Rand Paul's (staffers') plagiarism

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Rand Paul is  in the throes of a plagiarism scandal. (For details, see e.g. Juliet Lapidos, "Rand Paul's Plagiarism", NYT 11/5/2013.)  But in my opinion, much of the commentary on this imbroglio misses the point so badly as to veer into falsehood, at least by implication. Thus Rebecca Kaplan, "More evidence emerges of plagiarism in Rand Paul's work", CBS News 11/5/2013:

Reports continue to emerge that Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has a habit of using other authors' work in his own speeches and writings without giving them credit.

By this standard, essentially every professional politician and high-level executive in the world is a plagiarist.

That's because members of the 1% never write their own stuff, in general — they hire people to do it for them.

As I noted a few years ago ("Plagiarism and restrictions on delegated agency", 10/1/2008):

[O]ut in the real world, important people hardly ever write the speeches they give or the books that are published over their names. Newspaper op-eds and even regular columns are often ghost-written as well. (When my sister was a graduate student, she supported herself in part by researching and writing a weekly syndicated column that was published over the name of the well-respected president of a major research university.)

In this situation, Rand Paul is certainly guilty — of poor judgment in staff selection and supervision.

With respect to the "using other authors' work" business, there's the usual slippery slope, starting with copy editing, progressing to more serious forms of editing, and then to full-scale re-writing. From the other direction, there's "research assistance" and other forms of semi-acknowledged or unacknowledged input. If one of these assistants or editors or other helpers introduces some directly-copied stuff into the final product, it's a (potential) plagiarism scandal.

But what if it's just the helpers' text that's used?

As a teacher, I have a lower moral (and academic) evaluation of a student who hires someone to write their papers for them — and let's face it, a lot of students do this — than a student who merely (and naively) copies stuff out of a book or on-line article. If the student  gets burned, and the ghostwriter gives them previously-published stuff (and this has happened in my classes more than once), the fact that the student has been cheated doesn't change the fact they're also cheating.

But I recognize that once people get out of school, the behavioral norms (and maybe the moral norms) are very different. It becomes OK to hire people to write your stuff for you, as long as they really do original work and don't turn around and copy it from somewhere else.

There's an incoherent moral lesson here, which many staffers and other ghostwriters  have unsurprisingly failed to learn. "I'm hiring you to write stuff that I'm going to pretend that I wrote, and that's OK; but you can't give me stuff that someone else wrote and pretend that you wrote it, because That Would Be Plagiarism." There's a political rather than moral form of this lesson, which is much easier to understand: "If you copy stuff from someone else, we're both going to get in a lot of trouble."

And I also recognize that it's easy to get used to having people write your stuff for you. Thus Andrew Gelman, "Double standard? Plagiarizing journos get slammed, plagiarizing profs just shrug it off", 8/3/2012:

[S]hould Harvard fire Laurence Tribe or should Yale fire Ian Ayres for plagiarism? I don’t know, but I feel that I recently got some insight into legal plagiarism after recently working as an expert witness in a court case (yup, I did it for the money). I did some work and wrote it up, then the people at the law firm rewrote it to be in the standard format for an expert witness report. The result was long, awkward, and repetitive—but it was what they were looking for, so that was fine with me. The point is: they wrote much of it but my name was on it. I asked the lawyers if this was OK, and they said Yes, my name on it means that I stand behind it, not that I wrote every word. I did read every word but if something had been copied without attribution from some other source, I might not have known.

Anyway, I assume that lawyers such as Tribe and Ayres have lots of experience putting their names on reports that they have not written, and this is standard practice. So then they get into the habit. And then, as Dan puts it (and I agree), laziness kicks in. Once you get into the habit of riding the elevator, who wants to take the stairs? Only weirdo exercise nuts.

I agree with Robert Darden ("Journalism Professor Would Flunk Rand Paul For An 'Unambiguous Case Of Plagiarism'", TPM 11/6/2013) that if a student in one of my courses had done what Rand Paul's staffer did, "I would fail them for each individual assignment and refer the case to the appropriate university office that deals with honor code violations." But if a student had done what all members of the U.S. Senate do, namely hire people to write stuff they present as their own work, exactly the same response would ensue, even if the ghostwriters were entirely honest and original. It's confusing to everyone that the rules are so different inside and outside of academia.

