Contrition

By Ben Domenech Posted in Comments (64) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

I want to apologize to National Review Online, my friends and colleagues here at RedState, and to any others that have been affected over the past few days. I also want to apologize to my previous editors and writers whose work I used inappropriately and without attribution. There is no excuse for this - nor is there an excuse for any obfuscation in my earlier statement.

I hope that nothing I've done as a teenager or in my professional life will reflect badly on the movement and principles I believe in.

I'm deeply grateful for the love and encouragment of all those around me. And although I may not deserve such support, it makes it that much more humbling at a time like this. I'm a young man, and I hope that in time that I can earn a measure of the respect that you have given me.

Regards,

Ben


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That took some guts.  I applaud you for saying what needed to be said.  You are an intelligent young man, and I am sure that you have a great future ahead -- despite this.

Matt 18:23ff

Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.
24 And when hehad begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.
25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.
26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, `Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.'
27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.


28 "But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, `Pay me what you owe!'
29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet[d] and begged him, saying, `Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.'[e]
30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.
31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.
32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, `You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.
33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?'

It should go without saying, that from my perspective, you are forgiven.

You are to be commended for stepping up and doing the right thing. I am, as always, proud to be your friend.

I've read a bunch of your stuff today on your blog.  You are a gifted man.  And you are effective.  We need your voice for the future of the movement and the future of America.

Apology accepted.  Heaven help me if anyone tries to hold me accountable for my actions at 17.  Or 21 for that matter.

Take some time to reflect.  Continue to own up to the mistakes that you made, but be sure to defend those that are simply not true.  You can and will recover and be stronger for it.

We are all behind you and we'll be waiting for your return.    

Ben,

If people knew some of the silly things I did before I changed my mind (some of which you know about) I wouldn't be here today, in all likelihood.  

You're a young guy (12 years younger than me) and you are a gifted writer and a powerful advocate for the things you believe most deeply in, but I know from my own conversations with you that you're really not a partisan.  And frankly I think what you came up against was a very misguided and vituperative group of people who deeply wanted to haul you up the tree and show off to the world how they could snap your neck.  And they did, at least at the Washington Post.

I wrote some articles for a student newspaper at NJIT, back when I was a real liberal/leftist, and I didn't have to worry about the editor or the faculty disagreeing with me, because not only was I needlessly verbose, I was a coward then.  I'm not now.  It seems to me that the biggest of your mistakes was inappropriately using some words by a guy from Cox News Service.  Nobody has ever been killed and eaten for this kind of offense, if it can be called that.  In fact, you've probably given Cox some extra credibility and maybe a little boost in their market share.  I know for sure that I'm locked into an agreement with them.  

Some of the people here who have compared you to O.J. Simpson and claimed that people on RedState would defend you even if you were a mass murderer (!) are frankly deranged, and I think everyone knows that. There's some stuff about U2.  There are a few music reviews.  There's a little more from Cox News Service.  And then there's calling Coretta Scott King a "Communist."  Well, I happen to think that's an arguable point, but honestly I didn't know Coretta, so who knows?  Historians are better able to judge that than I am, I suppose.

What does come to someone in the fullness of time is the ability to be circumspect.  I think you'll probably be one of the most circumspect and honest people in the world, especially after this.  

Don't torture yourself over it.  Certainly the WaPo needs to have a conservative voice, and with any foresight on their part, they'll bring another Conservative blogger in to balance out the slant at the WaPo, which all of us knows exists, even the Editors of the WaPo.

Do something greater.  Think bigger, think better, and think more comprehensively.

You are a good and talented person.  And, good and talented people are in short supply in this world of imperfect people.

You've built a great thing in Redstate.  You've demonstrated an impressive level of skill.  I know you will put this behind you and move on.

And move on you should, and must. You deserve our support and our appreciation.  And you have mine. And this movement needs you.  

I'm stickin', Ben

Those who know you, Ben, know what you are made of.  In fact, that's why so many are willing to stand beside you right now.

I await your return with eager anticipation.  You have much to offer to this movement, for many years still.  Keep your chin up.

Your friends will certainly be with you until the end.  I hope you are able to take some comfort in that.

for taking a deep breath, biting the bullet, and writing this. You've erred — as have we all — and will doubtless be a long time making amends. Whatever your enemies may say, you have written well not because of your plagiarism but in spite of it, and I hope we won't lose your talent forever. You have my good wishes on your journey.

