American Atheists Apologizes for Misquoting Sarah Palin on Billboard and Plans to Fix It

After planning to put up a billboard in Austin, Texas featuring a quotation by Sarah Palin — one that she never actually said, though her intent was the same — they’re going to fix the sign so that it properly quotes her.

The misattributed line had Palin saying, “We should create law based on the God of the Bible”… even though what she actually said was the following:

According to Palin, the recent backlash against the National Day of Prayer is proof that some people are trying to enact a “fundamental transformation of America” and to “revisit and rewrite history” in order to shift the Christian nation away from its spiritual roots.

Palins’s advice: “Go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant — they’re quite clear — that we would create law based on the God of the bible and the ten commandments.

I know: It’s pretty much the same idea, but quotation marks have a specific purpose and they were being misused in the billboard. I was upset about it and so were many of you.

Dan Merica at CNN has the follow-up:

Dave Muscato, the group’s public relations director, said in a release that because American Atheists holds itself “to the highest standards of accuracy,” it will “move the quotation marks at our expense, so they do not include the word ‘should.’”

Both Muscato and David Silverman, the group’s president, however, stand by the “intent and context” of the billboard.

“While I admit that the word ‘should’ should technically not be inside the quote, the meaning was correct,” Silverman said in a statement to CNN.

Although Silverman said in an e-mail to CNN that he believes “Ms. Palin would stand by what we have quoted her as saying,” he said “all future quotes will be exactly as spoken.”

As atheists, we ought to hold ourselves up to a higher standard of truth than religions do. This is a minor example, sure, but The Daves are doing the right thing by fixing their mistake.

It shouldn’t have happened in the first place, of course, but this is how these incidents should be handled: With an admission of wrongdoing and an explanation of how you’re going to fix it.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • SecularPatriot

    Our community has integrity. Excellent.

  • The Captain

    Especially in light of the story about David Barton’s lies this needed to be done. The last thing I want to hear back when bitching about someone like Barton quote mining and lying is “yea but atheist do it too”.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

      How long have you used Pedobear as your avatar?

      • The Captain

        He he. Maybe about two months or so.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

          I must have missed it all the other times but being the only comment at first it jumped out at me tonight.

  • Tim

    Well good. While it was a very minor misquote and in no way changes the meaning of what she said – don’t give them any fuel.

  • Donald Koelling

    I agree with the idea that the last thing I want to hear is “yea but atheist(s) do it too”.

  • Emmet

    “As atheists, we ought to hold ourselves up to a higher standard of truth than religions do”.

    Truth? What is that?


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X