Plagiarism and the divine drop

"Oh lord, Breen’s on again about plagiarism."

Honestly, I had no intention of “owning” this issue, but this Twitter comment in reaction to my So, Plagiarism piece got me thinking:

This is more like a daily thing in the blog world. Doesn’t warrant a thorough investigation of a single person.

Typically this would be the kind of setup where I proceed to sternly lecture a young blogger about the good old days of decency and decorum. But he has a point. Why go after some piss-poor site like iMacland? Its articles are barely written in English, it seems to benefit from no advertising, and until I started yammering about it, no one had heard of it. Why draw attention to it when this kind of thing goes on day-in and day-out?

Partly because I (and others who’ve joined in) can. It’s relatively easy to follow the tracks of people like this and expose them for the frauds they are. But digging down, why the outrage over plagiarism when far worse transgressions litter our lives?

To me, it’s an offense against the best aspirations of our species. We bipeds, among all the creatures crowding this world, have the unique awareness of self. This awareness allows us to ponder and propose, navel-gaze and theorize, extend the Me to the Us. If there’s a divine drop in us, it’s these gifts of insight and consideration. Whether through words, images, audio, or architecture, each of us can express what it is to be human.

The plagiarizer denies the divine. He contributes nothing. He simply takes and, like an animal, sprays his scent over the stolen goods to claim ownership.

So why investigate a single person when this is a daily occurrence? Because each instance dulls our humanity. Rampant or rare, this is not something that merits complacence.