A bad person who makes a mistake can move on easily, but a good person has a hard time of it when he falls into a habit, gets caught, and has his nose rubbed in his error.

Everyone vouches for your being a good person, so I hope you can rebuild your confidence.  That would be a shame, if this mistake held you back too much inside, if you let remorse, shame, and doubt keep you from building some future accomplishments.

In that light, I hope you come back here soon, even if you want to just keep it small with just some comment replies to work your way back.  It'll never be too soon, because it's not going to get any easier later.

I also urge you to pick up a new hobby, something constructive you can begin in from scratch, as you prove to yourself your capabilities.  Smashing that internal doubt is as important as anything, and accomplishing something substantial without any possibility that previous mistakes aided you, would go a long way toward that end.

Good luck rebuilding, both inside and out,

but what we learn, and how we re-act in the aftermath. I've mostly been a lurker here for a few months, but you have earned that measure of respect you spoke of with this post. Good luck and God bless  Ben Domenech.

Your success came at an accursedly early age. Heck, I have underwear that are 24 years old. We've all had our youthful indiscretions. They are ancient history by the time the average person makes his mark. (My screw-ups are old enough to be ungoogleable.)

You are smart, passionate, and effective. If you were a foot soldier, the Left wouldn't bother with any of this stuff.

You chose a game where the opponent doesn't always fight fair. You stumbled, and they kicked you when you were down. That's politics. Get back in the game. Your team needs your talent.

The contrition is the hard part. That's behind you. You've learned your lesson & admitted your mistake. From now on, let the illegitimati google away!

With time.  In a year, few will remember, in 5 almost nobody will.

One thing I'm confused about.  The movie review.  I reviewed FF too (and hated it) but I used some of the same phrases, because they were in the press kit.  The "Phantoms sucking the life from earthly spirits" was in there.  

People are upset because you lifed from a press kit?  That's what it's there for!!

from this experience.  

That is all.

I do not know you personally, but I wish that I did. We all make mistakes, especially in the second half of our first score of years. In my own case, it took Navy boot camp at age 20 (more than half my life ago) to get me to start behaving like a responsible adult.

It takes a great deal of courage and character to stand up in a public forum and admit your mistakes, and to ask forgiveness. It is the most difficult, and yet the best course of action. You have done the right thing with this post. And this is where the healing begins.

Learn and grow from your errors. And please, continue to post here. You are surrounded by friends here, the ones who know you personally, and the ones, like me, who only know you through our online interactions. These are the people to whom you can turn for support.

As I commented to your father in another thread, you are a valuable asset to this site. Were RedState to lose your talents, it would be that much poorer for it.

If you feel the need for a hiatus, then by all means, take the time you need. We will await patiently for your return. But Ben, please do return. We need your intelligent, insightful, and talented voice in our struggle to make America a better place.

there's no apology necessary.  But it speaks incredibly well of you that you would offer one, regardless.  Good luck, and you'll be in my prayers.

disagree with you on just about everything imaginable. We'd probably argue until our faces turned blue. But you just gained a lot of respect from me and if anything, are a bigger man in my eyes than you were before. I know it may not mean much but I don't think I can adequately express how impressed I am with this statement. If anything I have more respect for you now.

Keep writing Ben, don't give up. Use your voice and don't let this incident silence you. If anything let it drive you to write better, making your arguements more compelling.

Anyway... good luck man. Don't let this drag you down for long.

...is "imperfect" -- you surely know the Catechism. Chose your penance wisely, that you may find forgiveness and be reconciled to God. "Go first be reconciled to your brother."

the past few days. IMO RS is lucky to have you and I think you'll continue to be an effective advocate for conservative causes, here and elsewhere. As far as silver linings go, I hope you can take some comfort in the genuine depth of respect and admiration so many here have revealed for your work and for you.

but if you're trying to tell Augustine that he's being insufficiently remorseful (which is what it seems like you're saying), then you're treading on dangerously thin ice.

You may not work for the Washington Post anymore, but you are clearly a man. That is something not everybody can say, and nobody can take away.

Well done.  My prayers continue to be with you.

...he knows the Catechism. A perfect contrition, or contrition of charity, comes from faith alone. Otherwise it is an imperfect contrition, or contrition of fear. An imperfect contrition cannot lead to forgiveness without penance, then reconciliation to your brother (and that means also your enemy), then reconciliation to God.

you'll become a better man after overcoming the trials. Sometimes the wind knocks us down, not to injure, but to teach us to be stronger. In my own little life, I am thankful for my humbling moments. Anyway, best wishes from a stranger.  

