You can’t know the authors’ intentions.

That’s what I’ve always told my students. Sometimes the authors may not know their intentions.

Then I go and read about the exact same words in two different textbooks in The NYT, to which I was directed by Joanne Jacobs.

If these textbooks were essays turned in to me, they would fail. Even if they are “over 1,000 pages long,” which was one of the excuses given for the inexcusable.

Plagiarism is plagiarism. For Raytheon’s CEO, for Harvard sophomore with big book advance, for freshman students at local community college, it is all the same. And it’s simple. “Is this the exact same or way too similar thing someone else wrote?” (That includes metaphor usage, as per the Red America guy from the Washington Post.)

So how can someone decide that what is in these textbooks isn’t plagiarism by saying it wasn’t the writers’ intention? How do they know? Are they the writer? Does anyone even know who the writer or writers is/are or was/were?

Mr. Boorstin’s co-author, Mr. Kelley, said he was “outraged” by the identical passages, but he said he did not consider them plagiarism, because the authors never intended to lift another’s work.

It doesn’t matter to me whether you “intended” to lift another’s work. What matters to me is whether you did or not. Raytheon’s CEO Bill Swanson, Harvard’s Kaavya Viswanatha, ex-Washington Post blogger Ben Domenech all did. So did whoever wrote at least one of these textbooks’ additions. It’s plagiarism. Period.

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