjustly; no one is gratuitously bad, there must be a reason which determines the act, and that reason is invariably one of self-interest.
[tr. Mauldon (2008)]

Men are capable of injustice, because their self-interest leads them toward it, and because they prefer their own satisfaction to that of others. Everything always revolves around themselves. No evil is ever done gratuitously, for there is always a reason behind it, and that reason is always one of self-interest.
[tr. MacKenzie (2014), # 83]

 
Added on 9-May-24 | Last updated 9-May-24
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“But whom do I treat unjustly,” you say, “by keeping what is my own?” Tell me, what is your own? What did you bring into this life? From where did you receive it? It is as if someone were to take the first seat in the theater, then bar everyone else from attending, so that one person alone enjoys what is offered for the benefit of all in common — this is what the rich do. They seize common goods before others have the opportunity, then claim them as their own by right of preemption. For if we all took only what was necessary to satisfy our own needs, giving the rest to those who lack, no one would be rich, no one would be poor, and no one would be in need.

[Καὶ ποῖον, λέγει, ἀδικῶ, μὲ τὸ νὰ κρατῶ γιὰ τoν ἐαυτόν μου αὐτὰ ποῦ μου ἀνήκουν; Ποία, εἰπέ μου, εἶναι αὐτὰ ποῦ σου ἀνήκουν; Ἀπὸ ποῦ τὰ ἔλαβες, καὶ τὰ ἔφερες στὴν ζωὴν αὐτήν; Ὅπως ἀκριβῶς κάποιος ποὺ εὑρίσκει στὸ θέατρο θέση μὲ καλὴν θέαν, ἐμποδίζει ἔπειτα τοὺς εἰσερχομένους, θεωρώντας ὡς ἰδικὸ τοῦ αὐτὸ ποὺ προορίζεται γιὰ χρῆσιν κοινήν, ἔτσι εἶναι καὶ οἱ πλούσιοι. Ἀφοῦ ἐκυρίευσαν ἐκ τῶν προτέρων τα κοινὰ ἀγαθά, τὰ ἰδιοποιοῦνται ἁπλῶς ἐπειδὴ τὰ ἐπρόλαβαν. Ἐὰν ὁ καθένας ἐκρατοῦσε ἐκεῖνο ποὺ ἀρκεῖ γιὰ τὴν ἱκανοποίηση τῶν ἀναγκῶν του, καὶ ἄφηνε τὸ περίσσευμα σ’ αὐτὸν ποὺ τὸ χρειάζεται, κανεὶς δὲν θὰ ἦταν πλούσιος, ἀλλὰ καὶ κανεὶς πτωχός.]

basil the great
Basil of Caesarea (AD 330-378) Christian bishop, theologian, monasticist, Doctor of the Church [Saint Basil the Great, Ἅγιος Βασίλειος ὁ Μέγας]
“I Will Tear Down My Barns [καθελῶ μου τὰς ἀποθήκας],” Sermon # 6 [tr. Schroeder (2009)]
    (Source)

In C. Paul Schroeder, ed., Saint Basil on Social Justice (2009).
 
Added on 10-Apr-24 | Last updated 10-Apr-24
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In order to not find life unbearable, you must accept two things: the ravages of time, and the injustices of man.
 
[Il y a deux choses auxquelles il faut se faire, sous peine de trouver la vie insupportable. Ce sont les injures du tems et les injustices des hommes.]

Nicolas Chamfort
Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
Products of Perfected Civilization [Produits de la Civilisation Perfectionée], Part 1 “Maxims and Thoughts [Maximes et Pensées],” ch. 2, ¶ 115 (1795) [tr. Parmée (2003), ¶ 95]
    (Source)

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

There are two things to which we must become inured on pain of finding life intolerable: the outrages of time and man's injustice.
[tr. Mathers (1926)]

There are two things that one must get used to or one will find life unendurable: the damages of time and the injustices of men.
[tr. Merwin (1969)]

There are two things that a man must reconcile himself to, or he will find life unbearable: they are the injuries of time and the injuries of men.
[tr. Siniscalchi (1994)]

 
Added on 29-Jan-24 | Last updated 29-Jan-24
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It is not worth living,
when we see bad men unjustly honored.
 
[ου γαρ άξιον λεύσσειν φάος κακούς ορώντας εκδίκως τιμωμένους.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Bellerophon [Βελλεροφῶν], frag. 293 (c. 430 BC) [tr. Collard (1997)]
    (Source)

Nauck (TGF) frag. 293, Barnes frag. 129, Musgrave frag. 23. (Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

For life's not worth retaining when we see
The wicked crown'd with undeserv'd applause.
[tr. Wodhull (1809)]

It is not worth living, if people see bad men unjustly honored.
[tr. Collard, Hargreaves, Cropp (1995)]

Life has no value when the bad are seen to thrive unjustly.
[tr. Stevens (2012)]

 
Added on 5-Dec-23 | Last updated 5-Dec-23
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It is the certainty that they possess the truth that makes men cruel.

[C’est la certitude qu’ils tiennent la vérité qui rend les hommes cruels.]

Anatole France (1844-1924) French poet, journalist, novelist, Nobel Laureate [pseud. of Jaques-Anatole-François Thibault]
(Misquotation)

Widely attributed (in French and English) to Anatole France, but not found in his works, including the one location it is sometimes cited from, Les Dieux Ont Soif [The Gods Are Thirsty, The Gods Are Athirst, The Gods Will Have Blood] (1912), in either English translation or, more importantly, in the original French.

While thematically keeping in the novel's depiction of the French Revolution and the Terror, the closest match to the quote I can find is this portion of ch. 22, talking about the expediting of the trials of those charged with counter-revolutionary crimes, eliminating the need to prove a misdeed by simply inquiring as to the accused's beliefs.

Justice thus abbreviated satisfied them; the pace was quickened, and no obstacles were left to fret them. They limited themselves to an inquiry into the opinions of the accused, not conceiving it possible that anyone could think differently from themselves except in pure perversity. Believing themselves the exclusive possessors of truth, wisdom, the quintessence of good, they attributed to their opponents noting but error and evil. They felt themselves all-powerful; they envisaged God.
[tr. Allinson (1913), Jackson (1921)]

Justice, thus curtailed, satisfied them; the pace was quickened and no obstacles were left to confuse them. They confined themselves to inquiring into the opinions of the accused, not conceiving it possible that anyone, except from pure perversity, could think differently from themselves. Believing themselves to possess a monopoly of truth, wisdom and goodness, they attributed to their opponents all error, stupidity and evil. They felt themselves omnipotent: their eyes had seen God.
[tr. Davies (1979)]

La justice abrégée les contentait. Rien, dans sa marche accélérée, ne les troublait plus. Ils s’enquéraient seulement des opinions des accusés, ne concevant pas qu’on pût sans méchanceté penser autrement qu’eux. Comme ils croyaient posséder la vérité, la sagesse, le souverain bien, ils attribuaient à leurs adversaires l’erreur et le mal. Ils se sentaient forts : ils voyaient Dieu.
[Original]

 
Added on 9-Nov-23 | Last updated 9-Nov-23
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That in the Heavens no gods there be
Selius affirms, and proves, ’cause he
Still thinking so lives happily.