Some other LL posts on various ways of presenting other people's stuff as your own:

"In defense of Kaavya Viswanaatan", 4/25/2006
"Is Mark Steyn guilty of plagiarism?" 5/15/2006
"Plagiarism and allusion", 6/12/2007
"Plagiarism and copyright", 6/14/2007
"Citation plagiarism?", 6/15/2007
"Citation plagiarism once again", 4/13/2008
"The fine line between phrasal allusion and plagiarism", 6/4/2008
"Plagiarism and restrictions on delegated agency", 10/1/2008
"Is "plagiarism" in a judicial decision wrong?", 4/14/2011
"John McIntyre on varieties of plagiarism", 3/13/2013

 

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40 Comments »

  1. peter said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 8:31 am

    When he became President of the USA, the writer Theodore Roosevelt initially tried to read and copy-edit every document that was published over his name. I believe his attempt lasted about a week.

  2. D.O. said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 10:38 am

    Cannot help myself retelling an old Soviet joke.
    Leonid Brezhnev sits in his cabinet and meets his closest advisers one by one. "What do you think of my book The Small Land?" he asks everyone and everybody answers how great it is. After several such conversations Brezhnev says to himself "If it's so good, I should read it myself".

  3. Eric P Smith said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 10:57 am

    I don't think the moral lesson is as incoherent as Mark makes out.

    I'm hiring you to write stuff that I'm going to pretend that I wrote, and that's OK

    yes, because I have your permission;

    but you can't give me stuff that someone else wrote and pretend that you wrote it, because That Would Be Plagiarism"

    yes, because you don't have their permission.

    [(myl) But people talk as if what happened here is the same as "plagiarism" in school, where permission is irrelevant -- when students hire others to write their papers, permission is part of the package, but that doesn't make it OK.]

  4. KeithB said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 11:25 am

    I think Mark is missing the point. Everyone knows that politicians have speech writers, or even ghost writers. However, that does not mean that a politician can simply lift other peoples work and present it as their own. Would it be that hard to re-write the passage in "your own words"? It just smacks of laziness and a careless attitude to others intellectual property.

    Could this go deeper? Just what is Paul's libertarian take on intellectual property rights? Does he think it is OK to steal others work?

  5. Kenny Easwaran said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

    In following this "scandal", I've been struck by two distinct aspects of it. The first parts that were reported on involved lifting the Wikipedia summaries of movies for inclusion in political speeches. Given that Wikipedia is basically anonymous, and the plot summary of a movie is public information that doesn't have any claim to its own independent interest, this seems not to be much of a problem. But then later reports claim to have found sections of op-eds under his name that are lifted word-for-word from op-eds and policy documents from various think tanks. Here it seems there is interest in the ownership of the ideas, and the written format makes it much easier to attribute them, so it seems to me that this is much more problematic.

  6. Mr Fnortner said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

    In my experience, in discussions of plagiarism the fact of ownership often looms larger that matters of fidelity, truth, and performance, so that when we see an act that we understand to be wrong we often turn to arguing over attribution and extent rather than morality. I think morality is the better foundation for identifying plagiarism. In an academic paper, the student is being judged on the thought process and the ability to put those thoughts into words as evidence of mastery. An act of plagiarism substitutes another's thoughts and words, so the student asks the instructor to judge the performance of other people as his own. This is an act of fraud or betrayal and is inherently wrong, undoubtedly immoral. We also understand that if the student turned in another's paper with full attribution, this would be unacceptable as well. Attribution does not reduce the wrong, nor does the lack of attribution create the wrong.

    It's not just school. In the world outside the classroom, similar wrongs can be committed by authors and speakers who pass off the works of others as their own; however, hiring the work of others to be presented as the work of the author or speaker is not a wrong, and is not much different from hiring any other service. I may hire a painter to paint the foyer and still be able to say with a straight face, "We just painted our foyer." It is only when I attempt to deceive others regarding my painting skill or accomplishments that I am wrong. Mr. Paul, it appears, uses works for hire as his speeches or press releases. This is blameless. It is standard procedure for senior people to put their names on works prepared by staffers. It is the staffers, however, who are morally obligated not to pass off the works of others as their own. And, of course, it is the duty of the senior person to establish and maintain an ethical environment.

