Tag Archive | "plagiarism"

Plagiarism and the RH Proxy War


After months of pompously brushing aside accusations of plagiarism, Senator Tito Sotto has finally been forced to take matters seriously. Of course, this was only after the daughter of his highest profile victim stepped forward to join the chorus of condemnation.

What Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the late Senator Robert Kennedy, found most appalling and “twisted” in Sotto’s sin, is that not only did he plagiarize one of the most famous speeches in the English language, he wielded the late statesman’s words to deny women reproductive rights.

Unsurprisingly, Sotto’s apology to the Kennedy family was quite visibly insincere. Instead of acknowledging any wrongdoing on his part, Sotto said he was sorry if the Kennedys were offended. This is a textbook non-apology and the kind of victim-blaming one would expect from an opponent of reproductive rights. Sotto also predictably lashed out at his critics—the academics and writers who filed an ethics complaint against him in the Senate. (Disclosure: I, personally and along with Filipino Freethinkers, Inc., am one of the signatories of the complaint.)

 

Sotto was quick to label the complainants as RH advocates and, indeed, most of us are advocates for reproductive rights. This should be expected, since Sotto’s series of plagiarized speeches were made against the RH Bill. It takes little imagination to see that the people most closely watching his arguments would be RH advocates. Listening to the other side is only the intellectually honest thing to do in a debate, something Senator Sotto might not be aware of.

Conservative Catholic groups were also quick to make the same connection to RH as Sotto did and rush to his aid. One of the first to formally defend Sotto against the complaint is Romulo Macalintal, who claims that the RH Bill has nothing to do with his defense of the Senator. You may remember him from the Manila Cathedral incident when his group, Pro-Life Philippines, accosted reproductive rights advocates and tried to exorcise non-existent demons from them. Macalintal is also one of the lawyers trying to pass off BUHAY Party-List as a marginalized group in order to be registered candidates for the 2013 elections.

Not to be outdone, no less than the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, the biggest opponents of reproductive rights in the Philippines, had several of its leaders come out to defend Sotto (and his anti-RH ally Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile). CBCP’s Father Melvin Castro said he admired Sotto’s “principles.” Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros dismissed the charges against Sotto as “trial by publicity.” Riding on their coattails is Filipinos for Life, which released a statement saying that they held Sotto “in the highest regard” and that the group was at his “disposal.”

While it makes sense that the complainants are mostly RH advocates (who were the first to notice the plagiarized passages), it does not follow that defenders of Sotto ought to be RH opponents. The content of our complaint of plagiarism has absolutely nothing to do with the merits of the RH bill. The evidence of plagiarism is incontrovertible, and to deny it is to reveal either unbelievable ignorance or unparalleled duplicity. That RH opponents almost exclusively rallied to defend an obvious and inexcusable transgression betrays their true intention of making Sotto’s plagiarism case a proxy war on the RH bill. In doing so, they are not defending a principle, rather, they are defending their anti-contraceptive club: a club that ostensibly uses any means necessary to achieve their ends, even if it is against their so-called principles. It is this same exact tribalist mentality that is used to justify the protection of rapists in the Catholic Church.

The narrative that the conservative Catholic establishment has always thrust upon the RH discussion is on morality—specifically, the medieval Catholic brand of ethics that they use to divine God’s apparent hate for contraception. It is quite curious, then, that they would casually ignore a clear ethical breach in order to pursue an anti-contraceptive agenda. It is not even that they believe that Sotto is innocent. Macalintal readily admits that Sotto used Robert Kennedy’s speech, shamelessly asserting that the late New York Senator would have been “proud” that Sotto used his words to shut down a bill that would provide women access to modern family planning.

This is moral expediency par excellence, which is particularly odd coming from these Catholic dogmatists. The Catholic ethical system specifically denies that morality can be seen in shades of gray. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, human acts are “either good or evil.” There is no in between. Their system has no room for the moral inconsistency practiced by those defending Sotto. Whether or not the consequences of their actions would bring about a Catholic ideal (which would be a ‘good’ consequence), if it is done with the ‘evil’ intention of lying, then it is still ‘evil.’ As the chief philosopher of the Church said, “An evil action cannot be justified by reference to a good intention.” By abandoning consistency in their absolutism and supporting the dishonesty of a public servant, these conservative Catholics have shown that not only is their ethical system out of step with the real world, even they don’t believe in it.

Image Credit: GMA 24 Oras

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Holding Sotto Accountable for Plagiarism is Not a Distraction


 

“Marunong pala managalog si Kennedy, ah!”

 

A common, probably the only mildly-reasonable, criticism of the public condemnation of Senator Tito Sotto’s pathological penchant for plagiarism is that it distracts from the issues—mainly the reproductive health bill. Sotto himself has taken this route to defend himself against the accusations, saying that his critics could not answer his unimpeachable points, so they’ve resorted to “cyber-bullying.” He challenged his opponents with an aphorism (which I’m sure he’d never claim to be original), to shoot the message, not the messenger.

Of course, if his intellectual honesty and credibility were irrelevant to the interests of the Filipino people, then his excuses would be valid. It is, however, not the case that calling Sotto out on plagiarism is an argumentum ad hominem fallacy.

Ad hominem or “to the man” argumentation is not fallacious if it is not taken to refute “the man’s” positions and if the subject is “the man’s” character itself. In the case of Sotto’s plagiarism, of course his intellectual dishonesty does not affect the credibility of his case against the RH Bill.

But, let’s first take Sotto’s claim on face value. Is it indeed true that nobody at all has even tried to rebut Sotto’s claims during his long-winded turno en contra speeches that spanned four parts? No.

On this website alone, we have exposed Sotto’s use of a non-peer-reviewed quack, Natasha Campbell-McBride, to claim that contraceptives are dangerous. We’ve shown that Sotto’s Texas sharpshooter-ed statistics themselves show even greater maternal mortality rates than the pro-RH camp’s “11 maternal deaths a day” claim. We’ve shown how Sotto quote-mined even his attributed literature to misinform the public regarding contraceptives. We’ve shown that the contraceptives Sotto’s wife supposedly took that killed their first-born son did not even exist when he said they did.

With that out of the way, we can tackle whether or not it is true that calling Sotto out on plagiarism distracts from the RH Bill.

