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:
- 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."
- 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.