  7. Gene Callahan said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

    "However, that does not mean that a politician can simply lift other peoples work and present it as their own."

    I think KeithB is missing the point: it is undoubtedly the staffers, not Paul, who did this.

    "Just what is Paul's libertarian take on intellectual property rights? Does he think it is OK to steal others work?"

    Again, almost undoubtedly Paul did not know this was happening. But, let's say he is anti-IP. (Some libertarians are.) Then he wouldn't not be thinking, "It is OK to steal others work," he would be thinking "This is not theft."

  8. KeithB said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 1:06 pm

    Gene Callahan:
    "undoubtedly"
    Assuming facts not in evidence.

  9. Ginger Yellow said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 1:14 pm

    yes, because you don't have their permission.

    Somewhat complicated in this instance by the fact that some of the right wing sources his staffers plagiarised have since said they're fine with it. I assume this doesn't apply to Wikipedia, though.

  10. cs said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 1:21 pm

    Even though most people understand that politicians have speechwriters, people also expect political speeches to simulate the politician speaking their own words. A political speech (or editorial or whatever) needs to sound passably like the thoughts of the speaker. This is what got violated here.

  11. Ted Powell said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

    Kenny Easwaran wrote in part: Given that Wikipedia is basically anonymous, and the plot summary of a movie is public information that doesn't have any claim to its own independent interest, this seems not to be much of a problem.

    The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. is by no means anonymous, and in most cases individual contributors can be determined by clicking on the "View history" link at the top of the page. However, the terms and conditions for reuse of Wikipedia content are quite generous, and identification of specific authorship is only necessary if one wishes to request some sort of exemption from those conditions (e.g. unattributed use).

    Reproducing the information was not the problem; unattributed use of the text presenting that information, text that was carefully crafted by the Wikipedia community, was the problem.

    Something that is—or should be—important for politicians and their staffers is their facility with language, expressing information and ideas in an effective way—not to be confused with facility with copying and pasting.

  12. JS said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

    Permission exchanged between Rand/whomever and Heritage/whomever, whether retroactive or the normal kind, has nothing to do with it — who asked the readers' permission to abuse their trust?

    Q: Can I kill somebody and say that you did it? A: OK.
    So it's OK?

  13. Bobbie said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

    In an interview with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos, Rand Paul did not seem to understand what plagiarism meant. He attempted to explain that he was talking about the movie Gattace. But he did NOT offer any explanation about how large portions of text from Wikipedia were inserted into his speech.
    He said, “We borrowed the plot lines from Gattaca. It’s a movie, andI gave credit to the people who wrote the movie……Nothing I said was not given attribution to where it came from.”
    Link to the interview here: http://fusion.net/leadership/story/rand-paul-fires-back-plagiarism-claims-170567

  14. KathrynM said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 2:32 pm

    On a slight tangent–as a lawyer, I am always ruefully aware that plagiarism is a fundamental professional skill. None of us writes contracts from scratch. And, although we may write our pleadings and written arguments from scratch, we freely borrow/steal other people's phrases that we like (to the point of absurdity indeed: one can only roll one's eyes on reading that a minor injury rendered someone "sick, sore, lame and disabled")

  15. Joe said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

    I blame the Internet. It's made it easier for lazy writers to cut & paste words directly and it's made it easier for busybodies to check everything you say against the corpus of work in it.

    Note to Rand Paul: Add a busybody or two to check your (or your ghost-writer's) work.

  16. D.O. said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 3:19 pm

    @JS. But why? (It's not a rhetorical question, I really want to know your argument). Everybody and their ghost writer already know that whatever comes under Sen. Paul's name is actually written by someone else with varying degrees of input from the senator himself. If that someone else is not on Sen. Paul's stuff, does it make a difference for the reader?

  17. J. W. Brewer said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

    I have no idea what Sen. Paul thinks about IP issues, but "plagiarism" is not the same thing as "copyright infringement." You can do the first (according to the current norms of some relevant-in-context academic or journalistic or what-have-you community) while not having done the second in the eyes of the law, and you can avoid the first (by, e.g., proper attribution and use of quotation marks for wording you have taken from others) while still being liable in court for the second (because proper attribution is no defense to an infringement action if you have taken more than counts as fair use without getting permission from the rightsholder).

