Thursday, May 17, 2007

Plagiarism of "Cheney as Iranian mole"?

In a March 6, 2007 article about the Iraq war in the Exile, a Moscow-based alternative paper, Gary Brecher wrote:

"So far, Iran has been the big winner in this war, and they haven't fired a shot or lost a man," wrote Brecher. "Makes me wonder if Cheney isn't actually a mole parachuted into Wyoming a while back by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard."

Two weeks later, Nicholas Kristof wrote an article in the New York Times, titled, "Iran's Operative in the White House." with the text: "You have to wonder: Is Dick Cheney an Iranian mole?" [text from radaronline]

The plagiarism issue concerns the use of the word "mole" and the whimsical thought that Dick Cheney might be a "mole for Iran". This evokes Carhart's theory of Robert E. Lee's grand plan at Gettysburg, which had previously been published by Walker. How similar does a "later thing" have to be before one infers it is copied from an "earlier thing"? Hard to say. Was this something that we knew when we saw it? Some readers of Brecher thought so; Kristof says no. Did it add value by transforming the borrowed material into something new? One suspects Brecher created the value of the thought.

This shows the total emptiness of Lethem's ideas on plagiarism, which in turn were somewhat borrowed from Judge Posner.


Blogger Richard Rollston said...

The point is Nicholas Kristof is reading one of the best writers now operating, whose perspective would be utterly prohibited from any pre-net environment.

1:19 AM  

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