[Nullos esse deos, inane caelum
Adfirmat Segius: probatque, quod se
Factum, dum negat haec, videt beatum.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 4, epigram 21 (4.21) (AD 89) [tr. May (1629)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

That heav'ns are voide, & that no gods there are,
Rich Paulus saith, and all his proofe is this:
That while such blasphemies pronounce he dare,
He liveth here in ease, and earthly blisse.
[tr. Harington (1618), ep. 110 (Book 2, ep. 14), "Against an Atheist"]

Selius affirms, in heav'n no gods there are:
And while he thrives, and they their thunder spare,
His daring tenet to the world seems fair.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

Selius asserts, there is no providence:
Anmd what he thus asserts, he proves from hence;
Tht such a villain as himself still lives;
And, what is more, is courted too, and thrives.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

A Selius swears there is no god,
And thus attests an oath so odd.
Heaven has no habitant, quoth he;
Else how could heaven so smile on me?
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 7, ep. 12]

That there's no God, John gravely swears,
And quotes, in proof, his own affairs;
For how should such an atheist thrive,
If there was any God alive?
[Anon., Westminster Review, 1853-04]

Selius affirms that there are no Gods, and that Heaven is empty; and he produces a proof of his assertion; viz. that while he denies all Providence, he beholds himself affluent.
[tr. Amos (1858)]

Selius affirms that there are no gods, and that heaven is empty; and thinks he has sufficient proof of his opinion in seeing himself become rich while he maintains it.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

"There are no gods: heaven is empty," Segius asserts; and he proves it, for in the midst of these denials he sees himself made rich!
[tr. Ker (1919)]

When Segius declaims he knows
That Heaven is void and gods are not,
It is because his record shows
That knaves may have a prosperous lot.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921), "The Test of Facts"]

"There are no gods," says Segius, "and the blue
Is void." He lives and thrives and proves it true.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 169]

"There are no gods, and heaven's all a lie!
No gods," said Segius, "give a damn or care
What happens to us." And he must be right:
Today the rat's a multi-millionaire.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

Sergius swears by the hollow sky that there are no gods,
and the truth is plain, since he,
denouncing them, is wealthy as can be.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

"The skies are empty
and the gods are dead,"
says Segius, the proof of which
is that he sees himself made rich.
[tr. Porter (1972)]

"God doesn't exist, there's no one in the skies,"
Says Segius. If it's justice he denies,
He's right: would he be wealthy otherwise?
[tr. Michie (1972)]

Segius declares that there are no gods, that the sky is empty; and proves it, for in the course of these denials he sees himself become a rich man.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

This darkling world he claims, with rue
Has run itself into a ditch.
And he can prove his thesis true:
In such a cosmos -- he is rich.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Segius says there are no gods, no heaven.
The proof he offers? He's a rich man.
[tr. Kennelly (2008), "Proof"]

Segius asserts that there are no gods, that heaven is empty. And he’s the proof, because, even as he denies these things, he sees that he’s become prosperous.
[tr. @aleatorclassicus (2012)]

Segius claims there are no gods, the skies
are bare. He proves it, too: while he denies
the gods exist, he sees his fortune rise.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

 
Added on 5-May-23 | Last updated 27-Nov-23
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More quotes by Martial

Of all malice that makes of Heaven a foe
The end is injury, and all such end won
By force or fraud worketh another’s woe.
But since fraud is a vice of man’s alone,
It more offends God: so are lowest set
The fraudulent, and the heavier is their groan.

[D’ogne malizia, ch’odio in cielo acquista,
ingiuria è ‘l fine, ed ogne fin cotale
o con forza o con frode altrui contrista.
Ma perché frode è de l’uom proprio male,
più spiace a Dio; e però stan di sotto
li frodolenti, e più dolor li assale.]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 11, l. 22ff (11.22-27) [Virgil] (1309) [tr. Binyon (1943)]
    (Source)

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

Of ev'ry Vice which odious is in Heav'n
To injure is the purport, and the end;
Either by Force, or Fraud. But as to Man
Fraud is peculiar, it more God offends:
Therefore the fraudulent are lower plac'd,
And greater punishment and pains endure.
[tr. Rogers (1782), l. 21ff]

Above the Sons of Violence reside,
The bands of Fraud below together hide;
(Vile Fraud! The heav'n-born soul's peculiar blot!)
For this, in fiercer pains, the traitors keep
Their horrid vigils far in yonder deep;
Hated of Heav'n, and fill the lowest lot.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 5]

Of all malicious act abhorr’d in heaven,
The end is injury; and all such end
Either by force or fraud works other’s woe
But fraud, because of man peculiar evil,
To God is more displeasing; and beneath
The fraudulent are therefore doom’d to’ endure
Severer pang.
[tr. Cary (1814)]

Of each malicious act, abhorred on high.
Injustice is the end: for others' woe
Must all such ends or force or fraud apply.
But fraud in man his proper vice doth show,
To God more odious; wherefore deeper here
The fraudful sink, and mourn a sharper throe.
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

Of all malice, which gains hatred in Heaven, the end is injury; and every such end, either by force or by fraud, aggrieveth others.
But because fraud is a vice peculiar to man, it more displeases God; and therefore the fraudulent are placed beneath, and more pain assails them.
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

Of evil deed, that's stamped with hate in heaven,
Is injury the end. Each end's attained
With force or fraud, by which another's pained.
Since fraud is then the native ill of man,
It more displeases God; beneath the vault,
The fraudulent the deeper pains assault.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

Of ev'ry malice which just heav'n abhors,
To injure is the end; and each such end,
Either by force or fraud, makes others grieve.
But since of man fraud is the proper sin,
More it displeases God; and so beneath
Are plac'd the fraudulent with heavier pains.
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

Of every malice that wins hate in Heaven,
⁠Injury is the end; and all such end
⁠Either by force or fraud afflicteth others.
But because fraud is man's peculiar vice, ⁠
⁠More it displeases God; and so stand lowest
⁠The fraudulent, and greater dole assails them.
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

Of every badness which earns hatred in heaven, injury is the end; and every such end either by force or by fraud causes grief to another.
But because fraud is an ill peculiar to man, it more displeases God; and for this cause the fraudulent have their station below, and woe assails them more.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

Of every malice that in Heaven wins hate
The end is injury, and each such plan
By force or fraud on some wreaks woeful fate.
Since fraud is ill peculiar unto man
God it displeases more, and hence more low
The fraudulent are doomed to greater pain.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

