The recent discosure of Fareed Zakaria’s plagiarizing makes me think of something which happened a long while back. When I was a freshman in college I had to write a paper for a ‘Theatre History’ class. When Professor Ron Perrier returned it to me, I was shocked and distraught to find I got a big fat “D” with a comment that said; “You have plagiarized and lifted directly from Brockett’s “The Theatre – An Introduction”.” I can honestly say I was totally unaware that I had done what I did and felt horrible for my mistake. This is before we had ‘copy and paste’ and before students were stretched on the rack and expelled for academic inauthenticity. It was an excellent lesson and I am glad I learned it in college, which at that time seemed like the only place I wanted to be.
No one is perfect, nor is there any guarantee we won’t, as hard as we try, but hopefully not, make the same mistake twice. Fareed Zakaria, unlike the young naive college student, should know better, if indeed it was plagiarism. He needs to explain himself. As he does so, I will be reminded to take care and be aware, and do the right thing as I express myself with the written word. Perhaps he never had a professor who taught him the lesson I was taught in college.
And to help – I still have the book!