The Republican convention in Cleveland has seen a number of controversies develop during its first two days of activity. The poor seating arrangements of the delegates from the host state and the heated bid by political forces against the party’s nominee, Donald Trump, which was rejected under protest, are two such situations.
However, one word has come to symbolize the speeches give thus far: plagiarism, with the latest example being Donald Trump, Jr.’s endorsement of his father on July 19. In his speech, Trump’s son spoke about what he felt were the problems that the average person was facing when it comes to education.
Trump used the metaphor of schools having previously served as an elevator for individuals who sought to become part of the middle class of society. Saying that such vehicles have become stalled, Trump then compared them to Russian department stores that were open during the Cold War.
Emphasizing his belief that this was a faulty method of boosting educational opportunities, Trump stated that teachers and administrators were the individuals receiving the real benefits. His comparison used those professions to compare with the department store analogy of clerks who were seen as being more important than customers.
The speech was well received by Republicans, who have sought to rein in teacher unions and reduced educational funding in certain areas. Still, an issue developed when Comedy Central’s weeknight program, “The Daily Show,” quickly found a problem with that specific reference.
The show’s Twitter account posted side-by-side screen shots of what Trump had said and what had been written two months ago in an article from The American Conservative. Two lines were specifically highlighted in the tweet, which were strikingly similar in nature.
When the comparisons quickly resulted claims of plagiarism against Trump, it was pointed out that the speechwriter, Frank H. Buckley, was also the individual who had authored the original article. Buckley, a law professor at George Mason University, explained that claims of plagiarism were “not an issue.”
Technically, the situation is not considered plagiarism because of that connection. However, some speechwriters that were contacted after the controversy developed indicated that some ethical questions come into play in these types of situations.
Described as self-plagiarism, this variant is when a writer re-uses a previous work and presents it as something new. Generally, this most often occurs with educators and students, and in both cases, the punishment for getting caught can be severe.
One example of this came when a professor sent a previous work that had been co-authored by other colleagues. In the new version, though, he was presented as the sole author.
For students, the threat of either suspension or expulsion is meant to serve as a deterrent against this practice.
While the controversy was not considered a major news story, it was noteworthy because it marked the second consecutive night that a member of Donald Trump’s family was accused of plagiarism.
In that instance, his wife Melania endorsed him on Monday night by emphasizing the ideals of hard work and other attributes. However, in a number of cases, her words were exactly or virtually the same as First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech endorsing her husband during the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver.
At first, spokesmen from the Trump campaign denied that any plagiarism had taken place, discounting the charge by saying that only a handful of words were similar. One of Trump’s key supporters, Governor Chris Christie, later rationalized the incident by saying that 93 percent of her speech was different from the one given by Mrs. Obama.