25. On Rothbard, Twain, and cake ... oh my!

When Murray Rothbard's wife Joey (Josephine) put her husband on a strict diet, she admonished the staff of an upcoming conference to watch his food intake. With the words “Free at last, free at last, Thank God almighty, I am free at last!” Murray cut himself a huge slab of cake at the first dinner. An intern respectfully requested he pass on the plateful for the sake of his health. Murray stabbed the cake and waved the dessert-filled fork above his head. “Every calorie says YES to life,” he proclaimed.

Mark Twain — witty t shirtsMark Twain had a similar attitude toward ideas. Every idea says YES to life. Ideas are so powerful that it is impossible to censor them. In fact, they grow more powerful with any attempt to do so. In 1885, Twain's novel “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” was banned by his local library because the characters allegedly expressed a “low grade of morality.” For example, Huck befriends a black man and fails to return stolen property – namely, the black man who was a runaway slave.

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What was Twain's reaction to the book banning? He assured his publisher, “That will sell 25,000 copies for us, sure.” Nothing is so intellectually delicious as an idea you are not supposed to hear. It is as delicious as the slab of cake you are not supposed to eat. So raise a fork in salute of Mark Twain who said “[t]he truth is, that when a Library expels a book of mine and leaves an unexpurgated Bible lying around where unprotected youth and age can get hold of it, the deep unconscious irony of it delights me and doesn't anger me.”

Every syllable says YES to life.


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