If Dr. King Met Steve McQueen…

If Martin Luther King, Jr. were alive today…

How many times will we read that clause today to support one viewpoint or another?

There seems to be a growing acceptance of putting words in the mouths of famous dead people – more than words.

Legendary guy’s guy Steve McQueen (1930-1980) has crossed back over to appear in Ford ads. Gandhi (1869-1948), Einstein (1879-1955), Elvis (1935-1977) and Lou Gehrig (1903-1941) are all pitching products well after their expiration dates. Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) is coming out with her own line of cosmetics. That’s a neat trick.

The advertising worlds explains that it’s all okay – it’s on the up-and-up and legal. And besides, they explain, it’s smart. Dead celebrities can’t get into any more trouble than they did while living, so it’s a safe investment.

But it’s creepy and it’s wrong. You know it in your gut, no matter how Madison Avenue rationalizes it.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a prolific writer and speaker. He left plenty of his own words around for us to parse. We don’t need anyone adlibbing for him.

One thing we can say for sure today is happy birthday, Dr. King (1929-1968). If he were alive today, he would be 82 years old. RIP.

Bill O’Reilly is a Mount Kisco resident who writes the blog The BlackberryAlarmClock.com

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