Sunday, January 13, 2008

Subtlety, thy name is PBW.

Lynn Viehl has what I consider to be the final word on the subject of holding unpopular opinions* in the current Romancelandia climate.

There's a reason I aspire to her level of sanity.

*Which is not the same thing as supporting plagiarism, for those still determined to confuse the two issues.

SelahMarch.com - Romance of Dubious Virtue

22Comments:

Blogger Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

I'm just as astounded by those who would confuse holding a differing opinion with condoning plagiarism as I am astounded by the actual plagiarism and how deep the problem seems to be running.

I guess this is one of those cases where having absolutely no prior knowledge of the history has helped me—for me, I'm fascinated by the situation itself and utterly appalled by how willing so many writers seem to be to forgive plagiarism. Like, it's no big deal. And this is where I start wondering, is it an extreme of the Nice Girl behavior? The don't make waves and make excuses, any excuse will do, for the poor dear?

You know, of course, where I stand, pet—the plagiarism, wrong—it's fairly clear she didn't do a lot of her own work and she's profited for years. This makes me mad. And like the Hulk, you wouldn't like me when I'm mad. *g*

1/13/2008 7:03 PM  
Blogger Eva Gale said...

Damn, that whole post rocked. And I LOVE The Crucible.

Barb, I have not seen one writer condone what she did. Not one. And I don't think anyone's forgiven her? If there are people saying that-it may be in reaction to the fire she was put to. If people had come out of the gate a little more balanced, then there wouldn't be a 'poor Cassie' reaction, but a continuing of seeking justice. JM .02

1/13/2008 10:43 PM  
Blogger Night Diva Maria said...

Don't blame me, blame Toni Sue! LOL
She tagged me! So now I'm tagging you!
My blog you'll see, the rules that's due
Open up your chi and let it flow through you! :D

LOL if you can stand to visit my blog, I've tagged you!
Thanks for enduring! ;)

1/14/2008 3:17 AM  
Blogger Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

Eva, on some of my writers' loops I've literally seen posts that read, "Plagiarism aside..." and then go on to criticize the manner in which it was uncovered.

Now, obviously, I'm no advocate for ever making anyone a whipping boy/girl, but at this point, given the magnitude of what's been discovered, the manner in which it was revealed/uncovered matters so little to me as to be inconsequential. Every indication seems to be that this woman lifted material that is not her own, passed it off as her own, and profited from it. Not for one or two books, but for many. And as it appears now, not simply from reference books and scientific magazine articles, but possibly fiction as well (throwing that "I didn't know I was supposed to cite research" theory straight out the window). And that supposedly educated people are reacting with "plagiarism aside..." it just boggles, truly. This idea that the how of the revelation somehow diminishes its importance.

Feh.

Why yes, this idea of condoning plagiarism is making me a little cranky.

1/14/2008 7:56 AM  
Blogger Selah March said...

"Plagiarism aside?"

There IS no "plagiarism aside." Plagiarism is a hella big fucking deal.

But so is what PBW so eloquently called the "if you're not with us, you're against us" mindset that's begun to pervade the romance writing and reading community. Talk about stifling freedom of expression and the right to hold differing opinions. And such a great way to broaden the horizons of the genre. (That would be mere sarcasm again.)

Three separate issues.
Plagiarism = bad.
Unnecessary author bashing for shits and giggles = bad (which isn't the same thing as finding and reporting plagiarism).
Maligning people who call bloggers out on unnecessary author bashing = bad.

All three have a chilling effect on the discourse. All three make the community and the genre look like a large and colorful collection of asshats.

I know I said I was done with this topic, but "just when I thought I was out, they PULL me back in!" (Godfather III, Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola, 1990)

1/14/2008 8:23 AM  
Blogger Kate R said...

Biddy closed comments. I have nothing to say, of course, but that doesn't stop me.

It's sad-making. The latest SBTB discovery--that Edwards may have lifted from fellow fiction writers--makes it worse. That can't go under research any more.

I think probably if we're looking for blame (and aren't we always? Except PBW?) I wonder if there isn't some Edwards as a sweat shop worker thing going on here.

No really it's a theory: there are very, very, very few writers I know of who don't buckle under to to the "you have to write more and faster! You'll lose your audience!" push from editors, agents, whomever.

Ivory, Kinsale, those guys finish a book when they're ready. Do their careers suffer? Maybe, but maybe they're strong enough to say pppppffffff at the clamoring voices.

But I bet writers like Edwards are aware that there are always younger "fresher voices" nipping at the heels and that has to be scary.

Okay, maybe not Edwards since she's an institution.

But there's also the fact that Edwards is of my mother's generation, the people who weren't taught how to say no. The bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan women. Saying no is selfish. She'd be letting down her dear friends the editors and agents and her fans.

SO maybe, maybe she really does feel the pressure from outside.

Or maybe she's greedy and lazy.