This is not a topic I'd normally be interested in or comment on, since I hadn't even heard of Ben Domenech prior to the hype about his new blogging post at the Post.  But plagiarism is a story that's hard to ignore.  It's so easy to document it when it occurs, and it's such an obvious case of intellectual theft.

I'm happy to see that Ben has now explicitly "apologized" for his actions.  Too often people caught with their hands in the cookie jar will express "regrets" rather than "apologies", which usually means that they regret they were caught.

So apologizing is a good start, but only a start.  It comes after a period of stonewalling and denial, which still leaves me wondering what would have happened if the evidence against Ben wasn't so extensive and irrefutable.  Would he have attempted to bluff his way through?  And would his admirers on this site and elsewhere have blindly defended him?

My point is that none of Ben's admissions have come out voluntarily.  They've been dragged out of him (along with the apology he made) by the research of his critics and the public pressure that his plagiarism produced.

How about if Ben were to pro-actively list all the instances of his past plagiarism, including the ones which have not yet been dug up?  How about if he apologizes to those writers who do not yet know their material was stolen?  That would be an indication that Ben truly understands the wrongs he has committed, and truly is trying to turn over a new leaf.

Maybe all the instances of plagiarism are already out in the open.  But if not, Ben has a duty to disclose those which aren't.  If he fails to do so, or (worse) if he denies that there are any others, and then more cases are uncovered in the coming days, we will have good reason to doubt the sincerity of Ben's apology.

You are asking a man who has seen his enemies rip through his young adulthood and throw every possible discretion in his face....to go and do exactly the same thing to himself???

I'm sorry, but I simply do not believe, based on what I have seen so far, that this situation qualifies for that level of penance.

I believe Ben's apology is directed quite generally to all who have been impacted by what he did.  He is paying for it in many, many ways.

Let it go.

...and kicking a man when he is down.  I've read enough of this sort of thing to be sick of it; and I'm a democrat!

Gosh.  You are so original. Why did you post this here?

I hang at RedState to learn what is on the minds of people I do not agree with.  Show some class, and post this on Kos, if you need to vent.

The people who post here deserve some respect, not childish gloating.

       Around a year ago I blogged at the Alternet when I was brand new to blogging and used some material from David Horowitz without attributing it to him. I changed a few words around hoping to get away with it. I knew it was wrong, but did it anyway. Someone busted me and I felt so bad that I never did it again.

       Your act of contrition seems genuine and that shows what kind of a guy you are; conservative, honest and decent. Go take in the waves and sunshine in Puerto Rico and get your thoughts together. Then come back and kick butt!

At least that's what I'd do.  :-)

Give it time -- and give yourself time to reflect on it.  

(A copy of my post on an earlier thread; a slightly longer rendition of these thoughts is at ObWi.)

Ben is not Catholic. The fact that you would make such a statement reveals much of your character.

Second, you've been peddling this smarmy, unctuous crap for two days. No more.

It's Ok, Ben.  We love you.

I am but mildly concerned with the acts for which you have been accused, and the severity of those to which you have admitted.

I have the deepest respect for your willingness and courage to perform this act of contrition and for that I only respect and admire you all the more for it.

As I commented elsewhere here, I am more deeply concerned by the methods your opponents have used to make their claims and dismantle you before you had a chance to make a difference in what I still believe to be a noble cause, and I pray you do not let this chip away at your determination to keep up the fight; in fact I hope this experience only servse to further inspire you to "stay the course".

I cannot outdo Leon for scripture, but I add these words of Jesus himself here:



7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her."

8 And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.

9 But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.

10 Jesus looked up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" 11 She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again."

I have not posted here in quite a while - not even logged in - but I have come back over to see the fallout of this week's events.  I do have this to offer, genuinely from the heart.

Others have said, quite correctly, learn and grow - pick up the pieces and realize that you can take up your work, whatever that may be, again, and show your face in the world.  Part of growing up and becoming an adult is getting a little dirt under your nails - I don't mean hard work (though that's part of it), but humility.  True humility is founded in self-awareness - awareness of our own weaknesses and failings.  

The most important line from above is:

And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her."