    I assume that when a newspaper runs a positive story about X under its own reporter's byline but using large chunks of unattributed prose that are word-for-word identical to the press release sent out by X's publicists, those publicists are typically delighted, rather than offended. Similarly, if you are in the policy-wonk think-tank business, you WANT public officials to latch on to your ideas and are probably on balance happy for them to try to take credit for them. You certainly aren't going to be all huffy about their failure to paraphrase your work product into a different form of words expressing the same idea.

  18. Mary Apodaca said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

    Doggie and a pony: What does Rand Paul think? Or — does Rand Paul not think?

  19. Galileo Feynman said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 5:27 pm

    The issue here is not plagiarism; there is no real question that plagiarism occurred. The question is one of responsibility. Mr. Paul put forward the work of his staffers as his own, which he was entitled to do, and his staffers then put forward the work of others as Mr. Pauls', which they were not entitled to do. Is Mr. Paul responsible for that? Yes. When he had others expressly act in his name he also took the responsibility for their misconduct. The example of an attorney drafting an affidavit is apt (though that of a student buying a paper is not: the student is not permitted to buy the paper to begin with). Once the witness signs the affidavit, she "owns" it. If it is untruthful, she has committed perjury. There is a quid pro quo for Mr. Paul or others having others do work in their name: they take the blame for its faults.

  20. cM said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 5:48 pm

    Unrelated language question triggered by language use in this entry and a comment:

    Is "published *over* someone's name" a regionalism? This is the first time I've noticed it being used instead of the "*under* someone's name" I would have used.

    Using the highly scientific method of ghit quotients, "under"/"over" seems to be roughly 5/1, which worries me a bit: I should've encountered this before.

    The ngram viewer calms me again though: It heavily favours "under":
    https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=published+under+*+name%2C+published+over+*+name&year_start=1800&year_end=2008&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t2

  21. Jason said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 6:26 pm

    It strikes me that the moral standard has a kind of perverse logic and symmetry about it, in that it is a fact that we (at least the media) agree to maintain the collective delusion that the words coming out of a politician's mouth (or resting over his signature on a document) represent their own sentiments, for example, attributing "Tear Down this Wall" to Robert Reagan instead of Peggy Noonan (and apparently it was one Peter Robinson working under Noonan who came up with the line).

    So it makes a kind of perverse sense that we agree to maintain the collective delusion that politicians are ipso facto held responsible for the plagiarism that their staffers come upwith in their name.

    Rand Paul's response to this seems to be inept from a political standpoint, in that he's simply fanned the flames by attacking his critics and playing the victim card, which usually works in politics but in this instance I think he'd be better advised just to laugh the fairly minor and silly incident off as the actions some wet behind the ears staffer. Whether true or not.

    Interestingly, on the subject of ascriptionality of responsibility for discourse (if you like) you will remember Rand Paul's father and political tutor Ron Paul got into hot water over the (from most people's perspective) rather nastily racist and paranoic tone of his newsletters, the "Ron Paul Freedom Report", the "Ron Paul Survival Report" and the "Ron Paul Political Report" published in the eighties and early nineties. When Ron Paul tried to go mainstream in the naughties, he tried an extreme version of the ghostwriter defense that claimed not only did he not write the "Ron Paul Reports", but he had not even read them and had absolutely no idea what was in them. He was shocked, shocked to discover there was racism and political extremism in his official political newsletter.

    “I never read that stuff. I was probably aware of it 10 years after it was written, and it’s been going on 20 years that people have pestered me about this.”

    Ron Paul, interview with CNN Dec. 21, 2011 .

    I will not comment on the issue further beyond suggesting that we weave a tangled web indeed when we practice to deceive, especially when said deception starts with the officially licensed deception that Mark Liberman discusses in the post.

  22. Jason said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 6:36 pm

    @Gene Callahan

    Wikipedia entries are of course creative commons licensed. The issue here is not therefore theft, it's unoriginality and passing off other people's work as your own (if there is an issue here at all.)

