If you look at what Jeremy Corbyn actually said about the death of Osama Bin Laden, you can’t actually piece it together in such a way that it makes him look like he said “the death of Osama Bin Laden was a tragedy” or even words to that effect. The actual phraseology and the words he uses are clear throughout in their meaning and intent.
There was no attempt whatsoever that I can see to arrest him, to put him on trial, to go through that process. This was an assassination attempt, and is yet another tragedy, upon a tragedy, upon a tragedy. The World Trade Centre was a tradegy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy. Tens of thousands of people have died. Torture has come back on to the world stage, been canonised virtually into law by Guantanamo and Bagram. Can’t we learn some lessons over this?
There’s no trimming you can do to the beginning or end, nor any long ellipsis you can add in the middle that makes him say it. At least not without resorting to CassetteBoy-like remixing at the word/syllable level, crossing out “yet another” and “tragedy upon tragedy…” and cutting out “assassination attempt” or perhaps add in some creative square-bracketed substitutions.
This[The death of Osama Bin Laden] was an assassination attempt, and is yet another tragedy, upon a tragedy, upon a tragedy.
At which point it looks less like you’re playfully misquoting and more like you’ve enabled Track Changes and re-written the thing from scratch. There is absolutely no point where a coherent stream of words forms a sentence that resembles this claim.
So, in short, when David Cameron says “the leader of the Labour Party thinks the death of Osama Bin Laden was a tragedy” – with the additional, explicit accusations of Corbyn as a terrorist sympathiser – he isn’t misquoting, or quote-mining what Corbyn said.
Quote-mining is when creationists quote Charles Darwin on the evolution of the eye and stop after the first sentence. Quote-mining is when climate change denialists looked through the CRU email leak and jumped on the words “hide the decline”. Quote-mining is when we take what Cameron said and strip the “the leader of the Labour Party thinks” from it to make him literally say those words because people are blind to irony.
Saying Jeremy Corbyn “thinks the death of Osama Bin Laden is a tragedy”, implying the old Obi-Wan lookalike hates the West, is not quote-mining at all. There’s no out-of-context bullshit here. Cameron is actually making something up out of thin air; something that isn’t true.
He knows that it isn’t true. His special advisers and PR gurus and spin-doctors know that it isn’t true.
The Prime Minister has demonstrably lied to our faces. He has done so intentionally. The sycophants he surrounds himself with and the dribbling idiots who vote for his party will, sadly, believe it and suck it all up. But it’s still a lie. It’s not an out-of-context fallacy or a quote mine, it’s good old fashioned lying.
And apparently we’re not allowed to be angry about this.