So. On that plagiarism, apology, forgiveness thing? I’m more of a cynic than I thought.

23 May

For those kids who didn’t bother to read the meta page: many posts in this blog are reposted from Karen Scott’s blog. Deal with it. This particular entry was originally posted on May 22nd 2012 at 8:00 am London time.

Yes, I’m sure many here are tired of the topic, particularly since it seems to crop up regularly, all over the place.

Me, I’m one of those who believes that talking about it, keeping the perpetrators and their victims clearly separated, is the only way to reduce the instances of plagiarism. (Like racism, there are some people who don’t realize what it is–or that they are indulging in it¹–until someone points it out to them.)

But, onwards with today’s post.

On May 21st 2012, Jill Sorenson commented, over at Karen’s,  on my latest post on Kristi Diehm, plagiarist

My own reply to Ms Sorenson took me back to RRRJessica’s awesome post on the scandal (seriously, go and read the whole thing; it’s wonderful and full of win. The part about moral autonomy and women? Win, I tell you).

Upon re-reading the post, my mind, that horrible, suspicious, cynical fiend, fixated on the following bits:

What we got from The Story Siren, beginning from the moment she asked her victims to keep quiet, continuing when she deleted her own plagiarism post, and then again when she reworded her own (already inadequate) second apology post, was the kind of apology that seeks to repair personal damage and restore personalsocial status, much like the celebrity and politician apologies we see on TV every week.

Yes.

Yes, indeed (picture me doing my nodding dog imitation).

But wait, the next paragraph is the one that got my (cynic) spidey senses all tingly:

A restorative apology is not focused on the self, but on re-building community. Since The Story Siren appears to be moving on, business as usual, I doubt one is forthcoming. I’m sorry that she has opted not to take this opportunity for educating and strengthening the book blogging community.  I won’t bore you with my idea of the elements such an apology would contain, but I will make a prediction based on my many years as an ethics consultant working with health care providers who have made medical errors: without a meaningful attempt to take responsibility and restore trust, The Story Siren will never fully recover. With them, she may become more admired and influential than ever. (bits in bold by yours truly, cynical so and so AL)

Will you look at that! Suddenly, Kristi Diehm is taking it upon herself to educate herself on plagiarism–never mind the much-trotted out post on plagiarism she herself wrote and later deleted, which spells out quite clearly what plagiarism is and isn’t–and to educate the community by inviting others to do guest posts about how plagiarism is “tricky” and “not black and white.” ²

*silent while pondering*

Bu surely, I hear someone say, it’s a coincidence, right?

As Eve Dallas would say, coincidences are hooey.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In further conversation with Ms Sorensen, I remembered another plagiarism scandal from earlier this year–Kay Manning aka…well, aka a bunch of other people. After some fudging and further lying, she posted a full apology over at Dear Author:

I’ve gone back and forth on how to address this for several hours. A personal blog post would not be seen by enough people. Nor would a response to Ms. Fielding’s blog. When Dear Author posted this blog, I felt it was the answer I’d been looking for. I couldn’t find a more public place than this.

To all the authors, publishers, and editors I stole from, I am sorry. There is no excuse. All distributors have been notified and those I couldn’t take down/remove myself are being removed by the third party as soon as possible.

To all the authors, publishers, and editors I’ve met and known over the years, I am sorry. I know you will never forgive me and you shouldn’t.

To anyone associated with the Kiss of Death Chapter, you can be assured that all funds relating to the chapter are well managed and controlled by a dedicated President and Board. I have not had access to any accounts where wrongdoing could have occurred without their immediate and swift action.

Finally, so there is no misunderstanding. I am a thief, a plagiarist. I am not an author.

See the parts I highlighted? That’s an apology. No bullshit explanations, no woe is me, no “it just happened.” And you know what? I think it works–I’m not an expert but I don’t think anyone has spent a whole lot of time persecuting KM since then.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A further point: while using my meager GoogleFu to check whether or not there are people out there making it their lives’ mission to keep tabs making KM miserable over her thefts, I found this over at The Passive Voice:

I guess this person, and other plagiarists, are narcissists — they have a role inside their heads that they want to be seen as, and how they get seen as that role doesn’t matter. The role in this instance is “author.” Actually being an author isn’t a point — it’s being seen by others as “an Author.” I can’t think of any other reason to waste so much time in something that will be found out sooner or later. And of course now she has a new role: the person who was caught plagiarizing, got humiliated, wrote an apology, and is now felt sorry for. Maybe I’m very cynical, but the underlying problem with cases like these isn’t the stealing, it’s the narcissism.

Looking at Kristi Diehm’s actions through this lens, then her silence while Grit and Glamour, Beautifully Invisible and those calling her on her theft are attacked, make a lot of sense. She is now That Poor Little Thing, So Brave, Who Needs Support and Forgiveness

I did tell you I’m a cynic, didn’t I?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Updated to add: Queen of chutzpah indeed! The guest post on May 22nd 2012,  ends with the following gem:

Conclusion: People learn from their mistakes and move on.

Gee, teach, you sure told us meanies.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Further update on May 25th 2012: must read Grit and Glamour’s Damage control 101: The Fine Art of Covering Your Ass and Beautifully Invisible’s The Art of the (Non) Apology.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

¹ There shall be a conversation about this cryptic allusion soon.

² In her introductory post–no link, hie thee to the SmartBitches for that–Kristi Diehm claims that ‘an author’ contacted her with this bit of wisdom:

A lot of young people, bloggers and writers read your blog, and all of them have probably walked that plagiarism line at least once, whether they are willing to admit it or not. We all like to think plagiarism is black or white, this or that. But the truth is, it can be tricky. When you are a student who is assigned to regurgitate someone else’s thoughts and opinions in a paper, or a blogger trying to explain why you liked or didn’t like the same book that a hundred other bloggers are also writing about, or if you are a writer chasing the latest trend in publishing … it’s not that easy to come up with something that is the same — but different.

Yeah, cue more cynicism from this corner of the room.

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One Response to “So. On that plagiarism, apology, forgiveness thing? I’m more of a cynic than I thought.”

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  1. What’s up with this? « Her Hands, My Hands - 02/06/2012

    [...] So. On that plagiarism, apology, forgiveness thing? I’m more of a cynic than I thought (sadly proven right by events) Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

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