Of every malice that wins hate in heaven injury is the end, and every such end afflicts others either by force or by fraud. But because fraud is the peculiar sin of man, it most displeaseth God; and therefore the fraudulent are the lower, and more woe assails them.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

Of every evil act that earneth hate in Heaven, the end is injury; and every such end, by either violence or fraud, heapeth sorrow upon others. But forasmuch as fraud is man's peculiar vice, it is the more displeasing unto God ; and therefore they who dealt in fraud are set beneath, and greater is the torture that doth afflict them.
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

All wickedness that lays up hate in heaven
Injustice hath for end, and such end alway,
Either by force or fraud, afflicts another:
But, seeing that fraud is man's peculiar evil,
More it displeases God: therefore are lowest
The fraudulent, and greater woe assails them.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

Every kind of wickedness that gains the hatred of Heaven has injustice for its end, and every such end afflicts someone either by force or fraud; but because fraud is sin peculiar to man it is more offensive to God, and for that reason the fraudulent have their place lower nad more pain assails them.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

Of all malicious wrong that earns Heaven's hate
The end is injury; all such ends are won
Either by force or fraud. Both perpetuate
Evil to others; but since man alone
Is capable of fraud, God hates that worst;
The fraudulent lie lowest, then and groan
Deepest.
[tr. Sayers (1949)]

Malice is the sin most hated by God
And the aim of malice is to injure others
whether by fraud or violence. But since fraud
is the vice fo which man alone is capable,
God loathes it most. Therefore, the fraudulent
are place below, and their torment is more painful.
[tr. Ciardi (1954)]

Of every malice that gains hatred in Heaven the end is injustice; and every such end, either by force or by fraud, afflicts another. But because fraud is an evil peculiar to man, it more displeases God, and therefore the fraudulent are the lower, and more pain assails them.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

All malice has injustice as its end,
an end achieved by violence or by fraud;
while both are sins that earn the hate of Heaven,
since fraud belongs exclusively to man,
God hates it more and, therefore, far below,
the fraudulent are placed and suffer most.
[tr. Musa (1971)]

Of every malice that earns hate in Heaven,
injustice is the end; and each such end
by force or fraud brings harm to other men.
However, fraud is man's peculiar vice;
God finds it more displeasing -- and therefore,
the fraudulent are lower, suffering more.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

The object of all malice, which earns heaven's hatred,
Is injury; every object of that kind
Causes distress to others by force or fraud.
And because fraud is an evil peculiar to men,
It displeases God the more; and therefore the fraudulent
are placed beneath and greater pain assail them.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

The end of every wickedness that feels
Heaven's s hatred is injustice -- and each end
Of this kind, whether by force or fraud, afflicts
Some other person. But since fraud is found
In humankind as its peculiar vice,
It angers God more: so the fraudulent
Are lower, and suffer more unhappiness.
[tr. Pinsky (1994), l. 21ff]

Of every malice gaining the hatred of Heaven, injustice is the goal, and efvery such goal injures someone either with force or with fraud.
But because fraud is an evil proper to man, it is more displeasing to God; and therefore the fraudulent have a lower place and greater pain assails them.
[tr. Durling (1996)]

The outcome of all maliciousness, that Heaven hates, is harm: and every such outcome, hurts others, either by force or deceit. But because deceit is a vice peculiar to human beings, it displeases God more, and therefore the fraudulent are placed below, and more pain grieves them.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Malice is aimed in all its forms -- and thus
incurs the hatred of Heaven -- at gross injustice,
and, aiming so, harms others, by deceit or force.
Deceit, though, is specifically a human wrong,
and hence displeases God the more. Liars
are therefore deeper down, and tortured worse.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

Every evil deed despised in Heaven
has as its end injustice. Each such end
harms someone else through either force or fraud.
But since the vice of fraud is man's alone,
it more displeases God, and thus the fraudulent
are lower down, assailed by greater pain.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

Hated by Heaven, every conscious
sin will end in injustice, and each new sin,
By force or fraud, creates the same result.
But since such fraud is a sin unique to men,
God hates it more. So sinners guilty of fraud
Go farther down, and deeper pain attacks them.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

Crimes Heaven hates have for their end
Injustice, and that end afflicts someone
Either by force or fraud, and must offend
The Lord, for fraud is human, and ills done
By humans please Him least, and therefore they,
The tricksters, lie down and suffer more.
[tr. James (2013)]

 
Added on 10-Mar-23 | Last updated 22-Mar-24
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More quotes by Dante Alighieri

We first debase the nature of man by making him a slave, and then very coolly tell him that he must always remain a slave because he does not know how to use freedom. We first crush people to the earth, and then claim the right of trampling on them forever, because they are prostrate. Truly, human selfishness never invented a rule, which worked so charmingly both ways!

Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880) American abolitionist, activist, journalist, suffragist
An Appeal on Behalf of That Class of Americans Called Africans, ch. 6 (1833)
    (Source)
 
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For Justice is one; it binds all human society, and is based on one Law, which is right reason applied to command and prohibition. Whoever knows not this Law, whether it has been recorded in writing anywhere or not, is without Justice.

[Est enim unum ius quo deuincta est hominum societas et quod lex constituit una, quae lex est recta ratio imperandi atque prohibendi. Quam qui ignorat, is est iniustus, siue est illa scripta uspiam siue nusquam.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Legibus [On the Laws], Book 1, ch. 15 (1.15) / sec. 42 [Marcus] (c. 51 BC) [tr. Keyes (1928)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

There can be but one essential justice, which cements society, and one law which establishes this justice. This law is right reason, which is the true rule of all commandments and prohibitions. Whoever neglects this law, whether written or unwritten, is necessarily unjust and wicked.
[tr. Barham (1842)]

For there is but one essential justice which cements society, and one law which establishes this justice. This law is right reason, which is the true rule of all commandments and prohibitions. Whoever neglects this law, whether written or unwritten, is necessarily unjust and wicked.
[tr. Barham/Yonge (1878)]

There is one, single, justice. It binds together human society and has been established by one, single, law. That law is right reason in commanding and forbidding. A man who does not acknowledge this law is unjust, whether it has been written down anywhere or not.
[tr. Rudd (1998)]

There is only one justice, which constitutes the bond among humans, and which was established by the one law, which is right reason in commands and prohibitions. The person who does not know it is unjust, whether the law has been written anywhere or not.
[tr. Zetzel (1999)]

Right is uniform; human fellowship has been bound by it, and one law has established it; that law is correct reason in commanding and prohibiting. He who is ignorant of it is unjust, whether it has been written somewhere or nowhere.
[tr. Fott (2013)]

 
Added on 23-Feb-23 | Last updated 23-Feb-23
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More quotes by Cicero, Marcus Tullius

By a pompous parade of words, some learned men have so managed it, that an unjust cause has often gained the victory, and reason submitted to sophistry and chicane.

