Thank you to everyone that commented, sent email and talked to me about the case. It was very helpful. Yesterday afternoon I sent FirstName LastName my decision. I told her that I would post or provide a link on the post to a statement by her. She could say whatever she wanted. She could say I am mean, hateful, SOB, or she could say she screwed up big time by taking a short cut because she was under a time deadline but learned her lesson. Regardless of what she wrote, on the second year anniversary of my post I would remove her name from all the postings. If I was particularly impressed with her statement I might remove her name earlier.
She responded saying she felt writing an explanation would “be even more incriminating”. Below is part of my response:
“more incriminating”? You are way past the point of plausible deniability. You committed the “crime.” It’s impossible to deny it to any rational person even if you were to try. In my opinion you would be better off to write an essay explaining what you have learned and why you won’t be committing “crimes” again. If your prospective employer reads only the evidence against you they may be believe they would be taking a great risk by hiring you. If you can explain that you would be less likely than someone else to make a similar “mistake” in the future perhaps you would be considered a more of an asset than a liability as their employee. You may be less inclined to look the other way when someone does something wrong–because you, more than others, understand the shame of being part of some immoral act.
FYI no one I have talked to, especially my wife, believes it was a “mistake.” Many of the sentences you used were almost word for word that of the Brady Campaign. You cannot have believed that wasn’t plagiarism. Had you quoted some numbers from a discredited research paper without checking them that would have been a mistake. You did worse than both. You used the words of a admittedly biased (as is the NRA) organization and represented them as your own.
I don’t know if this will really “sink in” or not and the name Robert Heinlein probably doesn’t mean anything to you anyway. Mr. Heinlein was a science fiction author that influenced me a great deal as I was growing up. In one of his books a character said the following and I wrote it down in my personal collection of memorable quotes. When my first child was born I wrote a computer program to select one quote at random and display for me when I booted up my computer. I wanted to be reminded of various things and try to instill that knowledge in my children. Here are a couple Heinlein quotes that I think are applicable in your case:
If it can’t be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion.
And the one that inspired me to collect the quotes to begin with:
Do not handicap your children by making their lives easy.
I think you will be better off by composing an apology, an explanation, and why it won’t happen again–unless you don’t think you can do that with sincerity. If not, then you will never get a chance to explain. Your resume will be thrown out before you are ever given a chance to tell them what you have learned from your foolish actions.
I have not heard from her since I sent her that email at 5:01 PM last night.
Update (03/29/2006): There has been several emails from FirstName that I haven’t reported on. Two of them since this posting was made. She now says:
Of course I want to write something…otherwise, everyone will only know yalls side of the story. I appreciate the chance to do this, to explain myself, to attempt to move on…
But I do feel like Ive said a lot to you about the whole situation in my emails, and you seem to only post the stuff that makes me sound like I don’t care.
I will write something short & sweet, and I hope I can slowly but surely put this all behind me.
Your time spent on all your emails, your advice, your encouragement, everything… has all been taken to heart. I sincerely appreciate it. Expect my response no later than Friday.
Thank you Joe,
Update2: September 18, 2006. I removed the actual name of the plagiarist and substituted FirstName LastName after she asked me to remove her name, wrote an apology, and I waited what I considered was a reasonable period of time.