A few of us have been joking about making plagiarism bingo cards so we can check off the predictable responses to any discussion of plagiarism. It is jaw-hang depressing to see the same repeated responses, patterns and excuses, but we really could fill a bingo card at this point.
AnimeJune rounded up a perfect list of responses to the clarification and comments at The Story Siren's page, and I want to focus on this one:
7. Plagiarism is not less wrong than BRINGING UP PLAGIARISM
Clearly, this blogger tried to go the “silent but deadly” route but misjudged the amount of clenching required to pass a bubble of rights-infringing flatulence. But the ones who smelt it are not the ones who dealt it. But tell that to this commenter on the blogger's “Apology” post:
This, dear readers, is what is known as victim blaming. The people who had their CREATIVE CONTENT STOLEN are depicted as being hostile and unreasonable when the plagiarist “gave them what they wanted so they demanded more” – more being the demand to have their rightful creative content, which had been taken without their permission, off the website. What divas!
Worse, this commenter flogs the plagiarist's victims for being so unclassy as to “create drama.” It's bad enough you were so ungrateful as to be angry when a popular blogger stole from you – but you had to make a stink about it, too? Why can't victims just shut up and be quiet? Why do they have to speak up and make us think about bad things when we'd rather be thinking about Hugh Jackman on a unicorn?
B. from Beautifully Invisible forwarded me some of the email she's received since Jane and I started posting about Kristi Diehm's plagiarism at The Story Siren last Monday. The sad irony is that B, Vahni, Jane and I were accused of bullying because we exposed and discussed Kristi's plagiarism. I'm not including the email addresses of the people who sent these messages, because I do not know if they are minors. I do know that they're ignorant.
Name: Kristi's Friend
Message: Dear B, I hope you are proud of yourself for ruining the reputation of one of the nicest people I have ever known. And for what? A few extra hits on your pathetic blog?
Kristi has done more for the blogging community than anyone I have ever known, and now you and your friend have started a witch hunt that will tarnish that forever. She didn't do anything wrong. Your posts weren't worth stealing. She is a better writer and human being than you could ever hope to be. So back the fuck off and call off the dogs that are out to get her.
B at Beautifully Invisible and Vahni didn't do anything to ruin Kristi Diehm's reputation. Kristi Diehm did that all on her own, by plagiarizing two people who run excellent sites about fashion and their own interests.
Name: Amy G.
Message: Get off your high horse and leave Kristi the fuck alone. She didn't do anything to you so stop making shit up.
Kristi did do something to us. Her behavior made the book blogging community look like a bunch of idiotic hypocrites who holler when we find authors plagiarizing but ask for forgiveness and receive it when one of us commits the same act.
Kristi also plagiarized six entries from two blogs, lied about it, asked to have it hidden, and then only acknowledged the matter when we started talking about it four months later.
Name: book blogger
Message: You=bitch. Kristi=awesome.
Me = 0_o?
Name: YA READER
Message: i know everyone is trying to make u 2 seem like the victims here but its clear that you & gg are just jealous of kristi. shes smart and cute and people look up to her and appreciate her and imm and she works w/tons of authors. you blog abt fashion because you arent smart enough to blog abt something important. get a life.
Check your scorecards, everyone. Smart and cute trumps dishonest theivery, and book blogging trumps fashion blogging in the rock-paper-scissors of douchebag.
Message: I think I need to buy you a dictionary because you clearly don't know what plagiarism is. Plagiarism involves original content and what you posted is anything but. Blogging tips? Really? My 5-year old could write those and she would do a better job than you did. So what if Kristi used your posts as a template? THAT ISN'T PLAGIARISM!!! In order for it to be plagiarism your post would have to be UNIQUE and ORIGINAL. You spent what 5 MINUTES? on those. Maybe 10? ANYONE COULD DO IT. Do a google search and you'll see what bullshit this is. Need me to spell it out for you? G-O-O-G-L-E-D-O-T-C-O-M.
I am very concerned for this person.
Name: Lauren S.
Message: I just wanna say that you should be ashamed of yourself for doing this to Kristi. She's a sweetheart and you are just a bitch! Why don't you crawl back into the whole you came from and leave her alone?
I believe the word Lauren is looking for is “hole.” As in, “asshole.”
It sucks to bring up plagiarism, talk about it, discuss what it means and what the consequences are, because then there's hate mail from truly ignorant individuals who, as AnimeJune put it, would rather think about Hugh Jackman on a unicorn that acknowledge that someone they admire has fucked up royally.
This kind of bullshit makes it more intimidating to bring up plagiarism, and if we don't bring plagiarism up, it won't stop. But we also have to discuss the intimidating and haterating that follows any revelation of plagiarism, because those reactions also seem to follow a predictable pattern, and probably do plenty to convince those who have been plagiarized, or who have discovered it, to keep quiet because have mercy, it is not pleasant.
I do not think Kristi Diehm is responsible for the ignorance and poor decision making of anyone who reads her blog and sent hate mail to B and Vahni. I would very much like to believe that those who sent these messages have, at other times of the day, the ability to make rational decisions. They are responsible for their hate mail. This kind of response is not acceptable. It is not ok. I hope these people step on a Lego in the dark, bless their hearts.
I do blame Kristi for not being stronger and more clear in her response, but all of Kristi's edited apologies make the entire thing about her and her hurt feelings, and about hiding the fact that she did exactly what she said not to do in a now-deleted blog post about plagiarism.
I hate that there is plagiarism bingo.
But I hate that there's plagiarism more than I hate playing plagiarism bingo. If we don't talk about plagiarism, it will continue.
To quote Hubby as we were discussing this over lunch: among writers, plagiarism is like treason.
I think he's right about that. It is a betrayal of our work, our effort, and our community. Responses like these make it more intimidating for people to report plagiarism when they find it, and support that betrayal more than they support any friendship. Responses like these also make it seem that within our community, some are very forgiving of, and ignorant about plagiarism, including Kristi Diehm herself.
What more can those of us who understand plagiarism and its consequences do about situations like these?
Refuse to back down when we're told we're mean and cruel for saying that plagiarism is wrong.
Keep talking and keep talking some more. Otherwise, the theft continues.