[Gli uomini letterati, per pompa di parlare, fanno ben spesso che il torto vince, e che la ragione perde.]

Giovanni della Casa
Giovanni della Casa (1503-1556) Florentine poet, author, diplomat, bishop
Galateo: Or, A Treatise on Politeness and Delicacy of Manners [Il Galateo overo de’ costumi], ch. 29 (1558) [tr. Graves (1774)]
    (Source)

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

But, we see that Learned men have suche art and cunning to persuade, and such filed wordes to serve their turne: that wrong doth carry the cause away, and Reason cannot prevaile.
[tr. Peterson (1576)]

Men of letters, with their parade of high-flown language, very often make the wrong to prevail and the right to succumb.
[ed. Harbottle (1897)]

We find that learned men, through their grandiose talk, very often manage to have the wrong side win and reason lose.
[tr. Eisenbichler/Bartlett (1986)]

 
Added on 14-Dec-22 | Last updated 14-Dec-22
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More quotes by Della Casa, Giovanni

But of all injustice, theirs is certainly of the deepest die, who make it their business to appear honest men, even whilst they are practising the greatest of villainies.

[Totius autem iniustitiae nulla capitalior quam eorum, qui tum, cum maxime fallunt, id agunt, ut viri boni esse videantur.]

Cicero - injustice deepest die appear honest men practising the greatest of villainies - wist.info quote

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 13 (1.13) / sec. 41 (44 BC) [tr. Cockman (1699)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

No act of injustice is more pernicious than theirs, who while they are attempting the greatest deceit, labor to appear good men.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

But in the whole system of villainy, none is more capital than that of the men, who, when they most deceive, so manage as that they may seem to be virtuous men.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

But of all forms of injustice, none is more heinous than that of the men who, while they practise fraud to the utmost of their ability, do it in such a way that they appear to be good men.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]

The most criminal injustice is that of the hypocrite who hides an act of treachery under the cloak of virtue.
[tr. Gardiner (1899)]

No iniquity is more deadly than that of those who, when they are most at fault, so behave as to seem men of integrity.
[ed. Harbottle (1906)]

But of all forms of injustice, none is more flagrant than that of the hypocrite who, at the very moment when he is most false, makes it his business to appear virtuous.
[tr. Miller (1913)]

Taking all forms of injustice into account, none is more deadly than that practiced by people who act as if they are good men when they are being most treacherous.
[tr. Edinger (1974)]

 
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When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something, to do something. Our children and their children will ask us, “What did you do? What did you say?” For some, this vote may be hard. But we have a mission and a mandate to be on the right side of history.

John Lewis
John Lewis (1940-2020) American politician and civil rights leader
Speech, House of Representatives (18 Dec 2019)
    (Source)

During the House vote to impeach Donald Trump.
 
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It is compassion rather than the principle of justice which can guard us against being unjust to our fellow men.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American writer, philosopher, longshoreman
The Passionate State of Mind, Aphorism 140 (1955)
    (Source)
 
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Women are stripped to the skin in the presence of leering, white-skinned, black-hearted brutes and lashed into insensibility and strangled to death from the limbs of trees. A girl child of fifteen years was lynched recently by these brutal bullies. Where has justice fled? The eloquence of Wendell Phillips is silent now. John Brown’s body lies moldering in the grave. But will his spirit lie there moldering, too? Brutes, inhuman monsters — you heartless brutes — you whom nature forms by molding you in it, deceive not yourselves by thinking that another John Brown will not arise.

Lucy Parsons
Lucy Parsons (1851-1942) American labor organizer, anarchist, orator [a.k.a. Lucy Gonzalez]
“Southern Lynching” (Apr 1892)
    (Source)
 
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Because we have sought to cover up past evil, though it still persists, we have been powerless to check the new evil of today. Evil unchecked grows, evil tolerated poisons the whole system. And because we have tolerated our past and present evils, international affairs are poisoned and law and justice have disappeared from them.

Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) Indian nationalist leader, politician, statesman, author
“The Bombing of Open Towns,” speech, International Peace Campaign Conference, Paris (24 Jul 1938)
    (Source)

Nehru was comparing rising fascism to colonial imperialism, and the bombings of cities in Spain and China to ongoing British bombing of villages in the North-West Frontier of India. Collected in The Unity of India : Collected Writings, 1937-1940 (1942).
 
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What is blasphemy? I will give you a definition; I will give you my thought upon this subject. What is real blasphemy?

To live on the unpaid labor of other men — that is blasphemy.

To enslave your fellow-man, to put chains upon his body — that is blasphemy.

To enslave the minds of men, to put manacles upon the brain, padlocks upon the lips — that is blasphemy.

To deny what you believe to be true, to admit to be true what you believe to be a lie — that is blasphemy.

To strike the weak and unprotected, in order that you may gain the applause of the ignorant and superstitious mob — that is blasphemy.

To persecute the intelligent few, at the command of the ignorant many — that is blasphemy.

To forge chains, to build dungeons, for your honest fellow-men — that is blasphemy.

To pollute the souls of children with the dogma of eternal pain — that is blasphemy.

To violate your conscience — that is blasphemy.

The jury that gives an unjust verdict, and the judge who pronounces an unjust sentence, are blasphemers.

The man who bows to public opinion against his better judgment and against his honest conviction, is a blasphemer.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Speech to the Jury, Trial of C. B. Reynolds for Blasphemy, Morristown, New Jersey (May 1887)
    (Source)
 
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It is not pointless to acquire wealth but it is more evil than anything to get it from injustice.

[Χρήματα πορίζειν μὲν οὐκ ἀχρεῖον, ἐξ ἀδικίης δὲ πάντων κάκιον.]

Democritus (c. 460 BC - c. 370 BC) Greek philosopher
Frag. 78 (Diels) [tr. @sententiq (2018)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Diels citation "78. (74 N.) DEMOKRATES. 43."; collected in Joannes Stobaeus (Stobaios) Anthologium 4, 31, 21. Bakewell lists this under "The Golden Sayings of Democritus." Freeman notes this as one of the Gnômae, from a collection called "Maxims of Democratês," but because Stobaeus quotes many of these as "Maxims of Democritus," they are generally attributed to the latter. Alternate translations:

  • "Making money is not without its value, but nothing is baser than to make it by wrong-doing." [tr. Bakewell (1907)]
  • "To make money is not without use, but if it comes from wrong-doing, nothing is worse." [tr. Freeman (1948)]
 
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As citizens, we must prevent wrongdoing because the world in which we all live, wrong-doer, wrong sufferer and spectator, is at stake.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
The Life of the Mind (1977)
 
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There are two kinds of injustice — the one, on the part of those who inflict wrong, the other on the part of those who, when they can, do not shield from wrong those upon whom it is being inflicted. For he who, under the influence of anger or some other passion, wrongfully assaults another seems, as it were, to be laying violent hands upon a comrade; but he who does not prevent or oppose wrong, if he can, is just as guilty of wrong as if he deserted his parents or his friends or his country.