Given the long years the RH Bill has been dragged on, there really are no new arguments for or against it. Well, Sotto’s introduction of anti-vaccination quacks to the mix was a breath of fresh air, but the core arguments are all stale and worn out: that contraceptives are not essential medicines, that contraceptives don’t even work, that contraceptives are poison, that contraceptives cause abortion, that poverty is not related to overpopulation, that the RH Bill is redundant, that the RH Bill removes freedom of choice, and that the RH Bill is against God.

Calling out Sotto on plagiarism is not a distraction from the RH Bill discussion because there’s no RH Bill discussion to distract from. The debates are over.

All that is left now is to vote on the RH Bill. The anti-RH camp claims they have the numbers, but they have repeatedly, successfully, and frustratingly delayed deliberations on the bill. These are not the actions of a confident majority bloc. These are the actions of cowards and dishonest politicians kowtowing to the Vatican-led Roman Catholic Church.

The issue of Sotto’s plagiarism is another matter entirely apart from the RH Bill. To that extent, I can agree. But it is not a distraction. Sotto’s unscrupulousness is in itself worthy of contempt, condemnation, and punishment.

Sotto plagiarized Sarah Pope, New York University, Marlon Ramirez, Feminists for Choice, The Truth of Contraceptives, and most recently, the late New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy. He then lied about doing so, in the case of Sarah Pope and in the case of Kennedy.

Greater men have been felled for less flagrant failures of integrity.

The Senate is supposed to be where the best of our society gathers to decide on the rules we all must live by. Our senators are styled “honorable” because that is what we expect them to be. What Sotto has done with his office as senator is not honorable by any stretch of the imagination. No less than the Senate President, Juan Ponce Enrile, defended the plagiarism of Sotto, his fellow anti-RH filibusterer. That the Senate has coddled this serial liar and plagiarist by failing to sanction him humiliates the entire institution and belies any such honor it claims to possess.

 

Image from Bandila’s stream of their Sotto interview

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Bad Father or Evil Politician: Did Sotto lie about his son’s death?


Despite his patent lies and his staff’s excuses, Sotto’s plagiarism  is now an established fact. They have even changed their defense to plagiarism being an acceptable practice for Senators. I’d first thought that Sotto was alone in his stupidity, but it appears even Sen. Santiago thinks the Senate is exempted from academic standards of honesty.

But all this talk about plagiarism has overshadowed the most controversial part of Sotto’s recent speech: his claim that oral contraceptives killed his son. Some critics have hesitated to attack this claim, and those who haven’t, such as former health secretary Esperanza Cabral and Rep. Janet Garin, have taken flack for even entertaining the idea that Sotto would lie about something as serious as his own son’s death.

But since Sotto, a public official, has entered his personal tragedy into public record, it is fair game to consider the possibility that Sotto is lying. And I believe this is precisely what he did. Sotto is lying about the death of his son to further his fight against the RH Bill. Many of his statements and actions — these past weeks and even during his entire career — point to this conclusion.

1. Sotto lied about the pill his wife was on.

Sotto said his wife was taking Diane in 1975. Diane was introduced in 1978. This is the kind of detail you never forget. Rather than an honest mistake, he is probably lying.

Back in high school I got contact dermatitis (eczema). Today, almost two decades later, I still remember the name of the ointment I was prescribed by my dermatologist: dermovate. It came in a small green tube, and you could also get it in a more expensive cream version.

Sure, Sotto’s tragedy happened much earlier. But all I got was a bad summer; his son died. You’d think that such tragedies etch every minor detail into memory, especially the name of his son’s killer. Could Sotto have forgetten this? I don’t think so.

2. Sotto lied about his medical sources.

The first time Sotto defended himself from plagiarism allegations, he denied it. He asked, “Why should I quote a blogger?” He explained that he and Sarah Pope were reading the same author, and that’s who he’s citing. This defense was echoed by his chief-of-staff, Atty. Hector Villacorta.

Again, Sotto and Villacorta were lying. They have already admitted to not even having a copy of the book, using Pope’s blog to indirectly (but incorrectly) cite McBride.

Yet even if Sotto had a copy of McBride’s book somewhere, it couldn’t have been his source for long because Gut and Psychology Syndrome was first published in 2004. Sotto’s other source, The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed On Women — a source he misrepresents just as much as Sarah’s post — was first published in 2003.

So as far as we know, all those years blaming contraception for his son’s death was because of his physician, Dr. Carmen Envarga-Santos, who has passed away and can no longer confirm or deny Sotto’s claim.

Thankfully, her family is still around and has said that if Dr. Envarga-Santos were alive, she would be pro-RH. And I don’t doubt that she’d be furious that Sotto is using her reputation to argue against contraception.

3. Sotto hasn’t attacked his son’s killer for almost 4 decades.

Sotto learned 37 years ago that oral contraceptives killed his son. Let’s assume for the sake of discussion that his wife was on the pill (some pill that actually existed back then) and that he was really told that the pill killed his son by his doctor (who was pro-RH but rather incompetent, at least in this story). If that were true, Sotto has done nothing for almost 4 decades to fight his son’s killer.

And it’s not like he didn’t have the opportunity. He was already a TV host in 1975. He could have used his celebrity status to raise awareness about the dangers of oral contraception. But he didn’t.

He became vice mayor of Quezon City in 1988. He could’ve restricted access to oral contraception (the way it was done in Manila). But he didn’t.

He became senator in 1992. He could’ve proposed a bill to ban oral contraceptives (or at least add “birth defects of future children” to the list of complications found in every box of pills). But he didn’t.

He led the Dangerous Drugs board in 2008, and he could’ve included oral contraceptives on that list. But he didn’t.

What kind of man is Tito Sotto?

Sotto has done nothing for 37 years, waiting for the very moment the RH Bill is on the verge of passing, to reveal one of the most damaging details about oral contraceptives that even those on the anti-RH side has failed to discover. The way I see it we can interpret this in one of two ways:

Either Sotto is a bad father, who has realized just now that he owes it to his son, his family, and his constituents to reveal the truth about his son’s killer so that they could avoid a similar fate.

Or Sotto is an evil politician, willing to do anything to block the RH bill, which includes plagiarizing and twisting the words of writers, tarnishing the reputation of physicians who can’t defend themselves, and lying about the death of his own son.

Whatever Sotto is — a bad father or an evil politician — he does not deserve to be a senator.

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Senator Tito Sotto: Dishonest, Deceptive, and Intellectually Lazy (Part 1)


According to one of the greatest senators of our republic, the “Filipino people are worth dying for”, aren’t they worth properly citing, reliably researching, and thoroughly analysing for?

