Quotes & Misquotes

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Internet, Life | Posted on 02-05-2011


In a soundbite and tweet driven new media world a snappy quote can go a long way. Easy to post, easy to retweet, and also a simple way to look clever (important when ego is a big part of our online profile).

Today the Internet was rabid with conversation focused on the passing of Osama Bin Laden. And many of my friends shared what seemed a thoughtful quote from the great Martin Luther King:

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives but I will not rejoice in the death of one not even an enemy Returning hate for hate multiplies hate adding deeper darkness”

Except The Atlantic reports that not only did MLK never speak these words, they only appeared on the Internet yesterday.

A quick google search turns up lots of tweets, all of them from today. ┬áSearching Martin Luther King Jr. quote pages for the word “enemy” does not turn up this quote, only things that probably wouldn’t go over nearly so well, like “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy to a friend.” I’m pretty sure that this quote, too, is fake.

Which reminds me of another quote that tells you a lot about communication in an instant world:

A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can get its pants on.

Update: and not only was the oft-tweeted MLK quote off-base, there was also a quote attributed to Mark Twain all over the Internet that was fake too!

Comments (1)

It appears that this is not a case of making up quotes as much as errors in copy paste. The original source that I got it from had a legitimate MLK quote attached to the end of the statement

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

So the first person probably made the initial statement and then attached the MLK quote and when it got copied, it was run together.

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