Quotations about   mockery

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Thou canst not joke an Enemy into a Friend; but thou may’st a Friend into an Enemy.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Apr 1739)
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Added on 17-Sep-20 | Last updated 17-Sep-20
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Behold the hippopotamus!
We laugh at how he looks to us,
And yet in moments dank and grim,
I wonder how we look to him.

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) American poet
“The Hippopotamus”
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Added on 11-Sep-20 | Last updated 11-Sep-20
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To expose vices to the ridicule of all the world is a severe blow to them. Reprehensions are easily suffered, but not so ridicule. People do not mind being wicked; but they object to being made ridiculous.

[C’est une grande atteinte aux vices que de les exposer à la risée de tout le monde. On souffre aisément des répréhensions, mais on ne souffre point la raillerie. On veut bien être méchant, mais on ne veut point être ridicule.]

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
Tartuffe, Preface (1664) [tr. Van Laun (1876)]
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Alt. trans.: "To expose vices to everyone’s laughter is to deal them a mighty blow. People easily endure reproofs, but they cannot at all endure being made fun of. People have no objection to being considered wicked, but they are not willing to be considered ridiculous." [tr. Kerr]
Added on 17-Apr-20 | Last updated 17-Apr-20
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If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.

Claude McKay (1889-1948) Jamaican-American writer, poet, journalist
“If We Must Die,” The Liberator (Jul 1919)
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Added on 8-Jan-20 | Last updated 8-Jan-20
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It is part of the price of leadership of this great and free nation to be the target of clever satirists. You have given the gift of laughter to our people. May we never grow so somber or self-important that we fail to appreciate the humor in our lives.

Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) American poltician, educator, US President (1963-69)
Letter to the Smothers Brothers (Nov 1968)

Replying to a letter from them apologizing for making him the target of so much of their humor. More info here and here.
Added on 22-Feb-17 | Last updated 22-Feb-17
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Some folk have been clearly rid of such pestilent fancies with very full contempt of them, making a cross upon their hearts and bidding the devil avaunt. And sometimes they laugh him to scorn, too, and then turn their mind unto some other matter. And when the devil hath seen that they have set so little by him, after certain essays, made in such times as he thought most fitting, he hath given that temptation quite over. And this he doth not only because the proud spirit cannot endure to be mocked, but also lest, with much tempting the man to the sin to which he could not in conclusion bring him, he should much increase his merit.

Thomas More (1478-1535) English lawyer, social philosopher, statesman, humanist, Christian martyr
Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation, Book 2, sec. 16 (1553)
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More often elided/paraphrased as "The devil ... the proud spirit cannot endure to be mocked" or "The devil, that proud spirit, cannot endure to be mocked."

C. S. Lewis used a mis-elided version as an epigraph to The Screwtape Letters (1942): "The devil ... the prowde spirit ... cannot endure to be mocked."

Sometimes given in the original (?) spellings: "The deuill ... the prowde spirit, cannot endure to be mock'd."
Added on 15-Feb-17 | Last updated 15-Feb-17
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The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) German religious reformer
Table Talk
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Variations:
  • "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not go for texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn."
  • The best way to expel the devil, if he will not depart for texts from Holy Scripture, is to jeer and flout him. [Source]
Added on 14-Feb-17 | Last updated 14-Feb-17
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If Jesus Christ were to come today, people would not even crucify Him. They would ask Him to dinner, and hear what He had to say, and make fun of it.

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) Scottish essayist and historian
Quoted by Joseph Neuberg in a letter to his sister (12 Jan 1850)
Added on 21-Jan-16 | Last updated 21-Jan-16
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     More to the point, nameless hideous monsters are freaking terrifying. You always fear what you don’t know, what you don’t understand, and the first step to having understanding of something is to know what to call it. It’s a habit of mine to give names to anything I wind up interacting with if it doesn’t have one readily available. Names have power — magically, sure, but far more important, they have psychological power. Something horrible with a name holds less power over you, less terror, than something horrible without one.
     “Octokongs,” I pronounced grimly. “Why did it have to be octokongs?”

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Skin Game (2014)
Added on 16-Nov-15 | Last updated 16-Nov-15
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My pain may be the reason for somebody’s laugh, but my laugh must never be the reason for somebody’s pain.

Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) English comic actor, film director, composer
(Attributed)
Added on 5-Aug-15 | Last updated 5-Aug-15
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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)
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Added on 3-Mar-15 | Last updated 30-Jan-20
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“Why do men feel threatened by women?” I asked a male friend of mine. (I love that wonderful rhetorical device, “a male friend of mine.” It’s often used by female journalists when they want to say something particularly bitchy but don’t want to be held responsible for it themselves. It also lets people know that you do have male friends, that you aren’t one of those fire-breathing mythical monsters, The Radical Feminists, who walk around with little pairs of scissors and kick men in the shins if they open doors for you. “A male friend of mine” also gives — let us admit it — a certain weight to the opinions expressed.) So this male friend of mine, who does by the way exist, conveniently entered into the following dialogue. “I mean,” I said, “men are bigger, most of the time, they can run faster, strangle better, and they have on the average a lot more money and power.” “They’re afraid women will laugh at them,” he said. “Undercut their world view.” Then I asked some women students in a quickie poetry seminar I was giving, “Why do women feel threatened by men?” “They’re afraid of being killed,” they said.

Margaret Atwood (b. 1939) Canadian writer, literary critic, environmental activist
“Writing the Male Character,” Hagey Lecture, U. of Waterloo (9 Feb 1982)
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Published in a revised version as "Writing the Male Character," Second Words: Selected Critical Prose, 1960-1982 (1983).

Usually paraphrased, "Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them."
Added on 3-Jul-14 | Last updated 20-Dec-19
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Some by their continual grinning and showing their Teeth make Men doubt whether they honor them, or laugh at them.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Introductio ad Prudentiam, #1395 (1731)
Added on 23-Jan-14 | Last updated 23-Jan-14
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There are none more abusive to others than they that lie most open to it themselves; but the humor goes round, and he that laughs at me today will have somebody to laugh at him tomorrow.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Moral Essays, “On Anger [De ira]
Added on 18-Mar-13 | Last updated 24-Jan-14
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Monty Python’s usual schoolboy humour is here let loose on a period of history appropriately familiar to every schoolboy in the West, and a faith which could be shaken by such good-humoured ribaldry would be a very precarious faith indeed.

Other Authors and Sources
The British Board Of Film Censors, Report on Life of Brian (1979)
Added on 12-May-11 | Last updated 4-Sep-16
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You haven’t achieved equality until you’re a legitimate target for humor.

Scott Adams (b. 1957) American cartoonist
The Dilbert Blog, “Welcome to the Club” (20 Nov 2006)
Added on 8-Oct-08 | Last updated 24-Jan-14
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Your race, in its poverty, has unquestionably one really effective weapon — laughter. Power, Money, Persuasion, Supplication, Persecution — these can lift at a colossal humbug, — push it a little — crowd it a little — weaken it a little, century by century: but only Laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of Laughter nothing can stand. You are always fussing and fighting with your other weapons. Do you ever use that one? No; you leave it lying rusting. As a race, do you ever use it at all? No; you lack sense and the courage.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“The Chronicle of Young Satan” (c.1897–1900, unfinished)
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Often paraphrased: "The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter." This is an (excised) passage from what was eventually posthumously published as No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger (1916).
Added on 3-Oct-08 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Humor distorts nothing, and only false gods are laughed off their pedestals.

Agnes Repplier (1855-1950) American writer
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 24-Apr-17
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‘Twas the saying of an ancient Sage, “That Humour was the only Test of Gravity, and Gravity of Humour. For a Subject which would not bear Raillery is suspicious; and a Jest which would not bear a serious Examination is certainly false Wit.”

Anthony Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713) English politician and philosopher
Sensus Communis: An Essay on the Freedom of Wit and Humour, Part 1, Sec. 5 (1709)
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Often incorrectly attributed to Aristotle. Shaftesbury, according to his footnote, is paraphrasing from Aristotle quoting Gorgias Leontinus. The Latin translation is "Seria risu, risum seriis discutere" ("In arguing one should meet serious pleading with humor, and humor with serious pleading"). Shaftesbury's second sentence is his own commentary.

In Lord Chesterfield, in a letter to his son (6 Feb 1752), rendered it, "Ridicule is the best test of truth."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 18-Sep-19
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