Martin Luther King Jr., Osama bin Laden, and a Game of “Telephone” on Twitter…

by Janice

A Game of “Telephone” on Twitter

Today’s Facebook/Twitter misquote reminded me of a childhood game of “telephone” except that its poorly transmitted message was phenomenally powerful and demonstrated what quick impact social media has influencing and sharing people’s opinions on current events.

Here’s a quick recap:

Osama bin Laden is killed.

keithurbahn-tweet-osama-bin-laden-dead

Twitter is first to the story that Osama bin Laden is dead and shouts it louder than any other medium.

But then, a misquote attributed to Martin Luther King Jr. begins a viral run, racing through Twitter and Facebook.

“I 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.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr

The quote resonates with people everywhere and with quick clicks it’s shared worldwide.

But almost as quickly, people start realizing it is a misquote. Many are outraged by the “fake” quote as it’s reported in The Atlantic.

Intrigued, I checked out the actual MLK quote on Google and read through a large chunk of the very passionate comments on The Atlantic article. And it appears that it is probably a SIMPLE mistake of a person adding a REAL Martin Luther King Jr quote after their own sentiments.

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.” END original poster’s sentiment

START MLK Quote: “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.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr

The quotations got misplaced — and TA DA — a simple old case of playing “telephone” with pieces lost in transmission occurs.

twitter-martin-luther-king-misquote

Tonight, I noticed a tweet from a newbie @jmadly claiming to be the original person who used the quote on Facebook — her sentiments followed by the MLK quote. While I can’t see how many friends she has on Facebook, she has only been tweeting for a few weeks with just 28 followers. I must say, if she were the original, that is quite a social media feat!

facebook-mlk-misquote

Regardless of where the mistake originated, I think it was simply that — a mistake. So why does everyone run to the word “FAKE” rather than “mistake!”

It is sad reading the fiery arguments of people attacking one another — accusing someone of purposefully attaching MLK’s name to their words when it simply could have been a copy and paste error.

I think the important part of this story is that so many people shared the same emotions over this tragic situation. Many people are incredibly relieved that Osama bin Laden is dead, but some of them don’t feel like setting off fireworks and dancing over his death. It’s more complicated than that.

Osama bin Laden makes my stomach turn, dead or alive. His death doesn’t bring justice.

The dead are still dead, and his death doesn’t bring them back.

Here is the passage, according to Wikiquote, from Martin Luther King Jr., (bolding mine,) quoted from ‘Where Do We Go From Here?” as published in Where Do We Go from Here : Chaos or Community? (1967), p. 62;

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. … 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.

Written by Janice Croze, Mom Blogger and 5 Minutes For Mom Co-Founder
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Janice is co-founder of 5 Minutes For Mom. She's been working online since 2003 and is thankful her days are full of social media, writing and photography. You can see more of her photos at janicecrozephotography.com.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kristie May 3, 2011 at 6:48 am

Thank you for this =)

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2 Jenn May 3, 2011 at 8:07 am

I think it’s a knee-jerk reaction – run to the word “fake” and an accusation rather than offering some grace and considering the possibility of a simple typo.

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3 Bonnie May 3, 2011 at 9:15 am

We see this over and over again and it runs rampant on the social media sites.

The ironic thing is that the people arguing over “who said it” etc. are promoting exactly opposite what MLK is trying to get across.

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4 Angela May 3, 2011 at 11:23 am

Jan – I’ve been having similar feelings to yours: Osama bin Laden makes my stomach turn, dead or alive. His death doesn’t bring justice. The dead are still dead, and his death doesn’t bring them back.” Pondering these verses today: Ezekiel 33:11 (King James Version) Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

and

Proverbs 24:17 (NIV) Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,

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5 Sarah May 3, 2011 at 11:24 am

I just think one has to be careful accusing people of “hate” who are simply happy that an evil man was stopped from perpetrating evil. But for sure, there are millions more bent on that same evil. The evil doesn’t die with the man. Still, many people throw around the word hate these days as they sit on their high horses and judge people of whom they know nothing. I think those who are accusing grieving family members on hate are just as much attacking others, and cannot understand how it feels to have this man and his future plans stopped.

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6 Janice May 3, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Oh gosh Sarah — I am not meaning to accuse anyone of “hate” or even that they shouldn’t hate him. And I am definitely relieved that the man is dead!!!

I am not nearly as spiritually evolved as Martin Luther King Jr., so I must say, I have not even eradicated hate from my life! I am inspired by MLK’s reaction to those who ultimately killed him, but I recognize that most of us are not able to remain so peaceful under persecution.

I just don’t feel like dancing over his death — the whole subject just makes me sad. His death just reminds me of how much was lost and that there are so many of his followers still wanting to destroy us. It reminds me that hate swirls in circles, growing in speed and collecting power like a tornado, wiping everything out that is in its path.

I am not meaning to tell grieving people how to feel or grieve. I am inspired by Martin Luther King Jr because he endured more than I can ever imagine and responded with such grace and wisdom. I KNOW that I could never respond as well as he did!

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7 Sarah May 3, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Oh, girl, I need to think a little before responding to this stuff. You are absolutely right. I’ve had friends of mine being so judgmental about this, and I took it out on you. ( Didn’t mean to) Knowing you as I do, I would never think that you personally are accusing, but many of those using that quote kind of make it seem that way. I feel like you. I am glad that he is stopped, dead or alive, but I can’t dance about it. More so, I have a deep sense of reverence for our military and hope that we can prevail ultimately.

Forgive me for speaking rashly?

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8 Janice May 5, 2011 at 4:00 pm

No need for forgiveness my friend!!! I hope that people didn’t take my quoting MLK as judging their reactions. I so didn’t mean to!

I try so hard to not “judge” others as everything is not black and white in this world. But still, whenever we do make a statement or give our opinion, it can end up seeming that we are judging or accusing others for not sharing our viewpoints! (Why I never discuss politics on this site!)

I am hugely relieved he is dead and so relieved for the families who have personally suffered terrible losses!

The one thing I did feel a little “judgy” about, and I tried not to be judging/accusing, was that people jumped to the word “FAKE” instead of “mistake.” It seems so many people just assume malice and their cynicism multiplies. I am often too naive, I know. And I often give the benefit of the doubt when perhaps I shouldn’t. But it is a whole lot more pleasant way to live!!!

SO HUGS and no worries my friend! I am SO sorry if my words caused you or anyone grief!!!!

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9 Tracie May 3, 2011 at 11:27 am

It looks like a pretty simple case of typo-ing to me.

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10 grace May 3, 2011 at 1:40 pm

this is where real hatred and war starts. it’s sad that people attack each other. they’re no different from people like osama bin laden. just a thought. :)
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