The hottest places in hell . . .

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The hottest places in hell . . .

Post by Archived Topic » Fri Aug 13, 2004 2:10 pm

Who said;"The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those that when confronted with a choice of moral consequence remain neutral ." ?(may not be exact quote)
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The hottest places in hell . . .

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Aug 13, 2004 2:25 pm

I dante know.
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Post by Archived Reply » Fri Aug 13, 2004 2:39 pm

Dear Anonymous,

When I read your query I was immediately reminded of the well-known saying which is usually attributed to the 18th-century statesman and author Edmund Burke (remembered, among other works, for his "Reflections on the Revolution in France"), "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing".

Anyway, one search led to another, and I have been convinced by Martin Porter, the author of the very persuasive examples and arguments to be found at

http://www.tartarus.org/~martin/essays/burkequote.html

and

http://www.tartarus.org/~martin/essays/burkequote2.html ,

who has extensively researched the "All that is necessary..." quote, that both these quotations are spurious, and that Burke never wrote either one of them. It appears that they are ultimately the result either of wishful thinking, or perhaps of a misguided paraphrase of "When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle" (Edmund Burke in ‘Thoughts on the cause of the present discontents’).

Martin Porter comments:

"Triumphant evil has often been cast down by plain in-between men, and indeed by bad men. The human sacrifice practised among the Incas we may regard as evil, but the Conquistadors who brought it to an end we may equally regard as having been bad men. An attempt by a small and evil group to revive human sacrifice in modern society would fail, not through resistance by good men, but by a complete lack of support for such a crazy idea. But once you qualify the pseudo-quote to except these cases, its meaning is reduced to a mere truism, that if bad things are happening, we must do something about it.

'The pseudo-quote is therefore without authenticity or meaning, and is just another of those political slogans which are used not as an assistance to, but as a substitute for real thought. It is not a deep truth, although it is constantly treated as one. Burke incidentally hated such things. He thought that cheap political slogans, or ‘maxims’ as he called them, enabled politicians to invoke principles of expediency, so they could pursue their own selfish interests instead of fulfilling their obligations to country, party and people. To him they were quite distinct from the deeps truths, or as he calls them here, ‘first principles’,

' "It is an advantage to all narrow wisdom and narrow morals that their maxims have a plausible air; and, on a cursory view, appear equal to first principles. They are light and portable. They are as current as copper coin; and about as valuable. They serve equally the first capacities and the lowest; and they are, at least, as useful to the worst men as to the best. Of this stamp is the cant of _not man, but measures_; a sort of charm by which many people get loose from every honourable engagement." - Edmund Burke "

The second of these two pages ends with Martin Porter's 'Principles for Quotations',

"...two for quoters and two for readers, which, if universally followed, would make an immense improvement to the reliability of the information available on the world wide web.

Principle 1 (for readers) - Whenever you see a quotation given with an author but no source, assume that it is probably bogus.

Principle 2 (for readers) - Whenever you see a quotation given with a full source, assume that it is probably being misused, unless you find good evidence that the quoter has read it in the source.

Principle 3 (for quoters) - Whenever you make a quotation, give the exact source.

Principle 4 (for quoters) - Only quote from works that you have read."
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
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Post by Archived Reply » Fri Aug 13, 2004 2:53 pm

"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
Dante Alighieri

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Post by Archived Reply » Fri Aug 13, 2004 3:08 pm

Can you supply the precise details of where in Dante's writings you claim this comes from? (I don't necessarily disbelieve you, O Anonymous One, but I am sceptical by nature.)
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
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Post by Archived Reply » Fri Aug 13, 2004 3:22 pm

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/d/q109737.html
In response to: Erik kowal from Jerry McHugh(as to no longer be anonymous,how do you sign your reply)
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Post by Archived Reply » Fri Aug 13, 2004 3:37 pm

Jerry,

Thanks, but that URL is not enough. It does not specify which work of Dante's contains the quote, much less where in the work the quote is supposed to originate.

