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Another ox, gored

By Michael J. Smith on Tuesday August 26, 2008 01:36 PM

An SMBIVA deep-cover agent, embedded in the bowels of Academe, passed this along, from the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Why Doesn't Plagiarism Matter?
By Jonathan Beecher Field

Like so many of my [academic] colleagues, I have followed Barack Obama's presidential campaign with interest and excitement....

Remembering this sense of exhilaration I sensed in seeing a new field of political possibilities makes the sense of betrayal I feel today even more powerful. By choosing Joe Biden as his running mate, Barack Obama has insulted academics -- students and teachers alike.... it's surprising that Biden's record of plagiarism did not disqualify him from Obama's consideration.

"So much for the concerns of academics," my informant sourly and correctly notes.

Field, the Chronicle writer, continues:

[But] on Election Day, I will hold my nose and vote for Obama/Biden. I continue to believe Obama offers the United Sates the best chance of escaping from the disaster of the last eight years. A survey of third party candidates reveals that after the vainglorious spoilsport Ralph Nader, the choices get even more marginal at a quick pace.... I don't think I can afford to waste my vote on a gesture.... [though] Obama's choice has made it harder for me, and for my colleagues across the United States, to defend the principles that form the foundation of scholarship.
Harder, but clearly not impossible.

I don't know which is more risible -- Field's belief that the pettifogging Pharisaism of academic morality constitutes the "foundation of scholarship"; or his conviction that Obama ought to have had more consideration for the parochial guild-pride of Fields' fellow pedagogues(*); or that among Biden's many sins, plagiarism even registers on any thinking person's moral radar; or his sheepish declaration that in spite of all his high dudgeon and the mortal insult to his trade, he will -- of course -- waste his vote on Bidobama anyway.


(*)Greek for "boy-herder."

Comments (4)

There's a reason academic of some of the most committed Democrats. It's the obvious one.

"academics are"

Maybe MBNA will fund some grants, so that the scholars can see how people feel about getting fucked.


That's priceless.

I'm not sure I understand plagiarism--academics can pass off ancient ideas, and frequently cliches, as both original and radical to sustain a career, often at public expense, but a freshman can't recycle a term paper on the semiotics of spectator...? The affect, whatever the intent, is punishing students for failure of blind obedience not prevention of "theft of ideas" (and not taking responsibly for ones actions is itself a sin regardless of how they are intended). Besides, theft implies ownership, itself a dubious concept.

Perhaps, at least, the Bidden affair will dampen the smugness of the guardians of the academy--after all, they are on balance the ruled not the ruling, as much as they fantasize otherwise. And, if the Nazi regime can be regarded as a typical case, they will be among the first flung into the furnaces when the day comes however pious their proclamations.

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