It started, as all great fairytales tend to, with a change in the way we live our lives. Ten years of fear were over for many people. The Big, Bad Wolf was dead and the piglets were rejoicing in the only way they knew how, not one of them realising the wolf had cubs around the world or that there were bigger and badder wolves out there. Meanwhile the author realised his metaphor was being stretched a little too thin. Of course our world is a little more technologically advanced than those you find in fairytales so the party for the sheep of this world was a little more public than those that multitudes of princesses and talking animals attend. And with a public party comes even more public humiliation when you make a fool of yourself.
Within minutes of the reported news of his death, a quote started spreading across Twitter. “I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.” The quote was attributed to Martin Luthor King Junior, and I’m pretty sure I saw someone mention that this day was exactly the one he’d been talking about in his dream. I’ll dispute that fact simply by calling the poster a moron and continuing on with what I was saying.
So yeah, the bad guy was dead and people were trying to take the high route by tweeting and retweeting this quote from a man renowned for his peaceful solutions to problems. But this wasn’t good enough for some people. They were rejoicing in the death of a man they had never met and they wanted others to know that they were glad he was dead. These people responded with their own quote from further back in history. “I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.” This quote was attributed to Mark Twain.
The two quotes have gone back and forth on Twitter with each person using them to state their position on the matter. What is a little disappointing is that I’ve only seen one person try to point out what the quotes have in common, rather than using them to set themselves apart from what they view as the enemy. You see, both of these quotes with their opposing views were originally said by completely different people than they have been attributed to. The Mark Twain quote is from Clarence Darrow, a lawyer and author who was one of Twain’s contemporaries. Whoever made that first mistake has allowed thousands to show what ill educated sheep they are and can be forgiven that mistake for that reason alone. The Martin Luthor King Junior quote is a little more complicated.
On hearing the news of the death of the Big, Bad Wolf, a Facebook user posted what appears to be the Martin Luthor King Junior quote as part of a longer monologue from his book Strength To Love. The entire quote runs as follows:
“I will 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.”
Now that seems all well and good until you compare it to the original Facebook wall post by Jessica Dovey and take a note of where the quote marks are.
Note that the quotes are around all but that line, showing that she made a profound statement and then quoted Martin Luthor King Junior to back up her point. Somewhere along the lines her message was reposted and the quotes were removed, making the entire quote seem to come from Doctor King. As it had to be shortened to fit onto Twitter the opening part of the quote was attributed to Doctor King even though it’s a Jessica Dovey original. It’s also the stance I tend to agree with for those of you wondering which side of the fence I’m on, and I salute Miss Dovey for her beautifully succinct statement that sums up my feelings on this so well.
As with all fairytales though, it’s the little pigs who need to end the story as they began it with nothing changing in their world at all, and they will keep these mistakes going for months I’m sure, to the point that anyone searching for these quotes will find them attributed to the wrong people. One might say they’re tweeting happily ever after.