A question for my readers

Background: Why not think for yourself

The person in question sent me an email on Tuesday asking that I remove her name from the post.  Basically saying she lost her job almost immediately (a year ago) at the college newspaper over her “mistake” and has now paid a sufficient price.  She is about to graduate, is looking for a job, and when Googling for her name my blog shows up.  She doesn’t want her mistake to haunt her for the rest of her life.

Question: Should I remove her name from my posting?  Elaborate on your answer.

I have my own inclinations but want the thoughts of others.


Update: FirstName responds.

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.


23 thoughts on “A question for my readers

  1. Does she admit it was a mistake?

    Next, not sure why it’s an issue. Seems all the press does these days is copy and paste press releases anyhoo.

  2. Yes. I quote: “…what happened with that article was the biggest mistake of my life. While I WAS an opinion columnist, I wasn’t a trained journalist. Of course I understand what plagiarism is, but I never believed that rock solid FACTS needed to be cited. It sounds absurd, but it’s true.”

  3. Err, her ‘facts’ about gun shows being breeding grounds for terrorists are completely unfounded. She should apologize for that too. Geez, try some fact checking.

  4. Yeah. I know. But I chided her on that point in a slightly different way:

    …before asking someone for a favor it would be to your advantage to research that person. After doing that research don’t say things that would tend inflame them. An example of this is claiming the Brady Campaign’s “Special Report” is composed of “rock solid FACTS” to someone that says things like this about themselves: http://tinyurl.com/kgetl

    I wish you luck on the completion of your education.

  5. I’m not sure I understand yet.

    To make sure I’m on the same page:
    Last year she wrote a heavily plagariged (and factually-strained, but that’s another issue) piece for a school paper, and you saw it and cited it.

    She now is asking you to hide her involvement, and to obfuscate history, that she was punished, and basically, that should be enough.


    In that case, I’m of the mind that no, her name needs to stay attached to the deed. One of the problems with the Web is how easily the war is with Eastasia. Eurasia? No, I never wrote that. See? Check my weblog.
    She _did_ this thing. I think that’s factually beyond dispute, correct? So why should we hide the history of what happened? Isn’t that being dishonest?
    Even if she “learned her lesson”, even if she’s “on our side”, for whatever reason – that is _what happened_. And I don’t think she’s disputing that.

    So, no, her name needs to stay attached to the post. You might want to put an update on there, that she was disciplined for it, to bring that post up to date with the new information. But deleting information? Hiding history?

    No. It’s the wrong and least moral way to go. If she’s admitting error, and learned her lesson, that’s a very good thing. Better than I can say of most of my co-editors at the Clemson paper, when I was there. But the past needs to be saved, preseved, and remembered.

  6. Leave it up, but offer to append it with her apology/essay on why plagiarism is bad, as well as her corrective article refuting the “facts” used by the Brady Campaign. Of course, as blog owner, both the apology/essay and the corrective article must meet your editorial approval.

  7. Addison, you have the facts correct except that she is definitely not on “my side” of the gun control debate.

  8. We’ve all made mistakes, said dumb things we regret (hell, I used to be a flaming left wing, googoo-eyed nut bag myself, long ago, but I admit it. I therefore would not care if you found an old leftist essay of mine and printed it – I’m not ashamed to have been a dupe because I overcame it) but this was not only an academic piece, it was part of a political attack on our liberties and a smear on our character as good and well armed citizens. She has made an attempt at an apology for the plagiarism, but *not* for her ridiculous and unfounded attack. That there may have been “plagiarism” is beside the point, which is; leftists have been on a trend of mindlessly parroting what they see or hear in the anti freedom media, to the point of making complete asses of themselves. It is our job as advocates of Liberty to expose them, because that is the best way to defeat them. And defeat them we must.

    If they whine, I say to them, “Hey, you’re alive. Vikki Weaver and the Branch Davidians faired rather less well as victims of the Left, and to name just a few.”

  9. I don’t think you are going to convince her that you are right and she is wrong by leaving her name up on that post.

  10. I concur with Aaron with the addition that she add an essay on the negative effects of publishing as fact statements that are demonstrably false.

    Lying should have consequences and one should not be able to avoid them easily. If she can provide an essay that shows she understands the issues involved (plagiarism, fact checking, publishing as true that which is not, etc) and why and how she would do things differently today then update the post with her essay.

    Such a response would show growth on her part and demostrate that she might yet be a good citizen — which should actually accrue to her benefit should anyone who knows her actually see the post. An unwillingness to provide such an essay would be evidence that the lessons that should have been learned have not been learned and any detriment that comes to her from your post are all her own responsibility.