Introduction

Senator Tito Sotto, his staff, and his fans club should not confuse his other profession as an actor with his being a senator. Sotto, as an actor, is not responsible for what he is saying or even doing when he plays a character in a film, sitcom, or teleserye. If Sotto plays the character of a dishonest, deceptive, and intellectually lazy senator in a film, only those who cannot tell the difference between fact and fiction will seek to either correct or condemn him. But when Sotto delivered his turno en contra speech, he is not playing the character role of a senator: He is Senator Tito Sotto, a public servant of the Republic of the Philippines, and his speech writer/researchers are not scriptwriters. All of them are paid by the Filipino people not to entertain but to provide the highest standard of public service. If Sotto’s listeners find out that he is dishonest, deceptive, and intellectually lazy, they have all the right to point it out; they are, after all, not paying him to be that kind of senator. Even if he is presenting an argument that we don’t agree with, he still has to deliver those arguments with the highest standard of research and reading comprehension.

After his first speech, it was found out that he plagiarized – not just once but several times in the same speech. To be fair, Sotto is not the only one in world history that has committed this lapse in judgment. In 1991, the New York Times reported that after a thorough investigation of the committee formed by Boston University, it was verified that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “plagiarized passages in his dissertation for a doctoral degree.”  Although they didn’t ask for the revocation of Rev. King’s doctoral degree, the committee recommended “that a letter stating its finding be placed with the official copy of Dr. King’s dissertation in the university’s library.” This demonstrates that plagiarism, even if committed by a Nobel Laureate or a world hero, is still plagiarism.

Plagiarism does not automatically diminish the value of your arguments. What it does is tarnish your character and betrays your thinking style: Are plagiarists thoughtful thinkers or are they ungrateful parrots who only repeat what they have heard and read?  In Writing with Sources: A Guide for Students, a guide developed for Harvard University’s Expository Writing Program, Gordon Harvey defines plagiarism as “the act of passing off information, ideas, or words of another as your own, by failing to acknowledge their source-an act of lying, cheating, and stealing.” Sotto claimed that he graduated from “the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.” If so, then he must be aware of the strict rules against plagiarism of his alma mater, as stated in the Harvard Guide to Using Sources. Harvard Guide provides two reasons why their students should properly cite their sources:

 First, citing sources allows scholars to give credit to other scholars for their hard work and their ideas. Second, by citing sources, scholars provide a roadmap for readers who are interested in learning more about a topic and joining the ongoing conversation about that topic. (emphasis mine)

The first reason is about basic respect and humility. It takes so much time and energy to think, research, and craft a thoughtful argument. Using someone else’s hard work as your source is of course allowed, that’s just how knowledge develops. Even if your source is a blog, you have to properly cite it. All citations styles – such as MLA, APA, and Chicago – agree that blogs, even blog comments, should be properly cited. Even if you are citing a citation made in another person’s work, you still have to inform your listeners about it. With Sotto’s Harvard education, as well as his staffs’ educational attainment, there is no way they don’t know this. Moreover, there are a lot of free resources online that can guide them how to cite properly. One website even does the citing for you (see: EasyBib.com)! And no, this is not just about complying with the legal rules of copyright as what Atty. Hector Villacorta, the chief of staff of Sen. Sotto, would like to make it appear. This is just plain gratitude and honesty. Citing your sources is respecting the hard work of the author/s of your sources. With this respect comes the humility to accept that your ideas are not original, they came from other people. And with humility, comes gratitude, or in our culture, “utang na loob.” Respect, humility, honesty, and gratitude are values prior to legal ones.

Harvard Guide’s second reason points us to something more practical. Citing your sources allows your listeners to know the richer context of your arguments. Thoughtful speakers and writer make thoughtful listeners and readers – but they cannot be thoughtful listeners and readers if they cannot thoroughly examine the content and context of your arguments. You cannot just tell your listeners or readers that this is the truth; they need to know the basis of your truth-claims so they can decide for themselves whether or not your arguments are persuasive enough. This point is wonderfully summed up by Charles Lipson in Cite Right: A Quick Guide to Citation Styles – MLA, APA, Chicago, the Sciences, Professions, and More. Besides upholding important social values, properly citing your sources “show[s] readers the materials on which you base your analysis, your narrative, your conclusions…[and] guide readers to the materials you have used so they can examine it for themselves. Their interest might be to confirm your work, to challenge it, or simply to explore it further.” How can the Filipino people verify the veracity of Sotto’s arguments if he doesn’t properly cite them? But in fairness to Sotto, he did cite some of his sources, allowing us to look more deeply into his arguments.

In this article, we will analyze whether one of the sources Sotto mentioned in Part 2 of his turno en contra speech actually supports his claims. I am referring to Barbara Seaman’s The Greatest Experiement Performed on Women, Exploding the Estrogen Myth. It is one of the evidences he presented to support his claim that contraceptive pills have bad effects to children born of mothers using them (“…mga pag-aaral na makakapagpatunay na mayroong masamang epekto ang contraceptives sa kalusugan ng mga bata na pinanganak ng mga ina na gumagamit ng contraceptives”).

The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women, Exploding the Estrogen Myth

This is exactly how Sotto used  Barbara Seaman’s book:

In the book entitled ‘The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women, Exploding the Estrogen Myth’ by Barbara Seaman, it was stated that those who take pills but still got pregnant have more abnormal children and lower I.Q. (Hindi naman po siguro kelangan pa na maging doctor ang isang tao para lamang malaman ang maaaring maging kumplikasyon ng pag-gamit ng pills ngunit nagbuntis pa din di ba?).

This is actually an iteration of the statement Sotto made in the media when former Department of Health Secretary Dr. Esperanza Cabral challenged the claim he made in the Part 1 of his turno en contra speech that his first son died because his wife Helen Gamboa used contraceptive pills. Sotto said:

Based on [s]tudies yes those on pills who got pregnant have more abnormal children and lower IQ. From the book ‘Greatest experiment ever performed on women’ by Barbara Seaman. Tell them to read it. [It’s] available on line or order from amazon.com.

In order for us to determine whether Seaman’s book supports Sotto’s claims, we have to answer several questions:

  1. What is the book about?
  2. Who is Barbara Seaman?
  3. What is the exact quotation from Seaman’s book?
  4. What is the context of the passage?

We will answer 1 and 2 in this article, while 3 and 4 will be explored in Part 2.

