… dupa cum s-a putut vedea si din textul profesorului Marian Popescu (vedeti mai jos, pe Contributors, ce trebuia sa se intample ieri in Camera Deputatilor), cand vine vorba despre protectia plagiatorilor, nerusinarea nu mai cunoaste frontiere. In Romania, cel putin. Romania noastra, pentru care suntem gata sa ne jertfim vietile.
Redau mai jos un interviu cu profesorul Cary Nederman de la Texas A&M University, unul dintre putinii profesori de teorie politica specializat pe „intunecatul” Ev Mediu si totodata una dintre multele victime ale plagiatoarei „in serie” Diana Stanciu (care, la randul sau, a folosit „scuza” anului de gratie 2011 – ce-a fost inainte „nu se numara”!) Vine de se leaga?
Nota: Pe de-o parte din lipsa de timp, pe de alta din dorinta de-a nu ciunti prin traducere stilul profesorului Nederman, redau interviul in engleza, cu scuzele de rigoare pentru cei care nu inteleg limba.
(AF) Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you’ve started publishing articles and books some thirty years ago. Before this Romanian case of plagiarism, how often did you have to face this situation? In Canada, US, Europe?
(CN) My first referred journal article was published in 1981, so I have been around this business for a long, long time. To my knowledge, I have never before encountered an instance in which my own work has been directly and literally plagiarized so flagrantly by another scholar. Certainly, I can point to cases in which an idea that was incontrovertibly traceable to my scholarship has been appropriated without citation. But the words used were not in any way my own. Let me note as well that, in addition to my long career in the United States, I also worked in Canada and New Zealand for considerable periods of time, so my experience of the professional world is extensive. I know directly of one instance in which a colleague (now deceased) stole two papers from one of his graduate students. When discovered, he was censured (and demoted, if I recall correctly) by the university after a proper inquiry. I believe that the grad student in question—who dropped out of the program, needless to say—eventually sued this fellow and won a settlement. Moreover, the whole story wound up on the front page of the local newspaper. Shall we say that his academic credentials were constantly scrutinized thereafter.
Of course, I have seen many occasions—beginning with the first semester I was a Teaching Assistant in 1978—on which students have committed plagiarism. When this has been established, they were either kicked out of the institution or had their conduct included on their permanent record. And, naturally, they were awarded no credit for the class in which they engaged in plagiarism.
So, does plagiarism occur in academics? To be sure. But in the 40 years since I commenced to publish my academic research, I have never experienced such a flagrant example of this sort of misconduct. And let me emphasize that I have published more than two dozen books and literally hundred of journal articles, book chapters, and reviews, not to mention conference and seminar papers. Although obviously I cannot keep track of every publication in my several fields of professional activity, I read widely, so if my words had been stolen in this manner, I would likely have discovered it.
(AF) What are your views on plagiarism (a) as the victim of it, and (b) as a professor and researcher? Why such a big fuss about? After all, no one dies in the process (although some may receive threats). What do you think the penalty should be for such offense (or is at your university), especially if it’s repeated or if it secures a title (say, PhD or MA) and/or other material benefits?
(CN) The obvious answer to the “Who cares?” question has to do with the simple matter of intellectual property. I produce my writings with my own labor and energy, as well as talent. As I tell my own students, honest suffering is a necessary component of hard thought. So, I have suffered a LOT. In particular, I have spent a lifetime honing my craft as an author in order to express my thoughts to readers in a clear and accessible way.
But there is more at stake than that. I have always regarded the purpose of academic inquiry in dynamic terms, as a process, not as an end point. I have never expected what I publish to be the “final word” on any subject. What I have always hoped instead is that my work will stimulate others to move farther along, building on what I have done and at times offering good reasons to reject it or at least qualify it. Plagiarism is an affront to the very nature of intellectual inquiry, because it declines to engage in the give-and-take requisite for the development and deepening of knowledge. It is a dead end and no one who engages in it has a claim to contribute to the forward progress to which scholarship is inherently committed. In other words, they are fakes, not merely because they pass off someone else’s ideas and words as their own, but because they insult the essence of the academic enterprise. Quote me and cite me—that doesn’t harm anyone at all—and then disagree with me and state your reasons. But you do nothing other than kill trees and waste valuable time and resources if you have nothing of your own to say to someone else. Find another life that suits your own abilities. And if you don’t, expect that the most severe penalties will (and should) be imposed: stripping of unwarranted degrees, removal from professional appointments, public disapprobation and shaming. In other words, such a person should be administered what is euphemistically called the “poison pill.” And that’s consistently what occurs, in my observation, to those who are caught in misconduct on this scale.
(AF) After all, isn’t plagiarism a form of flattery? Like hypocrisy is said to be the homage vice pays to virtue … Any thoughts?
(CN) As anyone who has read Cicero, or Plutarch, or John of Salisbury (or Machiavelli, for that matter) realizes, flattery is a crime, not a complement. (Dan Kapust has recently published a commendable book on this very topic.) I am not saying that I don’t appreciate colleagues who express their admiration or gratitude for my scholarship. But for any of them to parrot uncritically my ideas and words (especially for their own interests, of whatever sort) actually constitutes an affront to what I seek to accomplish. Why? Because they replace independent thought—the very heart of intellectual investigation—with thoughtlessness. They demonstrate ignorance, in the sense that Socrates meant. So, no, I don’t wish to be copied by people who, in the very act of regurgitating my words, reveal their own stupidity. I far prefer people who dispute my words, even if I deeply disagree with their reasons for doing so. The people who challenge me are those from whom I learn. And as long as I draw breath, I never wish to halt the advancement of my own educaton.