Torontoist asked me to weigh in on the Margaret Wente plagiarism scandal, so I did, although they cut out many of my more imaginative swears.
Chirp chirp. Eh, it’s Canada. Whatcha gonna do? Wente might not be the best writer or the most ethical one or …well, whatever. But there’s only 34 million of us, so you can figure that probably no one else could do better.
Or, if they did, they’d be working in the States.
And besides, no-one will notice. Well, no-one who matters. Like “someone who works in the States” matters. So it’s probably for the best if we just let this go and forget about it.
Attn, John Stackhouse: pls send Senate seat courtesy of Mighty God King c/o this website.
I honestly couldn’t disagree more about letting it go… if there were any way to make it actionable at this juncture. It’s been pointed out, and the editors have elected to deny guilt and back the writer. At present, it doesn’t look like Wente’s job is in any particular danger, and to most of the people who are only tangentially interested, the vibe I’m getting is a resounding ‘oh well’.
Not that that’s a good thing.
If anything similar happens again, it will get this big a lot quicker, I should imagine. Wente’s measured out a length of rope, and we’ll see what noose she makes of it… Which, if she were a journalist instead of a plagiarist, it occurs to me one could make a pretty good pun of.
Given their deeply unserious response to plagiarism, aren’t they essentially begging for a response in kind in addition to the fact-checking mentioned in your article? I mean what would Wente et al’s response be if a small local daily just started running her column under someone else’s byline- because of “shared ideas” and all that?
“This is not to say that plagiarism is not bad or should be condoned: it is and it should not.”
The capitalistic forces controlling Western culture have proscribed as illegal the plagiarising of modern texts as a means of stopping their counterparts. The biggest advantage of plagiarism as a basis for writing is that it removes the need for talent, or even much thought. Taking pop music as a starting point, a good example of neo-plagiarism is the way in which the chord sequence was lifted from Louie Louie and hitched to Wild Thing. As there was no inventive innovation such as a clever change of context, this was plagiarism at it’s best.
The poet Gennarelli Jouret (1846-70) used plagiarism as one of the major tools of his work. Similarly, the work of Allen Ginsberg is heavily dependent on plagiarism in terms of both style and content. This is especially discernible in regard to the works of Ruesch and Tzara.
It should not be forgotten that plagiarism is a frequently creative exercise and that with every act of plagiarism a fresh message is given to the plagiarised work. Plagiarism is a mode of denouncing private property. Unfortunately, this does not alter the fact that the habit is illegal. However, do not allow this to deter you from plagiarising modern texts. A few obvious foresights will protect you from prosecution. The key principle in avoiding copyright infringement is to take the concept and essence of a text without truly plagiarising it word for word. One of the best examples of this is Orwell’s 1984 – which is a straight rewrite of Zamyatin’s We. It is recommended that anyone with an earnest curiosity in neo-plagiarism should take some time to compare these two texts.
In conclusion, plagiarism saves time and effort, improves results and shows considerable initiative on the part of the individual plagiarist. As a revolutionary tool, it is ideally suited to the mandate of the 21st century.
And “Airplane” plagiarized “Zero Hour”!
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