On the Subject of Plagiarism

Plagiarism as defined by dictionary.com:


  1. an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author’s work as one’s own, as by not crediting the original author
  2. a piece of writing or other work reflecting such unauthorized use or imitation

This is the accusation currently being leveled at Melania Trump, but I believe the true culprits of this literary crime are her team of speech writers. That plagiarism has been perpetrated, I have no doubt, but I do question the motive behind it.

Plagiarism is born, at least in my experience, out of inherent laziness and a lack of respect for the amount of work people put into their writing and ideas. The accusation is one of stealing intellectual property and appropriating it to one’s own needs without proper citation or acknowledgment of the original author or source material.

This could have all been easily remedied by the simple mention of Trump’s admiration for Michelle Obama before quoting her 2008 DNC speech. Even if she used the main ideas from Obama’s speech, such paraphrasing necessitates citation. However, due to what I assume as the decision to distance herself from any association with Michelle Obama, there was no mention of the original speech.

I cannot speak to the amount of direct involvement that Trump had in the writing of her speech for the RNC, but I believe the true weight of any punishment should be leveled at her team of writers who, above all, should have known better. I do not think she is innocent in this since she must have approved the speech before deciding to read it, but the men and women who put pen to paper and knowingly stole the words of other writers are, in my eyes, beyond guilty.

As writers, it is our job to not only come up with our own original ideas, but to defend those who have had theirs stolen. There should be repercussions for the writers, if not Mrs. Trump herself. Unfortunately, the majority of the public will focus on her and not the true thieves. I have already seen the overwhelming response by those who are upset decrying the fact that Trump used speech writers. You would be very hard pressed to find a politician these days who doesn’t use at least one speech writer, and unfortunately the way in which politicians present their ideas doesn’t put much responsibility or praise in the hands of those writers.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if it is three lines or an entire speech; the principle is the same.

Side by side comparison of speeches.

The featured image is taken from Melania Trump’s official Twitter page, which can be found through the hyperlink below.
Melania Trump Plagiarism Response


One thought on “On the Subject of Plagiarism

  1. Pingback: On the Subject of Attribution and Citing Sources – The Past Due Book Review

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