Quote / Misquote

Reacting to the celebrations over the death of Osama bin Laden, Jessica Dovey, a 24 year-old teacher in Japan, posted her thoughts to Facebook and followed her excellent words with a quote from MLK. As is often the case, the Internet then proceeded to get it wrong. But it also got it right.

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.

– Jessica Dovey

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of starts. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

– Martin Luther King Jr.

Through what were likely honest mistakes, Jessica’s original quote got mixed in with the MLK quote and the entire quote was misattributed to MLK. A fairly short cycle of denial, anger and acceptance quickly followed when fact checkers cried foul on the mis-quote then quickly ran down the original posting.

One of two things should have happened:

  1. The incorrect quote continued to be blindly repeated and retweeted until it sank into our collective consciousness, much like the Casablanca quote, "Play it again, Sam."
  2. Feeling it’s been duped, the Internet lashes out, redirecting the venom typically reserved for Rebecca Black and My Space into a childish attack on Jessica Dovey’s character.

In a blow to my cynicism, the end result was fairly rational. The original posting was tracked down, people recognized the innocent mistake and a mature discussion ensued.

Ah, Internet, you’ve made me proud by behaving like a grown-up. You can borrow the car keys for the dance on Friday.