What is the book about? Who is Barbara Seaman?

In a eulogy in The New York Times, Barbara Seaman (1935-2008) is described as “a writer and patients’ rights advocate who was one of the first people to bring the issue of women’s reproductive health to wide public attention.” She is one of the founders of National Women’s Health Network (NWHN). According to their website, NWHN “aspires to a health care system that is guided by social justice, in which all women have access to excellent health care that meets [the diverse needs of women].” Their goals include the following:

(1)    “…ensure that every woman can make her own decisions about her reproductive and sexual health;”

(2)    “…advocates for comprehensive, accessible contraceptive and abortion care, accurate information about sexuality and reproduction, and tools women can use to protect against HIV and sexually transmitted infection;”

(3)    “…promote access to safe and effective reproductive health products and services, with complete information and without ideological restrictions;” and

(4)    “…ensure that women have complete and accurate information about products and services marketed to them, and strengthens public protections against such threats.”

Given Seaman’s political position, how on earth Sotto – or whoever is responsible for his speech – used Seaman’s work to aid his arguments is baffling.  But let’s still give Sotto (and his speech writer/researcher) the benefit of the doubt…

What brought Seaman to fame (or notoriety) is her 1969 book The Doctor’s Case Against the Pill, which exposed the risks of high-dose estrogen birth control pills. In the foreword of the 25th Anniversary Edition of the book (1995), Claudia Dreifus writes how The Doctor’s Case led to a US Senate hearing about the concerns raised by Seaman: “The result [of the hearing] was a mandate that patient package inserts be included in all birth control pill packages.” According to NWHN’s profile of Seaman, this was the “first on any prescription drug,” leading the way for other prescription drugs to have their own package inserts that will inform people of their potential risks and adverse effects. Sotto could have used The Doctor’s Case as his textual support for his arguments, but we all know he didn’t. Instead, he used Seaman’s The Greatest Experiment. But using The Doctor’s Case wouldn’t also benefit Sotto because the facts and circumstances in that book are radically different from what we have today; and these radical changes are actually caused by Seaman’s exposition in the The Doctor’s Case.  However, The Greatest Experiment is a more bewildering and unfortunate choice of textual support for Sotto. And here’s why…

Published in 2003, The Greatest Experiment is a continuation of Seaman’s investigation on synthetic sex hormones. The Doctor’s Case, Seaman focuses on contraceptive pills taken by women who would like to prevent pregnancy while The Greatest Experiment is about hormone replacement therapy pills taken by women who would like to arrest the effects of menopause.  The Greatest Experiment exposes the risks of hormones being given to women going through their menopause. Nonetheless, even though Seaman is aware of those risks, she didn’t go on advocating for women not to use them at all. She is calling for greater caution in the use of estrogen products and for people to be more informed about them. This she expressed in the introduction of her book. After giving a background story about the meaning of the title of her book, Seaman writes, “estrogen products won’t go away, and they shouldn’t. One can only wish, as I do, that they will be used now with caution, based on evidence and facts, not illusion. My aim is to consider whether hormone supplements are necessary and for whom. Specifically, I hope this book will help women navigate the estrogen issue…But the larger hope is that we can make informed decisions about other drugs as well.”

More importantly,The Greatest Experiment is a fatal choice of textual support for Sotto because in Chapter 10, Seaman reproduced the leaflet FDA Commissioner Dr. Charles Edwards presented during the US Senate hearing about the concerns raised by Seaman in The Doctor’s Case. Seaman praised that leaflet calling “the wording [of the leaflet] helpful and clear,” but she lamented that “it was derailed, in a scandalous manner, by that unholy trio of organized medicine, drug manufacturers, and extremist population controllers.” And here’s what we can find in the leaflet Seaman praised:

All of the oral contraceptive pills are highly effective for preventing pregnancy when taken according to the approved directions. Your doctor has taken your medical history and has given you a careful physical examination. He has discussed with you the risks of oral contraceptives and has decided that you can take this drug safely.

If The Greatest Experiment is to be used at all in the RH Bill debate, the position that this book can support is not whether or not contraceptive pills should be used but whether or not the RH Bill has provisions to: 1) examine the medical history and give a careful physical examination of women before they are given the pill; 2) determine the responsibility of the government for those who will experience adverse reactions to contraceptive pills; and 3) If 1 & 2 are not present in the RH Bill, shouldn’t we include them there?

(In this article, I’m using the ePub version of Barbara Seaman’s The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women, Exploding the Estrogen Myth being sold at www.kobobooks.com)

In Part 2, we will examine how Sotto used The Greatest Experiment to support his claims, and see whether he is right in doing so.

 

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Timeline of Senator Sotto’s Plagiarism (Updated September 7)


Quickly unfolding after one of our authors, Alfredo R. Melgar, exposed Senator Tito Sotto’s unattributed word-for-word lifting of significant segments of a piece written by Sarah Pope, has been the public excoriation of the Senator for plagiarism. Pope’s blog, The Healthy Home Economist, was used by Senator Sotto to oppose public funding of oral contraceptive pills in the first part of his turno en contra speech against the Reproductive Health Bill. The Senator and his staff still contends, however, that if they used her blog at all, it was only in the citation of Pope’s own attributed source, a certain Natasha Campbell-McBride (whose medical opinion is, on its own, highly suspect).

The following is a timeline (a web log, if you will) of the events on Sotto’s apparent plagiarism. It will be periodically updated for further developments on the matter.

Updated as of September 7, 7:20 AM (added the confirmation of Feminists for Choice blogger of Sotto’s plagiarism)

“Bakit ko naman iko-quote yung blogger? Blogger lang ‘yon.”

 

August 13, 2012

Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” C. Sotto III delivers the first part of his turno en contra speech on the floor of the Philippine Senate against Senate Bill 2865, the Reproductive Health Bill. In his speech, he makes several claims regarding the relationship of the bill with abortion, an act the bill acknowledges to be illegal. He makes further claims that contraceptives, such as the oral contraceptive pill, have severe side effects. He supports these claims by citing a Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. He reveals that his son, who died over 30 years ago at the age of five months, died due to his wife’s use of contraceptives.

 

August 15, 2012

Filipino Freethinkers publishes a piece by Alfredo R. Melgar, who points out that several stretches of Sotto’s August 13 speech were lifted “almost word-for-word” from the blog of a certain Sarah Pope, who writes as “The Healthy Home Economist.” Melgar further points out Pope’s views on medicine, such as a thoroughly-debunked link between vaccines and autism.

