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March 29, 2005 8:04 AM   Subscribe

Laura K. Pahl is a plagiarist. In which a blogger exacts poetic justice on a spoiled little rich girl at university.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy (579 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Could he not face, in many jurisdictions, fraud charges in connection with his actions here?
posted by raysmj at 8:13 AM on March 29, 2005


so, so cold
posted by dead_ at 8:14 AM on March 29, 2005


oh snap!
posted by PenDevil at 8:17 AM on March 29, 2005


I, personally, can't wait until he gets the check.
posted by bhance at 8:19 AM on March 29, 2005


" Could he not face, in many jurisdictions, fraud charges in connection with his actions here?"

If so, I suggest that we mefites do our best to make sure that he is punished. As he deserves. He should have considered his actions more carefully.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:20 AM on March 29, 2005


in which yest another self-absorbed blogger of limited comedic ability foists yet another 'i scammed teh stoopit IM stranger' entry on the masses.

save my spot in the yawnosphere.
posted by quonsar at 8:23 AM on March 29, 2005


She done did bad.

He done did much worse.

Egomaniac.
posted by peacay at 8:25 AM on March 29, 2005


I'm rather amused by that thing, although I'm shocked at how much hatin' Nate is getting over this. I'm guessing that there must be a lot of people out there who, like Laura K. Pahl, have bought pre-made papers in the past and are appalled that anyone could think there is something wrong with the practice.
posted by clevershark at 8:29 AM on March 29, 2005


Without nudie pictures, this story is useless.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:29 AM on March 29, 2005


Karma
posted by caddis at 8:31 AM on March 29, 2005


I'm guessing that there must be a lot of people out there who, like Laura K. Pahl, have bought pre-made papers in the past and are appalled that anyone could think there is something wrong with the practice.

Or they just think he went a little too far to prove a point, which is entirely more likely.

I watched people plagiarize their way through university and can safely say that I think that some form of stringing her along until her paper is due and then handing over the rubbish paper would have sufficed. Let her fail the paper; she'l learn quickly.

This was someone doing something so that they could blog it, which is pretty low for both blogging and comedy standpoints.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 8:31 AM on March 29, 2005


This is an almost unbelievably vicious thing to do to someone. I'm with peacay; this guy's a jerk. So's the girl, but she's simply hurting herself. He's crossed over into something far, far worse.
posted by mediareport at 8:34 AM on March 29, 2005


Why is this fellow he did worse? I also am shocked about how many people are crying over this "poor girl", who had obviously done this before; her constant checking up on the writer for progress reports, the laughable excuses to not pay up front, etc. In the beginning of every class the syllabus notes that plagiarism is grounds for a zero grade. Anyone who can't write a couple of pages in graduate school deserves the wrath of Nate.
posted by uni verse at 8:37 AM on March 29, 2005


This is hilarious. Laura K. Pahl the plagiarist deserves everything she gets, and I think that this Nate is a fine, fine person.

Why are the rest of you so hung up on exposing cheaters? Is this how you got your degree, mediareport? Peacay? EB?

Why not turn the tables on someone who is without any sense of honor or fair play? Fuck Laura K. Pahl the plagiarist; defend those who are worth defending.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:38 AM on March 29, 2005


He gets points for keeping this little shenanigan down to a single blog post, rather than milking it for twenty or so ad-heavy pages.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:39 AM on March 29, 2005


[what he did] sorry
posted by uni verse at 8:39 AM on March 29, 2005


From the blog:

so I started making up my plan. Which was real simple: Take her money and cut and paste a paper together from the internet that was so obviously plagiarised that she'd be guaranteed to get caught. And then, if I was able to get the information out of her, I'd report her to whatever her school was, and who knows, maybe even pump her for double money in exchange for not turning her in. Either way, I'd eventually be writing the story up in this blog, and sending her the link to it.

I've never plagarized a paper in my life, and I find this guys attitude horrible. Who the fuck does he think he is? I agree with the premise that if Laura did something bad, Nathan did something much much worse; and not least because he trespasses on the need of a stranger. Even if that need isn't something that he (or I) sympathizes with, there's no need to do anything other than tell her that he can't help her. But then what do I know, I always forget to kick the junkies I don't give money to on the street.
posted by OmieWise at 8:40 AM on March 29, 2005 [1 favorite]


i couldn't make myself read half of that. i'll find it endlessly amusing if it turns out to be a different laura pahl than the one he thinks it is and after causing her problems with the school, she sues the hell out of him.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 8:41 AM on March 29, 2005


I'm with Nate, too, though it would probably have been a better punchline if he'd not notified the school, and just let the paper stand on its own. I mean, come on, she IMed a stranger to get him to write a paper for her; we want her to get a degree?
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:41 AM on March 29, 2005


Nathan did something much much worse

What, pray tell, is that? Tell the truth?

Would you give safe harbor to a felon? Would you look away as an employee dipped into the till? Any college student knows that plagiarism is unethical. She chose to do it anyway. Why the pity?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:43 AM on March 29, 2005


I'm guessing that some sympathetic person will track Laura down and warn her before she turns the paper in.

Out of curiousity, though, I did some quick digging, and I didn't find an easy way to discover her phone number/email address. Anybody else have better luck?

But I'm with MrMoonPie. Scamming somebody who's trying to scam their school? Funny. Vindictively naming your entry (for Google) "Laura K. Pahl is a plagarist" and notifying the school and deliberately not notifying Laura - that's just cruelty, pure and simply. It's ugly.
posted by gd779 at 8:43 AM on March 29, 2005


Well negating a wrong isn't always right. I guess the other thing to do might have been to email her right before the time the paper was due with a note saying "If you turn that paper in, you'll have hell to pay."

I'm torn. It's certainly being a vigilante, but in a place where the law is few and far between which may be where vigilantes are called for. On her side, there is also some license to act badly in cases where no one else is being caught for acting badly. But the risk is there, and even if you speed with the rest, "everyone does it" isn't a good reason to expect that society will let you out of the ticket.

I believe her punishment would fit the crime if she was flunked or kicked out -- but being THE public face of plagiarism is a little harsh. We don't deserve to be publicly mocked for personal failings. To print T-shirts is a bit much.

The paper, however, is a classic.
posted by ontic at 8:43 AM on March 29, 2005


If Nate cashes the cheque, then he may be entering the sphere of jerkness. If he gives that cheque to charity, I guess it depends on your personal value system whether or not it cancels out.

However, as long as the cheque isn't cashed, he's basically a person who was approached with an offer to commit a crime, and instead of just saying "Count me out" and letting the criminal try with someone else, instead tried to sabotage the crime and get the criminals caught. Thumbs up.

(yes, I realize it isn't a "criminal offence", but I believe the analogy is generally valid).
posted by Bugbread at 8:43 AM on March 29, 2005 [1 favorite]


Actionable tort, thy name is Nate Kushner!
posted by MaxVonCretin at 8:43 AM on March 29, 2005


Oh please, uni verse, I'm not crying over "this poor girl"; I said I think she's a jerk (and a very stupid one, at that). But Nate's public shaming is so holier-than-thou it's a wonder his head's not pinned to the ground under the weight of his halo. Emailing the president of Lewis University?

What a fucking dick.
posted by mediareport at 8:44 AM on March 29, 2005 [4 favorites]


Someone who buys papers like this deserves to receive the kind of obviously plagiarized paper she did.

However, the public mocking is indeed a little over-the-top. But I'm not past a little good ol' schadenfreude.

And yes, legally speaking, cashing that check would be a bad idea.
posted by mek at 8:47 AM on March 29, 2005


If she agreed, upon entering the University, to a code of conduct which includes expulsion upon discovery of plagiarism, then the blog guy is doing nothing wrong and she has brought the entire problem upon herself. I don't see anything wrong with what he has done.
posted by Fantt at 8:48 AM on March 29, 2005


Optimus Chyme writes "Nathan did something much much worse

"What, pray tell, is that? Tell the truth?

"Would you give safe harbor to a felon? Would you look away as an employee dipped into the till? Any college student knows that plagiarism is unethical. She chose to do it anyway. Why the pity?"


What felony? Look, I'm not defending this girl. I think what she did stunk and she doesn't seem like someone I would want to spend time with. You've listed two crimes and then admitted that plagarism is 'unethical'. Nate decided somewhere along the lines that his mission was to seriously hurt this girl. And the defenses that are offered here for that don't really come from his entry. He seems pretty blasé about the plagarism, although he does say that he doesn't like it. He mostly seems to want a good blog entry. At least to me.

On preview: I would have no problem if he just sent her a ridiculous paper, that would seem appropriate to me. It's the attempt to get her into real trouble, and to expand that to everyone who knows her or might come to know her in future, that I've got a problem with.
posted by OmieWise at 8:50 AM on March 29, 2005


If Nate cashes the cheque, then he may be entering the sphere of jerkness.

he's already a member in good standing of the jerkosphere. if he cashes the check, then he's a criminal.
posted by quonsar at 8:50 AM on March 29, 2005 [1 favorite]


Any teacher worth his or her salt would catch the plagiarism, but it would be truly classic if the paper passed -- highlighting the other side of the equation (professorial lack of concern for students).

To those of you who think she will learn a lesson -- why is this? If her entire life is reduced to this act by the Internet, is there any reason to learn the lesson?
posted by ontic at 8:50 AM on March 29, 2005


Did anyone else notice the phrase "I made a doody"stuck in the middle of the third paragraph? I laughed. Doody. hehe.
Whose actions were more wrong? The one who pagarizes? The one who set out to expose and defraud the plagarist? Or the multitudes who judge them both?
Maybe I am worst, who judges those who judge! Or, even better yet, those who are sure to come after to judge me for judging those who judge.
The word "judge" starts to look weird when you read it over and over again.
posted by leapfrog at 8:51 AM on March 29, 2005


and not least because he trespasses on the need of a stranger This is not a need that they can't fill, like heroin. She could've written the paper in less time it took to communicate with the blogger. What she didn't have was creativity and integrity: and I don't want anyone like that becoming a teacher and/or holding a master's degree in their field.
posted by uni verse at 8:52 AM on March 29, 2005


*sigh* This isn't plagiarism, it's a work for hire- this makes her no more of a plagiarist than it makes a celebrity a plagiarist when their name is put onto a ghostwritten "autobiography."

Of course, that doesn't make it any more ethical in the grand scheme of her education, but for all the howling about how the Blair Hornstines of the world shouldn't hide behind the "I didn't know it was plagiarism" flag, people seem to be really, really fuzzy on what plagiarism actually is.
posted by headspace at 8:53 AM on March 29, 2005


That check deserves to be framed not cashed. Comedic genius? No. However, she deserved everything she got. This girl is obviously too stupid to deserve a degree anyway. I would like to see her try to sue him for failing to do a good job helping her commit academic fraud (but he would be wise not to cash the check). It would be like the morons you hear about who called the police to report their dope being stolen. This is not entrapment; she initiated the contact. All Nate did was string her along. Good for him, and she gets first hand Karma experience.
posted by caddis at 8:53 AM on March 29, 2005


Remember, plagarism is one of those things (like driving on the right side of the road) that is only unethical by convention. Many, many societies do not view plagarism the way that America does. I know it's going to be hard for some of you to make a rational, neutral value-judgment on something you feel so strongly about, but that's only because of the environment in which you were raised.
posted by gd779 at 8:53 AM on March 29, 2005 [1 favorite]


University e-mail address used to take a couple possible forms that could be easy to guess based on information in that blog entry.

Just sayin'.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:54 AM on March 29, 2005


Personally, I worked my ass off for my degree and I hate with a seething passion people who cheat. This chick totally and completely deserves everything she's going to reap from this. Besides, if you haven't so much as cracked an eyelid in your World Religions class, you should know that Chivas has exactly as much to do with Hinduism as teetotalling has to do with frat houses: zero. Pay to play. If you want to to take the chance that someone's going to screw you, then you're going to take that chance. Don't be surprised, or expect sympathy, when you get screwed for being a dishonest cheater. (Besides, the paper is totally laughable. If she has two brain cells to rub together, she won't turn it in. It might have been *slightly* upsetting if he wrote a good paper, rather than what she actually got.)
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:55 AM on March 29, 2005


Two wrongs clearly make a right.

Vigilante justice is a good thing.

As long as you're doing something to be able to blog about it then it's okay.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 8:55 AM on March 29, 2005


Nate Kushner is a lazy web developer.

He resizes images using height and width parameters in his HTML instead of saving me the bandwidth and thumbnailing them. I think I will report him to his employer who should know he's a lazy twit.

Bitch didn't know he was fucking with a web geek...
posted by theFlyingSquirrel at 8:57 AM on March 29, 2005


Pure and simple - what she did is grounds for expulsion. But she is a private figure, and inasmuch as there is evident malice in his intent, what he did is grounds for a defamation suit.
posted by MaxVonCretin at 8:57 AM on March 29, 2005


If her entire life is reduced to this act by the Internet, is there any reason to learn the lesson?

Money is no object to her, remember? She'll be fine.

He mostly seems to want a good blog entry.

Things can serve dual purposes. You got your justice in my blog entry! You got your blog entry in my justice!
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:58 AM on March 29, 2005


headspace: She passed off work that was not her own as her own. Doesn't matter if it was hired work or not. It's plagiarism by any reasonable definition.
posted by ontic at 8:58 AM on March 29, 2005


I don't see any winners here.
The girl is a) stupid/lazy for not doing her own damn work and b) Amazingly stupid for asking a complete stranger to write it for her.

On the other hand, Nate deserves no "atta boy"s either. He actively took action to snare the girl and then totally fuck with her. It was unnecessary and Dick-Cheney-Mean. Better to let the girl fail on her own, rather than be the one who kicks her off the ledge.

This is sort of like giving counterfeit money to a panhandler and then turning the bum into the cops.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:58 AM on March 29, 2005 [2 favorites]


Good on him. If she's not in school to learn, she shouldn't be in school at all. May her name be smeared as long as Google exists to remember it.
posted by Hildago at 8:59 AM on March 29, 2005


Alll this grief for a guy who turns in a thief? If Nate had turned in, say, a tobacco company, you'd be calling him a whistle-blower.

The only thing I disagree with is Nate's unsubstantiated observation that, "if a Shudra watches dharma and greg, it will have a positive effect on his karma..."
posted by sixpack at 8:59 AM on March 29, 2005


what he did is grounds for a defamation suit.

I'm pretty sure you can't defame someone by telling the truth about them.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:00 AM on March 29, 2005


The one who set out to expose and defraud the plagarist?

There's a lot of implication out there that Nate is "defrauding" that girl. That is just false. He certainly made no representation that the paper would be any good, nor did he advertise himself as an expert on the matter. On the contrary it's that Laura K. Pahl girl that has been insistent on having him do the paper, in no uncertain term.

Saying that he wants to "defraud" her is like saying that any cop who's ever done a sting is a con artist (because in those situations they were out to "defraud" other people).

As for those who want to warn Ms. Pahl, do you seriously think for a second that she won't just turn around and buy a paper from another source? She obviously knows SFA about the subject matter.
posted by clevershark at 9:00 AM on March 29, 2005


Won't someone think of the feelings of the plagiarists too lazy to cut and paste their own papers off the internet?

I'm operating on the supposition that Nate isn't making anything up. All of it's true. So all the internet knows she bought a paper. Well, that's because she did. So her dean and her professor will probably find out that she bought a paper. She did. If she gets in trouble, she will get in trouble for things that she herself willingly chose to do.

If Nate was the one randomly IMing people and asking THEM if they wanted to buy papers off of him, I'd think we was a jerk. But he's doing things that Laura thought up first, and then telling people what she did. Good for him.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:01 AM on March 29, 2005


Out of curiousity, though, I did some quick digging, and I didn't find an easy way to discover her phone number/email address. Anybody else have better luck?
If she gave out her phone number to him or his caller ID captured it, then it would be easier on his end investigating her further. Does her e-mail address have the university name in it? There is drama in his blog so he may have inflated the hows for better reading.
When she used the phone and e-mail, she should have hid her information on his receiving side.

As to her being "spoiled little rich girl", this is perplexing since she offered 60 bucks for a paper which seems fairly cheap.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:01 AM on March 29, 2005


Who the hell IM's someone at random to write them an essay? "Eating Hindu Sculpture," WTF? Perhaps her University needs to review it's entrance requirements.
posted by fire&wings at 9:02 AM on March 29, 2005


is there any reason to learn the lesson?
If she's not learning in college, she doesn't get the M.S.! If she doesn't learn integrity from this episode, I don't care, I'm tired of people scamming the system.
posted by uni verse at 9:02 AM on March 29, 2005


Junkies don't need heroin, they want it. Alcoholics (if they're far enough gone) need alcohol.
posted by OmieWise at 9:02 AM on March 29, 2005


Is Pahl her real name?
posted by caddis at 9:03 AM on March 29, 2005


I'm baffled by the sympathy you people are pouring out to Laura K. What she's doing is grounds for expulsion, and she'd deserve it. Nate's engaging in a sting operation, pure and simple.

Otoh, while cashing the cheque almost certainly wouldn't be illegal, it definitely does strike me as unethical. But you're all missing the fact that Nate describes himself as a comic writer and his remarks about the money can probably be taken with a chunk of salt. As far as I'm concerned, three cheers to Nate for getting Laura her just desserts...
posted by simra at 9:03 AM on March 29, 2005


I really can't see why people think he committed the more egregious sin.
posted by drezdn at 9:05 AM on March 29, 2005


thedevildancedlightly : " Vigilante justice is a good thing."

Vigilante justice is taking the law into your own hands.
From what I can see, Nate is informing the university, allowing them to administer justice themselves.
It's the difference between shooting a robber and calling 911. Nate just put a paint bomb in the bag of cash and called the police about the robbery. Being upset about the cheque, I can understand, but I'm surprised you find the "writing a bum paper and turning her in" part to be a bad thing..
posted by Bugbread at 9:05 AM on March 29, 2005


Could he not face, in many jurisdictions, fraud charges in connection with his actions here?

He wrote the paper, where's the fraud? She didn't have him sign an NDA
posted by delmoi at 9:07 AM on March 29, 2005


I'm pretty sure you can't defame someone by telling the truth about them.

Actually, you can. Public disclosure of private facts, especially when maliciously intended to elicit public contempt or ridicule, still falls squarely in defamation territory.
posted by MaxVonCretin at 9:07 AM on March 29, 2005


Wait, didn't we all jump on Blair Hornstein when her plagiarism was discovered?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:08 AM on March 29, 2005


headspace: In that case, i've got some papers that need writing...
posted by uni verse at 9:08 AM on March 29, 2005


Undergraduate plagiarism generally doesn't hurt anybody (except the plagiarizer). It is, in that sense, a victimless crime. But deliberately baiting someone and then trying to very publicly and very permanently fuck up their life - that's just ugly.

The irrational anti-plagarism moralizing in this thread makes you all sound like the Religious Right.
posted by gd779 at 9:09 AM on March 29, 2005 [1 favorite]


Color me jaded... but I wouldn't be surprised if this was viral advertising.....

AWEEKOFKINDNESS!!!!
Shows announced, Blog operational!

Appearing Thursday, April 7th, 8:00 PM xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
With: Fearsome - The Scallywags - Skitch, Skatch, Scotch - Monkeys In The Atrium
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (Between 8th and 9th Avenues), New York, NY - Cover $10
email xxxxxxxxxxxx@gmail.com with your name and the number of people in your party to make reservations.

(just in case it is... I x'ed out the pertinent info... and I also think the guy is a dick if it is true... so I ain't helpin' him none...)

posted by Debaser626 at 9:09 AM on March 29, 2005


Sweeet. I have no sympathy for Laura. Take the rag away from your face, for now ain't the time for your tears.

Plagiarism is ethically wrong. And frankly, if it gets her a good GPA, it means that someone who did his own work doesn't get hired for the job Laura does get.

We're become too used to lies in this country, whether it's petty offenders like Laura, scientists who falsify research, corporations that hide research findings showing their products are dangerous, government agencies that suppress scientific findings that corporations don't like, journalists who lie about taking money from the politicians they cover, or presidents who lie under oath or lie us into war.

I don't know that Bush or Clinton plagiarised in school, but, for all of you who are sympathizing about Laura and calumniating Nate, remembers that liars are emboldened when they get away with lies.

Sure, let's let Laura off easy, and then let's watch let her get hired by, oh, Enron or a drug company that seeks to suppress research showing that kids using their drugs kill themselves.

Then we can explain to Grandma Millie, or the mother of a kid on Zoloft who just hanged himself, or the mother of an American soldier blown to pieces in an unnecessary war for Halliburton, that, well, we didn't want to ruin Laura's life by not hiring her, so we chose to make a buck and to ruin yours.

People like Laura grow up to run this country, folks. Save your sympathy for the kids who die so liars can purchase their vacation homes.

It's bright shiny people like Laura K. Pahl who grow up to become bright shining people like Robert S. McNamara and Donald Rumsfeld and whose bright shining lies cost the lives of thousands of Americans. The hell with her, I hope she rots,.
posted by orthogonality at 9:09 AM on March 29, 2005 [1 favorite]


Some time ago, we found that a student in a US university had "stolen" dozens of known and less known CG pictures from the internet : he had creatively renamed the images, creatively erased the copyright notices and replaced them by his own name. Then he had built a website around "his" work, that he showed to the other students as a proof of his great graphic abilities (and possibly used to get some graphic jobs on the campus). One of his online nicknames was god.

We had a nice email chat with the university dean and after a few days, the matter was privately and quietly resolved (he got an earful). At no moment we felt that his name had to be publicly exposed, even though his "theft" was quite impressive and the whole story would have made fun reading. Even though I was pissed off (a few images were mine), even though his actions had been quite public, I didn't want the idiot's name to be dragged in the googlemud for the 10 next years.
posted by elgilito at 9:10 AM on March 29, 2005 [1 favorite]


OmieWise: I find this guys attitude horrible. Who the fuck does he think he is?
mediareport: This is an almost unbelievably vicious thing to do to someone. I'm with peacay; this guy's a jerk
OmieWise: Nate decided somewhere along the lines that his mission was to seriously hurt this girl

What an interesting bit of sociology we've stumbled upon here. I'm squirming in guilty schadenfreude myself, so I won't condemn the above posters too harshly

But let go of your rage. This woman took her own risks, the consequences are hers to bear. Would we all be condemning Nathan if he had been asked to betray his profession's ethic and not reported it?

That said, making a public show out of it is poor taste. Forfeit karma bonus.
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:10 AM on March 29, 2005


I'm not sure there's many here who would condone plagiarism. I did all my own work at Uni. And I helped others - not to cheat, just some assistance.

Laura must be punished, according to her University's rules. She may wish to pray that they don't cruise through her previous submissions.

But Nate is a complete and utter wanker - it's one thing to report someone for cheating, but a different ballpark entirely for him to play out punitive, egocentric and sadistic games for his own amusement and supposed blogcred. I want back my click.
posted by peacay at 9:11 AM on March 29, 2005 [2 favorites]


I think it's pretty funny. Mean and more than I would have done, but pretty funny, nonetheless.
posted by agregoli at 9:11 AM on March 29, 2005


Many, many societies do not view plagarism the way that America does.

So if I wanted to go to a university that doesn't mind if I pay someone else write my papers, there ought to be lots to choose from. Can you name a few?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:11 AM on March 29, 2005


She passed off work that was not her own as her own. Doesn't matter if it was hired work or not. It's plagiarism by any reasonable definition.

No, it's not. She hired Nate to write a paper for her. Nate agreed to write a paper for her. It is a work for hire, and providing that both ends of the contract are met (Nate gives her the paper, she gives Nate the money,) she can do anything she wants with it, including claim it as her own. Again, this works exactly the same way ghostwriting contracts work- ghostwriters don't even get to claim those works on their CVs because the work-for-hire author sold the entire thing, including the right to call oneself the author.

Pahl is completely unethical (and a fraud if she doesn't actually send payment to Nate,) but she's not a plagiarist.
posted by headspace at 9:12 AM on March 29, 2005 [1 favorite]


Cheaters deserve to get caught. Nate merely helped her reap her karmic reward. If what he did is wrong, he'll reap his, too.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:12 AM on March 29, 2005


Undergraduate plagiarism generally doesn't hurt anybody (except the plagiarizer).

Not true at all. It hurts everyone who goes to her school for the same degree. On the outside, it hurts everyone who has (or is getting) an undergrad degree. It lowers the standards required to receive the degree, making everyone else's worth less. I worked hard for my degree, and I'll be damned if it's OK for someone else to get the same respect by buying theirs.
posted by PantsOfSCIENCE at 9:12 AM on March 29, 2005


The irrational anti-plagarism moralizing

Where the fuck do you live where this sort of thing isn't frowned upon?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:15 AM on March 29, 2005


orthogonality: That's what I'm talking about! There are consequences even for "victimless crimes".
posted by uni verse at 9:15 AM on March 29, 2005


Armitage Shanks : "Many, many societies do not view plagarism the way that America does."

Many, many societies do not view college the way that America does. However, I don't think that your professors will pay much attention when you say, "Hey, I haven't been to class in 4 years, but you should give me a diploma anyway, because, hey, in Japan, you get your diploma pretty much automatically!"
posted by Bugbread at 9:17 AM on March 29, 2005


Your legal definitions of 'plagarism' may be interesting and correct and all, but in the end, I'm fairly sure a given professor isn't exactly going to be swayed by your Clintonesque squirming.. now, my favorite subject of castrated punishment avenues available to professors, that's another subject. I would be suprised if, all things considered, she even failed the class -- likely, she was offered a zero on the assignment or even a re-do.
posted by kcm at 9:20 AM on March 29, 2005


I think some people are misreading headspace (hopefully, I'm not one of them).

From what I gather, headspace is just pointing out that plagiarism is not the right word in this case. It's similar to discussions where someone commits slander and other people talk about their commission of "libel".

Presumably, her college's conduct policy prohibits plagiarism and includes a statement that "all work submitted by students must be their own". I'm pretty sure my uni's policy was something like that. So in this case, her work is not plagiarism (after all, she used it with permission), but it's just as against college policy.
posted by Bugbread at 9:20 AM on March 29, 2005


Nate's engaging in a sting operation, pure and simple.

if nate is so goddamnably dedicated to academic honesty, he'd simply have informed the proper university authority of the solicitation. nate is instead using the situation to advance his own notoriety and puffing himself up in a veritable hurricane of bloated nobility, self-righteousness and narcissism. he comes off, by far, as the most gaping asshole extant in this sad little anecdote.
posted by quonsar at 9:23 AM on March 29, 2005 [1 favorite]


But deliberately baiting someone and then trying to very publicly and very permanently fuck up their life - that's just ugly.

She was anything BUT deliberately baited. She contacted him, and had every opportunity to back out. And I doubt this will permanently fuck up her life. Remember, "Money's not a problem."
posted by boymilo at 9:23 AM on March 29, 2005


I actually am even MORE leaning towards viral marketing for this guys comedy troupe... Lewis University is a Christian College...
and the only course they offer in Ethnic/Cultural studies (which is the only field I can see them discussin Hinduism... as there's no possible reference in either the Philosophy or Theology degree branches) is a course which concerns itself with U.S. race and religion to reduce intolerance....


I'd put my two dollars on the fact that this is bullshit. FUCK YOU NATHAN!!!!
posted by Debaser626 at 9:24 AM on March 29, 2005


quonsar : "he comes off, by far, as the most gaping asshole extant in this sad little anecdote."

It must hurt to have that limelight taken from you, quon.
posted by Bugbread at 9:25 AM on March 29, 2005


uni verse writes "orthogonality: That's what I'm talking about! There are consequences even for 'victimless crimes'."

Plagiarism isn't victimless. It's fraud, pure and simple. It's a lie that victimizers the whole society, by claiming a knowledge one doesn't have.

Plagiarists who get into medical school will eventually operate on your or your family. Plagiarists accepted to law school will (mis)represent you. Plagiarists hired by Enron will destroy your pension fund. And plagiarists who get into the White House will destroy your country.

Give me a pothead any day. Shooting heroin is victimless (that is, the only victim is user). Smoking pot is victimless. Drinking booze is victimless. Smoking cigarettes is victimless. Looking at porn is victimless. Man-on-man sex is victimless.

And if you think man-on-dog sex victimizes the dog (which I grant it may) what do you think of rodeos or barbecues?

I'd much rather jail plagiarists and legalize pot. Stupid potheads won't ever destroy my country. Amoral plagiarists will.
posted by orthogonality at 9:26 AM on March 29, 2005


headspace:
plagiarism n 1: a piece of writing that has been copied from someone else and is presented as being your own work 2: the act of plagiarizing; taking someone's words or ideas as if they were your own.

from dictionary.com

so, while, no, the act of commissioning the paper might not be plagiarism, turning it in as her own most certainly is.

besides, "Laura K. Pahl is a plagiarist" reads so much better than "Laura K. Pahl commissioned a paper with the intent to commit an act of plagiarism."

but hey, maybe she'll learn something of Hinduism after all, though karma, if nothing else.
posted by stefan at 9:26 AM on March 29, 2005


Wonderful. Good for Nate. I have no sympathy with the lazy little cow and she deserved to be exposed and embarrassed. The public exposure might also help dissuade a few similarly dishonest chancers from going this route.

I find the attitude of those who are attacking the guy for bringing a lousy little cheat to light ... well... revealing, I guess. Why does there seem to be - goddamn, sometimes it's almost like a movement - to excuse bad behaviour or at least to treat it with kid gloves instead of slamming it upside the head, hard? Oh dear, some grubby little cheat got named and shamed. Good. Plagiarists are not only dishonest, they leech off the labours of other people. To hell with them.

And hell yes, Nate was funny. Saying "Chivas" instead of Shiva? Funny. This?

As long as you understand that plagiarism is not going to free you from the painful cycle of death and rebirth any quicker.

Funny.
posted by Decani at 9:26 AM on March 29, 2005


While Headspace is correct in that this does not constitute plagiarism as traditionally defined, most academic honor codes now explicitly define plagiarism as also including "submitting work completed by another." So there ya go.
posted by MaxVonCretin at 9:26 AM on March 29, 2005


Nate's an asshole. He could quite possibly ruin this girl's life and all in the name of blogging. Sure, plagarism is bad (in this context at least... and really, this isn't plagarism on Larua's part) and cheaters deserve to be punished but this crosses the line. What line? Well, I have no idea. Basically though, we don't know a single thing about Laura, nor does Nate. Any number of variables could change our outlook on Laura's actions. Does the fact that she's trying to cheat her way into a passing grade give us the right to sabotage her? I say no.
posted by panoptican at 9:27 AM on March 29, 2005


Undergraduate plagiarism generally doesn't hurt anybody (except the plagiarizer). It is, in that sense, a victimless crime.

Unless the professor grades on a curve, as several of mine did. Anyone who makes a lower grade than Laura is a victim of her plagiarism.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:28 AM on March 29, 2005


Oh and can YOU find any reference to Laura Pahl in this? Besides the bull google description.....

NOPE
posted by Debaser626 at 9:29 AM on March 29, 2005


I find the attitude of those who are attacking the guy for bringing a lousy little cheat to light ... well... revealing, I guess. Why does there seem to be - goddamn, sometimes it's almost like a movement - to excuse bad behaviour or at least to treat it with kid gloves instead of slamming it upside the head, hard?

It's not excusing bad behavior, it's condemning the actions of Nate. They weren't justified.
posted by panoptican at 9:30 AM on March 29, 2005


besides, "Laura K. Pahl is a plagiarist" reads so much better than "Laura K. Pahl commissioned a paper with the intent to commit an act of plagiarism."

And it'll fit better on a t-shirt, too.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:30 AM on March 29, 2005


Yeah...yeah....not plagiarism.........but it would be academic fraud nonetheless were she to hand it in as her own work.

(some might say that the greater crime against intelligence was not the solicitation of the paper but handing it in after reading it - but mind you, he offered $60 and she countered with $75 - we are not looking at a future Nobel LAUReAte methinx)
posted by peacay at 9:30 AM on March 29, 2005


It must hurt to have that limelight taken from you, quon.

palpable envy becomes you.
posted by quonsar at 9:30 AM on March 29, 2005


Y'know, my sophomore year, I wrote a 5-page paper about the Hindu castes for a 101 Cult. Anthro class. The paper sucked ass, but I pounded it out in the three hours before class.
I have to sit next to girls (and guys) like these in my classes, and they devalue the education of everyone. They don't contribute, they ask stupid questions that were well explained in the reading, and they don't come up with anything interesting.
Not everyone should be in college. It sounds like if Laura can't be asked to pound out a shitty paper, and instead tries to weasel her way around by buying one, she deserves to be pilloried publicly and sent to a trade school. Blacklisted? ITT will still take her.
And for the "You guys sound like the religious right" bullshit above, I say: You sound like George W. Bush, wanting to use money and low standards to succeed.
posted by klangklangston at 9:31 AM on March 29, 2005


Smoking pot is victimless. Drinking booze is victimless. Smoking cigarettes is victimless. Looking at porn is victimless.

disconnection from humanity is hardly victimless.
posted by quonsar at 9:32 AM on March 29, 2005


This story needs an ending.

Maybe one of her friends will come up to her and be like, "Laura! You're all over the internet!"
And she'll find the closest internet cafe and to her shock and horror, IS all over the internet.

Then she will go home and hang herself.

Comedy gold, indeed.
posted by Sully at 9:33 AM on March 29, 2005


The irrational anti-plagarism moralizing

Where the fuck do you live where this sort of thing isn't frowned upon?


Case in point?
posted by panoptican at 9:35 AM on March 29, 2005


MaxVonCretin and stefan, thanks for the terminology clarification.

I've never been very surprised at the politics, or gender, or syntax, or vocabulary, or pony, or other disagreements on Mefi. This is probably the first where I'm pretty surprised. If the argument were over his taking the money / not taking the money, I wouldn't be so surprised. It were over the "putting her name all over the net, screwing her up far more than a single incident of plagiarism would warrant", I wouldn't be surprised. But the fact that there are people who are (apparently) taking the position that helping bust someone for fraud is in itself a bad thing has really, really surprised me.

quonsar : " palpable envy becomes you."

I won't engage you in a battle of wits, because, quite frankly, I'll lose. Suffice it to say we have a personality conflict, but it isn't based on envy. And you are certainly good at what you do. Sorry about the derail.
posted by Bugbread at 9:36 AM on March 29, 2005


So there's this:

Final-Recipient: rfc822;[redacted]@lewisu.edu
Action: failed
Status: 5.2.2
X-Display-Name: pahl, laura k.


I think the right address was found (a couple minutes on Google should find ya the format), but delivery failed, maybe because of a full mailbox?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:36 AM on March 29, 2005


Wonder if Stephen Ambrose ever taught at the girl's university. Wonder if Don Quixote taught at his.
posted by thehippe at 9:37 AM on March 29, 2005


Nate or Laura are both such crappy human beings that I have no interest in classifying them exactly, but I am interested to see how this turns out.
posted by orange swan at 9:37 AM on March 29, 2005


Then she will go home and hang herself.

Comedy gold, indeed


yes! and then all the internet will honor the comedic stylings of nathan the putz and his blog shall be spoken about in hushed, awed whispers the world over. msnbc will give him his own show.
posted by quonsar at 9:38 AM on March 29, 2005


Debaser626 " Oh and can YOU find any reference to Laura Pahl in this? Besides the bull google description.....

"NOPE"


Uh, yeah, in the Google cache for the page.
posted by Bugbread at 9:38 AM on March 29, 2005


I was up late last night getting drunk, and now I have a headache. Can someone write up a comment for me to post to this thread? It has to be witty, poignant and reflect the moral indignation I have for all parties involved. I'll send you a rubber check as soon as I see the finished product. I promise.
posted by terrapin at 9:39 AM on March 29, 2005


Suffice it to say we have a personality conflict

apparently, you have a conflict. i hadn't noticed one.
posted by quonsar at 9:39 AM on March 29, 2005


Correction taken.
posted by Bugbread at 9:39 AM on March 29, 2005


bugbread said:

From what I gather, headspace is just pointing out that plagiarism is not the right word in this case. It's similar to discussions where someone commits slander and other people talk about their commission of "libel".

That's all I'm saying, exactly. She did an unethical thing and she deserves to be punished for it (I have no idea where you got the idea that I thought it was kosher, kcm,) but her unethical thang ain't plagiarism.
posted by headspace at 9:42 AM on March 29, 2005


Does the fact that she's trying to cheat her way into a passing grade give us the right to sabotage her? I say no.

Well, I say "Hell yes!"
posted by boymilo at 9:42 AM on March 29, 2005


The worst bit about this is that she probably won't be expelled, even if her school has an expulsion policy for this kind of situation. Litigation possibilities, you know...
posted by Beansidhe at 9:42 AM on March 29, 2005


Correction taken

thank you.

*blows out of the room on a veritable hurricane of bloated nobility, self-righteousness and narcissism*
posted by quonsar at 9:43 AM on March 29, 2005


There are a lot of wild exclamations going on here, and while I'm not a lawyer or an ethisist, I figured I might as well add my two cents.


As far as I see nothing illegal here, and definetly nothing criminal. When you enroll at a school, you enter in to an agreement that says, basicaly, you won't plagerize anything. Laura K. probably broke her agreement. Most likely she'll need to rewrite the paper, or retake the class. In most cases she is simply not going to be expelled, unless she's goin to some high-end ivy-leauge school.


Nate, I think, is skirting with some illegality. For one thing, he re-sold other people’s copyrighted work as his own. That goes a bit beyond pure plagiarism into copyright infringement. however, the copyright owners are only entitled to compensation if they’ve registered their copyright with the Library of Congress. If not, all they can get him to do is stop. And since this was obviously a one-time thing, it’s not a big deal. (They might also ask him to take the article off his website). That said, I think it’s very unlikely that that any of the copyright holders are going to come after him.

On the other hand, I think it’s clear that the agreement called for an original work By passing off other people’s writing as his own to Laura, that might be fraud of some sort, since the implication is that the copyright would go to Laura (as a work for hire) or at least that she would have an exclusive license to it. But Nate never had that license.

Unless you could say that the essay was a derivative work, for which Laura has the rights too.

---

But um, who knows. like I said I'm not a lawyer
posted by delmoi at 9:43 AM on March 29, 2005


orthogonality: I was agreeing with you.
posted by uni verse at 9:43 AM on March 29, 2005


Oh and can YOU find any reference to Laura Pahl in this? Besides the bull google description.....