  23. JS said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 7:12 pm

    @D.O.
    The Washington Times op-ed byline reads "by Rand Paul"; Government Bullies is presented as "by Rand Paul." If "by X" were really entirely meaningless, with, as you suggest, all concerned aware that material so labeled is in whole or part the work of others, there would be no point in maintaining this charade; as it is nonetheless maintained, I conclude that there remain readers under the impression that "by X" means what it says, and for whom this device thus remains an effective marketing tactic. I… suppose I was one of those people. At any rate, I think there is a reason it has never occurred to me to sign an affidavit with "by JS."

  24. D.O. said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 7:19 pm

    JS, thank you for the answer. But "by Rand Paul" of course means that 1) he endorses this point of view and 2) manner in which it is expressed and 3) considers it a worthy topic for discussion. I don't think that you really thought that Rand Paul wrote all those columns himself.

  25. maidhc said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 9:42 pm

    It seems to me that expectations are different in different fields. No one expects politicians to write their own speeches. But nevertheless, it is not acceptable for political speeches to lift large portions verbatim from elsewhere without attribution. If someone's name is on an academic paper, it doesn't mean they wrote the paper, but that they made some contribution to the research described. But I expect that when someone's name is on a newspaper column, that person actually wrote the column.

    Someone who has other people write things for them to put in a newspaper is called an editor.

    Rand Paul's problem as far as the newspaper is concerned is that he is applying the standards of politics to journalism, where the rules are different. In the matter of his speeches it is a case of poor supervision of employees.

  26. Joseph said,

    November 7, 2013 @ 10:56 pm

    @Jason

    Wikipedia content is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, which requires credit given to the author(s) (citing the Wikipedia article is enough, I believe) — there are 6 different CC licenses which all have different conditions, but they all require attribution.

    That means lifting content from a CC licensed work without credit is a violation of the license and illegal.

  27. Jerry Friedman said,

    November 8, 2013 @ 12:21 am

    Ted Powell: "Reproducing the information was not the problem; unattributed use of the text presenting that information, text that was carefully crafted by the Wikipedia community, was the problem."

    I agree with you that that's the problem, but the text may have been carelessly bashed out by a fifteen-year-old fan in his parent's basement and read by, if anyone, a fifty-something community-college science teacher who was too tired after work to face correcting it. (Actually, I hardly ever read Wikipedia movie summaries.)

  28. Anthony said,

    November 8, 2013 @ 12:22 am

    The case of a student hiring someone to write his paper is similar, but not quite parallel, to the plagiarism case – the professor has "hired" the student to write something, and "pays" for the work in the form of academic credit. The professor has not given the student permission to pass off someone else's work as his own, whether or not the student has paid someone else for the work.

  29. des von bladet said,

    November 8, 2013 @ 3:44 am

    Almost entirely off-topic remark alert!

    The RSS feed for Mark L's entries flattens out all the text so that you can't tell where his stuff ends and quotes begin and vice versa. This is presumably an issue with an HTML authoring tool that just uses a subclass of paragraph with inline CSS indentation, instead of the perfectly good, entirely appropriate and exquisitely styleable "blockquote" tag.

    This plays merry havoc with my attempt to construct a mental model of attributions! (Which makes it almost on topic after all, sort of.) I'd be very glad if whoever writes Mark's contributions for him – including but not limited to himself – would consider looking into this.

  30. des von bladet said,

    November 8, 2013 @ 6:31 am

    On topic, meanwhile, a Libertarian could certainly hold that "authorship" is hardly the point; ownership is. If Rand Paul has minions to write his stuff then presumably it is in the context of a work-for-hire agreement which grants him ownership of all intellectual property rights in the results, so it is in a very real and legally-binding sense his work.

    The problem with plagiarism is precisely that it violates this sacred covenant.

  31. Karl Weber said,

    November 8, 2013 @ 6:31 am

    @Anthony: Actually, the difference between the student and the politician is a bit different than the one you state. The reason the student is supposed to write a paper is to develop and demonstrate his knowledge, research skills, and writing ability. Hiring someone else to do the work completely thwarts this purpose. By contrast, when a politician publishes an article or delivers a speech, the purpose is to publicize and promote the politician's views on some public topic. This purpose is not thwarted when the politician hires a staffer to writer the article or speech.

  32. Acilius said,

    November 8, 2013 @ 10:07 am

    "Rand Paul is certainly guilty — of poor judgment in staff selection and supervision." Well, considering that Mr Paul is a United States Senator, that's a very serious thing to be guilty of. Even as a freshman member of the minority party, a US Senator wields a significant amount of power, and must entrust most of the exercise of that power to his staff.

