The Thing in the Shadows

As my readers will know, several bloggers in our community, myself included, have been victims of plagiarism.  The "perps," as they say in crime novels, are two members of a site called Thoughts.com.  But I hasten to say that these two are just the thieves of whom we are aware.  I suspect that there are others, and that they draw their words from anyone brave enough to bare his or her creative soul on a blog.

You know, I feel like there is something eating away at values we hold dear in our collective lives today.  I can't exactly put my finger on it.  It's a little like catching sight of something that flits past in your peripheral vision. You spin around to look, and it's no longer there, but you absolutely felt its presence. 

Every time I face a store clerk who can't make change; listen to someone (it used to be teenagers, but they are moving into adulthood, and taking this baggage along with them) who can't form a sentence that doesn't include the word "like" several times; or see an "official" printed document with incorrectly-spelled words or tortured grammar on it, I see the "thing" in my periphery flit past.  (n.b.: As I was writing this, my husband read a line from the Boston Globe to me:  "His medal was tested..."  Methinks it's not the medal that is tarnished.)

Every time I read of yet another scam or scheme designed to take advantage of the trusting naive; receive a warning of a new, more sophisticated computer virus lurking out there, ready to steal my identity at the first opportunity; hear of another acquaintance who has fallen victim to some nefarious deed or another, I see it. Every time a product fails to meet what I would consider minimum standards of quality, I see it.

The issue with basic education isn't new. My children used to bring home mimeographed tests from school with misspelled words printed on them, correct answers marked wrong, and incorrect ones marked right.  I have long referred to this sad situation as the "dumbing down of our country."  (I can't speak about other countries; perhaps you see it too.)  But it seems that the basic reading, writing, and 'rithmatic skills are not the only fundamentals  people aren't learning.  Good behavior, a sense of decency, basic ethics: all seem to be falling prey to the monster in the shadows.

I don't know about you, but I find this scary as hell.


I reported the plagiarism of my words to the site administrator of Thoughts.com.  This morning I received this  e-mail from them:

"We have remove the duplicate of your post.... We are deliberating the best mode of discipline for this serious offence."

It's a beginning, but if you see this post anywhere but here, do let me know, won't you?


  1. HI Patti....

    Crazy. I feel as you do, and so many times I just walk away in disgust. And I know that's not the answer either. In my arrogant(er) youth, I lived in a town where my mission in life was to take a red pen and circle all the grammar and spelling mistakes in the local newspaper and mail it back to them every week. lol It drove me insane.

    Stand up and let them know they can't get away with this, at least not without a fight. Good for you. I don't know if it's any good for anything, but I subscribe to a free blog copyright protection...Might be enough to make 'em think twice, although not that many people read my blog...lol

    Good to see you...

  2. The decline (okay, freefall) in today’s society is reminiscent of the fall of Rome in so many ways… it all starts with complacency, ‘group-think’, indulgence and excess and ends in educational and economic ruin.

    By writing your thoughts you’ve managed to light a candle and curse the darkness all at once! It’s a rare talent and one of the many things I deeply appreciate about you.

  3. good job standing up patti...we need more people with the guts to do that if we are ever going to reverse the decline...if that is even possible...

  4. Patti, what a timely post. All of those things are things that bother me too (although I have to own up to sucking at grammar).

    I wonder if a lot of these problems are really just symptoms of a deeper, larger shadow within western society? Perhaps we've been brought up to believe that the only important thing in the world is me. Me me me me me.

    But I really don't know.

  5. Patti, you nailed it. Big thing that drives me crazy is people who say "then" when they should say "than." Or people who don't know there is a difference between "imply" and "infer." (Actually, I have a whole list of these irritations.)

    English aside, however, it does seem that ethical/moral behavior is in pretty short supply these days. And manners? Forget about it!

    Great post.

  6. ARE people. Oy! Where's my sword? I need to fall on it.

  7. Hah! Many thoughts we share. Bravo for the persecution... and I will certainly report any plagiarism I see.

    (Funny story... I once submitted a paper for a class, and I quoted some of my previous work... the teacher brought me in and notified me that I was suspected of plagiarism. I immediately pointed out that I had written the piece she accused me of plagiarizing.)


Thoughts? I would love to hear from you.