Senator Sotto delivers the second part of his turno en contra speech, in which he accuses former Department of Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral and Iloilo Representative Janet Garin of being callous for questioning his claim that his son died due to contraceptive use by Sotto’s wife. Sotto, who is backed by the Roman Catholic Church represented by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, also purports to expose the identities and motives of foreign organizations lobbying for the RH Bill.

 

August 16, 2012

Senator Sotto appears on Headstart on the ABS-CBN News Channel with Karen Davila. He states that he opposes the RH Bill because, if it is made into law, it removes the freedom of choice from mayors and governors for denying their constituents access to contraceptives, should they choose to. He warns, “Do not remove their freedom of choice.”

Sotto denies the allegation of plagiarism, saying, “Bakit ko naman iko-quote yung blogger? Blogger lang ‘yon. Ang kino-quote ko si Natasha Campbell-McBride.” (Why would I quote a blogger? That’s only a blogger. I was quoting Natasha Campbell-McBride.) Karen Davila asks him whether his speech writing staff looks at blogs and Sotto says, “We don’t.” When Davila presses him further asking, “Not at all?” Sotto responds, “No.” He further reveals, “When I prepare my speeches, I prepare it with them. We talk about it. We sit down and discuss what we need to say.” Sotto questions his accusers’ capacity to refute his claims saying, “They attack me kasi nauubusan sila ng sagot.” (Because they run out of answers.)

Sarah Pope, author of the passages that Melgar had shown to have been lifted word-for-word, posts on her Facebook account that she was indeed plagiarized, saying, “A Senator in the Philippines plagiarized one of my blog posts to use in a speech. Can’t even believe this!!!”

Sarah Pope writes about the experience of being plagiarized by a sitting Philippine Senator. She echoes the accusations put forward against Sotto, “It seems one of [the Filipino people’s] esteemed Senators, Tito Sotto, plagiarized a blog post I wrote on February 23, 2011 entitled How The Pill Can Harm Your Future Child’s Health, lifting entire sections of the article basically word for word that were delivered in a speech to the Senate floor regarding the possible passage of the highly controversial Reproductive Health Bill.” She also noted Sotto’s denial of the charge. She is unconvinced, however, saying, “A thief is a thief, Mr. Senator. Denying it doesn’t get you off the hook; it just makes you a lying thief.”

Pope goes on to lament the manner of use of her writings by Sotto, “Women of the Philippines: I am terribly sorry my blog was used and twisted against you.” Furthermore, she notes that she does not support the way her work was used by the Senator, “While I want you to know that this choice has health consequences as does the decision to use any pharmaceutical drug, I in no way would ever condone taking this choice away from you!”

On Pope’s article, a person named “lezel” who claims to be writing in the name of Senator Sotto’s Chief of Staff, Atty. Hector A. Villacorta comments. However, despite media reports of admission by Sotto’s camp to plagiarism, Villacorta’s words reveal no such confession, “Let me say that after asking my staff, indeed your blog was used but only in quoting also from the same book of Dr. Campbell-McBride. We are both indebted to the book’s author but if you wish that you also be credited with the contents of the book, let this be your affirmation. I can do it and by this message, I am doing it.” [Emphasis and proper capitalization mine.]

Regarding Pope’s accusations of plagiarism, Villacorta asserts the innocence of Sotto, “What have we done to deserve your incriminating words? The Senator did not lift it himself, we did. Did you want us to tell him to admit what he did not do? Who would you like to crucify for this oversight?” [Proper punctuation and capitalization mine.]

Villacorta then ostensibly asks for pardon, “Forgive us our single trespass. We had no malice, we thought you would be happy about it. There was no injury. Hope this makes you feel better.” [Again, proper capitalization mine.]

Pope responds to Villacorta, “I don’t like the fact that my blog was used without my permission against the education of the women of the Philippines and their reproductive rights.” She does not accept Villacorta’s claim that the Senator was innocent saying, “If his staff did it, he condoned it. He is responsible for your actions.”

Directly contradicting Sotto’s claims since his appearance on ANC, Pope maintains, “My Blog was quoted, not Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. I put her work in my words and you copied my words.” She also appears not to have appreciated Villacorta’s appeasement, “No, your lame comment does not make me “feel” any better.”

The account under the name “lezel,” through which Villacorta’s message was relayed, later responds to Pope, “A blog is meant to be shared and we shared it.” [Proper capitalization mine.]

ABS-CBN News confirms that the message was indeed the words of Villacorta. The author’s identity as Sotto’s Chief of Staff was also reaffirmed to Rappler. Later research turns up that this lezel appears to be a certain Lezel De Villa, who posted the same message from Villacorta on her Facebook account.

Investigative journalist Raissa Robles reports that, upon being informed by several commenters, it also appears that, for his second turno en contra speech, Sotto also had word-for-word plagiarisms from at least 4 sources, including several blogs (contradicting Sotto’s claim to not using blogs at all): The Margaret Sanger Papers Project of New York University, Marlon C. Ramirez’s Talking Sense, FeministsforChoice.com, and TheTruthofContraceptives.blogspot.com.

 

August 17

In an interview with Rappler, Sotto Chief of Staff Hector Villacorta maintains that Sotto has nothing to apologize for because, “He can’t apologize for something he did not know.” Rappler reports, that Villacorta, as Chief of Staff, takes responsibility for the scandal.

Villacorta says that they committed the error “in good faith,” despite repeating the same error on four other sources. He also says that it was “inelegant” to have quoted a blog. Despite having a law degree, Villacorta also adds that blogs are “part of public domain.” It should be noted that Sarah Pope’s blog, The Healthy Home Economist, is copyrighted and not in the public domain, given the statement below each of her articles showing that the rights to the content of her site are under Austus Foods LLC.

Villacorta further denies that they plagiarized the sources revealed by Raissa Robles, “I doubt it’s word for word because we’ve been going over and meeting about this research for months. It’s the product of our minds.” This doubt should be sorely tested by Robles’ highlighting of the said word-for-word copies on her article.

In another interview, one with GMA News Online, Villacorta further submits his opinion, “You have a blog, it is meant to be shared, it’s in the public domain, so it’s not plagiarism.”

Villacorta also reveals that it was actually him commenting under the name “lezel,” using a staff member’s account.

