Rand Paul is being accused of plagiarism by the mainstream media, including the New York Times in a recent article. Of course, the Times would like nothing more than to diminish this TEA Party-based rising star in the GOP.
There seems to be two components of the Times’ charges:
- High-brow contempt for Wikipedia. The Times implies that Paul’s reliance on Wikipedia is inconsistent with Paul’s reputation as an intellectual – “The questions about Mr. Paul’s writings, starting with disclosures that some of his speeches had borrowed from Wikipedia, threatened to undercut his relatively newfound status as an intellectually rooted libertarian Republican vying to lead his party into the post-Obama, post-Bush era.” How snarky is that!
- Paul stole someone else’s writing. According to my favorite reference source (Wikipedia!), plagiarism is stealing another author’s “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions.” According to the Times, Paul stole the following writing from another author – “America now jails a higher percentage of its citizens than any other country, including China and Iran, at the staggering cost of $80 billion a year.” If I had written that sentence in my blog, I wouldn’t expect to be credited by anyone else repeating the statement in a speech or blog because there is nothing special about the creative use of language and the information is in the public domain. Not guilty of plagiarism!
In the Times article, Paul revealed himself to be frustrated by this media scrutiny:
- It’s also what people hate about politics, and it’s why, frankly, members of my family are not too interested in politics, period, or wanting me to do more of this,” he said. “To tell you the truth, people can think what they want, I can go back to being a doctor anytime, if they’re tired of me. I’ll go back to being a doctor, and I’ll be perfectly content.”
This attitude bothers me. I expect Paul to have a tougher skin. As Harry Truman said, “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.”