Australian Senator quotes “Voltaire” – actually neo-Nazi child pornographer

This mistake is a few weeks old but still a great one.  Cory Bernardi is an Australian Senator who is a member of the Liberal Party.  He is also an active Twitter user.  A few weeks ago, the Senator sent out this tweet:

Okay, fine, whatever.  Seems like something Voltaire would say.


The quote didn’t come from Voltaire.  It actually came from Kevin Alfred Storm, an American neo-Nazi who is the editor of the National Vanguard, the official publication of the National Alliance…a white supremacist group.  Storm is also a Holocaust denier who has been charged with receiving child pornography and trying to have sex with a ten year old.  In other words, this is most definitely not the kind of person you want to be quoting!

The Senator then compounded the mistake by deleting all of his tweets.  This is absolutely ridiculous – one bad tweet does not mean you have to delete all of them, and this simply enhanced the original mistake by drawing more attention to it and rehashing the story!  The best way to handle an error like this would have been to delete the quote, note the deletion and apologize – while pledging to double check all sources in the future.  Very poorly handled.

The original, misattributed quote, of course, is a standard internet mistake: You quote someone without properly confirming the source.  The internet is obviously a great place for misinformation to spread, but elected officials are – appropriately – held to a higher standard.  Best way to avoid making a mistake like this?  Double check everything before you post it – including quotations!

Tweets and Consequences

Like the blog?  Get the book!  Tweets and Consequences: 60 Social Media Disasters in Politics and How You Can Avoid A Career-Ending Mistake is now available on Amazon for purchase or download.

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