  11. I say she played with fire, got burned, and if you really believe she is genuinely contrite and learned her lesson (despite her political beliefs, which are irrelevant) remove her name.

    For example, if a kid gets caught tossing a brick through my window because of my Bush-Cheney sign, I’m not going to be the crazy old coot posting notices in public about it ten years from now — notices that may keep him from getting a scholarship or going to college — especially if he’s genuinely remorseful and has learned his lesson, and asks me politely to please stop posting the notices.

    Similarly, lots of kids put stupid things up on the ‘net in their names that are going to haunt them as adults, and they just don’t understand that. If this young woman’s matured, learned from this experience and will genuinely never repeat the error, then keeping her name associated with it on your blog for the rest of her life, even if it was motivated by an enthusiastically heartfelt aversion to guns that she may still feel, seems to me overly harsh. (With all the archive sites out there, if you remove her name it will never really be invisible anyway, just less visible than it is now.)

    If, on the other hand, she’s just now getting around to asking this SOLELY in your judgment because she’s suddenly discovered she can’t get a job, I wouldn’t be so lenient.

  12. I like the idea about posting an apology from her along with the original text. That way you don’t hide the truth, but anyone can see that she’s admitted her mistake.

  13. Lyle, I think it would be trivial to come up many tens of millions dead at the hands of “the left” in the last century alone. But she did not contribute to those deaths and I think it is inappropriate to punish someone for the crimes of their parents, associates, or political ancestors. Now, I can see increasing the penalties for a crime when the harmful effects are so blatantly obvious from perpetrators of similar crimes prior to the commission of the crime in question. But that’s probably a little too deep a topic to get into in the present context.

  14. I don’t think you should remove her name. She wrote the piece and it was published, now she wants to pretend it’s not there. Let those who google her find out what they find out and let her defend herself to them. You have no obligation to protect her from her past.

  15. Leave the post as-is.

    Not only did she write a factually incorrect article, it was plagiarized.

    Actions have consequences.

  16. Well, I agree that this shouldn’t haunt her for the rest of her life, even if she is an anti-gunner (or just thought what she was writing was the “proper” stance.

    I see nothing wrong with removing her actual NAME from your entry, but keeping all the links intact. Not that that will actually cleanse Google of the reference, but whatever.

    We all make mistakes.

  17. I think you should simply post the e-mail she sent you to accompany the original article.

    The combo demonstrates that:

    1. S R is an idealogue who allows personal viewpoints to color her research and treats the propoganda of a lobbying group as “facts.”

    2. When challenged, she wants to “airbrush” the facts as if they never happened.

    3. She still has not learned her lesson, in that she claims to have been justified in treating as ‘fact’ contested mattered sputtered by a biased interest group.

    No journalist could get away with writing an entire article, opinion or otherwise, based on an NRA press release. Any editor who would hire this person is entitled to know how she allows her personal proclivities to influence her work. No employer, especially in the news arena, would want to hire the next Jayson Blair or Mary Mapes.

    Besides, she’s a day late and a dollar short. Even if you remove her name, it will still be in Google’s cache and on the internet archive.

    I, personally, become VERY concerned when someone in the “news” business displays a propensity to want to “dissappear” inconvenient information. It speaks volumes about their views of “news” as spinning their version of things instead of reporting facts.

  18. The Washington Post’s brand new conservative blogger – Ben Domenech – was just forced to resign over allegations of plagiarism. From what I’ve seen there does appear to be some substance to the allegations.

    I don’t think you should leave Sara’s name on the post as a ‘payback’ for that, or in any way as retribution for making the “wrong” argument or disagreeing with us about the Brady Bunch’s opinions. I think her name should remain visible because actions have consequences.

    It would be a kind gesture to update that post with a statement or apology from Sara. A good apology with an explanation of lessons learned could even increase her chances of finding employment – if the employer was convinced that she now knows better. But whether or not you allow and she writes that update, her history should not be covered up.

  19. I say leave her name. She did it and she does not sound like she has admitted her error, just that it still interfears with her life.

    actions have consequences.

  20. Joe, I agree with Aaron. I would not delete the post, but I would offer her the opportunity to write an apology/explanation/whatever in response and post it alongside it. She’s already in the google cache, and they won’t be taking her out even if she asks pretty please, so she’s probably better off having a response up somewhere on the web even if she’d rather pretend it never happened. To those who think “actions have consequences,” I suspect that an apology about the “rock hard FACTS” she got from the Brady Center will be less effective than she thinks but I think it’s a fair and reasonable compromise.

    I think people who google their employees are assholes anyway; if the employee isn’t doing something on the job then it’s none of their employer’s business what they have do outside the job. They deserve the employees they get. Just wanted to point that out for the benefit of whoever googles her and comes across these comments.

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