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May 13, 2005

SCO stories frequently republished on other websites, often drawing ire of critics

by Alex Mazerov, Page Editor
"YOU'RE AN IDIOT!!!!"
"You have your head screwed on backwards!"
"You are an enemy of the United States."

These are just three excerpts from the onslaught of rather malicious emails I began receiving in my inbox almost immediately after my story "Americans in the crosshairs" was published on Silver Chips Online (SCO) in Sept. 2004.

Granted, some of the pro-gun rights people who contacted me via email regarding my article, in which I argued that Congress should renew and strengthen the Assault Weapons Ban (AWB), were perfectly civilized. They each stated their opinion on the issue — usually something to the effect of, "The AWB is a completely unconstitutional piece of tyrannical legislation passed by the socialists in Washington" — and requested that I respond to them and clarify my views.

Most of the gun aficionados who wrote to me, however, were the opposite of civil, to say the least. Some compared my ideas to those of Hitler. Others included pro-gun quotations from historical figures. In several emails, writers included an excerpt from Sigmund Freud's "General Introduction to Psychoanalysis," which read, "A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity." My personal favorite was a quip from Krusty the Clown: "There are three reasons to own a gun. To protect yourself and your family, to hunt dangerous and delicious animals, and to keep the King of England out of your face." Text from some emails was just too indecent to be printed here.

But the gun-lovers' tirades weren't confined to my inbox. Second-amendment advocates also posted an exorbitant number of comments on the SCO page where the story was located. The article received a whopping 139 comments — more than any other story published up to that point in the school year — in just over two weeks.

This flood of comments got us at SCO wondering how all these people from across the country were drawn to the website of a high school newspaper. After some online snooping and a few Google searches, we discovered that a portion of my article had been republished on a pro-gun rights website, Keep and Bear Arms.

The case of my article being republished on another website without permission is not an isolated incident. SCO's addition to the Google News database in late 2003 drew many Internet users from around the world to the site. As a result of this increased publicity, a number of SCO articles have been reprinted elsewhere on the Internet, often drawing the ire of critics.

"KID IS TAKING A BEATING"

On the "Keep and Bear Arms" website, my article was posted on a forum page by the site's administrator. Directly below the paragraph in which I asserted that Congress made the jobs of terrorists easier by allowing the AWB to expire, the administrator encouraged the sites' readers to contact me via email, writing, "Feel free to set this kid straight with some cold, hard facts." The person then inserted my personal email address for all to see.

When the story was initially posted, I expected to receive a steady flow of emails from gun-rights activists for at least a few days. But I in no way anticipated the onslaught of messages that began arriving in my inbox literally one hour after the article was published. After receiving around 40 emails after two days, I decided enough was enough and removed my email address from my staff page on the SCO site.

The ambush of emails soon began subsiding. One commenter on the gun site realized that I had taken my email address down and wrote, "KID IS TAKING A BEATING, GOOD JOB GUYS. Notice how the link to his personel [sic] email and website are no longer there."

Having lost one avenue of criticizing my views, the gun aficionados turned their attention and effort towards the comment page on the SCO site, where they continued to leave numerous messages totaling thousands of words. Many of these comments asserted that as teenagers, Blair students should leave discussions concerning political matters, such as gun control, to our elders. One woman left a comment reading, "Stick to the acne, the dating girls and homework and leave the Constitution to the adults."

A more recent SCO article entitled "Our cultured president" triggered a similar backlash from gun-control foes, despite the fact that a mere two sentences of the story actually discussed the Assault Weapons Ban. Those two sentences were republished, without permission from the author, on another pro-gun, anti-AWB website, AWBanSunset.com. Along with the brief excerpt, the site administrator included a short squib: "Ok, this is only a high school online publication, but still... this type of nonsense (even if written by a teenager) needs to be answered."

The brief mention of "Our cultured president" on a gun site drew many commenters to the SCO site who directed some spiteful postings at the author. One wrote, "Is this the best that Montgomery High School has to offer? Someone needs to sue for incompetent educators." Another wrote, "If this is an example of your best work, perhaps you should keep your job at McDonalds."