It appears that Villacorta understands plagiarism as copyright violation, saying, “Hindi naman copyrighted ang blogs kasi.” (Blogs are not copyrighted.) It is important to point out that plagiarism is not necessarily copyright infringement. Rather, it is taking someone’s work and presenting it as your own.

GMA News Online’s own coverage of the matter reveals that even a misplaced comma in Pope’s article (“According, to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD…”) is also present in Sotto’s published text of the first part of his turno en contra speech.

International news agency, the Associated Press, picks up on the Sotto plagiarism scandal, distributing it to various other news desks all over the world.

Apparently taking responsibility for any scandal, Sotto finally comments on the matter to GMA Network’s 24 Oras as reported by ABS-CBN News, “Whatever it is, the buck stops with me. I’m the senator.”

ABS-CBN Show Bandila, also hosted by Karen Davila, reports further on the scandal. They interview Villacorta who says, “What law did we violate? Only [Sarah Pope’s] sensitivity was affected.”

Pope on ANC’s The World Tonight, subsequently re-aired on Bandila, advices Sotto’s camp that they should have acknowledged that they “made a mistake” and that “proper credit should have been given for this information that was taken illegally from [Pope’s] blog.” She says that they should have said, “We’re sorry and can we move on?”

 

August 18

ABS-CBN News reports further that on Pope’s appearance on The World Tonight, she accused Sotto of “acting as though he’s above the law… to get his agenda through the Philippine legislature.” She continues, “That’s just wrong, that’s very poor behavior.” She later calls on Filipinos to “think about this when they go to the election booths when he’s up for reelection.”

Commenting on Villacorta’s supposed apology, Pope calls it a “ridiculous insulting rude comment” and that it “should be an embarassment to his office.” She demands an apology from the senator himself, “[I]f he, Senator Sotto writes a sincere letter of apology saying ‘this was a mistake, we apologize,’ I would post that on my blog.” Then, she would “consider this issue done.”

 

August 19

The Philippine Star reports Sotto announcing that he will postpone the closing of his turno en contra speech in order to defend himself on Wednesday against the public outcry against plagiarism in his speeches. He blames RH advocates, “It’s their fault. I am ready to close my turno but now I will postpone this for my privilege speech.”

He maintains his same defense, despite using verbatim Pope’s and several other sources’ exact words without attribution, saying that Pope was not “the author of the book,” referring to the writings of Natasha Campbell-McBride. He goes on to admit that he also “did not mention several other people’s names.”

Refusing to apologize to Pope and his other unattributed sources, Sotto again lashes out at RH advocates, “This is clearly a wrecking job.” He states his own view on the matter of plagiarism, “Plagiarism, whether you give attribution or not, applies only if you contend that the contents are yours.”

Bukluran UP System, the alliance of student organizations across the University of the Philippines (UP) system of campuses, calls on Senator Sotto to resign over the plagiarism scandal. The group’s National Spokesperson, UP Manila University Student Council Chair Jason Alacapa, says that Sotto’s resignation would be the “dignified thing to do.”

The group cited the resignations of Hungarian President Pal Schmitt and German prime minister prospect Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg over plagiarism as precedents for such an action. Recalling Sotto’s own dismissal of the stature of Sarah Pope as a blogger, the group’s Deg Daupan says, “…kung blogger lang iyon, senator lang si Sotto. Itong mga nag-resign sa ibang bansa, presidente at prime minister-to-be.” (If that was just a blogger, Sotto is just a senator. Those who resigned in other countries were a president and a prime minister-to-be.)

Noting a predictability of the plagiarism scandal, Topher Porras, Secretary-General of the RH AGENDA UP student organization, “This plagiarism case is not surprising. The anti-RH camp has been misinforming the public through lies and superstitions from the very start.”

 

August 20

The Philippine Daily Inquirer publishes an editorial, calling the scandal “so comical” and “so ridiculous” that they “invite disbelief.” Entitled, “‘Iskul Bukol’ in the Senate,” the editorial refers to Sotto’s stint in a comedy television show about students and their mischief. In addition to plagiarism, the editorial points out that Sotto used “dubious or at least ambiguous research” and “emotional blackmail” to stop the Reproductive Health Bill from passing. The editorial calls this “the real joke.”

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Sotto’s partner as the staunchest opponents of the RH Bill in the Senate, comes out to defend Sotto, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reports, against accusations of plagiarism. On Sotto’s word-for-word copying of several sources, Enrile says, “He did not deny that the speech was a product of research. Meaning, there was attribution.” He goes on to say, “Is there an idea in this world that was not copied from others?” On using copyrighted material, Enrile declares, “Once you release an idea to the public, unless you copyright it, it can be used.” As reported earlier on this piece, Sarah Pope’s content is copyrighted under Austus Foods LLC.

 

August 21

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports that Senator Pia Cayetano, co-author of the Senate version of the RH Bill, was “blasted” by “netizens” for “the same offense” of plagiarism as Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto.

It was pointed out that two of Cayetano’s privilege speeches also contained word-for-word copies from sources apparently unattributed. These two speeches were “Privilege speech on the status of the Philippines in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)” and “On World Environment Day.”

However, upon being informed of the lack of attribution, the office of Cayetano immediately added the necessary references. On Twitter, Cayetano responded to the accusations, “If at any time, I fail to attribute, I immediately make the necessary corrections and amends.” She continues, “Citing authors and sources is part of the writing process I am happy to do because it shows the depth of research done.”

In contrast, Sotto’s immediate response after facing the initial charges of the scandal was to deny even using blogs at all. His camp has still failed to acknowledge Sarah Pope and the (at least four) other unattributed sources as references in his speech.

It should be noted that these statements by Cayetano were all readily available on Twitter. Despite the Inquirer mentioning an attempt to “get a comment from Cayetano,” the paper’s piece has no mention at all of any of these responses from Cayetano.

 

August 22

Sotto’s camp admits to not reading Campbell-McBride’s work at all, according to ABS-CBN News. Upon trying to access her writings, Sotto’s office apparently could not get a copy of her book off the Internet. Believing instead that Pope’s work was an accurate depiction of her work, they decided to use her words. Sotto Chief of Staff declares, “Researchers tried clicking the book but ayaw mag-download.” (It wouldn’t download.) “Kaya ang pinakamaganda, refer to blog dahil baka accurate naman,” (That’s why the next best thing was to refer to the blog because it might be accurate.) Villacorta went on to explain.

This defense completely contradicts Sotto’s initial claim that he was quoting Campbell-McBride and not Sarah Pope, who he believes is just a blogger.

