Earlier this week, Rand Paul spoke at the Citadel in Charleston, S.C., and shortly thereafter, he released a transcript of his speech. As promised, the speech was heavily footnoted. In fact, it features 33 separate citations.
However, in reviewing the footnotes and the speech, it’s clear Paul is still a little unsure about what constitutes plagiarism and what doesn’t.
Throughout this entire plagiarism affair, Paul has insisted that he cited sources. He didn’t. He merely noted that when he was talking about the movie “Gattaca,” he was, in fact, talking about the movie “Gattaca.” He never said that the very words he was passing off as his own were, in actuality, the words of some poor schlub who wrote a portion of a Wikipedia entry.
In the case of this lift, all Paul had to say was, “According to the Wikipedia entry on ‘Gattaca,'” and then he could have ripped and read away until his thieving little heart was content. But he didn’t. And he still doesn’t, at least on occasion.
Case in point, the second footnoted passage in Paul’s Citadel speech in which he says, “In 1968 during the Tet Offensive, Col. Harrington led a courageous assault against a heavily fortified enemy stronghold in Hue City.”
Paul cites the source for the passage — bravo — but he doesn’t indicate that the words he spoke weren’t his own.Truth be told, that particular passage comes, nearly word for word, from a citation honoring Col. [Myron Charles] Harrington: “He led a courageous assault against a heavily fortified enemy stronghold in the Hue City Citadel during the infamous Tet Offensive.”
And then Paul does the same thing again: “Disregarding extreme personal danger, he led his Marines in overrunning the entrenched enemy position. For that action, Col. Harrington received the Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest military award for valor in combat
The citation reads: “In the face of extreme personal danger, he led his Marines in overrunning the entrenched North Vietnamese. For that action, Colonel Harrington received the Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest military award for valor in combat.”
Now, I may be splitting hairs here, but the footnotes themselves do not save Paul from the burden of identifying which passages in his speech are not his. They don’t.
And for those of you who say Paul was only reciting facts, let me point out that adjectives and adverbs like “extreme,” “entrenched,” and “courageous” are not facts. Those are little personal touches added by the writer or speaker (The same goes for sentence structure.). And the truth is, Paul could have found a completely different way to present those facts.
Heck, if I was talking about Col. Harrington, I would have said something like this: “Col. Harrington looked danger in its skank nasty eye and gave it the middle finger, yo. Then he and his fellow Marines kicked the living shit out of Charlie — who was armed to the fucking teeth, like all gangsta style, Nino Brown, yo … fucking David Fucking Koresh — and they kicked Chuckles out of his Hue City Crib and made it their second home, bitch. And then they like got high on Thai sticks and threw on some Doors, yo. “Strange Days” or that song in ‘Apocalypse Now.’ Not the one in the Bugs Bunny cartoon. The one with the fan. And that dude that looks like Charlie Sheen. That, bitch. That.”
Oh, wait, that wasn’t me. That was Jesse Pinkman. I almost forgot to give proper attribution, yo.
NOTE: It must be pointed out that these same problems do not surface when comes to the 31 other footnotes in Paul’s speech. He gets it right. Paul acknowledges when a quote isn’t his, cites his sources in his speech, and attributes factual information to its source. So apparently, he’s learning. With a little luck, he’ll master this no-plagiarism stuff right quick.