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No, plagiarism doesn't just "happen"

Back when the shitstorm surrounding Kristi Diehm, plagiarist, aka The Story Siren¹, broke out, I posted about apologies, and how I think it’s useless to expect–or indeed to receive–an apology from a plagiarist. Like many other offenders, said apologies tend to be of the “fuck, I’m sorry I got caught” variety. Or, much worse, they include so many excuses, explanations, rationalizations and justifications that in the end, to many an uncritical follower/fan, they read like a justification to hate on the victims of the plagiarist.

Well, that queen of chutzpah, Kristi Diehm, is at it again. The short hand for those who don’t go to the SmartBitches: apparently this plagiarist, who has still to apologize properly (as in, without excuses) to her victims, and who has failed to address her fans outright hounding of said victims, has decided to organize a week long event on plagiarism, designed to ‘educate herself’ (yeah, because that very pointed post she wrote on the topic, after allegedly being plagiarized herself, shows that she reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelly didn’t know what the fuck she was doing when she stole Beautifully Invisible and Grit and Glamour. Right.)

Anywho, Kristi Diehm, plagiarist, seems to be just that clueless and stupid.

She invited YA author Sarah Cross to write a guest post to kick of the week, but ‘forgot’ to post any sort of introduction to the event or, indeed, Ms Cross’s post. When called on it, an introductory post appeared, which reads in part:

How did it happen? I’m not really sure I realized I’d crossed the line I’d been so adamant against, but I did. I suppose it happened because there was something I wanted to say, and I couldn’t find the right words to say it. I was asked a question about a blogging topic and went in search of inspiration. I came across a couple of posts that seemed like I could have written them myself — they expressed exactly what I wanted to, in the way that I wanted to. I wanted to make it relevant to book bloggers. I knew I couldn’t use their words — not exactly as written — so I added words of my own and subtracted a few of theirs. In my mind, I had done enough to make it mine; it was my voice. But I was wrong. I screwed up.


Are you seeing red yet?

I am.

Plagiarism is not like shit: it’s not unavoidable if you are alive, and it doesn’t just ‘happen.’

It’s a fucking deliberate, conscious decision to steal. It’s not kleptomania of the mind. It’s not a compulsion. It. Doesn’t. Fucking. Happen.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Oh and in case it gets moderated or deleted, I posted this comment to the plagiarist blog, on the post ‘introducing’ the week on plagiarism:

Are you going to address your fans actions regarding your victims?

Are you ever going to tell them that YOU willfully and cold-bloodedly stole Beautifully Invisible and Grit and Glamour’s content?

Are you ever going to admit that you knew exactly what you were doing–given that you wrote that very pointed post on plagiarism that you then deleted?

Are you ever going to tell your followers and fans that attacking the victims while trying to support you is even lower than your own despicable actions?

Or is this just another strategic move to garner sympathy without admitting your own deliberate malfeasance?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

¹ I am not linking to the plagiarist’s blog. Not giving her hits. You are curious, go to the SmartBitches for the link, or do a simple search.


  • Miravlix
    May 21
    9:12 pm

    I don’t see why plagiarism wont just happen in this day an age, everything has been done once already, it’s very rare a story or some music doesn’t in some way copy a previous idea.

    Patents is basically the software world version of handling “plagiarism”, but all it does is killing innovation. I don’t want to see artist too afraid to create music, books and other art because something has already been done.

    Unique is overrated anyway, truly awesome comes from taken something and making it better.


  • @Miravlix: From where I sit, your level of comprehension is on a par with that of the people claiming that Kristi Diehm, plagiarist, is being bullied and victimized.

    In other words: you don’t have a frigging clue what you are talking about. Get lost.


  • I think her most recent statement is closer to an honest admission than the others, but it might be too late at this point. I’m also skeptical about the timing issue. She lied before (by saying she didn’t remember visiting the sites she lifted content from), so it’s kind of hard to believe her now. And if she’s still lying to her readers and trying to cover her tracks, she hasn’t learned anything.

    Another problem I have with her new excuse is that she still seems confused about what constitutes plagiarism. Even if she’d changed *every* word of the posts, she would have had to cite the idea source. Which she knows, unless she plagiarised her own post on plagiarism.

    Okay, so that said, I’m not sure why you’re calling for her to make a proper apology because it would mean nothing to you. Even if she addressed the fan-bullying, took full responsibility, and made amends, she’d still be a plagiarist who doesn’t deserve forgiveness in your eyes, is that right?


