Back when I first wrote this post I angered a few folks. By now, this isn’t new to me as I can’t seem to be in a Kemetic or Pagan community without stepping on someone’s toes. It’s not something I set out to do, mind you. Folks have a strong reaction to what I say sometimes. At the time I talked about yet another Kemetic group ripping off others’ practices and taking credit for it as original work. People stamped their feet and used empty words like “negative” when called out. Luckily people are speaking out more against such practices, mostly on the subject of lifting artwork and writing. The lack of positivity is ignored.
Despite what some people argue a piece out in the public doesn’t make something “up for grabs”. I don’t know how this thinking got so prevalent in the Pagan community, but that’s where I see it the most. Taking something without giving proper credit is plagiarism. That’s not to say we haven’t misattributed a source or cited something incorrectly from time to time (which is technically plagiarism), or forgot to cite or give credit. This is not directed at those instances. This is directed at the people who knowingly take from everywhere without feeling they need to attribute credit where it’s due. I’ve seen some pieces outright claimed as an original.
What I can’t seem to comprehend through all of this is why there would be a need to plagiarize. There is no actual reason to steal someone’s work, as that is the nature of plagiarism. Even with internet memes few pretend it’s an original work.
When I first wrote this post I noticed a pattern between plagiarism’s prevalency and the lack of accountability. While there are rapid changes to both it is still difficult to hold leaders and Big Name Pagans accountable. Some of that will resolve itself with making those expectations clearer as well as deciding on a new generation of leaders.
This is where we are unique in regards to religious organizations. We get to set the new standards, provided we can agree upon something beyond what isn’t in a practice. It also means we may have to finally centralize and agree on certain practices, maybe even create discernable sects. In centralizing we have ways of holding leaders with improprieties like plagiarism accountable. Since we’re relatively decentralized at the moment that means the followers hold those leaders accountable.
Plagiarism, as far as I’m concerned, is against Ma’at. It not only displays a willingness to steal but also laziness. When it’s found inherent in any organization I grow concerned because it means it goes unchecked or even outright ignored. Without the accountability found in other organizations these actions undermine an entire practice. If we want a more from our leaders we should expect more, make those expectations clear, and hold the leaders to it. In addition to making those expecations clear there should be a clear reprimand for it and others. I feel in making leaders and Big Name Pagans accountable we at least set the framework for followers and solitary practitioners alike.
So how can we all curb plagiarism? Apart from calling it out we can credit artists and cite sources. I know the latter is difficult at times, but it’s getting easier. There are even reverse image search engines like tineye which help. Search engines in general are a great boon. It will also help others get the recognition they deserve.