Thursday, 17 February 2011

plagiat or creative-commons

Amid continuing controversies over German troop presence in Afghanistan, the debate over ending universal conscription, the state of affairs on board the navy's training tall ship, the Minister of Defense is facing a more personal embarrassment and crisis of integrity. Legal scholars stumbled across some tell-tale passages from the Minister's 2006 doctorial dissertation comparing and contrasting the constitutional (Verfassung) systems and processes of America and Europe that strongly indicate academic dishonesty and plagiarism. With all the other debates going on in the ministry and tensions all around, one has to wonder about the timing of the this curious audit--possibly meant as a character-assassination that withers more credibility.

If the Minister did cheat a little, then he deserves to lose his doctor-title regardless of whether it was a vanity degree for someone already entrenched in the halls of government and even if originality and due-credit are not mainstays of any government.  Such behaviour should not be condoned but it should neither unsettle confidence in itself--not all embarrassments and skeletons are outed through leaks.  It surprises me though with all the warnings against it from the same learned councils that say Wikipedia is not an acceptable source or scans term papers line by line against the sum total of human knowledge--that is, at least what is committed to the internet, or sends out publication manuals and style guides with every text book shipment to reinforce the importance of proper and full citations. Considering all that is recycled and repackaged, maybe the Minister's dissertation was a fitting homage to old wine in new bottles.