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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

Ben Domenech and me: fun fun fun

So, I go away for a weekend to pretty much the shittiest science fiction convention I’ve ever been to, a weekend during which I have no access to email because there’s no WiFi at the con, and I come home to the news that I have apparently been instrumental in bringing down the most inane hire WashingtonPost.com has ever made:

In a movie review of Pay It Forward on the weekend of October 21-22, 2000, Domenech writes:

…Pay It Forward is exactly the type of film that the casual moviegoer will love, and critics will pan.

In a October 18, 2000, review of Pay It Forward on “the flick filosopher” website, writer Maryann Johanson writes:

This is a film the studio knows casual moviegoers will love and critics will not…

Domenech says that Pay It Forward has an “inexcusably exploitative ending.”

Johanson says the movie is ruined by its “inexcusably exploitive ending.”

The Pay It Forward review is the worst of what we’ve found.

Well, I can’t honestly claim any credit for this, of course: Domenech brought himself down with his lack of integrity and willingness to pass the work of others off as his own. But it is deliciously hilarious that the worst case of plagiarism of the Post’s new “conservative” (read: anti-woman, anti-freedom, anti-true-American-values) blogger involves him stealing from a female feminist atheist who’s way more lefty and liberal than she is righty and neo-con-artist.

My buddy The Raving Atheist — from whom I learned about all this; I would have had no idea otherwise, cuz it’s not like The National Review or The Washington Post attempted to contact me for comment or anything — has the right take:

Incontrovertible proof of serial plagiarism forced Ben Domenech to resign on Friday, only three days after starting work as the “Red America” blogger for the Washington Post.

Domenech, a co-founder of the popular RedState.com, is a “Christian libertarian” who takes the book of Genesis literally. Ironically, however, when the editors of National Review Online began reviewing his contributions for evidence of copying, the most egregious example they found was his lifting of passages of a movie review by an atheist, Flick Filosopher Maryann Johanson. I imagine the folks a NRO would have caught on much sooner had he attempted the same thing with her review of The Passion of the Christ.

Ben Domenech, aka Augustine at the blog RedState, has this to say in a posting there entitled “Contrition”:

I also want to apologize to my previous editors and writers whose work I used inappropriately and without attribution.

So I popped Ben an email:

Hi, Ben. As one of the writers whose work you plaigiarized, I wonder what you would consider an “appropriate” use of another writer’s work. Could you explain? Also, could you tell me how you would have attributed your usage of my review of *Pay It Forward*?

Finally, if you were paid for your film reviews for *National Review,* would you consider cutting me in on some of that dough? Cuz plenty of effort and thought goes into my reviews, and it doesn’t seem quite right that you should profit from that and I shouldn’t.

Awaiting your reply…

I also emailed The National Review, where Ben’s (ie: my) review of Pay It Forward appeared:

Hi, guys. Just wondering: Since you were really happy with my film reviews when you thought they were Ben Domenech’s, would you consider hiring me to review films? I can guarantee that the opinions expressed will be 100 percent my own.

I should warn you, though, that I’m female, femininst, an atheist, and pretty lefty and liberal. I am, however, white and heterosexual, so maybe that balances out okay?

To whom should I direct an invoice for my review of *Pay It Forward,* which you ran under Domenech’s byline?

Love and kisses,


I also emailed Howard Kurtz at the Post and Julie Bosman at The New York Times along similar lines. I’ll let you know if I get any response.

Domenech’s acts come from a man RedState continues to characterize as “an amazingly talented writer, a man of principle.” And one the commenters on the fiasco, dismissing Domenech’s intellectual crimes because they were unearthed by lefty bloggers, says this:

Should the entire American Left fall over dead tomorrow, I would rejoice, and order pizza to celebrate. They are not my countrymen; they are animals who happen to walk upright and make noises that approximate speech. They are below human. I look forward to seeing each and every one in Hell.

These are the people who condone intellectual dishonesty.

Another commentor in the same thread:

This whole issue is small potatoes to my mind. Ben made some mistakes, but he will be fine.

Since when is lying “small potatoes”? Aren’t these the same people who condemned Bill Clinton not for having some hot illicit consensual sex in White House (cuz they were totally not jealous about all the action he was getting, no) but for lying about it?

In case I haven’t been clear: What Domenech did — not just to me by to writers like P.J. O’Rourke, in whose company I feel supremely honored, even if I don’t tend to agree with him — is not just a “mistake.” It’s not an accident: “Whoops, I acidentally retyped someone else’s words and pretended they were my own.” It’s willful malfeasance. And there is no defense for it.

Also, it pisses me off no end that Domenech was celebrated — hired by The Washington Post! — in part because of my work that he passed off as his own.

This, though, is awesome: In Ben’s own words, discussing the supposed dishonesty of the left:

Ethical rules are the rules for a reason, and the Republican Party is one that respects the rule of law – that means really respecting it, not dancing along the edge. Because when the Democrats play dirty, they should have to stretch the truth; they should have to lie and connive; and they should have to find people like Ronnie Earle to do it for them. If they don’t have to do that, then something’s wrong.


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