HD: Etched in Stone
Posted: 14 January 2012 05:28 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Just because it is etched in stone doesn’t mean it can’t be changed.

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Posted: 14 January 2012 02:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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After the plans were approved, the lead architect and the sculptor thought the stone would look better with fewer words. They did the editing themselves, without considering the violence it would do to the quote’s meaning.

How on earth were an architect and a sculptor able to make such a change without anybody else having to approve it?  When I used to work in a printing & design shop, the layout people were always moving text around so that it made no sense (I don’t think they grasped that text had, you know, meaning, rather than being a random design element), and we always changed it back as snarkily as possible.  I get that architects and sculptors have gigantic egos, but that’s exactly why you need to have somebody ride herd on them.

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Posted: 14 January 2012 02:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Heh.  When I read the article, before seeing LH’s comment, my thought was, “This is like giving the layout editor final control of the text.”

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Posted: 14 January 2012 04:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Not to mention that projects like this are micromanaged by government committees. Not only did they have huge egos, they clearly and deliberately circumvented the procedures to prevent exactly this sort of thing from happening. Frankly, the cost for correcting the error should come out of their fees.

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Posted: 14 January 2012 07:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Even setting aside the fact that it is a bad excerpt, it seems a very odd choice. There are quite a few very tidy and famous King quotes available.

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Posted: 14 January 2012 10:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I have to admit that I was a little skeptical of the explanation that the architect and sculptor took it on themselves to change the quote without any buyoff.  It seemed like a bit of a “pat” explanation, and I wondered if a government official was looking for a face-saving exit.

Then I clicked on a link to a prior article which contains snippets of an interview with the “lead architect”, Ed Jackson Jr.  Having read the interview, I no longer harbor any doubts, as both his comments, and the insufferable pomposity of their tone, leaves little doubt that Mr. Jackson was indeed the architect of this fiasco (ahem)(sorry).

I was particularly struck by this quote from Jackson:

Jackson reiterated Friday that he believes the paraphrase is proper and fitting: “We felt it was quite appropriate for (King) to define himself . . . ‘I was a drum major for peace, justice, and righteousness.’ You can’t get any more succinct than that.”

Hmm.  You felt it was appropriate for the Reverend King to DEFINE HIMSELF, so you put words in his mouth to make it sound like he was “defining himself” in a way that he would have rejected.  Well done, sir.  Mayou Angelou famously observed that the revised quote made Mr. King look like a “arrogant twit .” The arrogant twit in this piece is none other than Mr. Jackson.

Later on, Jackson said: “The word ‘if’ suggests that . . . he’s not sure of who he was. . . . We have the historical perspective. We can say emphatically he was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.”

Hmm.  If the idea is that WE have the historical perspective to make judgments about King that King would not have necessarily agreed with, and therefore it is “OK” to put words in his mouth, then perhaps the inscription should have simply been a comment from a noted King Scholar.  If you don’t want to let King define himself with his own words, at least have the decency to not inscribe “I” at the start of the quote you manufactured.

Still later, the article notes: “Asked if the inscription could be altered in any way, the architect said, “No.” “The space is not there” and the overall design and layout of the inscription on the statue would not permit it, he said. “We don’t have an enormous palette here.”

The idea that there was literally no room anywhere on the entire, quite large, monument to write anything more than “I was a drum major for justice, peace, and righteousness” is absurd.  This is either a pathetic rationalization, or the overall design of the monument was deeply flawed, if that was literally all the room there was to quote him.

I also agree with OP Tipping that even the “full” drum major quote seems like an odd choice, although it would certainly be a vast improvement over the paraphrased version.  It seems clear that King did not like the descriptor drum major.  He basically said (at the risk of paraphrasing, but, then, at least I’m not putting this on his statute) if you HAVE to call me a drum major, at least say I did it in the interests of justice and righteousness.  But there seems to be some clear discomfort with the label, even when modified in that way.  So why, then, would you use the drum major quote, even in its original form, when paying homage to him, when there are so many other choices out there that seem more fitting to the man.  I can perhaps understand that the most famous lines from the “I have a dream speech” might have seemed like lazy choices, and can see why a less famous quote might be a good choice.  But why the drum-major comment?

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Posted: 14 January 2012 11:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Most of MLK’s better quotes are a bit longer than that, but some better quotes of similar length to that one:

War is a poor chisel to carve out tomorrow.

A right delayed is a right denied.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’

We are not makers of history. We are made by history.

Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly

We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.

The time is always right to do the right thing.

We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

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