[Sed iniustitiae genera duo sunt, unum eorum, qui inferunt, alterum eorum, qui ab iis, quibus infertur, si possunt, non propulsant iniuriam. Nam qui iniuste impetum in quempiam facit aut ira aut aliqua perturbatione incitatus, is quasi manus afferre videtur socio; qui autem non defendit nec obsistit, si potest, iniuriae, tam est in vitio, quam si parentes aut amicos aut patriam deserat.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 7 (1.7) / sec. 23 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alternate translations:

The vice that is opposite to justice is injustice, of which there are two sorts: the first consists in the actual doing an injury to another; the second, in tamely looking on while he is injured, and not helping and defending him though we are able: for he that injuriously falls on another, whether prompted by rage or other violent passion, does as it were leap at the throat of his companion; and he that refuses to help him when injured, and to ward off the wrong if it lies in his power, is as plainly guilty of baseness and and injustice as though he had deserted his father, his friends, or his native country.
[tr. Cockman (1699)]

There are two kinds of injustice: Of the one, they are guilty who do an injury; of the other, they who, if they are able, do not defend those from injury to whom it is offered. For he who urged on by anger, or some violent passion, attempts to injure any man, lifts his hand against his brother' and he who interferes not to resist or repel the attempt, is as guilty as if he had deserted his parents, his friends, or his country.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

But there are two kinds of injustice; the first of those who offer an injury, the second of those who have in their power to avert an injury from those to whom it is offered, and yet do it not. For if a man, prompted either by anger or any sudden perturbation, unjustly assaults another man, such a one seems as it were to lay violent hands on one's ally; and the man who does not repel or withstand the injury, if he can, is as much to blame as if he deserted the cause of his parents, his friends, or his country.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

Of injustice there are two kinds, -- one, that of those who inflict injury; the other, that of those who do not, if they can, repel injury from those on whom it is inflicted. Moreover, he who, moved by anger or by some disturbance of mind, makes an unjust assault on any person, is as one who lays violent hands on a casual companion; while he who does not, if he can, ward off or resist the injury offered to another, is as much in fault as if he were to desert his parents, or his friends, or his country.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]

There are two kinds of injustice: the positive injustice of the aggressor, and the negative injustice of neglecting to defend those who are wronged. To attack a man unjustly under the influence of anger or some other passion is to lay hands upon a comrade; not to defend the oppressed and shield them from injustice, is as great a crime as to desert our parents, friends, or country.
[tr. Gardiner (1899)]

There are two classifications of injustice. One part includes those who act unjustly. The other part includes men who, even if they have the power to do so, fail to protect from abuse those people against whom other men commit violence. The man who unjustly does harm to someone else, either in anger or because some other passion arounds him, acts as if he were striking a companion. But the man who does not avert an act of violence, or offer resistance if he has the power, is just as much at fault as if he betrayed his parents, or friends, or his fatherland.
[tr. Edinger (1974)]

 
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Injustice often arises also through chicanery, that is, through an over-subtle and even fraudulent construction of the law. This it is that gave rise to the now familiar saw, “More law, less justice.”

[Existunt etiam saepe iniuriae calumnia quadam et nimis callida sed malitiosa iuris interpretatione. Ex quo illud “summum ius summa iniuria” factum est iam tritum sermone proverbium.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 10 (1.10) / sec. 33 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:


    But another great spring from which injuries arise, is some quirk or cavil, and an oversubtle and malicious interpretation of the laws; from whence that saying, "The height of justice is the height of roguery," is now become a daily and common proverb among us.
    [tr. Cockman (1699)]

    Injustice is often done by artful evasions, and from a too shrewd, but malicious interpretation of the laws. Hence the proverb, "the strictest justice is the greatest injury," has become quite familiar in conversation.
    [tr. McCartney (1798)]

    Very often wrongs arise through a quirk, and through a too artful but fraudulent construction of the law. Hence, "the rigour of law is the rigour of injustice," is a saying that has now passed into a proverb.
    [tr. Edmonds (1865)]

    There are, also, wrongs committed by a sort of chicanery, which consists in a too subtle, and thus fraudulent, interpretation of the right. Hence comes the saying: The extreme of right is the extreme of wrong.
    [tr. Peabody (1883)]

    A common form of injustice is chicanery, that is, an over-subtle, in fact a fraudulent construction of the law. Hence the hackneyed proverb: "The greatest right is the greatest wrong."
    [tr. Gardiner (1899)]

    A perversion of justice, some extremely clever but harmful interpretation of a statute, also is a frequent cause of wrongdoing. Hence we have the saying, "Extreme legality is the worst law," a proverb become a cliche by daily use.
    [tr. Edinger (1974)]

    See Terence.
 
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That men should pray and fight for their own freedom, and yet keep others in slavery, is certainly acting a very inconsistent, as well as unjust and, perhaps, impious part, but the history of mankind is filled with instances of human improprieties.

John Jay (1745-1829) American statesman, diplomat, abolitionist, politician, Chief Justice (1789-1795)
Letter to Rev. Doctor Price (27 Sep 1785)
    (Source)
 
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We are the most unfair, not towards him whom we do not like, but toward him for whom we feel nothing at all.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German philosopher and poet
Thus Spoke Zarathustra [Also Sprach Zarathustra], Part 2, “Of the Compassionate [Von den Mitleidigen]” (1892) [tr. Hollingdale (1961)]
    (Source)
 
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I find it very difficult to enthuse

Over the current news.

Just when you think that at least the outlook is so black that it can grow no blacker, it worsens,

And that is why I do not like the news, because there has never been an era when so many things were going so right for so many of the wrong persons.

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) American poet
“Everybody Tells Me Everything,” The Face Is Familiar (1940)
    (Source)
 
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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)]
    (Source)

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.
 
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If everyone were clothed with integrity,
If every heart were just, frank, kindly,
The other virtues would be well-nigh useless,
Since their chief purpose is to make us bear with patience
The injustice of our fellows.

Si de probité tout était revêtu,
Si tous les cœurs était francs, justes et dociles,
La plupart des vertus nous seraient inutiles,
Puisqu’on en met l’usage à pouvoir sans ennui
Supporter dans nos droits l’injustice d’autrui.

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
Le Misanthrope, Act 5, sc. 1, l. 1564 (1666) [tr. Wormeley (1894)]
    (Source)

Original French.

