I was apparently a part of a whirlwind of discussion, and didn’t even know about it. I submitted my essay on Why I’m not Voting to Counterpunch. The next day or the day after I started getting emails through my work website and on this site discussing the article. Someone mentioned it was on Counterpunch. I still never heard from them. Then a couple of days after that, someone told me it was gone. Weird. I searched the internets and it was taken down.
Then a close friend of mine explained the issue. These are her words describing the situation:
“They pulled it because of some vitriolic allegations made on Facebook by a couple of overzealous people claiming to be champions for the fight against plagiarism.
CounterPunch has refused to publish Mark E. Smith’s writing in the past (apparently election boycotting wasn’t as popular to them a few years ago and has grown in popularity because of the current candidates). Most of what Mark writes on this subject he considers “copyleft” material, meaning he wants the information disseminated and he doesn’t care if people use the concepts he’s developed over the years as their own, as long as they truly understand them. The message is far more important to him than who gets credit. Actually, in many cases when writers have cited him as their source, their articles have not been published because Mark has been blacklisted by pro-voting publishers (including many who consider themselves to be radical left publications).
Here is what Mark had to say about the charge of plagiarism regarding my essay:
“Truth is, I’m sure I didn’t originate the idea of voting as consent. Anarchists have been opposed to voting for ages and have many valid reasons, but I hadn’t been aware of all of them because I wasn’t an anarchist. But that is one of their reasons, because if they oppose the state, they don’t participate in the state’s rituals as it would indicate acceptance of the state. I don’t think I had any really new ideas, I just put things together that I had learned. Mostly I put together many of the arguments I had used against political operatives over the years.
Anyway, the whole thing about plagiarism, copyrights, and property rights is part of the disease of capitalism. It doesn’t work. I remember when writers would submit their books to publishers and collect hundreds of rejection slips before getting published, if they ever did. Now people just publish themselves on Kindle and there’s no heartache involved.”
In addition, Mark Smith posted this on his website:
“Lara read my article “You’ve Got to Stop Voting,” and discussed it at length with a friend of mine. She decided to write an article herself and I think she has done a good job of propagating, updating, and clarifying my ideas, and adding her own thoughts and experiences. I hope her article is widely read, as I believe it will appeal to people who wouldn’t read Fubar. Although Lara sometimes uses my words, this is not plagiarism or theft. I have expressly granted blanket permission for anyone to repost my writing with or without attribution. It is impossible to steal what was given to you.”
So for those of you have asked, that’s the story as I know it. To date, Counterpunch has not contacted me. It never told me it published the piece. It never told me it took it down. It never responded to my inquiry asking what was up or explaining my side of things. Essentially, I guess in the world of Counterpunch, I’m just the person who wrote it and therefore require no participation in the matter.
I agree with Mark. I think the ideas need to be out there and we should not worry about who they belong to. Yes, this blog has a Creative Commons license, so I ask that people link back to me if I’m quoted, but as far as the ideas in this or other essays I’ve posted here, spread the word. I wouldn’t mind at all if more people agreed.