Laws and Sausages: Is It Bismark or Saxe?

Do you know who said:

Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.

It’s happens to be a very famous maxim most often attributed to Otto von Bismarck, however the attribution is not entirely accurate.

According to a 2009 New York Times story by Fred Shapiro, the quotation originated when “[t]he Daily Cleveland Herald, March 29, 1869, quoted lawyer-poet John Godfrey Saxe.” It figures that it would take a lawyer to come up with something so profound on this subject.

A blog post by Quote Investigator identifies an even earlier version of this “anecdote” in a South Carolina newspaper in 1867, however there appears to be no direct link between that and Saxe’s saying.

Here are other variations of this quotation that we found on WikiQuote, as of February ,2011.

  • If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made.
  • Laws are like sausages — it is best not to see them being made.
  • Laws are like sausages. It is better not to see them being made.
  • Laws are like sausages. You should never see them made.
  • Laws are like sausages. You should never watch them being made.
  • Law and sausage are two things you do not want to see being made.
  • No one should see how laws or sausages are made.
  • To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making.
  • The making of laws like the making of sausages, is not a pretty sight.
  • The less the people know about how sausages and laws are made, the better they sleep in the night.

You Want To Make The Law, Or Be Subject To It? Choose!

Am I a nice man? Fuck nice! They say terrible things about me in The Nation? Fuck The Nation! You want to be nice or you want to be effective?! You want to make the law, or be subject to it? Choose!

~ Roy M. Cohn

The another quote that belongs to a character from the 1991 award-winning play, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes.  The character speaking is Roy Cohn, a closeted gay lawyer, based on real life attorney Roy M. Cohn, who, just as in history, contracts AIDS, which he insists is liver cancer in order to preserve his reputation.  We introduced his persona in our previous posting.

I pleaded till I wept to put her in the chair. Me, I did that.

The quote belongs to a character from the 1991 award-winning play, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes.  The character speaking is Roy Cohn, a closeted gay lawyer, based on real life attorney Roy M. Cohn, who, just as in history, contracts AIDS, which he insists is liver cancer in order to preserve his reputation.

Yeah, you heard of Ethel Rosenberg. Maybe even read about her in the history books. Well, if it wasn’t for me, Joe, Ethel Rosenberg would be alive today, writing some personal-advice column for Ms. Magazine. She isn’t. Because, during the trial, Joe, I was on the phone every day talking with the judge. Every day, doing what I do best — talking on the telephone. Making sure that that timid Yid nebbish on the bench did his duty to America, to history. That sweet, unprepossessing woman, two kids, boo-hoo-hoo, reminded us all of our little Jewish mamas. She came this close to getting life. I pleaded till I wept to put her in the chair. Me, I did that. I’d have fucking pulled the switch if they let me. Why? Because I fucking hate traitors. Because I fucking hate communists. Was it legal? Fuck legal!

~ Roy M. Cohn

You probably never heard of Roy M. Cohn — in our media-saturated time, he would’ve become a Fox News legal super-star.

He started out as an aide to Senator Joseph McCarthy and was later appointed by Senator McCarthy as Chief counsel to the Government Committee on Operations of the Senate.  Clearly, he shared in the mindset and ideas of the infamous Senator and his role in American politics of the 1950s was quite dramatic.  He played a prominent role in the trial and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and he assisted in Senator McCarthy’s anti-communist crusade, becoming well-known for his aggressive questioning of suspected communists.

To help you understand that is play quotation is not a very good joke, I turn to a quotation from Roy M. Cohn’s WikiPedia page:

Cohn always took great pride in the Rosenberg verdict, and claimed to have played an even greater part than his public role: he said in his autobiography that his own influence had led to both Saypol and Judge Irving Kaufman being appointed to the case. He further alleged that Judge Kaufman imposed the death penalty based on his personal recommendation.

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Angels_in_America

Truth Is Hard To Appreciate

Simple Fact:  A man sometimes bumps into the truth, but usually he quickly recovers and keeps on walking.

A Jury Consists Of Twelve Persons Chosen Yo Decide Who…

A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer.

~ Robert Frost

Laws Control The Lesser Man…

Laws control the lesser man… Right conduct controls the greater one.

~ Mark Twain