Tuesday, September 28, 2004

That Was Quick: The Weekly Standard's Joe Bottum has made a bit of a fetish of famous plagiarizers over the past couple weeks. This week's target was Laurence (Don't Call Me "Larry") Tribe, Harvard's Jesus of legal studies on the left. Anyhoo, turns out Larry lifted quite a bit of his book God Save This Honorable Court from another legal scholar, Henry Abraham (who, by the way, sounds pissed).

In no time at all, Big Larry hit the Crimson with the usual story:

[Tribe] said he recognized his "failure to attribute some of the material The Weekly Standard identified."

"I personally take full responsibility for that failure," Tribe said.

Nice to know he's not going to hang it on some grad student, like some other scholars we could name. Still, does "I take full responsibility" cut it? Fer Chrissakes, Larry, your name is on the book. Who did you think we were going to nail for it? Doris Kearns Goodwin?

More to the point, another famous Larry (Summers, Harvard's president) said some strong words after the two other profs (Charles Ogletree and Alan Dershowitz) were publically accused of being Cambridge Cribbers:

Tribe’s mea culpa comes just three weeks after another prominent Harvard faculty member—Climenko Professor of Law Charles J. Ogletree—publicly apologized for copying six paragraphs almost word-for-word from a Yale scholar in a recent book, All Deliberate Speed.

Last fall, Frankfurter Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz also battled plagiarism charges. And in 2002, Harvard Overseer Doris Kearns Goodwin admitted that she had accidently copied passages from another scholar in her bestseller The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys.

University President Lawrence H. Summers told The Crimson in an interview last week—before the allegations against Tribe surfaced—that he did not see "a big trend" of plagiarism problems at the Law School as a result of the charges against Ogletree and Dershowitz, but indicated that a third case would change his mind.

"If you had a third one, then I would have said, okay, you get to say this is a special thing, a focused problem at the Law School," Summers said of the recent academic dishonesty cases.

He declined comment last night.

My emphasis. Summers obviously doesn't know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. (Note, too, that he hasn't lost his golden tongue. You need a pickaxe and miner's helmet to get through that sentence.) If you've had two "situations," you might want to avoid saying that you would have acted upon a third charge. Well, here's the third, Larry. Do something.

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