Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Plagiarism and Contextomy

These examples are random, and yet it pains me (as both a student and teacher of literature) that the trend toward plagiarism and "contextomy" -or, quoting out of context- is increasingly written off as no big deal by popular culture. No apology is provided in either of the following examples. The responses, from the offending parties, do not even offer so much as a "my bad." But I cannot help but question, "What happened to scholarship?" Or, at the very least, "What happened to pride in a job well done?"

Example 1: Plagiarism
Chris Anderson's 'Free' appears to borrow freely from Wikipedia and other sources

First of all, Wikipedia? Are you kidding me? But more to the point- even school children know that plagiarism equals failure.

Example 2: Contextomy
Ann Coulter takes all kinds of liberties with her direct quotes

Coulter's bigotry and hatred anger me to begin with. Regardless, I find it hard to believe that even she could convince herself that she accurately captured the context of this New York Times quotation. She clearly has an agenda, but the degree of false attribution here is remarkable! This is exactly the sort of "quotation" I warn students against. To be fair, Coulter's usage is much bolder than I've seen from students. Why? Perhaps they know I'll mark them down for inaccurate scholarship and weakening their argument. Although, I would like to believe it has more to do with self-respect. Ann's response to Fraken is a logical fallacy, as well. But now I'm depressed.