Those MLK and Mark Twain Quotes You're Spreading on Facebook and Twitter Are Fake (Updated)

Illustration for article titled Those MLK and Mark Twain Quotes Youre Spreading on Facebook and Twitter Are Fake (Updated)

After the news of Osama bin Laden's death, reactions were split: there was the USA, USA, Greek Row kegstand contingent, and then those who saw the historical event as something more solemn and less bacchanalian.

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Those in the latter camp flocked to a quote discouraging the celebration of death, allegedly by Dr. 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 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."

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There've been various permutations flying around tweets and status updates, but they all have one thing in common—they're made up. MLK never said all of that, the Atlantic's found, after much searching. It's a nice sentiment, but, no, not one by Dr. King (although the latter part checks out).

Another falsified quote bouncing around the post-bin Laden web is a nice pithy one by Mark Twain: "I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure." Twain, you're so sharp! Except this was never said or written by Mark Twain, but rather civil liberties champion Clarence Darrow. Whoops.

Just another strange instance of internet culture ex nihilo—up from the ether, and now part of the moment's mythos. [The Atlantic and BuzzFeed]

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Update: Good's found the original sinner who sent the ignorent internet into a misquoting frenzy. Poor Jessica Dovey—it's not your fault the rest of the world can't process quotation marks.

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DISCUSSION

platypus222
Platypus Man

Man, whatever. I don't care that King didn't actually say it (one fewer good quote to him, I guess). Whoever did say it, I like your quote.

Attention speaker of that quote — take credit for it so I can attribute it to you instead of MLK! You're being unfair to yourself!

Although I will admit I was racking my brain to determine what "enemy" King would have been referring to...

EDIT: Hold up, here it is in Google Books, in MLK's "Strength to Love," though not 100% the same — [goo.gl]