The Raving Theist

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March 26, 2006 | 11 Comments

Incontrovertible proof of serial plagiarism forced Ben Domenech to resign on Friday, only three days after starting work as the “Red America” blogger for the Washington Post.

Domenech, a co-founder of the popular, is a “Christian libertarian” who takes the book of Genesis literally. Ironically, however, when the editors of National Review Online began reviewing his contributions for evidence of copying, the most egregious example they found was his lifting of passages of a movie review by an atheist, Flick Filosopher Maryann Johanson. I imagine the folks a NRO would have caught on much sooner had he attempted the same thing with her review of The Passion of the Christ.

Domenech’s fate is reminiscent of that of Claude Allen, the pious ex-White House aide recently charged with shoplifting. However, I don’t think a faith angle really works in either case. Neither Domenech nor Allen committed their transgressions in furtherance of their religious beliefs. At most there’s an issue of hypocrisy, but not even that quite flies here. Blogger Domenech couldn’t have possibly believed, in this age of Google, that his plagiarism would have gone unnoticed long by his countless enemies on the left. And the well-paid Allen was stealing items worth as little as $2.50. So what each man did seems so be more the product of some out of control, compulsive psychological disturbance as anything else, unaccompanied by any significant religious or moral deliberation or struggle. (Maybe this what Anne Coulter meant by implying that Allen was simply a victim of original sin).

What would have happened had a prominent atheist engaged in Domenech-style plagiarism? I think people would more readily attribute the offense to the godlessness, asserting that belief in a Divine Policeman is indispensable to good behavior. After all, a new survey found that atheists are America’s least trusted minority, ranking below Muslims and homosexuals — and that American have created “religious/nonreligious distinction” to “exclude” certain members from society. (I can believe that Americans “distrust” atheists. But exclude them? That’s highly debatable). However, it’s unlikely that an atheist would ever do the precise equivalent of what Domenech did, as when has a Christian ever written anything worth stealing?

UPDATE: A Christian blogger has recklessly accused me of plagiarizing her work in this very post — apparently referring to the third and fourth sentences of the final paragraph. I deny the charges, noting that (1) the passages are not substantially similar, (2) if they are, it was a coincidence, (3) if it wasn’t, someone else must have inserted them, (4) if not, her work was clearly credited by means of a link from the period at the end of the second to last sentence, and (5) it doesn’t matter anyway because there is no God.


11 Responses to “Praygiarism”

  1. Tom
    March 26th, 2006 @ 2:44 pm

    RA: “I can believe that Americans “distrust” atheists. But exclude them? That’s highly debatable.”

    Is anybody surprised that a new survey finds that atheists are America’s least trusted minority, ranking below Muslims and homosexuals?

  2. Graham
    March 26th, 2006 @ 4:00 pm

    I, for one, welcome the persecution. As a GenX, white, heterosexual male of WASP decent, I’m getting tired of not being persecuted. But now, thanks to the sour attitude towards me and my fellow aitheists in this country, my Rightious Indignation will come bursting forth! Thank you, x-tians, for finally making me ‘a persecuted minority’!

  3. Kafkaesquí
    March 26th, 2006 @ 8:30 pm

    Wait a minute. Tom, you’re saying that if I became homosexual *and* started praying to Allah, I’d finally gain a little respect around here? And probably a boyfriend named Ahmed.

  4. Choobus
    March 26th, 2006 @ 11:07 pm

    what about gay muslims? Are they worse than atheists or what?

    I’d rather take a buggery from achmed than spend 10 minutes talking to Chris treborn

  5. Viole
    March 27th, 2006 @ 9:40 am

    Ah, but look! It seems RA is now engaged in cooperative masturbation with the religious freaks. Has he perhaps forgotten to mention that he’s now going to mass every week, and prays to YHVH every night before he goes to bed?

  6. hermesten
    March 27th, 2006 @ 10:04 am

    Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of RA’s comments is that he cites Ann Coulter, the againg mentally disburbed bad-hair-day tranny, as if anyone but drooling pimple-faced hand-dating Bush Jugend would be interested in what the old narcissistic skank had to say.

    I suspect a large part of the American population is entirely indifferent to atheists, and for them, the term “distrust” is quite an exaggeration. On the other hand, there are evangelicals and fundamentalists for whom the term “hate” would be a euphemism. Religion and politics require boogeymen to fear and hate. Hitler put the Jews off limits, and no one with a vestige of sanity takes the “threat” of communism seriously, so all that’s left are terrorists (Muslims), homosexuals, and atheists. Atheists are probably at the top of the list, because, after all, once we get rid of them and get everyone else believing in the “right” God, they’ll stop being Muslims and homosexuals.

  7. conleythorn
    March 27th, 2006 @ 11:11 am

    Since the U.S. citizenry is about 70% Christian, another 20% of other “believers,” and since the Great Overseer is presumably the sole source of the good and the moral, distrust of atheists by the spiritualists should not surprise anyone. By interesting contrast, a poll referred to this past Sunday by Bill Maher quoted only a third of Christian responders opposed to U.S. use of torture, while the percentage of objectors among atheists was over 40%. And by the way, I have no idea what percentage of atheists trust Christians, but I trust most of those I know to some extent, and a few almost totally. Hell, in my neighborhood, there aren’t any people who aren’t believers! They’re not bad people, by and large; they’re just suffering from a serious malady. -Thorngod.

  8. hermesten
    March 27th, 2006 @ 12:00 pm

    “…third of Christian responders opposed to U.S. use of torture, while the percentage of objectors among atheists was over 40%.”

    Assuming, for the sake of argument, the poll’s credibilty, there is one big difference. 2/3’s of Christians support torture because they can’t reject torture and still love Bush. This number is likely to change, and might even reverse completely, if, say, Hillary gets elected, and wants to torture. Then torture will be bad. Christians are the world’s greatest moral relativists. And though it’s rather saddening to see 60% of atheists cited as supporting torture, this number is unlikely to change after an election. The real bottom line is this: in spite of all the claims to moral superiority, religion does not yield more “moral” people –unless you give moral credit for merely being anti-sex. In fact, though belief in God itself may not yield fewer moral people, it is highly likely that the institutions of religion, through the cultivation of obdience and conformity, and the rejection of independent thinking, may well contribute to the creation of large groups of easily manipulated and credulous people with a very malleable sense of “morality.”

  9. hermesten
    March 27th, 2006 @ 12:25 pm

    Anyway, the poll explanation is obvious: it’s simply easier in our society to hate atheists than to hate Muslims or homosexuals, and like electrons, most people follow the path of least resistance.

  10. Jason Malloy
    March 27th, 2006 @ 1:58 pm

    This study just goes to show the unthinking prejudice of the American people. Clearly the Jews and the homos are far less trustworthy than atheists.

  11. Mia
    March 27th, 2006 @ 4:04 pm

    I don’t think trust or distrust has to do with the style of beliefs at all- not trusting/trusting someone because of a label is a really stupid reason to trust or not trust; we all know there are several people on all sides that really aren’t trustworthy and others who are.

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