As you know, you’re a dishonest asshole who has recently received plenty of negative attention for supporting and defending Sammy Rhodes (AKA @prodigalsam). Sam’s accused of being a chronic Twitter plagiarist and public hypocrite. Last year, you celebrated his “honest” Twitter comedy in a glowing HuffPost review. In recent weeks, you’ve been his chief apologist, sugarcoating accusations of plagiarism, posting complimentary links, and retweeting “anti-mob” remarks.
In dozens of Twitter conversations over the past month, and in a phone call with me, I’ve noticed your consistent refusal to answer direct questions. When pressed, you talk around issues, or about them, but you somehow avoid clear, definitive statements about actual events. In arguments, you disappear like a lubed ferret up your own ass. You use the language of open-minded mutual respect to prevent people from noticing you’re not giving a FINAL answer on whether or not YOU think Sam is a plagiarist.
Yesterday, however, you announced you’re writing an essay about all this. I feel this is a marvelous opportunity to finally clear things up. You must be thrilled. I’m thrilled! Before ANYTHING else, I’m eager to have you answer this important question:
DID SAM INTENTIONALLY STEAL?
You exploit ambiguous language, so I’ll clarify. You are being asked:
Did Sammy intentionally take the jokes of others…
reword the jokes slightly…
strip them of any credit or attribution…
and repost them in a way that would lead others to believe the joke was created in Sam’s mind…
to benefit his own reputation as a comedy writer?
If you’ve decided Sam didn’t steal, SAY SO! Embrace it! There’s no shame in being utterly free of critical-thinking skills. If you think the evidence says he DID STEAL, then WRITE that, without equivocation or jargon. Come to think of it, since you’re terrible with clarity, I’ll write it for you:
"There is no longer any question in my mind that Sam Rhodes has repeatedly stolen the material of others in bad faith with the intention of passing it off as his own."
Can you manage that? Can you post that statement? I’m betting no. Here’s what I predict you’ll do instead:
● Mention your academic career. Avoid explaining how your credentials are relevant to the central question of Sammy’s theft.
● Emphasize how horrible the Internet can be. Avoid explaining how people like you make it worse.
● Emphasize that both sides have valid points! That’s really conciliatory; people love this shit—it makes you look open-minded. Ignore the fact that only one side was stealing and lying.
● Focus on the present. Ignore how many times Sammy was asked to stop stealing. Give the impression an angry mob simply formed one afternoon.
● Ignore how your own superior attitude, spineless lack of action, and “it’s not my job” (direct quote) approach to truth-telling inflamed things further.
● Pretend this was caused by breakdowns in understanding. Ignore hard evidence to the contrary. (borrowingsam.tumblr.com)
● Use rhetorical tricks, cute jokes, and shitty poetry to avoid addressing any real point besides something like, “We should all be nicer.”
● Use polite, grammatically correct English to say nothing, conclude nothing more than what was already obvious, and leave the reader wondering what they just read and why anyone would write it.
Since you’re so helplessly dishonest, Aaron, I’ve made you a cheat sheet. Here’s a list of things that have NOTHING to do with the question of whether Sammy Rhodes intentionally steals. They’ll be familiar, since they’re taken right out of your past conversations. Ready?
● ”Great minds think alike” situations (where two people independently arrive at the same joke) happen all the time, and they’re gracefully handled every day by hundreds of people. This has nothing to do with whether Sammy steals. Let’s be clear: A THOUSAND examples of parallel joke-writing will not change the time-stamped, non-coincidental evidence against Sammy (again, borrowingsam.tumblr.com). Furthermore, it raises the question of why Sammy has already repeatedly acknowledged and apologized for “borrowing” and “being inspired by” others.
● Jealousy (real or completely imagined) over Sam’s follower count, his amazing sense of humor, his deep relationship with Jesus, or anything else has NOTHING to do with whether he steals. Sam is not hated because he’s an “outsider.” Twitter is filled with outsiders, the vast majority of whom seem to understand they should avoid stealing and the appearance of stealing.
● Saying “It’s only Twitter” means as much as saying “It’s only a comedy club.” or “It’s only a freshman English course.” Plagiarism is plagiarism. You’re a teacher, aren’t you? You should know this already, right? Nothing about Twitter makes plagiarism any less objectionable. In fact, correct attribution (via the retweet function) is part of Twitter by design, meaning Sammy had to WORK to hide his sources. There is nothing sad, petty, or delusional about expecting simple, proper credit. Obviously Sammy himself thinks credit on Twitter is very valuable. If he didn’t, we wouldn’t be here now.