 

August 23

Sotto Chief of Staff Hector Villacorta says, in a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, that “copying is a common practice” in the Senate. Citing that bills are usually refiled by other legislators without much revision or attribution to previous authors, Villacorta rationalizes, “Re-filing is an accepted practice. It is also called copying.” He goes on, “We plagiarized the US Constitution… but do they call us a plagiaristic country? No, because the law is based on precedent.” He said these in response to accusations that his office plagiarized not a bill or a legal document with boilerplate wording, but a personal privilege speech delivered in the name of Senator Sotto.

Further justifying his office’s actions, Villacorta calls upon his religious opinion, “Even our image was copied from God. We are all plagiarists.”

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, co-author of the RH Bill in the Senate, excused the plagiarism, saying, “Maybe the speech just writer overlooked it… we should give more leeway to senators as long as later on they admit that they took it from some other source…” It should be pointed out that while Cayetano immediately placed citations on the speeches found to not have them, Sotto’s camp has still refused to officially acknowledge the several bloggers whose words were delivered in the Senator’s name without attribution.

Villacorta further states that it is “awkward” to deliver a speech that says, “according to this blogger who quoted this author,” even though this was, in fact, what his office did. He goes on, “A whole gamut of ‘according to’ would also not make the speech credible,” referring to the speech Sotto delivered that cited outdated 1970’s sources.

In an “ambush interview” at the Senate, Senator Pia Cayetano responds to allegations of plagiarism. She notes that on the speech where she was accused of plagiarizing the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), the footnotes her office had for the speech were accidentally left out when it was uploaded to their WordPress site. She also mentions that she had already cited the UNEP as a source in the relevant paragraph. Contra Sotto, she concedes that “dapat talagang ma-identify ang mga source.” (Sources definitely have to be identified.)

In the case of her speech on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), she complains that her accusers should have done a little research. She reveals that this speech was never delivered in the Senate. She delivered an entirely different speech “ad lib.” Then, her undelivered speech was accidentally uploaded to their site instead of the transcript of the manifestation she actually delivered in the Senate.

She says that she finds it “quite malicious” for her accusers to “impute malice on this.” She further acknowledges, “that your literary work should always be protected and should always be acknowledged.”

August 29

ProPinoy reports that the copy posted on the official Senate website of Sotto’s first turno en contra speech has been taken down without notice. It is available for access on Filipino Freethinkers servers.

Sotto’s turno en contra speech has apparently been moved to a different URL. This new transcript perhaps much more accurately reflects ad lib remarks and revisions Sotto made as he was delivering the speech on the Senate floor. It is, however, noteworthy to point out that this new transcript removes the (PERSONAL EXPERIENCE) note at the end that implied original authorship of the speech. It also removes the incriminating typographical error that matched Sarah Pope’s own blog from which Sotto’s office copied word-for-word segments, which were delivered without attribution in his name.

After much delay, Sotto finally delivers his speech defending himself from accusations of plagiarism, which was delivered mainly in Tagalog. He opens his speech by condemning his accusers of doing a “demolition job.” He opines regarding his accusers’ motives, “…upang humina ang aking panindigan laban sa RH bill.” (…so that my resolve is weakened against the RH bill). He claims that his accusers did not listen to his speech and decided to find a “small” issue to throw at him, “…ang mga kalaban ay naghanap ng maliit na isyung makakapuwing sa akin.” (…the enemies looked for a small issue that would blind me.)

He maintains, as if it were a sufficient replacement for proper attribution, that his blanket turn of phrase would be enough to deflect accusations of plagiarism: “Hindi ko po iniimbento ito. Itong mga kino-quote ko po ay mga fact na pinatotohanan ng mga eksperto sa larangan ng agham at batas.” (I am not inventing these. These things I’m quoting are facts that have been proven by experts in science and law.) Sotto is accused of plagiarizing Sarah Pope (among others), an anti-vaccination blogger and economics graduate who has no degree in law or science.

He further claims that he is the first Senator that has been a victim of cyber-bullying, particularly, he says, by supporters of the RH Bill. He opines, “Bahagi siguro ito ng kanilang istratehiya, lalo pa’t may milyun-milyon silang pondo.” (This is probably a part of their strategy, especially since they have millions in funds.)

Sotto claims that none of the points of his turno en contra speech were answered. Of course, a casual search on the Internet will provide a plethora of rebuttals of the content of his speech, such as those by Prof. Sylvia Claudio of the Center for Women’s Studies, which is just one among many.

He quotes no less than three different dictionaries, and this time properly cites them, in defining plagiarism. However, he does not defend himself regarding the definitions he had just presented. Instead, he says that plagiarism is not a crime, “…walang krimen ng plagiarism sa Pilipinas. Kahit hanapin ninyo pa sa Revised Penal Code, sa Intellectual Property Code, at maging sa Special Penal Laws, wala kayong makikitang krimen ng plagiarism.” (…there is no crime of plagiarism in the Philippines. Even if you look in the Revised Penal Code, in the Intellectual Property Code, even in the Special Penal Laws, you will not find the crime of plagiarism.)

Taking exception to attacks on his intellectual capacity he says, “Kahit mukha akong walang pinag-aralan kung ikukumpara sa mga pinag-aral nila at hindi kasing dunong nila, ang mahalaga ay ang ipinaglalaban ko.” (Even if I look unschooled compared to what they studied and not as wise as them, what is important is what I am fighting for.) He also mentions that his stint in the variety show, Eat Bulaga where he appeared with his brother Vic Sotto and fellow comedian Joey De Leon, was also made fun of. Sotto, who disparaged Sarah Pope as a mere blogger, says that he would rather be a clown than to say bad things about others.

In his closing, he reads a poem by Joey De Leon as well as enjoins his enemies to read Psalms 56, 63, and 64. He also mentions his god, “…ang tunay na Awtor ng aklat ng ating buhay at bawa’t kaluluwa ng isang sanggol na nabuo na sa sinapupunan ng kanyang ina.” (…the true Author of the book of our lives and of every soul of every baby that is already formed in the womb of their mother.)

He moves that the entire paragraph referencing Campbell-McBride, which included the plagiarized blog post of Sarah Pope, be stricken from the record.

Sotto does not mention Pope by name nor does he mention the word-for-word copies of other sources in his second turno en contra speech.

