Fake MLK Quote?

May 3, 2011 by staff 

Fake MLK Quote?, Yesterday, around 3 pm, a trend appeared in Twitter. People began to recite a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., who seemed strangely apt for this occasion:

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but will rejoice at the death of anyone, even an enemy.”

The first person to quote on Twitter was the famous magician / Libertarian Penn Jillette, but the words were quickly viral, and power was lost in the shuffle. The only problem? As Megan McArdle pointed out in the Atlantic, Martin Luther King never said that. Actually, the quote from Martin Luther King about the enemy is:

“Ultimately, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”

How can this quote wrongly attributed to other king? As McArdle says in his book: “It’s a bit too much on purpose. What about thousands” that the King has been talking about? On the death of the enemy that was supposed to be happy? “He also wondered,” Why? What do you get to say something substantial, and not getting credit for it? ”

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Penn admits to being the author of the quote on Twitter, though he says he was in poor condition to cut and paste from a longer piece by the king. I’m not sure if I believe him, I have a strong suspicion of Penn just made it up to see how many blind people to follow along and cite it as a fact, no control over the sources. After all, this is the guy who created the documentary “Penn and Teller: Bulsht!” and Showtime’s post about how easy it is to fool people.

Update: The source of the quotation is a message from Facebook Jessica Dovey, which to quote Martin Luther King Jr. In this context, it is easy to see how a cut and paste job may have accidentally attributed the source of the King. Congratulations to Jessica, as Facebook are a rear wall of those famous on the Internet today. Hall Penn Jillette reached for comment, but has not yet received a response.

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