Plagiarism, Aye

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As some may recall, a booklet that I cowrote with Steve Wilkins entitled Southern Slavery As It Was was at the center of quite a hubbub last February. What some may not realize is that Canon Press pulled the title from their inventory around the time of that controversy. This was not because we were at all embarrassed by the thesis of the booklet, but rather because someone had informed us that there were some real problems with the citations and footnotes. We pulled the booklet immediately, revised it, and it is now awaiting republication in its new and refurbished condition. I am posting this now because some of our local Banshees have got wind of all this and have raised the cry of Plagiarism (between intermittent sobs of outrage).

I have pasted below a couple of quotations. The first is from a footnote in the revised edition, which is forthcoming. I have deleted the gentleman’s name because I do not want to be one who associates him in any way with the caliber of discussion on the likes of Venom 20/20. The second quotation is from a letter of mine some months ago to interested third parties. The upshot is “sloppiness, yes, plagiarism, no.”

From the footnote:

“In fact, we would like to publicly thank Dr. _________________, a gracious Christian scholar (who differs with us enthusiastically), for alerting us to some grotesque mistakes in the footnoting of our first edition.”

From the letter:

“This was a competence issue, but I believe the problem was primarily in the area of editing and electronic transfers, etc. and not in the area of thinking that Lincoln did a lot of bad things to the Constitution. But whatever kind of problem it was, nostra maxima culpa, and it has been dealt with. My deep thanks to Dr. ___________________ for catching this.”

These quotations above are provided for those who are interested in reasonable explanations rendered by reasonable people.

But for those who are on heap big warpath, regardless of the facts, I do have a few rhetorical questions for them. First, if there is no such thing as fixed truth, what could possibly be the problem with plagiarism? I believe plagiarism is a sin, but of course, I believe there is such a thing as sin. Second, if there is a problem with plagiarism anyway, despite your ethical relativism, then are you willing to apply all your current rhetoric to the doctoral dissertation of Martin Luther King, Jr.? If not, then why not? Or perhaps is your outrage selective? Third, am I to feel honored because these charges are being made by Dr. Nick Gier, a man whose scholarship I have personally encountered? And last, rounding things out, do you really think that any of these current tactics are going to get me to back down? Do you not know that I have heeded the exhortations of Tom Petty?

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