9.04.2010

I hate how often I hear colleagues say, "I heard on NPR this morning..."

So sophisticated (and I mean that with all of the etymological connotations I can pile on!) was NPR's dance around the topic of whether Martin Luther King, Jr. originated the famous phrase, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice" that I left the interview feeling warm and fuzzy, and it didn't occur to me until about two hours later that this was part of a pattern with King: I had heard him accused of plagiarizing parts of his dissertation a while back.

Anyway, read the transcript and note the way NPR and guest manage to totally elude the topic of plagiarism in this short conversation. I was actually excited about hearing Theodore Parker mentioned on the radio, though!

But I mean, who cares? Stanley Fish told me just two weeks ago that plagiarism isn't a moral issue. Still, I love the way that the guest on NPR is asked, "Did King ever mention Parker?" and the guy responds, "I can't recall anywhere specifically..." and then when they get to the topic of how that happens, the guy says, "Well, typically how it happens is that we cite the source first, then we say 'someone said,' and then we just say, 'as I have said before.' " Leaving aside the fact that King doesn't seem to have attributed credit the first time around.


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