Faced with the prospect of having to cover something substantive, like Judge Alito’s long record of anti-worker jurisprudence, which Nathan Newman documented and Sherrod Brown wrote a letter about to Mike DeWine, the Cleveland Plain Dealer decided that the more interesting story was Brown’s use of Nathan’s work without attribution. As Nathan himself writes:
Were they deceived that Brown got on LEXIS, did the legal research himself, and wrote every word of the letter he sent Mike DeWine himself? This is the comparison to academic plagiarism, but the difference between students (and I teach two classes) and politicians is that we expect students to do their own research. Politicians have speech writers and use other peoples ideas without attribution all the time.
So the problem isn’t using other people’s ideas, but that somehow the American people assumed that Brown paid good money to staff for these unattributed ideas and the fact that he got them for free from a blogger is a scandal. Now, if I was a volunteer on the Brown campaign, and not a paid staff person, would all these conservatives beating their breasts over plagiarism still see a problem? I doubt they could do so with a straight face. So is the problem that I am an independent political activist offering my ideas to all progressive comers, without working for Brown specifically?
As Nathan notes, he posted the piece not only on his own website but on DailyKos, every page of which bears the disclaimer:
Site content may be used for any purpose without explicit permission unless otherwise specified.
But in case any intrepid Senate campaign staffers are out there looking to lift writing from a (less talented, younger, unmarried) blogger, let me offer an additional disclaimer of my own for Little Wild Bouquet:
Take whatever you want (as long as you don’t re-write it to mean the opposite). Please. Take it all. Have at it. No, really. This means you. You know you want it.