NOPE


Debaser: Look at the cache'd version of the page. Obviously, the paper has revised their website, and the Google cache has yet to catch up. Time to unwrap your keyboard from all that tinfoil...
posted by thanotopsis at 9:44 AM on March 29, 2005


Plagiarism is ethically wrong. And frankly, if it gets her a good GPA, it means that someone who did his own work doesn't get hired for the job Laura does get.

Is there a difference between hiring someone to write a paper for you (like a ghost writer), and copying someone else's published work? I was under the impression that hiring a writer was a common and acceptable practice for university students. But maybe that's because that's what I was told in the late 1970s when I ended up writing several papers for the son of the chairman of the board at the company where I worked. Sonny simply tape recorded all his class lectures, then brought the tapes in and various secretaries transcribed them on their dictaphones. Then, through a series of circumstances, I was presented with stacks of transcripts, and instructions to put it all together into a coherent term paper, including table of contents, footnotes and bibliography. And this was before computers; I had to format all that crap manually on a typewriter. I didn't get "paid", per se - I was allowed to do it on company time, and when I stayed late to finish my actual company work, I got time and a half.

Sonny did graduate and get his degree, and got a cushy executive position at the company. I got laid off in 1981 with 80 percent of the rest of my department.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:45 AM on March 29, 2005


Remember, plagarism is one of those things (like driving on the right side of the road) that is only unethical by convention. Many, many societies do not view plagarism the way that America does.

Um, when she was accepted into the school it was made perfectly clear that plagarism is not tolerated, and that the punishment is expulsion (or whatever they end up doing to her). So it is unethical in that she already agreed to abide by that rule.

As far as I'm concerned, I hope she's expelled and blacklisted from getting into any other universities. This isn't a "mis-quoting/referencing a work that she used" plagarism, it is straight up "someone else do my work and I'll take credit for it" plagarism, so I hope she gets the full force and gets booted. This is the same as paying someone to take the SATs for you. It's wrong, and I hope she gets straight fucked for trying it.

This guy, well, he did a lot more than I would have. But I don't have any particular problem with what he did. It's just not what I would have done.
posted by scottymacten at 9:45 AM on March 29, 2005


Wow,

All the attacks on Nate and his motives for this prank really surprised me. She deserves whatever happens to her as a result of her actions. I'm not going to feel sorry for her because she might fail a class, be put on academic suspension, or kicked out of school on top of being shamed on most of the internet all because she didn't work hard enough at cheating to evade detection.

If I am caught deceiving someone for my gain, or stealing from someone, do you fault my victim for telling all their friends about it and hurting my reputation? What about taking out a full page ad in the paper about what they caught me doing? So because Nate wasn't going to that school he doesn't have the right to expose a dishonest person as dishonest and do society a favor at the same time? Do you honestly think scaring her and not reporting her would have made her pause in doing this again?

Reputation is the most basic security mechanism for a social network. Members of the network have a responsibility to punish those that violate the networks conventions by reporting them to the other members. Nate did his duty as a member of the network. The fact that he took satisfaction from doing so or went further than you think he should have is irrelevent.

If he went too far by the networks standards then he will be punished or ignored, the harm to her will be negligible, and his reputation will suffer. If he did not go too far then she is punished correctly. If he did not go far enough then she should count herself lucky. 2 out of 3 outcomes benefit her.

Wong
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 9:45 AM on March 29, 2005


But the fact that there are people who are (apparently) taking the position that helping bust someone for fraud is in itself a bad thing has really, really surprised me.

It isn't at all that helping bust someone for fraud is bad. Given this specific set of circumstances, the manner in which Nate responded is bad. Not knowing a single thing about this girl, he deemed this specific case of fraud so egregious that he had to do everything in his power to (a) humiliate the girl and (b) possibly ruin the girls life (you can get expelled for something like that). Why did he do that? So he could have a good blog post. Simply telling the girl that he couldn't help or sending an e-mail to the school would have sufficed.
posted by panoptican at 9:45 AM on March 29, 2005


But the fact that there are people who are (apparently) taking the position that helping bust someone for fraud is in itself a bad thing has really, really surprised me.

I haven't gleaned that sentiment from a single post. Rather, I think you might be confusing that with "putting her name all over the net, screwing her up far more than a single incident of plagiarism would warrant." That is what Nate the Kooky Komedy Boy has done, and he has definitely crossed a LEGAL line in the process.

What has surprised ME is how many people here seemingly have no respect for the notion of privacy - even in the internet age. Yes, she committed academic fraud, and yes, they communicated digitally. But this twit still has a right to not be ridiculed by hundreds of thousands of people. That is simply cruel and unusual punishment. Vigilante punishment, no less.
posted by MaxVonCretin at 9:46 AM on March 29, 2005


He took advantage of the trust of an untrustworthy person. May she learn something from the experience and become a better person for it.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:47 AM on March 29, 2005


For one thing, he re-sold other people’s copyrighted work as his own.

He made proper citations in a research paper that he then sold. Is that really illegal?
posted by thanotopsis at 9:47 AM on March 29, 2005


I've never plagarized a paper in my life, and I find this guys attitude horrible. Who the fuck does he think he is? I agree with the premise that if Laura did something bad, Nathan did something much much worse; and not least because he trespasses on the need of a stranger. Even if that need isn't something that he (or I) sympathizes with, there's no need to do anything other than tell her that he can't help her. But then what do I know, I always forget to kick the junkies I don't give money to on the street.

Wow. What a horrible analogy. Someone who knows that they are contravening the rules of the course and the university is the same as an addict? Get your head right.

My policy with my students is that the first time they plagiarize (it happens too often) we have a conference where I allow the benefit of doubt and go over (again) how to incorporate others work into your own. I also I explicitly and openly explain school's policies. The second time, which has only happened to me once, I have a "come to Jesus" meeting where I ask the student to detail the extenuating circumstances that caused the breech of trust and then we meet with the program director or the department chair to discuss appropriate measures. No one wants to see a student's life ruined by such an action as expulsion, but we do put a high price on one doing onne's own work.

But, I teach at a fairly enlightened school. An adjunct friend teaches at a for-profit school. There, the student's fees are the most important factor--the admin bends over backwards to ensure the student stays enrolled. My freind was asked to allow the student an incomplete after the THIRD plagiarized paper. Any questions on why I value for-profit degrees less than I value used Charmin?

btw, Lewis University is a well respected Catholic University. Some of the most ethically grounded people I knew in business went to school there. Perhaps the table was turned on Nate, folks? What if her prof actually assigned a paper that asked her to find a shill whho would go to great lengths to provide work to a college student, knowing that it would be wrong to provide such work for hire. What if they are having a great chuckle at Nate's complicity? I'd give her an A for that....Or,Nate may have made this entire story up--if so, it was entertaining to me; I grade over 300 5 page papers a semester (and I have a light load). My advice to Laura, if she is a plagiarist: enroll in a marketing program--there, you will be rewarded for "stealing shamelessly" (an actual business buzzword that privileges takinng a competitors work rather than invent new work), and you won't have to take any classes where u'd havta, u-no, rite sumthin bout hindu.

But those of you above who think that plagiarism hurts no one? You are misguided and misinformed.
posted by beelzbubba at 9:47 AM on March 29, 2005


What has surprised ME is how many people here seemingly have no respect for the notion of privacy - even in the internet age. Yes, she committed academic fraud, and yes, they communicated digitally. But this twit still has a right to not be ridiculed by hundreds of thousands of people. That is simply cruel and unusual punishment. Vigilante punishment, no less.

Yes, yes and yes. Exactly what I was trying to get at (to some extent).
posted by panoptican at 9:48 AM on March 29, 2005


I don't feel sorry for the girl because she may get kicked out of school. I feel sorry for Nate, though, because he's such a smug, unfunny cockhead.
posted by item at 9:48 AM on March 29, 2005


Headspace wrote:

"No, it's not (plagiarism). She hired Nate to write a paper for her. Nate agreed to write a paper for her. It is a work for hire, and providing that both ends of the contract are met (Nate gives her the paper, she gives Nate the money,) she can do anything she wants with it, including claim it as her own. Again, this works exactly the same way ghostwriting contracts work- ghostwriters don't even get to claim those works on their CVs because the work-for-hire author sold the entire thing, including the right to call oneself the author.

Pahl is completely unethical (and a fraud if she doesn't actually send payment to Nate,) but she's not a plagiarist."

This is what dictionary.com calls plagiarism:

plagiarism

n 1: a piece of writing that has been copied from someone else and is presented as being your own work 2: the act of plagiarizing; taking someone's words or ideas as if they were your own [syn: plagiarization, plagiarisation, piracy]

She is a plagiarist (if she turns the paper in). It's quite simple, and if you can't see that, then you're either being willfully ignorant or obtuse. Also, she gets what she deserves, hopefully.

Of course, she may be writing her own blog post right now about how she tricked some stupid dude into writing a fake 'paper' for her.
posted by geekhorde at 9:50 AM on March 29, 2005


But the fact that there are people who are (apparently) taking the position that helping bust someone for fraud is in itself a bad thing has really, really surprised me.

That's like interpreting that "we think cutting people's hands off is wrong" is saying "we think busting people for stealing is wrong".

The punishment should fit the crime.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 9:51 AM on March 29, 2005


Most recent Missive from Nate:
We got the Lewis University part from a newspaper article where she made the Dean's List there. We had to go into the google cache to get it. And not being able to find something on google is not proof that someone doesn't exist. So, you know.

Ok, please, people. I have unfortunately had to delete some comments from someone who thought they had Laura's e-mail address, and those of Lewis faculty.

Let's please have nobody e-mailing her before I have. And the same with clogging up the emails of Lewis University people. We could ruin everything if we get too aggressive right now. Updates to this story will probably be up real late tonight. Keep snarking!

posted by thanotopsis at 9:51 AM on March 29, 2005


Undergraduate plagiarism generally doesn't hurt anybody (except the plagiarizer). It is, in that sense, a victimless crime.

BS. I agree with what orthogonality and everyone else wrote about cheating and the standards of education. I am in academics and I think this girl deserves everything that is coming to her and then some. I wish this would happen more often. Not everyone "deserves" a college education just because they can afford it.

It's not going to ruin her life. At worst she will be expelled and have to go to JC and re-apply to university in a few years. And even that is unlikely, she'll probably just re-write the paper and become some kind of cheaters hero on the internet.

You wouldn't be so forgiving of her "little indiscretion" if it hurt you directly, I guarantee it.
posted by fshgrl at 9:52 AM on March 29, 2005


Laura K. Pahl - Idiot, plagiariast, deserves whatever she gets.

Nate - Nark, tattle-tale, deserves whatever he gets.

Neither of which recieve any sympathy from me.
posted by afroblanca at 9:52 AM on March 29, 2005


OmieWise: I find this guys attitude horrible. Who the fuck does he think he is?
mediareport: This is an almost unbelievably vicious thing to do to someone. I'm with peacay; this guy's a jerk
OmieWise: Nate decided somewhere along the lines that his mission was to seriously hurt this girl

What an interesting bit of sociology we've stumbled upon here. I'm squirming in guilty schadenfreude myself, so I won't condemn the above posters too harshly
But let go of your rage. This woman took her own risks, the consequences are hers to bear. Would we all be condemning Nathan if he had been asked to betray his profession's ethic and not reported it?


Maybe they see Nate's jealousy and or profit here. Nate labeling the girl, tells me more about him than her actual actions.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:53 AM on March 29, 2005


MaxVonCretin: privacy? This brainless little twonk solicits an essay from someone she doesn't know from Adam, offers to pay 75 bucks for it and... you're concerned about her privacy? Man, next time I send an email offering to pay a complete stranger to do something unethical for me, I'll be sure to squeal like a bitch if that person disrespects my privacy by revealing it. That'd be really smart of me.

Priorities, anyone?
posted by Decani at 9:53 AM on March 29, 2005


What item said. As a Hindu, Nate should realize that this is not great for his karma.

And the URL name supposed to be an ironic joke?

Finally-

"if I was able to get the information out of her, I'd report her to whatever her school was, and who knows, maybe even pump her for double money in exchange for not turning her in"

Should be "If I were able". Contrary to fact condition. (And he calls himself an English major.)

Okay, I'm done
posted by IndigoJones at 9:55 AM on March 29, 2005


lazy little cow

classy
posted by mr.marx at 9:56 AM on March 29, 2005


Not knowing a single thing about this girl

He knew she was a college student who would IM a complete stranger and offer to pay him to write a paper for her, on the basis that he mentioned on his profile that his hobby is "Eating Hindu Sculpture." I'd say he knew a lot about her.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:57 AM on March 29, 2005


Armitage Shanks : "Many, many societies do not view plagarism the way that America does."

I didn't write this. I put it in italics to make it clear that I was quoting gd779, not plagiarizing.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:58 AM on March 29, 2005


They're both idiots.

She, obviously, for randomly IMing strangers to write papers for her.

He, for finding himself so damn funny. Because he's not. I didn't even chuckle reading that.

So I think the hate should be equally distributed across the two involved parties because they are both retarded.
posted by aGreatNotion at 9:59 AM on March 29, 2005


You know, someone IMed me the other day, asking me if I could tell them how to smuggle pipe bombs into Manhattan. I could have gone and taken pictures of the Lincoln Tunnel and described the security checks I've seen, but instead I decided to respect their privacy.

(for the sarcasm-impaired, no, I didn't.)
posted by Vidiot at 9:59 AM on March 29, 2005


MetaFilter: because they are both retarded
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:00 AM on March 29, 2005


As a Hindu, Nate should realize that this is not great for his karma.

Here's what Nate said: "And since I don't use it except when I'm home, I just haven't bothered to change the profile, where apparently, about 8 or 9 years ago, I had listed one of my hobbies as "Eating Hindu Sculpture.""

Please read the link before posting.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:01 AM on March 29, 2005


When I was in university, I got this roomful of one thousand monkeys to write my papers for me. It usually took a while, but boy...when they came through, they came through. And all it cost me was a bunch of bananas.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:01 AM on March 29, 2005


In re: the definition of plagiarism: in this case, Nate didn't actually write the paper, he said he copied and pasted various bits from around the internet, including Wikipedia, and threw in some ridiculous jokes and such ("I made a doody" and the reference to Dharma and Greg). So technically, you could say that Nate plagiarized.

Even if this case would be classifed as work for hire, the paper is still almost entirely composed of the writing of other people, not even the person hired to do the writing, and not attributed. As the person claiming to be the writer of the paper, if she turns it in and it is determined that it was entirely composed of other people's readily available and signed work, regardless of where she got it, she's on the hook for plagiarizing.

Aside from that, most universities take a clear stand on turning in work that is not your own, regardless of its provenance, and I somehow doubt that the "I paid a ghost-writer" defense would hold much water.
posted by jennaratrix at 10:02 AM on March 29, 2005


Oriole Adams writes "I was under the impression that hiring a writer was a common and acceptable practice for university students. But maybe that's because that's what I was told in the late 1970s when I ended up writing several papers for the son of the chairman of the board at the company where I worked. "

Fuck no! Not if the son turned it in as his own work.

And it was a violation of the chairman's fiduciary responsibility to the company's shareholders, to use company resources for his son's personal benefit.
posted by orthogonality at 10:02 AM on March 29, 2005


The only proper ending to this story is for Laura K. Pahl to turn out to be an investigative journalist working on a piece about the ease of obtaining fake term papers via the Internet. Having exhausted the avenues provided by duenow.com, she decided to explore the novel angle of roll-yer-own plagiarism. Can't wait to read the write-up about Nathan in Newsweek.
posted by junkbox at 10:04 AM on March 29, 2005


"The caste system is based upon the principle that human society is like a huge, complex machine, with the individuals and communities being like its parts. If the parts are weak and broken, the machine will not work. The body can only work efficiently if its parts and organs are in sound and strong condition. And lubricated. But if there is pain in any part of the body, if there is disease in any organ or part of the body, this human machine will go out of order. It will not perform its usual function or work. Likewise, no organ can fulfill any other organ’s function."

Ha.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:04 AM on March 29, 2005


MaxVonCretin: privacy? This brainless little twonk solicits an essay from someone she doesn't know from Adam, offers to pay 75 bucks for it and... you're concerned about her privacy? Man, next time I send an email offering to pay a complete stranger to do something unethical for me, I'll be sure to squeal like a bitch if that person disrespects my privacy by revealing it. That'd be really smart of me.

Decani: No doubt you would squeal like a bitch if your ethical lapse (please tell us you've never had one, Mother Theresa) were suddenly fodder for laughter and ridicule for hundreds of thousands of holier-than-thou strangers. And I would call for respect for your privacy then, too. They're called "principles."
posted by MaxVonCretin at 10:05 AM on March 29, 2005 [1 favorite]


All the attacks on Nate and his motives for this prank really surprised me.

That's because you assume it means the authors find Laura's actions ok. It doesn't. It just means at some point you grow tired of those insufferable assholes in lines at the mall, on public transportation, wherever who talk LOUDLY JUST SO YOU CAN HEAR HOW COOL THEIR LIFE IS. Everybody else went through that phase too. Once it's over, these kind of things ring "meh" to you. The IM exchange: ok. Going through all the extra work: stupid. Writing up a blog post telling everyone how funny you are: self-indulgent at best.

Plus, no one should have to mention the girl's a tool. It seems stunningly unreflective Nate would whip himself up into a self-righteous fit of a blog post over the subject of karma.
posted by yerfatma at 10:05 AM on March 29, 2005


Maybe it is this Laura Pahl. She is from Ohio too! Duuuude, let's go beat her horses with sticks!
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 10:05 AM on March 29, 2005


You know, someone IMed me the other day, asking me if I could tell them how to smuggle pipe bombs into Manhattan. I could have gone and taken pictures of the Lincoln Tunnel and described the security checks I've seen, but instead I decided to respect their privacy.

Sarcasm you say? I hope it's double time.
posted by panoptican at 10:06 AM on March 29, 2005


From the paper: I made a doody.

They are both assholes.
posted by fixedgear at 10:07 AM on March 29, 2005


They're called "principles."

Hey Max, I have a term paper due on "principles". How much would you charge to write it for me?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:08 AM on March 29, 2005


You know, someone IMed me the other day, asking me if I could tell them how to smuggle pipe bombs into Manhattan. I could have gone and taken pictures of the Lincoln Tunnel and described the security checks I've seen, but instead I decided to respect their privacy.

You fucker! You said you wouldn't tell...noes!!!111!
posted by dflemingdotorg at 10:11 AM on March 29, 2005


Hey Max, I have a term paper due on "principles". How much would you charge to write it for me?

How many pages? ;)
posted by MaxVonCretin at 10:11 AM on March 29, 2005


Oriole Adams : "I was under the impression that hiring a writer was a common and acceptable practice for university students."

If this statement was made sincerely, my keyboard does not have enough exclamation marks and question marks to communicate my reaction.

panoptican : " It isn't at all that helping bust someone for fraud is bad. Given this specific set of circumstances, the manner in which Nate responded is bad."

Well, as I said, I'm not surprised at all of the disagreement (i.e. the cheque issue, or the public villification issue). I'm just surprised at the "turning in someone for unethical behavior is bad" subsection of response.

panoptican : "Not knowing a single thing about this girl, he deemed this specific case of fraud so egregious that he had to do everything in his power to (a) humiliate the girl and (b) possibly ruin the girls life (you can get expelled for something like that). Why did he do that? So he could have a good blog post. Simply telling the girl that he couldn't help or sending an e-mail to the school would have sufficed."

Well, we disagree on a few things. First, I understand there being disagreement about humiliation, and am relatively undecided on that aspect. As for the "possibly ruin the girl's life (you can get expelled for something like that)", first: generally, being expelled does not ruin someone's life. Second, yes, it could get her expelled, but I cannot understand why this would be seen as a blow against Nate's actions. It's like saying, "Hey, turning in that guy for armed robbery could get him thrown in jail! Why would you call the police without knowing anything about him?" Generally, the answer would be: "TO get him thrown in jail." She's doing something so bad that her university might actually kick her out if they find out. THAT'S how bad it is. I don't understand why it would be a requirement to know the background of someone commiting fraud in order to turn them in, and I'm surprised that the argument seems to be that the bigger and more serious the fraud, the less likely one should be to turn in the fraudster.

As for telling the girl that he couldn't help, I don't see what it would suffice to do. If someone approaches you asking you to do something immoral, I don't believe just not helping them is "sufficient". If someone asks for my help in commiting a murder, I certainly don't think just saying "No, sorry, find someone else, but good luck!" would be sufficient.

As for turning her in, that makes more sense. However, knowing what I do of academia, since there's no proof, it would probably be completely dismissed.

Dflemingdotorg, MaxVonCretin: You may be right, I may be noticing too strongly the parts that focus on how busting her is wrong, and not paying enough attention to the parts talking about how taking her money or publicly shaming her is wrong. I'll try to keep it in mind as I read.

IndigoJones : "As a Hindu, Nate should realize that this is not great for his karma."

As a Hindu?
posted by Bugbread at 10:12 AM on March 29, 2005


She has Nate's address to send the check to, right? What stops her from going to his, or his parents, house and bringing the wrath of revenge with her? If this Laura is really crazy, this might be in the news for something else really soon.
posted by gunthersghost at 10:12 AM on March 29, 2005


I think any discussion of principles is moot when the whole thing was started by a girl who couldn't even write a FIVE PAGE PAPER ON CASTE SYSTEMS. How frickin hard would that have been to write??? Not very. FIVE PAGES.

She ought to be kicked out of school not for plagiarism, but on account of her being a lazy idiot.

I do, however, quite like the investigative journalist theory. In that case, it'd be fun to see good old Nate get his.
posted by aGreatNotion at 10:14 AM on March 29, 2005


I personally prefer the "Laura Pahl has a website up talking about how she conned someone into writing a 5 page paper overnight in exchange for three photographs of a cheque" possibility.
posted by Bugbread at 10:16 AM on March 29, 2005


You guys can't be serious.

You are defending the morally bankrupt solicitor, and attacking the exposer?

Really?

It's bizzarro-MeFi. The background should be yellow.

To anyone who actually EARNED a degree, this should come off as absolutely inexcusable.

But those of you above who think that plagiarism hurts no one? You are misguided and misinformed.
posted by beelzbubba at 11:47 AM CST on March 29 [!]


Perfectly stated.

Also, I think there is a bit of "damsel in distress" syndrome going on here. If this were a man soliciting, I think the responses would be a bit different.

Perhaps. Perhaps not. Interesting to think about though.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:17 AM on March 29, 2005


generally, being expelled does not ruin someone's life

Word. Every. Single. One. of my high school friends, bar one who was a theatre major, got kicked out of college freshman year. Four of them got kicked out of UC Santa Cruz, which takes work, and one over acheiver even got booted from Harvard. No-one's life was "ruined", in fact I'd say it was a good thing for most of them in the long run.
posted by fshgrl at 10:20 AM on March 29, 2005


delmoi: On the other hand, I think it’s clear that the agreement called for an original work

Seriously? Could the same argument be used to sue a smuggler who delivered phony goods?

Cripes. Civil law is messed.
posted by Popular Ethics at 10:20 AM on March 29, 2005


As someone who studied "Hindu" in college, I have to admit that I found this pretty funny. It would have been a lot funnier if he had filled the paper with outrageous and hilarious lies and made-up Sanskrit, though. That would have required actual creativity on Nate's part. She would be embarrassed and would get an F. She probably wouldn't be expelled, the teacher would just think she's an asshole/idiot, which she indeed seems to be, and she'd most likely think twice before trying to buy a paper off someone again.
posted by apis mellifera at 10:20 AM on March 29, 2005


She shouldn't be in college. College degrees are over valued by prospective employers. (I've got one) So a lot of people are studying for degrees that don't significantly benefit them in any way, except that they will be able to get a job where they will be paid more, even if they would have been capable of doing the same job without the degree.

Students that can't perform basic tasks like writing crappy essays should be weeded out, because their very presence at a university contributes to this problem. If academic standards were enforced better, college degrees would really mean something other than the fact that you were somehow able to afford tuition.

I really didn't put forth a whole lot of effort to get my degree, but I would have if it was necessary or mattered. I also never once cheated. In America, it is a popular view that everyone deserves a college education. I think that is the wrong way to look at it. Not everyone needs or wants one. Yet they are needlessly required for all kinds of crappy office jobs.

I think academic misconduct such as Laura's is one of the principal causes for this trend. The other is grading. There is a perception that if a student is genuinely trying to do good work, they should be given a good grade. Screw that. If they can't perform, fail them out. I probably wouldn't have made it through.

But then maybe a degree wouldn't be required for every half-assed job.

Executive summary: I hate cheating cheaters, and I hope she gets kicked out of school. She doesn't deserve to be there.
posted by recursive at 10:22 AM on March 29, 2005


all i can say is that i might trust a person like laura with something personal and important to me, although i'd have second thoughts about it ...

i wouldn't trust nate with a burned out match
posted by pyramid termite at 10:25 AM on March 29, 2005


She's a cheater, he's a snitch and a fraudster. They should marry.
posted by trharlan at 10:27 AM on March 29, 2005


To anyone who actually EARNED a degree, this should come off as absolutely inexcusable.:

Indeed. I EARNED my degrees. It was HARD. I have nothing but open-faced wrath and venomous spite for folks like the accused. I saw far, far too much of it, and lost far too many spots in graduate schools and fellowship programs, et. al., due to this to "let it slide".
posted by kcm at 10:27 AM on March 29, 2005


Well, insofar as college is preparation for work, I guess little Laura is right on course for a lifetime of privledge-based success. All I can hope is that EVERY COLLEGE EDUCATOR EVERYWHERE will use her notorious expose instill honor through fear.
posted by DenOfSizer at 10:29 AM on March 29, 2005


"Snitch"? "Narc"? "Tattle-tale"?

Do adults really have these views? I thought that was a childrens' "us-against-the-adults" perspective. So, what, for adults, does this translate into "us-against-the-university-elite"?
posted by Bugbread at 10:30 AM on March 29, 2005


Wow. The way in which I think this (the thread) is a bit of interesting sociology is that every commenter in this thread who has criticized those critical of Nate has assumed that they A) feel sorry for Laura; and, B) their criticism of Nate is somehow a defense of Laura. That's some simpleminded ethics you've got there. It's some weird zero-sum assumption that somehow calculates that if (we were to agree that) Nate did something worse than Laura then that negates the wrong Laura commited. Why assume that? Why think that way?

Do you realize this is the same sort of thinking that the Abu Ghraib torturers had? Or Eugene Volokh's? The people they were punishing had done something so bad that it "erased" their moral responsibility. That is not adult moral reasoning, that's childish.

And it's also disturbing all the insinuations that anyone defending Nate must themselves be plagiarizers.

I've never plagiarized in my life. It's never occured to me to plagiarize. The idea fills me with disgust and Laura fills me with disgust. And I did attend a school that would summarily expel you if you were caught violating this rule.

But Nate is clearly getting enjoyment from being the instrument by which Laura is badly hurt. Even if she deserves to be as badly hurt as she will from being a famous plagiarist on the Internet, it still doesn't excuse Nate's sadism. He's enjoying hurting someone. That's bad. It is, in fact, a core part of evil. A similar maliciousness is not evident in Larua. She's breaking a different kind of rule. An important rule, yes. And it harms other people than her, yes. But her intent is not to harm other people (and badly). Nate's is.

I've probably mentioned this before, but my interpretation of the film Unforgiven is that Sherrif Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman) is the true villain in the movie. William Munny kills people. But he does it almost involuntarily, he takes no pleasure from it. It's something, apparently, he was born to do. (Let's put aside the question of whether that could ever be a valid claim.) Daggett, on the other hand, wants to kill, takes pleasure from it, and has maneuvered himself into a position in life where he can claim to do so "virtuously". And he, indeed, thinks he is virtuous. He's a good guy, he's building a house. When Munny shoots him, it seems, to Daggett, to be terribly unfair. But it's not, really.

I'd be happy to see Laura expelled from school. That's fair. That she'll be forever Googled as a plagiariser? Not so fair. But I'd also like to see Nate get in some kind of trouble for this. If he's violated the law in some way, fine. If Laura can sue him for defamation, fine. He deserves it. It's fair. And maybe he'll learn a lesson just as Laura will.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:35 AM on March 29, 2005 [1 favorite]


If Laura is so worried about forever being Googled as a plagiarizer, then I'd say it's incumbent on Laura to post a page with her full name, a defense of her actions, and proof of how she's learned her lesson. It may not get as much traffic as Nate's page, but c'est la vie. If you don't want to be forever tarred as a plagiarist, then don't plagiarize.
posted by Vidiot at 10:41 AM on March 29, 2005


A posting at Nate's "A Week of Kindness Blog" comment section:
"I have to agree with some of the other comments on here that this is a publicity ploy. There is no class that this paper would fit for this semster at Lewis University. Do some research. Obviously this comedy group (?) thought it would be a great way to get bloggers and readers of blogs to their site by, gasp, doing some comedy. Take everything with a grain of salt people. - Posted by: intersting but publicity at March 29, 2005 01:05 PM."
posted by ericb at 10:43 AM on March 29, 2005


I haven't read anyone suggesting that she should get off free for her ethical lapse, her plagarism. I know that my own feelings are quite mixed. On the one hand I think that she should (and hopefully will) be exposed to all of the consequences deemed necessary by her school. I think it's fine for Nate to inform her school. On the other, I think that Nate went way over the top plastering this all over his blog. I think his motives are suspect, the punishment that he is taking pleasure in doling out is excessive to her crime, and he's made every effort to make this follow her around for years to come.

I would assume that everyone who thinks she's getting what she deserves on the internet never breaks the law. And I mean never, and that they never have. No speeding, no parking too near the corner, no stopping in a no standing zone. Or, barring never doing it, I have to assume that folks think the agreed penalty (a ticket and maybe points) should be accentuated with photos posted to the internet and notice sent to your boss. By a private citizen. Otherwise, it's a bunch of hypocritical bullshit. It isn't that Laura did not do wrong, it's that this one small wrong (not victimless, small) should not necessarily be public knowledge.
posted by OmieWise at 10:45 AM on March 29, 2005


Well said Ethereal Bligh.
posted by panoptican at 10:45 AM on March 29, 2005


I'm absolutely shocked - SHOCKED! - I tell you, that not one single person until now has endeavored to give this girl the benefit of the doubt.

Let's just say, for the sake of argument, that Laura K. Pahl is an honor's student. She's on the Dean's list. Her parents had her play softball during the summer and swim team during the winter and she also had to take piano and ballet lessons.

Perhaps her parents are Doctors or lawyers or immigrants who want their daughter to be everything they couldn't be. They came to this country from poverty so their children could live the successful American life.

Perhaps she was working so hard to get on the honor roll that she was losing sleep at night and her grades were starting to fall behind. Finally, she met a really hot guy and had the chance to lose her virginity, but she had to chose between writing this paper or getting laid.

She resents mommy and daddy for pushing her so hard, but they give her a huge allowance, so why not use it to strike back at them? I'm going to get laid tonight and I'll pay someone to write this paper. That'll show them for putting me under all this pressure and not allowing me to be a woman.

This could be the first time she's ever paid for a paper. Maybe its her fourth. The first time she was terrified, but then getting laid felt so good and she had been under so much pressure her whole life. Paying someone to write her paper was such an easy answer. She knew it was wrong, but she just couldn't bear the pressure anymore and if her parents found out her grades were dropping, they would disown her.

This is all complete supposition, but we all have to remember that you can't judge a person based on one fact. If this girl should get in trouble for plagiarizing, perhaps its something that should be dealt with privately. This guy could have simply tried to talk her out of it instead of trying to get her in trouble.

Perhaps Nate could have said, "I know I don't know you, but don't you think that plagiarizing a paper is going to come back to haunt you in the end?"

The amount of time he spent sermonizing and setting her up could have been used to help her.

Perhaps now, instead of getting the help she needs, she'll be completely humiliated, her family will be humiliated, the university will be humiliated and this post will live on the internet for years to come to haunt her.

A hard-working, caring, loving, honor-roll, swim-team, softball team, ballet-dancing and piano playing, beautiful, loving child who only wants to make her parents proud.

Shame on you Nathan, and shame on you people who have no compassion to look beyond the surface and approach these matters with the delicacy and privacy they deserve.
posted by PigAlien at 10:45 AM on March 29, 2005


Ethereal Bligh: Splendidly put.
posted by MaxVonCretin at 10:45 AM on March 29, 2005


Snitches get stitches.
posted by jonmc at 10:48 AM on March 29, 2005


I'm pretty sure it's illegal to "record" a private conversation and post it publicly without notifying the person being recorded first. Not to mention the potential defamation suit that was mentioned earlier. This guy, if he's telling the truth, is potentially in a lot of trouble.

However, I enjoyed it and hate plagiarists, so it's all good in my book.

To those defending her: Do you want the doctor operating on you to be the one who cheated through school? How about an architect or engineer? Public school teacher? The possible destruction caused by the behavior of people like her makes it an offense that should be taken seriously.
posted by knave at 10:48 AM on March 29, 2005


Ethereal Bligh : "The way in which I think this (the thread) is a bit of interesting sociology is that every commenter in this thread who has criticized those critical of Nate has assumed that they A) feel sorry for Laura; and, B) their criticism of Nate is somehow a defense of Laura."

Er, not every commenter who has criticized those critical of Nate is making those assumptions.
posted by Bugbread at 10:49 AM on March 29, 2005


And for the record, I've never plagiarized a thing and have graduated with top honors at every university i've ever attended, and that is at least 4 universities.
posted by PigAlien at 10:49 AM on March 29, 2005


"Snitch"? "Narc"? "Tattle-tale"? Do adults really have these views?

Well, no one wrote "narc" or "tattle-tale" until you did. I (an adult) called him a snitch, because that's what he is.

You'd prefer busybody?
posted by trharlan at 10:52 AM on March 29, 2005


So, whatever happened to Blair Hornstein?
posted by terrapin at 10:54 AM on March 29, 2005


"Snitch"? "Narc"? "Tattle-tale"? Do adults really have these views?

Yeah. It's one thing to blow the whistle on something potentially dangerous, but this guy seems to enjoy it waaay too much for my taste. Not that she isn't a meathead as well.

But nobody likes a snitch, especially ones who make a spectacle of themselves for doing it.
posted by jonmc at 10:54 AM on March 29, 2005


but I cannot understand why this would be seen as a blow against Nate's actions.

PigAlien basically makes my point but in a much better fashion. Given the nature of this crime, if you don't know the her, I don't think it is right to take it upon yourself to bring her down. Like I said, any number of things could change our opinon of her completely (for instance, the hypothetical that PigAlien details).

To those defending her

Didn't you get the memo? No one is defending her.
posted by panoptican at 10:56 AM on March 29, 2005


trharlan : " Well, no one wrote 'narc' or 'tattle-tale' until you did."

Afroblanca did (though I realize afroblanca spelled it "nark", not "narc").

"Snitch" has both a denotation and a connotation. I understand that Nate informed the appropriate authorities about fraud, therefore the denotation is accurate. But why select a word with that connotation? What, in other words, is wrong with being a "snitch" in this case?

jonmc : " But nobody likes a snitch..."

There seem to be quite a few people here and on the other page that do.

panoptican : "PigAlien basically makes my point but in a much better fashion."

Er, isn't PigAlien taking the piss up above there?
posted by Bugbread at 10:58 AM on March 29, 2005


So, uh, who actually defended Laura in this thread? I haven't seen anyone doing so. On preview, what panoptican said.
posted by zsazsa at 10:58 AM on March 29, 2005


apis mellifera said it best. It would have been good if he had just pulled the prank. The punishment would fit the crime in thatr case. And, he could have done a better job with the report. It isn't as funny as it could have been.
posted by Cassford at 11:00 AM on March 29, 2005


I haven't read anyone suggesting that she should get off free for her ethical lapse, her plagarism.

Those who view this experiment negatively certainly seem to think that it's wrong of Nate to do something about the ethical lapse, and they're sure as hell not going to do anything about it themselves. As such there is a very strong suggestion that she somehow deserves to get off scot-free.

Frankly this thread -- the longest thread I've seen on MeFi, BTW -- brings to mind the story of the Japanese aid workers who were kidnapped in Iraq and then released. Do you know what happened after they got back to Japan? They were treated as pariahs by the Japanese who really resented them for creating a disturbance.

Likewise there seems to be an unconscious sense here that cheating goes on all the time, and that for that reason alone it should be allowed to go unpunished in this case.
posted by clevershark at 11:00 AM on March 29, 2005


mark
called him a snitch, because that's what he is.
But nobody likes a snitch

So you're position is that if one witnesses wrong, and could inform those affected, one should be silent.

After all, nobody likes a snitch.

This does seem to be a popular view today, I'll grant. A quick read of the papers confirms it.

But that doesn't make it any less wrong of a belief.

(and now I'm off to the dentist, for some sort of karmic payback I'm sure)
posted by bitmage at 11:03 AM on March 29, 2005


(argh. Make that nark. Dangit)
posted by bitmage at 11:04 AM on March 29, 2005


Nobody is saying she should go unpunished -- it just needs to be in line with the offense. I think she deserves an F on the paper and, assuming the rest of her work is on par, in the class. I don't think Nate needed to get the dean involved. Leave that to the professor.

Another thing that I don't think anyone mentioned yet: what a lame-ass assignment. 5 pages on just about any aspect of Hinduism? WTF?
posted by Cassford at 11:05 AM on March 29, 2005


I find them both wrong but in different degrees.

She was only doing what a normal coed could be expected to do, although they usually girlfriend up to a nerd so he'll write her papers for free (unless you accept sex and lies as payment), while he is an especially vicious twit playing "now I've got you". I'd only accept his actions as justified if she'd used him hard and then when the semester was over ditched him coldly and contemptuously in front of her friends. (But no, I'm not talking from experience: I very quickly established that I won't write people's papers, though I will try to teach 'em how to look stuff up, so I never did very well with normal college girls.)

She is pretty dumb though. Except maybe for math & science, undergraduate courses at big universities (especially state ones) are so damn easy that anybody who more-or-less legitimately made it that far can count on getting at least a C+; a 5-page hand-in on Very Basic Hinduism would be (and would've been) easy to write, except for the part about the scholarly sources -- because I never kept track of where I learned what. (The Encyclopedia Britannica? The Joy of Sects? or maybe eating the free Vegetarian Feast at the Krishna Temple in Berkeley and reading the Gita some recruiter gave me for free?)