One of the points made by Martin Porter is that a great many so-called 'quotations' are effectively no more than urban legends, having been copied and recopied (or quoted and re-quoted) without even being based on a true, verifiable source. It appears that a great many people are very happy simply to keep on regurgitating the same old material without ever bothering to check if it is real, simply because it is attached to a well-known name. So: What is the actual work from which this quotation comes? And what is its context?

With regard to signing-in, follow the joining instructions on the main page of the site. Note that it is not enough to create a username and password, you must sign in with them too. Both joining and signing in produce a spurious error message -- ignore it; it means nothing.

If you are lucky, once you have signed in successfully your Wordwizard ID will remain effective indefinitely on your computer; if not, you may have to sign in each time if you want to post an automatically-identified contribution.

If all that sounds too complicated, just include your name in the body of the posting as you did above.
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
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Post by Archived Reply » Fri Aug 13, 2004 3:51 pm

Erik, I entirely agree with your and Martin Porter’s leeriness about quotes as expressed in his “Principle’s for Quotations” and with the importance of heeding his advice on not believing quotes that are not well-documented and from original sources. It is often the case that a seemingly reliable secondary source – a ‘reputable’ newspaper, an ‘expert’ in a field (but unfortunately as is often the case, not one in a field related to the quote, . . ) – is given as a source of a bogus quote. The spurious quote propagates (is copied and recopied) as you stated, feeds on itself, and travels from one unreliable source to another (wire services, newspapers, magazines, etc.) and is soon believed by many to be true. As another example of this type of thing, see my posting Boil the ocean!
_____________________

Ken G – February 9, 2003
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
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Post by Archived Reply » Fri Aug 13, 2004 4:05 pm

John F Kennedy once said: "Dante once said that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality." So I guess the quote should be attributed to JFK instead. :)
Harikrishnan Menon
Mumbai, India
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Post by Archived Reply » Fri Aug 13, 2004 4:20 pm

Harikrishnan, In the spirit of Monsieur Porter I will cite a source for the Kennedy quote – ‘Remarks on the establishment of a West German Peace Corps, Bonn, West Germany, June 24, 1963, Public Papers of the Presidents: 1963, p. 503.’

My source for this source (<:) was the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum at the University of Massachusetts at Boston (see http://www.cs.umb.edu/jfklibrary/ ).

However, I am still in agreement with Erik Kowal. The question remains, if Dante really once said that, where did he say it? Kennedy was probably not above an occasional fib, but I’m sure not here in a major address (to the best of his knowledge).

It is interesting to me that all of the reliable sources that I checked (this was not an exhaustive search) said this quote is Dante’s, but the specific work in which it appeared was left blank (almost all of his other quotes said in which work they appeared). How can one be sure a quote is attributable to someone if it is not known where it appeared (maybe a reliable contemporary could say that someone said something)? What I considered less reliable sources said ‘The Divine Comedy’ and some got even more specific by saying ‘The Inferno,’ but nowhere did I see anything that looked really creditable as to which actual work of his it appeared in. Anyone else have any better luck on this one?
____________________

Ken – February 11, 2003
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Post by Archived Reply » Fri Aug 13, 2004 4:34 pm

The Porter quote is trash. That Burke didn't say it is one thing, that it is without" authenticity or meaning " is quite another.
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Post by Archived Reply » Fri Aug 13, 2004 4:49 pm

The exact quote is:

"The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in time of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality."

This quote can be found in Dante's "Inferno"

R.Spence - Toronto, Canada
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Post by Archived Reply » Fri Aug 13, 2004 5:03 pm

"The Porter quote is trash." What cheek!

Anyway, I assert that this "hottest places in hell" quote is bogus, just like the Burke one. Expect the essay soon!

Martin Porter
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Post by Archived Reply » Fri Aug 13, 2004 5:17 pm

Thank you for your clarity--The Dante non-quote is even more fascinating because it appears on posters celebrating diversity, certainly not one of Dante's goals. Although I love The Inferno, I abhor this non-quote's lively existence.
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Post by Archived Reply » Fri Aug 13, 2004 5:32 pm

Good background on the Dante/JFK quote: http://www.bartleby.com/73/1211.html
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