Flammeus Gladius

Carmina et Verba pro Discipulis Meis

Tag: Heaven

Plagiarism and Hypocrisy the Shea Way

Plagiarism and Hypocrisy the Shea Way



Catholic blog-monger Mark Shea predictably joined the chorus of leftist voices excoriating Melania Trump for the plagiarism in her convention speech — and predictably did it with the patented Shea sneer, telling his readers how “hilarious” the moment was according to his superior evaluation.  The truth is, though, that Shea is himself a casual plagiarist.  He plagiarizes in another blog post, entitled  “Good to See a Consistent Prolife Ethic.”  But before I demonstrate Shea’s plagiarism, I have to examine what plagiarism actually is.

My sister Kate is the world’s foremost expert on Fulton J. Sheen.  All right, I guess that’s an evaluation, not an unchallenged fact.  But I like phrases such as “the world’s foremost expert” and try to use them whenever I can.  At any rate, my sister is the author of the definitive biography.  It is a version of her doctoral dissertation.

Before she published it, however, she was involved in a conflict with a priest in the Archdiocese of New York who had published his own book on Sheen.  It was a version of his master’s thesis.  Being a Sheen scholar, my sister took a look at the new biography — and found that it had been plagiarized from her dissertation.  She pursued the plagiarizing priest, at some expense, with the zeal of a true academic — until his book was removed from print and revisions to his thesis required if he expected to retain his degree.   There’s a special place in Heaven for scholars who hunt down purveyors of intellectual dishonesty in that fashion.

Here’s the point, however.  Father Plagiarist did not steal my sister’s words.  He could argue that he did not even steal her original ideas.  Rather, he stole her research.  He went through her dissertation and notes in order to acquire Sheen quotes he could use for his own thesis without going to the trouble of reading the requisite books himself.  Hey, it saved time for a busy clergyman!

It was plagiarism nevertheless.

And this is exactly what Shea does in the blog post mentioned above.  He gives a link to an Evangelical blogger opposing the death sentence for the surviving Boston Marathon bomber.  Then he praises the late Elie Wiesel and gives a quotation from that luminary regarding the death penalty.  But the quote is stolen directly, without attribution, from the Evangelical blogger whom Shea recommends right above.  He does this for exactly the same reasons that Father Plagiarist did it.  He wants to save time. He wants to give the impression that he knows something about Elie Wiesel,  whereas in reality “Pop Goes the Weasel” is more his speed.  He is being intellectually dishonest, just as Father Plagiarist was.

Shea gives abundant evidence at the close of his post that he couldn’t tell Elie Wiesel from Loretta Lynch — even, most likely, at Wiesel’s grave site.

Furthermore, this seems like an habitual act.  I am not a Shea follower.  I am not even a regular reader from a hostile viewpoint.  Friends send me occasional Shea outrages by Facebook message or by e-mail.  And I did flog myself through a couple of his books, if only to assure myself that such stuff could indeed be brought out by Catholic publishers.  But I’m pretty sure that, if I took the time to survey the length and breadth of Shea’s blundering bloggery, I would find many more examples of the same offense.

Now it is easy to imagine Shea’s groupies rushing to defend him.  Hey, cut the poor guy some slack!  He’s writing as a blogger, not an academic.  He’s not claiming any degree on the basis of his remarks.  He has to produce a lot of these insubstantial posts every day.  He probably didn’t know that what he was doing constituted plagiarism, and therefore no culpability can be attributed to him.

And I myself can readily excuse Shea on the grounds of stupidity, of which he possesses a plentiful supply.  Like the Peking homunculus, he has the brain of a barnyard animal.  I’m sure he doesn’t have any clear idea of what constitutes plagiarism.

But the excuses that could be made for him sound to me suspiciously like the excuses that could be made for Melania Trump or for her speechwriter.  And I’d rather excuse Melania.  She’s a lot easier on the eyes.  Sue me.  I’ve always been a sucker for a pretty face.

What’s more, Melania isn’t condemning Shea for his plagiarism.  Excuse him?  She hasn’t even noticed him — and wouldn’t notice him if he jumped up and down in front of her, jiggling his flab and waving his suety arms.

But Shea, the brute, is condemning Melania.  He even sneers at those who would “make excuses” for her.  Shea is not only a plagiarist.  He is a hypocrite.

I believe the proper destination for hypocrites is the Eighth Circle of Hell.  I’m working from memory here, but I will state that my remembered source is Dante.

I wouldn’t want to involve myself in a plagiarism.



