It is but natural to ape, copy, imitate things so that one can make an impression with people. Children are prone to copy their classmates on one thing or another. Boys as well as girls copy each other in fashion, hairstyle and even personal habits. Girls dress their dolls in similar dresses which often leads to jealousy and bitterness.
In school, at exam times, weak students try to cheat by copying notes from brilliant students owing to peer pressure. In adult life, people resort to all means of copying or plagiarizing material to get ahead in the office.
We have all engaged in cheating, imitating or copying in some stage of our lives but it all becomes history as we move along in life. For ordinary people it does not affect them as mentioned it is a part and parcel of life. In underdeveloped countries where copyright laws are not so stringent and where the government is also weak people tend to take a very lax attitude and brush it off easily. It is often seen that parts of books are plagiarized and used in other books which are not only unethical but illegal. Medical books are photocopied and sold to students at a nominal price as these books are at times very expensive.
However, in the west and most particularly in the USA, copyright laws are very strict and violators can be imposed with heavy fines and even a jail sentence if found guilty.
Perhaps as a case in point of one of the most well-known cases of plagiarism is the blockbuster and best-selling book By Alex Haley ROOTS which was made into a mini television series by ABC television.
It was later discovered that the Pulitzer-winning author had plagiarized major extracts of his book from another novel “The African“ by white author Harold Courlander.
Haley contended that the protagonist of the novel Kunta Kinte was his ancestor a fact which was later disproved by historians.
There have been other famous instances of plagiarism of some well-known personalities such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, the world famous US civil rights leader who it is alleged plagiarized his dissertation for his doctorate degree.
However, King was an established iconic leader who changed the course of black and white relations in the USA. It is said that his famous speech “I have a dream was also taken from another pastor“.
Dr. Martin Luther King’s greatness needs no explanation or introduction and the plagiarism stories pales before his iconic stature.
Dr. Jane Goodall, an eminent scientist working with chimpanzees for more than 50 years and author of several books and research papers was also accused of plagiarism.
In Dr. King’s case allegations of wrongdoings surfaced at the start of his career but Goodall’s plagiarism was as recent as 2013 when she was planning to launch her book “Seeds of Hope” where it was discovered that some of the sources were taken from none other than Wikipedia, astrology sites and so forth.
Johnny Cash, an icon of his times was a famous country music singer in the fifties and sixties with such famous songs such as I Walk the Line, Ring of Fire, A Boy Named Sue and Jackson, a duet with his wife June Carter Cash.
His name has been inducted into the Country Music, Rock, and Roll and Gospel Music Halls of fame.
However, Cash was also branded a plagiarist in 1955 as his song ‘Folsom Prison Blues ‘ about the tale of a convicted murder being tortured by the sound of a passing train while stuck in prison, was actually the work of another person Cash, settled the plagiarism suit by paying $75,000 to put the issue to rest. That amount is worth about $660,000 today. His career was not affected by the suit at all.
Another two famous personalities, accused of plagiarism were Helen Keller, who at the age of 19 months became deaf and blind but went on to a be a prolific author, public speaker and political activist. She was awarded the presidential medal of freedom in 1964 and inducted into the national women’s hall of fame in 1965.
Her dark patch concerning plagiarism surfaced when she wrote her first book Frost King at the age of 11. The story appeared bore similarities to another book by another author. Although Keller denied any wrongdoing, the matter received a lot of publicity the case was finally attributed and cited as a case Cryptomnesia.
The other famous person mentioned was T.S. Eliot, the famous English Poet and Playwright who won a Nobel prize for literature in 1948.
In 1922 Eliot published the popular poem The Waste Land. Decades later it was discovered that the poem was largely a hodgepodge of text from lesser-known poets, one of them named Madison Casein and his poem entitled Waste Land.
However, Eliot’s reputation was not besmirched although he was criticized throughout his life. Plagiarism becomes very important when the concerned person involved is very famous and has mass fan following but what happens when the plagiarist just happens to be the wife of the nominee for the president of the United States of America.
This is the latest sensational news doing the rounds or as it is the age of digital technology, going viral. Donald Trump, the real estate billionaire is the Republican party candidate for the President of the United States duly endorsed at the convention in Cleveland, Ohio on July 21st, 2016.
Trump, a foul-mouthed, racist preaching hate against Hispanics and advocating the complete ban on Muslims due to terrorist related incidents in US cities recently has already stirred a hornet’s nest and is a love-hate relationship with the media.
Now Melania Trump, his beautiful and charming wife has further spiced up the political hotspot by giving an opening speech at the convention which the media has picked up as being plagiarized from the speech of Michelle Obama, President Obama’s wife at the Democratic Party Convention in 2008 when Obama was running for his first term in office.
Similarities have been found in several place of the speech, as a case in point Melania’s claim that that she would pass these values on to future generations “because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them” also closely matched Obama’s wish to share those values “because we want our children – and all children in this nation – to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them”.
The speech is indeed a setback for the Trump camp as he is formally crowned the party’s candidate for the President of the United States as many critics are saying the-the Republican party image needs to be spruced up its image before the elections in November.
Will this affect Donald Trump’s campaign for the White House? Many detractors, especially in the Hillary team, will say that the husband and wife can not be trusted to handle affairs of the state as they have a tendency to cheat.
Proponents will counter argue that Melania was talking about family values and care and respect and if similar words were used it is no big deal. Still, others may say there is no originality in the Trump camp.
Paul Manafort, Trump’s head honcho, is partly to blame for the fiasco as he signed off the speech and edited it.
Manafort is of the view that common language used in Melania’s speech should not lessen the impact of her words.
Neither Michelle Obama nor the White has commented on the speech yet but the American media will not easily let go.
When one runs for public office, one is the in the limelight at all times and in this case, the prize is the coveted and most powerful office on the planet.
For the next three months both the camps will be under the intense glare not only of the American media but that of the world and the social media. Every stride, every hairstyle, dressing, body language, eating and sleeping habits will be under the eye of the camera and hiccups will be microscopically examined and scrutinized.
Any deviation from the norm will be damning for both the camps and it will be no surprise that Donald Trump hires a team of plagiarism experts to ensure that this time round nothing is compromised, As for the Hillary camp plagiarism may be the least of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s worries as the former first lady is beset with her own problems such, the State department e-mails on her private server, Libya not to mention her husband’s trysts.
One thing is certain, the US elections 2016 will be the ugliest,nastiest and most interesting elections for a very long time as the gloves are off and no holds barred.