Free Republic

In Feb., a feature by juniors Armin Rosen and Emily-Kate Hannapel, entitled "Seeing green: A vegetarian teaches a meat-eater the hidden joys of tofu," was republished on FreeRepublic.com, an über-internet forum dubbed "a hub of conservative viewpoints" by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and an "ultra-right-wing Internet site" by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The article was, according to Rosen, "written to satirize the dietetic intolerance faced by vegetarian and meat-eater alike."

The article was posted by a member named "SamAdams76." Along with the story, the anonymous user wrote, "This is just a high-school paper but I thought it was pretty funny. Love that picture of the disappointed vegetarian sitting at the Outback. She'll have plenty more opportunities in life to work on that disapproving frown."

"Seeing green" prompted many Free Republic users, called "Freepers," to leave some splashy comments on the thread. One noted, "You can never become too narrow minded too early!" And, aha, another Hitler comparison: "Hitler was a vegetarian and look at all that he accomplished." Another added, "He tried vegetarian food and dismissed it through experience. She sneered at meat and dismissed it through superior pre-supposition. The definition of liberalism." Other comments from the site are just too vulgar or offensive to be printed in a high school publication.

Free Republic is well known for copying news items from mainstream publications and other sources and posting them on various threads, sparking right-leaning discussions among the site's over 170,000 registered users, according to The Washington Post. In fact, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times took legal action against Free Republic several years ago over just that. The two print publications sued for copyright infringement, alleging that Free Republic improperly took entire copyrighted articles from their respective websites. The lawsuit was settled out of court, and Free Republic agreed to remove the posted articles and pay the two newspapers several thousand dollars each. Now, Free Republic posts only excerpts of copyrighted material on its message boards.

The flip side

Despite these examples of angry reactions to SCO stories by critics on the Internet, the posting of most articles on other sites have had few negative repercussions and have instead served to increase SCO's readership and exposure.

A review I wrote last summer of "Reno 911!" was republished on an alternative lifestyle website called MetroG, apparently due to the show's portrayal of a gay police officer. In Nov., I wrote a review of the live special that "The Daily Show" staged on election night which was soon reprinted on Wliia.net. In addition, a news story I wrote last October was posted on Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen's campaign website, as was another article by junior Jeremy Goodman. Another article by Goodman, "Pat Martino packs Blues Alley," was reprinted on JazzGuitarResources.com. Junior Kiran Bhat had two of his articles posted on other sites - one on Valerie Ervin's Montgomery County Board of Education campaign website, and another on the National Association of Home Builders website.

Numerous other SCO articles have been published, both in their entirety and as excerpts, on outside websites. A feature story by senior Olivia Bevacqua was reprinted without any attribution whatsoever on HealthyPlace.com. An excerpt from a feature by senior Karima Tawfik was added to a thread on an Internet blog called Recently. Also, a few sentences from senior Eric Glover's feature on Internet gaming were posted on the website of the Cyberathlete Amateur League. "Understanding the iPod craze," a story by junior Clair Briggs, was republished on ipod411.com.

In addition, a movie review of "King Arthur" by junior Ekta Taneja was posted on ioanonline.com. The person who added it to the site wrote, "Now THIS is a good review." A story junior Mike Bushnell wrote concerning 50 Cent's expulsion of rapper The Game from G-Unit was posted on andilinks.com, drawing a slew of interested commenters to the SCO site. Junior Chris Consolino's news stroy on Blair's new vending machine policy was partially republished on tradeworlds.com. An article by senior Anthony Glynn about track runner Gary Clark, a Blair alum, was posted on Dana College's website. An excerpt from a story about the dangers of high school wrestlers cutting weight, by Blair graduate Easha Anand, was an included on a page on PBS.org.

Since SCO's content is not copyrighted, it's perfectly legal for others to republish our articles in their entirety, as long as the other sites don't stand to make a profit from the reprinted material. Technically, uncopyrighted material becomes property of the author once it's published.

This article itself discusses a number of topics likely to strike some sort of chord with critics on the Internet; it refers to the Assault Weapons Ban and the tactics of "Freepers," for example. Who knows, maybe some interested reader will repost on another site. If that's the case, let the volley of emails and comments begin.





