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Sometimes a Zullo is just a Zullo

and other dubious quotations

The title to this article has been lurking for some time looking for a story. I’ve written so much about Cold Case Posse Commander Mike Zullo lately (and the unlicensed practice of psychiatry is against this site’s rules) that I really didn’t want another Zullo article, so this isn’t about him, but it does relate to the oft-cited quotation attributed to Sigmund Freud, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar” (and not a phallic symbol).

My researches on that quotation lead me to an interesting web site called Quote Investigator published by Dr. Garson O’Toole. The site is a massive collection of research on quotations and I would now put it at the top of my list for quote attribution checking. I’ll keep you in suspense no longer: O’Toole has been unable to verify the cigar quote as an authentic saying of Freud.

Another quotation of special interest to me is one that it widely cited in books and articles, attributed to George Orwell:

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

While the sentiment might be a good summary for Orwell’s book 1984, the quotation is not from there, nor has it been found anywhere else in Orwell’s writings, despite several peoples’ efforts to find it, reports Quote Investigator. The reason that it is interest to me, of course, is that it appears in the #2 spot on the masthead of Orly Taitz’ web site.

OrlyQuotes

I find it remarkable that all three of the quotations Taitz has at the top of her blog are fake attributions. I concluded that the other two were fake in my article last year, “Apocryphal quotes on Taitz web site,” where I noted Loren Collins’ research on the faux Gandhi quote in his book Bullspotting. I don’t think that it is just a coincidence that Taitz is batting zero both for quotes on her web site, and for her anti-Obama lawsuits. A basic disregard for fact checking underlies them both.

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26 Responses to Sometimes a Zullo is just a Zullo

  1. avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater March 19, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

    It’s not just the Orwell quote, the jefferson quote is also wrong
    http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/when-government-fears-people-there-libertyquotation

  2. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG March 19, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

    Somehow I’m not surprised at all, that she would post made up quotes on her front page like that.

  3. avatar
    Dave March 19, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

    “Basic disregard for fact checking” is an understatement. It’s more like active hostility to fact checking.

  4. avatar
    Benji Franklin March 19, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

    Let’s just be glad that we haven’t seen Orly making up aphorisms drawn from her own personal knowledge and experience!

    How creepy would it be to have Orly banner her site with something like, “One Charles Lincoln the Third in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

  5. avatar
    Greenfinches March 19, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

    Dave: active hostility to fact

    that is the issue, surely – who needs facts, dammit???

  6. avatar
    Bob March 19, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

    Orly is less Queen of The Birthers and more Ed Wood of The Birthers.

  7. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG March 19, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    Bob:
    Orly is less Queen of The Birthers and more Ed Wood of The Birthers.

    *Winces* Poor Eddie didn’t deserve that. She’s more like the Harold P. Warren of Birthers. Failing that, the Torgo of Birthers.

  8. avatar
    OD March 19, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

    Doc,

    For some reason, quotes about cigars are among the best. From a poem by a very young Kipling comes the most famous one. Here’s how it ends, as he chooses a cigar over his betrothed.

    Open the old cigar-box—let me consider anew—
    Old friends, and who is Maggie that I should abandon you?

    A million surplus Maggies are willing to bear the yoke;
    And a woman is only a woman, but a good Cigar is a Smoke.

    Light me another Cuba—I hold to my first-sworn vows.
    If Maggie will have no rival, I’ll have no Maggie for Spouse!

  9. avatar
    Thomas Brown March 19, 2014 at 9:47 pm #

    “I find it remarkable that all three of the quotations Taitz has at the top of her blog are fake attributions.” –Doc C.

    Have you forgotten the Birther phenomenon of Fractal Wrongness? They are generally, and Taitz particularly, wrong at any scale observed. So the three bogus quotations would be remarkable in an actual person, yes. But not TWLITHOTU.

    Also: For what it’s worth, I think the metaphor would go “Orly is the Ed Wood of lawyering.”

  10. avatar
    BillTheCat March 19, 2014 at 10:44 pm #

    It’s almost as if everything she does is based on lies.

