The fireworks continue to fly in the Mefferd/Driscoll battle. Janet Mefferd did a follow-up in which she revealed further allegations of plagiarism against Mark Driscoll. If these are true, they are, in my eyes, more damning than the earlier ones since, in the previous example, Driscoll did give proper credit for the same material in an earlier book.
This does not change my overall opinion on the initial dispute. Mark Driscoll has a history of erratic behavior and has many things for which he should answer – including his ouster of former friends and colleagues from positions of trust and Mars Hill Church. If this were just an isolated name or two, one might write it off as a rogue employee, but there are indeed numerous bodies under the Mars Hill bus.
Yet, that being said, I still think Janet Mefferd handled the matter improperly. Mark Driscoll had every reason to expect that the conversation would be the usual promotional interview to plug his book. He had every reason to expect she would treat it like her other interviews: she reads the book and asks insightful questions that allow the author to flesh out his ideas for her audience. He certainly could not expect that he would be accused of plagiarism on-air.
Instead, she should have informed him privately of the matter first, stated it would be the subject of the interview, and that she would go public with the information if he canceled. He then could have had a chance, if it was accidental, to plan to correct it. As I pointed out in my podcast on the matter, he had used the material previously and gave Dr. Peter Jones full credit. Thus, this was likely a blunder which, although serious, was probably not intentional. After all, those who are fans of Driscoll’s books have already seen it and know the material did not originate with him. This does not mean it is not a serious matter, but might indicate it is not an intentional matter. The new charges will have to be evaluated on their own merits.
With that said, the conduct of some employees of supposedly Christian publishers who have made thinly veiled threats to blacklist Mefferd’s program is reprehensible. This is a time when the matter should be fairly evaluated – not decided with attempts at blackmail via Twitter. As bad as it has gotten, things seem to be getting worse.
If anything good may come out of this mess, Christian authors should be aware that plagiarism is a serious issue. Too many times I have seen arguments from an author used without attribution by others. It is bad enough when done by amateurs on the web, but it also occurs with those who should know better. When it comes to their use of material, there are many Christians who need to clean up their act.