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Silver Chips Online invites you to share your thoughts about this article. Please use this forum to further discussion of the story topic and refrain from personal attacks and offensive language. SCO reserves the right to deny any comment. No comments that include hyperlinks will be posted. If you have a question for us, please include your email address or use this form.
 

  • blazer! on May 13, 2005 at 3:54 PM
    Adults are stupid. Who in their right minds actually has the time to judge and critique a high school students article? Obviously someone who has no life. Great Article Alex.
  • I Think in Pink on May 13, 2005 at 4:23 PM
    Aw, that sucks...I think it is really unfair to take someone else's story without giving them any credit, even though that is legal. Especially that article about eating disorders. How will a reader know what a "Blazer" is if they do not know where this source came from?

    I myself have written angry emails to authors. You should never say something such as "YOU'RE AN IDIOT!!!!" because the author does not take your email as seriously.
  • jeff (View Email) on May 13, 2005 at 8:27 PM
    you go alex. stick it to them freepers. after all, when you're wrong, its very easy to default onto uncontrolled spurts of emotion...
  • tim dooley (View Email) on May 13, 2005 at 9:03 PM
    Why isn't Silver Chips (and/or SCO) copyrighted? Does this have something to do with the arcane MCPS regulations that govern student expression and journalism?

    Tim Dooley '01
  • ... on May 13, 2005 at 9:40 PM
    "Ok, this is only a high school online publication, but still... this type of nonsense (even if written by a teenager) needs to be answered."

    this is good. the fact that articles are leaving an impact on even those people who claim to look down on us so much. the article is obviously well written and taken seriously if people are affected enough to answer to it(hypocrites).

    well done, im proud of my school.
  • sjp on May 13, 2005 at 9:49 PM
    posted on OxBlog:

    "# Posted 11:45 AM by David Adesnik
    BLING-BLING, NEW HAVEN STYLE: What happens when nerds try to rap? Find out here [http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/inside.php?sid=4873]. Sample verse:

    Yeah, I'm a Magnet. I wear glasses, but I rock the boat / So my verdict on your wording is - *ahem* hold on, lemme clear my throat / 'Cause the only thing you gonna understand from this quote / Is that when you mess with Magnets, we gonna kick your asymptote!

    OxBlog sez that's funky, fly and fresh. Reihan better watch his back. (Hat tip: MAB)"
  • Minh on May 13, 2005 at 10:53 PM
    ...Wow....
  • Armin Rosen on May 13, 2005 at 11:20 PM
    I wonder how long it's going to take for this article to end up on Free Republic.
  • John Sparks on May 14, 2005 at 11:03 AM
    But the AWB IS a unconstitutional piece of legislation. The AWB is in clear violation of the 2nd and 10th amendments of our constitution. If you wish to ignore those two very important amendments, why not ignore the other amendments too? Let's ignore the 13th amendment and bring back slavery. Let's ignore the 15th and 19th amendments, and allow only white males to vote. What makes some parts of the Constitutional somehow more "worthy" than the others?
  • Armin Rosen on May 14, 2005 at 1:34 PM
    Alex's point exactly...
  • Sally Lanar on May 14, 2005 at 10:29 PM
    I also had my story on Blazers being sexually harassed at work posted on a couple of websites without my permission. They did give me and Silver Chips credit, though.

    Is it possible that this article could have been done without the first person at the beginning? I don't know, for me it discredits a bit what's being said. but that's the editors' choice...
  • katie on May 15, 2005 at 2:19 AM
    awesome article! silver chips is my hero.
  • Anarchist on May 15, 2005 at 1:15 PM
    "...junior Mile Bushnell..."

    HAHA! I can just hear the announcer now: "And coming up next, the favorite for all you ladies out there, "Mile" BushNELL!"

