Quotations about   innocence

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A time-honored concept of Anglo-Saxon justice declares that a man is innocent until proven guilty. I believe that in a democratic society a man is similarly loyal until proven disloyal. No testaments of faith, no protestations of affection for his native land, and no amount of signatures will prove a bloody thing — one way or the other — as to a man’s patriotism or lack thereof.

Rod Serling (1924-1975) American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, narrator
Speech, Moorpark College, Moorpark, California (3 Dec 1968)
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Serling had refused to sign a loyalty oath before speaking, giving up the fee for his appearance.
Added on 2-Aug-22 | Last updated 2-Aug-22
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The innocent and the beautiful
Have no enemy but time.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) Irish poet and dramatist
“In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markiewicz” (1927)
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Added on 10-Mar-21 | Last updated 10-Mar-21
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There is no such thing as collective guilt or collective innocence; guilt and innocence make sense only if applied to individuals.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
“Personal Responsibility Under Dictatorship” (1964)
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Added on 18-Feb-21 | Last updated 18-Feb-21
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A man is a god in ruins.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Nature,” ch. 8, Nature: Addresses and Lectures (1849)
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Added on 16-Oct-17 | Last updated 24-Feb-22
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It had snowed in the night, and the world looked very clean, which I knew it not to be. But illusion is nice sometimes.

Robert B. Parker (1932-2010) American writer
Painted Ladies, ch. 22 (2010)
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Added on 12-Jul-17 | Last updated 12-Jul-17
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Oh! To be a child again. My only treasures, bits of shell and stone and glass. To love nothing but maple sugar. To fear nothing but a big dog. To go to sleep without dreading the morrow. To wake up with a shout. Not to have seen a dead face. Not to dread a living one. To be able to believe.

Fanny Fern (1811-1872) American columnist, humorist, author [b. Sara Willis]
Ginger-Snaps (1870)
Added on 27-Sep-16 | Last updated 27-Sep-16
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It’s innocence when it charms us, ignorance when it doesn’t.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 10 (1966)
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Added on 22-Aug-16 | Last updated 10-Mar-22
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A cheerful temper, joined with innocence will make beauty attractive, knowledge delightful, and wit good-natured.

Addison - cheerful temper - wist_info quote

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Tatler #192 (1 Jul 1710)
Added on 15-Jul-16 | Last updated 15-Jul-16
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Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: This is the ideal life.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook [ed. Paine (1935)]
Added on 27-Jul-15 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Trust no friend without faults,
And love a maiden, but no angel.

[Trau keinem Freunde sonder Mängel,
Und leib’ ein Mädchen, kienem Engel.]

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) German playwright, philosopher, dramiturg, writer
Note in a Family Register (1778)

Alt. trans.: "Trust in no friend, rather forebear; / Love a sweet maid, no angel rare."
Added on 2-Apr-15 | Last updated 2-Apr-15
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HAWKEYE: War isn’t Hell. War is war, and Hell is Hell. And of the two, war is a lot worse.

FR. MULCAHEY: How do you figure, Hawkeye?

HAWKEYE: Easy, Father. Tell me, who goes to Hell?

FR. MULCAHEY: Sinners, I believe.

HAWKEYE: Exactly. There are no innocent bystanders in Hell. War is chock full of them — little kids, cripples, old ladies. In fact, except for some of the brass, almost everybody involved is an innocent bystander.

Burt Prelutsky (b. 1940) American TV screenwriter, author, columnist, critic
M*A*S*H, 5×20 “The General’s Practitioner” (15 Feb 1977)
Added on 19-Mar-15 | Last updated 19-Mar-15
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To spare the guilty is to injure the innocent.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 113 [tr. Lyman (1862)]
Added on 17-Mar-15 | Last updated 15-Feb-17
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I hear much of People’s calling out to punish the Guilty, but very few are concern’d to clear the Innocent.

Daniel Defoe (1660?-1731) English journalist and novelist
An Appeal to Honour and Justice, Tho’ it be of His Worse Enemies (1715)
Added on 17-Feb-15 | Last updated 17-Feb-15
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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.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Henry VI, Part 2, Act 3, sc. 2, l. 240ff [Henry] (1591)
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See Ward.
Added on 18-Dec-12 | Last updated 28-Jun-22
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It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, “whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,” and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
(Attributed)

Cited in some cases as the closing argument while defending the British Soldiers accused of killing 5 colonists in the "Boston Massacre" (usually given as "Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials" (Dec 1770)), but I did not find it in accounts of that defense.
Added on 7-Jul-11 | Last updated 29-Mar-17
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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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Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Hamlet, Act 3, sc. 1, l. 147ff [Hamlet] (c. 1600)
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Added on 22-Jan-09 | Last updated 27-Jun-22
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