Thursday, January 10, 2008
From past experience the stages for the author and publisher tend to go:
1) I didn't do anything wrong
2) It was only a little bit wrong
3) It was totally wrong but somehow it wasn't really my fault
Meanwhile the online observer goes through their own stages
As Chrisphoer Scalan said last year of the similar but less extensive Kaavya Viswanathan affair:
"It's not glee I feel about the hot water she finds herself in, but dismay. As a teacher, I'm not interested in piling on this teenage writer, but rather in using her experience as a cautionary tale for other writers, editors, teachers and publishers."
Cassie Edwards and Penguins may still be paddling around between #1 and #2 but I think it is time we hastened from #2 to #3.
Because there are two important qualities to effective punishment. One is to actually change the behavior of the transgressor. And I think blogs like Dear Author and Smart Bitches have not only an important but a necessary role not only in detecting transgressions like plagiarism, but absolutely insisting they be taken seriously.
The other is quality is what separates punishment from abuse, and that is that the person wielding the stick is not enjoying themselves.