“”If, after I depart this vale, you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl.
“”It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.
 Career and writing
Mencken started his career as a journalist in 1899 at the ripe old age of 19, writing for the Baltimore Morning Herald, then moving on to the Baltimore Sun 6 years later, and remained there writing his column for nearly fifty years. He later worked as a literary critic for The Smart Set and founded The American Mercury.
He soon became known as a staunch opponent of just about everything, calling American society on all the bullshit it produced. He railed especially against presidents and politicians of every stripe, "the Booboisie," religion, shitty popular literature, dumb pseudo-philosophies of the time, pseudoscience and quackery, the South, academic stupidity, swindlers, Prohibition, and bad architecture. He wrote some poetry early in his career as well, then realized it was god-awful and dumped on poets throughout the rest of his life.
Mencken's writing covers a vast number of topics and a vast number of pages, estimated at a total of 5 million words. When he wasn't blasting terrible books, he was championing up and coming writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Theodore Dreiser. Unfortunately, he also recommended Ayn Rand's first book We the Living for publication, launching her career. (Hey, we can't all be perfect.)
Much of his writing had strange and seemingly contradictory attitudes toward sex and race. He was known as something of a playboy and didn't marry until he was middle aged. He also happened to be a strong advocate of women's rights and wrote In Defense of Women. However, all of his writing about women was incredibly misandrist, attacking men as moronic brutes.Do You Believe That? He probably saw this as just deserts for the oppression of women, and the viewpoint that women had some kind of je ne sais quoi that made them superior to men in some way came across in much of this writing. When his diary was unearthed, some racist and sexist comments were found in it. One can also find the occasional racial stereotype in his writing (though this would have been considered acceptable in his day). On the other hand, he spoke out in favor of civil rights and against racially motivated violence and regularly insulted the KKK. He was also one of the first to speak out against Franklin Roosevelt's inaction on Jewish persecution in Germany, imploring him to take in Jewish refugees before World War II and drawing up a number of plans to rescue them. He wrote in his paper:
“”There is only one way to help the [Jewish] fugitives, and that is to find places for them in a country in which they can really live. Why shouldn't the United States take in a couple hundred thousand of them, or even all of them?
He was an opponent of democracy as well, due to his views as thus expressed:
“”Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it, good and hard. The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre – the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
Instead, he believed in a system of meritocratic aristocracy. He also really hated telephones for some reason.
“”We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.
Mencken was a scientific skeptic to the bone. A hardcore atheist, he denounced religion as a sham and declared clergymen to be frauds and thieves. He is best known for his opposition to creationism and defense of evolution during the Scopes "Monkey" Trial of 1925. He helped organize Scopes' defense with Clarence Darrow, a noted agnostic in addition to being considered one of the greatest legal minds of the day. This was also a chance for him to rip on William Jennings Bryan, who had been, as a Populist and fundamentalist, a prime target for Mencken throughout his career. Mencken's reporting painted Dayton, Tennessee, which he dubbed "The Buckle on the Bible Belt," as a hopeless backwater buried in the asscrack of the South. This was hard to deny as Dayton had basically turned the trial into a temporary tourism scheme and media circus to make money, promote religion, and presumably because there was nothing better to do there. Mencken's columns, of course, did not go over so well with Southerners.
Medical quackery was another one of his favorite targets. He was an early critic of chiropractic, denouncing it as one of the dumbest things in American culture. He set up a James Randi-esque challenge in the '20s by offering prizes to anyone who could demonstrate the effectiveness of chiropractic. No one ever took him up on the challenge. He also wrote about osteopathy and other various snake oils, home remedies, and scams. Academic topics were yet another subject for snark. He called Freudian psychology essentially guesswork mixed with bullshit and riffed on overly abstract sociological theories of the day. His back-and-forth with sociologist and economist Thorstein Veblen is one of the more famous cases.
His infamous "bathtub hoax," a fake history of the bathtub, is still sometimes quoted today as fact.