I forgot that it’s wrong to plagiarize

Steve Martin used to have this routine:

You can have a million dollars and never pay taxes.


First, get a million dollars. Then when the IRS comes and ask you why you haven’t paid any taxes on the million dollars — two simple words:

I forgot!

I forgot I was supposed to pay taxes.

This came to mind after reading about the latest case of professional plagiarism. The writer is always amazed that he/she did something like that. It was subconscious, they say. But you know what? I believe it can happen, and that it isn’t always intentional.

When I worked at a summer camp man (many) years ago, I came back from a  day off to learn that a male staff member had been fired because one of the girls campers accused him of flashing her as he was exiting the shower. Now I wasn’t there to see the alleged incident, and I didn’t know the guy that well, and this may have actually happened, but isn’t it also possible that it was an accident? A gust of wind, an inadvertant scratch without realizing someone was within viewing range? The staffers were a bit put out that he was so quickly dismissed, but I can also see the side of the camp owner who had to protect his business. As do the newspapers when they let can someone accused of the crime of plagiarism, no matter how innocent or well-meaning the writer might have been.

Marketwatch.com wrote about this event. I find it a bit amusing that every first mention of a company is accompanied by the lastest financial snapshot. But that’s what this particular site is all about, I guess.



1 Comment

  1. accidents do happen but how does one go about defending oneself in a case such as you mentioned above about the camp staff member? sounds likehe wasn’t given much of a chance to defend himself.

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