A Week of Kindness Blog on Plagiarism

March 29, 2005

Laura K. Pahl is a Plagiarist.

Let’s talk about plagiarism for a moment.

To say I’m opposed to plagiarism is to put it rather lightly. I recently took someone to task for appearing to use someone else’s words as their own and then not fessing up to it when it was pointed out.

However, the link above has the added sweetness of dishing out ‘just desserts’ to someone that apparently really needed it. From Nate Kushner’s blog entry:

What follows is the epic saga of a random instant message that came to me from a stranger this weekend, asking whether I wanted to be paid to write a college paper for her.

I’ll admit, Nate Kushner’s method isn’t mine. I think I would be a little less public and a lot more exposing with her university. I would have contacted the university immediately and assisted them in setting up a sting for this child. She hands it in, it is compared IN CLASS IN FRONT OF HER PEERS with the original and she is dismissed IMMEDIATELY with a failing grade. What happens online is subject to interpretation by everyone that reads it and the person that posts it; it is too diffuse to directly point out to her and her peers what happens when you do something this stupid.

Now, plagiarism is passing off someone else’s work as your own. Plain and simple.

“Literary theft. Plagiarism occurs when a writer duplicates another writer’s language or ideas and then calls the work his or her own. Copyright laws protect writers’ words as their legal property. To avoid the charge of plagiarism, writers take care to credit those from whom they borrow and quote. ” — The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Edited by E.D. Hirsch, Jr., Joseph F. Kett, and James Trefil. Copyright © 2002 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.

[Oh, the above definition comes from www.answers.com via www.google.com. Mmmm, google.]

It doesn’t matter if she pinched the paper off of the internet or hired someone else to write it for her. If she hands in that paper to her professor AS HER OWN WORK then she is plagiarizing.

First, the girl in question is stupid. She’s asking a complete stranger to write a paper for her and hoping that it is sufficient for a professor. How she got as far in college as she apparently has is amazing to me.

Second, the girl is stupid. In an age when even the hint of inpropriety is sufficient to make most people resign in humiliation (present government administration excluded, unfortunately) she is willing to lay her entire college history open to suspicion for a 5 page paper that she was too busy to write.

In this time when the internet and search engines allow for much of the world’s information to be available at one’s fingertips the things that count are few and far between. Being able to think and communicate effectively is one of the things that can help someone to stand out from the crowd more than the latest fashion that 2 million people are wearing. She is wasting her best shot at being human and instead settling for simply being.

Recently, a friend lamented that her unemployed brother was unable to get a job in today’s market. He is an IT professional and the last posting he had tried for was open for less than nine hours and they received 160+ applicants. How do you stand out in that type of a crowd? By being smarter, being able to think and being able to communicate that effectively to an employer.

By not being the silly twit above.

[Edited a bit for clarity and a bit more ranting.]

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