The only reason I read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream, by Hunter S. Thompson, is Doonesbury. I’ve been a huge fan since I was a kid, and after years of reading about the escapades of Doonesbury‘s Uncle Duke, who is based on Thompson, I thought it was only fair to read something of Thompson’s after all the years of vicarious entertainment I’d gotten from his comic strip persona. Reading that Thompson hated the Duke character, and that he never wanted to meet Doonesbury‘s creator, Garry Trudeau, “because I might set the little bastard on fire,” only piqued my interest.
I’ve read the book a few times, and seen the movie adaptation, but it’s not really for me. I’m not into drug culture, which is a huge part of Thompson’s world, and it turns out that what works with Uncle Duke in a four-panel comic strip isn’t nearly so entertaining when it’s fleshed out.
That didn’t prevent it from getting into the quote book, though, with an idea that at the time seemed more cynical than accurate.
In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.
Over the years, the cynicism to accuracy ratio of the quote has inverted, a gradual change that was thrown into sharp relief in the Trump era. And it seems somehow fitting that this is the quote I’m writing about on the day Ukraine has been invaded by Russia, due entirely to the machinations of another criminal who is smart enough to get away with, it seems, anything.
To see previous posts in my Quotes series, click here.