Monday, October 17, 2016

The Devil's Dictionary for an Election Year

If you have never had the pleasure of reading through Ambrose Bierce's classic work The Devil's Dictionary, you ought to do so. There are several versions of it available online (one is located here), and it can be purchased at any bookstore.

Considering that this is an election season of unusual bizarreness (bizarrity? bizarritude?), I thought it might be useful to see how Mr Bierce defined some of the terms commonly heard in conjunction with our national self-flagellation in The Devil's Dictionary ...

VOTE, n. The instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.

PRESIDENT, n. The leading figure in a small group of men of whom — and of whom only — it is positively known that immense numbers of their countrymen did not want any of them for President.

PRESIDENCY, n. The greased pig in the field game of American politics.

CONGRESS, n. A body of men who meet to repeal laws*.  

JUSTICE, n. A commodity which in a more or less adulterated condition the State sells to the citizen as a reward for his allegiance, taxes and personal service.

SENATE, n. A body of elderly gentlemen charged with high duties and misdemeanors.

ELECTOR, n. One who enjoys the sacred privilege of voting for the man of another man's choice.

LAWYER, n. One skilled in circumvention of the law.

LEGISLATOR, n. A person who goes to the capital of his country to increase his own; one who makes laws and money.

LIBERTARIAN, n. One who is compelled by the evidence to believe in free-will, and whose will is therefore free to reject that doctrine.

CHRISTIAN, n. One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. One who follows the teachings of Christ in so far as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.

DEFAME, v.t. To lie about another. To tell the truth about another.

CABINET, n. The principal persons charged with the mismanagement of a government, the charge being commonly well founded.

ORATORY, n. A conspiracy between speech and action to cheat the understanding. 

POLITICS, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.

CYNIC, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.

What are your favorites? Check out the dictionary online and leave a comment.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Or, as I would define it, "A body of men and women who meet to accuse each other of malfeasance and prevent each other from accomplishing anything worthwhile."


eViL pOp TaRt said...

It can't get better than the definition of †he cynic.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Peace: A period of cheating between two periods of fighting.

Chuck Bear said...

Ambrose Bierce got them on target 100%

allenwoodhaven said...


Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Truly on target.