    Presumably Mike Bushnell?
  • Anarchist on May 15, 2005 at 1:17 PM
    Try posting a flagrantly conservative article and see what kind of response you generate from liberal websites. I doubt it will be pretty, given the comment responses of one "C. Guillin" from a few articles on Israel.
  • JSB on May 15, 2005 at 2:29 PM
    from The Washington Post:

    "Montgomery County le/2005/05/10/AR2005051001294.html

    <3<3 chips
  • JSB on May 15, 2005 at 2:44 PM
    The comment below should read:

    from The Washi le/2005/05/10/AR2005051001294.html

    <3<3 chips
  • Re: Sparks on May 15, 2005 at 5:34 PM
    I dont think you have any idea what you are talking about, mostly because of the ruling of the supreme court in 1939 in US v Miller, that declared gun control constitutional if there was no link to the state militia. And you can't declare this liberal bias, because this was the SAME COURT that struck down many of FDR's New Deal laws as unconstitutional.

    and maybe next time you wanna keep in mind that the 9th ammendment says that your rights cannot infringe on the rights of others. last time i checked, i had the right to not die from a high powered bullet shot out of an AK-47.
  • just watching on May 15, 2005 at 6:49 PM
    this is a really interesting article... i like how there are so many people out there who get so worked up over what innocent highschoolers are writing....ahhh the power of the posted word
  • Anonymously Liberal on May 15, 2005 at 8:10 PM
    Conservative nutheads. It'd be nice if they kept their messages to liberal highschoolers at least a little more civil.
  • Michael Forbes on May 15, 2005 at 8:37 PM
    "Since SCO's content is not copyrighted, .."

    I looked through the site and couldn't find any mention of the copyright of the articles or their release into the public domain. That means that SCO's content is actually copyrighted. Explicit statement of copyright has not been required since the US decided to adhere to the Berne Convention in 1989. All works simply by their creation have an inherent copyright. So anyone who copies SCO's article is in fact in violation of the law. (See http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#hsc) for details)
  • Anarchist on May 15, 2005 at 9:34 PM
    Actually, "Re: Sparks" the 1939 court was not the same court that struck down most of the New Deal. That court was in the early '30s; FDR's court-packing bill was the mid-30s. It failed; but enough justices retired or died to allow a liberal majority to take the court by the end of the decade and allow the Second New Deal to take effect.
  • pratik on May 15, 2005 at 10:08 PM
    forbes: 1 Conservative nutheads: -(however many stories were posted)
  • ... on May 15, 2005 at 10:10 PM
    Awesome article, Alex. I'm completely amazed at how so many sites reproduce or quote SCO work... even if they do flame the authors.
  • wow on May 15, 2005 at 10:28 PM
    You did a really amazing job alex.
    ...just wow
  • Michael Forbes on May 15, 2005 at 10:54 PM
    It is important to note that while in general republishing the articles is in direct violation of SCO's copyright, the sites are protected by the fair use clause which allows small excerpts to be republished if they are being republished for criticism (which these sites seem to be overdoing).
  • Jackie H on May 15, 2005 at 11:25 PM
    Don't you just love these right-wing nuts? And to 'John Sparks,' the United States Constitution is an evolving thing, a work in progress. When it was made, it was to keep from falling under the (tyrannical) rule of a king who was an ocean away on an island nation. Do you think the framers thought that civilization would advance this far so (relatively) quickly?
  • Stupid freeloaders on May 16, 2005 at 8:36 AM
    Silver Chips could make a metric ton of cash from lawsuits. I'm not saying that SC should be turned into a business, but lawsuit settlements from such theifs as healthyplace.com could make Blair a pretty penny.
  • Anonymous on May 16, 2005 at 6:15 PM
    "Conservative nutheads. It'd be nice if they kept their messages to liberal highschoolers at least a little more civil."

    Well, althoough I don't agree in the manner what that they brought up their points the "Conservative nutheads" did have valid points with respect to that article. If Blair didn't offer such a clear liberal slant with respect to, well EVERYTHING and offered both sides of the story it would be better. I have found that over the years what has happened is that facts have been misconstrued time and time again in support of liberal views.

