If only there were some sort of appropriate adjective…

George Orwell’s birthday today, so he’s trending on Twitter. More specifically, the following has been retweeted many thousands of times (and slight variants of it):
If you hate what Snowden has done…“The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.” ― George Orwell
Of course, any familiarity with Orwell’s work, or two seconds’ cursory googling, will show that Orwell never said that.

The multiple nested levels of wrongness here are too deep to fully unpack…

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6 Responses to If only there were some sort of appropriate adjective…

  1. xianrex says:

    And the Two Seconds’ Googling is not in Orwell’s book, either.

  2. simon bj says:

    Is it fair to say two seconds? I have a reasonable literate man’s level of Orwell, 1984, Animal Farm, some of the essays etc, but googling the quote I find it attributed to ‘the essays’ and not knowing them by heart it reads plausibly like Orwell to me. How much research should a person be expected to do? Obviously more befote falsely defaming Cameron, but mis-attribution of a quote whose content Orwell might well have approved of doesn’t seem quite so allarming an issue.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      Hmm… This shows how a slight difference in the way you Google for something can make a big difference — I just tried again, and got the same result as you did. I then put the word “Orwell” before the quote and got the Wikiquote page which debunks it as top result.

      I don’t think the people doing the RTing should have had to do even that much research, of course — but the people originally claiming it as an Orwell quote should have checked.

      To me, the quote doesn’t read like Orwell, because he wouldn’t speak of “a society” hating — had he written it, it would have been “The further a society drifts from truth the more the people will hate those who speak it.”

      I don’t find this alarming, incidentally, but it’s a mostly-benign expression of the same problem that leads to the defamation and so on. I was a very odd mixture of irritated and amused when I posted this — it’s the fact that the quote is one about truth, and yet false, and then being attributed to Orwell of all people to falsely attribute a quote to… but it’s more funny than angering.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      Oh, incidentally, I was just reading your story in More Tales Of The City last night. Loved it.

  3. Tony Harms says:

    I see the Wikiquotes gives it as “disputed”. It took me quite a time to find it. It might be an Orwell quote but its actually not relevant to Snowden. It might be more easily applied to some fundamentalist mullah telling us we’re all going to hell in a handcart (unattrib)

    • No, it’s definitely not an Orwell quote. People are attributing it to his essays, and I’ve grepped a text file of his collected essays and found nothing remotely similar.

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