Enlarge Throwing stones from a glass house.

Staind’s Aaron Lewis Misattributes Famous Burke Quote While Insulting the Intelligence of Others

  • Axl Rosenberg

They say people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. But Aaron Lewis could give a fuck; he wrote “It’s Been Awhile,” goddamnit, and he’ll do anything he pleases.

To that end, the Staind frontman recently did a livestream during which he complained that “We are listening to and allowing the dumbest fucking people in this country to dictate what our lives are and aren’t”… right before he said this:

“I’m gonna paraphrase Einstein right now. Einstein said that — and I say ‘paraphrase’ because I don’t know if I’m gonna get it exactly right — he said that this country and this world, it won’t be destroyed by evil men; it’ll be destroyed by good men that stand idly by while evil men do what they do. I want you to think about that.”

Lewis didn’t get the quote exactly right — it’s “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” — but, more importantly, he misattributed it to a man who was born long after the guy who actually said it died.

The phrase is generally attributed to Edmund Burke, in a 1790 letter addressed to Captain Thomas Mercer. Some scholars actually say that’s a misattribution and a misquotation of something the Utilitarian philosopher John Stuart Mill said during a lecture in 1867: “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” 

Einstein, FYI, was born in 1879. Burke died 1797, and Mill died in 1873.

And hey, look. I know this isn’t the biggest deal. For one thing, it misses Lewis’ larger point. For another thing, no one expects the guy who thinks the word “stained” is spelled “staind” to be a high school graduate, so calling him out for not knowing who Burke was, or even just for not knowing how to use Google, is sort of a low blow. The poor guy couldn’t remember the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner” and thinks Fred Durst is like the Dalai Lama. Expecting him to have any knowledge about an 18th century philosopher is like expecting your dog to solve a jigsaw puzzle.

Having said that, Lewis’ larger point is rooted almost entirely in fictions and there isn’t one worth making, and he decided to try and show off and be a smarty pants. So I think it’s fair game to point out, yet again, that calling this dude “dumb as dogshit” is an insult to dogshit, which at least knows to keep its fucking mouth shut.


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