She'd probably not do anything with her degree if she did finish, except maybe get a job as a TV "reporter" or real estate agent where you don't really need to know a damn thing to begin with; they hand degrees out like presents to anybody who can pay somehow and show up regularly (I could do neither), so I think that if she meets those two minimum requirements they should give her a free BS in Communications because she knows how to use an AOL chatroom.

But ain't med school intrinsically too hard to cheat one's way through? I'm sure lots of MDs I've known were C students, but if it's that easy to cheat let's hope we never get sick or hurt.

And by the way, I'm not defending her -- if anybody is so dumb as to have misread my comments that way. All I'm doing in this comment is pointing out the obvious. (And on the other hand, if any of 'em had straight-up offered me cash I might've taken it.)
posted by davy at 11:05 AM on March 29, 2005


zsazsa : " So, uh, who actually defended Laura in this thread?"

I think the closest we have is perhaps this quote from Oriole Adams: "I was under the impression that hiring a writer was a common and acceptable practice for university students", but the context of the paragraph makes it a bit less clear. As far as I can see, noone has unequivocably defended her. The big disagreement seems to be between three groups of opinions:

"What she did was wrong, but
  • Nate shouldn't have turned her in, nor blogged/publicly humiliated her"
  • Nate should have turned her in, but not blogged/publicly humiliated her"
  • Nate should have turned her in and blogged/publicly humiliated her"
posted by Bugbread at 11:05 AM on March 29, 2005


No speeding, no parking too near the corner, no stopping in a no standing zone. Or, barring never doing it, I have to assume that folks think the agreed penalty (a ticket and maybe points) should be accentuated with photos posted to the internet and notice sent to your boss. By a private citizen.

All of my not-wearing-a-seatbelt tickets and whatnot are available for viewing on the internet, as long as you know my name. So cry me a river, Bligh.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:05 AM on March 29, 2005


So, whatever happened to Blair Hornstein?

I've wondered about her, too. There was speculation that she eventually matriculated at some (unreported) college/university - as reported in the (now closed) comment section of The Blair Hornstine Project.
posted by ericb at 11:06 AM on March 29, 2005


Who knows, maybe she'll go on to become a PhDed Associate Professor in Nietzsche Studies.
posted by davy at 11:06 AM on March 29, 2005


Hey Ethereal,

You do have a point about Nates moral responsibilities. I did not mean to imply that his actions are above the law or that he doesn't have any moral obligations. I feel that he was meeting his most important one, the reporting of the dishonest. Society takes up the rest in judging him or her for their parts in the mess. I was flabbergasted by how much people were outraged at how far he went, in either contacting the school or exposing it all on google.

(You and I are both making some assumptions about Nates motives and where he was getting his juice in this situation.) I felt that if he took pleasure in anything it was in deceiving a (stupid) deceiver and exposing her for what she was. This didn't take a lot of effort as she made it pretty easy on him. I don't associate his actions as particularly evil though. Do you think cops take any pleasure in doing their jobs? I would think they would have to or else how could they function at all. Yet cops hurt people every day. That shouldn't make them all evil.

Wong
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 11:07 AM on March 29, 2005


clevershark : As such there is a very strong suggestion that she somehow deserves to get off scot-free.

Please. The only thing that detractors are suggesting is that the punishment doesn't fit the crime. Again, no one is defending her. Plagarism is bad. That doesn't negate the fact that Nate is self-righteous ass.

Also...

http://www.waxy.org/mefi/?top=1
posted by panoptican at 11:09 AM on March 29, 2005


She was only doing what a normal coed could be expected to do, although they usually girlfriend up to a nerd so he'll write her papers for free

Exactly. By paying for the paper in money she is attempting deny a nerd a shot at second base. That's just wrong. Hang her!
posted by clevershark at 11:09 AM on March 29, 2005


I'm not going to get too upset over this, because this doesn't sound genuine to me. But some of the comments here are hilarious, much funnier than that dumb blog.

GD77-- Where is it permissible to pay for your papers? I know that students educated in parts of Asia synthesize works in their bibliographies, and that Russian students help each other. This is cultural, and I cut my students some slack. But buying a degree is not acceptable anyplace I've been.

Beealzbubba, I think it's ridiculous to wait for three strikes to actually do something to a student beyond talking to them. Do you hold them in so much contempt that you think they don't know what they are doing? Sure, mistakes can be over-looked, but fraud?

I went to a school with zero tolerance. People I knew failed papers for misidentifying citations. That seemed harsh. But this girl ruined her own academic career. Nate just helped her, in fact he encouraged and enabled her to screw her career. A reasonable person would have just told her to screw off. Helping people to destroy themselves is ethically pretty dodgy, kind of like giving a drunk-driver one for the road just because the roads are empty and you want them to get caught.

I'm just glad it's probably fake.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 11:09 AM on March 29, 2005


So you're position is that if one witnesses wrong, and could inform those affected, one should be silent.

No, but should one make a public proclamation of how great one is for doing so? (note that this will probably have the unintended side-effect of ostracizing Nate from his peers, since nobody will trust him not to rat if they're doing anything fun).
posted by jonmc at 11:11 AM on March 29, 2005


"But nobody likes a snitch"

There's truth to this and it deserves some examination. I've thought about it a lot, myself, particularly since I'm best described as a utilitarian.

The reason I think this is true, and why I think it's probably for the best, is because "snitching" is either or both 1) violating interpersonal trust; and/or 2) utilizing an external power mechanism to punish someone based upon one's individual judgment.

While we can all agree that there are many, many things which are worse than violating someone's trust, it's also the case that interpersonal trust relationships are a constant, unaviodable part of human interaction. We strongly discourage violations of interpersonal trust because, in aggregate, that trust is so necessary. Put differently, this particular sort of moral judgment is almost instinctual, or at least learned at a very early age. It's basic and our reactions against its violation are visceral as much as intellectual.

As to the second aspect of it, we discourage this because there's far too much potential for abuse. While we can all agree that there are many cases where being a "whistleblower" is exactly the right, and best, thing to do; we're also subconciously aware that the mechanism can be abused by someone with motives and goals that aren't really about what's best for everyone. Indeed, they may simply be opportunistic and enjoy wielding (or setting in action) that external power as a sop to their insecurity.

These, I think, are valid arguments for the utility of the mostly universal disdain for "snitches". It seems to me that we're well aware that it is often necessary to snitch for the greater good; but that because of what I've written above, it should be done reluctantly. And it shouldn't be about the snitch. Because it's not.

Nate goes against much of all this. He's enjoying it, he's making it about himself, he seems oblivious to the fact that he has committed the wrong of violating someone's trust, he's quite interested in utilizing external mechanisms to maximize Laura's punishment. In this case, it still may well have been the right thing to do. But someone like Nate would have acted this way even if it hadn't, in the end, been the right thing to do. Because, for him, what's "right" is not his chief concern.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:14 AM on March 29, 2005


Is this a hoax?
posted by jsavimbi at 11:14 AM on March 29, 2005


clevershark : " Frankly this thread...brings to mind the story of the Japanese aid workers who were kidnapped in Iraq and then released. Do you know what happened after they got back to Japan? They were treated as pariahs by the Japanese who really resented them for creating a disturbance."

Yeah, but there's a lot more to that than what was reported in the Western press (I know, from living in Japan and talking to my parents in the US about the issue). They went against strong government recommendations that basically said "We can't help you if you go out there", and then when they were caught, instantly started complaining about how the Japanese government wasn't helping them. They weren't resented so much for causing a disturbance as doing something incredibly stupid and defiant and then expecting the people they were flipping the bird at to bail them out. Plus, there was a very, very strong suspicion that the whole thing was scripted by them in the first place. My parents said the US media didn't bring up either of those points, really, which were pretty big in affecting Japanese opinion towards them, and made their reception of jeers in Japan look really strange on US television, while it was pretty much what I was expecting when it happened.
posted by Bugbread at 11:15 AM on March 29, 2005


Okay, so I don't really have anything to say that hasn't been said in the thread already, but I am compelled to put in my two cents.

First of all, this:

I was under the impression that hiring a writer was a common and acceptable practice for university students.

just blows my mind. My mouth literally fell open when I read that. How could anyone think it's not unethical to buy your degree? Gah! And man, oh man, those of you who think plagiarism doesn't hurt anyone but the plagiarist are indeed grossly misinformed.

And yeah, this was definitely plagiarism and clearly against university policy.

Would I have done what Nate did? Nah. I might have written her a bogus paper and waited until the last minute to give it to her, but I wouldn't have notified the university president and I wouldn't have blogged about it. I don't think Nate is a total dick. Not, uh, totally.

This very well may be a publicity stunt, but my hunch is that it isn't. I feel a little sorry for the girl, but I think she's lazy, not very intelligent, and needs to do her own work if she expects a degree.

She's not going to get expelled, she's going to get an F on the paper, maybe an F in the course, and perhaps be placed on probation. This is will not ruin her life.

My final point: if the girl actually hands in the paper, she's a bigger idiot than a simple plagiarist. Anyone with half a brain (even if they missed the sentence "I made a doody.") would skim the paper and realize they'd been had.
posted by Specklet at 11:17 AM on March 29, 2005


I was in Europe when the Japanese workers were kidnapped, so I saw the raw footage sent out by the terrorists (not the stuff that was sanitized for American consumption, and probably for the Japanese market as well). While I'm no expert in people freaking out at knifepoint and pleading for their lives, my own opinion is that the whole thing was genuine...

I do appreciate getting the fuller story on that though.
posted by clevershark at 11:19 AM on March 29, 2005


Ethereal Bligh : "But someone like Nate would have acted this way even if it hadn't, in the end, been the right thing to do. Because, for him, what's 'right' is not his chief concern."

Evidence? I agree that what's 'right' is not his chief concern, but I disagree with the underlying contention that it is not a concern at all, and that he would have done the same even if it weren't the right thing to do. It is not only your chief concern that dictates what you do.
posted by Bugbread at 11:21 AM on March 29, 2005


What about this cheater?

I thought that the paper was hilarious! In the long run, they will both deserve what they get, though if he doesn't cash the check I'll have more respect for the guy.
posted by schyler523 at 11:25 AM on March 29, 2005


Me: She was only doing what a normal coed could be expected to do, although they usually girlfriend up to a nerd so he'll write her papers for free

clevershark: Exactly. By paying for the paper in money she is attempting deny a nerd a shot at second base. That's just wrong. Hang her!

Thanks for the humor. I needed that.

But hey, being paid in money would mean being able to hire a professional fellatrice. I only met one dumb coed who gave head really well, so I married her -- demonstrating my extreme stupidity.

As for whether it's real or not, someone by her name exists, so it's real enough -- whether or not it went down as Nate says.
posted by davy at 11:26 AM on March 29, 2005


Wong: I do think that a good number of police officers get pleasure out of doing thing that they oughtn't find pleasurable. I wouldn't care to guess how many. But this does go to the heart of why I have a big problem with Nate. I think that of the human evil that is committed in this world, only say 10% is committed by people who are "evil" in the obvious way. The other 90% is committed by people who disguise their evil tendencies under a facade of righteousness. They're not just disguising it from other people, they're disguising it from themselves. In almost all of us there is the urge to hurt other people (at one time or another), to be vindictive. Most of the hurt that's committed, I think, is done by people who've conveniently found justifications for doing so. Relishing playing a role in someone's punishment, even if deserved, is a sign of this.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:27 AM on March 29, 2005


clevershark : "I was in Europe when the Japanese workers were kidnapped, so I saw the raw footage sent out by the terrorists (not the stuff that was sanitized for American consumption, and probably for the Japanese market as well). While I'm no expert in people freaking out at knifepoint and pleading for their lives, my own opinion is that the whole thing was genuine...

"I do appreciate getting the fuller story on that though."


No problem. My memories are hazy, but what I can remember (and some of this may be wrong, but at least it gives you an idea of the kind of discussions going on, and not just among the tin foil hat contingent) were that the kidnapped folks were pretty strident anti-government types, and were promptly kidnapped by a terrorist cell no-one had heard of (not too unusual) that spoke good Japanese (extremely unusual), kept hostage in the head of the cell's living room, eating dinner with the family, being left without a bag on their head, loosely tied up, right next to a loaded automatic weapon and across the room from an unarmed guard, and generally doing what looked, except for a few "freaking out at knifepoint" scenes, what looked like a really bad high-school interpretation of a hostage scene. I remember seeing the footage (Japanese TV shows less than European, but more than American), and thinking that they were the most relaxed, well-looked after, generally comfortable looking hostages I'd seen, except for the short smattering of "money shots".

Again, I have no proof (or deep interest, really) in how genuine their situation was. I just want to point out that it isn't a big cultural difference that explains their odd reception back in Japan, but a lot of background on the particular news item that didn't make it out of the country.
posted by Bugbread at 11:30 AM on March 29, 2005


Davy, you bucking to take the place vacated by Space Cadet as Mefi's Official Misogynist? Because, if so, you're doing a good job of it in this thread.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:30 AM on March 29, 2005


Metafilter: We are all children in the arms of Chivas.
posted by Navek Rednam at 11:33 AM on March 29, 2005


For this to be good comedy, there should have been some escalation, instead, she was jerking him around at the end (with the check). He should have sent it to her a paragraph at a time and either a) made each one worse and worse or b) made it good and raise the price each time, with extra credit if he could have gotten her to send him pics (out of money? how 'bout you take off your top for next section...). This would have ensured that she either wouldn't have gone through with it or would have really, really deserved it. (As it is, I think she deserves what ever she gets, but I would allow myself to enjoy it that much more)
posted by 445supermag at 11:35 AM on March 29, 2005


She was only doing what a normal coed could be expected to do

Hey Davy? I think maybe you problems with college girls had more to do with you being a bitter, sexist ass than all co-eds being incapable of graduating on their own merit.

And I still don;t get why people think that Nate turning this girl in was a bad thing or that "she would have got hers anyway in the end". In my experience she wouldn't and someone else would have been screwed out of a grade or internship or place at graduate school. With everything graded on a curve these days, cheating hurts the whole class.
posted by fshgrl at 11:37 AM on March 29, 2005


I only met one dumb coed who gave head really well, so I married her -- demonstrating my extreme stupidity.

This thread has officially hit bottom.
posted by orange swan at 11:39 AM on March 29, 2005


IndigoJones : "As a Hindu, Nate should realize that this is not great for his karma."

bugbread: As a Hindu?

------

Optimus C: Here's what Nate said: "And since I don't use it except when I'm home, I just haven't bothered to change the profile, where apparently, about 8 or 9 years ago, I had listed one of my hobbies as "Eating Hindu Sculpture.""

Please read the link before posting.


(Bugbread, Optimus- Clearly this whole thing has gotten out of hand. I was making a joke.)
posted by IndigoJones at 11:41 AM on March 29, 2005


But Nate is clearly getting enjoyment from being the instrument by which Laura is badly hurt. Even if she deserves to be as badly hurt as she will from being a famous plagiarist on the Internet, it still doesn't excuse Nate's sadism. He's enjoying hurting someone. That's bad. It is, in fact, a core part of evil

Oh brother *rolls eyes*

Nate is enjoying punishing a wrongdoer. Just because he isn't acting like a sheep and handing her over to the college judicial system doesn't mean he's wrong.

Since when is it evil to punish wrongdoing? Oh, that's right, since the moral ambiguity of the liberal left pervaded society. After all, her feelings are more important than whether or not she is doing something wrong. Right?

It is not evil to enjoy teaching someone a lesson, especially when they seem to have begged for the lesson.
posted by hurkle at 11:41 AM on March 29, 2005


I'm confused. What does all this have to do with Terri Shiavo?
posted by found missing at 11:43 AM on March 29, 2005


Nate is enjoying punishing a wrongdoer.

We're not talking about a murderer or a rapist here, just someone who cheated on a school paper. To enjoy punishing someone that much that he feels the need to crow to the entire world about it (especially over petty-ass shit like this) is a sign of a massive ego, overblown sense of righteousness, and a cruel need to humiliate.
posted by jonmc at 11:45 AM on March 29, 2005


Yeah, I'm going to have to say that while I despise plagiarism and hope that it is not lightly passed over in this case (if it happened), the "she get the humiliation she deserves" line is beginning to bother me.

In some views of heaven (Dante and Jonathan Edwards come to mind) there is a window in heaven through which the righteous souls look down upon the suffering of the damned and take great enjoyment in it. That always seemed to me to be a rather ghastly place in paradise and not befitting of truly good people.
posted by ontic at 11:45 AM on March 29, 2005


"Oh, that's right, since the moral ambiguity of the liberal left pervaded society."

My morality is not the least ambiguous. Yours, which excuses sadism in some cases but not in others seems to me to be of the ambiguous variety. Even sort of...relativistic.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:46 AM on March 29, 2005


Most of the hurt that's committed, I think, is done by people who've conveniently found justifications for doing so. Relishing playing a role in someone's punishment, even if deserved, is a sign of this.

Should we conclude then that no coed ever took advantage of you for your Mighty Brain?

And by the way, it's not misogyny as much as most college boys were and are too ugly to pay much attention to; I'm pretty sure however that men use men pretty often, and we know from popular "culture" that men use women all the time. (I've only met two dykes who were Users, but I couldn't hook them up -- it would've been fun to watch.)

So "misogynist" is out, except in that women are roughly half the species. "Misanthrope" perhaps, or maybe I am a damn curmudgeon after all.

And hey fshgrl? I didn't say ALL coeds. And I believe I did clearly imply that most college students of any sex are dumb as dirt. The article was about a college chick, and most of my experience with college kids was with those, so that's what I focused on, but that in no way should make anyone believe I think most male Mefites are any smarter. (Hi scarabic! nyaah nyaah!)

We say "learn to read for content" so often because few people bother to try. Fshgrl just clearly showed us what not to do.

And hey hurkle, it is not Nate's job to "punish [her] wrongdoing". I hope you never get any position of power. Sadistic vigilantes should be taken out and shot.
posted by davy at 11:49 AM on March 29, 2005


weretable and the undead chairs: i couldn't make myself read half of that. i'll find it endlessly amusing if it turns out to be a different laura pahl than the one he thinks it is and after causing her problems with the school, she sues the hell out of him.

This was my immediate thought. Nate has been oh so coy about providing her information so as not to ruin his "joke". Laura isn't exactly an uncommon name so it wouldn't surprise me if there are a hand full of Laura Pahls out there all applying for jobs in the google age. How'd you like to be completely unrelated to this cheater and then never be able to figure out why you aren't getting call backs.

Even if LKP is a unique identifier the punishment is _way_ out of line with the crime here. Assuming any of this is actually true Nate is being a big old attention whore and is doing it in the cruelest way possible. Personally I think this reflects bad on his character. If he was considered for a job I was hiring for and I saw this shameless cruelty as the result of a google search his CV wouldn't even slow down on my desk.
posted by Mitheral at 11:49 AM on March 29, 2005


To enjoy punishing someone that much that he feels the need to crow to the entire world about it

A. The blogosphere (ick) is not the entire world.

B. How often does a chance to mess with a bad person come along?

C. All of you haters who are whining that Nate shouldn't have "crowed" about it are just jealous that his traffic is beating yours today. ;-) But seriously, as far as the crowing, I'd blame it on the person who made it an FPP. His traffic was surely not that high before MeFi.
posted by hurkle at 11:49 AM on March 29, 2005


I'm at a loss to understand the outpouring of sympathy for an academic fraud. Nate's paper was so ridiculous that anyone with even a fleeting interest in the integrity of their name would have read it, spotted the ruse, and avoided committing plagiarism by turning it in.

If he's guilty of enjoying the experience of conning a cheat, so what? I'd rather be him than one of the permanently clenched scolds turning this into some kind of serious moral concern.
posted by rcade at 11:49 AM on March 29, 2005


I'm at a loss to understand the outpouring of sympathy for an academic fraud.

It's not sympathy for her so much as disgust with him. She was stupid and took her chances, so I have no real pity for her, but I can't say I like or trust him much.
posted by jonmc at 11:53 AM on March 29, 2005


IndigoJones:

Ah. Sorry about my density.
posted by Bugbread at 11:53 AM on March 29, 2005


And hey hurkle, it is not Nate's job to "punish [her] wrongdoing". I hope you never get any position of power. Sadistic vigilantes should be taken out and shot.

Whose job is it? And why are you making assumptions about me based on a single comment, Laura. Oops, I mean Davy. Maybe you read something in my profile?

Why is it not Nate's job?

Bob: Alice, I don't know you, but I'd like you to help me do something unethical. I'll pay you.

Davy's choice: Alice: No. (it's not my responsibility to try to make society a better place)

Nate's choice: Alice: Okay (but really, since I feel it's wrong I'll set you up to get caught. Man, this will make a great story too.)
posted by hurkle at 11:54 AM on March 29, 2005


Since when is it evil to punish wrongdoing? Oh, that's right, since the moral ambiguity of the liberal left pervaded society.

Nice trollin'. I'm sure it's all the fault of those "goddam lib'ruls" yet again.
posted by clevershark at 11:55 AM on March 29, 2005


All of you haters who are whining that Nate shouldn't have "crowed" about it are just jealous that his traffic is beating yours today.

Actually, my image of Nate is something like this.
posted by jonmc at 11:56 AM on March 29, 2005


For one thing, he re-sold other people’s copyrighted work as his own.
He made proper citations in a research paper that he then sold. Is that really illegal?


Um, yeah. If I take a whole episode of "Family Guy" and sell it on DVD on eBay, fox isn't going to care if I properly cite something.

Plagiarism is not illegal. At all. Copyright infringement is.

Anyway, all she'd be able to sue him for is her $70 back. Posting her name all over the 'net isn't illegal I think. There may be some problems caused by her being a non-public person (we get better privacy rights if we're not Celebes or politicians) but I'm not sure.
posted by delmoi at 11:57 AM on March 29, 2005


Did you note this comment near the bottom of the page.

Dear Nate,

Imagine my surprise when I was emailed information from the President of my university about an accusation of plagarism. It was only a matter of time before I happened upon this blog and the cruel joke that you have played here.

I am an Engineering major with a full course load in engineering courses, so I can assure you that I am not taking anything that would require me to solicit your services to write a poorly written paper on Hinduism.

Please be informed that my lawyer, Mr. Edwin Shansky will be in touch with you shortly to begin proceedings for a civil case against your libel, and I will see you in court. Let this be a lesson to you and all other sadistical SOBs who have nothing better to do than to try to dirty the good name of innocents like myself.

Regards
Laura Pahl (dated a few minutes back)

If she is an engineering major with no needs of a paper on Hinduism, he's screwed. Since he seems to have only found her location by jumping between universities looking for her name, he's screwed. Since she is articulate in the above message (unlike her IM) and she probably wasn't the one he informed the dean on, he's screwed. Maybe this will make for another interesting chapter in the history of blogdom.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:00 PM on March 29, 2005


Nice trollin'

Thanks! I tried :)

In the final analysis, if you have a moral problem with informing the authorities when you see something wrong happening, or if the thought of feeling good about turning in someone who is unethical and a cheater makes you feel bad, then you might want to reevaluate your own morality.
posted by hurkle at 12:00 PM on March 29, 2005


I think I'm persuaded to the view that Nate ought to have tried to counsel Laura when he was first asked if he would write her paper.
I come to this conclusion because of the extraordinary lengths he had to go to in order to get sufficient identifying information to publically identify her. (He had to get the photo of the cheque for her name)

True enough, academic fraud is odious but the flagrant baiting and entrapment path he followed is much more contemptible. He could simply have advised her of the wrongs in what she was attempting at the start which may have thwarted any further solicitation attempts on her part - it is conceivable that a stern rebuke at the beginning will have been sufficiently embarrassing and scary to cause her to go and write the paper herself.

It is not HIS fucking job to bait and entrap on behalf of higher education.
He would be the perfect wolf for Little Red RidingHood
posted by peacay at 12:03 PM on March 29, 2005


Davy you said this:
She was only doing what a normal coed could be expected to do, although they usually girlfriend up to a nerd so he'll write her papers for free
then you said this:
And hey fshgrl? I didn't say ALL coeds.
so I guess you're right. You didn't say ALL coeds trade sex for homework you only said the "normal" ones "usually" do.

If there's some content there that I'm missing be sure to let me know. If it was supposed to be a joke, it wasn't funny enough. Try again. Also, college boys? damn cute.
posted by fshgrl at 12:04 PM on March 29, 2005


dances_with_sneetches, this promises to be one fun ride.
posted by orange swan at 12:04 PM on March 29, 2005


gesamtkunstwerk: I agree that three strikes is ridiculous. I have never had a third strike occurrence. My "first strike" could be handled in the zero tolerance manner of many institutions. In fact, i have the option of doing so--although I have seen far too many TAs seek this remedy only to have admin give the student a second (less than expulsion) chance. Instead of encountering this, my philosophy is to use the event as a teaching moment.

Perhaps you went to a major research-1 institution, an Ivy, or a "public Ivy." My experiences were at a "metropolitan comprehensive" university, which is the current euphemism for urban commuter schools, where students often spend more hours at work than they do at school and certainly more than they do at study. I reject the point of view that holds that the student will learn a more valuable lesson through draconian punishment than by opting for a redemptive moment that may serve to reorient the student toward investing in his or her own development.

However, at the conference with the student, I expect acknowledgment of the act and no repeat offense. A defiant denial of plagiarism at the first meeting will go straight to the college.

The "three-strike" situation was at a for-profit technical/business school in Ohio. My friend resigned rather than pass the student, which the administration sought.
posted by beelzbubba at 12:06 PM on March 29, 2005


Please be informed that my lawyer, Mr. Edwin Shansky will be in touch with you shortly to begin proceedings for a civil case against your libel, and I will see you in court. Let this be a lesson to you and all other sadistical SOBs who have nothing better to do than to try to dirty the good name of innocents like myself.:

I'm fairly sure this is a hoax, or she has poor counsel or simply poor judgement. She would have been directed to not contact Nathan in this (or any) manner, at least until the proceedings are finished.
posted by kcm at 12:06 PM on March 29, 2005


Ethereal:

Point Taken! I can certainly agree with how evil hides. I just don't know how a social network can police itself without its members taking some satisfaction from doing the right thing by reporting the bad members. Thus the taking of satisfaction in punishing wrong doers isn't always an indication of evil or even a major character flaw.

I punish my children when they do bad things. I let them know that their actions disappointed me and I am unhappy with them. But I take satisfaction in knowing that the punishment I am meting out is to teach them the error of their ways. It is my hope that they figure it out or get better at not getting caught.

While Nate may have came across as a little vindictive none of his statements were that over the top. He represents himself as someone who got their degree honestly. I can see how he might resent someone cheating to achieve the same thing he had to sweat over. I really don't know how much compassion he should feel for someone that is inherently insulting him and the effort at which he dedicated several years of his life. I am not saying he shouldn't have any compassion, how much compassion are we supposed to feel for the people who take advantage of others?

Wong
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 12:08 PM on March 29, 2005


hurkle : " In the final analysis, if you have a moral problem with informing the authorities when you see something wrong happening, or if the thought of feeling good about turning in someone who is unethical and a cheater makes you feel bad, then you might want to reevaluate your own morality."

"If you have a moral problem with informing the authorities when you see a crime in progress, then you might want to reevaluate your own morality.
Posted by: Mike Crefin at March 29, 2005 11:33 AM"

Plagiarist
posted by Bugbread at 12:09 PM on March 29, 2005


Well, "Laura". A search of the Martindale-Hubbell law directory (everyone getd their name put there after passing the bar) shows nil for any Edwin Shansky. So I'm gonna have to assume you're full of shit.

Posted by: Benjamin Kushner at March 29, 2005 02:50 PM

posted by orange swan at 12:09 PM on March 29, 2005


Ethereal Bligh, thankyou for bringing your anthropological insight to this thread. I don't think I understood people's "snitch-revulsion" until now.
posted by Popular Ethics at 12:11 PM on March 29, 2005


Perhaps you went to a major research-1 institution, an Ivy, or a "public Ivy.":

I've been to two of those three types, and had the experience (at both) that they can be just as lax as your campus. I related an anecdote to mefi earlier this week about a girl who, when the professor announced he had caught cheaters (her), tried to drop the class before he could fail her, as he gave the cheater 24 hours to come forward for less severe punishment. In the end, through many battles with the JC here, she ended up receiving a zero on the homework assignment -- which failed her in the end, but still.

On another note, this professor was *good*. He baited the one known cheater and N unknown cheaters with his 24 hour mitigated punishment, given a confession, strategy. I believe he had one or two other groups come forward with admissions of "possible impropriety". Note also that he REALLY wanted to get her removed from the program, and the end result was all that could be mustered. This at the #1 (US News-wise) graduate program for the discipline.
posted by kcm at 12:13 PM on March 29, 2005


peacay : "It is not HIS fucking job to bait and entrap on behalf of higher education."

I swear, it's like nobody on the internet has ever heard the expression "volunteer work" ^_^
posted by Bugbread at 12:13 PM on March 29, 2005


reade:I'm at a loss to understand the outpouring of sympathy for an academic fraud.

Again, learn to read for content. Most of us are saying that we find Nate's conduct equally reprehensible or maybe worse, which is not the same as excusing the silly ditz. We find stupidity less worthy of condemnation than cruelty. I hope you don't have any pets.

It's not Nate's job unless he's a fellow student or an employee of her school. How did it hurt him? He has no stake in it, he just likes to hurt people. Bluntly put, he ripped her off and bragged about it; surely that can't be good for Society.

By the way, why is nobody commenting on Nate's "misogyny"? And who's Alice?

And okay fshgrl: I'm clearly basing my scientifically unrigorous remarks on my memories of own experiences a while ago. Maybe there was something about me that drew lots of stupid and dishonest college girls, who then seemed "normal" and "usual" to me. Alright? Sheesh.
posted by davy at 12:15 PM on March 29, 2005


Why on earth is Nate misogynistic?
posted by agregoli at 12:16 PM on March 29, 2005


I swear, it's like nobody on the internet has ever heard the expression "volunteer work" ^_^

O______o
posted by jimmy at 12:17 PM on March 29, 2005


Bugbear said: Plagiarist

How dare you humiliate me in public? Expose my plagiarism to the whole world? It's not your moral responsibility to make sure I don't do that. Don't you realize how bad of a person that makes you? You might even be *gasp* evil if you are taking satisfaction in catching me!!!

Hahahahaha! I love MeFi!
posted by hurkle at 12:17 PM on March 29, 2005


The "Farkiness" reflected in the comments (a week of kindness) is rapidly deteriorating the validity / authenticity of this debacle. Did Nate give any thought of the ramifications before posting this? I don't condone plagiarism, but this guy is an asshat.
posted by AllesKlar at 12:17 PM on March 29, 2005


And who's Alice?

Bob and Alice, the foo and bar of communications theory.
posted by hurkle at 12:18 PM on March 29, 2005


hurkle : " In the final analysis, if you have a moral problem with informing the authorities when you see something wrong happening, or if the thought of feeling good about turning in someone who is unethical and a cheater makes you feel bad, then you might want to reevaluate your own morality."

If Nate had just informed the authorities, I would have had no problem with him. Plagiarism and academic fraud should be fully punished by academia/society by the proper authorities. However, he chose to also inform anyone with an internet connection and a desire to Google the name "Laura K. Pahl", that "Laura K. Pahl" is a plagiarist. Whether he was motivated to do so by self-righteousness or a need for self-promotion (or if this is real at all), I don't know; either way, I'm not a fan.
posted by theFlyingSquirrel at 12:18 PM on March 29, 2005


"I am not saying he shouldn't have any compassion, how much compassion are we supposed to feel for the people who take advantage of others?"

Well, the issue here isn't about Nate's compassion. Or maybe it is in the sense that we owe even the most wretched human being some basic compassion. But my complaint is that Nate's actions are disproportionate and he clearly is taking pleasure in Laura's expected downfall which he has carefully engineered. That's cruelty, and cruelty is never a virtue, it's always a vice.

And I'd like to thank and acknowledge the kind words or praise directed toward me by several people in this thread. I don't really know how to properly acknowledge such things, so I usually ignore them. It's not that they aren't appreciated.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:19 PM on March 29, 2005


The further posts certainly do suggest the "laura pahl" who wrote back is probably not genuine. Still, he put two pieces together in a potentially faulty fashion, her name and someone with her name at a different school than she claimed. Then he emailed the university president. Maybe I was wishing he fell on his face.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:20 PM on March 29, 2005


davy : " It's not Nate's job unless he's a fellow student or an employee of her school."

What the hell is the sudden fixation about "Nate's job"? Why does something have to be "your job" to do it? Is this just some new slang you use when you want to say something is bad but you can't be bothered saying why?

Hurkle: It isn't your job to call me "Bugbear". It's your job to call me "Bugbread". Of course, your failure to do so probably explains why you've never gotten a cheque from me.

hurkle : " Bob and Alice, the foo and bar of communications theory."

Also the foo and bar of physics.
posted by Bugbread at 12:22 PM on March 29, 2005


Bob and Alice, the foo and bar of communications theory:

bar and foo. please.
posted by kcm at 12:22 PM on March 29, 2005


The further posts certainly do suggest the "laura pahl" who wrote back is probably not genuine.

Well duh... I'm getting the feeling that someone from MeFi actually wrote that comment.
posted by clevershark at 12:26 PM on March 29, 2005


Plagiarism is not illegal. At all. Copyright infringement is.

Are you sure?

I'm not being snotty, I really am asking.
posted by Specklet at 12:26 PM on March 29, 2005


your failure to do so probably explains why you've never gotten a cheque from me.

Yes, but I have a picture of a cheque. And of a hungarian. And several americans too.
posted by hurkle at 12:27 PM on March 29, 2005


Nate needs some puppet pedagogy .
Tattling is a tough problem for young children to comprehend because it is not an inherently wrong behavior. Tattling... is when something minor happens, not necessarily to the student who does the tattling, and the student comes running up to the teacher to report it. Also, tattling is when something minor happens and a child doesn't attempt to work it out on his or her own before running to the teacher....
posted by Cassford at 12:29 PM on March 29, 2005


Cassford, where have you been? I think that should wrap it up.
posted by OmieWise at 12:33 PM on March 29, 2005


delmoi: On the other hand, I think it’s clear that the agreement called for an original work
Seriously? Could the same argument be used to sue a smuggler who delivered phony goods?



Well, they certanly could be if "smuggling" were not illegal. Plagerism is not illegal. At all. At most, its a copyright violaiton. And a pretty small one, if you're just handing it in for credit. (unlike blair hornstine, who published others work in a newspaper).

Look, if I legaly import phonies and sell them as the real deal, of course I'm opening myself up for a lawsuit. What exactly is your point?
posted by delmoi at 12:35 PM on March 29, 2005


This thread is why I love mefi. So many arguments, so many intelligent opinions. I read the article and thought "Hmm, well, whatever." But the discussion! Now I know why snitching is a bad thing, and moreover, I have a good idea of how to ethically go about snitching.

Or at least a fabulous case study in how not to do it.
posted by freedryk at 12:35 PM on March 29, 2005


Hey, EB, this is in reference to your comment in the deleted von Cretin thread:

I know, I know, no more images. I kinda hoped it was just on MeTa, but I thought I'd test the MeFi inline-image waters on a thread like this one, destined for the shitheap of history.

I'm curious, though: Where does one go to find these unspoken agreements? Are they agreed upon by the masses, or just by the folks who find something annoying enough to silently agree to end it?

If the answer was just that the sysop doesn't like it, I'd be satisfied. But if there is some consensus at work here, I'd like to know how to get the rest of us involved.
posted by breezeway at 12:36 PM on March 29, 2005


Nate: "if I was able to get the information out of her, I'd report her to whatever her school was, and who knows, maybe even pump her for double money in exchange for not turning her in"

Geez for a guy so worried about ethics he sure slid down that (conspiracy to commit) blackmail slope in a hurry.

orthogonality: And it was a violation of the chairman's fiduciary responsibility to the company's shareholders, to use company resources for his son's personal benefit.

Unless of course the chairman owns the company in which case he can do pretty well anything he wants though their might be a case for tax evasion.

OmieWise: I have to assume that folks think the agreed penalty (a ticket and maybe points) should be accentuated with photos posted to the internet and notice sent to your boss. By a private citizen. Otherwise, it's a bunch of hypocritical bullshit. It isn't that Laura did not do wrong, it's that this one small wrong (not victimless, small) should not necessarily be public knowledge.

I was going to use littering as my example but exactly OmieWise. I think I'm have a bit of an insight on the popularity of those goofy three felony strikes laws in the USA.

knave: I'm pretty sure it's illegal to "record" a private conversation and post it publicly without notifying the person being recorded first.

This varies wildly from place to place. Sometimes it's ok if either party consents and other times both parties have to consent.

Frankly this thread -- the longest thread I've seen on MeFi, BTW
Missed the SG debate thread(s) did ya? This may eventually go longer but only because Matt closed the other I'd bet.

Optimus Chyme: All of my not-wearing-a-seatbelt tickets and whatnot are available for viewing on the internet, as long as you know my name. So cry me a river, Bligh.
So, feel like sharing?

Indeed, they may simply be opportunistic and enjoy wielding (or setting in action) that external power as a sop to their insecurity.
Indeed, for all we know Nate was snubbed by this woman and now he's putting on a big show.

You didn't say ALL coeds trade sex for homework you only said the "normal" ones "usually" do.
I, apparently, went to the wrong school.
posted by Mitheral at 12:38 PM on March 29, 2005


"What the hell is the sudden fixation about 'Nate's job'? Why does something have to be 'your job' to do it? Is this just some new slang you use when you want to say something is bad but you can't be bothered saying why?"

It's an idiom I use frequently. It means that someone is taking on a responsibility that's not theirs to take on. It implies that since it's not their responsibility, they are quite likely infringing upon someone else in doing so. I don't mean it in the most literal (or near literal) way; and I would agree that in some sense, to some degree, it is Nate's responsibility to act against Laura's wrongdoing. But the implication of the idiom—how I would use it in this case—would be that he has gone beyond that responsibility. And, indeed, I think he has.

One example that comes immediately to mind, and I hope no one in my family ever sees this, is something that happened at my sister's wedding last year. At the dinner afterward, the best man stood up to give a toast, and he told a nice story about the couple. Then the bridesmaid did. Then some other people did. This turned into an astonishing nearly hour long group of continuous testimonials (including mine). Deserved, I think, my sister and her husband are remarably good people. But, anyway, I noticed that two important people hadn't stood up. The first was my father. He and I had talked the night before about him possibly saying something at the dinner, but, like many people, this sort of public speaking thing was deeply alien to him. So I watched him from the corner of my eye and I could tell that he was working up the nerve to speak. Also, one of my sister's best friends similarly hadn't spoken, and her body language seemed to me to indicate that she was trying to work up the courage, or find the right moment, to do so.

