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Falsely Attributed Quote - A Norman Rockwell Moment

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Message that includes a quote about work and government billed as "possibly the 5 best sentences you'll ever read" implies that the words were penned by famous US artist Norman Rockwell.

norman rockwell
Normal Rockwell image courtesy Wikipedia

Brief Analysis

The words were not written by Norman Rockwell. In fact, they are a somewhat mangled version of words penned by American pastor and author Adrian Pierce Rogers. Some versions of the message feature an image which is a parody of a well known Norman Rockwell painting with the unattributed quote underneath.



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These are possibly the 5 best sentences you'll ever read:
1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealth out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work, because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation.

5. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

--- REMEMBER ---



Detailed Analysis

This message, which is passed around via email, blogs and online forums, features five succinct sentences that discuss work, government and welfare. The message is entitled "A Norman Rockwell Moment", thus implying that the quoted words came from the pen of venerable and much loved American artist Norman Rockwell.

However, the quote is not from Norman Rockwell. In fact, the words, billed in the message as "possibly the 5 best sentences you'll ever read" are an altered and restructured derivative of a piece originally penned by Baptist pastor, author and political commentator, Dr. Adrian Pierce Rogers. Dr. Rogers died in November 2005.

The misattributed quote is often tacked on to a bitingly satirical image of US President Obama painting a telling "self portrait" that circulates via political blogs and forums. The image is a parody of a painting by Norman Rockwell. When the image is included in the message, at least a few viewers would understand that the Rockwell reference relates more to the image rather than to the unattributed quote included underneath. However, in versions of the message that circulate without this image, the Rockwell reference appears to relate directly to the quoted words.

The original Adrian Rogers piece, which was part of a 1984 sermon, and was also included in another work titled "Ten Secrets for a Successful Family" is quoted below:
You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the industrious out of it. You don't multiply wealth by dividing it. Government cannot give anything to anybody that it doesn't first take from somebody else. Whenever somebody receives something without working for it, somebody else has to work for it without receiving. The worst thing that can happen to a nation is for half of the people to get the idea they don't have to work because somebody else will work for them, and the other half to get the idea that it does no good to work because they don't get to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
The piece has also been falsely attributed to others, including one "David Vincent Gilbert".

The parody image depicting President Obama was created by a Photoshop artist by the name of "BigFurHat" whose work is regularly featured on political satire website, The image was first posted on the site under the title Nothing Says Americana Like Obama and minus the Adrian Rogers quote. Many other blogs and forums began republishing the image, along with the mangled Rogers quote. The image is of course, a parody of Norman Rockwell's well known Triple Self Portrait from 1960.

The phrase a "Norman Rockwell Moment" has a cultural significance well removed from this misattributed quote and the satirical Obama self portrait image. In the US, a "Norman Rockwell Moment" can refer to "any image of a small town event with archetypal characters that evoke imagery suitable for a Normal Rockwell painting".



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Last updated: 21st July 2010
First published: 21st July 2010
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

Adrian Pierce Rogers
Wikipedia - Adrian Rogers
Nothing Says Americana Like Obama
UziTalk Forums - A Norman Rockwell moment
Norman Rockwell - Triple Self-Portrait
Urban Dictionary - Norman Rockwell Moment