The Real Paul Jones

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Category: Plagiarism

Incidents and thoughts and links concerning the wrongful and uncited takings of the works of others.

Wash Post blogger plagiaries Salon

You would think that is too obvious of a source. Yes, there is more.

Bama Librarian Nails Plagiarist

A Warren-Wilson alum alerts us to this Library Journal article:

AL Librarian Catches Plagiarist
By Staff — January 15, 2006

In October, Margaret Butler, a librarian at the Tuscaloosa Public Library (TPL), AL, chose for her collection Brad Vice’s short story volume The Bear Bryant Funeral Train (Univ. of Georgia Pr.), winner of its publisher’s Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. But Butler, an avid reader in Southern literature, noticed similarities between Vice’s text and Carl Cramer’s Stars Fell on Alabama (1934; reprint. Univ. of Alabama Pr., 2000) and notified TPL’s assistant library director Elizabeth Bradt. They contacted both publishers, and Georgia agreed to recall all copies, pulp the book, and rescind the award. “I’ve lived here a long time and read most everything about Tuscaloosa or Bear Bryant or Alabama that I see,” Butler told LJ. “I just had a feeling that [Vice] felt nobody would’ve read Cramer’s book.” While the remaining copies of Bear Bryant are now collectibles, several libraries around the country still have it. Said Butler, “We pulled them off the circulating shelf, but since it’s local history, we’ll probably keep them.”

But Wikipedia has a more fleshed out version of the story of the story here. Vice has his defenders.

One of Vice’s defenders is Jake York the editor of Thicket ,where both Carl Cramer’s “Flaming Cross” and Vice’s “Tuscaloosa Knights” were printed together in the same issue. York and those who comment on his defense “Fell In Alabama: Brad Vice’s Tuscaloosa Night” at storySouth blog conflate the concepts of copyright and plagiarism — they are not the same.

One of the Vice offenders, Robert Clark Young (who is not a completely pure character himself), wrote in a tough piece in New York Press that there were additional plagarisms from Vice and pointed out another story which had appeared in Atlantic Monthly was plagarised. Young went to Vice’s University of Cincinnati dissertation and found the same plagarisms in place.

But Young also took shots at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Barry Hannah, Tony Earley and others. This lead to Jason Sanford of StorySouth pointing out that Young had previously attacked the Sewanee Conference. In Sanford’s mind, Young had a vendetta against the conference.

But there is more (and this has been played out over several months now. See wikipedia for links to all sides. And more Vice defence seems to come daily from StorySouth.

My take. Perhaps Vice is practicing remix culture which is legal in the eyes of copyright, but by not crediting his sources he was also practicing plagiarism. Unlike say Pound or Eliot who also borrowed, he borrowed heavily and directly enough without crediting his sources and influences.

LeBeau Update

The latest from the Kansas City Star tells us that Brian LeBeau, The University of Missouri-Kansas City dean who was put on administrative leave after being accused of plagiarism[…]will not seek reinstatement to his dean’s position.

LeBeau joins Famous Plagiarists

Early in the Bryan LeBeau saga, I asked “Will Bryan LeBeau join the other famous historian plagiarists?” Today LeBeau has joined Maitre and others at the site; he has his own lengthy entry there.

View de LeBeau from UMKC

Speech professor Joan Aitken has collected and annotated many links, added personal and professional insights and generally created a strong picture of the Affair de Bryan LeBeau. Included are ethics statements, solutions proposed and suggested as consequence including the laughable idea of having LeBeau teach an ethics course. She provides some notes on the salary situation as well. All this at her personal site.

LeBeau Plagiarism: semi-closure

“Anonymous UMKC employee” posts a comment here that tells us that Dean Bryan LeBeau has been placed on administrative leave at reduced salary. UMKC is operating under the guidance of an interim chancellor and the school is wisely waiting for the new chancellor to evaluate the status of LeBeau.

HNN and Vanke go down the Memory Hole

Jeff Vanke writes of his experience using the Le Beau speech at the History News Network. TurnItIn found both West and Russell borrowings AND turned it in to UMKC who immediately contacted Vanke to ask how he managed to get a copy. Since UMKC has removed the speech from the net. Google cache of course is still good as I explain below in an earlier post. I’m not sure for how much longer though.

But for historical purposes, many of us have kept copies to use in class when we discuss plagiarism.

When I was travelling in Russia with PR Prof Larry Lamb, I would hear him tell classes over and over that the best PR plan is not to duck, hide, or deny. But to own the problem immediately, take proper responsibility, consider the image of your brand in the circumstances and do more than is required, and never to destroy evidence that people have already seen. You only look more guilty.

