“I was trying to find one specific chapter recap by Googling the one line that I could remember from it (“Who is Kate, E.L.? How did she hurt you?”) and I came across another blog called Rhyming with Oranges. She’s got some recaps up, too. They read like Laura Harner, if you know what I mean.
It looks like the blog is run by someone called Naomi Knight. I wasn’t sure if you were familiar with her or if you had given her permission to reblog or anything like that, but I felt it kind of unlikely since she does have some of her own thoughts (or yours broadly reworded). I apologize if this is a false alarm, I just wanted to let you know just in case.”
That was the email I received from a concerned reader named Nora yesterday. And I’ve gotten emails like that before. I go and check them out, but it usually only takes a quick scan to tell that it’s just a case of us recapping the same material, and coming to some similar conclusions.
Not the case here.
Naomi Knight lifted whole chunks of my blog to use for hers. She reworded some sections, so what read:
Christian thinks about how he doesn’t want anyone but Ana, and how maybe he might have given her the impression that he liked her with the whole inviting her out for coffee thing. Maybe going to her work with a flimsy excuse to be there might have done that too, genius. He’s going to try to think of a way to apologize to her.
on my blog became:
Christian thinks about how he doesn’t want anyone but Ana, and how maybe he might have given her the impression that he liked her with the whole inviting her out for coffee thing. Maybe going to her work with a flimsy excuse to be there might have done that too, genius. He decides he’ll send Ana an apology present and then he can move on.
And it wasn’t just one instance. This is just an example. If I went through and found all the places she’d plagiarized me and then added a few words to throw the dogs off the scent, we’d be here all day–she even used lines where I called Grey “Chedward”, for God’s sake–and she’s already admitted to the plagiarism, so there’s nothing to prove. She didn’t just do it to me, either, or just to my Grey recaps. Readers found a Love, Actually post she’d made by smooshing together parts of one of mine with parts of Lindy West’s piece from Jezebel. As readers poured over her blog, they discovered that Naomi Knight is a serial plagiarizer.
I recently wrote about Laura Harner’s plagiarism of Becky McGraw and Opal Carew. I know that the plagiarism of her work had a tremendous emotional impact on McGraw, because I spoke with her about it. I had no idea, though, how deeply it cuts to see someone else claiming your words for their own. As I read Naomi Knight’s blog, I laughed in disbelief. Mr. Jen asked me what was so funny. I said, “I’ve been plagiarized.” My hands shook. My whole body shook. I was sick to my stomach. Then I started sobbing.
I did my deep breaths. I took two Xanax. But I was in the middle of a full-blown panic attack. All from just seeing my words attributed to someone else. I knew plagiarism was a serious crime; I didn’t realize it could have an affect on a person’s physical well-being.
Naomi Knight had a Twitter, so I took to that, my favorite social media platform, to call her out:
I was angry. But it wasn’t just anger. There was a lot of despair, too:
Coming on the heels of this blog post about my identity, my OCD fired up its engines. See? You can’t have anything of your own. Let’s just file that away in our Imposter Syndrome folder, shall we? Because this is a sign, Jenny. This is a sign that you’re not supposed to be a writer. This is probably a sign that you should kill yourself. Oh, and by the way, you don’t deserve anything you’ve ever created. That’s why it’s being taken from you.
I couldn’t stay in the depths of what was quickly becoming a death spiral of intellectual violation. And really, I didn’t need to. Within twenty minutes of outing Naomi Knight as a plagiarist, she deleted her twitter account. Within an hour, her blog went to invite only, then completely vanished. People sent me screen caps of her plagiarism, and notes of support. I went to see the new Star Wars and tried to put it all out of my mind.
When we got in the car and headed for home, someone alerted me to Naomi’s new twitter account, made for her art, which she claimed to have been neglecting, and that was the reason for the sudden account change. And after that twitter and site were pulled down (again, within minutes of being outed) I received an email from Naomi Knight. She tried to “apologize”. Maybe I have a cold heart, but I viewed her explanation of the situation as a cheap ploy to prey on my tender heart. I won’t go into detail because she divulged personal information, but all I could think was, “yeah, well, me too, but I never ripped off a whole bunch of people because of it.”
Asking for that apology just made me more angry. I hadn’t gotten a full twenty-four hours to process my feelings, and now she wanted me to put hers ahead of mine? I felt robbed all over again. The “apology” was just another punch in the face. I did what I wasn’t supposed to do, and used alcohol to cope with my feelings.
This morning, I have a much clearer head, except for the hangover. I decided that I’m not going to lock myself into a “Code of Silence” situation all over again. What Naomi Knight did was wrong, and no matter what’s happening in her personal life, I don’t have to forgive her or go easy on her. I don’t have to be the bigger person. I can think all the rude, malicious, and horrible thoughts I want to about her. I don’t owe her anything.
I have a really bad habit in my personal life of letting people do something that makes me feel ooky, then feeling as though I have to accept their apology because if I don’t, I’m not nice. I think it probably has something to do with being raised Catholic, and I don’t say that to be funny. It’s an entire religion built around forgiveness that’s given without hesitation, just because someone asks. There’s a whole sacrament about it. Maybe I’m still walking around thinking I should be Christ-like and forgive everyone for everything from minor annoyances to major transgressions. So I’m actually thankful for this incident; it made me examine my inability to stick up for myself when I’m so quick to stick up for others. It made me realize that I’m fully entitled to be pissed off about something, even if someone asks for forgiveness, and that I never have to tell someone “no problem” if I feel it’s really a problem. That forgiveness is something you give because you feel it, not because someone else asks for it.
But most importantly, it showed me how much love and support I really get from you guys. Within seconds of my first tweet, I had responses from people asking how they could help, what they could do for me. They went and left comments on the blog Naomi Knight deleted, and took screen shots to send to me. Hours later, it was a reader who found Knight’s “art blog” and secondary twitter (thanks, Pixelfish!). The theft made me feel alone; the outpouring of support made me feel less so.
I’m doing a lot better today. I’m going to go have lunch with my pseudo-brother, finish up some Christmas shopping, and super over-decorate my planner. I’m going to have an overall mentally healthy day. And I’m not going to forgive Naomi Knight. I don’t care what her personal circumstances are. I get to be angry, and I don’t owe her anything. She’s already taken plenty.