Tuesday, November 21, 2006


These things usually have a pattern, whether the offense is plagiarism or hate-filled speech. The perpetrator is called out for the offense, then either posts an apology or a defiant post.

In response, some posters weigh in on the gravity of the offense, and to be sure, some who considered themselves enemies of the perpetrator probably take a little too much enjoyment in the perpetrator’s offense.

Then come the vultures – and this is what pisses me off.

These are the ones who pat the perpetrator’s hand, tell him it’s no big deal, and say that the real problem is those preening moralists who think that racism and plagiarism are serious offenses.

This story is attractive to the perpetrator, because he’s in a vulnerable place. He’s hurt; he’s done something stupid, and could use cheering up.

These vultures also keep the story alive, which probably would have died down without their “help.” Coincidentally, this serves the vulture’s desire to feed the perpetrator the story about how he’s the real victim here of those mean moralists.

But this comfort is not free – this is a favor the vulture expects to cash in later.

Did anyone see Michael Richards on the Letterman show last night? It would be hard to imagine a picture of a remorseful person. And it seemed to me that Jerry Seinfeld was a true friend to him – he didn’t try to gloss over the offense, he said he was upset about it, he didn’t attack the press for jumping on the story, but he gave Richards a forum to start making things right.

I don’t know if Michael Richards is a racist, or if he slipped up once. I don’t know if topazz is serial plagiarizer or had a slip. I do know that they both screwed up publicly, and that it’s not unreasonable that there be consequences for that.

Does that make them bad people? No. But if I’m choosing someone to speak extemporaneously, they wouldn’t be on my short list.

Pretending these actions don’t have consequences isn’t being a friend; it’s being a vulture.


LentenStuffe said...


I'll respond to you even if you won't reciprocate, because you are so morally enlightened and you know the eternal laws, while I'm a mere bird of carrion!

I assume you're talking about me with your "vulture" baloney, since you so blatantly refuse to address my comment directly. Your timidity on this occasion doesn't speak too well to your valiant, barrel-chested bravado in the other.

This is not about excusing the inexcusable. Get real, for chrissakes! And get some measure of perspective about your place in the grand scheme of things. You are mostly insignificant, as is the Fray, as is the WikiFray, and Topazz is a friend of many contributors to both sites. She confessed to her peccadillo. What else do you want? Do you wish to summon all the great jurists in the Union to pass judgment? Banish her to Gitmo! Is that what you want? Maybe she's a Word terrorist!

You're giving yourselves airs and, by doing so, are exhibiting precisely the same ugliness the DKos idiots exhibited to troll and ban people.

I find the whole episode tiresome and predictable, but you guys riding about on your high horses only makes it worse.

The real killer for myself, a person dedicated to creativity, is that there's very few of you fire-stokers who are actually capable of a creative, original thought. If you have originality, I've not seen it. It makes me wonder if y'all aren't projecting and simply despising in another what you sorely lack in yourselves.

Cop on to yourselves and embrace your friend.

JohnMcG said...

For what feels like the eight millionth time, I do not want anything more out of topazz. She screwed up; she seems to recognize that; fair enough.

I do object to people like you selling her a story that she's the victim of a bloodthirsty lynch mob rather than someone who is reaping the just consequences of her actions. To her credit, she seems to be rejecting this narrative, but you keep trying to sell it, as well as trying to sell us on the idea that we should just shrug it off.

No, that doesn't do anybody a favor. And it doesn't do anybody a favor to say that we'll tolerate this because we're small and insignificant.

LentenStuffe said...


I'm simply using the parameters set by your diminished standards, and then holding you to them. I don't care whether Topazz approves my message or not, and that's not the reason I deliver it. I hope you are astute enough to understand this.

Your Blogmaster banned her, didn't he? And yet, he too is a plagiarist. So, ban him now too. Be consistent. But it is the assumption on your part that you are better than you are that forms the basis of my argument against you. You are no better than Topazz, because like her (and now Ender) you are a mediocrity who isn't above deceit. I hate to break it to you, John, but that's it.

If Topazz conversed with me I'd be the first to give her a verbal thrashing, but that's my form. I make no exceptions. I really only despise banality, small-mindedness and accursed mediocrity, which you display in lieu of the thoughts you'd actually like to have, and the things you'd like to create.

I'm telling you to embrace Topazz because she is you, your mirror image, your intellectual twin. Ender has just admitted as much over on BOTF.

So, I rest my case. Put down your noose now and repent, you savage.

Dawn Coyote said...

I like this model. It doesn't work with individuals who are unable to experience remorse for their actions (denny), but the process by which the guilty party is a) given the opportunity to hear what the impact of their actions has been on others in the community, b) to express remorse, and c) to undertake fair restitution determined by the community is one which supports cohesion and solidarity to a far greater degree than does vilification and exile.

