January 6, 2009

"Has the man who writes best selling books about his ‘Conversations with God’ also heard God’s commandments? Thou shalt not steal...."

Well, if you have conversations with God, you're pretty special. Maybe you get some special rules. Perhaps, those generic commandments are for the little people.

Neale Donald Walsch accused of plagiarism, would like you to believe that "he made a mistake in believing the story was something that had actually happened to him."
Except for a different first paragraph in which Mr. Walsch wrote that he could “vividly remember” the incident, his Dec. 28 Beliefnet post followed, virtually verbatim, [Candy] Chand’s previously published writing, even down to prosaic details like “the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down.”
Aw. Come on. Give him a chance. Here's how I'm picturing it:
GOD: Yo, Walsch. Conversation time.

WALSCH: What is it now, Lord?

GOD: You know that that thing Candy Chand wrote? Where she went to that Christmas pageant and one of the kids holds the M upside-down? "Christmas Love" becomes "Christ Was Love."

WALSCH: Why you lap up that sentimental crap, I will never understand.

GOD: LOL, do not try to understand my ways, Walsch. I invented cute. And I also invented practical jokes, so here's my idea. I want you to copy that story, word for word, and publish it on the intertubes...

WALSCH: That's supposed to be funny?

GOD: "Intertubes"? That will never stop being funny.

WALSCH: No, I mean me blatantly plagiarizing something.

GOD: You copy the whole thing word for word, but then — here's the hilarious part — you add a first paragraph all about how you "vividly remember" that time you went to the Christmas pageant.

WALSCH: This will be so easily discovered...

GOD: Yeah, it used to be just me that knew about all the lying and cheating. Now, with the intertubes...

WALSCH: Am I allowed to say that gets on my nerves?

GOD: Now, with the intertubes, a lot more people can discover lying and cheating. Hijinks ensue. And when you are discovered, because, of course, you will be discovered...

WALSCH: Obviously...

GOD: When you are discovered, I want you to claim — really sincerely — that you actually mistakenly believed that you remembered the incident as if it had happened to you. You can be all: "I am chagrined and astonished that my mind could play such a trick on me."

WALSCH: You think that's funny?

GOD: Mmm-hmmm.

WALSCH: People aren't going to believe that.

GOD: The believe you have conversations with God, don't they?

48 comments:

TMink said...

I could see how someone would incorporate a story into their beliefs, but that in no way explains the verbage which is stealing. I can't figure any other way to look at it.

Trey

Ron said...

God, I see, has been workin' the Catskills before he decided to chat with Althouse...

TMink said...

God, I see, has been workin' the Catskills before he decided to chat with Althouse...

TMink said...

Wow, I have no idea how that happened.

Trey

Chip Ahoy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Synova said...

I think it's possible to write something from memory that you think is your memory but is actually something you read. I actually worry about this when I write.

I also think it's possible to copy or save things that impressed you, stick them in a notebook, and years later find them again and honestly think they were yours.

Memory is really strange and we don't understand how it works.

I think it's possible to knowingly and deliberately pass something off as your own that you know very well wasn't. And to be stupid enough not to attempt to disguise the theft.

Amazingly stupid.

Chip Ahoy said...

God told me to go ahead and tell you about what my friend just emailed me. My friend told me way back last year when I asked him what he intended to do for new year, party or what?, and he answered, "Nothing at all, although I intend to go skiing over the weekend."

I had no idea where he was going skiing. I've been skiing with him in California, Utah, and Colorado, so it could have been anywhere. He didn't specify.

When you posted down there VVV previously about the guy who dangled with his pants pulled down from the seat malfunction, I emailed my friend and said,"Tell me this wasn't you and I'll stop laughing." It still makes me giggle just thinking about it. God says that's OK. Scant chance of there being any connection whatsoever.

So now my friend, he's the oldest person I know personally, even older than my parents, but we like to hang out, restaurants and such, because we're similarly insane, writes back:

ALWAYS LOOK BEFORE YOU SQUAT! THAT WAS THE CHAIR IN FRONT OF MINE ON FRIDAY. IT GIVES ME THE SHIVERS JUST THINKING ABOUT IT. I'M SURE EVERYTHING SHRIVELED.

My friend uses all caps because he can't be arsked to switch back and forth. God says he thinks the skier and the flung cat are funny too. He invented humor.

(their changed to there up ^^^ there.)

traditionalguy said...

Oh what a tangled Weblog we weave when first we practise to deceive.

traditionalguy said...

By the way, that Quote was from Sir Walter Scott and is not to be thought to be a personal experience.I think God talks thru entirely too many people these days.

William said...

