In the interest of full disclosure, I am an unabashed Barack Obama supporter, although I have not before this joined any of my fellow TBP contributors in announcing a preference in the current race. Having said that, I want to weigh in on the current brouhaha concerning his alleged plagiarism.
I guess before I do that I need also, in the interests of redundant full disclosure, to say that I am an attorney, which means that I am professionally bound not to deal with the subject of plagiarism (or anything else, for that matter) in just two paragraphs above the break. Actually, somebody else said that first, but I’m not going to tell you whose speech I lifted it from unless you follow me beyond the break.
(If you came here thinking I might also tell you why I support Barack Obama, I really don’t plan to. Jerry, my other half of 14 years, is a proud almost 58-year-old African American male whose eyes mist up at the historical significance of it all, but who still tells me: “You of course are free to support anybody you want, dear.” Yeah, I’ll bet some of you have heard that line in your own households before, too.)
I mostly think the whole thing about Obama’s alleged plagiarism of an earlier speech by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is plain silly. It’s something to fill up the morning news on MSNBC before Fidel Castro decided that he didn’t want to be Cuban President anymore, just still head of the Cuban Communist Party (the one that owns all the cigar factories). I didn’t hear what he had to say, but I suspect he plagiarized something Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez said about George Bush, which I can’t repeat here… but I can always be convinced to change my mind. Those guys in Latin America steal each other’s lines all the time. Sometimes they shoot each other’s houses up over it. We just don’t hear about it because Brittany Spears has been rushed to the hospital again and that’s far more important.
I understand that Obama and Governor Patrick are good friends and borrow from each other’s speeches all the time without attribution. That's sort of like how Jerry and I wear the same size shirts and trousers and when we swap never even think about wearing little signs that say “this really belongs to my partner.” Now the ties… that’s a different matter entirely.
I don’t see how you can be a plagiarizer if the plagiarizee (in the further interests of full disclosure my Word spellchecker is yelling that “plagiarizee” isn’t a word, but I’ll swear I used it playing Scrabble once or twice) doesn’t get in a hissy fit over your borrowing his or her words. Jerry doesn’t get in a hissy fit when I appropriate his shirts, shoes, or ties, either. I just find a little note saying “one more time and I start sending invoices."
I don’t know whether the whole flap between Hillary and Barack over the “plagiarism thing” has anything to do with their respective views on pertinent GLBT issues. It might relate to something about “DON'T ASK me if it's my own quote and DON'T TELL me if you've used mine." Bringing that closer to my own household: “I wish you would just ASK/TELL me if you’re going to wear my socks.” Yep, there’s a bona fide domestic partnership issue in there somewhere. I doubt if full marriage equality will really help much in that area. I don't know if the proposed ENDA has a clothing exclusion.
What happens when I don’t tie them both together before putting them in the washing machine and one gets transported into eternal one-sock heaven is beyond the scope of this posting. Let's just say that the famous Maytag repairman could never find the other one, either.
By the way, I told a little fib when I enticed you to come below the break and I'd tell you whose quote I stole concerning a lawyer's professional duty in writing about plagiarism. There is no such duty. We sometimes steal each other's briefs without attribution. We just don't wear them. Not unless we have to.