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Making Up Benjamin Franklin Quotes – A Rare Rant

This is a touchy pet peeve of mine to the point of being a bete noire and plague to my senses! It seems every time I turn around, another misquote or fabricated quote is attributed to Benjamin Franklin.

Benjamin Franklin is watching you 1000w

exploding tvJane Fonda didn’t ruin my Christmas cheer tonight with family. My mistake was to turn on the television to one of the old networks.

To allow someone ruin something of yours is to give them power over one’s own control of self. I should instead have a feeling of pity on her if what she claimed wasn’t such a travesty of truth and reason.

I had tuned in to CBS to catch the rerun of the Andrew Lloyd Webber interview on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. I tuned in just in time to see Jane Fonda hawking a new film she is in.

Jane Fonda said on national television… that Benjamin Franklin said “Revolution begins in the muscles”. Say WHAT?

Jane – stop this crazy thing! Please reference that quote for us. Jane Fonda can’t provide a reference because Benjamin Franklin NEVER said or wrote that in even a remote fashion.

So then – why did Jane Fonda go out of her way to say the quote was true? Is there an agenda or a simple case of trying to sound smart ? Why would Steven Colbert allow something like that on his show on CBS?

Is destroying history and language the new sport? Is this some kind of ignorant manipulation of a mentality that seeks to augment the true meanings of things? For example, destroying language by attempting to change the word “decadent” to mean something so tasty that it’s sinful. Changing the word’s real meaning of something that is bad and rotting. “That apple is decadent. You better not eat it or you’ll get sick!”

Misquoting historical figures should offend anyone who even remotely appreciates history. The audacity to not only make up a Benjamin Franklin quote – but to go out of the way to emphasize the error (deliberate or otherwise) by vehemently claiming the quote was true is beyond comprehension. And to have this broadcasted on the very network that was once the yardstick of news reporting in the days of Walter Cronkite?

Simone de Beauvoir The closest quote that is even remote to what Jane Fonda said might be from Simone De Beauvoir who DID write that “Anger or revolt that does not get into the muscles remains a figment of the imagination.” Beauvoir was the offspring of a pagan religion practicing father who said that his daughter “thought like a man”. Imagine a daughter having to grow up with a father who thinks a girl can’t be smart unless she “thinks like a man”?!? Beauvoir was an obscure 20th century feminist / philosopher known more for her scandals and a sad life of turmoil. Is that where the confusion and misquote of Jane’s originated from?

Why is Benjamin Franklin so misquoted these days? Why is it important to be accurate with our history? Good questions to ask. Benjamin Franklin isn’t around today to defend himself from those who would distort his brilliance. Are there ulterior motives at work to do harm to history while pretending to be backed up by a truth that is manufactured in order to manipulate public thought? Is this just a simple, innocent error of distorted history? That is why the lovers of true history need to be vigilant.

Maybe Benjamin Franklin would answer with something he actually did say and write:

Benjamin Franklin is watching you“Half a truth is often a great lie.”

– Benjamin Franklin (July 1758)

Benjamin Franklin also wrote that “Craft must be at charge for clothes, but Truth can go naked.” (Benjamin Franklin as Poor Richard in Poor Richard’s Almanac 1747)

Which is to say in today’s modern English: Truth does not need to be dressed up, but lies need to be carefully dressed up to be appealing enough to be swallowed.

Benjamin Franklin is watching you!

Filed Under: Tony Rollo Blog

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