So, like I said, this continued for some time. And without almost any pauses—one person would finish and another person would immediately stand up. So the very reluctant, you see, hadn't had that opportunity that opens up when there is that delay. You know what I mean.

Finally, there was one of these slight delays. And my aunt (whom I love, don't get the wrong idea) immediately spoke up and said, "They want to get on with their honeymoon, they should eat their cake now!" And everyone did, and that was that. My dad and my sister's friend didn't speak. I was sitting next to my aunt and as soon as she started saying this, I put my hand on her leg as a warning. Later, she asked me why I did that. I said, "Because it wasn't your job to decide when it was time to move on." There will never be another moment like that one. My dad will never have an opportunity to say whatever he may have wanted to say. But my aunt, who is deaf and couldn't see people's mouths to read their lips, had become impatient (understandably). So she moved things along. Her doing this upset me quite a bit (I was furious, actually) partly because of her overstepping boundaries (which she has a tendency to do) and partly because her motivation was selfish but hidden under the guise of altruism.

So does this answer your question about "it's not his job"? :)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:40 PM on March 29, 2005


Metafilter: It's not your job.
posted by schyler523 at 12:46 PM on March 29, 2005


, man.
posted by jonmc at 12:46 PM on March 29, 2005


Ethereal Bligh : " So does this answer your question about 'it's not his job'?"

Yes. I think I disagree in this particular case (regarding Nate), but at least now I know that I'm disagreeing, and what I'm disagreeing with.
posted by Bugbread at 12:47 PM on March 29, 2005


A search of the Martindale-Hubbell law directory . . . shows nil for any Edwin Shansky.

I beg to differ. I'm pretty sure Shansky's a junior partner in the firm of Semitestein, Shysterberg & Stereotype.
posted by gompa at 12:48 PM on March 29, 2005


Hey Ether:

I appreciate you working to provide me with your point of view and have certainly benefited from you doing so. At the very least it allowed me to ignore a huge pile of work for a significant portion of the day.

I am curious to see what the tally was for or against nate in this thread. It would be interesting see how it all shakes out. It is really odd that I come out so far to the right on this issue when I am usually slightly on the left.

I brought up compassion because its absence is part of my criteria for determining the evilness of intent.

Thanks again!

Wong
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 12:49 PM on March 29, 2005


Edwin Shansky works for Dewey, Cheatham and Howe.
posted by fixedgear at 12:50 PM on March 29, 2005


Ethereal Bligh said "I was sitting next to my aunt and as soon as she started saying this, I put my hand on her leg as a warning. Later, she asked me why I did that. I said, "Because it wasn't your job to decide when it was time to move on.""

Ah, but was it your job to decide when your aunt should be allowed to speak up?

;-)
posted by hurkle at 12:51 PM on March 29, 2005


Y'know, if laughing at stupidity of people on the internet is cruel, I don't want to be kind.
She did something stupid, got caught and got humiliated. That's how socialization polices behavioral norms. It would be cruel if the punishment did not fit the offense, but it does. And his glee in exposing her is the same I feel when people who cut me off in traffic get pulled over by cops. The lout recieved her come-uppance.
posted by klangklangston at 12:53 PM on March 29, 2005


To anyone who actually EARNED a degree, this should come off as absolutely inexcusable.:

Indeed. I EARNED my degrees. It was HARD. I have nothing but open-faced wrath and venomous spite for folks like the accused. I saw far, far too much of it, and lost far too many spots in graduate schools and fellowship programs, et. al., due to this to "let it slide".


My feelings exactly. Way to go Nate. After all the hours spent writing and researching essays the hard way I'm so glad when someone gets caught plagiarising.

Sure it's "not his job". It's not Bruce Wayne's job to stop a mugging. But, if this is true, Nate has done a service to the victims, the honest students in her class competing against her.
posted by bobo123 at 12:55 PM on March 29, 2005


I'm way down the thread, so no one's going to read this, but I'll say it anyway:

I have an undergraduate degree that I worked hard for. That degree means that I've acheived a certain level and kind of intellectual training and that I should get certain benefits (such as access to better jobs).

If one of my potential competitors has gamed the system and has an undergraduate degree (or tries to earn one) without working, learning, and growing, then fu-ck yeah I'm going to call them out on it. And publicly. It's a lie. It's cheating. And they deserve no reward. And they certainly don't deserve to potentially take a job or a reward away from me.

So to hell with those who commit academic dishonesty. If this really happened and isn't some hoax, then the least of Laura K. Palk's punishments should be having her transgressions listed on Metafilter... Maybe she doesn't need to be kicked out of school, but she needs to have a long discussion with the dean and she needs to at least repeat the course she cheated for. She also probably needs to have her record double-checked and maybe some sort of academic penalty like a half-point reduction of her final GPA and a permanent flag on her record.

(Having said all this, I should point out that I don't necessarily thing having a degree makes you a superior human. I know college-educated idiots and very asute, learned people who seem to have never stepped foot in the classroom. The proof is in the pudding, and if you know your stuff without spending your time and cash on school -- great!)

Anyway. Blah blah blah. None of us really know the details of the story at this point so none of us really has much to say...
posted by chasing at 12:58 PM on March 29, 2005


Optimus Chyme: All of my not-wearing-a-seatbelt tickets and whatnot are available for viewing on the internet, as long as you know my name. So cry me a river, Bligh.
EB: So, feel like sharing?

I thought I did. I wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

If in the course of me trying to do something unethical you happen to find out my name and address and all that, then go nuts posting my no-seatbelt ticket all over the internet, I guess.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:58 PM on March 29, 2005


You keep mistaking me for someone else, OC.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:03 PM on March 29, 2005


She did something stupid, got caught and got humiliated

But she didn't get caught. She was entrapped.
posted by peacay at 1:08 PM on March 29, 2005


So I did; my apologies. s/Bligh/Mitheral
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:09 PM on March 29, 2005


How was she entrapped? She IMed a complete stranger and asked him to do something unethical for her benefit.
posted by Vidiot at 1:10 PM on March 29, 2005


I reached one more branch out to her, in the form of misspelling the name of the god of destruction as a liquor brand. But it wasn't enough to get her to tell me to fuck myself, so I started making up my plan. Which was real simple: Take her money and cut and paste a paper together from the internet that was so obviously plagiarised that she'd be guaranteed to get caught. And then, if I was able to get the information out of her, I'd report her to whatever her school was, and who knows, maybe even pump her for double money in exchange for not turning her in. Either way, I'd eventually be writing the story up in this blog, and sending her the link to it.

Setting up a sting and reporting her to the school for academic fraud? Cool.

Publishing her name as an academic fraud? Cool.

Setting her up for blackmail? Not Cool.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:13 PM on March 29, 2005


man, i need an update to this soap opera... is she in trouble or what?!
posted by cusack at 1:16 PM on March 29, 2005


Conclusion: She's a moron. He's a prick.

Someday, one or both of them will probably be my boss.
posted by jonmc at 1:17 PM on March 29, 2005


I looked on the heel of my shoe to find Laura K. Pahl, and I found Nate Kushner instead.
posted by runkelfinker at 1:20 PM on March 29, 2005


delmoi:Plagiarism is not illegal....Look, if I legaly import phonies and sell them as the real deal, of course I'm opening myself up for a lawsuit. What exactly is your point?

My point is that the idea that this woman could contractually expect a "good forgery" is a bit surprising. Then again, I've been surprised by civil law before.

As to the illegality of her act, I think a good case could be made that her plagiarism amounted to a breach of a "professional ethic" which, as a graduate, Nathan is duty bound to report. Leaving aside for the moment the tasteless method he chose to do it.

Such a code of ethics exists for my profession as we are legally mandated to be self policing. I like the idea that a similar code should apply to academia as a whole, given the extent to which society relies on the informed opinions of the educated.
posted by Popular Ethics at 1:24 PM on March 29, 2005


hurkle : " In the final analysis, if you have a moral problem with informing the authorities when you see something wrong happening, or if the thought of feeling good about turning in someone who is unethical and a cheater makes you feel bad, then you might want to reevaluate your own morality."

If I see someone breaking into my neighbor's garage and call the police, this is a good thing. If I go over and help them open the door and carry my neighbors belongings to the moving van before calling the police, am I still doing a good thing?
posted by Orb at 1:26 PM on March 29, 2005 [1 favorite]


entrapment: The act of officers or agents of a government in inducing a person to commit a crime otherwise not contemplated for the purpose of instituting a criminal prosecution against that person. [emphasis mine]
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:29 PM on March 29, 2005


Peacay: Do you know what entrapment is? Or do you just like saying the word? If the latter, you might try escarpment, because it sounds neater and has about as much bearing on the discussion.

Internet Stranger: Hey Peacay, sell me some drugs. Hey Peacay, gimme some drugs. Price is no object. Hey Peacay, gimme some drugs.

Peacay: Drugs? Like nutmeg?

IS: Ok, here's a photo of my check for you!

Peacay: Here's your banana peels. They'll get you high as a Dead Milkman!
(Snickering... "I'm going to tell Internet Stranger's parents that they're looking for drugs on the int4rw3b.")
Has Internet Stranger been "entrapped?" No. They took the effort to break the law (even though academic fraud isn't illegal) and they've been exposed for being dumb. According to your insanely broad view of entrapment, every sucker that tries to buy cigarettes with food stamps has been "entrapped" if the Stop-n-Rob reports them to the welfare agency.

Cheating a cheater is no vice.
(On preview)
ORB: So long as no harm befalls your neighbor, sure, it's still a good thing. It's even still a good thing if you blog about it.
posted by klangklangston at 1:31 PM on March 29, 2005


man, i need an update to this soap opera... is she in trouble or what?!

We're not even sure she exists.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:31 PM on March 29, 2005


peacay : " But she didn't get caught. She was entrapped."

I don't think you quite understand what entrapment is, and what a sting is.
Simple drug example:

Entrapment:
Alice: "Hey, Bob, I've got a kilo of cocaine you can sell for 100x dollars. Normally, I'd sell it to you for 90x dollars, but I'll let you have it for 2x dollars"

Sting:
Bob: "Hey, Alice, do you have any cocaine?"
Alice: "Sure, Bob. 90x dollars, please."

Entrapment is when you entice someone into committing the crime (the argument being that if you hadn't enticed, they might not have commited). A sting is when they have indicated a real intent to commit a crime, and you play along to get evidence. She IMed him, then she asked if he could write a paper, and indicated she would pay. There was no entrapment involved.

On preview: everybody beat me to it.

Orb : " If I see someone breaking into my neighbor's garage and call the police, this is a good thing. If I go over and help them open the door and carry my neighbors belongings to the moving van before calling the police, am I still doing a good thing?"

More accurately:

If someone asks you to steal your neighbor's keys so they can break into your neighbor's garage, and you call the police, it's a good thing, but there isn't a whole lot of proof. If you give them a random key (like, let's say, your old apartment's former key), saying it's the neighbor's garage door key, and then tell the cops to look for the guy trying to open the neighbor's garage and not being able to, then you've done a very good thing. If you take a cheque in exchange for doing so, it's a bit iffy. If you consider blackmailing the thief instead of calling the cops, then you're just being jerky.

The analogy starts breaking down with the public ridicule aspect, though, as breaking and entering is bad enough that an appropriately extreme public ridicule comparison becomes hard to make.
posted by Bugbread at 1:40 PM on March 29, 2005


Laughing at stupidity is fine if that gets you through the night, I guess. Humiliation, however, poisons the well. Humiliation is as much about the humiliator as it is about the person being humiliated. It is an attempt to place one's' self in a position of power over another (even if only miomentarily) by debasing them. In humiliation, you attack what someone is, not what they do.

It is clear that Nate set out to humiliate Laura. If the title of his post doesn't tell you that he was going past shaming into humiliation, then you might get it when he calls her a "bitch" in the second sentence.

"There it is: it doesn't make any difference who we are
or what we are, there's always somebody to look down
on." - Mark Twain, 3,000 Years among the Microbes

posted by Cassford at 1:44 PM on March 29, 2005


I feel no pity for the lazy girl with more money than brains trying to cheat her way through college at the expense of her peers. She forfeits her place in college.

I feel pity, however, for the cruel man with more righteousness than mercy trying to cheat his way through the human experience at the expense of a fellow human being. He forfeits so much more.

Laura is a pimple on the face of higher learning. Nate is a wart on the backside of human decency.

They were made for each other and fate has justly brought them together this day for our reading displeasure. The fact that they were brought together by Hindu teachings smacks of Karma.

Comedy? This is tragedy. While the 'arms of Chivas' bit was pretty amusing, seeing two people lower the 'class average' of humanity like this is pretty sad.

Dear Nate and Laura (if these are your real names),

It would seem fitting to end this comment with stolen words not my own:

"Your total lack of class is outdone only by your total lack of class."
posted by stringbean at 1:45 PM on March 29, 2005


How was she entrapped?

Yes, she did solicit the paper. But then everything that occurred after was at the behest of Nate. He steered her down his own convoluted garden path.
I'm not saying she isn't at fault. She is. And I totally agree that plagiarism should be punished.
But she only asked a question and was then led to the purported offense by a sadistic twat with only selfglory and vindictiveness in mind.
on prev: ok....semantical in common useage I'd argue...........but she was induced, misled and encouraged to proceed.
posted by peacay at 1:46 PM on March 29, 2005


I'm kinda bummed that Nate didn't drive to her house and slap her around a bit.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 1:48 PM on March 29, 2005


284 comments on this pathetic blog entry? Lord. How did this get elevated to the level of meme? Waxy. Boingboing. Metafilter. 242 references at Technorati. What am I missing here? Fuck, maybe if I used my digital camera to make a movie of myself stepping on a bunch of live baby chicks, I could get this much attention.
posted by sninky-chan at 1:53 PM on March 29, 2005


The student's teacher should have required multiple drafts and revisions.

And he should have seen how much she would have paid.
posted by craniac at 1:54 PM on March 29, 2005


"Fuck, maybe if I used my digital camera to make a movie of myself stepping on a bunch of live baby chicks, I could get this much attention."

I bet you're right.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:57 PM on March 29, 2005


peacay : "she was induced, misled and encouraged to proceed."

Where?
posted by Bugbread at 2:19 PM on March 29, 2005


Jesus. I was going to define plagiarism again, but it's been done about 15 times in this thread.

He took advantage of her, fine. She was a stupid cheating bitch. She gets what she deserved. Everyone who cheats on a paper deserves this. Especially those who cheat like she did: randomly (RANDOMLY) IM-ing people who have the word "Hindu" in their AIM profiles. My, God, woman! The idiocy!
posted by graventy at 2:20 PM on March 29, 2005


[insert stringbean's comment here]

by me, taz.

posted by taz at 2:29 PM on March 29, 2005


sninky-chan I think that'd be a repost but chicks is impossible to search for here.

Optimus Chyme it is not that with enough digging your indescrections are available on the net. It is how likely people are to find them with a google of your name and how slanted the page those facts are present on. Plus the whole over the top tattling to the president bit. Would you really be ok with someone writing to your boss/mother/spirtitual advisor with the intent that they see a page published to show you as a menace to society and stupid to boot?

Keep in mind we're maybe only seeing one side of this possibly made up little drama. And that was written by someone who appears to be mean and vindictive.

I was railing against vigilantism in all it's forms. And I think the fact that we don't have people in stocks in the town square anymore is a good thing.
posted by Mitheral at 2:33 PM on March 29, 2005


But then everything that occurred after was at the behest of Nate. He steered her down his own convoluted garden path.

Any punishment she may suffer will come as a result of doing something completely on her own: Turning in that paper.
posted by rcade at 2:35 PM on March 29, 2005


"Snitch"? "Narc"? "Tattle-tale"? Do adults really have these views?

Yeah. It's one thing to blow the whistle on something potentially dangerous, but this guy seems to enjoy it waaay too much for my taste. Not that she isn't a meathead as well.

But nobody likes a snitch, especially ones who make a spectacle of themselves for doing it.


I couldn't possibly agree more. If I saw someone rob a bank or mug an old lady, I'd call the cops. Some asshat teenager asking me to write a paper for her? I'd probably just give her some variation of "Go away."
posted by afroblanca at 2:36 PM on March 29, 2005


Keep in mind we're maybe only seeing one side of this possibly made up little drama. And that was written by someone who appears to be mean and vindictive.

Well, if someone does Google her at some point in the future, she at least has this page she can point to, in order to prove what a terrible guy her accuser was.
posted by Vidiot at 2:39 PM on March 29, 2005


jonmc writes "But nobody likes a snitch, especially ones who make a spectacle of themselves for doing it."

Hard to tell that from the constant call-outs in MetaTalk about newsfilter, self-links, liberal/conservatibve/Christian/athiest bias and other fine whines.

Here's why what Nate did is good: because creating this sort of publicity, he makes an example of Laura and discourages other potential plagiarists.

Our America is far too tolerant of liars, whether they be shills for sugar cereal or politicians who in speeches and on talk shoes say things that everyone listening realizes is a best a pompous piety the politician doesn't practice , and at worst an out-and-out lie. My country is dying by inches because of this, and accountability must start at home.

Better Laura takes her lumps now than she graduates and goes on to work her amoral talents at the next Enron -- or the next presidential speech about "yellowcake in Afreeca!"

What Nate did is a necessary corrective, and we should applaud it.

But in America today, from the Clinton's Oval Office blow-jobs to George W Bush's Oval Office lies, to the Pentagon to the Office of Attorney General to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and Bagram, accountability is even more rare than a Red Cross inspection. Laura should be ashamed of what she did -- and we should all be ashamed to be part of a culture that forgives such willful moral blindness.

The Romans looked the other way to ignore the crimes of the Caesars, the French looked the other way to ignore the crimes of their aristocracy, the Germans looked the other way to ignore the crimes of the Nazis , and we -- we would do well to heed those examples before our society too collapses under the weight of our hypocrisy and amorality.
posted by orthogonality at 2:39 PM on March 29, 2005


No, it's not. She hired Nate to write a paper for her. Nate agreed to write a paper for her. It is a work for hire, and providing that both ends of the contract are met (Nate gives her the paper, she gives Nate the money,) she can do anything she wants with it, including claim it as her own. Again, this works exactly the same way ghostwriting contracts work

prob already addressed but this is a long thread...
a) He absolutely and very specifically gave her a plagiarized paper, so she if she turns/ed it in as her own work, she is a plagiarist, although one by proxy;
b) it is absolutely not the same as ghostwriting to buy a paper from someone and pass it off as one's own. Ghostwriters are for people with interesting lives/stories who don't know how to write engagingly. University classes are not looking for engaging life stories; they're looking to see that you understand the material you were assigned to understand, and you prove that by writing intelligibly on the subject. A paper is not an end in itself; it's a means to prove to the professor that you understand the material.

I'm completely shocked at how many people think Nate is the bad guy here. I wouldn't have done what he did, but if his story happened the way he says it did, it's 100% her doing. Yeah, he strung her along instead of just straight out telling her that her interests were unethical. But it was her instigation, and I really can't feel any pity for her. Plus I did find it amusing...
posted by mdn at 2:40 PM on March 29, 2005


Let me take the ethically indefensible position that in the case of Laura K. Pahl and her pleasure horses, plagiarism (or whatever you wish to call it) is clearly a good thing. Given her incorrect assumption that Hindu experts must specialize in eating Hindu sculpture, it's fairly clear that large portions of her brain are a kind of glial mush. I imagine that she's unable to do anything at all, that she is probably unable to feed or hydrate herself, and that she may well be Terry Schiavo attempting to prove her worth by getting a degree. Without plagiarism, Terry will die. So Nate. Please no.
posted by palinode at 2:42 PM on March 29, 2005


found missing writes "I'm confused. What does all this have to do with Terri Shiavo?"

Best Post of Thread.
posted by orthogonality at 2:45 PM on March 29, 2005


I'm still slogging through all 299+ or whatever comments, but I'll say this much: I'd have a hell of a lot more sympathy for the Laura K. Pahls of the world if, as a professor, I didn't have to waste so much of my own valuable time babysitting the nitwits too dumb to realize that their professor may actually be as google-savvy as they are.

People like this don't deserve to be at university. I'm sorry, but it needs to be said. If you can't be bothered to write your own damn papers, get your ass out of that seat and give it up to someone who wants to be there. Expressing sympathy for this girl will only teach her that she can in fact cheat (or whine, if/when she's caught of course) her way to the top. No excuses. You fail. Good-bye.

I think a sympathetic response says more about one's own lax attitude re: plagiarism than it does about anything else. Again, I grade this stuff for a living, so it hits close to home. But as someone who's received plagiarized papers in an ethics class, it's awfully hard for me to muster any sympathy for poor little Laura.
posted by joe lisboa at 2:47 PM on March 29, 2005


Bob and Alice, the foo and bar of communications theory.

What about Carol and Ted?
posted by kirkaracha at 2:49 PM on March 29, 2005


"I'm completely shocked at how many people think Nate is the bad guy here."

Please don't force me to lose my patience. Some people here (including myself) think that Nate is the badder guy. If your morality is such that condemning someone for a greater wrong is necessarily the same as excusing the lesser wrong, then, well, maybe you should think about these things more than you have.

On preview:

"I think a sympathetic response says more about one's own lax attitude re: plagiarism than it does about anything else."

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. See? Someone made me lose my patience. I have no tolerance for plagiarism, I think expulsion from the university is a just punishment for Laura and yet, somehow, amazingly to the moral simpletons like joe lisboa, I am sympathetic to Laura with regard to Nate's egregious and self-serving vigilantism.

This isn't so fucking complicated. Really, it isn't.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:52 PM on March 29, 2005


Joe Lisboa: A curiosity question to you and other current profs: are papers still turned in in printed paper form, or on disc? (Just wondering how simple Googling is)
posted by Bugbread at 2:54 PM on March 29, 2005


orthogonality: have you seen The Assassination of Richard Nixon? I ask only because you sort of reminded me of the main character there...

Everybody else: sorry, could you repeat that? I think I missed a nuance.
posted by flashboy at 2:55 PM on March 29, 2005


Dang, must be a slow work day for MeFites all the way around for this piece of shit to get over 300 comments.

Plagiarism is bad, even if you pay for it (which just means you're a lazy plagiarist). Hiring other people to perform your work is fine in the business world, its called subcontracting. Hiring other people to do your work in the academic world is not cool, not acceptable and should be eminent proof that the cheater in question isn't suited to be enrolled in higher education.
posted by fenriq at 2:59 PM on March 29, 2005


EB, you can shove off with that attitude, my man.

Guilty conscience? I never singled you out - hell, I hadn't even made it to your contribution to the goddamn thread yet and yet you get off calling me a "moral simpleton"?

She sought him ought. Repeatedly. Dictated the terms of the arrangement. Hounded him all evening.

Read that back to yourself. No, really. If you're going to get off calling me names, take the time to read what I said and what actually took place, here. He wasn't trolling chat rooms looking for innocent youngsters to hook on that cool new drug Plagiaron for chrissakes. Man, talk about a moral simpleton.

Jeez. And bugbread, no - I have to enter chunks of suspicious looking text by hand. It grows tiresome. Quickly. Hence my qualifying of my comment with the caveat that I have to deal with this stuff no a daily basis and hence my opinion might be biased. At least I had the cojones to admit that up front and not hide behind a goddamn shield of self-righteousness like Mr. Ethereal fucking Bligh.
posted by joe lisboa at 3:01 PM on March 29, 2005


Looking at the phenomenon that is this thread, I don't think that it has as much to do with plagiarism as it does with using the Internet as a modern-day pillory. After all, plagiarism is nothing new- the Internet, however, is.

I have a feeling that this sort of thing will get a lot less attention once the Internet is flooded with blogs dedicated to outing random people for performing minor infractions.

(And please, don't take this as me siding with either party. As I've already stated, I think that both parties are ridiculous and deserve everything they get as a result of this whole episode.)
posted by afroblanca at 3:02 PM on March 29, 2005


*no = on
posted by joe lisboa at 3:02 PM on March 29, 2005


I am never forget the day I first meet the great Lobachevsky.
In one word he told me secret of success in mathematics: Plagiarize!

Plagiarize,
Let no one else's work evade your eyes,
Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
So don't shade your eyes,
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize...
Only be sure always to call it please, "research".

Tom Lehrer, is there anything you can't teach us?
posted by blahblahblah at 3:06 PM on March 29, 2005


Where?

here

I say put the tube in Laura and do the autopsy on Nate
posted by peacay at 3:09 PM on March 29, 2005


Wow. I can't believe the number of comments on this thread. Second, WHO DEFENDS PLAGIARIZERS? Seriously? who? I can't go through all the comments on this thread... there are far too many. But I hope someone follows up so we can find out what happened.

When I started reading the entry, i thought it was a pretty funny thing to do. But then when I started reading the comments back here, I didn't think ANYONE would be pitying Laura K. As someone who had to work through university to pay my own way, not only did I not have the money to pay other people to do my work, but if i'm able to make hiring decisions in a professional capacity now I'm going to want to know that someone actually knows what they know. Was Nathan stone cold? yes. Was it undeserved? HELL no!
posted by indiebass at 3:11 PM on March 29, 2005


Joe: Thanks. And calm down a bit. EB is not contesting that she did a bad thing. He says himself that he thinks expulsion from uni is a just consequence. His argument lies elsewhere. His anger comes from people misconstruing the arguments of people (such as himself) who think Nate is a jerk. By misconstruing his argument, you're just going to make him angry, and yourself look a little aimless (telling EB that she sought him out, which we all know, and that she dictated terms, which we all know, and hounded him, which we all know, followed by the cryptic "Read that back to yourself" bit)

If it makes it easier, the argument is basically that the punishment is exceeding the crime. Saying that a punishment exceeds the crime does not mean that the crime is unimportant, or that the criminal is a victim, or anything else. It just says the punishment exceeds the crime.

peacay : "Where?

"here"


Could you supply me with a google cache or something? The page it's showing now doesn't have any induction or encouragement.

indiebass : "WHO DEFENDS PLAGIARIZERS?"

I've read the whole thread. From what I can gather, not a single person does. However, some people incorrectly think that anyone who finds problems with Nate is, de facto, defending plagiarists.
posted by Bugbread at 3:13 PM on March 29, 2005


My point is that the idea that this woman could contractually expect a "good forgery" is a bit surprising. Then again, I've been surprised by civil law before.

When did I say that? You hire someone to write a paper, there's an implied contract that the person you hire will have the legal right to give it to you (i.e, they own the copyright for it). what she was going to use it for has nothing to do with her agreement with him. But I'm not a lawyer.

Ironically, his plagiarism of the work he paid her to do makes him liable to her just as she's liable to her school's ethics board. He could have written a fresh paper himself, and not had anything to worry about. But I suspect he’d be at most liable for the $75 she paid him.

My main point was that I didn't think what he was doing was slander or anything like that.
posted by delmoi at 3:14 PM on March 29, 2005


Given the nature of this crime, if you don't know the her, I don't think it is right to take it upon yourself to bring her down.

On the contrary. Given the nature of this crime, it is imperative that someone bring her down.

We're not talking about a murderer or a rapist here, just someone who cheated on a school paper.

And nobody is talking about putting her to death or imprisoning her for life, just humiliating her and getting her kicked out of school.

But my complaint is that Nate's actions are disproportionate and he clearly is taking pleasure in Laura's expected downfall which he has carefully engineered. That's cruelty, and cruelty is never a virtue, it's always a vice.

Plagerism is not illegal.

And nobody is talking about arresting her, only humiliating her and getting her kicked out of school.

If Nate had just informed the authorities, I would have had no problem with him.

Merely "informing the authorities" would likely not have resulted in an appropriate degree of humiliation.

this one small wrong (not victimless, small) should not necessarily be public knowledge.

Which small wrong are you talking about? I take it she must have done something minor in addition to having someone else write her paper for her?

Would none of you people do what Nate did in his situation? If not, what's your excuse?
posted by kindall at 3:15 PM on March 29, 2005


Whoops, forgot to respond to this:

But my complaint is that Nate's actions are disproportionate and he clearly is taking pleasure in Laura's expected downfall which he has carefully engineered. That's cruelty, and cruelty is never a virtue, it's always a vice.

It's not in any way cruel to take pleasure in seeing justice done.
posted by kindall at 3:16 PM on March 29, 2005


OMG LaShawn Barber posted on the thread on his board.

Classy.
posted by delmoi at 3:18 PM on March 29, 2005


* ought = out

* me = feelings hurt by EB for the name-calling nonsense, but I finally got through all your comments, and understand why you'd think I was singling you out, even though I wasn't. Even though I prefaced my comment with an "I think," as I was musing on it and not drafting a thesis on it or anything. I take back the bit about self-righteousness. Your comments weren't self-righteous, but then again, my comment wasn't directed at you, either.

I was going to say that one can consistently disapprove of both actors, of course. That goes (I'd hope) without saying (2 wrongs, 0 rights, etc.) -- but I was mainly referring to folks' immediate reactions of sympathy for Laura, not their condemnation of Nate's tactics or motivation(s) or whatever.

Shake and make up, EB?
posted by joe lisboa at 3:19 PM on March 29, 2005


She goes to school in the next town over from me. Dang.
posted by SisterHavana at 3:19 PM on March 29, 2005


Would none of you people do what Nate did in his situation? If not, what's your excuse?

I dunno, human compasion, even for the less then perfict? wtf is your problem?
posted by delmoi at 3:19 PM on March 29, 2005


wasn't gonna post again to this thread. wasn't. but couldn't let EB have the last word in the way s/he did.

EB: why, with almost 300 posts at this point do you assume that any reference to some who clearly demonstrate sympathy for or make excuses for the alleged plagiarist has any-fucking-thing to do with you? I am not talking about your degree of comparative empathy--I get it! I get it!

Why the rage to call lisboa a moral simpleton? nothing in his post displays such a lack of character. his position that a plagiarist takes a seat from someone who wants to be there is appropriate. One who plagiarizes wants to buy a degree, not earn one. It is ethically consistent to say that that person should step aside for someone who values what the academy has to offer.

But we get it--Nate's hands are not clean. Now for whether this all played out the way it was written? Doubt it. Why get so worked up?
posted by beelzbubba at 3:24 PM on March 29, 2005


kindall : " Would none of you people do what Nate did in his situation? If not, what's your excuse?"

I might not have. I didn't know I needed an excuse not to. That much effort is part of my responsibility for just getting an IM asking me to write a paper? I probably would have answered "No, I won't", and put her on an ignore list.

But, assuming I were to be all energetic and fired up: no, I wouldn't have done what Nate did. I would have done part of it, but not all of it. I would've done the same type paper Nate did, gotten her name and uni, like Nate did. I then would have notified her uni, like Nate did (after the submission date). I wouldn't take her cheque (I'd either send it back or tear it up; most probably send it back). I wouldn't blog it. I might tell some friends, but I wouldn't use her name (or I'd just mention her first name; it's not like my friends would ask for details like the name of her uni or her last name or anything). And I'd call it a day.

Do I need an excuse for that, too, in that it isn't what Nate did exactly?
posted by Bugbread at 3:27 PM on March 29, 2005


It's not in any way cruel to take pleasure in seeing justice done.

He considered extorting her; I don’t think his primary motivation was justice.
posted by Tenuki at 3:28 PM on March 29, 2005


But my complaint is that Nate's actions are disproportionate and he clearly is taking pleasure in Laura's expected downfall which he has carefully engineered. That's cruelty, and cruelty is never a virtue, it's always a vice.
I'd say it's more then a "vice", more like a defect. But everyone feels some measure of sachenfruiden(sp?). at various people, but in this case it seems like Nate’s reaction is way out of proportion to the 'crime'. Whatever her school would have dished out she probably deserved. (she's not going to turn the paper in, btw, I'm sure she's discovered the thread by now... why didn't he wait to post this until after the paper was turned in? Stupid).

But at the same time, it really is going to fuck up her life. Setting someone up for a huge downfall like this, just for for fun and hits, is seriously fucked up.

---

Rampant plagiarism is a real problem for people who don't plagiarize and have trouble writing. I never even thought of plagiarizing because writing came so easy for me (I used to mess with the font and spacing to make my papers look shorter ). But at the same time, I never had to work very hard to get my degree.

I guess I'd be pretty pissed off if I had to work my ass off all the time to write original papers, but from my perspective those "marginal cases" who barely get through aren’t that smart to begin with.

If they fail, who cares?

Anyway, I’m out for a while. I’ll hopefully check this thread later today. Interesting discussion.
posted by delmoi at 3:33 PM on March 29, 2005


"Shake and make up, EB?"

Okay, but why are you (like others) so quick to assume that any criticism of Nate is a defense of Laura? Secondly, don't you think it's more than a bit out-of-line to imply that anyone critical of Nate just may well be a plagiarizer themselves? And then to make that accusation again specifically against me? And don't you see why this behavior might concern me from someone who teaches ethics?

Someone on Nate's site put their finger on it: the outrage against Laura is more about the people that are outraged, and their experiences, than it is commensurate with her sin. I can understand why TAs and Profs and other teachers are easily made very upset about plagiarism. I can understand why honest students are easily made very upset about plagiarism. I can also understand why the mother of an abused child wants to kill the abuser. That doesn't make the wish right. As it happens, I'm very upset by plagiarism for all the reasons everyone else here is, and I'm fine with the possibility of her being expelled for it. But there's more going on that just this justice, supposedly, being served.

Nate's actions were in various ways disproportionate and, tellingly, he clearly takes pleasure in Laura's hurt. Whatever Laura's crime, it wasn't vicious or malicious. But "vicious" and "malicious" are both arguably very appropriate words by which to describe Nate. And some of us, no matter how much or how little we are repulsed by plagiarism, are deeply repulsed by viciousness and malice.

On Preview:

"But we get it--Nate's hands are not clean. Now for whether this all played out the way it was written? Doubt it. Why get so worked up?"

Because, answering your point I didn't quote, I don't think I've seen anyone in this thread excusing Laura. As bugbread noted, maybe, possibly, one person did. No one else. So why the outrage and the focus on people supposedly excusing her? No one is. Secondly, and answered already above, this implication that anyone that is critical of Nate is a plagiarizer is pretty risible, isn't it?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:36 PM on March 29, 2005


I guess it all comes down to what your definition of "is" is.
posted by Mick at 3:41 PM on March 29, 2005



Conclusion: She's a moron. He's a prick.

Someday, one or both of them will probably be my boss.
posted by jonmc at 1:17 PM PST on March 29


I'd like to offer this as Best of Thread, please.
posted by underer at 3:43 PM on March 29, 2005


bugbread.......I'd probably do the same - in both ways, depending upon my mood. Piss her off or inform on her to the University's authorities.
And I'd agree that leading her on to be able to identify her was also fair game for that reason.
posted by peacay at 3:44 PM on March 29, 2005


Don't pay people to write papers for you. It is a very bad thing to do.

You play with fire you get burned. I am a student in a very demanding professional program. If any of my classmates are doing this, then they deserve every infamy a search engine and blogger with a twisted sense of humor can heap upon them.
posted by prettyboyfloyd at 3:53 PM on March 29, 2005



I like to watch.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 3:57 PM on March 29, 2005


OMG LaShawn Barber posted on the thread on his board.


LaShawn is a woman, a Christian and a conservative.
posted by fixedgear at 4:00 PM on March 29, 2005


I dunno, human compasion, even for the less then perfict? wtf is your problem?

Yeah, I have so much compassion for the poor little rich girl who isn't competent enough to even cheat properly, as opposed to those who actually worked for their degrees. There are even people like me, who didn't earn a degree, but failed on our own efforts (or lack thereof,) being labled as saps because, well while cheating is bad, it's nowhere near as bad as trying to stop it (or horror of horrors, feeling good about trying to stop it.)

As for those who talk about the justified social reasons for dislike of snitches, because of their "violating of personal trust," did it occur that actual cheaters like Pahl might be a bit more responsible for that? Not only that, the reciprocal in this relationship is some random guy she solicited on the internet! Blathering about an unethical activity to a total stranger doesn't obligate them to whatever trust you expect.

Nor is it instinctual to have a dislike of snitches, because I sure as shit didn't have for as far back as I can remember (at least kindergarten), but I even remember thinking that is was a violation of a personal trust to burden a friend or associate with knowledge of an activity that disturbs that persons morals or ethics (In kindergartner terms, of course.)

In any event, I fail to see how anything Nate did approaches entrapment, or excessive (or even cruel and unusual punishment.)
posted by Snyder at 4:08 PM on March 29, 2005


And for all those who worry that Laura Pahl will be fingered as a plaigarist, all it takes is for her transcript to be free of 'hindu caste system' related courses and she'll be vindicated. Maybe she'll even get some name recognition.
posted by anthill at 4:15 PM on March 29, 2005


Another thing: Even assuming she gets kicked out, this will not "fuck up her life." I've been kicked out of college twice, and while my life is not what I expected it to be, or even what I would desire it to be, my life is not fucked up by any stretch of the imagination. Somehow, with her "money is no object " life, she'll muddle along.

Unless, of course, you think having a college degree is the end-all and be-all of existence, and missing out on one is like being cast into the pit. I fucked up, and so did she, but life goes on, and if she (or other people) act like her life is over, then it's just their own damn fault.
posted by Snyder at 4:17 PM on March 29, 2005


EB: I totally agree with your point that accusations of plagiarism against those who criticize Nate is ridiculous. I must have missed those accusations, but I don't doubt that they were made. Completely unwarranted and unsupported.

As I said, I think Nate is far from clean in this. I won't extend the side argument by excerpting quotes, but I do think there were those who minimized the seriousness of plagiarism and those who thought that the plagiarist might have had mitigating circumstances. That said, I have no problem with anyone who questioned Nate's position or found him reprehensible (at worst) and unfunny (at best).
posted by beelzbubba at 4:23 PM on March 29, 2005


Snyder : "There are even people like me, who didn't earn a degree, but failed on our own efforts (or lack thereof,) being labled as saps because, well while cheating is bad, it's nowhere near as bad as trying to stop it (or horror of horrors, feeling good about trying to stop it.)"

Who is labeling you as a sap?
posted by Bugbread at 4:28 PM on March 29, 2005


EB: Yes, the allegation that anyone who would decry Nate's action is a plagarist is unfounded.
I think it's also been made about the same number of times as Laura's been defended.