LeBeau and UMKC – into the Memory Hole?

The first mark of the realization of guilt (on a bigger scale) is the removal of evidence. UMKC and LeBeau are cleaning up their act by dropping the evidence of his misdeeds and possible others from the net. Feel free to capture history via the Way Back Machine (thanks again Brewster for coming up with this. and thanks Google for Google cache).
I thought I had written my last about the pathetic LeBeau story, but instead it becomes a saga.

In one profile of LeBeau, he is called “one hell of a PR man.” Now we see other sides.

Admitting/denying/decrying plagiarism

While the AP and other stories are calling Bryan LeBeau’s letter on HistoryNetwork and consequent interviews an admission of guilt, it is only half so. Yes, he admits copying, but only quotes — as in “I don’t recall where I got Cornel’s quotes. As they were just quotes, I suspect he was quoted somewhere, and I clipped them.” Not exactly random quotes. See for yourself. West here. LeBeau here.
Then there is the introduction given by LeBeau taken from Russell Baker as yet unacknowledged.
LeBeau also attempts to change his misdeed by removing the publication aspect of his theft. Although all of his Dean’s Newsletters are on the net, he claims to be uninformed that they are and have been for several years.
I do believe that LeBeau is sorry, but while he owns up to having done something “stupid,” he has not confessed to having done wrong. There is a difference. Searching for excuses is not the same as coming clean as anyone who has attended Confession should have learned.
Yet there are consequences, the Kansas City Star reports:

The dean, Bryan LeBeau, also said he has withdrawn from consideration to be executive vice president at DePaul University, a job for which he was a finalist, in the wake of news reports about the similarities.

But this is not tragic. Sadly, it is pathetic.

To quote Cornel West (or to quote LeBeau as he quotes West without acknowledgement):

We ought not to confuse the tragic with the pathetic. The tragic is about the exploration of human possibilities for freedom.

Ralph Luker writing on the Cliopatria History News Network
has a more detailed and, I would admit and confess but not decry, a smarter and more complete take on the LeBeau borrowings.

MO Dean denies plagiarism, but…

Sounding a lot like former Boston University Dean H. Joachim Maître as he denied his obvious plagiarism of a commencement speech in 1991, Dean Bryan LeBeau posts a denial/appology on the History News Network.

But wait there’s more (and in cases like this unfortunately there usually is). An alert reader of Eric Muller’s notices that the small part of the LeBeau speech claimed to be original was lifted from a 1995 speech by Russell Baker in 1995. Baker then LeBeau then West.
LeBeau’s favorite source seems to be and in particular the commencement speech archive there.

Will Bryan LeBeau join the other famous historian plagiarists?

Will he like Joachim Maître claim:

“The definition of plagiarism in the academy as applying to faculty members is directed toward scholarly research, research papers and the like,” Maitre said. “I gave a talk, not even a formal speech, on the occasion of commencement . . . as the dean of the College of Communication, an administrative officer, not a faculty member. The plagiarism definition does not cover any such thing.”

Stay tuned for more.

In the meantime, St Louis Today (St Louis Post-Dispatch) covers the evolving story this way:
“UMKC Reviewing Allegations of Plagiarism Against Professor”
The Kansas City Star reports on LeBeau’s appology/denial in an AP story as:
“UMKC dean admits mistake in not attributing comments in speech”

Thanks to Barbara Semonche of the Park Library for reminding me of Maître.

Press on MO Plagiarism

The Bryan Lebeau/Cornel West plagiarism story uncovered by Sally Greene and expounded on by Eric Muller has moved from the Chronicle of Higher Education to the Kansas City Star and the St Louis Post-Dispatch.
A lot of hair-splitting about whether copying a speech (and whitening it up with some really bad writing and bad thinking in the process) is worse that copying say parts of a book. But then the speech in both cases was published and distributed. Sounds like a big problem to me.
Even bigger problems arise in the appropriation of West’s work made during the rewrites by Lebeau as Sally points out.

Ethics of Plagiarism – Missouri style

Sally Greene googled up a coincidence or out right theft when looking for a phrase from Hegel. The result was what seems to be a Dean and History Prof in Missouri taking and whitening up a speech by Cornel West and presenting it as his own — then publishing it in his newsletter and on the web. The Chronicle of Higher Education has the story in print (and unfortunately behind the bars of their subscription login), but Sally tells a good bit of the tale and Eric Muller has more to say as he asks if Dean Bryan LeBeau will be held to the same standards as the ones to which he holds his own students. All three have links to the speeches and some strong opinions on the matter.

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