A few weeks ago, one of my faithful readers (I mean he’s faithful AS a reader; I have no data on whether he’s faithful in general, in other matters) posted a notice on my message board indicating that someone had plagiarized a column of mine.
The column was “How to Do Stuff Better,” an old “classic” (as far as these things go) from the early days of “Snide Remarks.” The stolen version, by sometime BYU student and would-be humor columnist Bill McIntosh, lifted entire sentences verbatim, and had the same general ideas as those expressed in the latter portion of my column.
Since what I’m about to tell you hinges upon this being an actual case of plagiarism, not an imagined one, I will reprint what the plagiarist wrote here. You may click on the above link to read what I wrote in 1997, and compare it with what Bill posted in 1999 or so. Or, to save you the trouble, I have cast in bold type the portions of Bill’s column that are word-for-word reproductions of mine:
One of the great things about being lazy is that every once in awhile you come up with ideas that revolutionize the way Americans do things. These things often result in you being hailed a genius, all without you even having to get up off the couch and missing your favorite episode of “I Love Lucy”. I recently had such an experience.
As you know if you have ever been young, dating is mostly a colossal waste of time. Sure it can be fun–most wastes of time are–but ultimately, in the grand scheme of things, the point of dating is to get married, and you are obviously not going to marry every person you date, unless you are from Manti, Utah. Which means that if you’re thinking of time and energy, dating is wasteful and imprudent.
Dating, as guys well know, costs money also. Ton’s o’ Bucks (if you know what I mean). Oh sure, girls will insist that the best dates are inexpensive ones, but bear in mind that 95% of all girls are liars. Chances are, they are lying here also.
The problem with dating, if you’re a guy, is that you’re basically spending money just to find out if a girl likes you or not. It’s like an audition, except you have to pay the casting director just for the privilege of being there. Things are even worse up here at BYU. In the real world (outside of BYU), if a girl doesn’t like you, she’ll say “no” when you ask her out. Here, girls never say “no” when you ask them out, because they are taught to say “no” to a long, long list of various suggestions and propositions, but NEVER to refuse a potential date, as long as he is not a serial killer. To tell you the truth, it doesn’t matter if he has the personality of a rock. It doesn’t matter if he has BO so powerful it causes blistering around the eyes and mouths of innocent bystanders. It doesn’t matter if he’s so unattractive he spends most of his evenings fleeing angry townspeople who are carrying torches and shouting, “Kill the monster!” You always agree to go on a date with him, at least one, just to be “nice”.
I believe I speak for all guys when I say that if you don’t want to go on a date with us, just say no! You can still be nice about it. Believe it or not, there are nice ways of saying “No. thank you” (for example: “No, thank you.”)
Being the rocket scientist I am, I know this will not happen, so I have a revolutionary idea to reform dating and make it more efficient. Here’s how it works: A guy goes up to a girl and hands her $20 and says, “Here’s $20. Do you like me?” If she says “yes,” he takes the money back and takes her on a date. If she says “no,” he says, “The money is yours to keep; thanks for playing,” and moves on to another girl. This way, a guy can go on several “dates” in one night, whittle down the list of possibilities, and, in record time, either get married or determine once and for all that no one wants to marry him. **NOTE** The latter is usually the case.
That’s what I call efficiency. Now shut up! My favorite episode of “I Love Lucy” is starting.
As I said, it’s plagiarism, pure and simple, followed by a copyright notice with Bill McIntosh’s name on it.
So I e-mailed Bill and told him to remove the offending article at once. Getting no reply, I e-mailed him again and said if he didn’t remove it, I would have to contact the people hosting his Web site, Geocities (owned by Yahoo!), and have them remove it for him. This is my stuff, after all, even published in a book that I still would like people to buy on occasion. You can’t have people going around claiming to have written something you wrote.
When he still took no action, I did indeed contact Yahoo!, and they removed his site altogether. I only expected them to delete the article in question, but I guess they take their Terms of Service agreement pretty seriously over there.
Anyway, I figured that was the end of it, but then I stumbled upon Bill’s blog, hosted away from Geocities, so it survived the purge. On the right-hand side of the page, he has testimonials from people who like his blog, including a brand-new made-up one from me in which he implies I am a homosexual and a pedophile, and says outright that I’m an a-hole.
What’s funny is that prior to this, he had me included among his “favorite links,” and was obviously a fan, since he liked my column enough to steal it and put his own name on it. Once I committed the unspeakable act of pointing out that he was a plagiarist, he suddenly decided he didn’t like me anymore, and that in fact I was a gay pedophile a-hole.
Is this libelous? I dunno. The only truly defamatory thing he says is the pedophile part, and given the context of the made-up quote, I doubt any reasonable person would take it seriously. Still, a case could be made either way, and he had irritated me, so I contacted Blogspot. Their Terms of Service clearly state that users are not to use their blogs to post anything libelous, and that people ought to report violations of the Terms of Service to Blogspot.
So I did. They replied thus:
Although we host that site, we are not in a position to adjudicate whether the content is defamatory or not.
Accordingly, consistent with section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act, Blogger does not remove material in response to allegations of defamation. In cases where a contact email address is listed on the page, we recommend working directly with the author to have this information removed or changed.
So apparently, they only want you to REPORT violations of the Terms of Service. They have no intention of actually DOING something about them. I guess they just like to know. “Thanks for telling us,” they say. “That’s very interesting.”
Oh, well. Like I said, it’s not a major defamation anyway, and I was only reporting it because Bill had gotten on my bad side, what with the theft and all. It’s amusing that a grown man responds to being caught by defaming the person who caught him, when just letting it go would have been the sensible thing. But I guess that’s what you do when you’re a baby-murdering dog-raping hermaphrodite like Bill McIntosh.