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May 3: The Scoffer

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This week in 1907, the University of North Dakota's student newspaper, The Weekly Student, printed an editorial entitled “The Scoffer.”

Quoting the article:

“Ever since history began, has existed the man who scoffs. Columbus was his victim. So was Galileo. So was the great Founder of the Christian faith. The scoffer lives today. You know him. You have seen him. You have met him in the home, the school, the church. Every effort that is aimed at human betterment, is apt to encounter him. Every noble thought spoken or written very likely has to run the gauntlet of the attacks of the scoffer and his tribe.

"The scoffer is in our schools. If some student makes a brilliant record, he is on hand with his poisonous tongue. If he struggles hard, but fails to reach his goal, then too, the fiend is on hand to mock him because he did no better. [If there is] someone blessed with personal charms, be sure the evil-tongued monster will find some fault. [If there is] someone whom nature has made less attractive, the scoffer will hold up his short-comings before the world's eyes, and thus if possible make doubly hard, the lot of the unfortunate person.

“Here and there is one who is striving to live aright; to think noble thoughts; to use clean speech. But the scoffer will find him out. And if there is virtue, if there is kindness, if there is love even, be sure too, that he will find out even these things. Nothing is too good and true for him to pounce upon and destroy if he can.

“But there is a way of dealing with him. How? By ignoring him. Don't listen to him. He cannot thrive when he is unnoticed. When he sees no blush, when notes no sign of pain in his victim, the fountain of his poison dries up. Remember the advice of Roosevelt that evil words cannot harm you as long as you pay no attention to them. By ignoring him, you starve the scoffer, for you take away that which he feeds upon. But he will, in time, shrivel his own soul.

“...Ignore the man who scoffs. After that pity [him] at your leisure.”

This essay from the Weekly Student acknowledges that bullies and narcissists are nothing new.

Dakota Datebook by Andrew Alexis Varvel


  • “THE SCOFFER” (editorial), The Weekly Student (Grand Forks), 4 May 1907, page 4, columns 1-2.
  • The portion edited from this essay says the following:
  • “He does not know by the laws of human growth, he is slowly attaining for himself the ideal that he has for other people. He does not stop to consider that in proportion as he scoffs at the good things in life, he is but warping his own soul.”

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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