Monday, August 18, 2008

Sometimes, I'm Serious

Not often, but sometimes, there's a subject that just makes my inner Chihuahua want to gnaw her paw off.

And plagiarism is one of those subjects.

If you use someone else’s words and make no mention that you did, you committed plagiarism. Some people think it’s no big deal. Bah, words are a dime a dozen. Who cares? Whoever gets caught should deal with it privately with the interested parties, they say. I’ve never been the victim of plagiarism (some call it mind rape, I agree), but if someone would ever steal my speech bubble, you can bet your last tea bag that I’d go after them with all the frenzied energy of a Chihuahua on Red Bull. There’d be no place to hide, motherfuckers! Not because I'm too good to have my words copied, or think I own the alphabet. It's for the principle. And because it's wrong.

Let's look at it this way: writing is like building a nest.

A nest is nothing new. It's all recycled stuff, right. Like writing: everything already exists. Letters, words, sentences, paragraphs. You take all these little bits and make something new with them. You build a nest. No one has a nest like yours. It's unique. It's your spit (literally in the case of some birds...but I digress) that's keeping it together. That spit, it's YOURS, dude. For someone to come and pick at your nest, take a bunch of twigs here, a clump of feathers there, and use it to build their own nest without thanking you or at least mentioning it, is plagiarism.

Some may argue that on a "scale" of crimes, it's not as bas as, say, murder. Sure. But you know what? Ideas are what makes our species move forward. If we're not going to protect our ideas and how we put them on paper, if we're not willing to try to stop thieves from appropriating entire sentences, paragraphs, even pages, then what's the whole point of reading a book?

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