Alt. trans. [Page (1913)]
If everything were clothed in probity,
If all men's hearts were open, just, gentle,
Most of our virtues would be wholly useless,
Since we employ them now, in cheerfully
Enduring wrong, with right on our side.
 
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You have oppressed the poor and robbed them of their grain. And so you will not live in the fine stone houses you build or drink wine from the beautiful vineyards you plant. I know how terrible your sins are and how many crimes you have committed. You persecute good people, take bribes, and prevent the poor from getting justice in the courts. And so, keeping quiet in such evil times is the smart thing to do! Make it your aim to do what is right, not what is evil, so that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty really will be with you, as you claim he is.

The Bible (The Old Testament) (14th - 2nd C BC) Judeo-Christian sacred scripture [Tanakh, Hebrew Bible], incl. the Apocrypha (Deuterocanonicals)
Amos 5:11-14 [GNT (1976)]
    (Source)

Alternate translations:

Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, and ye take from him burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them. For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right. Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time. Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the Lord, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.
[KJV (1611)]

Well then, since you have trampled on the poor man, extorting levies on his wheat -- those houses you have built of dressed stone, you will never live in them; and those precious vineyards you have planted, you will never drink their wine. For I know that your crimes are many, and your sins enormous: persecutors of the virtuous, blackmailers, turning away the needy at the city gate. No wonder the prudent man keeps silent, the times are so evil. Seek good and not evil so that you may live, and that Yahweh, God of Sabaoth, may really be with you as you claim he is.
[JB (1966)]

Therefore because you trample on the poor and take from them levies of grain, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not live in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins -- you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and push aside the needy in the gate. Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time; for it is an evil time. Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, just as you have said.
[NRSV (1989 ed.)]

Assuredly,
Because you impose a tax on the poor
And exact from them a levy of grain,
You have built houses of hewn stone,
But you shall not live in them;
You have planted delightful vineyards,
But shall not drink their wine.
For I have noted how many are your crimes,
And how countless your sins --
You enemies of the righteous,
You takers of bribes,
You who subvert in the gate
The cause of the needy!
Assuredly,
At such a time the prudent keep silent,
For it is an evil time.
Seek good and not evil,
That you may live,
And that the ETERNAL, the God of Hosts,
May truly be with you,
As you think.
[RJPS (2006)]

 
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Acquitting the guilty convicts the judge.

[Iudex damnatur cum nocens absolvitur.]

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sentences [Sententiae], #296
    (Source)

Motto of the Edinburgh Review. Alt. trans.:
  • "When the guilty man is let off, the judge stands condemned."
  • "The judge is condemned when the criminal is acquitted." [tr. Lyman (1856), #868]
There were multiple collections made of Publilius Syrus' Sententiae in Antiquity and the Middle Ages. This appears in all of them, but often with different line/sentence numbers, incl. #256 and #257.
 
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So long as there shall exist, by virtue of law and custom, decrees of damnation pronounced by society, artificially creating hells amid the civilization of earth, and adding the element of human fate to divine destiny; so long as the three great problems of the century — the degradation of man through pauperism, the corruption of woman through hunger, the crippling of children through lack of light — are unsolved; so long as social asphyxia is possible in any part of the world; — in other words, and with a still wider significance, so long as ignorance and poverty exist on earth, books of the nature of Les Misérables cannot fail to be of use.

[Tant qu’il existera, par le fait des lois et des mœurs, une damnation sociale créant artificiellement, en pleine civilisation, des enfers, et compliquant d’une fatalité humaine la destinée qui est divine; tant que les trois problèmes du siècle, la dégradation de l’homme par le prolétariat, la déchéance de la femme par la faim, l’atrophie de l’enfant par la nuit, ne seront pas résolus; tant que, dans de certaines régions, l’asphyxie sociale sera possible; en d’autres termes, et à un point de vue plus étendu encore, tant qu’il y aura sur la terre ignorance et misère, des livres de la nature de celui-ci pourront ne pas être inutiles.]

Victor Hugo (1802-1885) French writer
Les Misérables, Preface (1862) [tr. Hapgood (1887)]
    (Source)

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine, with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age -- the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of woman by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night -- are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible ; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.
[tr. Wilbour (1862)]

As long as there shall exist, as a consequence of laws and customs, a social damnation artificially creating hells in the midst of civilization, and complicating the destiny which is divine with a fatality which is human; as long as the three problems of the age -- the degradation of man by the proletariat, the ruin of woman by hunger, the atrophy of the child by the night—are not solved; as long as in certain regions social asphyxia shall be possible; in other terms, and from a still more extended point of view, as long as there shall be on the earth ignorance and wretchedness, books of the nature of this one cannot be useless.
[tr. Wraxall (1862)]

While through the working of laws and customs there continues to exist a condition of social condemnation which artificially creates a human hell within civilization, and complicates with human fatality a destiny that is divine; while the three great problems of this century, the degradation of man in the proletariat, the subjection of women through hunger, the atrophy of the child by darkness, continue unresolved; while in some regions social asphyxia remains possible; in other words, and in still wider terms, while ignorance and poverty persist on earth, books such as this cannot fail to be of value.
[tr. Denny (1976)]

So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation which, in the midst of civilization, artificially creates a hell on earth, and complicates with human fatality a destiny that is divine; so long as the three problems of the century -- the degradation of man by the exploitation of his labor, the ruin of woman by starvation, and the atrophy of childhood by physical and spiritual night -- are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and, from a still broader point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, there should be a need for books such as this.
[tr. Wilbour/Fahnestock/MacAfee (1987)]

As long as through the workings of laws and customs there exists a. damnation-by-society artificially creating hells int he very midst of civilization and complicating destiny, which is divine, with a man-made fate; as long as the three problems of the age are not resolved: the debasement of of men through proletarianization, the moral degradation of women through hunger, and the blighting of children by keeping them in darkness; as long as in certain strata social suffocation is possible; in other words and from an even broader perspective, as long as there are ignorance and poverty on earth, books of this kind may serve some purpose.
[tr. Donougher (2013)]

 
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Doom for the man who founds his palace on anything but integrity, his upstairs rooms on anything but honesty, who makes his fellow man work for nothing, without paying him his wages, who says, “I will build myself an imposing palace with spacious rooms upstairs”, who pierces lights in it, panels it with cedar, and paints it vermilion.
Are you more of a king for outrivalling others with cedar?
Your father ate and drank, like you, but he practised honesty and integrity, so all went well for him. He used to examine the cases of poor and needy, then all went well. Is not that what it means to know me? – it is Yahweh who speaks.
You on the other hand have eyes and heart for nothing but your own interests, for shedding innocent blood and perpetrating violence and oppression.

The Bible (The Old Testament) (14th - 2nd C BC) Judeo-Christian sacred scripture [Tanakh, Hebrew Bible], incl. the Apocrypha (Deuterocanonicals)
Jeremiah 22:13-17 [JB (1966)]
    (Source)

Speaking out against Jehoiakim, the King of Judah.

