At first Yr Wonkette was going to leave this whole “Rand Paul plagiarism” thing reasonably alone, at least when it was just his speechwriters cribbing movie summaries from Wikipedia. It’s the sort of dumb frat-boy-writing-a-research-paper kind of idiocy that probably goes on all the time, albeit less clumsily. Good for a one-off post on a slow day, but frankly we thought frequent Wonkette-weird-sex-dream beneficiary Rachel Maddow was going a little overboard. But then there was his weird explanation, where he seemed not even to understand what la Maddow was accusing him of: “I didn’t claim that I created the movie Gattaca,” he said, never addressing the word-for-word borrowing of Wikipedia summaries of that movie and Stand and Deliver. But still, it struck us as merely bush-league derp. But then things started getting RIDICULOSE. For one thing, we’re pretty darn sure that his father was never a Welsh coal miner.
Andrew Kaczynski at Buzzfeed has been having a field day with this stuff: A 3-page chunk of Paul’s book Government Bullies turned out to be lifted in whole from a Heritage Foundation report. He published an Op-Ed piece that copied large blocks of text from an article that had been published just one week before — and for good measure, he also included several of the same plagiarized passages in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. His website seems to be getting scrubbed — the transcripts of some speeches have been pulled, presumably to make googling them harder, and at least one other speech has had footnotes added to it.
And so far, the sources that he’s cribbed from seem pretty much OK with it. A spokesman for the Heritage Foundation told Kaczynski
“We like when people cite our work. We wish more progressives would cite our work, maybe then they wouldn’t be so progressively wrong.”
Except that the work wasn’t just “cited” — Paul’s book includes a footnote mentioning the source, but gives no hint that all those 1,318 words were written by somebody else. The spokesman called back to add “We don’t care” about their report being copied verbatim. Pretty much the same for the Cato Institute, which didn’t mind that passages from an article on its website were presented as Paul’s own words, albeit with a sourcing footnote.
See, what we teach college freshmen in first-year composition classes is that a footnote doesn’t cover you if you’re presenting someone else’s words without putting ’em in quotes — it’s still plagiarism, and you still get an “F.”
Similarly, that Op-Ed that included substantial chunks of text taken verbatim and without citation from The Week drew this satisfied response from editor Bill Falk:
“We’ve always known that the audience of The Week consists of smart, busy people who want to feel even smarter, including a lot of people on Capitol Hill … We’d like to thank Sen. Paul for his endorsement.”
Again, a first-year research paper that did a copy-paste job like Rand Paul’s would get an “F,” even if the source (who may not want to risk “access”) says hooray, good job, glad we could be useful.
But least Rand Paul is consistent — while he opposes the tyranny of government-mandated conservation, he’s a great case study of a private citizen doing plenty of recycling on his own initiative.