Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

“I Wrote the Fake MLK Viral Quote!” “No, I Wrote the Fake MLK Viral Quote!” [UPDATED]

So we’ve established that a quote attributed to Martin Luther King Jr. that’s gone viral in the last two days wasn’t the work of Martin Luther King Jr.

So whose work is it?

Mine, says magician/satirist Penn Jillette.*

Mine, says Jessica Dovey, who up until now hasn’t been famous.

Who’s right? You got me. Both Jillette and Dovey have claimed credit for the quote–“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy”–via Twitter. And both say they were using it to comment on the celebrations of Osama bin Laden’s killing.

Jillette’s explanation: “I checked a long quote from MLK’s “Strength to love” 1963 that spoke to some of my feelings, then I cut and pasted an altered hunk. Sorry.”

Davey says more or less the same thing: “Somewhere my words got mixed with his.” Except that she points to a Facebook post she made yesterday that seemingly illustrates what happened: She mashed up a direct quote from King with the other, non-King quote.

Jillette has since retweeted Dovey’s credit claim, without comment. Some folks will read that as an admission that he’s agreeing with her after all, but I’d love to get comments from both of them so that we can put this thing to rest and move on.

*UPDATE: Jillette, via Twitter, is now elaborating, and passing credit to…someone else, while taking blame for posting it anyway. “The article is wrong. I didn’t start the MLK quote and I didn’t do it on purpose. I checked before posting but not enough. My mistake.” I believe, the article he’s referring to is this one from Salon.com.