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Why does anyone care...

…whether a plagiarist apologizes or not?

Yesterday I read one of the latest cases where a plagiarist is caught, confronted and shamed (with the inevitable “leave the poor plagiarist alone, she’s suffering enough as it is” comments thrown in).

What baffles me is the repeated expectations for an apology.


What does an apology change?

Look, not all crimesยน are equal, and I’m not going to call for pitchforks here, but plagiarism–and particularly repeated plagiarism–is not an accidental thing, there is intent. A person cannot inadvertently copy and paste chunks of other people’s work and then forget it’s not his/her own work.

Given this, what is the value of an apology? How can any apology over a deliberate act be anything but, “sorry I got caught”–which is no apology at all?

So, why does anyone care to receive an apology from a plagiarist?


ยน Plagiarism = theft, ergo, crime


  • When someone apologizes about their hurtful actions, it makes them feel better because they finally admit they have done something wrong. For those hurt by those actions, they need that apology as proof that the one committing the crime is remorseful and won’t do it again.

    For the most part we’re a very forgiving society. Look at actors and actress who screw up time and again as an example. Even authors like James Frey and Janet Dailey who got away with their crimes are still writing and making money. Most people are given second chances. In this case it’s up to the bloggers and whoever else to decide whether to forgive.

    BTW, pretty new site! ๐Ÿ™‚


  • Well, see, I still don’t get it.

    Apologizing may or may not make the plagiarist feel better–I doubt it, because they apologize only after being caught, so it’s not as if they felt bad about their own deliberate actions, right? Only that they got caught.

    But even if it does help the plagiarist feel better, so what?

    We know they are only apologizing because they got caught, there is no remorse, and there is no guarantee they won’t do it again.

    Look, in this particular instance, The Story Siren knew exactly what she was doing–read this post by her, dated TWO years ago (thank you, Has!)

    So she with full knowledge and forethought went fishing for content to steal and only apologized, four months after the fact, when outed.

    Remorse? My rather large ass.

    So, once more, why give a fig about an apology?


  • Judging from past similar kerfuffles, people want an apology so they can analyze it to death, judging whether it was sincere, appropriate, sufficient, etc. Usually they decide it wasn’t.


  • @Willaful:

    P.S. I was referring more to kerfuffle spectators — including myself, of course — than the actual victims of plagiarism.


  • Gosh I’m so glad you tackled this, I wanted to, but honestly, I just couldn’t be arsed.

    By the way, apologies rarely make me feel better, they just confirm to me that I was in the right.


  • @Willaful: I think this is the bulk of it, Willaful.

    Karen, when the apology comes out of the blue–meaning, *I* have no clue I was wronged, yet the wrongdoer comes out and explains and apologizes…then they do make me feel better. It means that person has a core of decency, a conscience that wouldn’t allow him/her to go merrily on after doing something s/he knows is wrong.

    But the “sorry I was caught” BS slung so easily about? Yeah, not so much.


  • A true apology, without explanations or trying to shrug away guilt, does mean something to me. ]

    When somebody can own up and say, “I SCREWED UP. I DID SOMETHING WRONG AND I KNEW IT WAS WRONG… I HURT PEOPLE AND I AM SORRY.” without passing the buck to stress, etc, it says something…a true, real apology is hard and if they can own up to their screw-up, it tells me that maybe they’ll try to become better.

    I believe people can change, that they do change. We all makes mistakes…granted, not all of us do things like this…and many have done much worse. But everybody has done something that they knew they shouldn’t, that was unkind or unfair, soemthing they regretted.

    If we weren’t given the chance to grow from them, become better, the world would be a sorry(ier) place than it is.

    Generally apologies should be between the wrong-doer and the wronged party, but when it’s something like this, she wronged every person who ever took her at her word for being somebody they could trust, so she owes them that apology, IMO.

    I think people can learn, and change, and I like to give them the chance to grow from their mistakes. But without a real apology, it’s hard to rebuild any sort of trust.


  • Dee
    April 25
    10:49 pm

    Testing one more time… Checking to see if this shows


  • Dee
    April 25
    11:13 pm

    Test Two


  • Apologies are special and have super powers y’know. Why with the simple use of the word “sorry” suddenly everyhting is resolved, the offence didn’t happen, nothing was taken, no wrong was done- behold the power of the sorry!

    I can understand that there is some element of it being an open admission of fault – which is a great first step. But we then all kind of sit on that first step and have a little party.

    And I can’t even describe how little regard I have for a “sorry” which is basically a “sorry I was caught”. And even less for a sorry which is “everyone is demanding I apologise”. Demand an ADMISSION certainly – but what’s the point of a coerced apology? It has all the sincerity of a politician’s speech!


  • Jeannie S.
    April 26
    2:25 pm

    I am not sure how much an apology helps, but then again, people get upset when there is NO apology. You hear on the news families that are upset because they never got an apology from the person they felt they were wronged by. Other times you hear that the apology is just not enough. So damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    They also need to be REAL apologies – too often they are just explanations of why they did what they did. Remember Kanye West’s “apology” on Jay Leno for the whole Taylor Swift fiasco? He never said “I am sorry, I was wrong” or anything like that. Instead he talked about how he was still hurting from the death of his mom, etc. That’s not an apology.


  • Jan Talbert
    February 11
    8:51 pm

    The apology makes the admission public. An apology of plagiarism is also done in writing, and therefore can be used as admission and fault in other cases, such as pulling foreign editions, etc and in civil suits.


  • @Jan Talbert: In those rare cases where the plagiarism is a) also copyright infringement, and b) someone actually does something about it.


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