Two days ago, a few of us took to task an OS member, nom de plume Johnny Fever, who blatantly plagiarized a Wall Street Journal editorial. This member copied the full piece, including its title, from the paid subscription website of the newspaper. For the inattentive reader, the blog post made it seem like it was written entirely by Johnny, and he certainly didn't add anything like quotes or italics to make it appear differently. The biggest sin, however, is that he didn't ask to get permission to use the work.
Before the post was taken down by Salon.com administrators, here's what Johnny had to say about it (initially taken before the post was removed):
"You guys are too much. This whole thing reminds me of the East Anglia email scandal. That was when emails were released to the public showing that climate data was falsified. The liberals, rather than focus on what that meant about the climate science, chose to attack the messenger for obtaining the emails illegally.
No difference here, I mean this is an Internet blog not some college term paper, who gives a fuck if I plagiarize? I'll answer that, liberals only care about proper citation of sources when those sources undercut your entire economic philosophy. As far as I'm concerned, the end justifies the means, as the next generation depends on this generation's ability to change course in November. If by cutting and pasting the article I got a few more reads than if I had only provided a link, then I'll do it again without remorse."
As we can see, this OS member has "no remorse" about cutting and pasting newspaper articles and making them his own for the "greater good" of the conservative movement. He's already done this several times; it's apparently his modus operandi. You can see another perfect example in his recent piece titled "ObamaCare in Reverse", which is also taken verbatim from the WSJ with the same title (note: it is in fact ObamaCare! Even WSJ journalists can make blunders; see my forthcoming post on this subject). Johnny didn't even bother to mention the WSJ in this one. I'm surprised this post still hasn't been removed.
Although Johnny claimed that he cut and pasted the article for the greater good, he didn't explain why he failed to give full attribution to the real author, Mr. William McGurn. Wouldn't this have been a nice gesture? Basically, his actions are not about ideas, but about self-aggrandizement. His plagiarism gives the readers a false impression of his knowledge and abilities. That's not fair. It's especially unfair to the real authors, who actually have the knowledge and abilities Johnny pretends are his.
What Johnny did is illustrative of some of the worst aspects of our culture: blaming others for one's own failings or deciding that "the rules don't apply to me". You'll note that the fault all comes down to those damned liberals, caring so much about copyright. In a subsequent post complaining about OS censorship, he still blames everyone else. He even takes shots at our own Kent Pitman for providing him information about fair use practices. (See here too for useful guidelines.)
In the end, who would have thought that Johnny Fever believed in socialism? Isn't it strange that this member is, to all intents and purposes, stealing from the rich so that poor readers who cannot afford a paid subscription to the Wall Street Journal can get free access to their opinion pieces and articles*? It's just too bad that Johnny doesn't have the courage to at least give the articles proper attribution, since he apparently can't manage to ask for permission to use them.
*See definitions of socialism according to the right:
From Please explain Socialism to an idiot (appropriate?)
"Socialism is like Robin Hood, steal from the rich and give to the poor. The problem is, in this country the rich actually work hard for their money and deserve it…"
From Robin Hood Socialism:
"Steal from the rich to give to the poor, is the creed of Robin Hood. It's a feel good tale of the heroic Robin Hood against the evil rich king, and by extension the rich altogether… …It is the It's Not Fair Complex because they have more than me, so somehow, I get to take what they have earned."
"...Socialism takes the hard work of achievers and gives it to those who do little work so every gets their “fair share.”"
I would like to thank several OS members for the numerous discussions we had here and outside OS.