Monday, May 22, 2006

Amy's offensive defense

In a strange tale of mistrust and dare I say paranoia, I was banned from posting to Rene Amy's "greatschools" email group last week, and over the weekend he kicked me out altogether.

After Amy's troubles stemming from being temporarily shut down by Yahoo! either due to allegations of violating their Terms of Service, or a hacker, he defensively closed his reincarnated list archives to the public.

I am guessing that Mr. Amy was suspicious that I was somehow behind his troubles. Not only is this false, but I think turning him in to Yahoo! was a counterproductive cheap shot. I reached out to Mr. Amy privately, offering technical support, etc, but I suppose these offers may have been viewed as a Trojan Horse if he suspected that I was somehow involved.

Anyway, given the circumstances, I emailed him privately to see how he felt about me quoting from his posts outside of his group. In his reply explicitly requested that I "*not* post material" from him.

As such, when he made what I thought was a good set of points in an email with the subject, "The Big 'B': Buyout Time for Percy Clark?" I replied to his list with a supportive post, even quipping that I would help with the fundraising he suggested. At the time, Mr. Amy already had my account "moderated" which means that anything I posted to his list had to be approved by him before it would go out to the group. He evidently disallowed my comment (although I have included it in the excerpts I compiled).

The points he outlined in his post echoed points Martin Truitt had outlined the for me on a phone call three days earlier. I contemplated how to best amplify the subject while honoring Mr. Amy's request from the previous morning that I not quote him. I decided to quote a relevant pasadenaschools post by Ed Honowitz, but not to quote Amy, instead attributing him as one of "a couple different sources." I threw in a wink to those reading both lists by "answering" Amy's joke about fundraising.

When someone on the pasadenaschools list observed the obvious echo of Amy's earlier post with generic attribution of Amy and Truitt as "a couple different sources," and without benefit of having read my original reply to PUSDgreatschools, the person evidently pointed it out to Amy as a case of "plagiarism." So plagiarism was the coup de grace in his rationale for kicking me off his list this weekend.

Rather than call or email me about the issue, he instead posted to his list "If you're a member of this list, it is expected that material and ideas first posted to this list will be attributed both as to author and as to posting place," in direct contradiction to what he had explicitly requested of me two days earlier. He didn't name me directly, but to anyone reading both lists, the implication was clear because he cited the subject and commented on my winking offer to help with the fundraising he had suggested.

Needless to say, I was caught off guard. I had thought I was exhibiting model behavior and being exceptionally considerate of him. Whatever the case may be, in an off-list email discussion, I was unable to redeem myself. Mr. Amy was unsatisfied with the sincerity of my apology and feels I demonstrated a lack of remorse. He also was unconvinced that I was acting in good faith by attributing him and his list anonymously. It is so ironic, not only because as he points out, the issue I am agreement with him on relates indirectly to Percy Clark's plagiarism problems, but more so because the issue at the root of this is one Amy and I actually agree on.

I guess this is one of those damned if you do damned if you don't situations. And now I am in the kicked-off-greatschools hall of infamy. Rest assured however, regardless of what he may prefer, I will never cite Rene Amy without bold attribution again. For the record, I compiled the relevant bracketing excerpts and the posts in this text document.

Considering the circumstances, I would rather be defending fully attributed quotes from emails as fair use than defending against plagiarism for having attributed the same thing tangentially as a courtesy to the original author.

In the excerpts I compiled, the last one really starts to smell like a witch hunt. According to Mr. Amy, anonymous accusers with unspecified "evidence" are rallying behind him to tar me with plagiarism. My goodness. Mind your Ps and Qs people, lest the posse come for you.

This kind of bullying tactic doesn't discourage me. I won the game of chicken. I refused to quit calling it as I saw it on Amy's list, so he finally had to kick my butt out. Kind of like, "This here list aint big enough for the two of us, pardnor." I admit I am disappointed, because I thought things were going pretty well for a while there.

I really wish Ms. Hoge had not turned Amy in to Yahoo! The funny thing is, even though I initially dismissed the tactic as not only morally questionable, but also as ineffective, maybe she has actually achieved one of her goals. She has caused Amy retreat back into privacy again.

In an April 13th post I noted "Amy's [greatschools] Yahoo! Group is archived online and can be searched by members of the group. Non-members cannot read the archives or post to the list, ostensibly to prevent spammers from polluting the list, although I am not sure why he also restricts read-only access to his archive." Three days later he posted on greatschools, "As moderator, I've made a switch as to who can access list archives. Now, anyone can access the list's archive of over 16,000 list posts at"

Plagiarism! He stole my idea! (kidding)

He feels more secure not having his archives be searchable by the public, and I'm sure Ms. Hoge does too. Perhaps he ironically agrees with Hoge about having something to hide. Personally I prefer openness, so maybe I really don't belong in his club.

Taking the long view, I am not really surprised at being kicked out. I expected something like this right out of the gate when I wrote my Open Letter to Rene Amy on 4/13/06. I guess I was lulled into a false sense of security when it didn't happen during my initial foray into the greatschools arena.

1 comment:

  1. I have been raised and born in Pasadena and all my school life
    in PUSD it was the best. Ones who
    still live in Pasadena/Altadena
    then to now would say the say the 1960's and 70's decade of PUSD were
    great, sure we Pasadena was segergated, but the ones on the west and north westside no matter if you were rich,low income or any color you were one. Even the gangs
    respected the rules.

    To see how many just say PUSD is
    terrible or he or she messes up or
    specially my high school John Muir as a stupid campus.

    They need to go and really visit the schools and see the problems as well as community insights as well as students.

    When we say students cannot be taught orit is there race no wonder why
    our kids just ditch school we never say to him or her how well they do even if it is a low gpa.

    Specially the way Amy has put down PUSD and the BOE, I wonder if he is as smart as the one he puts down.