I'd like to stress the point here that in this model, members of the community get an opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings to the person who's committed the transgression, without themselves being vilified for it.

In the absence of such stupidity, the process moves along, the transgressor feels remorse, the community feels satisfied, and no one gets executed at dawn.

JohnMcG said...


OK -- so is your position that plagiarism is bad, but we suck, so we have no right to point it out?

I guess I can't argue with you thinking I suck, but I guess you can undertand how from my perspective that argument isn't terribly persuasive.

Yes, we're all sinners. We all screw up. That doesn't mean that our response to every screw-up is to pretend it's not a screw-up.

dc --

That's fine with me. I think what's sticking in my craw about this is that I'm being asked (or expected) to lower my standards to accept plagiarism because topazz is such a swell person.

A solution in which we can affirm our rejection of plagiarism (or anti-Semitism or racism or what-have-you) without being excessive in punishment is fine with me.

Dawn Coyote said...

For topazz's punishment, I suggest that she be asked to make a list of those responses that have been most helpful to her.

LentenStuffe said...


In all my years teaching I've seldom met with a questioner who didn't already know the answer to his or her own question. Why the asking then, you might ask? A complex of reasons, I suspect, but usually they're more interesting than the original question itself.

My hunch, Topazz knew exactly what she was up to. But do you suppose "uppity bitch" had anything to do with the landslide? Anyway, her being catholic 'n all, I'm sure her punishment will have already been decided and will be meted out exclusively by herself.

Dawn Coyote said...

ZB: well, my suggestion was intended as indictment of her defenders as much as anything, but really - doesn't it seem a reasonable path to mending the rift? I mean, for all concerned?

Kind of like a performance review for the entire group. The categories could be: skillful action/unskillful action.

My "uppity bitch" comment was directed (jokingly) at bite. I was responding to the way her comment looked in the feed - without the line breaks, she seemed to be saying "fuck you very much Dawn" when in fact, that term of endearment was directed at Schad.

My assessment so far:

topazz is guilty of being lazy and reckless
Ender is guilty of not being evil enough
Schad is guilty of being Schad
TenaciousK is guilty of not taking sides
JohnMcG is guilty of being offended
LentenStuffe is guilty of being a long-winded contrarian asshole
bacon is guilty of being too Canadian
TQM is guilty of overstatement
rundeep is guilty of over-delivery
Gregor is guilty of self-contradiction
ghost is guilty of slipping the leash
I'm guilty of confessing only to my lesser sins

If I've missed anyone, please feel free to complete the list.

Dawn Coyote said...

In all seriousness: if we really care about this blog and our participation in it, we need to consider that what we do has to stand up to the scrutiny of the community in which it resides (not the Fray). Either we care, or we don't care.

LentenStuffe said...


Your assessment of yourself is all wrong -- you're most guilty of being easily swayed. I cannot speculate about your reasons, but I always see you as a little girl struggling to belong. You can be counted upon to say exactly what you feel will endear you most to those you most aspire to ape. This is why you reserve your worst assessment for me, because that's what will earn your maximum kudos from this bunch. At bottom though, you're just a groupie! One of the chorus voices in Greek Drama who came on to chant the dithyramb, but who is essentially just window dressing.

Is that succinct enough for you?

Dawn Coyote said...

ZB: I'm not a groupie. I'm a band aid.

And that wasn't an insult, really - you're a long-winded, sexy, adorable, contrarian asshole.

It was the long-winded part that really hurt, wasn't it?

LentenStuffe said...


No, 'twas the company you made me keep ... all them looking good and me looking like the regular old pisshead.

Oscar said...

Plagiarizing is nothing new to Topazz. She's done it before.

In light of her latest bit of thieving, no one can call that an amazing coincidence anymore.

TenaciousK said...

Oscar: The irony of having the representative from that pathetic little monument to odiousness you've erected come over here and lecture on propriety in a superior tone is, well, stunning. I do believe we have just reached a previously unsuspected level of banality.

So, scuttle along home, will ya'? You're a little late for the party anyway - even the bones have been picked clean. Tough break, that - having to leave hungry and all. Bummer. Still, peddle your bullshit somewhere else; we're all full up here.*

*Paraphrased Jack Nicholson.

rundeep said...

Curious whether any of you listened to the podcast on Slate, which points out the plagiarism by Edgar Allan Poe and Herman Melville in their great works. Evidently, it was quite common through the 19th century (though it finally acquired a patina of disapproval around that time). In context, I find that very interesting.

twiffer said...

hey rundeep. it also used to be common for american publishing houses to to simply publish an author's work without acknowledgment, payment or royalties. the title of dickens "american notes for general circulation" is a crack on this practice.