  33. Joe said,

    November 8, 2013 @ 11:37 am

    @des von bladet: Please read J.W. Brewer's post on the difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement.

    The original sense of copyright entails no "ownership" rights to a work in the sense of "owning property". However, it allows creators to have "exclusive" rights to profit from the work for a nominal period. In this sense, "intellectual property" is misunderstood as a term referring to works/designs/ideas but, rather, it is the "intellectual wealth" generated by the exclusive rights.

    The media has an incentive to keep folks confused about works being "intellectual property" since its revenue comes from "intellectual wealth". But it ain't property when it is still there when you copy (or "steal", in the confused terminology) a work.

  34. Darkwhite said,

    November 8, 2013 @ 11:40 am

    It seems any number of different issues is being conflated into the term plagiarism here.

    When a student pays a professional to write his term paper, it is a problem because the primary function of the paper is to reflect the student's skills and knowledge. Any sort of ghostwriting undermines the the assignment's real purpose.

    When an academic submits a paper, people are primarily interested in the quality of the product, and the sort of problems mentioned above lose their interest – it is, as far as I know, fine if a linguist hires someone to work out his confidence intervals. The complaints show up when he uses others' work without permission or giving credit, lends his name to something he hasn't even read, etcetera.

    I think any quest for a universal standard for plagiarism is misguided – instead, the different sort of problems must be pried apart and dealt with separately.

  35. Bloix said,

    November 8, 2013 @ 7:45 pm

    There may have a been a time when it was shocking for a politician to use a speechwriter. Certainly there was a time a few decades ago when using a ghostwriter for a book was scandalous enough that no one except ball players and actresses would admit to it.

    I recall being faintly surprised when Garrison Keillor started to acknowledge a "writer" for his daily "Writer's Almanac" spots on NPR. (The webpage calls it "The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor," not "by" Garrison Keillor.) It had thought of him as the author, not just the announcer.

    As for Paul, the problem is not so much "plagiarism" from Wikipedia in the academic sense – it's that the copying is ridiculous. It's like the Anthony Weiner scandal – he didn't actually sleep with anyone, but seriously. You copied from Wikipedia/sexted pics of your dick? What grade are you in?

  36. Steve Dunham said,

    November 8, 2013 @ 10:13 pm

    "If someone's name is on an academic paper, it doesn't mean they wrote the paper, but that they made some contribution to the research described." In academics, there's a difference between an author and a contributor: “Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for the content," according to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. But "a contributor does not have to make an intellectual contribution, write or revise the paper, or approve the final version; nor is a contributor held accountable for the entire work,” according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

  37. Graeme said,

    November 9, 2013 @ 6:52 pm

    Mark's right, we need to be more careful about applying ethical rules automatically between domains.

    But isn't a key difference between the cheating-outsourcing-student and the outsourcing politician that we the public literally pay for the politician to have a team of such helpers?
    In return she is corporately held responsible for all they produce, like a mini government. (Indeed it is a sign of a good representative/leader that they can manage that kind of team.)

    Whereas we subsidise the student to be an individual developing mind and that student seeks credit for that alone.

    Perhaps part of the perception problem lies in differences in political culture: to outsiders like me, the US system (primaries, relatively less party discipline) elevates the marketing of the individual congressman more than in Westminster systems. So it's easier to feel disappointed when truth misses myth.
    That said, for an Ayn Rand Paul type, whose ideology valorises such myths, the stakes are higher for being caught.

  38. Teaching College Writing | Language Log » Rand Paul’s (staffers’) plagiarism said,

    November 11, 2013 @ 7:40 pm

    [...] via Language Log » Rand Paul's (staffers') plagiarism. [...]

  39. Troy S. said,

    November 13, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

    This isn't just about speechwriting though. He also apparently copied sections of Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation publications and Forbes Magazine for his book "Government Bullies." Even if the original sources give him their blessings after the fact, does that make it ok?

  40. Vicki said,

    November 14, 2013 @ 9:31 am

    As a Kentuckian that hears about Sen. Paul's embarrassing actions and comments far too often, I will simply add that the rules of conduct most of us live by apparently do not apply to him.

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