As the media is blowing up, we are all well aware of Melania Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention. Melania plagiarized a speech Michelle Obama made in 2008. It is quite obvious that it is plagiarized due to few words being changed. Most phrases were word for word! It is ridiculous that politicians deny and sugarcoat it. According to CNN’s article “No one to be fired after Melania Trump speech plagiarism episode.”
“Sean Spicer, the Republican National Committee's chief strategist, invoked ‘My Little Pony’ in defending the speech in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. Melania Trump said, 'the strength of your dreams and willingness to work for them.' Twilight Sparkle from 'My Little Pony' said, 'This is your dream. Anything you can do in your dreams, you can do now.’”
Seriously. He compared the speech to "My Little Pony." Even the governor of New Jersey defended her speech in saying that there’s no way Melania's speech was plagiarized.
If it is something as serious as a presidential election and a party’s national convention, should speeches not also be taken seriously? Plagiarism is also a serious offense. According to plagiarism.org, very few people know that plagiarism is a criminal act involving stealing one’s words or ideas as one’s own, crediting oneself, committing literary theft and presenting existing sources as if they are new and original. The site further elaborates by saying, “In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else's work and lying about it afterward.” It is true, according to the U.S. law, words and ideas can be stolen as we have copyright laws. Plagiarism may be seen as not using quotation marks, providing incorrect credit to a quotation, using someone’s words or ideas without giving him or her credit, claiming someone else’s work is your own, slightly changing the words but using the same sentence structure and copying so much from a source that it is not mainly your own work.
There are punishments in according to the severity of the crime. Plagiarism.org offers many different situations and settings in which punishments are given. Concerning academic punishments, “Most colleges and universities have zero tolerance for plagiarists. In fact, academic standards of intellectual honesty are often more demanding than governmental copyright laws. If you have plagiarized a paper whose copyright has run out, for example, you are no less likely to be disciplined than if you had plagiarized copyrighted material.” Concerning legal punishments, there can be fines between $100 and $50,000, even possible jail time. It can be seen as a felony also under certain state laws. Plagiarism.org elaborates by saying, “For example, if a plagiarist copies and earns more than $2,500 from copyrighted material, he or she may face up to $250,000 in fines and up to ten years in jail.” Concerning institutional punishments, many people lose their jobs. Plagiarism is not to be messed with!
Although not all of us are involved in presidential national convention speeches or have exposure to a national audience, there are many ways that we can run into plagiarism in our own lives, especially as students. In order to prevent plagiarism, according to St. Catherine University’s library website, we should pay close attention to detail within our schoolwork papers and projects as well as when assignment deadlines are to avoid being lured into other people’s work. There are also many free resources to take advantage of such as Research Project Calculator and Grammarly. The biggest suggestion is to learn when and how to document your sources. You can visit a professor or your college’s learning center, such as St. Catherine University’s O’Neill Center, to ensure your work is cited correctly.
In sum, Melania Trump may be under fire for plagiarism at the Republican National Convention but not punished as she rightfully should be. In our own lives, there are many consequences to the fraud of plagiarism. However, there are many ways in which we can avoid stealing other's’ words. It is time to voice our own original ideas!