quotable: martin luther king, jr

OK. This would be a more accurate rendition of the incorrect version of the MLK quote that went viral. The first sentence is entirely made up, the second sentence substitutes “hate” for “violence”. It should have appeared something like this:

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy: “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, 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” (MLK)
— Unknown

Here is the actual quote from MLK:

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 violence for violence multiplies violence, 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.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you use advanced google search mode, you can try finding the viral quote in different time periods. You won’t find it prior to yesterday, or you will only find several versions containing the latter parts of the false quote.

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2 Responses to quotable: martin luther king, jr

  1. Jesse the K says:

    NPR did some digging on the history of the wrong quote, but I wasn’t sure whether they admitting to repeating the misquotes. In addition to mangling MLK, there was a braino on Mark Twain.

    It sounded like they included the erronious twitters in their on-air reports. Woe.

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    • BEG says:

      Yes, I never saw the “Twain” one which was apparently actually from Clarence Darrow. Wonder why these things happen — someone refusing to admit they didn’t quite remember the quote — or deliberately changing it around — why? Weird.

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