Saturday, January 4, 2014

How Not to Apologize for Plagiarizing

Shia LaBeouf, the "Transformer" actor, has been called out for plagiarizing a graphic novel written by Daniel Clowes for his short film. Here's Shia's apologetic tweet from Dec 28.
"When you've made a mistake you should apologise. But more importantly -- most important of all -- you've got to learn from your mistakes."
This apology is a huge mistake for three reasons.

1. A victim of theft doesn't want to hear about how a thief is going to learn from his mistakes. Tell that to the judge--or to your mother, Shia.

2. The tweet itself is plagiarized.  Nick Clegg, the UK Deputy Prime Minister wrote the same thing in 2012--including the British spelling of apologize.

3. The promise to "learn from your mistakes" is less than sincere when theft is getting to be a habit.  LaBeouf's short graphic novel "Stale N Mate" allegedly plagiarizes a Melville House book by Benoit Duteurtre.

Shia's tweet from Dec 30 continues the sorrys:
I can't apologize enough. I'll always be sorry this happened. Trust is hard earned and I messed that up.
"Sorry this happened" isn't an apology. It puts the blame on fate. Fate is a trampoline blowing into someone's yard--not the theft of ideas.

And Shia tweets on Dec 31:
Mr. Clowes, I can only ask that you view my apology as a stepping stone toward repairing this misunderstanding between us. I'm sorry.
Misunderstanding? Again this an attempt to minimize the problem. Where's the personal responsiblity, Shia?

And finally, here's Shia's latest tweet. He blames his supposed drug habit:
Im addicted to lean & that shit ain’t no joke. I can barely remember all the things I’ve done & said. However there’s no excuse 4 skywriting

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