Topic: Professions & Institutions
Dershowitz Defends Plagiarism
Ho Hum! Another day, another Harvard law professor get caught plagiarizing.
Actually, the emerging proof that Harvard Law star prof Lawrence Tribe created a book in the 1980s by paraphrasing literally dozens of excerpts from a lesser-known colleague’s lesser known book is so redolent of previous Harvard plagiarism scandals involving Doris Kearns, Charles Ogletree [See “The Plagiarizing Professor“] and Alan Dershowitz that the Ethics Scoreboard would normally pass on the story as redundant. Tribe, having been authoritatively exposed by the current issue of The Weekly Standard ("Laurence Tribe and the problem of borrowed scholarship"], has apologized, taken full responsibility, and admitted that he did not properly credit his extensive use of Henry J. Abraham’s 1974 book on Supreme Court appointments, Justices and Presidents, in his own 1985 book, God Save This Honorable Court. The facts are substantially similar to the recent Ogletree incident (only much more blatant in Tribe’s case), and the Scoreboard entry on that matter still applies.
But then Professor Alan Dershowitz began flapping his gums, and amassing impressive credentials on his road to the Absurd Rationalizations Hall of Fame (appropriately located in Washington, D.C.) as he “defended” his fellow Harvard Law faculty member. Listen, oh ye aspiring rationalizers, to a master at work:
Wow! This guy really got Klaus Von Bulow acquitted with arguments like that? Come on, Professor, Lawrence Tribe is a published author many times, a member of the Harvard Law faculty, and a nationally known Constitutional scholar. He knows the standards applied to scholarly writings. He knows the rules. He holds students to them. And he knows that when a lawyer signs a brief, he is not claiming authorship. Tribe, to his credit, clearly understands exactly what he did and why it is wrong. Dershowitz, however, is another story. His arguments in defense of Tribe raise serious questions about his ethical bearings, not that there weren’t doubts before.
Harvard Law School has a full-blown plagiarism problem among its faculty, and it is more than likely that it has extensive company among other prestigious universities. Institutions of higher education must unite and begin serious and extensive inquiries into the extent and the causes of a trend that threatens the integrity of scholarship and undermines the ethics of America’s students.
But let’s keep Alan Dershowitz off the Task Force.
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