Perhaps he could write a moving, first hand account of what it is like to be afflicted with plagiarized word disorder-- kleptologomania as it's called in the manual. He could then go on Oprah to plug it. There's a good back story. He fell in love with Doris Kearns Goodwin in one of the self help groups. Their love transcended the shame of the scandal and it is truly inspiring to read about although it never happened.

Ann Althouse said...

"I also think it's possible to copy or save things that impressed you, stick them in a notebook, and years later find them again and honestly think they were yours."

Actually, I do too. I cut and past text into documents all the time when I'm reading things -- cases and law articles, mostly. There's a lot of generic legal writing, and I could imagine losing track of whether you wrote a particular text or falsely remembering that you did.

Now, I think I recognize my own writing style and that I don't have to be super-careful about copied text, but I can see where the danger comes from.

knox said...

Me too. I mean, I think I recognize my own writing style and that I don't have to be super-careful about copied text, but I can see where the danger comes from.

BetaLiberal said...

Since God pre-ordains our lives before we are born, God already knew about the borrowed quote before Neale Donald Walsch actually "borrowed" it from Candy Chand.

God also knew that Althouse would create a dialogue in which Walsch asks God why He "laps up..sentimental crap".

Meade said...

God has a little too much time on his hands. He needs to find a job... something that will get him out of the house more and will require him to use his creative talents more productively.

Maybe he just needs to find a girlfriend. Or maybe both - a job AND a girlfriend. Anything to keep him busy and out of the chat rooms.

Ron said...

hmmm...how did that happen?

Meade, God has always needed a job! He's been basically a blow off for some time now! And nosy to boot!

You're right; a girlfriend would help. I'm not even sure that Althouse herself could tolerate the Lord Almighty!

Palladian said...

Hmm, are Ron and TMink the same person?

MrBuddwing said...

Well, if you have conversations with God, you're pretty special.

And in the wise words of Dr. Gregory House, "When you speak to God, you're religious. When God speaks to you, you're psychotic."

ricpic said...

Althouse trumps Cavett as a comedy writer!

Hasn't Cavett suffered enough?

ricpic said...

If what you say is true, BetaLiberal, God must be bored silly.

chickenlittle said...

Now when I talk to God you know he understands,
He said stick by me and I'll be your guidin' hand,
But don't ask me what I think of you I might not give the answer that you want me to...

link

blake said...

Geez, God's kind of a jerk.

*

Hey! He really is just one of us!

Joe said...

He's a professional con man, why is anyone surprised?

ricpic said...

I don't wanna know what God thinks of me...or what my next door neighbors think of me...or the UPS guy. Best thing we have going in the world is concealment. Authenticity is w-a-a-a-y over rated

Joe said...

BTW, I'll allow that someone could write something similar to something they read; I suspect it's actually quite common. This, however, was cut and paste copying.

Ann Althouse said...

blake said..."Geez, God's kind of a jerk. Hey! He really is just one of us!"

At long last, you know my religion: Jerkism.

blake said...

It's not a well known sect, but it has a broad membership.

Kirk Parker said...

Trey,

That was funny!

Original George said...

It's very possible. Frankly, I cut and past text into documents all the time when I'm reading things -- newspaper articles, mostly. There's a lot of generic stuff out there, and I lose track of a particular text, or I falsely remember that I did.

Meade said...

Well for a Jerkist you certainly dress nicely and you are very polite about sending thank notes and asking about how cousin such and such's operation went.

As a kid, growing up being made to attend Sunday School (as if Monday Thru Friday School wasn't enough imposition on my developing career as a star running back for the Chicago Bears slash / chick magnet) I developed the theory that all one really needed to do to evolve into a the type of high holy being people on the street might mistake for Jesus Himself was to just be super super nice to everyone.

Let's just say my jealously cruel, twisted, and rivalrous siblings were very very successful at dissuading me from any pretensions to diagnosable Grandiosity Disorder.

God bless their tiny little bastard hearts.

Ron said...

As an Orthodox Jerk, I believe that God has always been this way, even before we coined the word "jerk."

Reform Jerks believe God can get better, maybe someday someone you'd set up with your sister...or brother, depending on what jerky gender you think God is.

Palladian: Tmink and I are not the same. And Bruce Wayne is just a close personal friend.

kynefski said...

Authenticity is w-a-a-a-y over rated

Truer words have ne'er been spoke.

Pick up the script and find your part.

Palladian said...

"Palladian: Tmink and I are not the same."

How do you know?

Ron said...

Because I think Trooper and I are the same person?

Ron said...

Cedarford could be Althouse also; we've never seen the two of them in the same picture.

