Image Credit: https://atheistsunited.org/
It’s been a devastatingly embarrassing six months for author and columnist CJ Werleman. Exposed for misrepresentation, serial plagiarism and probable sockpuppetry – and this was all before Sam Harris effortlessly spanked his ill-judged libellous accusations. Both Salon and Alternet dropped Werleman as a result, the latter completely removing his articles from their archives altogether. The only platform still willing to publish him is Middle East Eye. It’s a self-immolation that is painful to look at – yet I can’t seem to help myself.
You’d imagine this period would have been a good time for Werleman to put down the spade and contemplate where his career was heading. He appears to have dropped the spade and upgraded to a JCB digger however, committed to hacking his way downward – ethically.
I’d like to provide you with a few examples that distinguish a Journalist from a Propagandist.
I recently wrote two blog pieces on Author CJ Werleman. The first detailed some deeply unethical methods of operating and the second revealed an apparent catalogue of plagiarism throughout his work. Prompted by these articles, Michael Luciano with the help of Peter Boghossian have done a great job of uncovering even more instances of plagiarism (14 more at last count).
After days of lashing out, excuses and potentially libellous claims levelled at other public figures, Werleman has released what he understands to be an ‘apology’. You can read it in full here, but I’ll detail below my initial thoughts regarding some of it.
“Since my recent appearance on the Young Turks Network, my criticism of Sam Harris’ position, as it specifically pertains to the main driver of terrorism led many of his ardent fans to attack me. I have no problem with that – I made myself fair game”
This is the first attempt to deceive. ‘Ardent fans’ didn’t ‘attack him’ because he criticised Harris’s position, they ‘attacked’ him because he invented it. I’d like CJ Werleman to reference what in Harris’s works justifies saying: “[Harris] Has already said, that [he] would support, possibly, a nuclear first-strike on the Arab world”. This sentence is particularly troubling given Werleman so casually interchanges the word ‘Islamist’ with ‘Arab’. Do keep an eye on that CJ. Read more
Image Taken From https://www.facebook.com/pages/CJ-Werleman/207324500344
Update: 22/10/2014 – Soon after publishing this article on 17/10/2014, the charges of plagiarism contained within were confirmed to be accurate, revealing CJ Werleman to be a serial plagiarist. As a result, many new developments have occurred – including the discovery of 14 additional instances of plagiarism and a number of Werleman’s publishing outlets taking action against him. I have now added additional footnotes to highlight these developments.
I recently documented a number of concerns regarding the unpleasant behaviour of ‘Author’ and ‘Social Commentator’ CJ Werleman in my article: ‘CJ Werleman: Misrepresentation, Dubious Ethics and Unoriginal Hackery’. Expressed within that article and reproduced below are my thoughts on some of Werleman’s published writing:
‘[Werleman] is simply regurgitating past hack jobs and slapping sensationalist headlines on them’
‘…you’ve already heard this elsewhere, many times before, many years ago.’
‘Also, what he has cobbled together in his attack on Harris has already been written by others many years ago’
I attributed his imitative output to an absence of original thought rather than something altogether more cynical. But it’s now possible my feeling of ‘having read this all before’ was a symptom of literally having read some of this before.
The above article mentions Dr. Peter Boghossian (@PeterBoghossian), which subsequently prompted a conversation between us. During our conversation, Dr. Boghossian called attention to some things he’d identified in CJ Werleman’s writing that I hadn’t previously considered, and so I decided to conduct an independent investigation to determine whether or not CJ Werleman is guilty of actual plagiarism. (Parts of Dr. Boghossian’s letter have been reprinted here with his permission.)
I own a couple of Werleman’s books: ‘God Hates You, Hate Him Back’ & ‘Jesus Lied – He Was Only Human‘. I’d never heard of him beforehand, but I was happy to receive them as Christmas gifts a few years back – my Dad’s cool like that.
They’re ok – they don’t cover any new ground, the humour is a bit too school yard for my taste and reading them created the impression of an author who’d spied an opening in a growing a market – but it doesn’t really matter. I decided they were essentially good, as they were accessible (that’s a polite way of saying ‘dumbed down’).
The so-called ‘Four Horsemen/New Atheists’ are often accused of being elitist, as if that’s somehow an invective. Whilst not really sharing this concern, I think I understand one aspect of it. We have a group of incredibly intelligent, likely privileged (white – must mention white!) and qualified individuals who write on topics in such a manner that may require a life-time worth of research and expertise to fully get to grips with. Not everyone feels this way of course, but it’s not necessarily entry-level stuff for some either. I count myself amongst those that have their own intelligence challenged (and often pummelled) by the ideas these people so effortlessly hold court on. So I also consider any contribution to a body of literature that’s critical of religion to be a good thing, especially if it reaches a broader audience.
Needless to say we won’t be seeing Werleman follow up with ‘Allah Hates You, Hate Him Back’ or ‘Muhammad Lied – He Was Only A Charlatan’ any time soon, as he’s currently preoccupied with the deeply courageous task of mocking Republicans, ‘New Atheists’, and bravely highlighting the dangers posed by talk show hosts & neuroscientists (see the article ‘What atheists like Bill Maher have in common with medieval Christian crusaders‘). Islamic terrorism can wait – or rather, is explained away as a product of politics, not a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam – as though the two are mutually exclusive. Drop in a pinch of white guilt, a dash of masochism and you’ve already heard this elsewhere, many times before, many years ago.