You now have your own sin (I certainly have mine - none of us is perfect) - hold that in the front of your mind whenever you reflect on the sins and failings of others, in all things you do.  The forgiveness and understanding we all need comes from others around us - that, to me, is the true love and message of Christ.  

You may find your life's path takes several unexpected turns - there are second acts in American lives - we just re-invent ourselves - it's part of what makes our nation great.  Re-invention doesn't mean denying or forgetting the past - simply the redemptive action of picking up and doing something new, and positive, again.  

You have anything to really apologize for.  I think you were the victim of a smear, and that some of those who owed you loyalty - and should have waited for your side of the story before they piled on.

The NRO movie review is not sufficient proof in my eyes of the plagarism charge in question.  This is more akin to the digital lynchings of the past year that have turned my stomach.

to fully fumigate this site! In the meantime, we'll all just have to type one-handed and keep a shoe handy!

That train has left the station.

and the young are often intemperate!

This too will pass! And you will be better for it!

A wise man once told me, "When they can't beat the message, they will always come after the messenger." Sadly, that is the case here.

Take comfort in the fact that the message endures, and the victories will continue to mount. I look forward to your return.

Take them elsewhere, after the short bus drops you off.

time to spend with those that you love and love you back. Heal your heart and your mind so that when you begin the fight back, you'll be on top of your game.

I spent a life in the corporate world and seen many a young person in a similar position for various reasons. Most were because they were setup for failure by a senior that feared them.

Regardless, it can be career ending, unless one chooses it NOT to be.

I suspect that you will NOT choose to let it be, but take some advise from an old war horse. Relax, surround yourself with those that love you and heal.

In no time at all it will just be scar, the first of many. You should see how many I have.

We have a fight to fight here, we need you well and standing firmly on both feet!

God Bless,

Gordon Taylor

or papers he has written for.

But frankly I don't think he owes you that, or me that, or anyone else that.

An apology for the obuscation is really about the only thing he owes the blogsphere.  He gave that, its enough.

Good for you.  That took guts.  I know I've made my own mistakes and how I've paid for them.

All the best.

You are a million miles ahead of those who slandered you and attacked you. I can only look forward to the day when a lefty is held to the same standard as you were, and conservatives always are, on a regualr basis.

The best way to deal with this is to get over it and keep on swinging, and sooner than later.

The slimebucket who runs Kos did nost seem to wait too long after cheering for the murder of Americans to get back in to the game.

Your sin is vastly less, and you are no slime bucket.

Come back soon.

This post took guts.  With that, now we can all go onward.  My prayers are with you.

Reading through all the comments I am struck by how it must feel to you to receive sooo much advice. For some reason it puts tears on my cheeks. I suppose that it is because when we are broken, weak and contrite we arrive at a place of such great opportunity to change, to overcome, to arise stronger fit to more noble service. This is an archetypal theme which is employed to practical effect from the military to the desert fathers and is captured in the cross.

Augustine, I'll give you the lesson I tearfully see as hopeful, perhaps because it is the one that means so much to me personally.

Let truth be the wind that fills your sails, and so set your rudder. The proof of your integrity to truth is when you are prepared to sacrifice even yourself on truth's alter.

May all your gifts be employed in truth's service to the greater good of all.

I refused to post on this subject once the plagiarism charges came out. The simple fact was that they looked too credible and had all else been equal, I would have posted and urged you to come clean like you did here as soon as the charges came out - it's always better that way.

But ...

... I'll be damned if I would give the Kossacks and the other evil #@%#!@!% that mounted the hate and character assasination campaign against you until they came across mud that will stick the satisfaction of seeing true-red RSers "turn" against you. So I kept my peace and hoped that you'll do the right thing.

It seems my faith in you was well-placed.

I have a great deal of respect for you today and I'm so very glad you're on our side. Better you than Markos any day.

But let me be honest; I'll have a great deal less respect for you, if you are not back in the saddle and firing with both barrels within the next month. It's only a flesh wound and we need a lot more soldiers like you in the trenches. There's still lotsa a** to kick and you got some strong boots.

See you soon, okay?

Augustine, I accept your apology, and you have complete absolution from me regarding this matter.  It's done forever.  Judging by the comments added to this post and Mike's post today, I'd say you are home again, and regardless of what happens to your name outside RS, here you are among brothers and sisters.   Do not forget or underestimate the gravity, the heft of what that means.

