I wanted to take a minute to clarify something, from all accounts and the evidence presented, Cassie Edwards plagiarized. Until it’s confirmed, no one can say with absolute certainty that’s what happened, but it seems as if that’s the case. That is wrong. Very, very wrong. I saw the article done about this on AP, where Cassie Edwards said she didn’t know she had to cite her references. I think that’s crap. Absolute and utter crap. Unless she didn’t attend any schooling – which I highly doubt – or doesn’t live in the literary world – which I highly doubt – she had to have heard at least once that to copy/paste without acknowledging your source is wrong, wrong wrong.
You may be wondering why I started this post by saying, “let me clarify something”. That’s because there seems to be some concern, in regards to myself and other people, that we don’t believe plagiarism is a big deal, or that we don’t believe what Cassie Edwards did qualifies as such. That’s horse shit. Or it is on my part, anyway.
I have an issue with the way this news came about, and the source it came from. My very first thought after seeing the original blog post about this was, “There they go again, bashing CE.” My second thought was, “Cripes, can’t they leave her alone.” and my third thought was, “Isn’t their credibility on anything CE related pretty much shot?” Especially after the tone of their original post.
Since then, SB Sarah (I think, forgive me if it was SB Candy) has apologized for the tone of their original post, saying had she thought about it a bit harder, she would have toned it down some. Regardless, I think people are using the issues SB had with Cassie Edwards to take away from the real issue. I’ve been accused of this myself.
I couldn’t disagree more. I think had this come out in a different way, or on a different site, this would be a non-issue. As it stands, I’ve seen a lot of blog posts and comments stating things like, “Oh, shut up. CE was wrong wrong wrong and SB’s were right right right.” I agree. It doesn’t matter how this came out, the fact that it did is huge.
I can say, with complete honesty, I think the way SB’s constantly attacked CE in the past was ridiculous, however. There comes a point when you need to step back from something you find abhorrent and say, “Ok, you all know we think this author sucks, let’s move on” and unfortunately (I say this because everyone seems to be pointing a finger at SB’s now) they didn’t. That sucks. But it shouldn’t take away from the real issue. Something should be done, not only as punishment to Cassie Edwards, but also to prevent this kind of thing from happening in the future. What? I have no idea. I would love to offer some suggestions, but as I have no experience in publishing, writing or anything like it, I can’t. I hope someone does, however.
Now, having said that, I need to make something else just as clear:
I think this issue has moved past the point of “reporting the news” into something entirely different. Something sad and vile. I can’t help but think about the fact that Cassie Edwards is a 72-year-old woman. That doesn’t in any way excuse her behavior, but I would hate to think that we, Romance lovers that we are, might be so mean spirited that we’d want to see a woman of that age completely broken. And I think that’s where we’re heading. Am I saying we should walk away and forget the entire incident? That we should say, “Oh, well, she’s old, so it’s ok?” Absolutely not. Again, ABSOLUTELY NOT. Under no circumstances should something like this be excused, or overlooked, or go unpunished. But I do think constantly attacking her, calling her names, taking potshots at her, saying she’s a horrible author anyway, so who cares, laughing because finally, finally she’s getting what she deserves (after all, she’s a shitty writer anyway, so why not bash her as much as possible) makes us nothing more than vultures and makes us, as a community, look bad.
The romance genre and it’s readers takes a lot of hits anyway. As I said in my post the other day, it was only a matter of time before someone said, “Well, what do you expect, she writes romance!” And it has happened. And you know, it probably would have happened anyway. But seeing the comments on the posts up at SBTB, DA, KarenS’s blog, and many, many other places makes me almost ashamed to be apart of this community. Why? Because we aren’t proving anyone wrong when they say we’re to be sneered at, or laughed at. Especially when we’re so quick to turn on one of our own (and by this I do not mean to excuse Cassie Edwards, but I do mean to say I feel the tone of the comments should have been much, much different. Instead of saying, “Ha! Finally she’s getting what she deserves for writing such craptastic books” we should have been expressing outrage and sympathy for those who’s works were taken from. Yes, I know there have been comments and posts to that effect, but more often than not, I’ve walked away from posts and comments and the general tone of this and just felt dirty).
And so here I am, writing this post, partly to express my belief that what CE did was wrong, and partially to appeal to all my fellow romance lovers: Please, please remember we are not above others. It is not our place to judge, or throw stones, or be down right mean to someone, regardless of their actions. I think CE’s career is over, no? Chances are she’ll be sued, and ruined and not be able to hold her head up any longer. Isn’t that enough? Isn’t it enough that she’s been exposed, that her actions – her own actions, not those of others – have brought her low? Do we need to continue to kick her now that she’s down? Do we need to continue to make ourselves, as a community, seem bloodthirsty and bitchy?
All I would say is this: Plagiarism is wrong. Cassie Edwards needs to accept the consequences of plagiarizing. Those consequences should come from her publisher, the authors of whose work she actually plagiarized, RWA, etc. Even her readers or prospective readers should make a decision on whether or not to continue to buy her books. However, the public crucifixion of CE is completely unnecessary and just plain mean.