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Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2014
MisattributionPosted Tuesday, May 3, 2011, at 12:50 PM
Two somewhat-opposing quotes have been circulated quite a bit on Facebook since Sunday night.
One, supposedly from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., cautions against rejoicing in the death of anyone, even an enemy.
The other, supposedly from Mark Twain, says that while the speaker wouldn't wish for anyone's death, he reads some obituaries with great pleasure.
I have friends who've shared the MLK quote, and other friends who've shared the Twain quote.
The trouble is, neither quote was said by the man to whom it was attributed, according to this great post from Kottke.org guest blogger Tim Carmody. The Twain quote is a paraphrase of something actually said by Clarence Darrow; the MLK quote may have come from comedy magician and professional skeptic Penn Jillette, although the record isn't quite clear, and Jillette isn't making the search any easier.
It just goes to show the dangers of passing things along on the Internet. And, as much as I harp about this issue, I'm not immune; I was sent a hoax e-mail the other day by the founder of the group with which I take my foreign mission trips. The e-mail claimed that many 6-volt lantern cells actually contain (and are therefore a discount source of) AA batteries. I reposted it without checking it out, and got egg on my face as a result. It's not true.
Go to Snopes.com before you repost.
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John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette.
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