Palladian said...

I'm every woman, it's all in me.

Palladian said...

"Cedarford could be Althouse also; we've never seen the two of them in the same picture."

Cedarford doesn't show up in pictures. Or mirrors.

TMink said...

Palladian, it's a losing game I play in a dog eat dog, show biz town. I've got a dream of my own,
and I carry my own weight.
But still they try to drag me down.

Trey, who is not Ron, but sees the stylistic similarities

Ron said...

Trey, you be stylin', and I am down with that!

Zeb Quinn said...

stick them in a notebook, and years later find them again and honestly think they were yours

We all learn or ought to learn by the time we are in our first year of undergrad to note the sources of our copied research, mainly because we have to for proper footnotes and bibliographies. If you take your scholarly work seriously it's something that gets ingrained in you. I will take it so far as to say if one doesn't note the source of something they've copied verbatim, consciously or unconsciously, knowingly or unknowingly, they have no intention of crediting the source when they use it. They want to own it as their own.

And this wasn't "generic writing." This was a unique little story, a parable. He wanted it. He wished it was his. He took it.

Synova said...

I'm not saying that it wasn't deliberate, Zeb. I'm saying that some other evidence would have to support the theft being deliberate because writing down a poem or anecdote and sticking it in folder or some such, or even using it verbally for years and forgetting (repetition is one of the ways we recreate what we've forgotten over the years) is something that I'd expect as the rule rather than the exception.

rhhardin said...

God generally doesn't say anything unless it's to make a new covenant.

JAL said...

Original George --
It's one thing to think you remember having lunch with a friend at a bar 10 years ago when actually he was in Hong Kong and you were in NYC.

It's another thing to remember getting to your kid's Christmas pageant early, sitting on the floor [in the cafteria -- how many churches have pageants in the cafeteria? Answer: Not too many] and watching something unfold that people (Christian people types) send around the internet EVERY SINGLE CHRISTMAS -- for the past 8 years it turns out.

(You'd think he'd have had his attorneys on that for copyright violations.)

This is a typical self help guru who confuses himself with God, [all good ideas and stories are mine], who (Walsch) has lost contact with normal people (and his ex-wife, who would have told him "Neale ... that DID not happen at any Christmas pageant we ever went to!") and needs a cup of cold water thrown in his face.

Smilin' Jack said...

They're all lying through their teeth. There is no song called "Christmas Love," and if there was it would never be sung in a public school.

Bah! Humbug!

Original George said...

JAL--

I do think it's possible to write something from memory that you think is your memory but is actually something you read. I actually worry about this when I write. I do.

I think it's also possible to copy or save things that impressed you, stick them in your notes and later find them again and honestly think they were yours.

Memory is strange. We don't understand it.

Duncan said...

Save that plagiarism isn't 'theft'.

Theft is 'the taking and asportation of the personal property of another with intent to permanently deprive him of same.'

It violates both the Common Law and the 7th/8th Commandment and is malum in se.

Plagiarism or copyright infringement is neither a CL crime nor a sin. At most it is malum prohibitum (though in practice it's an ethical violation rather than a crime).

The application of the word 'theft' to IP violations is part of the rhetorical exaggeration of modern life that depends on people's confusion between mere regulations and natural law.

Synova said...

Plagiarism isn't theft and slander and libel aren't lying? Oh, please.

I don't care about legal jargon designed to specify what *sort* of theft we're talking about.

IP enforcement and some of what companies try to claim they own even after you've bought their product does approach the threshold of ridiculous. No doubt.

But not a sin to steal what someone else has produced and sell it? Not a sin to take what you haven't earned? Why? Because it's not a clay pot or a chicken or a shirt?

Research is expensive even if what is produced is "intellectual property." A novel is a lot of work to write, even if it's just words.

The idea that, if I published a novel, that you would not consider it a crime nor a sin to take what I spent so much time sweating over... but if I'd spent that time making pottery, it would be a crime to take it without paying my price... that makes me more than a little annoyed.

Not a crime nor a sin?

Not a matter of Natural Law?

Natural Law is that if our legal system does not offer recourse to someone who steals what I have created... I get to resort to vigilantism and put a cap in your sorry *ss.

blake said...

Ooh. Synova is hawt when she threatens ne'er-do-wells....

Benjamin said...

Grilling Nar-do-wells? Oh please, obviously the poster is unable to comprehend the idea that calling plagiarism being anything other than fraud and lying is an appeal to emotion through hyperbole rather than rationally trying to understand what it is.

It isn't theft. It isn't right, but it is more fraud/lying/deception. Seems to fit the definition perfectly.