Tuesday, 3 May 2011

One hoax that I can live with

My friends know that I get very hot under the collar about fakes and hoaxes on the internet. So it's with some embarrassment that I realise that the quote I published this morning turns out to be, in essence, a fake - at least, in its attribution to Martin Luther King, Jr.

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

(If it's a quote about peace, attribute it to MLK; if it's pithy and witty, make it Mark Twain.)

However, the rest of the quote that's doing the rounds (when not limited to 140 characters), in the wake of the 'celebrations' for the death of Osama bin Laden, does in fact come from MLK:

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.

And you know what? For once, I really don't mind that I've forwarded something that's not quite as implied. The fact is that somebody said it, and it seems to be summing up the mood of a huge number of people. It doesn't matter whether or not it was said by a 'famous person'; it was said. That's all that matters.

There is nothing to celebrate about a death. There is plenty to celebrate about a life well lived - that's what the best funerals are there for - but the murder of a murderer? An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth? I don't think so. The wonderful Fr Paul Butler (@RedRector, a parish priest in Deptford, SE London) hit the nail on the head as we awoke to the news yesterday:

I awake to my 44th Birthday to discover that the USA has murdered a mass murderer whom they trained in killing. The spiral of violence. :(

And finally, a timely quote from my friend Sam:

'I can only think of one death that brought the world peace, and we celebrated that a week ago.' - from an American friend of mine.


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