I've been drawn once more into the fray to blog and vent a little righteous indignation about plagiarism. And as usual when things go weird on me, it's all Amir Hafizi's fault. (See here and here if you don't believe me.)
See, there I was late last night thinking I'd just have a quick glance at his post because I needed a laugh. And then his post led me to Rocky's blog where I found a discussion in progress about NST's Brendan Pereira's plagiarism of an article by Mitch Albom, which had been exposed by Rocky and Jeff.
Plagiarism interests me ... a lot (as readers of this blog will know), and I couldn't resist jumping in with my tuppence worth (a philosophical meandering about where the border between plagiarism and satire is drawn) which then got picked up by Jeff in a post this morning somewhat edited (though he left in the ouchy spelling).
Brendan Pereira's plagiarism was clear cut and the blogging community has pronounced his guilt. Still, had Brendan acknowledged the source of the framework he pegged his article too, I think he could have legitimately borrowed the form. It's the non-attribution that makes it plagiarism.
...if the article he had taken had been known to the wider malaysian public and if he had used it as a basis for a humourous or ironic piece which built in some sense on the original article, that would not have been plagiarism.(Have possibly been proofreading too many boring legal documents, to write like this!) Anyway, Jeff quoted me and I got a mini-break of fame.
Brendan Pereira has now been replaced as the Group Editor of the NST. Jonathan Kent of the BBC picked up the story which he saw as
... a clash between the old and new media about the basic standards of the profession.As indeed it is. And bloggers appear to have the higher moral ground. Let's see what happens in the NST.
The outing of plagiarists by bloggers is not just happening here. Consider the case of Anne Coulter:
Universal Press Syndicate investigated the plagiarism allegations and concluded that "minimal matching text is not plagiarism" stating also that "Universal Press Syndicate is confident in the ability of Ms.Coulter, an attorney and frequent media target, to know when to make attribution and when not to ("Sorry harpies--syndicator sees no Coulter plagiarism", Chicago Tribune)I leave you with the following happy thought - also from the Famous Plagiarists website:
What is a Plagiarist ?
A Plagiarist sucks the lifeblood right out of a text for his own selfish nourishment. He cares not that the life of the Author is forfeited through his bloodthirsty textual savagery-ravagery and asserts blasphemously that a text has somehow attained “the right to kill, to become the murderer of its author”.  The Plagiarist siphons off the life giving crimson fluid as ink for his own pen, without a thought for either the Author, or for the Reader. And he splashes this stolen red ink freely on the pages of his own textual plagiarations. To the Plagiarist, the words are there for the taking. After all, whose words are they really anyway? Who can rightfully claim ownership of the discourse that characterizes human communication? The Plagiarist justifies his plagiarisms through pseudo-philosophizations and self-justifications as he happily helps himself to your blood, my blood—anybody’s blood, as long as that red ink remains life-givingly fluid, un-encrusted, as yet un-congealed. A Plagiarist is a textual vampire . . .
(Nice pic of Jeff Ooi pinched from Oon Yeoh's website)
Has anyone yet asked Mitch Albom how he feels about his work being lifted? Now that would be interesting!
Something no-one seems to be talking about ... there are actually degrees of plagiarism. Take a look at this table of threat levels and think about where you would put Brendan Pereira in this case.
Has anyone considered that Brendan Pereira might be a cryptonesiac?
Latest news on Jeff''s site this morning, the NST is threatening to sue the BBC!
And goodness, here's a lesson in just how far a comment left casually on a blog and not particualrly well formulated can travel - I'm quoted in Singapore's free newspaper Today Online.
Index: A Rogues Gallery of Fakers and Plagiarisers
And also about plagiarism in the Malaysian press:
Cut and Paste Review - The Murder of Macbeth (15/9/05)
Plagiariased Reviews - She's at it Again (17/9/05)