    Alex, you were flamed because you made a mistake in your article. After the e-mails came in if you offered a retraction or correction of your article saying you were wrong in that I'm sure it would have subsided much faster.
  • Emily-Kate Hannapel (View Email) on May 17, 2005 at 9:54 AM
    I was shocked when my article was posted on freerepublic. The comments were not only rude and offensive, but they crossed the line. I was amazed that others could reprint our article without any sort of permission or indication or posting it. In the future is there anything i could do?
  • Louis Wasserman (View Email) on May 17, 2005 at 6:25 PM
    Blair does a fairly good job of addressing both sides of the story. Mind you, I haven't seen any blatantly non-Blazer liberal attacks on any of the various conservative editorials, most notably Armin Rosen's. Mind you, if I'm wrong, please tell me. And if some liberal website did draw criticism to Silver Chips, I'd be happy to rant at them. Conservative or liberal, we're highschoolers, and we can have a reasonable debate without non-Blazers attacking our positions, thank you very much.
  • moderate on May 17, 2005 at 6:44 PM
    why does everyone have to get so emotional? and take things so personally? like kick and scream and write horribly one-sided articles that is so close to belonging under 'opinions'? i think it's horrible people copy and paste these articles onto their own sites. i mean they should be able to quote and reference them, but everyone deserves credit for what they did and should be able to fight back (give their side of the story) when they are criticized. i am a blair freshman, and i see no reason why there is all this name-calling, finger-pointing, and conservative-slamming. be a little more subtle, guys. let the reader try to guess if you're being sarcastic or trying to send the message home, like that veggie one by em-k.
  • its blair on May 18, 2005 at 8:43 AM
    haha, foolish freshman, if you stay at blair long enough, you begin to understand how disturbingly one-sided this schools politcal views are. Conservatives are critized for being "stupid" and not for their views. Thats just for some reason how this region is, Takohma park probably doesn't help very much... no offense to my buddies who live there
  • Armin Rosen on May 18, 2005 at 11:46 AM
    Wasserman is correct. The only website that's ever picked up one of my more conservative opinion pieces is, interestingly, freerepublic.
  • Something to ponder on May 18, 2005 at 12:15 PM
    "Conservatives are critized for being "stupid" and not for their views."
    This is true, even though you will find a much higher political balance amongst magnet kids then the extreme liberalism of non-magnets.
  • Hrm on May 18, 2005 at 12:18 PM
    Do you happen to have the email address of the site admin for Keep and Bear Arms?
  • Jack Murphy on May 18, 2005 at 8:33 PM
    Look, if SCO wants to ://www.google.com
  • Jack Murphy on May 18, 2005 at 8:35 PM
    oh, and "hrm" you could scroll down to the bottom of the Keep and Beat Arms website and look where it says "Click here for contact information" =

    http://keepandbeararms.com/about/contact_us.asp
  • Uh... on May 21, 2005 at 11:22 AM
    RE: Sally Lanar

    "Is it possible that this article could have been done without the first person at the beginning? I don't know, for me it discredits a bit what's being said. but that's the editors' choice..."

    Sally, I totally disagree. I think the first person at the begining was VERY effective. It helps draw the reader in and, considering that the author was talking about a personal experience, it was probably the only way that this article could have worked. I think Silver chips print and online shouldn't shy away from first person as much as it does, because I personally find first person stories more compelling and interesting.

    Also, why does people always feel the need to edit stories after they've gone in print? The author isn't going to change it now, and they know what they're doing. People should use comments to talk about the SUBJECT of the article, not the grammer or style. If you want to critique articles, that's your business, but nobody else really cares.

    Great article Alex, keep up the good work Silver Chips!
  • carebear on May 22, 2005 at 11:41 PM
    The articles at Blair are incredibly liberal at times. I find myself often critized for being too conservative. Magnet may be mixed, but in CAP, they're all pretty much bleeding heart liberals.
  • Wow on May 23, 2005 at 4:44 PM
    I just went to the Arms sight...that's pathetic. Just keep writing your stuff, don't listen to them.
  • senior (View Email) on April 23, 2006 at 1:35 AM
    i disagree with "uh..."
    being a high school journalist myself, i would absolutely love it if people would give me constructive criticism on my writing as Sally did. she didnt tear apart the article, she gave her advice or opinion...we are as everyone has been saying "only high schoolers," we are NOT professionals, this is not our life, therefore we can take and NEED the criticism. it's helpful advice, if only every school was lucky enough to have such avid readers to comment on their articles and care!
    i love silver chips. period.
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