Wikipedia and the Senator

If anything came out of the rise of the extreme right in this country, snarky, disparaging, self-righteous, intolerant, often slanderous slams of one’s opponents is that thing. I hate it!

The recent revelation that Senator Rand Paul gave speeches, wrote books and columns that contained significant chunks lifted from and unattributed to Wikipedia reminds me of how Vice President Joe Biden suffered significant opprobrium when he made the same mistake in the 1980s. It cost him a chance at the Presidency, eh?

Similarly, Rand Paul’s career should suffer, too, in this more judgmental, less forgiving political environment 30+ years later. Hang him high! That’s Senator Paul’s answer to the foibles of his opponents, Republican or Democratic. Take no prisoners, give no benefit of doubt.

As no fan of the man, I suppose I should join in a chortle and come up with some snarky, disparaging, self-righteous, slanderous slams to show I want him to wallow in a pile of dog turds for being a slime ball who plagiarizes.


Believe me, Evil Me is frothing at the mouth, trying to keep Good Me from using this screamingly good opportunity to hate on the Senator! Whew! The sweat’s on both Evil’s and Good’s brows as I type!

Let’s try to be Good Me today.

The Senator shows signs of having incredibly thin skin for a public character. It’s OK to tear down others, but God help the fool who points out his foibles: If duels were legal still in his home state, Rachael Maddow would have to learn how to point a dueling pistol or handle a rapier or political smear at 10 paces! The Senator indicated he’d take down people in a duel if he could, he so dislikes being found out! “Boohoo! Leave me alone, meanies!”

Whoops, Evil Me slipped in a snarky comment. Here’s what Good Me says about the charges against the Senator: Everyone knows staff prepare speeches, write books, present the ideas of the politicians they serve in all media so the politicians have time to do whatever they do. It’s not dishonest, as such, just disingenuous to suggest anything put out by politicians is original – literally original – to them most of the time.

Remember how the right-wing had hissy attacks when the President used a Teleprompter to give a speech? As if no other politician in the world doesn’t use this tool when possible, rather than fumble through 3″ X 5″ cards on a podium. When extemporaneous talks occur, unintended remarks sometimes come out, the message spins out of control, and the Rand Pauls of the world never let up on the “glitch”. Benghazi has elements of this, where specific words in specific order and time weren’t used, though words significantly the same were. But never mind! Snark on! Hang him high!

So, if the Senator uses words crafted by his staff that include some broadly “borrowed” lines from Wikipedia, I don’t applaud him for clever use of staff. I say staff failed their boss. Like it or not – and the Senator doesn’t – time constraints sometimes lead to short cuts. Short cuts inevitably lead to complications down the line. There is a direct benefit to success when specific steps are taken in a process (putting out the official line for the Senator) to assure that it isn’t muddled by scandal or errors in fact. Of course, effective use of time and resources such as staff is a measure of a good manager….

Quoting big sections of Wikipedia entries in speeches and other media without attribution is a perfect set up for the end of a career. I suspect the Senator didn’t approve this short cut, giving him the benefit of the doubt.

On the other hand, it happened on Senator Paul’s watch. If the President did something like this (failed at managing his staff), Paul would be the first to call for impeachment of the President or some other extreme means of discrediting the President and his administration.

The Evil Me says, “Hang the Senator high! Let him swing in the wind as an example for all who follow to learn from and fear!”

The Good Me says, “Let the Senator limp back to Tennessee to lick his wounds. No fair poking pointy sticks at him. No fair destroying his reputation on circumstantial evidence. Let him examine what happened, have a graceful way out. If there is no graceful way out, may he return to being a doctor and get out of national political life forever. He’s innocent until proved guilty, a basic presumption of our law.”

The Bad Me says, “…but I smell his blood…!”

It’s hard paying attention to Good Me, but I know it’s for the best. If I can’t respect the man, I should respect the office of Senator. Oh, and try not to slip into snarky, disparaging, self-righteous, intolerant, slanderous slams of the Senator while he’s hemorrhaging bad karma. Rawr!


Look at the upper left side of a Wikipedia entry, and you'll see this link to where you can make a charitable donation.

Look at the upper left side of a Wikipedia entry, and you’ll see this link to where you can make a charitable donation.

I support Wikipedia with annual contributions. When you open a Wikipedia article and see a banner at the top asking for donations, give it some thought, especially if you use the resource regularly. It actually is an IRS-recognized charity in the US, and contributions can be claimed on your return to the degree allowed.

I refer to Wikipedia often enough I feel a contribution is reasonable.

There is one link above to the Joe Biden entry that tells of his experience with plagiarism. It’s one way I use Wikipedia.