Delmoi: If she was hit by a car, it could fuck up her life for good as well. But that wouldn't be her fault. See how there's a difference in the amount of culbability, hence sympathy?
posted by klangklangston at 4:32 PM on March 29, 2005


I think this is all a hoax to get their sketch comedy group some publicity. Note that they released their first video today. It isn't funny.
posted by drobot at 4:36 PM on March 29, 2005


He considered extorting her; I don’t think his primary motivation was justice.

Oh, please. The guy's just telling a story in as funny a way as possible. In any case, I don't see how his motivation is relevant.

I dunno, human compasion, even for the less then perfict? wtf is your problem?

My problem is that a lot of people here seem to equate having someone write a paper for you, a serious breach of academic ethics, with (for example) not wearing your seatbelt, which is not a serious breach of anything, and think that the consequences of the former should be roughly equivalent to the consequences of the latter. My problem is that a lot of people think that someone who does what this student did is merely "less than perfect" rather than fundamentally dishonest and untrustworthy and that it is acceptable, nay mandatory, that she get off with a slap on the wrist, and that a person who finds himself in the position to give her what she richly deserves is somehow obligated to restrain himself.

Compassion is for victims. What about compassion for her fellow students, whose education is directly devalued by her actions? What about compassion for her future employers, who may be duped into thinking they are hiring someone who actually earned the degree they claim to have? What about compassion for her future boyfriends, who may innocently believe that they are dating a woman of integrity? By the time someone gets to college, they have had at least eighteen years to learn not to be a cheat and a liar, and if Ms. Pahl has failed to do so in that time, there is little hope that she will change. A public shaming is not cruel, it is a valuable service for those who will interact with her in the future.
posted by kindall at 4:37 PM on March 29, 2005


Uh, has anybody else noticed that AWOK has taken advantage of the insane burst of traffic to plug their first filmed sketch?

I'm pretty sure this was a publicity set-up, and you all fell for it.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 4:44 PM on March 29, 2005


Ah, drobot beat me to it. Two voices of reason are better than one, I guess.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 4:45 PM on March 29, 2005


A public shaming is not cruel, it is a valuable service for those who will interact with her in the future.

It's also known as a "Scarlet Letter."

If she's expelled from school then that's a just punishment, but public humiliation for a relatively minor (in the grand scheme of things) offense is going overboard, especially when it's mainly Nate trying to make himself look cool.

In 11th grade I let my freind Ralph copy off my Geometry quiz (why he wanted to copy me I don't know, I was barely passing and it was proofless geometry) in exchange for a pack of Marlboros. (I also recall cheating on a science final in 9th grade). We got caught and got detention. Perhaps you'd like to notify my current employer.

I think this has some people up in arms because this is MeFi and we have a lot of academic overacheivers here, who are taking this all way too personal.
posted by jonmc at 4:47 PM on March 29, 2005


And it was a violation of the chairman's fiduciary responsibility to the company's shareholders, to use company resources for his son's personal benefit.

It was a privately held company, if that makes any difference. That was always the excuse for why they didn't hire minorities, anyway.

As far as them telling me it was common practice, I was 17 at the time and believed them. As an adult of...well, more than 17 years, it still wouldn't surprise me to find out that that is in fact how a lot of rich kids get through college.
posted by Oriole Adams at 4:47 PM on March 29, 2005


150 more posts and nates little stunt will have exceeded even 9/11 in terms of mefite commentary.
posted by quonsar at 4:47 PM on March 29, 2005


quonsar: 150 more posts and nates little stunt will have exceeded even 9/11 in terms of mefite commentary

The problem with that is, there isn't one more thing that could possibly be said on this subject.
posted by found missing at 4:56 PM on March 29, 2005


Metafilter: There isn't one more thing... that, uh....

Nevermind.
posted by Specklet at 5:00 PM on March 29, 2005


Those of you talking about "extortion" and "blackmail" are aware that this is a "humor" post, right? I see no reason to take everything that Kushner says as literally true. And I guess while I'm at it, I could amend that to, "I see no reason to take everything written in any blog post as literally true."
posted by aaronetc at 5:06 PM on March 29, 2005


Debaser626:
Lewis University is a Christian College... and the only course they offer in Ethnic/Cultural studies (which is the only field I can see them discussin Hinduism... as there's no possible reference in either the Philosophy or Theology degree branches) is a course which concerns itself with U.S. race and religion to reduce intolerance.
ahem:
15-325 Philosophies of Asia, Africa and Native America (3)
A study of the fundamental ideas concerning self, nature, God and society found in the Asian, African and Native American cultures is presented. These ideas are compared with those in Western philosophy. This course fulfills the non-western humanities requirement for Education majors.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 5:20 PM on March 29, 2005


148
posted by shmegegge at 5:34 PM on March 29, 2005


sorry, I meant 145
posted by shmegegge at 5:36 PM on March 29, 2005


bugbread, obviously no one has directly called me a sap, but it is the conclusion I drew from several people's posts who were essentially stating that it was worse to (justly) hoist her on her own petard then for her to cheat on her college courses, as well as that his (small) violation of her trust was more excessive of the violation of the trust of her fellow students, her school, and broadly, college and university students everywhere. I mean, if cheating is a small sin that hurts no on me, compared to reporting it and holding it up as a (justly) shameful act, why did I even bother not cheating when I was in still in school?
posted by Snyder at 5:57 PM on March 29, 2005


Where I come from, we have an expression that goes "Don't slam your dick in the oven." It means: Don't do something you know is stupid and will most likely injure only yourself.
The only way this girl could make her situation worse is if she blogs about it.
posted by klangklangston at 6:03 PM on March 29, 2005


Okay, but she was hosted *by* her own petard (not on it).
posted by found missing at 6:03 PM on March 29, 2005


You know, if our "good samaritan" had turned someone in who tried to get him to pirate movies or music I doubt we woudl be hearing the same "hang 'em high!" tunes here.

The real story is the frenzy to try and bring down some "little rich girl" and the voyeuristic self righteous glee behind it.
posted by soulhuntre at 6:16 PM on March 29, 2005


Where I come from, we have an expression that goes "Don't slam your dick in the oven."

Klangklangston, where do you come from? Because I don't want to take my vacation anywhere you need that expression.
posted by palinode at 6:23 PM on March 29, 2005


hosted=hoisted

I quit.
posted by found missing at 6:28 PM on March 29, 2005


Nate has suddenly changed every instance of "Pahl" to "Krishna" - even in the comments - smacks of fakery or dishonesty on his part.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:30 PM on March 29, 2005


My problem is that a lot of people here seem to equate having someone write a paper for you, a serious breach of academic ethics, with (for example) not wearing your seatbelt, which is not a serious breach of anything, and think that the consequences of the former should be roughly equivalent to the consequences of the latter. My problem is that a lot of people think that someone who does what this student did is merely "less than perfect" rather than fundamentally dishonest and untrustworthy and that it is acceptable, nay mandatory, that she get off with a slap on the wrist, and that a person who finds himself in the position to give her what she richly deserves is somehow obligated to restrain himself.

The penalty for not wearing your seatbelt, if "caught" is a horrible, bloody death.

I, personally, have no problem with this girl getting expelled if that's what’s coming to her. I don't know the policies of that particular school, but most places won't kick you out for a first offense. The worst case is probably an F for the course.

There's a critical difference between a school's ethical structure and the law, which is that she voluntarily agreed to I'm sure they spelled out their policy quite clearly at orientation. She knew what would happen if she got caught, and she decided to try her luck.

My basic point was that this guy probably violated some implied contract not to plagiarize himself when he gave her the paper, so that she would legitimately own the copyright. And this might open him up to a small legal liability (probably not more then the $70). She’d have been just as much a plagiarist if she’d used his unique paper as his own. That’s not really a big deal on his part. My main point was that I don’t think he’s defaming her or libeling her or whatever. Like I said I’m not a lawyer.

The second part of what I was talking about is that I agree with Ethereal Bligh in that this Nate guy is just being Crule for his own benefit.

Imagine if he’d convinced some girl to prostitute herself to him for money. Some people consider prostitution to be unethical (and in most places, it’s illegal). Posted pictures of her on the net, her full name, made fun of her etc. Would you find that distasteful? I certainly would.

But I guess I’m just shocked about how much people seem to hate plagiarists. It’s like you’re afraid you won’t make it because of them, or you resent them because they didn’t have to work as hard as you.
posted by delmoi at 6:33 PM on March 29, 2005


Oh yeah, also I wanted to add that I think plagerism is a pretty small crime. A lot of people do it, and it's a problem, but the individual plagerist only hurts people very slightly.
posted by delmoi at 6:39 PM on March 29, 2005


eustacescrubb : " Nate has suddenly changed every instance of 'Pahl' to 'Krishna' - even in the comments - smacks of fakery or dishonesty on his part."

Or he got wind of how big this was, and the amount of people trying to spam her or the uni, or realized potential legal trouble, or had his girl/boyfriend say, "Man, using her name in contacting the uni was cool, but putting it on the net is just cold", or a couple of other possibilities.
posted by Bugbread at 6:40 PM on March 29, 2005






First of all, everybody, this is a cease and desist order to stop calling Laura, and stop calling her university. Everybody knows now.

Hell, I would have liked to have milked this thing for a while longer. Such sweet traffic, it’s a shame that the end had to come so soon after the middle. And I wish this thing had fallen into our laps with better timing, so maybe we could have had a more earthshakingly wonderful sketch ready. (We know.)


This confirms our trafic-whoring suspicions.
posted by delmoi at 7:03 PM on March 29, 2005


well, now that she seems to have stiffed him I no longer have any sympathy.

He also "seems" a lot more honest in the second post
posted by delmoi at 7:11 PM on March 29, 2005


Making a guess based on comedy sites: He's being a bit assholish in the first post because, hey, like it or not, that's one type of "internet comedy persona" (check out seanbaby.com or John Cheese on pointlesswasteoftime.com for examples of people who are probably nice in person but not in their internet persona, or various folks at somethingawful for examples of people who aren't probably so nice in person, nor in their internet persona). With the second and third posts, he's realised that his little blog post is racing across the net, so he's stepping more into his own personality than his comedy site persona.

Er, and before that's misinterpreted, I'm not talking about his actions being assholish as an aspect of "internet persona". If your actions are assholish, then so, by definition, are you. I'm talking more about tone of voice, jokes about blackmail never acted on, etc.
posted by Bugbread at 7:17 PM on March 29, 2005


delmoi: "Oh yeah, also I wanted to add that I think plagerism is a pretty small crime. A lot of people do it, and it's a problem, but the individual plagerist only hurts people very slightly."

Bullshit. Whether or not this is or is not a hoax aside, that is pure and utter bullshit. If you get good grades via cheating, and I get slightly less good grades through hard work, you've screwed me, and as far as I'm concerned, you've screwed me personally. Lying to get ahead is disgusting. I don't care who does it.

I went to a school where plagarizing was a huge crime; you got kicked out. And it wasn' t public, no, but we were so small, everyone knew anyway. Plagarism, or turning in work that does not belong to you, is dishonest. Dishonesty, in any form, is reprehensible, disgusting, and wrong. If this chick really did what she is purported to have done, she richly deserves anything she gets. I've been under pressure, three papers due and none of them done, and I've stayed up for three days straight to finish them all. If she can't handle college she needs to get the fuck out and make way for someone who actually cares.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:36 PM on March 29, 2005


Why on earth is Nate misogynistic?

The obvious argument would go: because he's a man and she's a woman, and his characterization of his unkind behavior toward her is like saying she was asking to be raped by showing her ankles. And no matter how you view "academic dishonesty", he's still hitting a girl. (Right, fshgrl?)

My friend the lawyer says Laura "Krishna" should teach him a thing or two about defamation laws.
posted by davy at 8:46 PM on March 29, 2005


It's like saying, "Hey, turning in that guy for armed robbery could get him thrown in jail! Why would you call the police without knowing anything about him?"

Best comment in thread.

She's doing something so bad that her university might actually kick her out if they find out.

Second best comment.

Her getting caught is ultimately right. She is, at the least, a cheat; and at the most, damaging the value of obtaining an education in a way that will ultimately cause harm to others.

The method by which she became caught is not ultimately right. There may have been a better way than to have actively helped her hurt herself. Being a deliberate actor in bad karma is bad karma.

To then advertise and mock that persons' self-harm is ultimately wrong.

So she's an ass for cheating, and he's an ass for helping her cheat, and he's an ass-and-a-half for telling us about it... but he isn't an ass for ratting her out.

We deserve a better society than what cheaters, assholes, and liars have to offer.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:03 PM on March 29, 2005


my conclusion? ... he looked in the mirror and saw a sadistic self righteous asshole

you know the old saying ... when you point a finger at someone, there's three pointing back at you

on preview ... fff ... i do agree ... she stepped over the line ... but he plowed through it
posted by pyramid termite at 9:10 PM on March 29, 2005


But nobody likes a snitch, especially ones who make a spectacle of themselves for doing it.

I do. I really do. Because on the whole I actively live the sort of life that isn't snitched on. I'm not at risk in a society that snitches.

The few things I've done that would result in consequences had they been snitched, are of so little importance to me that I just wouldn't have done them if I couldn't have got away with it. My life wouldn't be significantly altered had I decided to not do them. They're just that moot.

Whereas there are more than a few days where had someone been snitched on at some point in their past, they'd have been of less risk to my safety, my property's safety, my personal freedoms. If they'd be snitched on, I'd be better off.

So, yes, I love snitches. Snitches make my life better because I live mostly as a good person lives, and I don't mind being held to a higher standard.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:23 PM on March 29, 2005


joe lisboa: I was going to say that one can consistently disapprove of both actors, of course.

But that's not what you said at all. Instead, Mr. College Perfesser, without bothering to actually finish reading the thread, you tossed out vague, emotional accusations against nobody in particular for "reactions of sympathy for Laura" *after* it had been made abundantly clear (in the thread you obviously hadn't paid close attention to) that every person expressing distaste for Nate's sadistic cruelty had also expressed distaste for Laura's actions.

You then reacted angrily when one of the most thoughtful posters before your arrival in the thread called your post the act of a simpleton, and then covered your ass by claiming you were "mainly referring to folks' immediate reactions of sympathy for Laura," even though no one else is able to find those multiple "immediate" reactions.

There. Does that about cover it?

Jesus, I hope you perform better in the classroom than you did here.
posted by mediareport at 9:34 PM on March 29, 2005


ew.

they're both lousy, but he's a goatse-sized ass--purposely stringing her along and then getting her in big trouble.

*adjusts fff's halo with a swift kick* ; >
posted by amberglow at 9:34 PM on March 29, 2005


Now, what I hate are assholes. And in my books, an asshole is someone who acts selfishly in a way that causes harm to others.

Reporting a cheater is not selfish (indeed, in this society it's more selfless, the kind of flak a "snitch" or "stool" gets).

And while the cheater may have to face consequences, those consequences are very likely to not be harmful to them over the long term*. In all cases, the overall benefit to society far outweighs all reasonably likely negative consequences to the cheater.

An asshole, however, would report a cheater in such a way that it provides him a personal benefit above that of society. He might, for instance, publicize his involvement inappropriately.

An asshole, however, would report a cheater in a way that is inappropriate to his level of personal involvement in the matter. He'd inappropriately consider himself both judge and executioner.

And this is why this thread has been very long and confused: the main character is both protagonist and antagonist. He is good, for reporting the cheater; he is bad, for having blogged it. He is right and wrong.

Discussion about the girl is boring: she is clearly in the wrong, and those who disagree with that are arguing contrarily to the needs of a good society.

Discussion about Nate is interesting: he is both right and wrong, and there is obviously a very, very wide difference in opinion as to how wrong he is and whether it is greater than the good he did.


*(and indeed in this case, the consequence of term expulsion would probably go a long way toward causing a change of attitude in the girl)
posted by five fresh fish at 9:41 PM on March 29, 2005


Edwin Shansky works for Dewey, Cheatham and Howe.
posted by fixedgear


Dewey, Cheatham and Howe - proudly serving "Click & Clack" from the heart of Harvard Square!
posted by ericb at 9:44 PM on March 29, 2005


Five Fresh Fish: The few things I've done that would result in consequences had they been snitched, are of so little importance to me that I just wouldn't have done them if I couldn't have got away with it. My life wouldn't be significantly altered had I decided to not do them. They're just that moot.

Ok, so, on the one hand, you mention that you love sntiches. Then, on the other hand, you mention that you have, in the past, done things that were snitchworthy, and you got away with it. I'm sure that you are, no doubt, glad that you didn't get snitched on, right?

The only distinction that you make is that, at the time, you thought that you could get away with your actions. Well, I'm pretty sure that Laura thought that she could get away with her actions, as well.
posted by afroblanca at 9:48 PM on March 29, 2005


To reiterate bugbread's update and quonar's link (above) ... be sure to check out Nate's postings about the current situation: "This saga is over."
posted by ericb at 9:51 PM on March 29, 2005


no halo, amberglow. It's just that of the things I do that could be conceived as "contrary to the good of society," I think that outside my obvious big failings (failing to be an activist, and participating in behaviours that are contrary to the best interests of future generations) I basically live a pretty decent life. I don't steal, don't cheat, don't lie, and try to be polite to others.

So all I'd be giving up in a tattletale society would be whatever traffic tickets I don't get simply because no one cares to rat me out for being 10kmh over the limit (I already gave up the 30kmh over after being pissed about the expense), stiffing the local parking meters because tickets are so rare, posing as a kid's father to avoid having to explain guardian relationships, and telling a babbling Witness to fuck off on a bad day.

Basically, if everyone lived like I live, life would be pretty damn decent for us all. (At least, decent until our base human greed and stupidity cause the death of the species, be it Peak Oil wars or global climate change. No halo 'cause of that.)

I suspect most of the MeFi users I respect live similarly decent lives. It's what you do.

The point is, then, that if getting tattled on would lead to "bad consequences," you should probably not do it.

In the end it's pretty damn simple. Don't cheat. Don't steal. Don't lie. Be polite, even kind. Everything else falls naturally into place.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:57 PM on March 29, 2005


Fuck. Here endeth the epistle, eh? sheesh... what an arrogant bastard!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:00 PM on March 29, 2005


*adjusts fff's halo again, calls police about speeding, parking illegally, some strange relationship with a kid not his own, and public nuisance and obscenity*
posted by amberglow at 10:08 PM on March 29, 2005


"This saga is over."

You mean,

"The end. Come back tomorrow for the final scene."
posted by mediareport at 10:12 PM on March 29, 2005


[playfully punchs amberglow on the shoulder, then playfully swats him on his ass]
posted by five fresh fish at 10:22 PM on March 29, 2005


*calls police about assault*

You love snitches, tho, right?
posted by amberglow at 10:26 PM on March 29, 2005


mediareport - you are right ("You mean...'The end. Come back tomorrow for the final scene.' ").

I just came across the following update on Nate's website:
"Thanks to our coverage of the Laura K. Krishna Saga, the A Week of Kindness Blog has made Cruel Site of the Day, Boing Boing, Waxy, and many others. And it’s been a fantastic little ride. The story is over, and now we all have to stop calling Laura and her University. Seriously, everybody knows. The conclusion is coming tomorrow in the blog, and we won, but in a less spectacular and more way than we hoped. We have never posted her contact information, or advocated anyone else calling her or her University and are really disappointed that people have. We’ve changed her name on the site, even though everybody knows it already, so don’t be surprised about that. Alright, thanks for reading, and come back in a few hours for the rest!

[Continue reading "Stop calling Laura, Come To Our Shows!]"
posted by ericb at 10:53 PM on March 29, 2005


I'm still not sure there could be any legal ramifications against Nate. I can't think of any applicable criminal sanctions, and all the previously mentioned civil remedies don't seem to apply. No Fraud without any misrepresentation of fact, truth is an absolute defense against defamation, and I'm pretty certain that this isn't something the courts would consider a Private Fact that Nate Publicly Disclosed. But what about Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress? I'd bet that Laura could successfully convince a jury that he intended to evoke an emotional reaction, that his conduct was outrageous, and that she suffered severe emotional distress.
posted by Iason at 12:17 AM on March 30, 2005


posted by delmoi at 6:33 PM PST on March 29 [!]

But I guess I’m just shocked about how much people seem to hate plagiarists. It’s like you’re afraid you won’t make it because of them, or you resent them because they didn’t have to work as hard as you.

Oh yeah, also I wanted to add that I think plagerism is a pretty small crime. A lot of people do it, and it's a problem, but the individual plagerist only hurts people very slightly.


Yeah hey right -- the point of going to colidge is to get the peice of pper andthats all it means and the stuff they try to pretend your supose to learn is just stupic because non of it matters anyhow. Everyone knows that the smart pple cheat so they dont have to work so hard as the stupid peple do.

And the best part about plagerism is that if you do that u dont hve to read anything or study or go to class or anything and u get ur degree just the same as the stupid pple and nobody can tell, right?

once u get yr job u just copy ervrythng from the internets like u always did

[/illiterate mode off]

Like f*ck plagiarism is a 'victimless crime'. I'm a prof. I've been grading papers at the university level for just over a decade and have watched illiteracy wash in a slow wave over the classrooms -- and casual consistent plagiarism is probably a good part of the reason. If you never read, and you never write, and you never study, you're not going to be able to read, write or study.

Then, I could actually teach. Now, I have to explain everything twenty times over to students who could not be bothered to read or write anything all through high school and now cannot read, write or research anything to save their souls. Their grammar is so convoluted as to be incomprehensible and honestly, no joke, they can't read -- half my students simply don't understand the primary texts they're studying.

They can't read, they can't write, but somehow, magically, they are supposed to 'learn'. How? via photosynthesis?
posted by jrochest at 12:18 AM on March 30, 2005


I don't know why I'm bothering to post this. With 388 comments before me, nobody's ever going to read it. Even so...

Numerous people have made the point that Nate did society a big favour by exposing her and humiliating her the way he did. America is drowning in a tidal wave of lies and immoral behaviour, and so it's about time we took a stand/drew a line in the sand, etc.

Perhaps it's just me, but from the outside, this obsession with the moral failings of others is one of the biggest problems America has today. It seems to me that the best way to encourage others to act morally is to concern yourself with your own moral actions and when others don't reach the high standards we hold for ourselves -- well, that's their loss, not ours. Virtue is its own reward.

The other major theme that I find interesting is the issue of 'fairness'. People believe that the girl deserves to wear the scarlet letter because her actions were unfair.

But nothing is fairly distributed, in higher education as in any other area of society. Unlike many people who claim they studied hard for their degrees, I can make no such claim. I was blessed with a retentive memory and a facility for writing essays/passing exams, so college was a breeze for me. Is it fair that I came away with a first, when other people sweated their bollocks off and were lucky to get a lower second? Well, that's natural aptitude, you might say? So how about those students whose parents were sufficiently wealthy to enable them to afford the best private schools, and mountains of personal tuition? They might be as thick as two short planks, but they'll get into the college they need to get into, because their parents can afford to make that happen. For people who fall into this category, paying someone to do the work for you is a very small ethical step, in my opinion.

Finally, while I agree that what she did was wrong, the truth is that the biggest loser in such instances is the plagarist themself. They lose by never gaining the ability to do their own research, by never learning to critically analyse an issue, and by never learning to take pleasure in that process. These things, surely, are the real purpose of education.

Many posters seem to be angry because plagarism of this nature seems to subvert the idea that Western societies are run on meritocratic lines, and this girl is somehow cheating the system. If I believed for a minute that that was true, I might be able to get angry about it as well. However, I don't see any basis for such a belief -- though higher education is often used as a means of filtering out those with fewer advantages from certain jobs. I suspect it's unlikely that this kid would ever be filtered out in that sense, and so all she's really doing is cutting corners, and the only person she's really cheating is herself.

As for Nate -- well, all I can say is, I wouldn't want to hang out with him. Not only is he a pompous, sanctimonious prick, but he isn't even funny about it -- and given the material he had to work with, that's gotta be damned hard.

So I guess Nate already had his Karma before he ever put this plot into action, just by being the person that he already is...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:56 AM on March 30, 2005


found missing: doh! Yes, you're right, it is by. I still remain confused by a poorly researched Hamlet text from 8th grade. (Said it was some kind of crane thing, not an explosive.)
posted by Snyder at 1:44 AM on March 30, 2005


It's not moral failings I object to PMD, it's rampant stupidity.

If her parents sue Nate they might as well just make a degree on their home laser printer and give it to her, because with that kind of family attitude she is never going to learn anyway and it'll be about as useful as anything she ever gets from a university.
posted by fshgrl at 1:45 AM on March 30, 2005


PeterMcDermott : "They lose by never gaining the ability to do their own research, by never learning to critically analyse an issue, and by never learning to take pleasure in that process. These things, surely, are the real purpose of education. "

The kind of person for whom those are the goals of education is the kind of person who doesn't commit plagiarism. Her goals are not those, so she has lost nothing by not obtaining those goals.

PeterMcDermott : "Virtue is its own reward."

Evidence?

PeterMcDermott : " Many posters seem to be angry because plagarism of this nature seems to subvert the idea that Western societies are run on meritocratic lines, and this girl is somehow cheating the system. If I believed for a minute that that was true, I might be able to get angry about it as well. However, I don't see any basis for such a belief"

Perhaps it would make it clearer phrased thus: Most posters want Western societies to be run on meritocratic lines. The injunction against plagiarism is an example of trying to codify this desire. Her action subverts this objective. It is precisely because her actions, and those of people like her, assist in preventing Western societies from being run on meritocratic lines that people are upset.

That is, people aren't upset because they have a mistaken belief that there's a meritocracy. They're upset because they want there to be a meritocracy, and they have the correct believe that plagiarism opposes it.
posted by Bugbread at 1:52 AM on March 30, 2005


bugbread:

> Evidence?

It's a normative statement rather than an empirical one. Virtue is it's own reward because it enriches rather than impoverishes our own lives.

It's also an experiential statement. I've tried it both ways, and living right is definitely better.

I accept your reformulation of why it is that people are upset. However, I'm far from convinced that an absence of plagarism would do anything to make Western societies more meritocratic. And given the differential distribution of ability, I'm not completely convinced that meritocracy is a particularly fair way of distributing power and resources anyway.

Who is more deserving? Those who work very hard for modest results, or those who succeed effortlessly?

Although I can't think of a better way to organize things, people start from a position of an inequitable distribution of money, power, status, looks, etc. all of which seem more important in determining outcomes than how hard somebody works for something.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:07 AM on March 30, 2005


bugbread, you put into words part of what I was feeling without all that heated gobbledygook I had written above. For me, it's less that I would be better off if it was a true meritocracy, (my results would've been the same,) but since I respect and try in my own little way to promote ameritocracy, it's not only disheartening to find out someone else has cheated, but to see people minimize is very frustrating as well.
posted by Snyder at 2:15 AM on March 30, 2005


PeterMcDermott : "Virtue is it's own reward because it enriches rather than impoverishes our own lives."

Fairly stated. I just find that phrase to be like "money can't buy you love": no, but it can buy you other stuff. Virtue (being good, but not trying to affect others behavior) may be its own reward (enriching ones life), but action (trying to affect others behavior) may have its own rewards (prevention of your family being murdered by getting a serial killer captured). And if you can both be virtuous and try to change the real world for the better, you're just increasing the rewards.

PeterMcDermott : " Who is more deserving? Those who work very hard for modest results, or those who succeed effortlessly? "

It's a fair and good question, and I don't have an easy, pat answer. However, I can categorically state that either those who work very hard for modest results, or those who succeed effortlessly, are both more deserving than someone who cheats.

Your response seems to be of the camp that "we cannot know what is wrong without knowing what is right", which I don't believe is always the case. For example, I don't know how many people could fit in my room, but I know that the answer is not 1 million.
posted by Bugbread at 2:26 AM on March 30, 2005


you can both be virtuous and try to change the real world for the better
A tautology perhaps?
posted by peacay at 4:04 AM on March 30, 2005


As phrased, yes. Poor word choice on my part. When I said "the world", I meant "folks other than yourself".
posted by Bugbread at 4:11 AM on March 30, 2005


Basically, if everyone lived like I live, life would be pretty damn decent for us all.

Would we all get to be so pretentious, too?
posted by dflemingdotorg at 4:48 AM on March 30, 2005


Wow.

A big question here is, When is it appropriate to publish someone's true name and address? Which involves the bigger question What are the appropriate uses, boundaries, and expectations of anonymity on the internet?

Let me ask those of you who applaud Nate's actions: have you never, in an email, online post, or IM, written anything that you would prefer to not be shared with your spouse, boss, children, parents, or friends?

By the way, did you know that it is entirely possible for the system operators on this board (or any board you post to) to obtain your IP address, and from that your real name and address. (I don't know how this is done, but it can be done.)

That they do NOT do so is mainly because there's no reason to go to all that trouble, but partly because of time-honored internet custom. (As far as I know, there is no law preventing them from obtaining your identity, and then publishing it in whatever form they desire; your IP address is public information which you willingly surrender by the act of posting, I believe.)

"Well", you may say, "what Laura Pahl did was so odious that she deserves to be ruined. Nothing that I would do would provoke such an action."

But then the question arises, Who decides this? There're a number of posters right here that, were I the sysop, I might decide were so smarmy and obnoxious that they deserve "the treatment".

Sure, what Laura Pahl did was bad, but are all of you so pure? Have none of you, say, smoked marijuana? That's a crime, and far worse than disobeying a school rule. Have none of you failed to report as income the value of a free frequent-flyer ticket or upgrade? That's a Federal crime, and incomparably worse that what Laura K. Pahl did. Have none of you ever treated someone poorly, toyed with someone's heart, disappointed a parent, been rude to a waiter? Those are social crimes, and you too deserve "the treatment", in my book.

Sure, some people should be outed. Child molesters.. Terrorists. Armed robbers. People who deliberately hurt other's feelings. Who else? Dictators, I guess. But that's about it.

But, you know, you want to draw the line pretty tight. Assuming that you think that internet anonymity is generally a good thing... which is a whole nother discussion.
posted by herostratus at 6:50 AM on March 30, 2005


Perhaps it's just me, but from the outside, this obsession with the moral failings of others is one of the biggest problems America has today.

This is because people who obsess over the moral failings of others usually have moral failings of their own that bother them and need to feel better abou themselves.

Remember folks: mote in neighbors eye, judge not lest ye, glass houses, all that good stuff.
posted by jonmc at 6:51 AM on March 30, 2005


And most of us distinguish between those that take it upon themselves to teach someone a lesson (like Nate), and those that are trying to dictate morality through laws and other official means (like the GOP). They're both to be condemned.
posted by amberglow at 7:00 AM on March 30, 2005


A question to those who condemned Nate's actions here: what is your take on the ethics of mailing a fake P-P-P-Powerbook to an eBay scammer? I didn't see a chorus of condemnation when that happened; were you all offline then?
posted by acb at 7:32 AM on March 30, 2005


Delmoi, the fact that he enjoyed the traffic spike in no way proves that he did it for the traffic spike.
posted by kenko at 7:43 AM on March 30, 2005


Laura K. Krishna is Just a Dumb Kid With a Nice Mom.

The end of the story.
posted by schustafa at 7:52 AM on March 30, 2005


I think some folks are confusing "morals" and "ethics."
posted by aaronetc at 7:52 AM on March 30, 2005


mailing a fake powerbook to someone who's already a criminal won't get someone kicked out of college, and doesn't carry the same ramifications.
posted by amberglow at 7:57 AM on March 30, 2005


Can we get this promoted to the front page (if it hasn't been done since i started typing?) A discussion of this magnitude, along with the most recent update of like 10 minutes ago...
posted by indiebass at 8:03 AM on March 30, 2005


i think warrants it.
posted by indiebass at 8:03 AM on March 30, 2005


It's hard not to take concern over Laura potentially getting kicked out of college -- which she knew was a potential punishment for the actions that she chose to take -- as sympathy or defense.
posted by aaronetc at 8:07 AM on March 30, 2005


Finally, someone who is willing to tell the truth about all the vengence and blood lust...

"And I got kind of turned on when I read that she cried. I bet she's got a pretty mouth." (context)

I find it amusing that MeFi is a place where any number of federal crimes woudl be excused (violence during "protests", sticking classified papers down your pants and so on) are routinely excused that of course plagarism is worth the death penalty.

No, in the end this was about a bunch of people hoping they could finally f**k over some "spoiled little rich girl" without any need to actually do anything personally.

Pathetic.
posted by soulhuntre at 8:17 AM on March 30, 2005


won't get someone kicked out of college, and doesn't carry the same ramifications.

Ok.

The girl solicited a complete stranger to write a paper for her. She then turned it in as her work, without even reading it. She then refused to pay the guy, and gave him homilies on how "the best advice i can give to u is that sometimes u just can't be too nice. so u got scammed once theres not much u can do about it".

Then she realized that she was caught. And then lied to her dean.

And you guys are still thinking that she doesn't deserve to get expelled. Poor little Laura. I guess she just needs to be more careful about who she scams for a paper next time.

Dangit people, what would it take for you to see her as not being a victim here?

(And yes, EB, I hear your protestations to the contrary, but there is a strong thread of "she doesn't deserve punishment" running through this discussion)

posted by bitmage at 8:19 AM on March 30, 2005


By the way, did you know that it is entirely possible for the system operators on this board (or any board you post to) to obtain your IP address, and from that your real name and address. (I don't know how this is done, but it can be done.)

That's not true. Most ISPs would not tell you which user was at an IP address at a specific time without a court order, and many users are on ISPs where they get different IP addresses each time they connect.

As for your broader question, it's just as fair to ask this: Should a person be able to talk about the people in his life on his public weblog, even to ridicule or criticize them?

Nate wrote about his interactions with this woman accurately, as far as I can tell. I find it hard to believe, on this site of all places, that someone would suggest there's a privacy right that means we can't identify people we're discussing about.

If there is, MetaFilter is to Debbie Swenson as EvilMeanBad Nate Kushner is to [redacted academic fraud].
posted by rcade at 8:21 AM on March 30, 2005


Lying to get ahead is disgusting. I don't care who does it.


man, are you ever going to fail miserably in the business world.
posted by quonsar at 8:23 AM on March 30, 2005


but there is a strong thread of "she doesn't deserve punishment" running through this discussion

I call bullshit.

There's a very tinsy winsy bit.

But the overwhelming majority of MeFi's in this thread have called for punishment of Laura irrespective of their attitude towards Nate's actions.
Try reading the whole thread ... and not just skimming/confabulating.
posted by peacay at 8:46 AM on March 30, 2005


People like Laura are behaving in a way that is damaging to society as a whole. That needs to be stopped, because we need a healthy society if we as a species wishes to thrive over the long term.

People like Nate, who cash in on others' moral failings, are also a problem. We don't need vigilante justice, we need justice by rule of law.

This little diorama has, however, created one of the more interesting threads on MeFi. That's very cool.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:55 AM on March 30, 2005


And people like FFF pat themselves on the back so vigorously they dislocate a shoulder. I need an airsick bag.

But the overwhelming majority of MeFi's in this thread have called for punishment of Laura irrespective of their attitude towards Nate's actions.

So people believe she should be punished, as long as no one does anything that might cause that to actually happen.

I don't get that. Nate's been criticized for every action he took from the moment she contacted him to solicit academic fraud, and none of his critics cut him slack for putting giant honking clues in his "I made a doody" paper that should have clued in even a minimally cognitive adult.
posted by rcade at 9:02 AM on March 30, 2005


Can we get this promoted to the front page (if it hasn't been done since i started typing?) A discussion of this magnitude, along with the most recent update of like 10 minutes ago...

If you honestly think that an update posted to the front page on an open discussion from the previous day won't get deleted, then you're a bigger fool than both Laura or Nate.
posted by item at 9:03 AM on March 30, 2005


Also, if you believe it was wrong for Nate to identify the full name and school of this woman, note that he has now removed it from his site. Do you expect Matt to do the same here?
posted by rcade at 9:04 AM on March 30, 2005


For those looking to get this back on the front page (though it'll never happen), I'd suggest putting an 'other' flag on Indiebass' post. Better than getting a new post blown up by the powers that be, no? Maybe enought other flags'll do the trick...
posted by evadery at 9:31 AM on March 30, 2005


In the end it's pretty damn simple. Don't cheat. Don't steal. Don't lie. Be polite, even kind. Everything else falls naturally into place.

I agree with fff. Do those of you slamming him have dead hookers in your closets, or what? Geez.

Interesting discussion. I wonder in all of this if this girl will ever learn how to research, let alone write, a paper. Lord knows she didn't learn to *read* the one she bought. Priceless.
posted by beth at 9:44 AM on March 30, 2005


For those looking to get this back on the front page (though it'll never happen)
this has never left my front page. what's on the front page is determined by your own settings on the customize page. sheesh.
posted by quonsar at 9:57 AM on March 30, 2005


I call bullshit.

Call denied. I have read the whole thread, and as I said, there is a strong undercurrent that this girl should not be punished. When you say that someone has done wrong, but insist that no one should notice or report it then you are removing any consequences for the deed.

You can't have it both ways. If you feel that her actions were reprehensible then you should not have a problem with her facing the consequences.

Yes, she may get expelled. Even more likely now, as she lied to her dean about the situation. And that is a valid punishment. It's not extreme, it's not unexpected, and it's not unprecedented.
posted by bitmage at 9:57 AM on March 30, 2005


I'm glad I took the over on this thread.
posted by Cyrano at 10:03 AM on March 30, 2005


"I agree with fff. Do those of you slamming him have dead hookers in your closets, or what? Geez"

Oh, boy. Tell me you, of all people, are not the one who wrote that.

