Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Plagiarism and the pathetic politician

Tito Sotto is at it again. The last part of his 'turno en contra' Tagalog speech against the RH bill on Aug 29 turned out to have been a translation of a speech delivered by the late US senator Robert Kennedy. 

Ooops, he did it again!

As if getting into hot water for accusations of plagiarizing parts of blogger Sarah Pope's work was not enough, I wonder what part of plagiarism Sotto does not understand. I don't think any person with half a brain does not comprehend what plagiarism means, and why it is never okay to commit such. 

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, you commit plagiarism if you commit any of the following: 
  • steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
  • use (another's production) without crediting the source
  • commit literary theft
  • present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.

What appalls me is that even when it's right smack in the face that he copied, he still does not own up to his mistakes and even attempts to wiggle his way out of a wrong act by blabbing out illogical statements, saying plagiarism is not a crime. 

Seriously, is Sotto implying that it's okay to copy from someone else's work and take credit for it because it is not punishable by law? A simply laughable argument coming from a so-called lawmaker without even trying to be funny at all.

And then he cries crying foul for being a victim of cyber bullying. Who put it upon himself anyway?

I couldn't be more irked because as a writing enthusiast, I am well aware of the fact that in writing, plagiarism is a mortal sin, as much as it is for other forms of intellectual theft and other acts of fraud. This has always been a precept I've lived by since college, when I had poured out so much of my heart and soul into writing and journalism. I've worked three jobs all as a writer, and it even made more sense to me the tackiness of it all. We even had to put our articles through a software to check for duplicate content or if they were all original.

Whenever I am invited to conduct writing workshops for budding writers, I always tell these students to never plagiarize, emphasizing the importance of avoiding it at all times. And if I had to choose between reading a badly written but original copy from a well written but copied one, you know what I'd go for.

What makes my blood pressure shoot up a hundred degrees more is that Sotto continues to open his mouth, lying yet again and shooting lousy tirades against his critics. For crying out loud, why can't he just say sorry anyway? What could be easier a way for him and people to move on than to admit he wronged and acknowledge those whom he ought to give credit to? 

Hungarian president Pal Scmitt resigned when it was found that his doctorate thesis was copied from two authors. Fareed Zakaria, writer and TV host for Time Magazine and CNN, respectively, apologized for plagiarizing an article on gun control. Even Manny Pangilinan took himself fully responsible for a plagiarism controversy that involved him, of which he retired as Ateneo de Manila's chair of the board of trustees. Sotto's arrogance and defiance on back-to-back plagiarism issues confronting him makes me wonder, what is he really standing up for?

How do we expect public officials to serve the country with hard work if even a seemingly simplistic task of delivering a speech is actually done out of an easy, breezy cut, copy, paste function? 

How do we expect public officials to serve the country with truthfulness and integrity if they have been shamelessly copying from other's ideas (and lying through their teeth that they didn't)? 

How do we expect public officials to advance and protect the rights of people if even they themselves outright disrespect others by copying their works and passing it off as their own? 

Now, one wonders who gets more ridicule - Sotto who remains stubborn for all the wrong reasons or the public who put him there in the first place?