Alternate translations:

Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work; That saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and it is cieled with cedar, and painted with vermilion.
Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar?
Did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him? He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? saith the Lord.
But thine eyes and thine heart are not but for thy covetousness, and for to shed innocent blood, and for oppression, and for violence, to do it.
[KJV (1611)]

Doomed is the one who builds his house by injustice
and enlarges it by dishonesty;
who makes his people work for nothing
and does not pay their wages.
Doomed is the one who says,
“I will build myself a mansion
with spacious rooms upstairs.”
So he puts windows in his house,
panels it with cedar,
and paints it red.
Does it make you a better king
if you build houses of cedar,
finer than those of others?
Your father enjoyed a full life.
He was always just and fair,
and he prospered in everything he did.
He gave the poor a fair trial,
and all went well with him.
That is what it means to know the Lord.
But you can only see your selfish interests;
you kill the innocent
and violently oppress your people.
The Lord has spoken.
[GNT (1976)]

Disaster for the man who builds his house without uprightness, his upstairs rooms without fair judgement, who makes his fellow-man work for nothing, without paying him his wages, who says, "I shall build myself a spacious palace with airy upstairs rooms," who makes windows in it, panels it with cedar, and paints it vermilion.
Are you more of a king because of your passion for cedar? Did your father go hungry or thirsty? But he did what is just and upright, so all went well for him. He used to examine the cases of poor and needy, then all went well. Is not that what it means to know me? Yahweh demands.
You on the other hand have eyes and heart for nothing but your own interests, for shedding innocent blood and perpetrating violence and oppression.
[NJB (1985)]

Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness
and his upper rooms by injustice,
who makes his neighbors work for nothing
and does not give them their wages,
who says, “I will build myself a spacious house
with large upper rooms,”
and who cuts out windows for it,
paneling it with cedar
and painting it with vermilion.
Are you a king
because you compete in cedar?
Did not your father eat and drink
and do justice and righteousness?
Then it was well with him.
He judged the cause of the poor and needy;
then it was well.
Is not this to know me?
says the Lord.
But your eyes and heart
are only on your dishonest gain,
for shedding innocent blood,
and for practicing oppression and violence.
[NRSV (1989 ed.)]

Ha! He who builds his house with unfairness
And his upper chambers with injustice,
Who makes his neighbors work without pay
And does not give them their wages,
Who thinks: I will build me a vast palace
With spacious upper chambers,
Provided with windows,
Paneled in cedar,
Painted with vermilion!
Do you think you are more a king
Because you compete in cedar?
Your father ate and drank
And dispensed justice and equity --
Then all went well with him.
He upheld the rights of the poor and needy --
Then all was well.
That is truly heeding Me
-- declares GOD.
But your eyes and your mind are only
On ill-gotten gains,
On shedding the blood of the innocent,
On committing fraud and violence.
[RJPS (2023 ed.)]

 
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More quotes by Bible, vol. 1, Old Testament

There are three possible ways in which the church can act toward the state: in the first place, as has been said, it can ask the state whether its actions are legitimate and in accordance with its character as state, i.e., it can throw the state back on its responsibilities. Secondly, it can aid the victims of state action. The church has an unconditional obligation to the victims of any ordering society, even if they do not belong to the Christian community. “Do good to all men.” In both these course of action, the church serves the free state in its free way, and at times when laws are changed the church may in no way withdraw itself from these two tasks.

The third possibility is not just to bandage the victims under the wheel, but to put a spoke in the wheel itself. Such action would be direct political action, and is only possible and required when the church sees the state fail in its function of creating law and order, i.e., when it sees the state unrestrainedly bring about too much or too little law and order.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) German Lutheran pastor, theologian, martyr
“The Church and the Jewish Question” (1933)
    (Source)

On the need for Christian clergy to actively oppose the Nazi regime's persecution of Jews.
 
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Government was intended to suppress injustice, but it offers new occasions and temptations for the commission of it.

William Godwin (1756-1836) English journalist, political philosopher, novelist
Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, “Summary of Principles” 2.4 (1793)
    (Source)
 
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People never move towards revolution; they are pushed towards it by intolerable injustices in the economic and social order under which they live.

Suzanne La Follette (1893-1983) American journalist, author, feminist
(Attributed)
 
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There is only one question which really matters: why do bad things happen to good people?

Harold S. Kushner (b. 1935) American author, rabbi
When Bad Things Happen to Good People, ch. 1 (1981)
 
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When once a social order is well established, no matter what injustice it involves, those who occupy a position of advantage are not long in coming to believe that it is the only possible and reasonable order.

Suzanne La Follette (1893-1983) American journalist, author, feminist
(Attributed)
 
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I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I told him if he had stolen a railroad he would be a United States Senator.

jones-stolen-a-railroad-wist_info-quote

Mary Harris "Mother" Jones (1860-1930) American labor leader [a.k.a. Mother Jones]
Speech (1903), in The Autobiography of Mother Jones, ch. 10 (1925)
 
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The central belief of every moron is that he is the victim of a mysterious conspiracy against his common rights and true desserts. He ascribes all his failure to get on in the world, all of his congenital incapacity and damnfoolishness, to the machinations of werewolves assembled in Wall Street, or some other such den of infamy. If these villains could be put down, he holds, he would at once become rich, powerful and eminent. Nine politicians out of every ten, of whatever party, live and have their being by promising to perform
this putting down. In brief, they are knaves who maintain themselves by preying on the idiotic vanities and pathetic hopes of half-wits.

H. L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
Baltimore Evening Sun (15 Jun 1936)
 
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Find out just what any people will quietly submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

Frederick Douglass (1817-1895) American abolitionist, orator, writer
Speech on West India Emancipation (4 Aug 1857)
 
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At the bottom of every social problem we will find a social wrong.

Henry George (1839-1897) American economist
Social Problems, ch. 1 (1883)
 
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Wherever a Knave is not punished, an honest Man is laugh’d at.

George Savile, Marquis of Halifax (1633-1695) English politician and essayist
“Of Punishment,” Political, Moral, and Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections (1750)
    (Source)
 
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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)
 
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HENRY: What stronger breastplate than a heart untainted?
Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just,
And he but naked, though locked up in steel,
Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted.

Shakespeare
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Henry VI, Part 2, Act 3, sc. 2, l. 240ff (3.2.240-243) (1591)
    (Source)

See Ward.
 
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Still, I do not mean to find fault with the accumulation of property, provided it hurts nobody, but unjust acquisition of it is always to be avoided.

