A doctored quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, the venerable 20th century civil rights leader, has been making the rounds across social media in the days following terrorist Osama Bin Laden’s death.
“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives,” the quote begins, “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.”
The only problem, however, is that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t use those exact words. The above quote is actually an amalgamation of words spoken by Dr. King, comments from from magician Penn Jillette, an the words of an ordinary Twitter user named Jessica Dovey.
How did they all get lumped together? Twitter is being blamed for this mess.
“I checked a long quote from MLK’s ‘Strength to love’ 1963 that spoke to some of my feelings, then I cut and pasted an altered hunk. Sorry,” Jillette tweeted.
Dovey was right behind him, subsequently tweeting: “I am the original author of the ‘MLK’ quote. Somewhere my words got mixed with his.”
Although no shortage of conspiracy theorists believe the fake quote was designed to help mitigate the global celebration of Osama Bin Laden’s death – and, presumably, thereby reduce the likelihood of a vengeful retaliatory terrorist strike on the US or her allies – it now appears that the quote that sparked such controversy was truly invented by accident and perpetuated by the immediacy of social media.