 

September 5

After several delays, Sotto finally delivers the third and fourth parts of his turno en contra speech on the same day. However, it was shown by several online commentators that the ending of his fourth speech was plagiarized from Robert F. Kennedy’s Day of Affirmation speech given to the National Union of South African Students in Cape Town. Though Sotto’s speech was delivered in Tagalog, it is quite clear that his words were unattributed translations from Kennedy’s famous speech.

Shortly after delivering his speech and amid the public furor on another clear case of plagiarism all within the span of a few weeks, Sotto defended himself on ABS-CBN’s Bandila. The segment showed Senate President pro-tempore Jinggoy Estrada asking Sotto on the Senate floor whether the words he had just delivered were his own. Sotto responded that they were indeed his own words. He continued, “Kaya ko ho tinagalog. Kaya ho Pilipino na ang ginamit ko para ‘wag nang magbintang ‘tong mga kung sinu-sino, at subukan nila.” (That’s why I made [my speech] Tagalog. That’s why I used Filipino so that these nobodies won’t accuse me, and they can try.)

Regarding Kennedy’s words that he had translated and delivered in Filipino, he asks his accusers on Balita, “So para nga safe, tinagalog ko. O, sino ngayon ang kinopyahan ko na Tagalog? Meron ba silang alam na pinanggalingan na Tagalog doon?” (So it would be safe, I made [my speech] Tagalog. What is it this time that I copied that was in Tagalog? Do they know a source that is Tagalog [in my speech]?) Referring to his own stint as a comedian he says, “Nakakatawa na sila. Sila ang komiko, eh. Hindi ako.” (They are hilarious. They’re the comics. Not me.) Apparently incredulous at the fact that he delivered the same thoughts of Kennedy in 1966, but merely translated, he says, “Marunong palang managalog si Kennedy, ah!” (Oh, Kennedy can speak Tagalog!)

 

September 6

One of the other bloggers Sotto plagiarized in the second part of his turno en contra speech, Janice Formichella of Feminists for Choice has come out to confirm that she was indeed plagiarized. More than that, she says that here words were “twisted into an argument against an important reproductive rights bill.”

Formichella clarifies in the Ms. Magazine blog that, in context, her work was not a condemnation of Margaret Sanger but of Gandhi and his “little-known sexism.” She says that Sotto’s quote-mining is ironic because the part he lifted “aptly reflects [Gandhi’s] hypocrisy as a political leader.” She says she would “love nothing more than to see this bill passed” and that she was angry that her work was used to delay the bill’s passage. She asks Sotto to apologize to “each of the bloggers he has plagiarized.”

In the GMA News Online report, Sotto instead says that it was “impossible” that Formichella was right because his office got the information from a book. He could not, however, provide the name of the book. Similar to how he considered Pope, Sotto says Formichella was “pathetic” and that she was just riding the bandwagon, “gusto lang niyan sumikat.” (She only wants to get famous.)

 

Image Captured from ANC’s Stream of Senator Tito Sotto’s Appearance on Headstart with Karen Davila

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Poisoning the Well


DISCLAIMER: Views expressed in this article represent the views of this particular author and do not necessarily represent the editorial position of www.filipinofreethinkers.org.

* * * * *

With the recent embarrasment brought about by one of our articles, I sometimes wish that the Filipino Freethinkers had a formal organizational and editorial structure where we could actually sanction erring members and take down their articles. But the FF is not a formal organization, and the fact that most of our readers – and critics – believe otherwise does not change this. In fact, the FF can be described better not by what it is but by what it is not:

  • The FF is not a cult where members are indoctrinated to blindly follow a leader.
  • The FF members do not have a common philosophy or a guiding philosopher or thinker.
  • The FF members do not have a common preferred political system.
  • The FF members do not have a common preferred economic system.
  • The FF members do not have a common goal for the Philippines.
  • The FF members do not have a common stand on the existence of God.
  • And this may come as a surprise: the FF members do not have a common stand on the RH Bill.

If there is anything the FF tries to foster, it is freethought, meaning members are encouraged to form their individual opinions on the basis of science, logic, and reason and not be influenced by authority, tradition, or any other dogma. As such, the FF actually does not have an official stand on contraceptives and the RH Bill; what we strongly oppose is the meddling of the CBCP on an issue that should have been independently decided by the lawmakers of the state. The CBCP represents everything that is against freethought: papal authority, Christian tradition, and Catholic dogma. So whether we dissent or agree with the CBCP on certain issues is beside the point; it is their arrogant insistence that Philippine law should be subservient to Vatican law that pisses us off.

But in spite of this informal structure of the FF, as one of the writers I am deeply saddened by the recent damage to our website’s credibility. Forgive me for saying this, but what I find more disturbing is the cavalier manner in which my fellow writer tried to dismiss the accusations by downplaying the issue. I take my writing seriously, and the FF website is not “just a blog”.

As such, I urge my fellow writer to post a real response because that dismissive comment simply made it worse. If the accusations are unfounded, do say so and state for the record. But if the allegations are valid, I believe the following would be the courageous thing to do:

  • admit it
  • take down the article
  • apologize
  • offer an explanation, not an excuse
  • acknowledge that this explanation does not justify the act
  • apologize again

I must stress that this is no longer about our stalker; just because it was a Randroid who found out and exposed the alleged plagiarism doesn’t make it any less serious. But again, I’m speaking only for myself as an author and not as an ‘official’ editor.

And to our stalker, thank you for keeping us on our toes. Bask in Schadenfreude while you can because I believe you actually have something valid against us this time. But as to your other accusations about us being enemies of reason, let me share with you Wes’ comment in another post, which also explains why this article is titled Poisoning the Well, because that’s exactly what you are doing:

“…it’s the fact that VB and his group resorted to a lot of below-the-belt name-calling and personal attacks *aimed at the whole group* that really showed their lack of maturity.

Generalizations like what he did could be akin to saying that *all* PEX’ers are complete assholes just because he didn’t like what one writer had to say. This site hosts a lot of different viewpoints, some may agree with Objectivism, some may not. It’s how well you defend your side that shows what you’re truly made of.

But all I saw in VB’s counter-arguments (aside from the oh-so-mature name-calling) could be summed up into “you just don’t understand the true essence of our philosophy because you disagree with us. Go read our sacred scriptures again until you agree with us.” How can you even begin to open up a constructive discussion with a mindset like that? Shouldn’t they instead call themselves “Objectionists” because they object to other people objecting about their object of infatuation?”

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