I just don't get this way of thinking. It shows a deep unexamined instinct to villify people with whom you merely disagree. Someone's critical of Nate? Oh, then he/she must have a guilty conscience. Psychologizing the other direction is at least as valid (that is to say, it's not very valid at all): lots of people with guilty consicences take a much stronger stance than usual against the very things they themselves have done wrong. So what purpose would it serve if I suggested (which I'm not) that beth and fff and others were possibly plagiarizers hiding their guilt behind outrage? This is ad hominem at its very worst, when it truly is a classic (and meanspirited) fallacy.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:18 AM on March 30, 2005


"Basically, if everyone lived like I live, life would be pretty damn decent for us all."

fff's attitude about a tattletale society surprises and disapoints me. Part of the reasons why such a culture is bad for everyone more than it's good for everyone were mentioned in my previous comment about why most people have an "instinctual" (probably not actually an instinct) dislike for "snitches". Such a society is one where people's interpersonal trust relationships are badly weakened. If you read accounts of people that have lived in such societies, and big part of their complaint was that their quality of life was eroded by seeing every person they knew as a possible informant. Fff and others can think that walking the pure and narrow path would negate that worry, but it doesn't work like that. Because even if fff and others are really good people who never break the rules and all the rules are just, there will always be people who are bad people who will use draconian rules as a weapon against good people. But why assume that all the rules are going to be just? Are they anywhere? A tattletale society removes any room for individual variation of interpretation of what's right and wrong. I have a hard time believing that fff (and others), no matter how much they claim to walk the straight and narrow, haven't done things that are against the rules and which other people consider to be as bad or worse than what Laura did. What's demonstrated here is that a good number of people think that plagiarism is very serious moral crime that deserves relatively extreme punishment. But other people feel that way about, say, falsely calling into work that you're sick. Browsing the web while you work. Looking at pornography. Speeding. Many people would feel that appropriate punishment for these things would be immediate dismissal from a job, imprisonment, removal of driver's license or imprisonment. If I haven't found something that fff (and others) actually do, I'm positive I could. He mentions some things but doesn't consider that in each case the punishment he'd receive he agrees is commensurate with the crime. But I'm sure there are rules and laws that have punishments which he doesn't think are commensurate with the wrongdoing.

Because there are a lot of rules in any society and there is always a fair amount of disagreement over at least some of them. People ignore the ones that they think are frivilous. They occasionally break those that they think are mildly valid but not a really big deal. In a tattletale culture, every person is at the mercy of anyone who sees them do anything that's against the rules, ever. That's not a healthy society. I don't doubt that by some measurements you'll get stronger enforcement of the rules. And that creates considerable good. But I'm pretty sure that the bad that it would create would outweigh the good.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:21 AM on March 30, 2005 [1 favorite]


I just don't get this way of thinking. It shows a deep unexamined instinct to villify people with whom you merely disagree.

And I don't understand why people who are merely disagreeing with Nate's actions are vilifying him quite so stridently.
posted by Vidiot at 10:22 AM on March 30, 2005


Did anyone else, upon reading Nate's update, wonder if he really and truly didn't call the dean?

I think his post is pretty sincere, but I just have this niggling doubt: is he denying turning her in because of all the criticism he received?

I like to think not, and that it was some meddler who called the dean...
posted by Specklet at 10:24 AM on March 30, 2005


I've tried to think a bit about why I disagree so vehemently with those who have no problems with Nate's actions. I have said before that I think Laura should bear the consequences of her actions, insofar as those consequences are commensurate with the actions. That includes, in my book, getting expelled from her school. Many people have pointed out that this will not ruin her life, although most people who have argued that the punishment that Laura faces is too great in this case have not argued that it is expulsion per se which is the over-the-top punishment. Instead, what's reprehensible about Nate's actions in my book is that they hold Laura up to public pillory and that that public humilation will follow her around for quite a while. This has a real chance to have an effect on the rest of her life.

The sense of moral outrage in this thread is palpable. Mine comes because I think that Nate fucked someone over primarily for his own amusement. His more recent protestations that plagarism is 'the scourge of academia' do not convince me. I would not be outraged if he contacted her school (although I might not do the same thing), I am specifically outraged by his very successful attempt to publically shame her.

What's more interesting to me is that I have been wracking my brains trying to think of a good analogy to argue my point, and it's very difficult. What makes it difficult is the completely contradictory status of plagarism as an act. Despite the very intense reactions of many in this thread, I would suggest that plagarism is just not that big a deal. I mean, in the grand scheme of things. I'm not saying people are wrong to be upset about it, I am saying that the sense of indignation it arouses is out of proportion to the actual offense, which is either a job-related annoyance (for academics) or an attempt to cheat a system which should have many safeguards to protect those competing in the same environment (like multiple, difficult papers; exams; etc).

But compare it for a minute to something like speeding. The analogy is bad because speeding does not generally raise the same moral outrage, but that's the interesting part. Speeding not only contributes to increased motor vehicle accidents, it kills people, and injures some who would have survived a slower crash. Not to mention that it's actually against the law. (The link is to a NZ site, but it has a nice set of tables easily readable on the front page.) Let me repeat, it kills people. And yet, it's very common for people to speed. I know hardly anyone who doesn't at some point or other. It's a dangerous activity that effects other people, costs society money, makes for unsafe living conditions, and general should be condemned at every opportunity. I understand that this was not a post about speeding, but I have a very hard time believing that there would have been as many comments advocating public (long-lasting) shaming for a speeding ticket. Even fff, who makes some good (if self-righteous) points about the damage to society of cheating and lying seems to condone speeding, and admits that he does it. To cite another example (I would hate to quote it without citing it), orthogonality suggests upthread that heroin addiction hurts no one aside from the addict, while he (again correctly) fleshes out the reasons that lying is too often tolerated and treated laxly. The facts are that heroin addiction costs society an immense amount of money, resources and time. One estimate bandied about by public health officials here in Baltimore is that each addict costs us between $.5-1 million a year in medical care, police work, property damage, and stolen property. And that doesn't count 'lost productivity.'

I'm honestly not sure why this disjunction exists. I'd love to hear some reponses from people who, say, speed but don't think that speeders should be pilloried in the public square. I'm not trying to be snarky, I'm honestly curious about what sets plagarism apart in this regard. Optimus Chyme (and OC, I think you were at least partly confusing EB with me, which was to my credit, so thanks) kind of took a crack at it by saying that if we knew his name he wouldn't have a problem with us finding the information, but this is different than that. Many people have essentially defended what amounts to putting Laura in stocks in the middle of the market place, which is very different than even a Wanted! poster hung in the post office.

I don't have sympathy for Laura, but I do feel that many of the things that people do every day are worse than what she did, and that her punishment in this case is just too severe. Someone above raised the point that Nate took her name off his site, as if that showed his reasonable nature. But the whole point is that it's too late. There is no way to erase this now. And that's the part that changes her life, that's that part that's over the top, and unfortunately, that's the part that was done as a joke.

(Sorry for the length, this whole thread has been fascinating and maddening.)
posted by OmieWise at 10:36 AM on March 30, 2005


Tell me you, of all people, are not the one who wrote that.

Are you meaning suggest I have a dead hooker in my closet? Frankly, there is no room, what with all the cat poop and boxes.

And in truth, everyone is a snitch, we all just have different thresholds. I think that's a lot of what the arguing on this thread boils down to, really. Some believe he should have snitched, some do not. Everyone draws the line somewhere.

If a stranger confessed to you that he just killed someone would you "snitch"?

big part of their complaint was that their quality of life was eroded by seeing every person they knew as a possible informant

I see this as part and parcel of the human condition, really. I just trust people in general not to go apeshit about petty little stuff. Silly me, considering that people might be sort of kind of reasonable some of the time.
posted by beth at 10:37 AM on March 30, 2005


re: speeding.

Normally "not being able to stop" constitutes speeding. Myself and a few people I know have been accused of speeding in an accident when we clearly had not been. The fact that you cannot stop your car before arriving at the scene usually leads to the officers responding to simply check off "travelling at an unsafe speed". Of course you could fight and argue this point if you were willing to pay for it, but I would guess most people just let it go and have the insurance agency deal with it.

Just for my own example. I was travelling at the actual speed limit (which is coincidental) on the highway. It was dusk and there was a police car on the left shoulder. The police car then cut across the highway to the right shoulder and the van in front of me stopped dead in the middle of the highway. In the mix of the flashing red lights and the near-dark night, I didn't notice the stopped van's brakelights initially. I braked and clipped the van while trying to avoid him. When I pulled over the officer and the van driver were in a SCREAMING FIGHT about "what kind of idiot stops dead on the highway". In the end tho, I was still reported as travelling at an unsafe speed since I couldn't stop. /shrug


On topic. This threat is useless without pics. How can I know how compassionate to feel if I don't know if she's hot or not? ;)
posted by xmod2 at 10:46 AM on March 30, 2005


Finally, something that hasn't really been discussed at length that ought to have: for those of us critical of Nate's actions, what, ideally, should he have done? In my opinion, the key point is that Laura didn't actually commit plagiarism until she turned in the paper. Intent to commit a wrong is a bad thing, and there are cases in which we punish intent on its own. Plagiarism isn't one of them. So, in this example unlike many others (such as the robbery example earlier), there was the opportunity to prevent a wrong from being committed. (Of if not necessarily "prevent", consider that Nate chose to collaborate in the wrongdoing, problematic in itself.) Under almost all circumstances, most people agree that that is a better outcome than allowing the wrong to be committed but the wrongdoer punished.

I can guess that an argument would be made in this case that there is a greater good served here by facilitating Laura's plagiarism and not trying to prevent. This would be the "making an example of someone argument". And that can be a persuasive argument, to many people. But I'll just allude to the fact that there's considerable disagreement among moral philosophers and others on this.

The ideal solution would be something that dissuades Laura from plagiarizing, dissuades her from doing it in the future, and somehow acts as a warning against other plagiarizers. I can imagine someone in Nate's position, with his blog, managing to accomplish that.

But that raises the objection: is it Nate's responsibility to make the world a better place, to go to all this trouble to maximize good? Well, no, it really isn't. But if you accept that, then you've also invalidated most of the arguments in favor of Nate's actions that were built around social utility. That is to say, if it's not Nate's job to try and make this work out for the best for everyone concerned, then it's also not his job to make this work out the best for everyone concerned where "best" is actually what has happened. If you strip away all these concerns about social utility and the problem of plagiarism, all you're left with is the opportunity to encourage, or discourage, someone from committing a wrong. Narrowing one's responsibilities down to just that makes it pretty starkly obvious that the correct response is to discourage, not encourage, the wrong.

And I think this is a big part of what this boils down to. If Nate was acting on the small stage of just encouraging or discouraging a wrong, then he greatly exceeded his responsibilities, and, furthermore, didn't accomplish them (he encouraged the wrong, not discouraged). If he was acting on the larger stage of the problem of plagiarism in general, the—and this is the important part—he must adequately discharge the responsibility that he's taken on. If you're going to think about the "big picture", and act on the "big picture" then you have a responsibility to be much more thoughtful and careful about the decisions you makes than Nate was.

Acting on instinct, and an instinct that's partly malicious, and then rationalizing having done so with lofty appeals to the greater common good...that's just self-serving bullshit.

On Preview: "And I don't understand why people who are merely disagreeing with Nate's actions are vilifying him quite so stridently."

Because he was malicious, mostly. As I said earlier, some of us find this sort of self-serving rationalization of malice to be a really bad thing.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:51 AM on March 30, 2005


Sorry for the delay in responding (I was away from the computer), but:
EB, I never accused you or anyone of engaging in plagiarism. That's why I asked you to re-read my post after you flipped out and called me a "moral simpleton" - here I'll repost the pertinent part:

I think a sympathetic response says more about one's own lax attitude re: plagiarism than it does about ...

Attitude, man. I'm tempted to quote the Misfits, but I'll refrain. I was musing on the seriousness with which one thinks about plagiarism as possibly correlated with one's attitude to Laura's specific situation / comeuppance / whatever. Clearly that doesn't cover you, personally, so there's no reason for you to take offense.

And now, our moment of zen.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:52 AM on March 30, 2005


From boing boing:

Update: It's an April Fool's Day hoax. Shannon sez, "the student doesn't exist, that school is a Christian school (that doesn't teach a course on Hinduism), and it's hosted on a comedy troupe's site that's trying to promote it's new show, and their webmaster is spamming blogs with their story under a variety of fake names."

Update 2: The people who posted this deny that it's a hoax, deny the spamming. You decide.
posted by ericb at 10:58 AM on March 30, 2005


bitimage, maybe it's just a case of different perspectives.

Sure, some people thought her crime was a minor infraction.
But I didn't pick that up from a significant proportion of the people who were arguing that Nate's vindictive actions were (at the time of his first blog posting) the greater of the of 2 (perceived) evils.
I think that quite a few actually stated for emphasis that they thought Laura should be punished because they (we) were getting flack for condemning Nate.
Her actions were reprehensible - but Mr vigilante's tactics were not what we consider to be the just and fair consequences. But don't misunderstand - we are having it both ways - Laura is a dolt and a cheat. But Nate is a cruel twat and shouldn't have gone into sadistic mode for his own pleasure - but condemning the latter is not in anyway, for most of us, IMHO, meant to be construed as evidence of a belief that Laura shouldn't be punished.

But .... it's all academic now. She has proved herself to be so utterly stupid and fraudulent that she IS now facing the rightful consequences - University censure - shame about the unwarranted and outrageous 'net victimization circus.

And on preview: what EtherealBligh & Omiewise said - so much more eloquently than I ever could.
(but indeed, this has been a fascinating thread perambulation)
posted by peacay at 10:58 AM on March 30, 2005


I have read the whole thread, and as I said, there is a strong undercurrent that this girl should not be punished.

I think you've misread, at least in my case. I for one don't think she should not be punished -- if she hands in that paper she deserves what she gets. Which if she isn't turned in after all (or if her teacher doesn't read MetaFilter) would probably just be a very low grade for a very bad paper, unless her teacher is as stupid as she is. Also, I don't think commissioning a paper counts as plagiarism, strictly speaking, though it is clearly some kind of cheating and should obviously be discouraged. But I have not gone into that yet in this thread; what I did say is getting people to write papers for one goes on all the time, and usually is not noticed. (Maybe some people don't belong in college.)

No, I have NOT said she should not be punished. I said she should not be "punished" BY NATE, in the way that Nate has set out to "punish" her, because cruelty -- especially gratuitous cruelty by a smarmy sadistic piece of shit -- is a far worse "sin" than stupidity and/or whatever kind of cheating Whatshername was trying to do.

I also said that he obviously ripped her off and then bragged about it, another "sin" don't think Society should encourage. All those who think cheating one's customers is a good thing are invited to buy real estate from me.

Furthermore, I think there is really something very wrong with people who take Nate's side in this, especially those who seem to admire his conduct. I'd suspect such people of yanking the legs off puppies, of justifying that with "It piddled on my rug!", and expecting to be commended for harming the puppy.

Of course I'm speaking only for myself. It's not my job to keep track of everything everybody's posted in this thread, let alone to summarize, clarify, or defend any of it. (And if ethereal_bligh agrees with me on any of this I hope he can find a way to live with himself!)

And on preview, to answer ethereal_bligh, I think Nate should have simply declined. He might have gone on to explain why her actions are a bad idea, and if he was in really good mood or something he might have suggested a short reading list so she could write her own damn paper. If he wanted to charge her for something, I think it would be okay for him to edit her paper after it was written (hopefully by her), as we're talking about World Religions here and not English Composition. (Lots of people could benefit from a good editor, even me.) But as far as I'm concerned, simply declining her proposition would have been duty-fulfilling enough.

(Peacay, she HAS been turned in? You mean after her misfeasance has been broadcast and discussed all over blogspece? How surprising! Please give details anyway?)
posted by davy at 11:03 AM on March 30, 2005


... oh, and Todd (I'm sorry: mediareport), fuck off.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:04 AM on March 30, 2005


Laura K. Krishna: let me call u we can talk please i promise just give me ur number
. . . .
Laura K. Krishna: please sir
Laura K. Krishna: anything u want
. . . .
Laura K. Krishna: please give me ur number so i can call u
Laura K. Krishna: listen jsut tell me what u want from me
Laura K. Krishna: anything
Anyone else get the impression that "please sir, anything u want" included a demonstration of Laura's kneeling and swallowing ability in return for backing up her story to the dean?

I guess if you'll pay someone else to whore out his writing talent and put your name on it, you'll probably whore out in turn. I think Laura has a real prosperous future a-head of her in America.
posted by orthogonality at 11:05 AM on March 30, 2005


The strongest condemnations of Nate's actions seem to concern his public tar and feathering of this girl. Reading his update however:
" I do want this to be over. Holy goddamn."
"the internet is full of beautiful freaks (I do love you so.), and the popularity of this blog came completely unexpectedly, meaning my little feint regarding turning her in was being taken as fact by way more people than I could contact."
...tells me that he didn't expect his story would become such a public spectacle. If that's the case, can he be blamed for our interest?

As afroblanca pointed out, I think this is just an early exposure to how tenuous our anonymity is in the internet age. As more and more stories like this flare up, we'll pay less and less attention to them. In time our society will adapt to this new pressure, and we'll lose our paranoia about being exposed over the internet.

(I came up with that myself!)
posted by Popular Ethics at 11:11 AM on March 30, 2005


beth : " And in truth, everyone is a snitch, we all just have different thresholds."

Amen. Everyone who talks about how great snitches are would be incensed if they were snitched on for every minor infraction (cutting across the lawn instead of walking on the sidewalk, parking slighly over the line, parking 11 minutes in a 10 minute parking zone). And everyone who talks about how horrible snitches are would find nothing wrong with turning in their neighbor if they saw them killing and eating toddlers. It's a world of grey out there, but people of 51% grey or higher say it's black and people at 49% or lower say it's white.
posted by Bugbread at 11:15 AM on March 30, 2005


davy - here's the last entry from Nate - she's been in touch with the Dean who has read the blog.

Yes...surprising indeed.
posted by peacay at 11:16 AM on March 30, 2005


On some good comments by OmieWise and EB:

As to speeding, (without getting into a long digression on how hazardous it is/isn't) I think that most people don't view it as a serious wrong. Thus, you don't see "comments advocating public (long-lasting) shaming for a speeding ticket" because it'd be pointless. Someone finding out that you had a speeding ticket would not usually bring shame upon you. The society doesn't see it as that big a deal.

Conversely, a lot of people see taking another's work and representing it as your own as a big deal. We like to get credit for what we have done. If we have worked for an accomplishment, it is lessened if it goes to another for free. So this girl's casual buying (well, stealing) of a paper galls.

EB: "Because there are a lot of rules in any society and there is always a fair amount of disagreement over at least some of them"

And here is the heart of the matter. If you feel that what she did is a minor infraction of a rule that doesn't mean much anyway, then Nate is a villain. If you feel that what she did is a major breach of ethics, then Nate helped the system to work.

I think this got much bigger than Nate intended. When he posted to his personal blog, I doubt that he thought it'd go anywhere near this far. But in any case, I feel that the harm of shaming is somewhat overblown. I'm quite sure that Laura is much more concerned with the opinion of her dean than she is about her actions being discussed on a website she's likely never heard of. And the damage to her academic transcripts if she's expelled will be much more of a concern than some dusty Google link once this nine-day wonder is forgotten.
posted by bitmage at 11:19 AM on March 30, 2005


Furthermore, I think there is really something very wrong with people who take Nate's side in this, especially those who seem to admire his conduct. I'd suspect such people of yanking the legs off puppies, of justifying that with "It piddled on my rug!", and expecting to be commended for harming the puppy.

I wouldn't do anything close to that. About as close as Nate did is take out a billboard that says "My puppy Sadie pees on my rug" on the highway that everyone takes to work. Laura is very embarassed now, not dead.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:19 AM on March 30, 2005


And now, our moment of zen.
*giggles uncontrollably*
posted by Popular Ethics at 11:26 AM on March 30, 2005


he didn't expect his story would become such a public spectacle. If that's the case, can he be blamed ...

Yes of course he can. He ought to have realized that such an episode of blog dumping would be noticed, posted and bandied around from asshole to breakfast time.
posted by peacay at 11:28 AM on March 30, 2005


i still have the first hooker i ever strangled.
posted by quonsar at 11:29 AM on March 30, 2005


Omiewise, that was a fantastic and wonderfully thoughtful comment. Thank you so much for bringing up those points and dealing with them as well as you did.

I've been puzzling over the same things. Like you and many on this thread, I really dislike plagiarism. I dislike it so much that although I don't think being kicked out of school is "life ruining", I think it's a pretty big punishment and yet I agree that it's commensurate with the severity of the wrong. So I really don't like plagiarism.

But it feels like (and upon reflection really seems to be the case that) we're really not putting things into their correct proportion here. And this is because of a couple of things, both that you describe: first, the high level of outrage and anger directed against Laura; and second the willingness to put this into the realm of something that it is reasonable to punish with wide public ridicule which is, possibly, "life-ruining". I think there is, even among the more strident, some discomfort about this aspect of Nate's actions. Even so, as you point out, there's many, many wrongs at which we would be appalled to see in response such a punishment. And many of those wrongs are arguably much more serious, much more harmful to more people, than was Laura's.

If Laura had IMd Nate because she thought he could get her some, say, marijuana, and he had strung her along and set her up to be stung by the police and arrested I am really very sure that the majority reaction here at mefi, at least, would have been outrage against Nate. (Even if he hadn't gone to the trouble of publicly shaming her for it, as well!) It's easy to claim that plagiarism causes more social harm than casual illegal drug use, but that's arguable.

And the bottom line for me is that I can't shake the strong intuition, or suspicion, that this strong taboo against plagiarism (which I share) is part of the ethos of a rarefied and privileged subculture. If you expand the frame to include a wider context, even if only within the also relatively rarefied and privileged US, it really starts to look obscene to be outraged over plagiarism. And it seems to me that the only way we can justify Nate's attempts to maximize in every way the punishment for Laura's wrongdoing, including public ridicule, is if this level of outrage really is appropriate for this sort of wrongdoing. And, you know, in the larger moral context, it's not. Worse, I think that excessive, inappropriate outrage that translates into self-righteous attempts to excessively punish "wrongdoers" is quite obviously a much bigger problem for our society (and others) than is plagiarism. Nate's moral calculus is badly broken.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:30 AM on March 30, 2005


joe lisboa: you're quite right. I misread you. Other people here had said such a thing, and so also had a good number of posters at Nate's site, so I was primed to read it that way. And even just recently you see a similar sort of thing from beth. But I apologize for misreading you and then insulting you because of my misreading. That wasn't right.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:32 AM on March 30, 2005


society doesn't see it [speeding] as that big a deal.

...unless their daughter/father/brother/boyfriend is killed - it is just that some people choose to ignore the well known possible consequences of their actions - Omiewise rightfully suggested a speeding analogy - it has the gravest consequences and yet many people disregard them whereas plagiarism (in Laura's case at least) has only limited consequences and has raised the ire of a great number of posters. Wherefore art thou consistency?
posted by peacay at 11:38 AM on March 30, 2005


MetaFilter is a much bigger platform for ridicule than Nate's weblog, which was obscure and little read before this incident.

If you genuinely believe that he's reprehensible for holding up someone to "public pillory" and "public humilation [that] will follow her around for quite a while," how do you reconcile that attitude with participation here?
posted by rcade at 11:40 AM on March 30, 2005


i like to poke at her with a stick and watch the sticky bits fall off.
posted by quonsar at 11:40 AM on March 30, 2005


Ethereal Bligh writes " And the bottom line for me is that I can't shake the strong intuition, or suspicion, that this strong taboo against plagiarism (which I share) is part of the ethos of a rarefied and privileged subculture. If you expand the frame to include a wider context, even if only within the also relatively rarefied and privileged US, it really starts to look obscene to be outraged over plagiarism. "


Plagiarism is a form of lying. Lying, in done in the right (wrong) places hurts all of society: Enron's lies, Robert S. McNamara's bright shining lies, Bush's lies about WMDs.

Social hurts however, almost always are visited on the poorest and least privileged first and most: it's the poorest among us who are laid off first when the economy falters or jobs are sent overseas; it's the poorest who get the worst educations, the least medical care, and the most crime-ridden neighborhoods; it's the poorest who are drafted to fight our wars and who die in great numbers to protect the privileges of the wealthiest.

Outrage over plagiarism is just another aspect of outrage against the lying and hypocrisy of the soi disant "ruling classes".

Let;s face it the poor can't pay for someone else to do their papers, and they frequently can't even afford to pay for college.
posted by orthogonality at 11:42 AM on March 30, 2005


I have a hard time believing that fff (and others), no matter how much they claim to walk the straight and narrow, haven't done things that are against the rules and which other people consider to be as bad or worse than what Laura did.

I honestly can think of nothing I have done as an adult (18+) for which the legal consequences would be unjust. The worst I can remember is driving drunk, and even our stiffer laws of latter years are ones that, had I been caught, would have been just (I suspect I'd have lost my license for a good long time.)

What's demonstrated here is that a good number of people think that plagiarism is very serious moral crime that deserves relatively extreme punishment.

Being kicked out of university is hardly an extreme punishment. It is especially not extreme when it appears universities now make quite an effort to inform their students that plagiarism will result in expulsion.

He mentions some things but doesn't consider that in each case the punishment he'd receive he agrees is commensurate with the crime.

And here in the reality-based world, the punishments most people receive for most crimes is, indeed, commensurate with the crime. Hell, many times, the punishment is pretty damn slack, considering how the crime has affected others.

But I'm sure there are rules and laws that have punishments which he doesn't think are commensurate with the wrongdoing.

None leap to mind. Especially as regards cheaters, liars, and thieves.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:43 AM on March 30, 2005


peacay, there is a large debate over the hazards of speeding, getting into details of how far over the limit, the road conditions, the type of road and traffic, etc. Which is why I noted that I wasn't going to get into a long digression on that. Not to derail, you know?

This thread is already quite long without starting another line of argument.
posted by bitmage at 11:43 AM on March 30, 2005


EB....the ethos of a rarefied and privileged subculture

Elitism. And pride. And insecurity. And selfbolstering. And contempt for the slog that one goes through to get a degree. I think it has a lot to do with making sure we each don't individually 'fall' lower on the rung of life - by 'kicking' the Laura's of this world we ensure that our credentials are not devalued.
I imagine there's a thesis on fear in there somewhere.
posted by peacay at 11:45 AM on March 30, 2005


sometimes i drag her out onto the back porch and we sit in the moonlight and have long talks about plagiarism.
posted by quonsar at 11:46 AM on March 30, 2005


Nate indicated himself in his first post that he was not simply trying to teach her a lesson. He was malicious toward someone he did not know. It doesn't take a lot of reading between the lines to see that Nate has "issues." He referred to Laura as a "bitch" at the outset. He began this adventure "after letting Mom feed me." Lucky, lucky Mom.

If, in fact, he did not alert the dean, which he now claims, it seems like he was following his stated plan:
"Take her money and cut and paste a paper together from the internet that was so obviously plagiarised that she'd be guaranteed to get caught. And then, if I was able to get the information out of her, I'd report her to whatever her school was, and who knows, maybe even pump her for double money in exchange for not turning her in."

This guy isn't the Batman, he's Eddie Haskell
posted by Cassford at 11:50 AM on March 30, 2005


"And here is the heart of the matter. If you feel that what she did is a minor infraction of a rule that doesn't mean much anyway, then Nate is a villain. If you feel that what she did is a major breach of ethics, then Nate helped the system to work."

Not quite. Some of us think that Laura's was a major infraction of a rule that is important, but that various aspects of Nate's response were inappropriate. And, again, mostly I think some of us detect a thoughtless malice on his part. It's especially evident given his "rest of the story". He didn't see Laura as a real person, just an abstract plagiarizer. Thus, he was able to be vicious in a way he couldn't sustain once he saw her as a person. Some commenters on Nate's blog criticized him for this, called him a wussy. That's because, I think, they (like orthogonal) weren't on the phone with a real person, and her mother, concerned about how this is going to very enormously affect her life. Once he began to see her as a person, he began to be more inclined to helping and teaching her than punishing her.

In this we get to the very heart of my ethics. I do agree that wrongdoers should be punished, I do agree that sometimes war has to be waged. But if we dehumanize the people we punish and kill, then we are not shouldering the moral responsibility we've taken upon ourselves in making the decision to punish or kill them. Making it easier to hurt another person by not thinking of them as a person sacrifices a large amount, perhaps the larger amount, of our moral credibility. When we find that we've done this, we should have the awareness to stop and consider whether our outrage, and our punishment, is really and truly just or that, possibly, we may be simply indulging our worst and most harmful instincts.

On Preview: "And here in the reality-based world, the punishments most people receive for most crimes is, indeed, commensurate with the crime." I'll let someone else field this one. Suffice it to say that I find your use of "reality-based world" very ironic.

Also: "Outrage over plagiarism is just another aspect of outrage against the lying and hypocrisy of the soi disant 'ruling classes'." It's a nice hypothesis. However, it fails because it's basically only the ruling class of people that gives a shit about plagiarism. If your social context is so narrow that you don't see that the group of people who are degreed and/or care enough about academic integrity to be outraged by plagiarism aren't more a part of the ruling class than the ruled class, then I suggest you get out more.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:51 AM on March 30, 2005


Wherefore art thou consistency?

Any attempts to draw parallels between two different things always ends badly because different things are different. Speeding itself doesn't cause any harm to anyone, but speeding makes it harder to avoid accidents. I have been caught speeding before (shame me publically if you must) but have never been in an accident. Plagiarism itself causes harm to people because it forces honest people to work harder than dishonest people. This happens every time plagiarism takes place, but accidents don't happen every time someone speeds. Overall, I think that someone getting in a 100 mph wreck is far worse than someone getting a non-failing grade for a paper that they didn't write. That doesn't mean I can't think that both are bad.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:57 AM on March 30, 2005


Ethereal Bligh: But that raises the objection: is it Nate's responsibility to make the world a better place, to go to all this trouble to maximize good?

It's worth pointing out that this is a particularly urban sentiment. In rural communities, the lack of institutionalized enforcement requires that neighbors gossip on one another for taboos to be enforced. Having grown up in a rural setting, I've always been shocked by the ferver with which urbanites fight to protect their anonymity, as if this kind of shaming is the worst thing that could ever befall someone.
posted by Popular Ethics at 12:00 PM on March 30, 2005


EB: Granted, it's turned out that way. I don't think that Nate saw it as going this far in terms of public notice.

basically only the ruling class of people that gives a shit about plagiarism.

As worded, yes. But try it this way:
Basically only the ruling class of people cares about other persons taking credit for their work.

Boiled down, that's what plagiarism is. You're claiming credit for the work of others. And I think that will bring irritation from people of any class.
posted by bitmage at 12:02 PM on March 30, 2005


And I think this is a big part of what this boils down to. If Nate was acting on the small stage of just encouraging or discouraging a wrong, then he greatly exceeded his responsibilities, and, furthermore, didn't accomplish them (he encouraged the wrong, not discouraged). If he was acting on the larger stage of the problem of plagiarism in general, the—and this is the important part—he must adequately discharge the responsibility that he's taken on. If you're going to think about the "big picture", and act on the "big picture" then you have a responsibility to be much more thoughtful and careful about the decisions you makes than Nate was.

That was very well stated.

As for my "I love snitches" comment, let's all recognize it is a little hyperbolistic. Obviously a society of petty snitching wouldn't work, especially as regards cutting across a lawn or being 0.5kmh over the speed limit. But, then, that's why there are no consequences for those things.

At the same time, we could certainly do with more accountability in this society. People get away with lying, cheating, and stealing, and benefit by it. If they are going to derive benefit from such anti-social behaviours, then why the hell shouldn't I?

Why the hell shouldn't I get an MBA based on plagiarised work, lie my way to the top, and then cheat millions of people out of their investment in my company? Don't I deserve to be as mega-wealthy as the other scum out there?

Fact is, if Kenneth Lay, George Bush, and other miscreants had been made accountable for their cheating, lying, stealing behaviours as young adults, we'd all be a hell of a lot better off.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:02 PM on March 30, 2005


rcade writes " MetaFilter is a much bigger platform for ridicule than Nate's weblog, which was obscure and little read before this incident.

"If you genuinely believe that he's reprehensible for holding up someone to 'public pillory' and 'public humilation [that] will follow her around for quite a while,' how do you reconcile that attitude with participation here?"


I reconcile it because the damage is done. When someone googles Laura's name, they won't find one of my comments. They may, indeed, find a conversation that I engaged in, but I don't think I've used her full name. Metafilter doesn't even come up on the first page when her name is Googled.

five fresh fish writes ""Being kicked out of university is hardly an extreme punishment. It is especially not extreme when it appears universities now make quite an effort to inform their students that plagiarism will result in expulsion."

It should be clear to even the most casual reader at this point that the "extreme punishment" referred to in this comment is her treatment on Nate's blog, and the ramifications of that, not expulsion which EB expressly condones.
posted by OmieWise at 12:04 PM on March 30, 2005


23skidoo..........the contrast is the amount of rage or ire that plagiarism ignites among some posters who would be unlikely to vent similarly on the subject of speeding - it is not plagiarism v speeding : it's huge consequences (lack of interest) v relatively minor consequences (great venom) - see the distinction?

And saying that all speeding doesn't cause always result in accidents is a rationalization.

And I don't condone plagiarism just btw.
posted by peacay at 12:06 PM on March 30, 2005


I apologise to those for whom "extreme punishment" was meant to refer to the public shaming. I agree, it was far too much.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:07 PM on March 30, 2005


Any attempts to draw parallels between two different things always ends badly because different things are different.

You know, that statement is like...er...nevermind.
posted by Cassford at 12:08 PM on March 30, 2005


Apology accepted, EB. I think your contributions to this thread have been of the highest caliber. As I noted, I have a hard time commenting coolly about this topic and I appreciate your and others' analysis of this. I also am intrigued by the very concept of solicitation per se, and I think that specific detail of this story (the IMing a stranger, etc.) affects my analysis, too. In my mind, she's already committed a grievous academic error merely by soliciting someone else's work for money. Again, I have been away from the 'puter, so I haven't been able to follow this thread or story as closely as I had hoped to (hence the provisional nature of my comments above), so I imagine this has already been discussed.

Also, for those who missed it up-thread, this little gem made me smile. Albeit, in a sad sorta way.
posted by joe lisboa at 12:11 PM on March 30, 2005


23skidoo writes " Any attempts to draw parallels between two different things always ends badly because different things are different"

I admit in my comment that speeding doesn't work as an analogy. My point was that speeding does not arouse the same moral response, even though the potential consequences are much greater. That's what's interesting to me.

I don't think the reasoning that plagiarism hurts someone every time it is practiced is adequate. One would still expect a greater amount of moral outrage about an act that can result in someone's death. My very point is that the outrage raised by plagiarism is incommensurate with the harm done, and that is also true with speeding.
posted by OmieWise at 12:12 PM on March 30, 2005


Metafilter doesn't even come up on the first page when her name is Googled.

you don't got ANY idea how google works, do ya?
posted by quonsar at 12:15 PM on March 30, 2005


meant to refer to the public shaming. I agree, it was far too much.

I guess that's where I'm not on the same page. "Omigod! My dean's expelled me, my transcript is ruined, my parents are going to kill me, and worst of all, they're talking about me on Metafilter!!!"

I just don't see the 'public shaming' as being a huge issue. Folks, wonderful as this site is, it's completely unknown to most of the population.

Sure, a Google will bring her up. With a lot of other Lauras. But she's going to have a lot harder time explaining that expulsion to a future employer.
posted by bitmage at 12:16 PM on March 30, 2005


From the thread re: Sanchez's torture memo: This morning, I called the office of Senator Reed, at (202) 224-4642, to make them aware of this act of purjury. I also called my local senator.

Is snitching on someone who has committed perjury a "bad thing" ala snitching out a plagiarist?
posted by five fresh fish at 12:19 PM on March 30, 2005


My guess, regarding the speeding derail, is that any comparison is going to break down because:
- Plagiarism is considered inherently immoral, and hence prohibited
- Speeding is not considered inherently immoral, but is considered dangerous, and hence prohibited

I would actually be more surprised if people's outrage meters worked the same for plagiarism and speeding. The fact that they don't doesn't necessarily indicate any skewing of priorities, but just that (thank god) people here tend to understand the Venn diagrams of immorality, illegality, and danger, and don't make the age-old mistake of thinking things that are illegal are consequently immoral or vice versa.
posted by Bugbread at 12:21 PM on March 30, 2005


peacay: Elitism. And pride. And insecurity. And selfbolstering. And contempt for the slog that one goes through to get a degree.

Wow. For someone lambasting the reading skills of others, you certainly are totally incapable of reading comprehension, unless you just like ignoring what you read entirely in order to substitute your straw man idea of what people who disagree think. This is especially evident in regards to the whole "contempt for the slog" sentence. Yes, people are upset because they don't value the work of getting a degree! How obvious it is, not at all like someone who values the work so much they think cheating is not that big of a deal!

On preview: Ethereal Bligh, you moral pronouncements are pompous and unsupported, as well as being entirely self-serving. Your statements that only the ruling class cares about plagiarism (and that anyone who disagrees has a "narrow social context,") is so out of touch with reality as to be laughable, if it wasn't so incredibly condescending.

For everyone who says that the public shaming part of this is to extreme, I am a bit mystified. She was shown of as doing a bad thing. On the internet. Yes, this is painful. But it will pass, with no lasting damage. It wouldn't work if this wasn't something most people wouldn't be embarrassed about, for example, speeding. Maybe she should be embarrassed. Feeling embarrassed about something can lead to aversion of the activity that brought that feeling about, and for something like this, that's part of the point, ain't it? I do agree that multiple phone calls and whatnot aren't exactly kosher, but Nate didn't put her contact information up, and discouraged people from doing so, didn't he?
posted by Snyder at 12:24 PM on March 30, 2005


And saying that all speeding doesn't always result in accidents is a rationalization.

No, it's a possible explanation for why the people in this thread are getting more upset about plagiarism than a bunch of hypothetical people might get upset about speeding. Plagiarism is always a bad thing. Speeding only sometimes results in bad consequences. I don't think you can only look at the potential for good/bad and expect people to have feelings that are alligned with that alone. I've found $20 bills on the ground, and I've found lottery tickets, and the smaller yet definite reward was much more rewarding.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:25 PM on March 30, 2005


Yes, bitmage, you may well be right and your point is a good one. But it's not exactly the issue. I see the expulsion and the shaming as seperate. The expulsion (if she's at a school with such a policy and that's only a minority of schools) is the typical and expected punishment for what she did. Nate's public humiliation of her is completely gratuitous, something that could only happen because he willed it to happen (Laura could still have plagiarized without Nate's assistance and been caught and expelled.) So, if you see what I'm trying to say, it's not really relevant to compare the severity of expulsion with the severity of the public shaming. If, for example, this had all happened in person and not over the net, and Nate spit in her face as well as turning her in, your argument would still apply. But I think many people would be pretty disgusted with Nate for spitting in her face.

The real issue here, for me, is that Nate was clearly acting mostly upon his own vindictiveness and this was reflected in several of the decisions that he made. I can imagine someone doing some of the same things that Nate did, including telling on her and perhaps (but probably not) even including revealing her name, that I could have agreed were responsible and just and not vicious.

