A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 08, 2012
“Ideas are bulletproof” ("You can kill a man, but you cannot kill an idea")

Alan Moore’s graphic novel V for Vendetta (1989)—made into a 2006 film—contained the line, “ideas are bulletproof.” The film’s ideas (including the Guy Fawkes mask) became popularly used in the fall of 2011 by the Occupy Wall Street movement.

“Ideas are bulletproof” is similar to the older saying, “You can kill a man, but you cannot kill an idea.” “You may kill a few individuals, but you cannot kill an idea” is from the Italian independence movement of 1844. “You cannot kill an idea” was written about Christianity in 1882. “You can kill a man, but you can’t kill an idea” was used on NAACP posters in 1964 in association with slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers (1925-1963).

A similar saying (also used in the Occupy Wall Street protests of 2011) is “You can’t evict an idea.”


Wikiquote: Alan Moore
Alan Moore (born November 18, 1953) is a British writer, most famous for his influential work in comic-books and graphic novels.

V for Vendetta (1989)
Did you think to kill me? There’s no flesh or blood within this cloak to kill. There is only an idea. Ideas are bulletproof.

The Internet Movie Database
Memorable quotes for
V for Vendetta (2006)

[after a hail of gunfire doesn’t stop V]
Creedy: Die! Die! Why won’t you die?... Why won’t you die?
V: Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.

Television Tropes & Idioms
You Cannot Kill an Idea
“Kahless has been dead for a thousand years; but the idea of Kahless is still alive. Have you ever fought an idea, Picard? It has no weapon to destroy, no body to kill.”
— Gowron, Star Trek: The Next Generation

What’s the most resilient parasite? An idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules. Armies and dictators have no power over them and while men can die, their ideas are immortal.

Google Books
March 1845, Dublin Review, “The Italian Insurrections and Mr. Mazzini, pg. 230:
Reminiscences of thr brothers Bandiera, and of their fellow martyrs at Cosenza on the 25th of July, 1844, with documents from their correspondence. Edited by GIUSEPPE MAZZINI. Paris: Lacombe, 1844.
Pg. 260:
“Yet but a few days, and all Europe will respond with a similar exclamation to your stupidly ferocious persecutions. You may kill a few individuals, but you cannot kill an idea. An idea is immortal. In the midst of tempests an idea attains the stature of a giant, and like a diamond shines with a new light at every repercussion. The idea becomes more and more incarnate in humanity, and when you will have exhausted your rage and your brutal might on individuals who are merely precursors, the idea will rise up irresistibly in the majesty of the people, and will bury in the ocean wave of futurity your names, and even the recollection of your resistance, to the agitation of the generations which God stirs to movement.”

18 December 1882, The Daily Picayune (New Orleans, LA), pg. 1, col. 4:
ILIAD OF CHRISTIANITY.
Lecture Before the Trinity Club, Satur-
day Evening, by Rev. High Mil-
ler Thompson, D. D.

(...)
After eloquently picturing the persecutions of Christians under various emperors, the lecturer said: “The kingdom of force has no weapon but force. It killed a man, and when he was dead, its power ended. You cannot kill an idea. It has been thought in many times, and by many men, that you can annihilate an idea by slaying the men who hold it. Some men have set themselves resolutely to work in this way, and imagined they had succeeded.”

Google Books
Mr. Crewe’s Career
By Winston Churchill
New York, NY: Macmillan
1908
Pg. 340:
“Discouraged!” echoed Mr, Crewe. “You can’t kill an idea, and we’ll see who’s right and who’s wrong before I get through with ‘em.”

Google Books
19 December 1963, Jet magazine, pg. 30:
Mrs. Medgar Evers, widow of the martyred Mississippi NAACP leader, comparing her husband’s murder with that of President Kennedy’s: “The men who pulled these triggers seemed to forget that you can kill a man, but you cannot kill an idea.”

Google News Archive
9 June 1964, The Afro-American (Washington, DC), “Evers’ photo most popular says NAACP,” pg. 12, col. 7:
It reads: “You can kill a man but you can’t kill an idea.” Below the picture and the quotation, on a blue field which spans the width of the poster is the caption: “Keep the Idea of Freedom Alive: Join NAACP,” in white and black letters.
(See the poster in The Crisis, February 1965—ed.)

Google Books
The Autobiography of Medgar Evers:
A hero’s life and legacy revealed through his writings, letters, and speeches

By Myrlie Evers-Williams and Manning Marable
New York, NY: Basic Civitas Books
2005
Pg. 297:
Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove stated: “Medgar once said, ‘You can kill a man, but you can’t kill an idea.’ Because of his bravery, because of his focus and desire to bring about change, because of his ideas, the idea of a better Mississippi has come to light.”

Salon.com
Sunday, Jan 8, 2012 11:00 AM 21:48:45 CST
What Occupy can learn from the Hunger Games
A leaderless political movement still trying to find its place might look to heroes of dystopian fiction for ideas

By Mike Doherty
“YOU CAN’T EVICT AN IDEA,” proclaim the banners fronting an otherwise dull building in east London, owned by banking giant UBS but inhabited and decorated by squatters from the Occupy movement. They’ve adapted the phrase from Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s graphic novel “V for Vendetta,” in which the titular terrorist explains his seeming immortality to a detective who has just shot him: “Ideas are bulletproof.” A poster of V’s trademark Guy Fawkes mask smiles eerily at all who walk into the foyer of 8 Sun Street, now dubbed “The Bank of Ideas” and used as a community center. The caption underneath reads, “We are the 99%, and so are you.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Sunday, January 08, 2012 • Permalink