Tuesday, March 28, 2006
DOMENECH, PLAGIARISM AND CONSERVATISM:
Ben’s plagiarism bore the hallmarks of a seasoned veteran of that vice: it was large-scale and repeated. In other words, he had likely been doing it for some time before and gotten away with it. How could he have developed a healthy intellectual aversion to it?
We wonder: Did his high school English teachers do their jobs? Did they catch him at it (His first efforts, as with all serial plagiarists, would have had to be crude and easily detectable)? Did they hammer away that this was a venial intellectual sin, as serious when done by a Nobel Prize winner as a tenth-grader?
Oh, wait ... he was homeschooled. That could explain things.
Do you get the feeling his teacher, Mrs. Domenech, was not exactly prepared to run her own son’s papers through turnitin.com or a similar site? That she may not have had the time to even consider it when she was busy doing the 15th draft of her lesson plan on “Red Queen: The Communist Education of Coretta Scott King”? It would be no surprise that Young Box Turtle Boy got to the hallowed halls of William & Mary with absolutely no idea that this was anything he should suffer for were he to be caught.
Since we didn’t want to be just talking out of our ass like a conservative would, we decided to Google on this subject. The top result was this interesting piece by a homeschooling parent that has us thinking maybe we’re onto something here.Then there was the time I was evaluating a homeschool student who had great difficulty with writing— as a 7th grader he could barely eek out a five-word sentence on any topic. But this time his mother talked on and on about the wonderful book report the boy had written that year— it was his very first book report, and he’d certainly spent lots of time on it, and she was so proud. After I’d read through this summary of the biography of a western hero, I too was warmly congratulating the boy, amazed at his strong progress. Then the family happily showed me the book— and I was devastated to realize rather quickly that the boy had simply copied various sentences from different chapters, and strung them together to write his ‘book report.’ In this situation, I chose not to say anything. Maybe I was too dumbfounded and startled. Maybe I was hit with the fact that maybe the parent didn’t even realize how wrong this was. Or maybe I worried about what might happen to the boy if I exposed the fact that the boy had just plagiarized — maybe the family didn’t know. For whatever reason, I said nothing. I did give many ideas for other types of writing the boy could try for the next school year, and hoped for the best.(First emphasis ours; second and third in original)
And plagiarism isn’t just seen among young kids who maybe really just don’t understand fully what they are doing. It happens even with Advanced Placement level homeschool students. I’ve uncovered plagiarism at least four times in my own AP US History online course, and have had to discuss this issue at length with these students, and bring the issue up for discussion at times with the whole class. I now have plagiarism warnings right in my syllabus — and I let kids know that if caught a second time in this, they will be dropped immediately from the course. All offenders were strongly religious kids, from good families — the types of kids who would never steal things. They just didn’t think of words as things.
We would have left this at that but for Gilliard’s link to Debbie Schlussel this morning. For some reason we couldn’t get through to it, but the quoted text at Steve’s site is Debbie blowing the whistle on plagiarism by conservative writers, which she claims is far more endemic on the right and even sort of winked at with some sort of droite du seigneur idea that peons are supposed be flattered when bigger names rip them off.
Of course, Debbie, an E-List conservative pundit, is only angry about this because she wound up being one of the victims of Joseph Farah. But we think there’s some sort of greater link here.
UPDATE: It seems the minions over at RedState, (busy proving our point that among conservatives, loyalty to your friends, no matter how they abuse that trust, is the one and only virtue), were already trying a pre-emptive strike on this one. However, one commenter there sees the same point as in this post (and note the reaction he gets).
posted by Sully 3/28/2006 11:52:00 AM