"Plagiarism is a form of fraud." -Hamilton College.
I invite people to read the examples listed below, from the Feshbach book and from Harper's, and tell me if they just really happened to come, by coincidence, purely from a common source. Quite a lot of coincidences! (For anyone who really believes that, I have some beachfront property on Detroit's Zug Island I'd like to sell you.) Why obfuscate? Why the rationalizations and sophistry? Why are the examples so similar? Did they come from a common source? What was that source, then? (Maybe Feshbach plagiarized also!) Did they just happen to hear the same jokes? (Must've stood on the same Moscow streetcorner.) Yep, Bissell heard jokes-- which happen to be just the same ones given in the Feshbach book. Nothing unusual about this at all!
Can't we look at the examples, and their similarities (which would be considered plagiarism by almost every American university) and accept the simple truth that Bissell had the Feshbach book in front of him as he was writing his essay? Why is this so hard to acknowledge for some people?
(Look carefully at the first example also, and decide what we do about that.)
1.) We're talking about the original Harper's article, in which Bissell did not cite the Feshbach source. (I'll check to see if he did for the hardcover edition. I believe not. That he DID for the paperback version, after this matter was introduced a year ago, seems to indicate that Bissell knows he goofed.)
Harper's is at question here, from an apparent pattern of literary misdeeds, which I've been discussing on this blog. An a pattern of failing to correct or acknowledge them. To add to this, we now have the question of another example of plagiarism (alleged) from the David DeKok book, Unseen Danger: A Tragedy of People, Government, and the Centralia Mine Fire. Mr. DeKok tells me that one passage was lifted in its entirety, a dozen or so others lightly rewritten, for the Feb 2004 Harper's article by Jeff Tietz. The ULA will be looking into this matter. (Someone has to! I really don't think Maud will.)
2.) Yes, Tom Bissell wrote an essay about the Underground Literary Alliance for The Believer magazine-- and did a very sloppy job, as we pointed out on our site. Alarm bells went up then for us about the guy. Bissell did no interviews and hardly any research, other than a cursory look at our fansite, and e-mailing a list of superficial questions by e-mail to one of our members-- the answers which he scantly referred to. No follow-up questions; no clarifications asked for. No facts checked. As a result, he got very much wrong. Yet this is the guy every one is referring to as "a fine journalist" (Mark Sarvas). Tom Bissell is anything but, and we've well documented that fact.
Finally, do I think Maud Newton is an apologist for the status quo lit-world? Absolutely. To come to that conclusion, all one has to do is read her site.