In exactly the same way that people are outraged by Laura's plagiarism because it's not an isolated event and that it's representative of a serious problem, to my sensibilities Nate's self-righteous vindictiveness that is more about his own feelings than what is just, yet hidden behind rhetoric of justice and virtue, is not an isolated event but is representative of a serious problem. And, actually, I think it's the most serious problem, which I certainly don't think of plagiarism no matter how much I abhor it.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:37 PM on March 30, 2005




I hope this fixes my f* up
posted by OmieWise at 12:39 PM on March 30, 2005


sometimes, although i'm ashamed to admit it, i still have sex with her.
posted by quonsar at 2:37 PM on March 30, 2005


OmieWise: whu? Kidding about what? What are you reading into my comment that isn't there?

EB: I agree that Nate's viciousness is a big problem in this society and that he should be condemned for it. OTOH, her behaviour was unethical and quite possibly illegal.

Karma will even it all out in the end.

She's going to be expelled, which is appropriate.

And at the very least, he has to live as himself... and judging by his treatment of the girl, that can not be a pleasant sort of experience.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:45 PM on March 30, 2005


that is so hawt, q
posted by Dreamghost at 2:54 PM on March 30, 2005


EB pointed this out above, but I think it deserves more attention than it's gotten here:

Laura didn't actually commit plagiarism until she turned in the paper.

Yet, Nate's first post on this, "Laura... is a plagiarist," was apparently posted sometime on Mar. 27, before she would have turned in the paper.

She was not a plagiarist at the time Nate posted that she was a plagiarist. I'm no lawyer, but it seems to me that Nate has libelled Laura.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:30 PM on March 30, 2005


Jeez, can this piece of shit thread break 500? Great viral marketing by this previously unknown and un-funny 'comedy troupe.'
posted by fixedgear at 3:40 PM on March 30, 2005


Most ISPs would not tell you which user was at an IP address at a specific time without a court order.

No, they wouldn't. Because of internet custom (in both senses of the word). But they have no legal obligation not to do whatever they wish with information that you have, after all, given them (albiet unknowingly, in most cases).

I actually had an interesting run-in some time ago along these lines with Lorina Fauber. Her website was (at that time) based on this system:

1) Post fake personal ads on dating sites.
2) Collect the lamest and most pathedtic responses and post them with smarmy comments (but with contact info reducted, true).
3) Profit!

I objected to this (I know, many of you won't understand why... don't worry about it) and got into a back-and-forth on her board; I would not call it a flame war, because it was a lot funnier than that (on my side), but maybe others would. Anyway, she had my personal info and threatened to get me in trouble in my real life.

That certainly got my attention, I must say!
posted by herostratus at 3:42 PM on March 30, 2005


It's really ridiculous to contribute to this thread at this point, but there's something I haven't really seen addressed to my satisfaction. And yes, I've read every comment, so if/when someone inevitably points out that the issue I'm curious about has been discussed, I swear it was just an accident.

I won't bother going into the Laura side of things - though I'm not sure I noticed such a thing while reading, the consensus now seems to be that everyone agrees that she was in the wrong.

The Nate issue is, as many have stated, the more complex one. And, lengthy preface now concluded, my question is this: when did posting an entry in your blog become equivalent to placing someone in stocks in the village square? I'm not addressing the humiliation thereof: she's clearly had her name dragged through the mud. But people's assumption that Nate had a reason to expect that bothers me.

I don't maintain a blog, but I read a number of them regularly. The number of people who read most of them daily is vanishingly small, and by all accounts, it seems that Nate's audience was tiny prior to this episode. He said himself that he expected to share a laugh with a few dozen friends (far more than I'd expect to read my daily accounts if I did maintain a blog, I might add) and was blown away by the response to the entry.

Would any of you who have heaped such scorn on him for "snitching," "tattling," etc., say the same had he shared the anecdote with a friend over the phone, or with some friends in a bar, or, hell, on stage with his much-vaunted sketch group? My instinct is to say you wouldn't.

The fact is that blogs don't receive much traffic and there's little evidence to me that his didn't exist deep in the "long tail" of the blogosphere prior to this little incident.

If, based on pre-existing traffic, he had a legitimate expectation that his blog was just a scarcely-read online journal and not the village square, is it really that much different than sharing the story with a the friends mentioned above, and consequently such a horrible act of malice? Is it his responsibility to look out for her privacy and to expect the blog equivalent of a media frenzy, despite no evidence to the contrary? Far more interesting stories than this are being told in thousands of blogs as I write this, 99% of which will never be discussed here or eessentially anywhere else.
posted by Sinner at 4:07 PM on March 30, 2005


quonsar: don't knock his smock or he'll clean your clock.
posted by Specklet at 4:14 PM on March 30, 2005


herostratus : "But they have no legal obligation not to do whatever they wish with information that you have, after all, given them (albiet unknowingly, in most cases). "

I think you may be misunderstanding. The site gets your IP address. From that, they can figure out your ISP, and, possibly, what city you're in. However, since your IP address is also used by other folks at other times, the only way to get your personal information would be to get your ISP to tell that information to the people at the site. If your ISP provides information regarding which user was using a certain IP address to anyone who asks, without a court order, it's time to change your ISP.

People who run sites can get your IP address and the name of your ISP, but only your ISP can tell them who was using that IP address at the time. Not their own software, not their ISP, and not any other ISPs.
posted by Bugbread at 4:18 PM on March 30, 2005


By the way, quonsar, good work with your countdown - yet another illustration of how taking advantage of your "ability" to self-aggrandize and smear your digital feces all over the walls of this place takes precedence over any other element of your participation on this site. Of course, there are more than 10,000 new users since 9/11, so it's not exactly as if you comparing this thread to that one is apples to oranges. But hey, logic's not your thing. I loved your apology a few weeks/months ago, by the way, where you noted how you really didn't deserve to be allowed back. Only thing you've ever written that made a damn bit of sense.

Let's see, which snark will he choose in response? My money's on a riff on "digital feces," but there could be the tried-and-true, oldie-but-goody "sarcastic thank you." Or maybe some time spent digging into my posting history for things to ridicule. Maybe all of the above? I'm almost giddy with anticipation.


/derail
posted by Sinner at 4:21 PM on March 30, 2005


good job on your attempt to make your name by pointing out my taking advantage of my "ability" to self-aggrandize and smear my digital feces all over the walls of this place takes precedence over any other element of my participation on this site. great job on the logic too! now fuck off.
posted by quonsar at 4:24 PM on March 30, 2005


I think that Sinner makes an excellent point. This wasn't in the public square until it was MeFied, Fark'd, Boinged, etc...

I'm not going to feel bad about Laura's humiliation, and I'm not going to high five Nate either. I made a doody. Speeding is more acceptable (and common, certainly in LA) than plagiarism, but, i would suggest, only because people get many more chances per day to speed, and speeding is exciting. Do you get endorphin rushes while plagiarizing?

quonsar, i can't stop laughing.
posted by schyler523 at 4:25 PM on March 30, 2005


exist deep in the "long tail" of the blogosphere

damn. i don't generally respond to people who use that word. i dislike communication with the assholosphere!
posted by quonsar at 4:29 PM on March 30, 2005


good job on your attempt to make your name by pointing out my taking advantage of my "ability" to self-aggrandize and smear my digital feces all over the walls of this place takes precedence over any other element of my participation on this site. great job on the logic too! now fuck off.

Thanks. That's a good way to respond to my calling you an egomaniac. That you seem to think there's the slightest value, for me or anyone else, in "making [one's] name" here is akin to you somehow managing to nail yourself into your own coffin before remote-controlling the bulldozer that buries you in your own grave.

damn. i don't generally respond to people who use that word.

I consider myself ever so privileged that you'd deign to speak to me, then. It will really make my name. I've already added this thread to my portfolio and my resume. I hope it's all right if I have some people call you for a reference.

i dislike communication with the assholosphere!

It must be hard for you to spend so much time in it, then. It makes it even more amazing that you’re able to spend your entire life writing shitty one-liners in here. Do you tele-commute?
posted by Sinner at 5:07 PM on March 30, 2005


"when did posting an entry in your blog become equivalent to placing someone in stocks in the village square?"

Very good point and I have an answer for it. Of course. :)

First thing is that his site is the site associated with a NYC-based comedy troup. So it's not like this was a very discrete, personal blog in its nature. Still, he probably had a relatively small readership. Second thing is that relying on this sort of practical anonymity is simply not right. It's called the "World Wide Web" for a reason. In practice, most things are never seen by more than a few people. But anything on the web can be seen by anyone on the Internet (if it's not protected content). This is related to the "fired from job because of blog" controversies. People have the presumption of chatting among friends even though they've made their words easily available to more people at one time than would have been remotely imaginable just a few years ago. Third, he's a comedian with a comedy group posting this story to his comedy site. The intent was to get attention. Sure, he didn't think he'd get nearly this much attention, but he wanted some. (He also says repeatedly that he wanted material for a sketch; which given that he contributed to Laura getting in trouble is also problematic.) Fourth, even if this had been some individual's completely obscure personal blog, in the unlikely chance that I would have heard about this, I still would have thought Nate was in the wrong because, in the end, he was taking the opportunity to make a fool of someone under the guise of "doing what's right".

(You really can't take any criticism at all, can you, quonsar? This is sadly typical of someone who makes it a habit of ridiculing other people.)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:10 PM on March 30, 2005


(Also, let it go, sinner. quonsar will keep it going on and on and on—be sure to watch for his snark closely following some of your comments in other threads—and it will just be more annoying noise to all the rest of us. Participating in the one-upmanship of insults is really only rewarding if you can always convince yourself that you're the winner and that it somehow matters. Leave that sort of fantasizing to people like quonsar.)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:15 PM on March 30, 2005


Would any of you who have heaped such scorn on him for "snitching," "tattling," etc., say the same had he shared the anecdote with a friend over the phone, or with some friends in a bar, or, hell, on stage with his much-vaunted sketch group? My instinct is to say you wouldn't.

If he'd gone to her ladies' club and told all her friends what a sick cheat she was, then, yes, I would. Or to her banker. Or published in the local paper.

If he'd told his mens' club, I wouldn't. Exceedingly unlikely to come back 'round in a way that bites her in the ass.

Telling the net wasn't a good idea at all. And if it was to deliberately spread the meme, a very poor idea indeed, equivalent to telling her ladies' club and banker.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:14 PM on March 30, 2005


I hope the 500th post to this thread is an inline image of a mouse dick.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 6:41 PM on March 30, 2005


EB: Very good point and I have an answer for it. Of course. :)

Thanks. I read your post several times and didn't find any real response to my central inquiry. Put simply, "would it be wrong if he were to have this same conversation via phone or at a bar or coffee hour, etc.?" Further, "would it be as wrong, in your eyes?"

That he did it to get attention strikes me as an unsatisfactory grounds for indicting him. If I were him and had pulled the prank that he had pulled - leaving the probability of that aside, for the moment - I would be telling the story at the coffee shop because I found it interesting and wanted people to hear it. That's close enough to "wanting to get attention" that I can't really distinguish between the two.

To your points: (1) From looking at the site, it's clear that it's a group blog - he at one point was actually soliciting posts from the other people in the group to change the subject. That doesn't mean he doesn't post things there that are personal, nor does it mean that his troupe is successful, nor that the site receives any hits whatsoever. If my friends happen to be sketch comics and I happen to talk to them in bar as I said above, how is that any different than chatting about them on my blog. From what I can tell, he was chatting about something amusing that happened to him and then it got big. I didn't see anything in there indicating that we wanted to publicize his blog or make a web-wide sensation.

(2) Saying that "relying on this sort of practical anonymity is just not right" doesn't make it so. Though I'm struggling to say how (help!) , the fired-because-of-a-blog phenomonon is almost the inverse of this. With Nate and Laura, to echo others before me, I don't think it's "his job" to worry about putting her name out there for something she did any more than it's his job to set her straight. I don't think he should be constrained by the possibility that someone somewhere might find out about her misdeeds and make a huge public uproar about him. The likelihood of that (or even of the blog-firings) is still incredibly small. Tons of people, even on this site (with its larger audience), have admitted to drug use, crimes, etc. No big controversies occurred. Why is the burden on him not to tell a story?

(3) I already addressed the fact that I don't find the fact that he's a comedian with comedian friends "problematic," as you say. If he had a reasonable expectation that the world wasn't going to latch on to this story, which I think he had, I don't see why he couldn't tell his friends about it, whatever their hobbies. Nor do I see why it's "problematic" that he do a sketch about it: I find it highly unrealistic that someone sitting in the audience of a sketch comedy show is going to be taking down notes so they can get this girl kicked out of school. Whether or not there was malice intended, she at least deserved to be mocked, whether for her aol-speak typing or her sheer idiocy. I return (again) to my point that without a reasonable expectation that harm would come to her, he's not responsible for keeping her misdeeds quiet.

(4) We'll have to agree to disagree here, because I would have no problem with his "malicious" drafting of the paper and mocking of her. The issue of people seem most upset by was his asymmetrical response (get her kicked out of school for trying to plagiarize). For the last time, if he reasonably didn't expect such a response to occur (and didn't even call the Dean, which is what he said and what I'm granting here), she got off light and all he did was have a laugh at her expense. Malice or not, all he really expected at that point was that she'd get called out for not writing her paper (which she hadn't) and face the consequences. The media frenzy, if unexpected, wasn't his fault.

As for Quonsar, I don't much care. I mostly lurk, which means constantly reading his abominable, useless quips without responding to them. Over time they've become irritating, and since they occurred in one of the rare threads in which I happened to be posting, I found it worth a response. I'm neither intimidated by his alleged rapier wit nor impressed by how much of an invaluable part of the fabric of MetaFilter as others claim his (admittedly voluminous, if not substantive) contributions are. Either way, I don't post often enough to really worry about him hounding me, of all things.

On Preview:
FFF: If he'd gone to her ladies' club and told all her friends what a sick cheat she was, then, yes, I would. Or to her banker. Or published in the local paper.

If he'd told his mens' club, I wouldn't. Exceedingly unlikely to come back 'round in a way that bites her in the ass.


First, I'd like to note my surprise that such a thing as a "men's club" or "ladies' club" still exists. Second, you'd have a hard time proving to me that posting to a backwater site on the Internet is anything more than "exceedingly unlikely to come back 'round in a way that bites her in the ass." I've said more than enough about that, however.

If it was to deliberately spread the meme, a very poor idea indeed, equivalent to telling her ladies' club and banker.

For me, the jury's still out on whether or not telling her banker or the local paper would have been OK, but a weblog certainly does not have the immediate reach of either of those avenues. Even if he did want to start a meme, most of us here know that it's notoriously difficult to do so. He seems reasonably net-savvy - he'd have to know this and also know that the odds of his succeeding would have been very low (low enough, perhaps, to overwhelm any thoughts of hesitation).

This is the longest post I've ever typed. Wow. I can't imagine how much time I could waste if I did this more.
posted by Sinner at 6:42 PM on March 30, 2005


It would have to be a macro shot obviously.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 6:44 PM on March 30, 2005


Do you tele-commute?

why, no! this is my full time job!
posted by quonsar at 6:46 PM on March 30, 2005


Please don't force me to lose my patience. Some people here (including myself) think that Nate is the badder guy.

Then allow me to rephrase. I am completely shocked that some people in this thread consider Nate the badder guy.

Seriously, I find it utterly confounding. What delmoi says above about plagiarism being a 'small crime' confirms the sense I get from those making the case for Nate being the "badder guy." Plagiarism is not a small crime to my mind. If the story was accurate, she was dishonest, greedy (confident her money can get her what she wants), lazy, disinterested in the concerns of others (her professors, her peers), unwilling to fulfill commitments she made (taking the class implies doing work), and in general unwilling to make any sort of actual effort. Nate, on the other hand, could be accused of being elitist, self-righteous and/or mean. But, if he's elitist, it's only regarding actions, not innate qualities, so that is not discriminatory, so really none of these can be considered immoral. They can be considered unnecessary or not nice, but he did not break any actual promises. Laura broke several - in signing up for the class she implicitly promised to do the work; in handing in the paper with her name on it, she implicily promises it's her work; in registering at the school she promises to earn her degree, not pay someone else to do it for her (what could the point of a college degree possibly be if you could pay someone to take your classes for you?! Yes, you have to pay for the privilege of taking classes, but you are the one who must do the work in order for the institution to have any meaning at all.)
posted by mdn at 7:04 PM on March 30, 2005


Mdn: You're also forgetting that she's a con artist, refusing to pay him afterwards (before she found out about the setup) and telling him not to be too trusting of people, because "he might get conned."
posted by Bugbread at 7:18 PM on March 30, 2005


why, no! this is my full time job!

I genuinely can not comprehend how it isn't.
posted by Sinner at 7:28 PM on March 30, 2005


Plagiarism is not a small crime to my mind.

And libel is?

Nate, on the other hand, could be accused of being elitist, self-righteous and/or mean.

And libellous. I was on the fence as far as Nate's actions until I realized that not-so-small detail.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:45 PM on March 30, 2005


Quonsar saith: good job on your attempt to make your name by pointing out my taking advantage of my "ability" to self-aggrandize and smear my digital feces all over the walls of this place takes precedence over any other element of my participation on this site.

I thought that was too obvious to require comment. You go, Quonsar!


And then Sinner: I can't imagine how much time I could waste if I did this more.

Many hours. Large parts of several days. Take it from me, I know. (It's even better if you say something unflattering about Arthur C. Clarke.)


Oh and bugbread, that was the way things were supposed to work before "9/11" and the Patriot Act, but it was bullshit even then. You can keep believing the Law follows the law all you want though, if it helps you any.
posted by davy at 7:47 PM on March 30, 2005


that was the way things were supposed to work before "9/11" and the Patriot Act

Besides, you're talking about dynamic IP addresses that change. Some folks have static ones, or have configured their system (often by default) to use the same dynamic address al the time.
posted by davy at 7:52 PM on March 30, 2005


davy : " Oh and bugbread, that was the way things were supposed to work before '9/11' and the Patriot Act, but it was bullshit even then. You can keep believing the Law follows the law all you want though, if it helps you any.

Besides, you're talking about dynamic IP addresses that change. Some folks have static ones, or have configured their system (often by default) to use the same dynamic address al the time."


Huh? There have been big dynamic IP network allocation changes since 9/11? ISPs give out local user information to random people if they just ask? So, I could ask for the names and home addresses of anyone who visits the (now defunct) bugbread.com page and the ISPs would just give it to me?

I suspect you are misunderstanding me above. And I'm not sure what the bit about the "Law follows the law" part means.

Regarding static IP addresses, while the ISP wouldn't have to go through the logs to determine who was using it at the time, and could look up the information much faster, you'd still have to ask the ISP for that user information to find it out.
posted by Bugbread at 8:14 PM on March 30, 2005


It's even better if you say something unflattering about Arthur C. Clarke.

Isn't he a pedophile?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:23 PM on March 30, 2005


Apologies for that last line, joe lisboa; it was ridiculous and unfair.
posted by mediareport at 8:42 PM on March 30, 2005


Okay - so I was sitting here pondering EB's question about how Nate could have ideally behaved in this situation. I certainly can't condemn him for judging her intent as wrong.

His method of tweaking her via the fake paper is creative and self regulating as all she has to do is read the paper to negate it entirely so again no real problem there.

I am sitting here trying to see if I feel any sympathy for Laura about how much attention this has garnered online and I still cannot sense any. This isn't because I feel the need to see some blood in the water, but because I cannot feel sorry for someone so completely boneheaded.

We've seen several posts about how Nate shouldn't have exposed her identity on the internet but have we seen any that said she shouldn't have given him the information in the first place? I've seen several posts about how Nate enabled her/entrapped her but everything he did required her explicit cooperation in areas where she should have known better.

She could have stopped this whole thing in its tracks in any one of several different places. Nate did not punish her. SHE PUNISHED HERSELF.

I've heard several times where Nates detractors say they think she should be held responsibile for the plaigerism but they are giving her a pass on all of her other actions/responsibilities not the least of which is that if you are going to cheat you better damn well put some effort into it to make sure you don't get caught. This girl gives cheaters a bad name.

The real question should be how could Laura have ideally conducted herself in this situation.

1. How about put more effort into finding a trusted source for the paper?
2. How about Proofreading/editing the paper to add some personalization and add some superficial authenticity?
3. How about finding a method for anonymous payment and not giving out your personal information to a stranger on the web?

This girl is lazy and stupid. Her punishment is in direct proportion with the magnitude of her decisions/mistakes. If she was lazy and smart we wouldn't be having this conversation. You can attribute maliciousness to Nate all you want. I think he showed restraint.
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 8:50 PM on March 30, 2005


ISPs give out local user information to random people if they just ask?

Random people, usually not. "Law enforcement agencies", probably yes. And wasn't there a (publicized) case just after "9/11" when an employee of some bank or something volunteered all kinds of personal data to the Feds as part of his personal part in the War On Terror?

As for 'the Law [not] follow[ing] the law', is American English your first language? If so, have you heard of COINTELPRO? I'll break it down for you: "the Law" in that phrase of mine was short for "whatever Law Enforcement Agency that might have something to do with whatever we're talking about." For example, in COINTELPRO "the Law" was (usually) the FBI, along with whatever other federal, state or local agency it might involve (in the case of Fred Hampton the Cook County State's Attorney's Office and the "Red Squad" of the Chicago Police Department). You with me so far?

So, "the Law" is often content to engage in activities that the Law Enforcement Personnel concerned know very well violate the letter and the spirit of the laws, codes and ordinances that have been established to order the operations of their Agencies (as has been shown in numerous U.S. Supreme Court rulings since the Truman Administration), but knowingly and willingly desregard those laws and regulations in the name of "keeping the peace" or "getting that uppity n*****" or what-have-you. Hence, 'the Law does not always follow the law'. See? You might also look up things like wiretapping , Echelon , and similar kinds of things about which you should be expected to already know more than me as an expert on IP addresses and shit.

(Were you trolling me with that or are you really so incredibly densely naive that you needed this explained to you?)
posted by davy at 9:21 PM on March 30, 2005


I think I lost my last vestige of sympathy for her (not that I ever had one for her plagiarism, but for being subject not only to normal sanctions (explusion) but extra sanctions (very very public humiliation)) around the time of this exchange:
Me: The check is in the mail, I hope?
Her: what
Me: The $75 for the paper I wrote for you.
Her: what
...
Me (11:10:25 PM): from someone who wanted me to write a college paper for her.
Me (11:10:55 PM): it was on an image she sent me of the check she was writing for my services.
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:11:36 PM): thats weird
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:12:08 PM): is there anything i can do for u
Me (11:12:56 PM): well, if you don't believe me, take a look at the outgoing messages on your account.
Me (11:13:04 PM): we corresponded by e-mail too.
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:13:21 PM): this isnt my screename its my sisters so i'm never on it she usually is though
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:13:44 PM): theres nothing in my mail box except todays mail
Me (11:14:00 PM): check "old messages"
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:14:17 PM): empty
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:14:39 PM): sry i don't know what to tell u
...
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:15:33 PM): sorry no one in this house has been in college for a long time
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:15:57 PM): i graduated from college about 15 years ago
...
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:18:05 PM): why did u need to talk to this person again
Me (11:18:20 PM): to see if she was actually paying me.
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:19:02 PM): well...sincei have no idea who u are i'm certainly not paying u this could all be a scam for all i know
Me (11:19:21 PM): well, I'm the one who's been scammed.
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:19:34 PM): sorry i dont throw money out the window and sincei have no idea what ur talking about i'm not going to pay u. how did u get scammed
...
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:22:18 PM): well the best advice i can give to u is that sometimes u just can't be too nice. so u got scammed once theres not much u can do about it i guess sicne i don't have any answers for you the best thing to do is to probably let it go
Claims Not To Be Laura K. Krishna (11:22:50 PM): because my sister is usually the one on the screenname and she doesn't liek to be bothered when shes working so a little piece of advice don't im her
So my current perspective: she fully deserved it. Nate didn't know she deserved it that bad when he started. He was an asshole. But karma directed her to meet the asshole, and the universe balanced out.

In an analogy: Nate sees someone run a red light. To teach them a lesson he tosses a molotov cocktail through their window. Which is going way overboard. But it turns out the person driving the car was a serial killer.

Ah, karma, will you never cease to amaze me?
posted by Bugbread at 9:28 PM on March 30, 2005


davy : " Random people, usually not. 'Law enforcement agencies', probably yes."

Ah, as I thought. Fundamental misunderstanding going on here. Herostratus and I were talking about how much knowledge could be obtained by the owner of a site you visit (for example, how much Mathowie could obtain about us) for general annoyance use (ie. not in the case that we threaten the president, but in the case that we piss of mathowie).

davy : "Were you trolling me with that or are you really so incredibly densely naive that you needed this explained to you?"

No, I was not trolling you. Your post seemed to bear little to no connection to what I was talking about, so I asked for clarification. It turns out it wasn't that it seemed to bear little or no connection, it really did bear little to no connection. Is your reading comprehension so bad you didn't realize we weren't talking about what the government / law / FBI / COINTEL / Man can do, but regular website operators?
posted by Bugbread at 9:39 PM on March 30, 2005


"In an analogy: Nate sees someone run a red light. To teach them a lesson he tosses a molotov cocktail through their window. Which is going way overboard. But it turns out the person driving the car was a serial killer."

But see, that's a moral fallacy. It is: "I can do anything bad to you that's roughly equivalent to the bad things you do". People keep evaluating Nate's behavior on the basis of Laura's behavior. That's not adult moral reasoning.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:44 PM on March 30, 2005


Oh, bugbear, website operators? I stand corrected. Why in the world were you talking about them? I thought this thread was about Terri Schiavo!
posted by davy at 10:44 PM on March 30, 2005


A withdrawl of sorts.
I regret a few things. Mostly posting when so tired. I ought to realize when the sun's starting to rise in the background and the ISP has wound me back to dialup speed (making page loading here outrageously slow requiring a >5mins read to catchup in preview causing me to truncate what I'd written) that there's no good reason to stay in the saddle. It was very hard just trying to keep up let alone form reasoned arguments/responses (and I admit I didn't always succeed) - the high level posting time of this site is usually way after midnight here.

So.....speeding/morality/venn diagrams - I concede: poor analogy.

And pride/contempt for slog/elitism - were meant as suggested pyschological reasons to explain why graduate persons (myself included) have such an 'enthusiastic' dislike for plagiarism. I won't run with it. I don't believe such an attitude is always so complex. But in the cut 'n thrust of discussion here, it was surprising that so many people were rallying behind the 'victimization' by Nate. I was musing on why...was all.
That said, it is gratifying to note that there was little in the way of real snark or ad hominem behaviour in the thread. It certainly provoked some deeper thought which can't be all bad.
posted by peacay at 1:14 AM on March 31, 2005


Ethereal Bligh : " But see, that's a moral fallacy. It is: 'I can do anything bad to you that's roughly equivalent to the bad things you do'. People keep evaluating Nate's behavior on the basis of Laura's behavior. That's not adult moral reasoning."

I'm surprised at you, EB. I'm not making a moral fallacy, because I'm not justifying Nate's behaviour. I'm not saying Nate can do anything bad to someone roughly equivalent to the bad things they do. I'm not evaluating Nate's behavior on the basis of Laura's behavior. I'm just saying that the sum exterior total is good, even if the individual actions are bad.

Perhaps a different example is in order?

Laura is a midget planning to sneak into a daycare to set off a bomb to scatter toddler body parts everywhere. Nate is a psychopath who really wants to sniper a toddler. So he sits on a hill, points his single-shot rifle at the door of the school bus, and shoots the first kid who steps off the bus -- who happens to be Laura.

In that case, it's clear that Laura and Nate are both bad. But the end result is satisfying and karmically good.

davy : "Why in the world were you talking about them?"

Ah, that would be because herostratus posted this:

herostratus : " By the way, did you know that it is entirely possible for the system operators on this board (or any board you post to) to obtain your IP address, and from that your real name and address. (I don't know how this is done, but it can be done.)"

And I was just trying to clarify that this is not necessarily the case.
posted by Bugbread at 4:18 AM on March 31, 2005


bugbear-
I didn't mean the speeding thing as a derail, and you answered my question admirably as I hadn't really considered it in the way that you did. I thought I was sincere enough in my posts that some benefit of the doubt might have been nice. Anyway, I always understood that plagiarism raised bigger moral hackles than speeding does, I still have the question why? I'm not one that equates law with morality, but that doesn't mean that the disjunction always makes sense.

Also, the not paying does reduce my sympathy considerably. I'm not quite at the point of saying the little midget deserved it.

fff-
The perjury at issue was not only against the law, it concerned the torture of other people (which is also against the law), the likelihood that it could happen again (which is also against the law), something done in public by a public servant, etc etc. I'm not a huge fan of absolutes in this kind of thing, and I can't see how that case and this one are at all similar. It seems clear to me that the answer is, yes, report Sanchez. Without any expansion of your question, it seemed like it must have been asked in jest since the circumstances seem so completely different.

Sinner-
I think you make a good point about the possibility that this all would have blown over. I probably overstated the stocks bit, as the rest of my posts have made clear, I'm both upset and confused by the whole thing, although I also find it fascinating.
posted by OmieWise at 5:32 AM on March 31, 2005


"People keep evaluating Nate's behavior on the basis of Laura's behavior. That's not adult moral reasoning."

That's funny because I thought that this basic comparison is essential to determining if his actions were excessive. How do we judge anyones actions?

The only analogy I could come up with is this one:

My workplace forbids the viewing of porn at work. They communicated this rule to everyone. This rule is in place in most workplaces. But doing so isn't illegal. I talk with a coworker about my favorite site, saying I was going to go check it out at work, ( http://www.goatsex.com ). They are offended that I would do this at work, want to make a point and so says I should go checkout ( http://www.peoplewhogetfiredforpornatworkhavingcex.com ) while I am at it because it is right up my alley. The coworker misspells the domain name on (it should be sex not cex) purpose so that I wouldn't make it to the site.

He blogs about all this online and it gets back to my boss. The boss checks the server logs and it turns out I did check it out at work. I would have had to work to find out the correct URL. I get fired and this gets published all around the world.

How much sympathy would you feel for me? Does this make my coworker a villian?
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 5:42 AM on March 31, 2005


And libellous. I was on the fence as far as Nate's actions until I realized that not-so-small detail.

Where was he libelous? I said, assuming the story is true. If the story is true, it by definition cannot be libel! It may not be nice to reveal true things which make others look bad, but it is absolutely not illegal.

bugbread, I think your midget/molotov analogies are all way off. I don't think he did anything that went particularly overboard. Again, he wasn't especially sympathetic or nice to someone, but I maintain that he didn't do anything explicitly wrong. Laura did. She ran a red light and he sort of tricked her into admitting it to the cop.
posted by mdn at 6:01 AM on March 31, 2005


If the story is true, it by definition cannot be libel!

He posted "Laura... is a plagiarist" sometime on Mar. 27.

She was not a plagiarist until she turned in the paper on Mar. 28.

She ran a red light and he sort of tricked her into admitting it to the cop.

No, she admitted she was thinking about running a red light, and he posted "Laura ran a red light!" That she actually did run a red light at a later time does not make his statement any less libellous.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:34 AM on March 31, 2005


he wasn't especially sympathetic or nice to someone,
You didn't read all; he followed up with a phone call with her mom and offered to clear things up with the Dean, “The End.”
posted by thomcatspike at 7:58 AM on March 31, 2005


Besides, you're talking about dynamic IP addresses that change. Some folks have static ones, or have configured their system (often by default) to use the same dynamic address al the time.

You're killing me.

All dynamic IP addresses change. That's what makes them dynamic.

There's no way to configure your computer to connect to the same dynamic address all the time. If you could, it would be a static IP address.
posted by rcade at 8:24 AM on March 31, 2005


In an analogy: Nate sees someone run a red light. To teach them a lesson he tosses a molotov cocktail through their window. Which is going way overboard. But it turns out the person driving the car was a serial killer.

Ah, bugbear, will you never cease to amaze me?

The mysterious sychronicity of life is a beautiful thing.
posted by hurkle at 9:45 AM on March 31, 2005


There is a defect in my mind which causes me to see "bugbread" when I am actually typing "bugbear". I swear I consciously thought about it before the post, during the post, and then - amazedly - after the post..
posted by hurkle at 9:47 AM on March 31, 2005


"There's no way to configure your computer to connect to the same dynamic address all the time. If you could, it would be a static IP address."

You've exceeded your expertise. Dynamic IP addresses are set via a DHCP host (with the cooperation of a DHCP client on your end) and it can be configured in various ways. When you pay for Internet service and static or dynamic IP addressing is specified, that's a business arrangement, not a technical description. Having a dynamic IP address from an ISP really only means that you're not guaranteed the same IP address all the time. But depending upon how the DHCP host is configured, you may get the same address all the time. Or for very long periods of time. Or even forever if the DHCP is basically assigning you a static address but the ISP doesn't want to guarantee that you're getting that service (for that obvious reason but also to discourage dynamic address people from running the servers that are much more attractive with a static IP).

I don't know how this affects the conversation you guys were having, I wasn't paying attention.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:55 AM on March 31, 2005


You've exceeded your expertise.

That's a funny way of saying I'm wrong, but I think you're making this more complicated than it is.

If I'm shopping for a broadband ISP, one of the features I seek out is a static IP address. If I paid for that, and an ISP gave me a DHCP-assigned address that might change from time to time, they'd be ripping me off.
posted by rcade at 10:19 AM on March 31, 2005


He posted "Laura... is a plagiarist" sometime on Mar. 27.

She was not a plagiarist until she turned in the paper on Mar. 28.


hmm, I don't know. She accepted his description of what she was doing as "plagiarism" without blinking an eye, and openly stated that she was buying a paper to turn in for a class. We can argue that buying papers isn't technically "plagiarism", but that just means we either need to coin a new word for the equally wrong practice of "buying a paper" or expand the world "plagiarist" to include this practice. She was a "buying-a-paperist" before he called her out.

No, she admitted she was thinking about running a red light, and he posted "Laura ran a red light!" That she actually did run a red light at a later time does not make his statement any less libellous.

She did not "admit she was thinking about"; she called him up and asked him to help her do it. Her intentions were completely clear; if she somehow failed to follow through on the actions, she could defend herself, but I still don't think it would be libel. From Nate's point of view, she was planning a crime. Also, Nate did not say she "had committed plagiary" but that she was "a plagiarist"; it seems more than plausible from the context that this was not an isolated incident...

It's true he should have waited for confirmation of the event before posting about it, but I think he was being pretty lighthearted, and it was not misleading. And again, even if he went too far by doing that, I absolutely can't see that that would make him "badder" than her. What she was doing was straightforwardly and blatantly wrong in every sense. There is absolutely no defense for her actions. His side is much more blurry.
posted by mdn at 10:44 AM on March 31, 2005


She accepted his description of what she was doing as "plagiarism" without blinking an eye

So you're accepting Laura as an authority on what legally constitutes plagiarism and what does not? She doesn't seem like that bright of a girl to me. First, silence does not imply consent; just because she failed to object to the term does not mean she agrees with it. Second, even if she did think she was guilty of plagiarism at that point, that's irrelevant to whether she was guilty of plagiarism.

We can argue that buying papers isn't technically "plagiarism", but that just means we either need to coin a new word for the equally wrong practice of "buying a paper"

"Equally wrong"??? Are you really arguing now that buying a paper with the intent to turn it in with one's own name on it, but then changing one's mind and not actually turning it in, is just as bad as going through with it and turning it in???!

There are many entirely legimate instances in which one might contract someone else to have a document written for them, so I reject your assertion that buying a document for any reason is equally as bad as buying a document and then turning it in as one's own work for a class. As someone noted early in this thread, in some cases it is even legitimate to publish the contracted work as one's own, as in the case of ghostwriting.

Buying a paper with the intent to commit plagiarism is wrong because plagiarism is wrong. Buying a paper, in and of itself, is not wrong.

She was a "buying-a-paperist" before he called her out.

And by all means, if Nate had called her a "buying-a-paperist," or accused her of planning to commit plagiarism in that first post, I wouldn't have a problem with it. But that's not what Nate did.

She did not "admit she was thinking about";

Fair enough; she was planning to commit plagiarism. It doesn't change my argument. Planning to commit plagiarism is not the same as committing plagiarism, and it was libellous of Nate to call her a plagiarist when she had not yet committed plagiarism. If you learn that I am planning to kill someone in a week's time, you are entirely within your rights (and even obligated, I would argue) to call the police and tell them I was planning a murder. You could post in your blog that I was planning a murder. But if you post that I am a murderer, you have posted a false statement about me. Libel, plain and simple.

Also, Nate did not say she "had committed plagiary" but that she was "a plagiarist"; it seems more than plausible from the context that this was not an isolated incident...

Nate had absolutely no evidence of that. Is, "well, it seemed plausible to me that he might have done it before" now to be a valid defense against a charge of libel?? Someone better tell the National Enquirer to appeal their case; if they thought it plausible that Carol Burnett and Henry Kissinger got into a fight in a restaurant, then that's legitimate grounds for the Enquirer to say that they did get into such a fight.

And again, even if he went too far by doing that, I absolutely can't see that that would make him "badder" than her. What she was doing was straightforwardly and blatantly wrong in every sense. There is absolutely no defense for her actions. His side is much more blurry.

I don't know whether plagiarism is better or worse than libel, and I don't care to get into that. What Laura did was straightforwardly and blatantly wrong in every sense. (Actually turning the paper in, that is. Which, I remind you, she had not yet done at the time of Nate's initial post. Merely buying the paper is "much more blurry.") Libel is also straightforwardly and blatantly wrong in every sense. If Nate had waited until after Laura had actually committed plagiarism to call her a plagiarist, I'd be on the fence or possibly even on his side. He didn't. He committed libel, period. It's crystal clear to me that he did. I don't see any blurriness about that at all.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:53 AM on March 31, 2005


"Equally wrong"??? Are you really arguing now...

Upon reflection, I shouldn't have included all this about whether buying a paper is less wrong than plagiarism itself. I still agree with what I wrote, but it's really irrelevant to a discussion of whether Nate committed libel. It's sufficient that buying a paper is different than plagiarism. If I write that a given person, who has been convicted of murder, is a thief, when in fact he has not stolen anything, I have libelled him. It is irrelevant that theft is "less wrong" than murder. Please disregard that part; sorry to get sidetracked.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:06 PM on March 31, 2005


We can argue that buying papers isn't technically "plagiarism", but that just means we either need to coin a new word for the equally wrong practice of "buying a paper" or expand the world "plagiarist" to include this practice.

