There was a lot of defending last week of the apparent plagiarism in Melania Trump’s televised speech at the GOP convention. The speechwriter admitted that passages were taken from Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention address—good for her—but we were mostly troubled by the initial downplaying of plagiarism by the Trump campaign and some of its apologists.
The same folks who would cry foul at the first hint of theft of intellectual property were talking about the lifted passages only being a small fraction of the speech, or that it depended on context, or something like that.
Sorry, mitigating factors only mitigate. It is still an offense to those who did the hard work, and hard thinking, in the first place. Words matter, and putting them together is what speechwriters—and journalists—are paid to do. It is their intellectual property.
Sen. Marco Rubio called the story “inside baseball” that journalists are interested in but the rest of the country, not so much. We hope he is wrong.
Stealing is stealing, whether it is shoplifting or speech-lifting or story-lifting.