–Tom Riley



De Poeta Majore

De Poeta Majore



Et in his omnibus inter nos et vos chaos magnum firmatum est : ut hi qui volunt hinc transire ad vos non possint neque inde huc transmeare.


–Luke 16:26.



When Dante looks across the Great Abyss

And sees you, he will want to add you in

As one who’s merited the Devil’s piss

For sixty-six varieties of sin

He never quite imagined.  He will win

The Lord’s permission – and proceed with zest.

After all, up there, where the heavens spin,

Poets all have enough time to invest.

Completion is up there no troubling quest:

It is a solemn duty and a joy.

And from fierce truth he need give you no rest.

In terza rima, you will suffer, boy!

While Dante rhymes ahead, I’ll look at you

And maybe write a limerick or two.



–Tom Riley








I have done something shameful, alas!

Who’d have thought I could come to this pass?

     Now my soul is a mess.

     There’s a sin to confess!

I considered not kicking your ass….






–Tom Riley

My Fellow Man

My Fellow Man






Lord, I know that my chances are slim.

Oh, the judgment that threatens is grim!

     Nonetheless, Lord, I pray

     That you don’t at last say

I’ll be forced to be saved next to him!






–Tom Riley

Appropriate Regret

Appropriate Regret






For all the lies that he’s been forced to tell,

He renders now appropriate regret

As necessary.  We’ve put him through hell—

But he will win his way to Heaven yet!

Since he’s the smartest guy he ever met,

He calculates his every lie with skill

And wisdom, winning every friendly bet

He has made with himself.  He knows his will

Is focused on the good.  If things go ill,

He’s obviously not the one to blame.

He is as innocent as childhood still.

Without a word, he glorifies his name.

He is among the saints to whom he prays.

Let us respect him in these latter days!






–Tom Riley

Celestial Chess

Celestial Chess


(In memoriam Jim Barrett, d. 14 March 2013)



I never knew that you were keen on chess.

If I had known, of course we would have played.

I hear you liked to win – and I, no less

Than you, am set on victory’s parade.

The checkmate I deliver doesn’t fade

Easily from my memory’s fierce hold.

On my mind’s screen it’s endlessly displayed.

And you were much the same – or so I’m told.

If amongst saints I too end up enrolled—

A prospect that is far from sure to me—

Then on a match I won’t need to be sold:

We shall play games that angels cheer to see;

We shall think clearer, having shed our sins.

Till then, don’t challenge God: He always wins.




–Tom Riley

Lords of Wisdom

Lords of Wisdom




The Lords of Wisdom will not call you wise.

The many errors in your dossier

Cry out to them.  They do not recognize

That your way is a calm, judicious way.

The honesty you endlessly display

Does not in their eyes merit commendation.

They do not think you ought to have your say.

They won’t read your rejected dissertation.

Wisdom, my lad, relies on obfuscation.

Those who see clearly are not wise in fact.

Alertness only causes complication.

Perception is a stimulus to act.

And action?  That’s the goofiest of blunders!

The wise sit still as senseless Heaven thunders.




-Tom Riley

Appeals Process

Appeals Process




When Mr. Tangle stumbles into Hell,

He’ll mumble that there must be some mistake.

Admitting that his brain’s not feeling well,

Still he’ll contest the judgment.  Will he shake

A great big fist at God?  Or shed a lake

Of tears so hot that they would boil a whale?

No, no: not that – for Hell or Heaven’s sake!

Though his fly’s down, he will not howl or wail.

Rather, he’ll smile.  Supporters will not fail,

He knows, to lend him what he needs: support!

He’ll get a brand-new pulpit – where he’ll rail

Against the sins of others.  Heaven’s court

Will at last hear his eighty-fifth appeal.

When he’s in Heaven, how his fans will squeal!




–Tom Riley

Dark Words

Dark Words

Queste parole di colore oscuro

Vid’io scritte al sommo d’una porta….”

Inferno, III, 10-11.

Out of the stuff we must regard as petty,

He fashioned what in verse is most sublime.

Italians often manage this: spaghetti

Covered with blood for sauce, truth shaped from crime,

Mere temporary things transcending time,

And Heaven touched through Hell.  If you should bet

Against these guys, you’d likely lose your dime

And even writhe in infinite regret.

Dante’s place in this company is set.

By such a student, Vergil is outdone.

My first infernal trip I won’t forget:

It was enlightening — and even fun.

I gaze on Dante’s words and cannot cope.

Facing such standards, I abandon hope.

–Tom Riley