Monday, July 10, 2006

Idiot Coulter Plagiarism Denial

A week ago, the New York Post presented the results of John Barrie, an expert in detecting plagiarism who examined Ann Coulter's new book "Godless." Several blogs had charged Coulter with using other writers' work without attribution. Using iThenticate, his plagiarism-probing system, Barrie discovered Coulter took virtually word-for-word a 24-word segment of a story from the San Francisco Chronicle, 25 words from a Planned Parenthood publication and a 33-word portion of a story from a newspaper in Portland, Maine. The expert also found Coulter's citations to be sloppy and misleading, and that she had committed plagiarism in several of her columns.

Coulter's publisher, Crown Publishing, does not see a problem with what Coulter did. Labelling the charges of Coulter's plagiarism as "trivial and meritless as they are irresponsible", Steve Ross of Crown declared:

"The number of words used by our author in these snippets is so minimal that there is no requirement for attribution."

Newsflash to Mr. Ross. Plagiarism is not determined by the number of words, but by the unattributed use of others' words. For example, one of my favorite Hunter S. Thompson expressions is "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." That's 9 words. If I try to pass that expression off as my own, it's plagiarism!

I wonder if Mr. Ross will be called as an expert witness for University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill. The university has recommended that he be dismissed for plagiarism. I believe that one of the passages in question was between 30-35 words. Plus, maybe Mr. Ross can answer a critical question posed by Salon.com writer Tom Grieve: "How many words can an author steal before the theft counts as plagiarism? If 24 or 25 or 33 words isn't enough, what is?"

2 Comments:

Blogger dscar said...

You might find it interesting to note that I agree with you on this. :)

1:55 PM  
Blogger Jenny S-G said...

I am with you Rod. Plagiarism is passing someone else's ideas and words off as your own. It doesn't matter how many words you take from others and make your own. Coulter deserves every ounce of criticism she's getting . . . .

5:41 AM  

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