  11. avatar
    Commander Publius March 19, 2014 at 10:52 pm #

    I find it remarkable that all three of the quotations Taitz has at the top of her blog are fake attributions.

    In the sense of it being something worthy of being remarked upon, yes. In the sense of it being surprising, not so much.

    “Some say that the birthers are idiots. But some make them out to be deliberate liars instead. I say, why need one choose? Is it not entirely probable that they may be both?”
    – Theodore Roosevelt

  12. avatar
    The Magic M March 20, 2014 at 5:00 am #

    She could at least cite Robbie Williams:

    First they ignore you
    Then laugh at you and hate you
    Then they fight you
    Then you win

  13. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 20, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    Exactly how I meant it.

    Commander Publius: In the sense of it being something worthy of being remarked upon, yes. In the sense of it being surprising, not so much.

  14. avatar
    Keith March 20, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

    Commander Publius: “Some say that the birthers are idiots. But some make them out to be deliberate liars instead. I say, why need one choose? Is it not entirely probable that they may be both?”
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    Now there’s something I can get behind…
    – Oscar Wilde

  15. avatar
    Thomas Brown March 20, 2014 at 9:49 pm #

    I stand corrected. I had almost forgotten the unmodernized use of ‘remarkable.’ I am similarly surprised when anyone uses ‘awesome’ in its authentic sense.

  16. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 20, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

    Perhaps you are unaware that the use of italics is an alternate way to designate a direct quotation of something written. While I cannot vouch for the quotations marks on Orly’s site, I can vouch for the italics.
    :roll:

    I do not think any reasonable person would believe that Orly Taitz was intending to paraphrase those three writers, nor are paraphrases ever written in such a manner.

    And for your own benefit, I should point out that someone looks really stupid when misspelling a word while making a condescending remark about another’s knowledge of spelling, grammar or typography.

    cavitekid: Misunderstanding paraphrasing for quotations is a common occurence (sic)..

    “Quotation marks are not used for paraphrased speech. This is because a paraphrase is not a direct quote, and in the course of any composition, it is important to document when one is using a quotation versus when one is using a paraphrased idea, which could be open to interpretation”

    Perhaps you can vouch for the quotation marks on the site in question?

  17. avatar
    Crustacean March 20, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

    Terrific!!

    Thomas Brown:
    I stand corrected.I had almost forgotten the unmodernized use of ‘remarkable.’I am similarly surprised when anyone uses ‘awesome’ in its authentic sense.

  18. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 20, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

    Awesome!

    Crustacean: Terrific!!

  19. avatar
    Bonsall Obot March 20, 2014 at 11:46 pm #

    cavitekid:
    Misunderstanding paraphrasing for quotations is a common occurence.

    “Quotation marks are not used for paraphrased speech. This is because a paraphrase is not a direct quote, and in the course of any composition, it is important to document when one is using a quotation versus when one is using a paraphrased idea, which could be open to interpretation”

    Perhaps you can vouch for the quotation marks on the site in question?

    1. Your failure to cite the Wikipedia article you lifted this from makes it plagiarism; this doesn’t help your credibility.

    2. The passage you plagiarized does not refer to quotes standing alone, followed by a dash and the speaker/writer of the quote, which is a longstanding practice well-known to mean that the sentence preceding the named speaker/writer is a verbatim quote. (ON EDIT: Or, as Doc noted, an italicized passage followed by the (putative) speaker/writer’s name.) For every instance you think you can cite where this construction is meant to be a paraphrase (and I doubt you can find even one,) I can provide hundreds of examples of this construction meant to denote an exact quote.

    3. The first sentence of the passage you plagiarized says “Quotation marks are not used for paraphrased speech.” This is not the same thing as “speech without quotation marks is paraphrased,” or “speech without quotation marks is not a direct quote,” and for you to imply as such is intellectually dishonest.

    A for effort, though; yours is the first original Birfer argument I’ve seen in years.

