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This Senator Accidentally Quoted A Child-Porn Possessing Neo-Nazi

Sorry Cory, but that's not Voltaire.

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When conservative Liberal senator Cory Bernardi sent out this tweet attributed to 17th century French philosopher Voltaire, it started getting a lot of attention.

Even News Corp columnist Miranda Devine gave it a retweet.

He's not the first one to share the quote. This meme has been circulating around the internet for a while now, and picked up after the Charlie Hebdo shootings in France.

Only thing is, it's probably not Voltaire. The quote seems to be from an American white supremacist neo-Nazi called Kevin Alfred Strom.

In a speech titled "All America Must Know the Terror That is Upon Us", Strom wrote, "To determine the true rulers of any society, all you must do is ask yourself this question: Who is it that I am not permitted to criticize?"

Kevin Strom is the editor of National Vanguard, the official publication for the National Alliance, a white supremacist organisation.

In 2008, Strom pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography and was sentenced to 23 months in prison, of which he served four months.
National Alliance

In 2008, Strom pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography and was sentenced to 23 months in prison, of which he served four months.

A keyword search of the Complete Works of Voltaire does not bring up the quote.

And Kevin Strom himself has acknowledged the misattribution in a blog post titled "I'm Often Misquoted" on his website.

In the post, he attributes the misquote to other people having an "imprecise remembrance of a memorable idea"."My maxim on the rulers of society, which exists online and in print in a dozen different variations, some of them probably more elegant than my original," he writes. "What I said was: 'To determine the true rulers of any society, all you must do is ask yourself this question: Who is it that I am not permitted to criticize?'"
kevinalfredstrom.com

In the post, he attributes the misquote to other people having an "imprecise remembrance of a memorable idea".

"My maxim on the rulers of society, which exists online and in print in a dozen different variations, some of them probably more elegant than my original," he writes.

"What I said was: 'To determine the true rulers of any society, all you must do is ask yourself this question: Who is it that I am not permitted to criticize?'"

Bernardi's mistake was pointed out by people responding to his tweet soon after he posted it, but it still hasn't been taken down.

@corybernardi urm, that's a Kevin Strom quite, not Voltaire. Strom is a neo-nazi convicted of child porn offences https://t.co/1I2dn7Bd8v

And of course, lots of people on the internet soon picked up the senator's mistake, including Labor MP Tim Watts.

"Donate to my Bernardi mocking Pozible campaign" - Voltaire https://t.co/Hgtbw8wXyQ

"There's never been a more exciting time to be an Australian" - Voltaire

Classic Voltaire. Ping @corybernardi

'You bet you are -- you bet I am' - Voltaire

Cannot believe Voltaire would say it, then Tony would stand in front of it.

BuzzFeed News has approached senator Bernardi's office for comment.

AAP

Alexandra Lee is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Alex Lee at alexandra.lee@buzzfeed.com.

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