Monday, May 22, 2017

More plagiarism in Trumpland: professorial comments on plagiarism

It was funny when Melania Trump's speech at the RNC plagiarized Michelle Obama's speech.  It was absolutely hilarious that Trump's people tried to deny the plagiarism charge, which they did for a long time.  It was... less than funny when that started to become a pattern.  You probably don't even remember who Monica Crowley is, but you know who Neil Gorsuch is, even though you probably forgot that he is a fucking plagiarist piece of shit.

Now, Sheriff David Clarke has been caught.  Clarke is being nominated for a Homeland Security post, and while I could focus on the irony of law enforcement officials (or judges!) being caught for this kind of thing, I'm instead going to get professorial.

Clarke pulled one of my sentimental-favorite acts.  I can't actually share with you, the readers, any of the details of my top-ranked cheaters, but there are so many.  How shall I put this?  When I walk into the office of the Academic Integrity Board here at CWRU to hand in paperwork, it's a little like this:

As I said, though, I can't actually give you the juicy details of the best stories because we have a little thing in this country called FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act).  Oh, though, how I wish I could elaborate on my favorite scams.  Some of the shit students try to pull rides the despicable/hilarious line in ways that... well...

Sorry for the tease, but I'd like to keep my job.

Anywho, most plagiarism is boring, stupid and uncreative.  Clarke's plagiarism was boring, stupid and uncreative.  Lift others' words directly, don't put quote marks around them, and include a footnote, to pretend like you are doing legitimate citations.  Here's the thing:  every single student everywhere knows that if they use a direct quote, they are required to place quotation marks around the words that are lifted directly.  Placing a footnote to the source material is not sufficient.  If they aren't your words, you need to admit that they aren't your words.  Otherwise, you are pretending that someone else's words are your own.  That's called LYING.  You know this.  EVERYONE knows this.  One of the lies that I just get really tired of hearing is when students pretend to think that they are staying within the lines when they pull this shit and get caught.  They know what they are doing.  Clarke knew what he was doing.

Of course, there's always the old comma-switcharoo, which is where you change the order of phrases before and after the comma, but keep the sequence of words within each clause, thereby making the sentence not technically an exact quote.  That way, you aren't quoting, right?  Yeah, right.  You know that's bullshit.  So does every plagiarist who pulls that act.  There are plenty of variations on this theme, and they're all bullshit.

Clarke cheated and he knew what he was doing.

Oh, and so did Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Neil Fucking Gorsuch, Plagiarist.

I've got a new trick that I'm just itchin' to try.  I think I'll roll this one out next semester.  At the beginning of the semester, I'll hand out a quiz, worth 1% of the course grade.  Which of these acts counts as plagiarism, and which doesn't?  Give out a few simple examples, like quoting without quotation marks, but including the footnote (the Clarke scam).  I think everyone will do just fine, when they have actual points on the line for giving the correct answer...  I can't wait to see how that turns out, and once I have them giving me the correct answer, it'll be extra funny when they try to tell me that they didn't understand the rules after they plagiarize, 'cuz, c'mon.  Someone will try.

And who knows?  Maybe that'll get them onto the Supreme Court, or at least a nomination to the Department of Homeland Security...

Side note:  number of plagiarism instances in Clarke's Master's Thesis?  47!  Go, Pomona College!  Yes, that's the origin of 47 in Star Trek.  Hey, I got some sci-fi in here today!


  1. Take a close look at Clarke's "salad" on his dress uniform (that he wears EVERYWHERE), and you'll see that this is not a departure for him.
    He's wearing fucking pieces of flair.

    1. What, did he plagiarize his flair from Office Space?