Why do we need a new word? The commonly accepted definition for plagiarism is passing someone else's work off as your own.
posted by rcade at 12:25 PM on March 31, 2005


Laura K. Krishna: what question
Nate: number 1, did you turn in that paper?
Laura K. Krishna: are you asking me to throw my education, I will be
Laura K. Krishna: expelled, please put an and to this. i can help you in
Nate: I am asking you to answer the questions that will help me help you.
Laura K. Krishna: anyway
Laura K. Krishna: yes i did
Nate: did you change it at all?
Laura K. Krishna: no
Nate: so you turned in a paper that had sentences like "I made a doody" in it?
Laura K. Krishna: i guess so please help me out here i made a very big mistake that could affect the rest of my life.


http://www.aweekofkindness.com/blog/archives/2005/03/laura_k_krishna_1.html

posted by caddis at 1:44 PM on March 31, 2005


The commonly accepted definition for plagiarism is passing someone else's work off as your own.

My point exactly--something Laura did not do until she turned in the paper, and something she had not done at the time at which Nate called her a plagiarist.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:46 PM on March 31, 2005


I note that Laura is claimed to be on the Dean's List.

This indicates that she has done quite well in her courses.

And yet she solicited someone to act as her author, failed to catch the glaring errors and silliness in the product, and looks to be as dumb as dirt when IMing.

One can not help but wonder how she made it onto the Dean's List.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:45 PM on March 31, 2005


I feel sorry for her mom.
posted by graventy at 4:51 PM on March 31, 2005


OmieWise : " bugbear-"

Bugbread.

OmieWise : "I thought I was sincere enough in my posts that some benefit of the doubt might have been nice. Anyway, I always understood that plagiarism raised bigger moral hackles than speeding does, I still have the question why?"

Sorry, I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt. I'm just naturally anal, so I probably replied to every point, even though I was giving the benefit of the doubt. Your posts in this thread, whether I agree or disagree, are of a quality that you are now one of my favorite posters, so I'm sorry if I somehow offended you.

As for the "bigger moral hackles" issue, I thought I'd addressed it, but I may not have been clear.

Plagiarism is inherently immoral, in that it is dishonesty. Of course, there may be occassions where plagiarism is good (as with anything, there are always weird moral exceptions), but in almost all cases, the immorality of plagiarism is inherent.
Speeding, however, is not inherently immoral. It may result in death or injury, and is therefore dangerous, and should be avoided, but as the definition of "speeding" is inherently arbitrary, is not inherently immoral.

mdn : " bugbread, I think your midget/molotov analogies are all way off. I don't think he did anything that went particularly overboard. Again, he wasn't especially sympathetic or nice to someone, but I maintain that he didn't do anything explicitly wrong. Laura did."

That's fine. I'm not trying to convince you of anything, just trying to express my opinion on the subject. As such, the analogies are fine, in that they're trying to express/clarify my opinions on the subject. I suspect your disagreement is with my opinions themselves.
posted by Bugbread at 6:07 PM on March 31, 2005


Buying a paper with the intent to commit plagiarism is wrong because plagiarism is wrong. Buying a paper, in and of itself, is not wrong.

offering to pay a stranger to write a paper for you on a topic for which you have an assignment due, seems to me "in and of itself wrong."

As for his calling her a "plagiarist" instead of "someone intent on committing plagiary who solicited a fraudulent document with an ease suggesting her familiarity with the practice and complete lack of any ambivalence about the act", that seems to me part of his humorous website. I think libel has to actually misrepresent someone. He may have called her a plagiarist in the title, but the following entry made it perfectly clear precisely what took place, and qualified the perhaps hyperbolic statement that served as the headline.
posted by mdn at 7:25 PM on March 31, 2005


bugbread-
No real offense, just trying to understand the tone. I know it's bugbread, but despite not ever really playing D&D, and that 20 years ago, my mind transposes your name every time I read it. Sorry.
posted by OmieWise at 7:15 AM on April 1, 2005


Bugbear isn't some made-up D&D name. It's a common word. It's an easy mistake to read bugbread's name as bugbear.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:18 AM on April 1, 2005


And I read Ethereal Bligh as "Ethereal Plane."

Roll two 20-sided dice.
posted by rcade at 7:25 AM on April 1, 2005


This discussion was (cordially but warmly) continued and contested IRL at the Sydney meetup last evening. I was 1 v 4. It was very noisy at the pub. My throat hurts. I convinced noone but there were concessions. They all think Nate was the man. *sigh*
It is very hard discussing this topic when one of the major players (Laura) is such a lobotomized ditzy philistine. That's a hard wall to climb over to get at Nate's dastardly behaviour.
Next time could the plagiarist please be above the intellectual level of an amoeba.
posted by peacay at 10:27 AM on April 1, 2005


Interesting. I wish I could understand why Laura's bad behavior exempts Nate from criticism for his bad behavior (or defines whether his behavior was bad or not). I'm quite surprised that many, perhaps most, people (even here!) so explicitly and proudly think this way. That people mostly think this way has explanatory power, though.

In my opinion, this argument parallels the argument surrounding Eugene Volokh's defense of torture that was so controversial and denounced recently. His argument was pretty simple: some people can do things so horrible that even punishments that would otherwise be horrifying become acceptable. Well, the severity of hurt caused to others is much lower in this case, but the same principle is at work. Yet Volokh is denounced, Nate is applauded. I think Volokh's moral reasoning was wrong, wrong, wrong; but I defended him insofar as I believe that he was just articulating a position that many, perhaps most, people subconsciously accept. Most of us, even me, do have some instinctual sense that justice is retributive. But the morality of vengeance is perhaps the greatest and primary moral conundrum that we, as individual rational humans, must confront. Early. If we don't work to a point of denying this instinct, or at the very least mistrusting it, then our moral development, in my opinion, has not gone beyond the infantile.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:04 PM on April 1, 2005


Ethereal Bligh, to respond to your comment whole comment, I have no idea why you find it surprising that people will treat others differently based on their actions. You are failing to see the point that Nathan's actions were not bad. To be precise, they were not bad in dealing with someone like Laura.

Am I to assume from your comments that you treat all people the same, regardless of what they say or do to you or others? If not, or there some things you do or say to person that would not be appropriate or right to say to another? Can you see how it would not be right to just put me in jail for some amount of time for no reason, but perhaps if I killed someone while driving recklessly it would be more appropriate? If a stranger accidently spills water on you, it is wrong to yell "Fuck you!" Is it also wrong to say "Fuck you!" to a stranger who comes and throws water in our face? You're wet in both cases, but the reason it is more appropriate to swear at someone maliciously throwing water on you is based on the second persons actions. Those same actions don't excuse swearing, they are an appropriate response.

Even if you disagree with the particular examples, I am confident that you believe that in action that is inappropriate in one situation may be appropriate in another, even one with similar harm. This being the case, you are applying the same reasoning as everyone else, you just think the line is different. Which is fine, (to a point,) but really, not exactly worth the high moral standing you've given yourself.
posted by Snyder at 6:58 PM on April 1, 2005


Whether or not she was a libelist (?) at the moment Nate labelled her thus, she had already engaged in a conspiracy to to commit that act.

And Mitheral accusation that Nate committed conspiracy is absolutely wrong, because he never conspired. Conspiring requires more than one participant, so Nate wondering, even aloud, about what he alone could do would never amount to conspiracy. The girl hiring Nate to provide material for what is known to be a plagiaristic use absolutely IS an example of conspiracy.

In fact, once the plagiaristic intent was known by Nate, he may have been implicated in her conspiring if he allowed his work to aid her and did not act to expose her intent.
posted by NortonDC at 12:25 PM on April 2, 2005


"...even one with similar harm."

No. You can defend yourself (which means trying to prevent someone from hurting you). It's not your job to deal out punishment. Saying "fuck you" to someone for no reason or if they provoked you is an equal harm to them (assuming that's harmful). You are responsible for the harm you cause others. They are never responsible for the harm you cause them. They are responsible for the harm they cause you, or others.

Are you five years old?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:37 PM on April 2, 2005


It's not your job to deal out punishment. Saying "fuck you" to someone for no reason or if they provoked you is an equal harm to them (assuming that's harmful).

It's not my job? Who has this job then, the fucking Petty Crap Police? Are you totally incapable of doing anything for yourself? Maybe you just want an authority figure to come and magically resolve the conflict without any one's feelings getting hurt? People may not be responsible for another's actions, but an adult has a responsibility to take into account a reasonable persons reaction to their actions, and can't whine their way out of it when they get burned.

Are you five years old?
Gosh, you harmed me, by making an ad hominem attack on me. Regardless of any provocation I made, you're badder than me! But instead of maybe saying, "Hey, for someone so proud of their robot-like moral posturing, you like to fling the (admiralty minor) personal attacks," and then shutting up, I'll say it anyway, but still remain confident that I was only defending my self, not "punishing" you. (I'll ignore the fact that you seem to believe that a verbal rebuke to a minor physical assault is punishment.)

I also noticed you didn't mention my other example concerning reckless driving. Coupled with your adamant refusal to believe that human action should ever be used in a way that might be construed as negative reinforcement, it seems that unless you are only defending yourself directly, any kind of action that is taken to discourage another action, or a response to a provocation is a punishment, no matter how minor, and is as bad as doing the same to an innocent. I note that this contradicts your statement that plagiarism is a horrible wrong which must be punished by expulsion. In fact, there are a great many contradictions in your posts in this thread, some within the very same posts.
So excuse me if your admonishments about my "immaturity" go ignored.

On preview: After looking over some of your posts, it seems you do believe in punishment, sometimes, but apparently, only from (some) authority. I think that's dangerous, not only politically, but personally. It abrogates not only our right and ability to make moral/ethical decisions and actions for ourselves, saying that the state or some other large institution has the moral authority and sense mere human individuals lack, disallows conflict resolution between individuals, and with your dislike of "snitching" places at the mercy and policing abilities of the state or institution. I can only see this as a suppression of part of what makes us human, in exchange for less self-reliance and more fealty to institutions.
posted by Snyder at 2:23 PM on April 2, 2005


"I note that this contradicts your statement that plagiarism is a horrible wrong which must be punished by expulsion."

It should be punished by expulsion. Nevertheless, punishing someone is doing them wrong. We justify it as a necessary evil. That doesn't make it any less doing them wrong. We live with this. No one else is reponsible for your actions. You are responsible for your actions. Defense is not punishment.

I think you're being a moral idiot. Perhaps I should track you down and apply some negative reinforcement so that you'll discover some enlightenment. I wouldn't be doing anything wrong, you deserve it. Your attitude is dangerous and self-serving. My action is only in response to yours; your actions (in speech) has negative social consequences; I cannot trust an "authority" to properly adjudicate whether you should be punished or not, or how severly; so clearly it is my perogative, my natural moral right, to hit you a couple of times in the kidneys with a baseball bat in order to negatively reinforce your poor and self-serving moral reasoning.

I'm not an authoritarian by any stretch of the imagination. But punitive actions are inherently morally questionable and in the absence of safeguards (such as other people), punitive actions are often self-serving indulgences in sadism and power under the guise of self-righteousness.

You have a moral right to defend yourself. You have a moral right to attempt to prevent moral wrongs, even those against other people. You don't have a moral right to being punitive.

Finally, " It abrogates not only our right and ability to make moral/ethical decisions and actions for ourselves..."

Your assertion that denying someone's ability to punish means denying their ability to make moral/ethical decisions and actions is completely fallacious. Punitive action is not the essence of moral action. The only people wedded to the idea of the equivalance of punitive action with moral action are those who hide their immoral desire to wield destructive power under a cloak of self-righteousness.

My ridiculing of you here is unnecessary and wrong. It does you an injustice, a harm. I can live with that. I don't try to claim, however, that "you deserve it" and that the blame for any harm is yours and not mine. I take responsibility for my actions. Even if my ridicule were judged "just" by most people, it is still ridicule and it still does you harm and I am still responsible for it. Moral responsibility is not zero-sum.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:46 PM on April 2, 2005


"...but an adult has a responsibility to take into account a reasonable persons reaction to their actions, and can't whine their way out of it when they get burned."

I completely agree. If someone provokes you (and they provoke you by doing you some harm), they are responsible for that harm. If they claim that your reaction (which is presumably doing them harm) was wrong, that doesn't mean that their action was right. Are you beginning to see how this works?

If you're not, then don't whine when you're pissing blood after my visit. It'll be my judgment (and I'm entitled to make that judgment, right?) that you deserved it, you should have expected it, and that this means that my response was morally acceptable.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:51 PM on April 2, 2005


EB, you have now gone completely off your nut.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:12 PM on April 2, 2005


Nope. I use extreme rhetoric to demonstrate an elementary point since, obviously, mild rhetoric does not suffice.

Again, if you defend retributive justice, then you are defending (in principle) the actions of the Abu Ghraib torturers. As Volokh did. It is suspiciously convenient to defend retributive actions that oneself commits or that one agrees with; and yet condemn, especially if in principle, retributive actions that one does not agree with.

The retributive actions with which we disagree we do so with a large amount of suspicion. Sometimes we do agree with the principle of retritbution but question its proportionality. Often when we do, we also are suspicous of whether or not the punisher is even attempting proportional retribution in the name of justice. There is a stereotype of torturers as sadists, and there's good reason for that stereotype. In other cases, we strongly question even the possibility of commensurability or the right to punish as part of retributive justice. Who has that right? Who can be trusted to correctly judge commensurability?

The one thing we do know, indisputable from history and everyday human experience, is that people have an instinct for vidictiveness and that they judge themselves much more leniently than they judge others. Given that this is the case, then we could expect, if we allow each individual harmed to determine the correct amount and be the instrument of retributive justice, that typically the punished will be harmed more than the initial-victim cum punisher has been harmed. That's a utilitarian argument against supporting the principle of a right to individual retributive justice.

Utilitarianism is easily the minority position among contemporary (and historic) moral philsophers, and it very much is a tiny minority position among all people. (Because it is easy to construct a plausible utilitarian argument for a certain kind of action—the runaway train scenerio is typical—that almost all people will reject as immoral.) Majority opinion believes that some morality is inherent in an action indepent of its consequences. Thus, majority opinion and majority moral philosophical opinion both oppose the principle that a "larger context" beyond an act itself wholly determines the morality of an action. If an action is wrong in isolation, it is still wrong, as itself, even in the larger context. The heart of any moral philosophy and most religious traditions is to decide a framework for working out, in practice, how to resolve the conflict and moral ambiguity which arises from this.

Many people are strongly put-off by a very contemplative approach to moral reasoning and, instead, assert the correctness of an instinctive morality with a veneer of reasonability. That is the moral reasoning of children and one only need spend some time with children to be well accustomed to this mode of thought and to see its inherent self-serving nature. It seems a very large number of people make it to adulthood without ever moving beyond this stage. That explains a lot about the state of the world.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:48 PM on April 2, 2005


Ok. I had this bigass post halfway written, and then I realized it meandered all over the place and was repetitive. So let me cut to the chase.

I don't by for a minute that if I defend retributive justice that I'm defending Abu Garib or anything of that sort. What I'm defending is the idea that people's desires towards that end are not immoral, it is how they are exercised, and that not every wrongdoing must be met with the full force of law (as it were) and impartiality. I think that dealing with this case on a personal level was fine, and one does not necessarily need to bring in the authorities (her school, in this case,) or do it to the exclusion of a more personal reasonable punishment.

Reasonable is a key thing here. Just because I believe a human desire is not wrong, does not mean I think it should be acted upon without due consideration. I thought that was clear. It should be clear now. So please, lay off with armchair psychoanalysis and violent rhetoric. Especially because you can't even be consistent with your Kant like view of morality.

You repeatedly stress that a wrong action is always wrong, except in defense. Since you won't use context to as a modifier on the rightness of an action, I don't see how you can support this statement. It either is always harmful, or it isn't. It can't always be harmful, except when it's not, but you are arguing that, and so the attitude expressed in your last paragraph is particularly grating. Please give me the courtesy that since I'm arguing with you on this matter I might actually have thought about my position a little. I assume you have too, so at the very least, I'm open to an explanation of this contradiction. Just because you disagree with me doesn't make me not self-reflective. (I could still be an idiot or pompous though, I guess.) Kinda like what you said here.
posted by Snyder at 6:48 PM on April 2, 2005


Ethereal Bligh -- Again, if you defend retributive justice, then you are defending (in principle) the actions of the Abu Ghraib torturers.

That's a falsehood. One of the core problems with Abu Ghraib is that many of the people there were completely innocent.

Find another argument.
posted by NortonDC at 7:10 PM on April 2, 2005


"You repeatedly stress that a wrong action is always wrong, except in defense."

No I haven't. To the contrary, I have distinguished defense from harm and from punitive action. Even so, can a defensive action be harmful to another and yet be justifiable? Yes, and I have been arguing this. But punitive action is not in any sense defense. We can agree that punitive action is necessary, either by an individual or communally, but we cannot in any case deny that it's a harm and that we, not the punished, is responsible for that harm.

"That's a falsehood. One of the core problems with Abu Ghraib is that many of the people there were completely innocent."

Okay. How about this, "if you defend retributive justice, then you are defending (in principle) the actions of the Abu Ghraib torturers, assuming the prisoners were guilty of the crimes of which they were accused."

I don't know about you, but I condemned the Abu Grhaib tortures regardless of the guilt or innocence of the prisoners. I thought most people who took that position did, but it seems here too I've overestimated them. And Eugene Volokh's argument specifically condoned torture as the proper moral response to a sufficiently heinous act. Torture, in Volokh's view, is acceptable if its proportional. Torture is just another word for excessive retribution or sadism. The excuse of torture in this context is that it is retribution which is not excessive. This is Snyder's argument: an individual has the moral right to enact retribution if the retribution is comensurate with the offense; they have the moral right to determine what is or is not commensurate; and in exacting retribution they are balancing the scales of justice, not committing an independent wrong.

Lots of people think this way. They are people like Snyder. They are also people who support torture of terrorists, the death penalty, and the barbaric conditions of America's prisons. They can support all these things because they have the convenience of a moral calculus that makes any action morally relativistic and which is evaluated against the determined wickedness of anyone adversely affected. There is nothing wrong you could do to a sufficiently evil person. That is the argument. Not only is it deeply suspicious and contested from the very beginning of moral philosophy; but in practice that is a license to commit any action one likes just so long as one thinks "the other person deserved it". Snyder is asking me to trust his judgment on whether someone he punishes "deserved it". Yet he is questioning my judgment if I decided to punish him as I described. How convenient for him.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:42 PM on April 2, 2005


EB, it's a ridiculous comparison because Nate did not punish anyone. All he did was attempt to ensure that the perpetrator was caught. He did not harm her in any way, except in revealing what she was doing (or attempting to do). That cannot be considered a crime when he never made any sort of promise to her to keep the incident to himself.
posted by mdn at 9:33 PM on April 2, 2005


mdn : "He did not harm her in any way, except in revealing what she was doing (or attempting to do). That cannot be considered a crime when he never made any sort of promise to her to keep the incident to himself."

I think the promise of confidence is implicit in any illegal / against-the-rules act. If I ask my friend to help me shoplift something, and he helps me and then turns me in, you wouldn't say it wasn't a betrayal of trust, because he never made any sort of promise to keep the incident to himself. It's clearly implicit.

Now, if your argument is that his harm to her was still not unethical/a crime/whatever phrase we're using, that's fine, and go ahead and make it, but the "he didn't make a promise to keep it secret" clause is pretty weak. By that measure, there's nothing wrong with sleeping around with someone's best friend while dating someone, as long as you never explicitly promised fidelity, or with trying to get your best friend fired, as long as you never explicitly promised not to.
posted by Bugbread at 9:45 PM on April 2, 2005


"EB, it's a ridiculous comparison because Nate did not punish anyone."

Not only what bugbread said, but Nate did punish Laura. He did not merely reveal what she was doing. And I don't mean just in publicizing it.

He also was complicit in what she did. He could have attempted to reveal her intent to plagiarize, which surely would not have had as severe a consequence, yet he choose instead to participate in her plagiarism and then reveal it. For what reason could he have had done this other than with the intent to punish? (Or ensure that punishment is received, which is the same thing.) Anyway, his own words reveal intent to punish, and people here are defending what he did as punishment.

If he wanted to take a hard line against plagiarism without exceeding his prerogatives and indulging his sadism, he could have attempted to reveal her attempt at plagiarism (without telling her) to someone who could prevent it from occuring. Failing that, he could have strung her along till the last second, and then refused to deliver a paper. Then, no plagiarism would likely occur. In either case he would have violated her trust, which is wronging her, but as discussed extensively above, we usually decide that there are times when it is the acceptable lesser evil. That does not make it right, it only makes it a necessary wrong.

Perhaps the best thing he could have done, that is still aggressive at preventing the plagiarism, would have been to not betray her trust, not participate in the commission of plagiarism (which he deplores), very sternly warn her that what she is attempting to do is wrong, and tell her that if he has the means to identify her, he will report her to her school authorities in order to prevent the plagiarism. In none of that, note, would his actions have been punitive or self-serving.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:31 PM on April 2, 2005


mdn...He did not harm her in any way

I'm starting to think that there are irrevocably divergent views as to what constitutes harmful behaviour. Nate took the 'law' into his own hands for his own vindictive, sadistic, selfcentred, selfrighteous and gratuitous ends. But his sideline justification was that he would be getting a cheat in trouble with her institution so that makes all the rest of his behaviour totally acceptable.
In a progressive society institutions exist (in this case her university) to mete out punishments when warranted. Nate decided that wasn't enough. I don't accept that vilification on his own terms ought to be viewed as less than reprehensible simply because the girl's actions and aims were immorally inclined.
Maybe you tease her on to find out her name and institution and then you advise that institution accordingly and then you move on. Beyond that takes us into the world of primitive retributive instincts, the very same arbitrary baseness that the rule of law was established to prevent.

On preview...EB says it all more eloquently.
posted by peacay at 10:39 PM on April 2, 2005


No, you manage quite a bit of eloquence yourself.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:53 PM on April 2, 2005


Ok, EB, this is getting ridiculous. There's almost no point in reiterating my points again, because you'd prefer to put words in my mouth and thoughts in my head that make me a convenient villain for your self-righteous posts.

Bligh, sitting on your golden throne of wisdom and philosophy, please, show this ignorant, barbaric supporter of torture where you made a rigorous distinction between punitive action and defense, beyond simply saying it was so. Show me how the same action can be taken both punitively and in defense, but somehow not cause harm when used in defense. Show me how your distinction is somehow more moral and worthy then any distinction I would make. Tell me why that action among individuals, at a certain level of malfeasance, is a horrible evil on par with the torture of innocents (or not-so-innocents?) Oh yes...please explain how institutions, or the people, as a polity, are somehow able to come to more moral (or at least, less evil,) punishments and justice systems for all levels of malfeasance then individuals?

Or not. If you're going to simply say, in many more words, that it is self-evident, then turn around and accuse me of having a primitive, unreflected and dangerous moral code, don't waste your time.

I believe in law. I also believe, that for many things, individuals can deal with a wrong-doer or problem better and more efficiently then the law or similar institution, or at least in conjunction with it, and that some actions vary in their appropriateness depending on the circumstance. I mean, that is part of most legal systems. If that makes me, in your mind, a defender of torture or someone who will excuse any action done in the name of justice or revenge, then fine. I won't lose much sleep from having a moral absolutist think I'm a bad man.
posted by Snyder at 12:24 AM on April 3, 2005


If someone attempts to punch me in the face, and I block the punch, that's defense. If the person punches me and then I punch them in the face, that is retribution. It is not defense.

Defense is the attempt to prevent harm to oneself. Punitive action is harm caused to another as a response to their causing harm to oneself. Defense is an action before the infliction of harm, punitive action or retribution is an action after the infliction of harm. That is very clear and rigorous.

If someone attempts to hurt me and my only option for preventing the hurt includes hurting them, then that is defense that causes harm, not retribution.

I never said that an action which causes harm necessarily does not cause harm if in defense. I believe you made that assertion, possibly not, by objecting to the accusation of "harm" in conjunction with retribution. Anyway, I didn't.

"Tell me why that action among individuals, at a certain level of malfeasance, is a horrible evil on par with the torture of innocents..."

Firstly, I did not compare it to the torture of innocents, I compared it to the torture of the guilty. It's not clear whether or not you support the torture of the guilty, but your argument seems to require that you would. (As long as it's proportionate, which by definition you'd probably say could not be torture.) Secondly, I did not say it was on par with torture, I said that the principle was the same.

"Oh yes...please explain how institutions, or the people, as a polity, are somehow able to come to more moral (or at least, less evil,) punishments and justice systems for all levels of malfeasance then individuals?"

Because the judgment of the person who has been harmed is much less trustworthy than the judgment of a third party. A community, or rules and institutions, are even more impartial, generally. This is why even small communities have procedures for the resolution of conflict between individuals, and this is why the "rule of law" developed and is widely respected as an essential principle.

What does it mean to say that a judgment is more or less trustworthy? Well, you've already admitted the applicability of the concept of "reasonableness". Which is, really, just saying "proportionate". It's quite obvious, both from universal personal human experience, and from observation, that the party harmed tends strongly to err on the side of excessive punishment. How is "excessive" defined? By "reasonableness". How is "reasonableness" determined? Reason and consensus.

All this is concerning retributive action. In many respects, individuals can and should deal with a wrongdoer independent of authority. "Deal with" includes defense. It only includes retribution in the most trivial, mundane matters where very little is at stake. Most legal systems quite strongly discourage individuals from taking retributive actions.

"I won't lose much sleep from having a moral absolutist think I'm a bad man."

Would you lose sleep from having a moral relativist thinking you're a bad man? Or is the charge of absolutism a red herring?

I don't know if you're a bad man or not. I do know that your moral reasoning is faulty and immature. If you want to defend your right to enact self-determined retributive justice, then you'll have to make much better arguments than you've made.

Punishment and justice are not synomynous, nor does the latter require the former. Small children tend to think that what is "fair" is that a hurt be answered by a hurt, in kind. If another child takes a toy from them, then fairness requires that that child has a toy taken, in turn. Not merely the return of their toy. Punishment must be meted out, else there is no justice.

You clearly believe the same. Too bad for you and those around you.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:11 AM on April 3, 2005


If someone attempts to punch me in the face, and I block the punch, that's defense. If the person punches me and then I punch them in the face, that is retribution. It is not defense. Defense is the attempt to prevent harm to oneself.

If you punched them in the face to stop them from hitting you again, it's defense.

The common legal definition of self-defense includes the use of the force immediately necessary to protect yourself against the use of unlawful force by another person.
posted by rcade at 6:08 AM on April 3, 2005


EB:

I think you should point out where you think Laura's responsibility for this situation ends. It would be helpful to know. Does she have any responsibility for her subsequent interactions/decisions with Nate after her initial solicitation?

(Did you read my last post?)

She not only was attempting to cheat on her agreements with her academic institution, she was commited to implicitly lying to the rest of the world about meeting her institutions requirements for a degree.

As a member of a social network Nate has an obligation to report Laura's dishonesty to the other members so that they can judge her actions and protect themselves from her via exclusion if they so choose. This is all he has done that we know of. Making something searchable via Google doesn't guarentee it will be seen by a large number of people.

If people choose to exclude her because of her actions that is their right and the consequences of her deciding to commit the act. Nate does not know how many people will choose to exclude her. The punishment scales to her crime. If someone approached you with the same proposition she approached Nate, would you tell your friends?

People have trouble with Nate posting this story to the web but she approached him through the web. I think we can assume she knew about Google and about how the web works as a social network right? EB how do you propose members of a social network deal with dishonesty?

The real issue here is the web has become an integral component of everyday life and the social implications of this are still registering. If she didn't want this out on the web she should have taken steps to protect her identity or decide to not commit the act.
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 7:30 AM on April 3, 2005


P.S. for his actions to be punitive or retribution he would have to be the one administering the punishment/punitive action.
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 9:27 AM on April 3, 2005


Wong Fei-hung .....As a member of a social network Nate has an obligation to report Laura's dishonesty to the other members

I'm not sure where you get the idea that being linked to the internet bestows upon a surfer any sort of membership let alone has any obligatory reporting requirements whatsoever but really, the kerfuffle that has blasted around the web is kind of beside the point.

At the risk of becoming repetetive (and I'm pretty sure the comments here have traversed most, if not all of the salient features of the case), the objections some of us have raised have been to do with the unnaturally vindictive way that Nate went about exacting punishment.

Most reasonable people would not have blogged it in so sensationalized a form, most people would not have tweaked the circumstances such that they would financially profit and I'm pretty sure most people faced with the same initial circumstances on IM would not have concocted a sadistic vision that had selfglorification at its centre as opposed to informing the appropriate authorities of a putative rule transgression.

Many people are happy about the way things unfolded perhaps, but enjoying the vilification of someone dumb enough to solicit material from a stranger in IM for the intention of plaigaizing is one thing (and the psychology behind that is very intriguing in itself but pretty well outside the scope of this discussion), it is quite another to actively plan and implement a scenario that has at its core an arbitrary meting out of vengeance IN ADDITION TO UNIVERSITY PUNISHMENT, that we had been led to believe by Nate's first installment, would follow from his informing the Dean.

But hey, I've just got more faith in humanity in general than to expect that there are any great numbers of vigilantes wandering around looking for opportunities to entertain their primitivity. I'm probably just too naive.
posted by peacay at 9:50 AM on April 3, 2005


By that measure, there's nothing wrong with sleeping around with someone's best friend while dating someone, as long as you never explicitly promised fidelity,

The proper analogy would be, your best friend's girlfriend propositions you, you act as if you're interested & agree to meet up with her at a hotel; then you call your best friend and tell him which hotel she'll be heading to. Yeah, I agree it's not very nice. But I disagree that it's morally lower than the gf's initial proposition.
posted by mdn at 10:39 AM on April 3, 2005


If I ask my friend to help me shoplift something,

I think that's a morally ambiguous state, actually, but it's definitely mean of a friend to get you into trouble - clearly he should try to convince you not to do the act, or refuse to assist you if he feels strongly about its being wrong.

However, if you go up to a complete stranger in the supermarket and ask them to help you shoplift something, I think you have much less right to expect or assume that they won't turn against you.

Your friend has more obligation to try to keep you from hurting yourself. A complete stranger really has no such obligation. If they're a particularly nice person, they may try that approach, but it's unlikely to be effective, for the very reason that you are a complete stranger. (If Nate had started to give laura a spiel about plagiarism and the joys of learning or whatever, she'd have just left and sought out someone more willing.) And as I've said, I can certainly appreciate that that would have been a more pure response to the situation; it's almost certainly how I'd have responded because I just don't have enough of a 'sneaky' streak, etc. BUT, I absolutely cannot agree with you that this behavior was worse than Laura's. She's the one who really did something utterly wrong. What he did was kinda sneaky and kinda mean. But what she did was wholly unacceptable.
posted by mdn at 11:00 AM on April 3, 2005


So basically, EB wants to wrap the world in fluffy cotton, and keep people from hurting themselves.

Others of us are quite happy to let people who insist on learning the hard way, learn the hard way.

IMO, telling ol' Laura that she's a naughty girl for wanting to cheat, and please won't she rethink it because, gosh, it's all so important to us!, is perhaps the weakest, most useless response possible.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:38 PM on April 3, 2005


Hey Peacay,

I didn't mean 'social network' as just the internet. Being part of society is being part of a great big social network. I'm saying that because she intiated the conversation through the internet it shouldn't be that big of a surprise that she got exposed through it.

And I am agreement with FFF in that the idea of getting caught didn't cause her to fear enough for her reputation to take precautions to protect it that taking her aside and calling her a cheater wasn't going to do squat as long as she was anonymous.

Wong Fei-hung
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 3:13 PM on April 3, 2005


I was really cranky yesterday. Much apologies to everyone to whom I was rude.

I'd like to answer some of the questions raised above by Wong and others. I'll need some time to read your comments and consider them. It may suffice, however, for me to say that the general principle I am asserting here is that the moral status of punitive action is ambiguous and so also then is the concept of retributive justice difficult and complex; and that in any case, the instinct for retribution is dangerous and compelling and easily and often overwhelms our better judgment.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:18 PM on April 3, 2005


On preview: Ethereal Bligh, if I'm included in your apology up there (not meaning to be snarky at all) then consider it accepted, and I apologize for any rudeness I have returned or started. My rudeness in this post I keep in so as not to white-wash myself, and is not meant to be insulting at this point.

Well, you've already admitted the applicability of the concept of "reasonableness". Which is, really, just saying "proportionate".

I never talked about proportionate. All my examples were not proportionate. I'm fairly certain I don't believe in proportionate punishment. But continue putting words in my mouth.

I never said that an action which causes harm necessarily does not cause harm if in defense. I believe you made that assertion, possibly not, by objecting to the accusation of "harm" in conjunction with retribution. Anyway, I didn't.

You're right. You didn't explicitly say that. What you did say was: You can defend yourself (which means trying to prevent someone from hurting you). It's not your job to deal out punishment. Saying "fuck you" to someone for no reason or if they provoked you is an equal harm to them (assuming that's harmful). You also said: Nevertheless, punishing someone is doing them wrong. We justify it as a necessary evil. That doesn't make it any less doing them wrong. We live with this. No one else is responsible for your actions. You are responsible for your actions. Defense is not punishment.

If defense is not punishment, because one of the elements of punishment is harm, (or "...doing them wrong,") and you are put in a position where your defensive action could also be used as a punishment, because it is harmful, then it is not really harmful, or it is not really defense. This is how I read those two statements. You later said: If someone attempts to hurt me and my only option for preventing the hurt includes hurting them, then that is defense that causes harm, not retribution.
This contradicts what you said earlier.

Would you lose sleep from having a moral relativist thinking you're a bad man? Or is the charge of absolutism a red herring?

No, it is not a red herring. I do believe you're a moral absolutist, as evidenced by some of your comments in the pope obit thread. How about this instead: I won't lose any sleep if you think I'm a bad man.

Punishment and justice are not synonymous, nor does the latter require the former. Small children tend to think that what is "fair" is that a hurt be answered by a hurt, in kind. If another child takes a toy from them, then fairness requires that that child has a toy taken, in turn. Not merely the return of their toy. Punishment must be meted out, else there is no justice.

You clearly believe the same. Too bad for you and those around you.


You go on thinking whatever you want to about what I believe, despite evidence and protestations to the contrary.
As for it being too bad for me and mine, well, you sure as shit don't know me, so why don't you just go fuck yourself?

mdn:Your friend has more obligation to try to keep you from hurting yourself. A complete stranger really has no such obligation. If they're a particularly nice person, they may try that approach, but it's unlikely to be effective, for the very reason that you are a complete stranger.

I agree. Made a similar commenthere.

five fresh fish: So basically, EB wants to wrap the world in fluffy cotton, and keep people from hurting themselves.

Others of us are quite happy to let people who insist on learning the hard way, learn the hard way.

IMO, telling ol' Laura that she's a naughty girl for wanting to cheat, and please won't she rethink it because, gosh, it's all so important to us!, is perhaps the weakest, most useless response possible.


Well, I think he first part is at least partially true, but I defiantly see what you're saying, but I'm fully behind you on those other two.
posted by Snyder at 4:19 PM on April 3, 2005


argh. defiantly=definitely
posted by Snyder at 4:23 PM on April 3, 2005


I don't think chastising Laura would accomplish a thing. In fact, I think Laura is very likely an inveterate and unabashed cheater.

So if the goal is to wake Laura up and put her in a situation where her cheating has direct consequences to her own self, what Nate did vis a vis writing the paper and then reporting the cheater, is probably the only effective solution.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:33 PM on April 3, 2005


Well, yes, it included you, Snyder. So I'll pretend you wrote the preceding comment before I apologized :)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:34 PM on April 3, 2005


Wong Fei-hung .....As a member of a social network Nate has an obligation to report Laura's dishonesty to the other members .... and you are now defining social network as society.

Let's just say I disagree. Unless by reporting the dishonesty to other members of that society, you mean reporting it to her University. If that's the case then I wholeheartedly agree.
But if you mean his obligation was to blog it or shout it from the rooftops, tell and email all his friends, the local radio and newspaper and spray paint vilifying insults on his car for parading up and down Main street slowly 20 times a day to ensure the maximum number of people were alterted to Laura's infractions, then we remain in disagreement.
Of course there's no written rule (save for libel - and I'm sidestepping that because I think it is pretty contentious in this case and anyway, IANAL) as to where the line of acceptable behaviour (response) lies.
However, I am not prepared to endorse the actions of Nate based on either a retrospective analysis of Laura's behaviour later on (meaning: I've been basing my arguments mostly on the contents of the first posting to Nate's website - simply because that's how this thread commenced - not to mention the obvious backpedalling by Nate when he realized how widespread the case had been reported) or on a misguided belief that Nate has the right to act as vigilante in this scenario. It was fucking University plagiarism for kryssakes, not murder or pedophilia or terrorism. Sheesh.
posted by peacay at 12:00 AM on April 4, 2005


not murder or pedophilia or terrorism.......not that I'd personally endorse a public character assassination in those cases either (beyond informing the police and letting the law take its course), but I'd be much more understanding of the degree of response in those cases if someone went overboard informing other members of society.
posted by peacay at 12:21 AM on April 4, 2005


Thank you, Ethereal Bligh. I hope you accepted my apology too. It was written as yours was being posted, and so I felt to change it would seem like I had changed my tone because of some inner motivation, when in reality, it was because of your apology and olive branch. (Also, I was lazy.) I would like to talk more about our concepts of justice and whatnot, perhaps in a more appropriate forum. I'm begining to think that in some ways, we may have some similar principles, at least, more similar then either of us has realized so far. I could be wrong, tho.
posted by Snyder at 12:27 AM on April 4, 2005


If I'm last here, then we won.
posted by peacay at 12:47 AM on April 8, 2005


Nevar!!!11!
posted by Snyder at 3:33 AM on April 13, 2005


I invoke the plep.
posted by peacay at 10:27 AM on April 13, 2005


I uninvoke the plep.
posted by trharlan at 11:00 AM on April 13, 2005


Mornington Crescent.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:01 AM on April 13, 2005




posted by peacay at 10:33 AM on April 17, 2005


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