    But pretending that Orly didn’t mean those as direct quotes? Wow, that’s staggeringly disingenuous.

  20. avatar
    Bonsall Obot March 20, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:

    I should point out that someone looks really stupid when misspelling a word while making a condescending remark about someone’s knowledge of spelling, grammar or typography.

    On the plus side, the part he cut-and-pasted without attribution is impeccably composed.

  21. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 21, 2014 at 1:15 am #

    It is a pathetic debating tactic to demand that an opponent prove beyond any possible doubt a negative when you yourself cannot offer a single word in support of the positive position. If Orly Taitz were quoting the men, she had to get the quotes from somewhere, and she would have gotten them from the same authoritative works on quotations or sources that someone like me would have searched.

    But it is more than that.

    In the case of the Jefferson quote, the Thomas Jefferson library has said that they can find no reference to Jefferson ever having said that, and it is contrary to Jefferson’s beliefs in the first place.

    In the case of the Orwell quote (which is the most plausible of the three) a well-known quote researcher is the source of the negative.

    And for the Gandhi quote, we know it was said by someone else.

    You probably don’t even know what kerning is, but it is off-topic for this article. So far, you seem to not to be reading or comprehending the material you’re commenting on. You should try to pay more attention. Here’s an article for you:

    http://www.obamaconspiracy.org/2012/03/to-kern-or-not-to-kern-that-is-the-question/

    cavitekid: How can with honesty say that those words were not said, or that they were said, or printed , as you have no personal knowledge of all of the utterances of those three men.

    What you really mean is that you can not find them on Google , or other sources of quotation

  22. avatar
    Commander Publius March 21, 2014 at 5:24 am #

    cavitekid: How can with honesty say that those words were not said, or that they were said, or printed , as you have no personal knowledge of all of the utterances of those three men.

    What you really mean is that you can not find them on Google , or other sources of quotation.

    This is birther classic: “If I say something is true, then it’s true, even if I have no good evidence for it.”

    Ah, but it doesn’t work both ways. The BIRTHER can assert any stupid thing he wants, and if it “might” be true, or another person can’t affirmatively prove it isn’t true, why then, it’s true.

    But if a non-birther says something – ah, we have to have an independent forensic examination of that, and it has to be approved by just the approved people, or it’s presumed to be false.

    Stupidest thing I’ve ever seen, and it fully supports my earlier Teddy Roosevelt quote that birthers are both idiots and liars. Which, if I take the same self-approving position as “cavitekid,” Teddy must have said, since “cavitekid” can’t prove Teddy never said it.

  23. avatar
    Bonsall Obot March 21, 2014 at 7:04 am #

    Citing people who misattributed the same quotes only shows that these are pervasive misattributions; scholars of the men in question still maintain that they never made these statements.

    I note that you also still can’t provide a single instance where such a construction is used where it’s meant to be a paraphrase and not a direct quote.

    You fail.

  24. avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater March 21, 2014 at 8:36 am #

    cavitekid: How can with honesty say that those words were not said, or that they were said, or printed , as you have no personal knowledge of all of the utterances of those three men.

    Would you like to try this again in English? I know they were said just not by those three men. Jefferson library denies he ever said it. They would actually be in the know as they say. We know the Gandhi quote was said by someone else. And as mentioned above by Dr C. The Orwell quote was disproved by a knowledgeable scholar who studied Orwell’s quotes. You’d think if you couldn’t verify the actual quote you’d stop using them.

  25. avatar
    RanTalbott March 21, 2014 at 8:48 am #

    cavitekid: Just like it is well known that the LFBC may , or may not, be true, depending upon what people think.

    What makes the LFBC “true” or “not true” is what people can prove, not what they “think”.

    “Reality TV” is a misnomer, and this is not “Litigating with the Stars”: the outcome will not depend on how many people text “usurper” to 555-1212.

  26. avatar
    The Magic M (not logged in) March 21, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    RanTalbott: this is not “Litigating with the Stars”: the outcome will not depend on how many people text “usurper” to 555-1212

    Post of the Week. ;)