Imagine for a moment the guy who owned the biggest and nicest house in your neighborhood decided to take your stuff. Imagine you go to him and explain that you’d be happy to lend him your stuff but would like it back, but he laughs it off and shuts the door in your face. What do you do? You have to live with this guy, he’s your neighbor.
Neighbors should want to try to work things out.
It has been nearly a month since the Nazi’s in Cobb County made the news and our own Jason Shepherd wrote a post comparing their presence to an old trope from the Blues Brothers. A few days later the AJC would publish a piece written by Bill Torpy that is substantially the same and makes several of the same key points beyond just a comparison to the Blues Brothers.
In the intervening weeks since those two posts were published, I have tried to politely and amicably resolve this issue but have been stiff armed the entire time. I have been trying to be a good neighbor.
Torpy, for his part, says he never saw Shepherd’s post before he published. He says he lived the Illinois Nazi moment in real life from his days a resident of that state. He say’s that someone doesn’t last over forty years in this business by being, in his words, “a dick.”
Really? Never saw it, huh? So lets start comparing the two pieces. Shepherd’s was published two days before Torpy’s. They both make use of the Blues Brothers, both even quoting the same exact line.
Shepherd: Elwood scoffs, “Illinois Nazis.” To which Jake replies with the classic line, “I hate Illinois Nazis.”
Torpy: “I hate Illinois Nazis,” growls Jake. Elwood nods, steps on the gas and barrels towards the brown shirts who dive into the water to save themselves.
They then both point to a freedom of speech court case that allowed the Nazi’s to engage in their protests. They both point out an uptick in antisemitic activity in Georgia and reference the distribution of leaflets by hate groups in Atlanta neighborhoods. They both point out that the Nazi’s may be getting exactly the attention they want by having us cover their activity.
Never saw it, huh?
Bill has used this blog as a tip sheet for his own stuff before. I know this because he has called me to ask me about posts we have written so he can give his own take. This post I wrote about a convict running for State House was published on June 24th, 2022. Torpy’s piece was published in October of the same year. I have text messages from where he asked me for several key pieces of info. He didn’t acknowledge the help he received from us in that article either, but at least he spoke with us before publishing.
So when I was alerted by one of Peach Pundit’s eagle eyed contributors to what looks like blatant plagiarism, I reached out to Bill via text. All I wanted him to do was acknowledge Jason’s work. It is the absolute lowest of bars, a shout out tweet to Jason from Bill saying that great minds think alike. No admission of wrong doing, just a shout out.
The door has been shut in my face.
Now here’s the thing that really sticks in my craw. I asked Bill what would he do if he were in my shoes? He responded, and I quote, “dunno.” You know what that tells me? That if we had done this to Bill that he wouldn’t just let it go. He wouldn’t be satisfied with a response of, “believe what you will,” which is what he told me via text.
Maybe it is possible in some weird way that two pieces can be so substantially similar, all the way from a dated reference to a movie that people stopped watching more than a decade ago, to several of the key points made throughout both pieces.
But here is the rub, beyond writing this post and telling you we were ripped off, there really isn’t anything I can do about it. We are a small blog, with a niche audience. All I can do is tell the other neighbors that maybe they should be careful around the rich guy who takes the little guy’s stuff without asking.