Plagiarism: Conservative or Liberal?

Posted by Janett Perry on Jul 10, 2009 8:00:00 AM

bob creutz1 resized 600For those of you unaware, plagiarism is rampant. Be it Maureen Dowd (a liberal) or Ann Coulter (a conservative), plagiarism happens, and it happens frequently. I read blogs regularly, and it is not a surprise that people try to dismiss plagiarism accusations due to misguided attempts from political opponents to discredit individuals. I have said before that plagiarism knows no political boundaries. The definition of plagiarism is clear.
According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to “plagiarize” means
* to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own
* to use (another’s production) without crediting the source
* to commit literary theft
* to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.
Kaavya Viswanathan claims crypt-amnesia (a new and controversial term). It seems that you can internalize content to the extent that you can assume ownership? Chris Anderson claims that publishers requested he abandon the footnotes for references to Wikipedia in “Free: The Future of a Radical Price.” Do citation aesthetics forgive the omission of standard citations to Internet resources? The Daily Kos calls Ann Coulter a “lazy, unimaginative writer,” in response to plagiarism accusations where her book and LA Times columns are concerned.
Where am I going with all this? People of all political bents have been found to have plagiarized.  Rather than politicize plagiarism issues, we should be focusing elsewhere in order to mitigate misconduct.  I do not argue that we are “standing on the shoulders of giants” (many attribute this to Newton), but the fact is that it is reasonable to seek out readily available resources to avoid the pitfalls of plagiarism (see Writing is an art, and it deserves the respect that any form of artistic expression deserves. I include scholarly research as perhaps the most important form of writing, as this form generally has greater potential to influence the world we live in today. But be it scholarly research, or any other writing, recognize those that impacted your efforts and pride yourself on the originality of your content. Cite and cite often.

-Bob Creutz