False MLK, Mark Twain Quotes Viral Following Osama bin Laden's Death

Posted on May 3, 2011

Quotes falsely attributed to Martin Luther King and Mark Twain circulated the Internet following Osama bin Laden's death in a raid on his secret Pakistan hideout by U.S. special forces. The false quotes were an attempt by people to explain whether or not it is okay to derive satisfaction from someone's death, even if they were a truly horrible person.

The widely used quote incorrectly attributed to Mark Twain is "I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction."

Wired reports that the real quotation belongs to lawyer Clarence Darrow. The full quote is, "All men have an emotion to kill; when they strongly dislike some one they involuntarily wish he was dead. I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction."

CNN reports that the Martin Luther King quote was at least partially correct. Below is the quote incorrectly attributed to King, which spread around Facebook and Twitter. The first sentence is not King's, but the last three are from his book, Strength to Love.

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.


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