Saturday, September 13, 2014

Why Would Someone Plagiarize?

On Donna K. Weaver's blog here, Ms. Weaver made a very interesting comment that I have been wondering about myself. 

What makes someone with a Master's degree who has been an elementary school teacher for decades, do something equivalent to breaking into someone's house, and take something very precious to him or her, and claim it as her own?  Then, adding to that, deny that she's done anything wrong, and cast blame elsewhere?

In her comments, Ms. Weaver said "I wonder if she had any idea when she stole these what the impact would be on the real authors."  That is something that I have wondered and wondered myself. 

I thought about that for a while myself, and while I am no expert, these are my thoughts that I wrote in response to Ms. Weaver's comment:

-I've been wondering that myself. The whole situation from the first time I heard about it from Rachel is horrifyingly fascinating.

First of all, I doubt that [the plagiarist's] the kind of person who would break into someone's house and physically steal things. (Of course, I hesitate to say that. This woman sinks to new lows almost every time I log on.) Yet she seems to have no qualms about taking a person's very real intellectual property and trying to pass it off as her own.

She can't claim that she was ignorant or naïve. She is over forty, and has a Masters. She knew what she was doing.

Personally, I think what was going through her head, was that she wasn't hurting anyone. She thought she would not get caught, and the real authors wouldn't be hurt, because they'd never know. She probably thought the same thing about her young students. They were eight years old; they wouldn't be navigating the internet for many years, and certainly wouldn't be going to amazon and goodreads at least until they were teenagers. She probably thought that "borrowing" their names to boost the popularity of an erotic romance would not hurt them personally. (Again, her thoughts, not mine!) She was successful, for a short time, in stealing from Sgt. Weston. In her mind she probably justified it, because she took a small piece from him, and not the whole book. Then, I think, she got bold, and took pretty much the whole book from Rachel, thinking all the while, that Rachel's audience and her own audience are two completely different groups of people who would never overlap, and thus, she'd never get caught.

But then she did get caught.

She knew she was in trouble then, because if she'd been honestly mistaken, she wouldn't have gone to such effort to duck and dodge and hide, and throw blame this way and that, and shield herself with her army of sock puppets while weaving more and more elaborate lies.

I don't think she really comprehended when she started doing all this, how badly she would hurt people, but I think that it's only because she didn't let herself think about it. If she had sat herself down and forced herself to think about it, I think she would have understood that stealing someone's story (especially a terribly traumatizing true life story) and trying to pass it off as her own would hurt that person if he found out about it. But again, she fooled herself into believing that she'd never be caught.

So far, I haven't seen any remorse from her in any of her comments. All I've seen are vicious attacks, casting blame elsewhere, and firm denials. I can only hope that she can get to a point where [she] realizes that using her little students' names as sock puppets really was an extremely bad thing, that she sees Rachel Nunes and Sgt. Weston as real people who have been deeply hurt by what she's done, not faceless entities on the internet, and fully comprehend the very real damage that she's done.

I do not envy her. For her to make up for what she's done, she needs to face herself. And to fully face herself right now, with all that she's done, would be excruciating.-

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