Just over the last week, evidence of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) presenting others’ work as his own has come to public light over and over and over and over and over again. This afternoon, Andrew Kaczynski found yet another instance in which part of the senator’s most recent book plagiarized an article from Forbes magazine.
With new revelations popping up at least once a day, the Kentucky Republican decided to address the controversy by talking to the New York Times.
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who in recent weeks has had to explain a series of plagiarism charges, said in an interview Tuesday that he was being held to an unfair standard, but that there would be an office “restructuring” to prevent future occurrences.The quotes in the Times piece are remarkable, in that it seems the senator feels put upon – as if having to play by the same rules as high-school kids who are taught not to present others’ work as their own is some kind of imposition. “What we are going to do from here forward, if it will make people leave me the hell alone, is we’re going to do them like college papers,” Paul told the Times.
Sitting in a conference room in his Senate office complex, Mr. Paul, drawn and clearly shaken by the plagiarism charges, offered a mix of contrition and defiance…. Acknowledging that his office had “made mistakes,” he said he was putting a new system in place to ensure that all of his materials are properly footnoted and cited.
Dear MSNBC. I think Rand Paul may have said that in comic sans.
Plagiarism is the "wrongful appropriation" and "purloining and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions," and the representation of them as one's own original work.1/
But not every collection of words is worthy of being considered "an
author's language, thoughts, ideas or expressions." Sometimes, they are
just recitations of fact that can't be usefully expressed in much more
than one way. And not all appropriations are "wrongful" and constitute
In a speech, an introductory sentence saying what a movie is about is not "presenting others' work as your own." If you ask me what Gattaca was, and I cut and paste from Wikipedia, I am not claiming that what I responded with is an original work of authorship. The only part of this whole "scandal" that I agree with is the criticism of using extended, unattributed quotes in his book. That is probably not cool. I say probably because I wasn't sufficiently intrigued to read the lifted passages or ponder whether they should be considered an instance of purloined authorship.
Even then, I don't really like the obsession over attribution, particularly as to small passages or generic descriptive statements. I find it tedious, as a reader or listener, to hear people say "as so-and-so said" or "as so-and-so wrote in his book "The Thingamajig". How annoying would it be to read an article about Death Valley that began with "Death Valley is a desert valley located in Eastern California. Situated within the Mojave Desert, it is the lowest, hottest and driest area in North America, according to its Wikipedia page" ? Pretty annoying, in my opinion.
1/ According to the Wikipedia article on plagiarism, citing the 1995 Random House Compact Unabridged Dictionary; see also Stepchyshyn, Vera; Robert S. Nelson (2007). Library plagiarism policies. Assoc of College & Resrch Libraries. p. 65. ISBN 0-8389-8416-9.