The Critical Mass

Plagiarizing from the pros

Another day, another example of Rand Paul playing fast and loose with the rules of attribution.

The evidence… Oh, pardon me. You are correct. I plagiarized that opening sentence. It was actually written by Josh Voorhees, in a column this morning for Slate.com. It doesn’t matter that I agree with the sentence. I out-and-out stole his words. You learn in school that plagiarism is wrong. And every time someone’s caught plagiarizing, we’re reminded that it’s wrong. Newspaper writers get fired when they do it. Mike Barnicle of the Boston Globe was forced to resign when, among other issues, he was found to have plagiarized the work of comedian George Carlin, Dan Brown, author of the Da Vinci Code, has been accused of stealing other writers’ word on several occasions. A good lawyer gets you off the hook. George Harrison must have had lawyer issues; he was found guilty of stealing the melody for “My Sweet Lord” from The Chiffons hit “He’s So Fine.”

So Paul Rand – hereafter known in this document as Plagiarand – has been seriously busted as a serial plagiarist. He’s stolen entire passages from The Associated Press, the on-line encyclopedia Wikipedia, the web site The Week. Even his own book lifted substantially from Forbes magazine and a study published by The Heritage Foundation.

Faced with overwhelming evidence, Plagiarand had only one course of action available: Blame someone else. He blamed the “haters” who uncovered his intellectual dishonesty. He blamed “sloppiness” on the part of his staff, who apparently wrote all of this stuff that has his name on it. And he blamed the decision to not attribute other writers’ words through the use of footnotes.

Footnotes. Really? When’s the last time you saw footnotes in a piece that a politician has written for a newspaper? When’s the last time you saw footnotes in a speech? How, exactly, do you footnote the words that you’re speaking to a crowd of people?

Does it matter? Of course it does. The microscope is on Plagiarand, and he’s squirming. We’re watching a real lack of character in action here. This guy is one of the intellectual leaders of the conservative movement. And it turns out that a lot of that intellect – such as it is – was hijacked.

Trying to say someone commits plagiarism, you’re saying that someone is dishonest.

Oh, pardon me once again. I plagiarized that last sentence as well. Not exactly Carlin material, but I’m plagiarizing from a real pro. Plagiarand himself. And I agree with what he said there. I am saying that he is dishonest.

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