[Nec vero rei familiaris amplificatio nemini nocens vituperanda est, sed fugienda semper iniuria est.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 8 (1.8) / sec. 25 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Not but that a moderate desire of riches, and bettering a man's estate, so long as it abstains from oppressing of others, is allowable enough; but a very great care ought always to be taken that we be not drawn to any injustice by it.
[tr. Cockman (1699)]

The enlargement of fortune is blameless, while no man suffers by its increase; but injury is forever to be avoided.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

Nor indeed is the mere desire to improve one's private fortune, without injury to another, deserving of blame; but injustice must ever be avoided.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

Nor, indeed, is the increase of property, without harm to any one, to be blamed; but wrong-doing for the sake of gain is never to be tolerated.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]

Not that we have any fault to find with the innocent accumulation of property; it is the unjust acquisition of it of which we must beware.
[tr. Gardiner (1899)]

Of course, no one should criticize an increase in a family's estate that harms no one else, but it should never involve breaking the law.
[tr. Edinger (1974)]

 
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What is blasphemy? I will give you a definition; I will give you my thought upon this subject. What is real blasphemy?
To live on the unpaid labor of other men — that is blasphemy.
To enslave your fellow-man, to put chains upon his body — that is blasphemy.
To enslave the minds of men, to put manacles upon the brain, padlocks upon the lips — that is blasphemy.
To deny what you believe to be true, to admit to be true what you believe to be a lie — that is blasphemy.
To strike the weak and unprotected, in order that you may gain the applause of the ignorant and superstitious mob — that is blasphemy.
To persecute the intelligent few, at the command of the ignorant many — that is blasphemy.
To forge chains, to build dungeons, for your honest fellow-men — that is blasphemy.
To pollute the souls of children with the dogma of eternal pain — that is blasphemy.
To violate your conscience — that is blasphemy.
The jury that gives an unjust verdict, and the judge who pronounces an unjust sentence, are blasphemers.
The man who bows to public opinion against his better judgment and against his honest conviction, is a blasphemer.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Trial of C.B. Reynolds for blasphemy (May 1887)
    (Source)
 
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The most odious of all oppressions are those which mask as justice.

Robert H. Jackson (1892-1954) US Supreme Court Justice (1941-54), lawyer, jurist, politician
Krulewitch v. United States, 336 U.S. 440, 458 (1949) [concurring]
    (Source)
 
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To accept passively an unjust system is to cooperate with that system; thereby the oppressed become as evil as the oppressor. Non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. The oppressed must never allow the conscience of the oppressor to slumber. Religion reminds every man that he is his brother’s keeper. To accept injustice or segregation passively is to say to the oppressor that his actions are morally right. It is a way of allowing his conscience to fall asleep. At this moment the oppressed fails to be his brother’s keeper. So acquiescence — while often the easier way — is not the moral way. It is the way of the coward.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, social activist, preacher
Stride Toward Freedom, ch. 11 “Where Do We Go from Here?” (1958)
    (Source)
 
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If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

Desmond Tutu (1931-2021) South African cleric, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate
(Attributed)
 
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Justice without might is helpless; might without justice is tyrannical.

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) French scientist and philosopher
Pensées, #298 (1670) [tr. Trotter (1931)]
 
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Woe to those who make unjust laws,
to those who issue oppressive decrees,
to deprive the poor of their rights
and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
making widows their prey
and robbing the fatherless.
What will you do on the day of reckoning,
when disaster comes from afar?
To whom will you run for help?
Where will you leave your riches?
Nothing will remain but to cringe among the captives
or fall among the slain.

The Bible (The Old Testament) (14th - 2nd C BC) Judeo-Christian sacred scripture [Tanakh, Hebrew Bible], incl. the Apocrypha (Deuterocanonicals)
Isaiah 10:1-3 [NIV (2011 ed.)]
    (Source)

Alternate translations:

Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed; To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless! And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory? Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain.
[KJV (1611)]

You are doomed! You make unjust laws that oppress my people. That is how you keep the poor from having their rights and from getting justice. That is how you take the property that belongs to widows and orphans. What will you do when God punishes you? What will you do when he brings disaster on you from a distant country? Where will you run to find help? Where will you hide your wealth? You will be killed in battle or dragged off as prisoners.
[GNT (1976)]

Woe to those who enact unjust decrees, who compose oppressive legislation to deny justice to the weak and to cheat the humblest of my people of fair judgement, to make widows their prey and to rob the orphan. What will you do on the day of punishment, when disaster comes from far away? To whom will you run for help and where will you leave your riches, to avoid squatting among the captives or falling among the slain?
[NJB (1985)]

Ha! Those who write out evil writs and compose iniquitous documents, to subvert the cause of the poor, to rob of their rights the needy of My people; that widows may be their spoil, and fatherless children their booty! What will you do on the day of punishment, When the calamity comes from afar? To whom will you flee for help, And how will you save your carcasses from collapsing under [fellow] prisoners, from falling beneath the slain?
[JPS (1985)]

Woe to those who make iniquitous decrees, who write oppressive statutes, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, to make widows their spoil and to plunder orphans! What will you do on the day of punishment, in the calamity that will come from far away? To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth, so as not to crouch among the prisoners or fall among the slain?
[NRSV (1989 ed.)]

 
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There is but one blasphemy, and that is injustice.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Lecture, Chicago (20 Sep 1880)
 
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To this war of every man against every man, this also is consequent; that nothing can be unjust. The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice, have there no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law; where no law, no injustice. Force and fraud are in war the two cardinal virtues.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) English philosopher
Leviathan, Part 1, ch. 13 (1651)
    (Source)
 
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Extreme law is often extreme injustice.

[Ius summum saepe summa malitia est.]

Terence (186?-159 BC) African-Roman dramatist [Publius Terentius Afer]
Heauton Timoroumenos [The Self-Tormentor], Act 4, sc. 5, l. 48 (l. 796)

Alternate translations:
  • "The highest law is often the greatest wrong."
  • "Extreme justice is often extreme malice."
  • "Rigorous law is often rigorous injustice."
 
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Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, social activist, preacher
Letter from Birmingham Jail (16 Apr 1963)
    (Source)
 
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There is far too much law for those who can afford it and far too little for those who cannot.

Derek Bok (b. 1930) American lawyer, educator
Report to Harvard Board of Overseers (21 Apr 1983)
 
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Injustice in this world is not something comparative; the wrong is deep, clear, and absolute in each private fate.

George Santayana (1863-1952) Spanish-American poet and philosopher [Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruíz de Santayana y Borrás]
The Life of Reason or The Phases of Human Progress, vol. 2 “Reason in Society,” ch. 4 “The Aristocratic Ideal” (1905-06)
 
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Justice is itself the great standing policy of civil society; and any eminent departure from it, under any circumstances, lies under the suspicion of being no policy at all.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797) Anglo-Irish statesman, orator, philosopher
“Reflections on the Revolution in France” (1790)
    (Source)
 
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