Twitchell's Plagiarism

Author: David Christopher Lane
Publisher: Alt.religion.eckankar
Publication date: 1996

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I want to go back to the home base now.

I have enjoyed reading Mark's rebuttals and several other comments recently about Paul Twitchell, my research, shabd yoga, and the like.

1. It seems as if the discussion is getting stuck over a very simple issue, one which I have probably beaten to death (I know that Kent has to be shaking his head, most likely saying to himself "geez, not this again!")..... The issue is not simply over plagiarism, it is over cover-up.... And, I mean precisely those words..... Twitchell attempted to "cover" certain aspects of his life, his writings, and his lineage.

Let us start with a simple one: Twitchell tells both Brad Steiger and Gail that he was born in 1922, when, in point of fact, he was born at least a decade earlier (his first marriage certificate, for instance, says 1912).

On Twitchell's death certificate, Gail writes that Paul was "48" at his death. Now a question naturally arises, "Why did Twitchell--since he was the ultimate source for such information--tell Gail and others a birthdate that was historically wrong.... not by one or two years, but a whole decade......

A simplistic answer (and one that I must confess that I find compelling) is that Paul was trying to "woo" Gail and saying he was just turning forty sounded much better perhaps than saying he was over 50 at least....

Now, i don't know why Twitchell made up the new birthdate and essentially lied about his age, but I do know, given the documentation, that he did in fact tried to conceal his real age....

Okay, now we also realize from his earlier writings that Twitchell had an association with Swami Premananda, Kirpal Singh, and L. Ron Hubbard and even wrote about such characters at length in numerous magazine articles.... Yet, we notice that after he starts Eckankar Twitchell decides to "cover" such an association up.... so much so that he deletes the names of Kirpal Singh and others from THE FLUTE OF GOD when he publishes the book version..... Now there may be a host of competing reasons why he did, but one thing is certain: Twitchell attempted to conceal his association with these spiritual masters after he started Eckankar and in his published writings. He even went to such lengths as to threaten a lawsuit against Kirpal Singh and his associates if he pressed the matter.

When I brought up this documented evidence to Eckankar back in 1977, I was severely reprimanded by Alan Nichols and threatened with a lawsuit. I was also informed "officially" from Eckankar that Twitchell was never initiated by Kirpal Singh. Remember, I didn't even know there was such a concealment until Eckankar denied the connection....

Alright, now going to the books, Mark claims that no serious damage was made by Twitchell plagiarizing Johnson. Yet, Twitchell himself was quite clear about copyright laws (as witnessed by his threats again J.R., who, by the way, didn't even plagiarize in the legal sense of the term from Eckankar books) and was keenly interested in protecting his own published works.... including his supposed "non-fiction" texts.

It is not a question of whether I am just an anal-retentive academic with high standards for term papers.... No, the question is would Twitchell himself have allowed such literary transgression of his own works--fiction or otherwise?

Well, on that one question we have an answer. And Twitchell (and the entire Eckankar organization in terms of its legal responses) agrees with me. He threatened J.R. He threatened Kirpal Singh. Both in letters and both can be verified by anyone...............

And Twitchell took huge chunks of material from Johnson. John-Roger Hinkins in his published writings did not take any paragraphs, any pages, or any texts. He "took" ideas.... And even on that dubious issue, Twitchell legally threatened him.

Eckankar sued one of their own back in 1978 for a term paper.... His name was James Peebles. Why? Because he gave one copy of his paper to a Professor Ed Gruss at L.A. Baptist College.

If Peebles had plagiarized just 1/10 from Eckankar of what Twitchell has taken from other sources, Eckankar would have sued him.

And if Twitchell was around, he would have ordered his attorneys to do so.

Concerning the trademark issue, I actually like what Nick said because that is precisely my point: Eckankar recognizes trademarks, copyrights, etc., when it comes to their own intellectual property.

Keep in mind that I have no problem with that per se. I do have a problem, though, when that same understanding is not applied to themselves or to their founder.

If Eckankar is willing to sue someone over the alleged misuse of their trademarked symbols, then I think Eckankar should acknowledge that it was wrong (and, I do mean wrong---and not some lame excuse) for their founder to plagiarize hundreds of paragraphs from other authors......

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I want to go back to the home base now.