  • @Jill Sorenson: Ms Sorenson, I am not calling on Kristi Diehm to apologize.

    My comment, and the further comments I’ve made on her posts today (I’m weak), are meant to highlight her hypocrisy.

    As for whether a person deserves forgiveness, I would say that it depends on whether there is honest, sincere, heartfelt regret. To quote Jessica@RRR,

    A restorative apology is not focused on the self, but on re-building community.

    Haven’t seen that, by a long shot, in any of Kristi Diehm’s actions from the moment she first trolled Beautifully Invisible and Grit and Glamour, back late last year.

    YMMV, and I’m sure I come across as unfeeling and rigid on this issue. Considering how many apologists there are for people who willfully harm others, I’m okay with being on the other end.

    (Please note I am not calling Ms Sorenson herself an apologist on behalf on Kristi Dieahm. I am stating what I see as a fact: there are many people happy to jump in defense of perpetrators and willing to further victimize victims.)


  • Mireya
    May 22
    12:42 am

    I almost posted… but at my age I am quite jaded and too much of cynic to believe that I would accomplish anything by doing so. A lot of the responses to your posts, AZ, show, again, that people only take bits and pieces of what is being said, selectively, and most don’t even stop to think about what the opposing side is saying. They don’t know the meaning of the word “plagiarism” so how could I expect that they would understand the meaning of the word “bullying”… even when there is some much being said about “bullying” these days. I was the victim of bullying myself, and that aspect of this scandal is what has me truly disturbed, even more so than the thieving act itself, I have to admit.


  • @Mireya: Oh lord but you are right!

    It’s nauseating to read all those “how brave!” and “you poor thing!” comments.

    Considering her lack of response to the true abuse lobed at her victims’ heads, I’m wondering whether Kristi Diahm has come to believe that she is, indeed, the victim here.


  • @AztecLady: I read Jessica’s post several weeks ago and I don’t understand the concept of a “restorative apology” as well as I’d like to. But if we’re talking about the healing of a community, and a significant number of members of that community can’t forgive TSS no matter what, I don’t see how any kind of apology or action from her will make a difference. Maybe a restorative apology would entail more of a reaching out on her part (I’d definitely recommend that she speak to her fans about bullying and apologize more directly) AND a willingness to accept the gesture on the other end. Actually, I think that’s what she might be trying to do with this week-long event, but I feel that it got off on the wrong foot.


  • Ms Sorenson, I’m not an ethicist so I won’t try to explain what Jessica may or may not have meant.

    What I see/perceive from Kristi Diehm’s phrasing and behaviour (situation normal! giveaways! silence on the topic of her victims being bullied and threatened! bubbly chirpy blog posts!) doesn’t hint at regret or remorse.

    What she (and others) call apologies, are all about Kristi. Her state of mind. Her anguish. Her pain. Her so-called “mistakes” that “just happened.” It’s all about explaining and justifying herself.

    I don’t see anything in those apologies that acknowledges the willful nature of her actions.

    Remember Kay Manning?

    To all the authors, publishers, and editors I’ve met and known over the years, I am sorry. I know you will never forgive me and you shouldn’t.

    See that last line? That is an apology.

    Mind you, I don’t claim to know whether KM was or wasn’t sincere, but at the very least she stopped justifying herself.

    That counts for me.


  • Mireya
    May 22
    11:15 am

    Yeah, I don’t call what that woman has posted an “apology” per se. It’s a justification, she states she’s wrong; but the fact that she interposes excuses, and the inclusion of a statement that was completely and utterly disgusting, implying that EVERYONE has walked that line or has considered to do so, was adding insult to injury. That latest bit included in her intro to that alleged series of articles on plagiarism was no apology, it was another justification: if everyone else does it, why is it so bad that she did it.

    @AZ: I suspect that may be the case. She’s at the point in which she actually believes she’s the victim, enabled by her misguided friends.


  • I agree that Manning’s apology was well done.


  • Just chiming back in to say I was totally wrong! What I assumed was a sincere effort to educate the community and open up discussion has turned into a trainwreck of utter stupidity.

    PS you can call me Jill.


  • @Jill Sorenson: And this is one of the reasons you’ve always had my respect…Jill 😀

    You, along with people like Shiloh Walker and Ann Aguirre, don’t shy away from discussion and disagreement, while keeping calm and rational–and reasonable.

    And not being afraid of saying “I was wrong” (and in a public venue) is one of the most courageous things a person can do. Thank you.


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