[Ads-l] "Lunatics/inmates running the asylum"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 1 20:42:00 EDT 2017


Also, "The monkeys are running the zoo."  (Maybe heard in the mid to late
'80s.)

JL

On Wed, Nov 1, 2017 at 8:11 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com
> wrote:

> This message contains a spoiler for an 1845 short story.
>
> I explored the following quotation which appeared in the short story
> “The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether” by Edgar Allan Poe published
> in the November 1845 issue of “Graham’s Magazine”.
>
> Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.
> https://quoteinvestigator.com/2017/06/23/half-see/
>
> The above quotation is not directly relevant to this thread, but the
> plot twist of the short story is pertinent. The tale was set in a
> private hospital for the mentally ill: Poe revealed that the inmates
> were running the asylum. Of course, modern horror movies employ this
> twist.
>
> Garson
>
> On Wed, Nov 1, 2017 at 7:53 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole
> <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Here it is a few months earlier from the same lecturer James Clement
> > Ambrose. Phrasing is slightly different.
> >
> > Date: March 20, 1894
> > Newspaper: Detroit Free Press
> > Newspaper Location: Detroit, Michigan
> > Quote Page 8
> >
> > https://www.newspapers.com/image/119521939/?terms="lunatics"
> >
> > [Begin excerpt]
> > If America is to be an asylum for all nations, don't let the lunatics
> > run the asylum; give the founders a chance.
> > [End excerpt]
> >
> > Garson
> >
> > On Wed, Nov 1, 2017 at 7:34 PM, Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com>
> wrote:
> >> In the wake of the NFL "controversy" about one of the owners saying he
> didn't want the inmates running the prison (which I assume was just a
> mangled version of "inmates running the asylum"), I looked for the history
> of the expression.
> >>
> >>
> >> The early examples of the expression almost all deal with Hollywood.  I
> found a comment on phrases.org.uk that pointed to a film history book
> (published in 1926)<https://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/59/messages/
> 666.html> that cited a book published in 1926 that attributed it to the
> head of a studio who made the remark when he heard that D. W. Griffith,
> Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin were forming United
> Artists studio in 1919.  This was the earliest one I found (at the time).
> Most of the later examples before 1963 also related to Hollywood.
> >>
> >>
> >> I posted a piece on my blog with several examples<https://esnpc.
> blogspot.com/2017/10/red-skelton-pat-riley-and-nfl-players.html>.
> >>
> >>
> >> But of course then I had to make one last pass at it and upset the
> apple cart.
> >>
> >>
> >> The earliest example I found was in a "lecture" performance by a man
> named James Clement Ambrose in 1894.  He gave lecture entitled, "The Fool
> in Politics":
> >>
> >>
> >> "The lecture was really a series of epigrams and was packed full of
> though from the opening to the closing sentence.
> >>
> >>
> >> The fools in politics are the stupidly wicked and the intelligently
> vicious.
> >>
> >>
> >> The voter should swear on school books as well as on the Bible.
> >>
> >>
> >> Educate men without religion and you make them clever devils.
> >>
> >>
> >> If this country is an asylum for all nations, then do not let the
> lunatics run the asylum."
> >>
> >>
> >> The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, August 20, 1894, page 1. Chronicling
> America.
> >>
> >>
> >> An example from 1922 also relates to the immigration debate:
> >>
> >>
> >> "'The 3 per cent. act ended the asylum idea just in time to prevent the
> United States from becoming the almshouse of the world - many of the alien
> inmates would li8ke to run the asylum,' he [(Representative Johnson,
> Washington, chairman of the House Committee on Immigration)] added."
> >>
> >>
> >> Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York), July 5, 1922, page 2.
> >>
> >>
> >> The other two exceptions to the Hollywood angle are a 1934 article
> referring to Hitler and Goebbels as lunatics running the asylum (The Sunday
> News and Tribune (Jefferson City, Missouri), April 1, 1934, page 10) and  a
> 1948 article describing Washington DC as the only place where lunatics run
> the asylum (Longview News-Journal, October 11, 1949, page 12).
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> ------------------------------------------------------------
> >> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>



-- 
"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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