But casting her in the same light as people I know who push themselves too hard because of some bizarre guilt, usually parental, has given me some sympathy for someone like Daily for whom I'd previously felt none.

My bullshitting along theory doesn't excuse plagiarism but it does make the plagiarist human again--too damned human.

1/14/2008 12:08 PM  
Blogger Kate R said...

PS. I did mention that I had nothing to say. I wasn't lying.

1/14/2008 12:11 PM  
Blogger Eva Gale said...

As far as the "Plagiarism Aside"-poor choice of words. Very poor.

And after reading that PBW closed comments because they're taking the burning torches to her blog now - I am officially SICK of this whole exchange. And sad to say- the bad taste in my mouth left from it is overwhelming the good.

1/14/2008 12:43 PM  
Anonymous azteclady said...

*raising hand*

I am the evil, evil meangirl who 'took the torches' to Ms Viehl's blog. I supposed I should have let the statement that she copied academic text into her novel Evermore go unchallenged.

Not sorry I didn't let it go, though. Not sorry I'm trying to educate readers on the difference between researching and plagiarizing.

Not sorry at all.

Have at it.

Ms March, you are obviusly free to allow this to post or not. No hard feelings from me, regardless.

1/14/2008 4:05 PM  
Blogger Selah March said...

As of now, I only delete spammers and anonymous filth. (And occasionally myself, when I can't get my fingers to work properly.)

Azteclady~ I understand you may have had the best of intentions in calling our attention to the accusations against Viehl. The irony of anyone attacking her immediately after she posted what she did -- the reference to HUAC's tactics of tarring folks with the communism brush if they merely refused to participate in the proceedings -- made many of us cringe. The very definition of a witch hunt.

I get the impression from your comment here that you were just the messenger in this instance, or trying to clear up what you felt was a misunderstanding?

In any event, the idea that any author who publicly expresses no opinion on this well-worn topic is giving "tacit approval" (see Dear Author) to plagiarism is yet another example of the witch hunt, "if you're not with us, you're against us" mentality. A good number of us are a little twitchy at the moment. We keep expecting somebody to draft the Romance Act, using the Patriot Act as a template.

No shit. That's just stooopid on a level I can't comprehend. And? It smacks of "Look at me, I can offend people too!" desperation.

None of which has much to do with Cassie Edwards and her regrettable, unprofessional, indefensible behavior. She's merely the catalyst that's brought these scary elements to light. Again. Some more. Like we needed reminding that even comparatively well-educated human beings cannot disagree with any level of civility.

Particularly where blog hits and fangirls are involved.

1/14/2008 6:28 PM  
Blogger FerfeLaBat said...

Ha!~ You are all Republicans now.
.
Like ... as in ... you know ... the build up to the war where people felt threatened if they spoke out against it?
.
Tables turned here it seems.
.
As to the Plagiarism and my own hand not picking up the pitchfork; There are battles you can fight and win and battles you will never win. You have to decide which kind of battle you are fighting. This time? This battle? I've been in the thick of at least two such fights over plagiarism before and my own personal experience is ... you can't win. Fine. Say it's wrong. It IS wrong. But it is so rare that someone stops it or wins a legal fight or even manages to get someone fired for it, that I classify it as a lost cause.
.
The concepts of common decency, ethics and respect for personal property completely escape all parties involved in this battle and I refuse to condemn one and give the other a free pass.

1/14/2008 6:49 PM  
Anonymous azteclady said...

My intentions through the entire mess: to educate my fellow readers as to what is / isn't plagiarism precisely to avoid witch hunts. As long as we are all agreed, of course, than in a witch hunt there is no factual evidence of guilt, right?

My intention in asking Ms Viehl to comment on that particular discussion: to make sure that the person who stated--and I'm gonna quote it here, 'cause my head damn near asplodes each time I read it--"I can't understaad how you cannot see the difference between background and detail and literary elements. Viehl's new book Evermore has a series of quotes by Michael explaining the time from which he came from and how castles were overtaken, that CLEARLY came from a history book without any attribution whatsoever. It sounded like a history book, but apparently she changed enough dots and adjectives to make it acceptable. Again the ideas are clearly not hers. She did not live during the time to know this unless she has overtaken a castle recently, it was in a history book somewhere. But what doese it matter? It's DETAIL. It's BACKGROUND." *retaking the thread* To make sure that this self proclaimed ex English teacher got word from the author herself that NO, there was no cut and paste there. That researching and plagiarizing are not interchangeable terms.

For anyone interested on the whole background before, you know, jumping to conclusions: you can find the quote in this post http://members2.boardhost.com/brockmann/msg/1200276620.html which is fairly down this thread http://members2.boardhost.com/brockmann/msg/1200152967.html

As I mentioned in Ms Viehl's blog, it is a scrolling board, so what is there now may not be in a week. Do with it all what you will.

1/14/2008 6:51 PM  
Blogger FerfeLaBat said...

" that CLEARLY came from a history book without any attribution whatsoever."

