Mencken’s Promise

Over at Ace, there’s this little story:

Perhaps some of you more well-informed morons know about flying a black flag, but I had not. Fortunately, the stoopid article has an explainer:

According to the people on Tik Tok and the Sun (British tabloid), the black American flag originated in the civil war and was flown by the Confederates.
It means that they will not surrender, will not take prisoners, and are willing to die for their cause. It means they will execute their enemies.

Actually (says this well-informed moron), it originated during the 17th century.  Pirate vessels would fly a black flag to warn that they would take no prisoners, as a means to terrify the crew of the prey ship so they would surrender without a fight.

More recently, however, we have H.L. Mencken’s wonderful quote:

“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”

Note the “normal man” qualifier, because it’s important.  What Mencken means is that at some point even ordinary men will be driven to drastic measures, when their situation becomes too dire or too much for their patience to endure.

I see it as a warning rather than a threat.  Call it “free market research”.  And they should be glad that it’s only flags, as opposed to the sequel.

Anyway, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to a fabric store.


  1. Demons run when a good man goes to war
    Night will fall and drown the sun
    When a good man goes to war

    Friendship dies and true love lies
    Night will fall and the dark will rise
    When a good man goes to war

  2. In concert (sorry) with the black flag, This should be the soundtrack.;_ylu=Y29sbwNncTEEcG9zAzQEdnRpZAMEc2VjA3Ny/RV=2/RE=1634350665/RO=10/RU=
    Slit Throat. There is some dispute about whether this is the actual tune, but it might be the more recognizable one. This was played at the Alamo for a day and a night before Santa Anna’s army made its final assault and killed everyone, burning their bodies in front of the Alamo.

  3. At first I thought this would be about his comment how the American electorate deserves what it wants, good and hard. The Boobosie, as he put it.

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