While you might wisely disappear for awhile from the larger world, it is my hope that you do not lay low at RS, not even for a week.  Keep fighting the fight.  You are a fearsome advocate of the larger coservative cause, a great thinker.  The two people here that I fear the most, in terms of landing on the opposite side of a debate, are Thomas Crown and Augustine.  When that happens brother, better packa lunch cuz you KNOW you are in for a long day.  FWIW, Leon and Mike are no picnoc either.

Two quick points.  First, it is under duress, defeat, and shaming that we learn the most about a man's character.  You've acquitted yourself honorably and admirably, when it was hardest to do so.

Second, to any Kossacks and other suck-butts and low-lifes that are reading this entire post, in the hopes of seeing evidence that the REAL conservatives are eating their own, I say -- BBWWWWWAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!  Losers!!!!!!!

Not really familiar with you as I'm fairly new to this site.  Learned in the past few days that you are a young, talented guy, well-respected by those who do know you, and you made a mistake.  Your stellar achievements are envied by many, therefore you became their punching bag in an unbelieveable free-for-all.

You are young.  You've apologized.  Learn the lessons and move on. This will all fade. You'll get a better perspective further down the road when your future successes are so stunning that they will dwarf anything you've done so far. This is just a blip!

     G-d bless you pal for your guts, and good luck.

You were a baby when I made my similar screw-ups.  The internet was not even yet a gleam in the eye (making mine ungoogleable as well, PTL).  You're doing fine.  Move on. (Not to steal a nasty bunch of pervert's favorite phrase, but it works here.)

And thank goodness, no one got killed or pregnant.  Many would be jealous.

...in the long run without the albatross of the Washington Post around your neck.  Lie down with dogs and you'll soon get fleas.

I haven't been part of Red State for long, but I admire the intelligent, dignified way you have conducted yourself in these very difficult times.  It takes a first class person to admit a mistake and move on.  

The past cannot be changed.  But forgiveness is an act of faith in the future.  I have tremendous faith in your future.  

that way we can get them out of the corners!!

pointed out, he's not Catholic. But if he was, I suspect he might seek the sort of counsel you've given him from a priest, and in the privacy of a confessional. Not here. Not from you.

This post is about a gazillion times more impressive than the previous one.  We conservatives love to talk about personal responsibility, but it can be a difficult principle to apply to ourselves.  Those who do take responsibility for their actions learn from their mistakes, and see an opportunity to show maturity and character.

There's a line from the movie Wall Street that I've always liked.  It's advice given to Bud right before he's arrested for securities fraud:

"Man looks in the abyss, there's nothing staring back at him. At that time a man finds his character--and that is what keeps him out of the abyss..."

Eh, maybe a little dramatic, but you get the idea...

"Citizen Blam's"

We're only allowed 10 a month, and I've used them all up this past week. Do you think the editors can make an exception and hand out some more?

I appreciate your honesty, and wish you lots of success in the future. I think that you're lucky that this came out so early in your life and has been taken care, now you can move and accomplish great things. Good luck.

Having said that, my earlier suggestion still stands. The lefties' behavior in this instance was despicable from every angle, and it's about time they received a taste of their own medicine.

Thanks for coming clean--it was the right thing to do and the manly thing to do. It's out and now nearly over. Thanks for actually telling everyone the truth and apologizing rather than just denying, misdirecting, and obfuscating the way we're accustomed to our politicians and other public officials behaving. That's character and humility.

And you are forgiven.  I didn't want to believe it, but one of the hallmarks of us conservatives is that we live by the truth (even if it hurts us).  I'm so sorry that you had to endure what you did, but on the other hand, you did open yourself up to all the bad that you might have done over your (damn young) lifetime.

It is a shame that your life had to go through what it did from those on the left (hey, why let a fact or two get in the way of a good argument).  Unfortunatly, you had a skeleton or two that would make the Corpses Bride jealous.  They jumped on it, and you are the worse for it.  All for trying to host a balance on the WaPost website.  'Tis kinda of what happens to any conservative these days - you become the specimen under the microscope in the eyes of all those trying to destroy the conservative movement - including those in the media that get giddy when someone from the conservative media takes a hit.

What you did as a younger man (like you are an ole' fart now) was not right, nor does it reflect positively on you.  But you have the opportunity to move on, find your voice again, and be a valued contributer to the conservative voice.  So, don't give up.

Rog

 
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