I know you don't like me so I hesitate to engage you like this but I would like to say this regarding that quote you posted. People who talk in absolutes like that, as if they know for a fact something is so, without any proof but what comes out of their ass ... if they are serious, they do not merrit an answer. Clearly they already know the "truth" and it has been my experience that any attempt to persuade them otherwise is an exercise in head banging futility.
.
Having said that, did you convince her? Inquiring minds want to know. If she backed off was it because you are a dragon lady and she fears your wrath or was it because she really believed Viel's response? Restore my faith that sanity returns.

1/14/2008 7:03 PM  
Blogger Selah March said...

Azteclady~ I appreciate your efforts to educate, and I'm pleased -- though no surprised -- that Viehl was able to vindicate herself with such ease.

But this blog has been getting hits all day from the search term "Lynn Viehl plagiarism."

So. You see how it goes? I'm sure some folks are just looking for Viehl's OPINION on the CE mess. But I have a feeling some other folks are interested in nailing authors, and the bigger, the better.

Not your fault. It was already out there, obviously, and you had good intentions. It's the general air of fear and mistrust that's causing this nutso behavior.

I've been getting emails from NY pubbed authors telling me they're afraid to speak up...to say, "hey, plagiarism sucks, but this gang-bang atmosphere on the reader/reviewer blogs is almost as bad."

Lynn nailed it with the HUAC reference, she really, really did.

1/14/2008 7:04 PM  
Blogger Selah March said...

Ferfe~ You should be writing actual fiction now.

So should I.

Go away and make me happy. I need another comfort read.

1/14/2008 7:05 PM  
Anonymous azteclady said...

Ms March, I certainly did not bring up Ms Viehl's name in the discussion in question--as you can see if you want to follow the links I gave. In point of fact--and this is again verifiable by checking my posts in that discussion--I defended Ms Viehl's research and writing before getting her own response.

I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll keep on saying it: education and open discussion-genteel or not--are the only ways of eliminate the fear your fellow authors speak of. In my not at all humble opinion, of course.

Dragon Lady? Gee. If anyone cares, follow the links.

1/14/2008 7:13 PM  
Blogger Selah March said...

I did follow the links, and I'm not sure where you got the impression I thought YOU brought up Viehl's name.

As I said...as YOU said...you were trying to educate the folks on that forum as to the difference between plagiarism and proper research prior to creating original text.

You seem determined to be offended. I GET IT. You were trying to defend her, not make the problem worse.

What I'M saying is that authors are paranoid, and with excellent reason, so it's damned hard to have a reasonable discussion.

Tell me this -- when people like Karen Scott constantly threaten authors with loss of sales if they speak up in disagreement, can you really blame them for avoiding confrontation? In my experience, the threats are empty, but not everyone is willing to take that risk.

And there's a difference between "genteel" behavior and simple human decency. Even I -- decidedly ungenteel, I'm sure you agree -- had enough of rolling around in that reeking pile of manure. I prefer my snark with at least a sprinkle of actual wit, and maybe a spoonful of real reviewing, versus author-bashing and ass-kissing on alternate days.

It's sad one someone formerly so interesting loses the plot and comes to rely on the cheap, easy shot every. single. time. But if that's the best she can do, I guess we have to give her some slack, right?

And karma? Works. Any minute now, I'm hoping.

Okay, I'm done. Post, don't post, I've got hungry children and a deadline looming. Have a good night.

1/14/2008 7:29 PM  
Anonymous azteclady said...

I am indubitably not expressing myself properly. My apologies.

My repetition that I didn't bring Ms Viehl into the fray was intended for those reading your blog who may not have followed the link trail.

Thank you for allowing me to have my say, such as it is.

1/14/2008 7:50 PM  
Blogger Kate R said...

I am NOT a republican. Hey, make ferfe take that back.

1/14/2008 10:28 PM  
Blogger Kate R said...

also, since you're paying attention to what leads people here and comments count let's get some new faces in here:

oral sex with ferrets fun
copulating with cold witches
give your favorite furry a full Brazilian
my ice cream scoop collection

1/14/2008 10:32 PM  
Blogger Selah March said...

Kate o' my heart, I didn't mean to ignore you.

1. I think you're right about the push to write more and faster possibly leading to badness. It doesn't excuse it, but it may help explain it.

2. Yes to the whole "our mothers' generation" thing. They also have trouble admitting fault, as if this makes them weak. Or mine does.

3. We're all too damn human to live. Or something.

4. Ferfe, take that back. Kate's not a Republican. I'm pretty sure. ;)

5. Hey, I can top that.

Felching for fascists.
Man-titty twisting for twinks.
Nude pix of Catherine the Great saving a cowboy.

Yeah. I'm toasty. 'Night all.

1/14/2008 10:41 PM  
Blogger FerfeLaBat said...

This is why I hate winter so.

1/14/2008 11:08 PM  

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