The World O' Crap Archive

Welcome to the Collected World O' Crap, a comprehensive library of posts from the original Salon Blog, and our successor site, (2006 to 2010).

Current posts can be found here.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

July 9, 2006 by s.z. (2)

Newsmax brings us this news flash: Publisher: Ann Coulter No Plagiarist. Let’s examine it (minus all the invitations to buy a copy of her book for only $4.99), shall we?
The latest media attack on Ann Coulter seems to be a desperate measure to undermine the credibility of one of America’s most prominent conservative voices.
Because, as everyone knows, conservative Ann had always been perceived as a highly credible and ethical journalist up until now.
But the publisher of Coulter’s book, Random House’s Crown imprint, has reviewed the plagiarism allegations and has found them to be baseless.
“We have reviewed the allegations of plagiarism surrounding ‘Godless’ and found them to be as trivial and meritless as they are irresponsible,” said Steve Ross, Senior Vice President and Publisher of Crown Publishing Group.
Ross continued: “Any author is entitled to do what Ann Coulter has done in the three snippets cited: research and report facts. The number of words used by our author in these snippets is so minimal that there is no requirement for attribution.
Again, as everyone knows, one of the charges is that Ann lifted a passage from Portland-Press Herald:
In “Godless,” Coulter writes:
“The massive Dickey-Lincoln Dam, a $227 million hydroelectric project proposed on upper St. John River in Maine, was halted by the discovery of the Furbish lousewort, a plant previously believed to be extinct.”
An article that ran in 1999 in Maine’s Portland-Press Herald contains the following passage:
“The massive Dickey-Lincoln Dam, a $227 million hydroelectric project proposed on upper St. John River, is halted by the discovery of the Furbish lousewort, a plant believed to be extinct.”
And while that may seem like plagiarism to you or me, we have it straight from Mr. Ross (who, as a publisher, should know these kinds of things): you don’t have to give attribution when you are only stealing thirty words or so.
Now, on a completely differing topic, I would like to share with you some of my original thoughts on life, war, and stuff.
To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That was war. This is war.
You can find even more original thoughts such as these in my book,Better Living Through Bad Movies, so be sure to pick up a copy. (Do it now, before Crown steals it!)
But now, let’s get back to Steve Ross, who has more on when plagiarism is okay.
“As an experienced author and attorney, Ms. Coulter knows when attribution is appropriate, as underscored by the nineteen pages of hundreds of endnotes contained in ‘Godless.’”
Oh, right, Ann is a lawyer! That means she MUST know what she is doing, and would NEVER get lazy or sloppy about proper attribution of her sources! For, as Ann learned at the University of Michigan, “To use another person’s ideas or expressions in your writing without acknowledging the source is totally okay, since lawyers are except from intellectual property theft laws. So, go nuts! “
(Just to be clear, that’s not what the U of Mich actually teaches its students – Ann might want to brush up on its Plagiarism guidelines before she writes her next column throwing stones at the NY Post.)
And about those footnotes . . . John Barrie, creator of the iThenticate plagiarism-probing system, also mentioned them.
Meanwhile, many of the 344 citations Coulter includes in “Godless” “are very misleading,” said Barrie, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, where he specialized in pattern recognition.
“They’re used purely to try and give the book a higher level of credibility – as if it’s an academic work. But her sloppiness in failing to properly attribute many other passages strips it of nearly all its academic merits,” he told The Post.
But, like Ann told Scoobie Davis in regard to a previous work, “I’ve just written a book with 35 pages of footnotes, um, with probably thousands of facts and quotes.”
So, although the footnotes (or rather, endnotes) in this book too are mostly bogus, since she did include them, Godless probably contains dozens of facts and quotes. Probably.
Anyway, that’s our ethics lesson for today: stealing other people’s words and ideas is okay, as long as you limit it to many small passages. A publisher said so.

10 Responses to “Ethical Advice You Can Use!”

It’s not really plagiarism when you’re quoting lies, for example about evolution and the Clenis and stuff.
Still, I’m fairly depressed that they didn’t actually namecheck The Rude Pundit and quote him with outrage while declaring that this is what polite discourse has sunk to among leftists.
Because that would have made me laugh till Tab came out my nose.
This book is jam-packed with stuff you can only get here and from the original sources! It’s like a collection of everybody else’s greatest hits! Now how much would you pay for it? Well, don’t answer, because you’ll also get 19 pages, containing literallyhundreds of footnotes that you can use to impress your friends and prove pretty much anything you want! Remember, you can help yourself, but don’t take too much — please limit your borrowings to no more than about 30 pieces of silver from each footnote. Now how much would you pay? $4.99? Well, wait a second, we’ll also throw in the Ginsu knives!
I’d trade my fading memory of Gina Gershon squirming on my lap at Hellfire Club for five minutes with the Divine Miss C.
Humorless: how can you make FUN of some ones ideas with out quoting …. duh. With out quoting, intelectual property is buried. What say ye oh great shaman ?
some of my original thoughts on life, war, and stuff
Interestingly enough, the only one you’d really get in trouble over is the “invade their countries” quote. The others are in the public domain.
Ann keeps calling herself a “lawyer.” She graduated from a prominent law school and I assume she’s the same Ann Hart Coulter admitted to the NY bar in 1989 (see But did she ever practice law–stringing facts and arguments together to withstand the withering scrutiny of her peers, simultaneously ferreting out gaps in her opponent’s positions, to achieve real results for living, breathing clients?
Why would she bother, when it’s so much more fun and profitable to fling shit at the walls and giggle at the grownups’ reactions?
Even if they never go to court, lawyers in NY must follow a code of professional responsibility ( which contains the following gems:
Preamble: “The continued existence of a free and democractic society depends upon the recognition of the concept that justice is based upon the rule of law grounded in respect for the dignity of the individual and the capacity of the individual through reason for enlightened self-government. . . only through such law does the dignity of the individual attain respect and protection. Whtiout it, individual rights become subject to unrestrained power, respect for law is destroyed, and rational self-government is impossible.” (Seems like Ann’s sided with the wielders of unrestrained power, and the deciders who decide where the wielders will wield it.)
DR1-102(A)(4) “A lawyer shall not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.” (Do the alleged plagiarisms and footnote-shufflings add up to misrepresentation? Beats me.)
EC 8-6: “While a lawyer as a citizen has a right to criticize [judges]publicly, the lawyer should . . . use appropriate language and avoid petty criticisms, for unrestrained and intemperate statements tend to lessen public confidence in our legal system . . .” (Like endorsing the poisoning of a Supreme Court Judge, for instance?)
Ann, if you’re listening, please decide whether you’re a lawyer or a shit-flinger. Claiming to be both is false advertising at best.
I can see the publisher’s deliberation now…
“But… but… but… she makes *money* for us!”
“Verdict: Not Guilty!!one!”
I am never forget the day my first book is published.
Every chapter I stole from somewhere else.
Index I copy from old Vladivostok telephone directory.
This book was sensational!
– from the song Lobachevsky by Tom Lehrer
You just hate the truth, libs.
[...] I know, that title’s a throwaway: we all knew that already. Specifically, she doesn’t know what plagiarism is (or doesn’t care), and neither does her publisher. Maybe that’s because of all the money they make off her. World O’ Crap has more: Again, as everyone knows, one of the charges is that Ann lifted a passage from Portland-Press Herald: In “Godless,” Coulter writes: [...]

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