The dispute over the Bissell plagiarisms has given me enough material for my blog for months-- should I choose to use it.
I could begin with the idea that a writer, Galley Cat, would actually censor herself-- putting lines through her own words. I still find that amazing. Public self-flagellation. I'd think she'd rather put such talent to use for the FBI or CIA! She's a walking Patriot Act.
Someone else who should likewise get a job in government is Daniel Radosh, who's so artful at bureaucratic hair-splitting, his rationale in effect saying,
"It's not really plagiarism, even though it looks like plagiarism, because we in the journalistic community have decided there is no longer such thing as plagiarism. We've defined it out of existence"-- which could easily turn into "The President tip-toed up to the line of lying, but did not actually cross over it."
I especially like his use of the word "uncomfortable." The word is a masterpiece of obfuscation which should be sent immediately to Washington.
Confirmation hearing at which a litany of problems are related. Photos of various are shown (prison torture, bombed civilians, sex with interns-- take your pick.) Response: "Er, ah, we're uncomfortable with that."
It's a perfect word because it doesn't commit the person who uses it to anything, either way. It's meaningless-- ideal for any situation.
"Dean Radish, we have evidence of your professors having sex with students."
"Uh, we're uncomfortable with that."
"Coach Radish, the alumni gave your quarterback a new car!"
"We're uncomfortable with that."
"Chief Executive Radish, the pension fund is empty, $50 million was spent renovating your condo, the FBI has charged your assistant with embezzlement and mail fraud, the stock price is plummeting; costs are up and sales down; you've run this company into the ground."
"We're definitely uncomfortable with that."
Then there's the lit-blogger who believes that, instead of creating an alternative to the current lit system, we should instead be "fucking shit up from the inside."
Okay, but what exactly does that mean? Stealing boxes of paper clips? Unauthorized use of the copy machine? Giving book contracts to your buddy's 14-year-old daughter, or to untalented Ivy League drinking-buddy friends?
Does it simply mean being a fuck-up inside the system, like Tom Bissell or Morgan Entrekin?
I can see it now-- disgraced priests explaining that they were just "fucking shit up from the inside."
Or George W. at the inevitable impeachment hearing:
"I was just fucking shit up from the inside."
Writers and editors have been fucking-up inside the system for the last forty years and it hasn't exactly benefitted literature.