● Just as in a comedy club or classroom, these are not historical or legal issues. History and copyright law have no bearing on whether Sam takes others’ work and presents it as his own. Joke theft such as Sammy’s IS currently frowned upon, and it’s been that way all of Sammy’s life. Why do you need this explained so many times? Neither of you is from some strange world with different expectations of basic honor and integrity.
● Sam reposts multiple variations on some stolen tweets, but the fact that he reposts his OWN material has nothing to do with whether he steals. Stop pretending it does.
● There is nothing about amateur or professional status that would make plagiarism any less objectionable to a comedian. In fact, comedy is a red herring; this is about plagiarism. It’s extremely simple: NO ONE likes his or her work stolen and attributed to someone else.
● Sam’s style of comedy, profession, hobbies or aspirations are not relevant to whether he steals.
● The number of things Sammy DOES NOT steal has absolutely no bearing on whether and what he DOES steal.
● The length of a joke or tweet has no bearing on whether Sammy steals.
● The fact that other humans have stolen things and grand philosophical bullshit about “Art” or “Whether True Originality Exists” have NO bearing on whether Sammy Rhodes hops on Twitter and steals from other writers to make himself look better.
● Sammy is forever protesting that since he removes a tweet once someone points out that it’s stolen, he doesn’t steal tweets. This is one of the nuttiest fucking things I’ve ever heard. It’s like a shoplifter explaining he always returns the merchandise once he’s caught, or claiming it’s not stealing if no one notices. It does NOTHING to excuse or absolve him of theft. The fact he takes down tweets AFTER stealing them is not relevant to WHETHER he steals.
I hope that helps you focus. I can’t wait to learn what you decide!
* * * * *
Finally, Aaron, I’m adding a few extra points so you can at least stop pretending they haven’t occurred to you. Why not cut back on the bullshit you have planned and address these in your upcoming essay?
● Sam has two clear patterns: 1. He steals, apologizes, and then steals again. 2. He steals, lies about it, and then writes tearful, heartfelt essays about Jesus and the importance of “being real” and humble and honest. Sam’s pious “I’m the true victim here” act is the worst kind of hypocrisy, and it’s why people have recently focused on his Christianity. You KNOW people were furious long before his religion was widely known. Quit pretending he’s being persecuted for his beliefs.
● Sam now says his conscience is clear, and that he’s innocent, baffled, and hurt by all the anger. So why did he post (then remove) a Tumblr “apology” months ago, admitting his chronic use of others’ work and explaining how his craving for approval led him to do it? Why does he talk in circles in interviews, answering questions that weren’t asked? Why does he invent clumsy new euphemisms for joke theft (borrowing, riffing, honoring, and my new favorite, “covering”)?
● If Sammy innocently wanted to share comedy with his followers, why didn’t he simply retweet the original? Especially after he learned that it upset people, wouldn’t retweeting be easier AND completely remove all suspicion and anger?
● Do you think Sammy Rhodes is even capable of stopping himself? He does things no one in their right mind would expect to turn out well. Who would rewrite others’ tweets, learn of the anger, apologize, THEN continue as if no one had complained? Could his self-destructive behavior be pathological? If so, do you think his supporters, apologists, and enablers, such as yourself, are helping him in ANY way?
● Do you understand that “bullying” is not the same as expressing anger towards and trying to expose a chronic plagiarist and public liar? Do you understand how obnoxious it is to anyone who values honesty when you defend a thief and liar and then make smug comments about how no one’s nice these days? You’re a real piece of work, Aaron.
● Do you see how Sammy—who steals, lies, blocks anyone who complains, then writes sermons about realness and honesty—makes a mockery of you and your endless moaning about “respect,” “open communication,” and “truth”? Do you see how your world-weary, whiny talk about “moving on” and “getting over it” deliberately avoids the reality that Sam continues to steal and lie? Do you see how this might anger everyone who has to deal with this thieving little goblin long after you’re back atop Poetry Mountain, sighing wisely like a tiny wizard?
That’s it, Aaron! Sorry there’s a lot to read, but you’ve been so dishonest lately that I wanted to cover it all as completely as possible. Best of luck with the upcoming essay. Rest assured that everyone’s dying to start wondering what the fuck you’re talking about.