The grandpappy of them all is attributable to Hanns Johst: Wenn ich Kultur höre, entsichere ich meinen Browning! "When I hear the word culture, I release the safety on my Browning."
Often misquoted and misattributed. I myself misquoted it once as Wenn ich das Wort 'Kulture' höre, entsichere ich meine Pistole. I apologize for that rare lapse from the high standards of MavPhil. Wikipedia:
When the Nazis achieved power in 1933, Johst wrote the play Schlageter, an expression of Nazi ideology performed on Hitler's 44th birthday, 20 April 1933, to celebrate his victory. It was a heroic biography of the proto-Nazi martyr Albert Leo Schlageter. The famous line "when I hear the word culture, I reach for my gun", often associated with Nazi leaders, derives from this play. The actual original line from the play is slightly different: "Wenn ich Kultur höre ... entsichere ich meinen Browning!" "Whenever I hear of culture... I release the safety catch of my Browning!" (Act 1, Scene 1). It is spoken by another character in conversation with the young Schlageter. In the scene Schlageter and his wartime comrade Friedrich Thiemann are studying for a college examination, but then start disputing whether it is worthwhile doing so when the nation is not free. Thiemann argues he would prefer to fight than to study.
SCHLAGETER: Good old Fritz! (Laughing.) No paradise will entice you out of your barbed wire entanglement!
THIEMANN: That's for damned sure! Barbed wire is barbed wire! I know what I'm up against.... No rose without a thorn!... And the last thing I'll stand for is ideas to get the better of me! I know that rubbish from '18 ..., fraternity, equality, ..., freedom ..., beauty and dignity! You gotta use the right bait to hook 'em. And then, you're right in the middle of a parley and they say: Hands up! You're disarmed..., you republican voting swine!—No, let 'em keep their good distance with their whole ideological kettle of fish ... I shoot with live ammunition! When I hear the word culture ..., I release the safety on my Browning!"
SCHLAGETER: What a thing to say!
THIEMANN: It hits the mark! You can be sure of that.SCHLAGETER: You've got a hair trigger.—Hans Johst's Nazi Drama Schlageter. Translated with an introduction by Ford B. Parkes-Perret. Akademischer Verlag Hans-Dieter Heinz, Stuttgart, 1984.
The famous line is regularly misattributed, sometimes to Hermann Göring and sometimes to Heinrich Himmler. In December 2007, historian David Starkey misattributed it to Joseph Goebbels in comments criticizing Queen Elizabeth II for being "poorly educated and philistine". It has also been adapted, for example by Stephen Hawking as "When I hear of Schrödinger's cat, I reach for my pistol" and by filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard in 1963's film Le Mépris, when a producer says to Fritz Lang: "Whenever I hear the word culture, I bring out my checkbook." Lang evokes the original line as he answers "Some years ago—some horrible years ago—the Nazis used to take out a pistol instead of a checkbook." Songwriter Roger Miller of Mission of Burma titled his 1981 song "That's When I Reach for My Revolver" after the line.
Edward 'Cactus Ed' Abbey also riffs on the Johst line with his
I hate intellectual discussion. When I hear the words "phenomenology" or "structuralism", I reach for my buck knife. (Somewhere in Vox Clamantis in Deserto)
When I hear the word ‘phenomenology,’ I reach for my revolver. (See here.)
Exercise for the reader: find more riffs!
Big Henry offers, "When I read the words 'trigger warning,' I reach for my delete key."
I'll go him one better. "When I hear the words 'trgger warning,' I reach for 1911 model .45 ACP."