Thursday, May 26, 2011

Being plagiarised, weirdly

Searching for an old article of mine published online, I came across this instead, an article called A tale of two orthodoxies -by Adnan Rehmat. The article starts like this:

Imagine a former British colony where most citizens practice a religion that has become tightly knit with both national identity and bitter anti-British feeling. After a violent war for independence, the new country’s earliest leaders align themselves with religion through law and start to exercise censorship of any narrative or discourse that upsets its hierarchy. Egged on by clerics, the religion is officially ordained as divine and by law all are made subservient to God’s will — and even manage to win a special position for religion in the new constitution.

Sounds like Pakistan? It’s in fact a description of early Ireland — in the very heart of the liberal Western world and secular Europe.

This begins with text taken nearly word for word from an article I wrote in The Nut Graph, an online Malaysian magazine. I had been pointing out that Ireland had briefly experienced a strong anti-secular Catholic movement, similar to - if not as severe as - modern Islamist movements. Yet I was writing for Malaysia, not Pakistan, and this article mixes my own words with totally new text.

Digging around a little more, I tracked the new article down to several other Pakistani sites. One continues:

The radical cleric leader who tried to make Catholicism Ireland’s state religion was Father Denis Fahey, who saw Rome-dominated Western Europe of the 13th century as an ideal golden age of Christianity before the emergence of European secularism. “Since then, there has been steady decay, and that decay has been accelerated since the French Revolution,” he wrote. How eerily reminiscent this is of parties like Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema Islam — both with considerable electoral following in Pakistan — that seek a rejection of procedural modernity and a return to the Muhammadan period and the era of the caliphate thereafter.
The original paragraph ends much less specific:

How eerily reminiscent this is of Islamist calls for a rejection of modernity and a return to a Utopian pan-Islamic caliphate.
So I have been drafted to fight on behalf of Pakistani secularists! They do at least acknowledge me in part, calling me 'political scientist Shane Leavy'. I'm not a political scientist, but thanks for the upgrade!

I suppose this is plagiarism but I'm more bemused than annoyed. I just hope the author's use or distortion of my text does not provoke any kind of backlash. If it does, kindly keep this 'political scientist' out of it.


  1. I like how chilled you are about plagiarism, I have seen a lot of bloggers post long rants about being plagiarised and even people who call out other people for copy-pasting their tweets without credit.

  2. Ah well, once stuff is online it is difficult to keep any kind of control on it. At least in this case I'm being plagiarised in support of secularism - as a 'scientist' no less - so I'm not too bothered!

  3. It's for a good cause then, :D

  4. I have given up on it Shane. My stuff gets lifted all the time. there was a chap in Sri Lanka who was using my columns a few years back and just putting his own name at the bottom.

  5. Should we take it as flattery? ;)


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