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March 24, 2006

Ben Domenech resigns

Breaking news: Righ wing blogger Ben Domenech resigns from the Washington Post amidst accusations of serial plagiarism.


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How far from the rotten roots of the right does the phrase "culture of corruption" apply? Out to what insignificant twigs does it reach?

Aparently to the very leaves.

I'm looking forward to Glenn Reynold's triumphant post about the Army of Davids takedown of a hackish journalist in 3...2...oh, about never.

Actually, this is funny:

The issue of why the Washington Post couldn’t have found this out before hiring Mr. Domenech is another question entirely and will not be dealt with here. Suffice it to say that this incident along with recent stupidities at the New York Times regarding a fake hurricane victim and a bogus Abu Ghraib poster boy shows how lazy the media has gotten about fact checking.

The fact that a political operative who has edited books for the leading lights of conservatism is a word-stealer just goes to show that the liberal media can't be trusted.


My heart bleeds for that little deprived and home-schooled guy. He can't help it if his mommy didn't know about or teach him academic integrity.

Yet another independent conservative voice silenced by the politically correct anti-plagiarist Nazis. It makes me sad.

I'm sure they'll be able to find a nice, intelligent, thoughtful and honest conservative who can clearly elucidate the conservative point of view in a logical, self-consistent manner.

Yeah, right, just as soon as they find a creationist who can teach a graduate course in developmental biology.

Actually I can't help but wonder if there might not be a link between the home schooling and the plagiarism. I know one of the things they drill into you, at least in the public school system is that you always always always cite you sources. Little third grader me being told by a teacher that if I didn't put a little marker on the bottom of my construction paper project indicating from whence I had gotten my facts the police would come busting down the door and haul me away ... plus she'd fail me.

A large part of what schools try to do is bring you into the academic community including indoctrinating the standards and practices of said community. Somehow I wonder if parents who have deliberately chosen to stand outside and separate their children would have the same respect for MLA citation formats?

Interesting observation, Gabriel. I know that homeschoolers benefit from increased interaction with their teachers and self-pacing. They lose out on social contact with peers (unless parents make an effort to address that problem), and I guess it makes sense that they also lose out on acculturation to academic standards. Plus it's probably a lot easier to pull academic fraud on a parent with little experience catching that sort of thing.

"It makes sense that they also lose out on acculturation to academic standards" -- as if plagiarism isn't at epidemic proportions in schools and universities!

Not to mention the "not enough social contact with peers" fantasy. Also "as if": as if social contact with peers in school is a dream environment for growing up psychological healthy.

A homeschooled teenager was recently arrested for murder in my community. Some people immediately started suggesting that homeschooling was somehow to blame. I had a one-word answer for these people: Columbine.

Given the relative numbers (people "educated" in school versus homeschoolers), the vast majority of all the wrongdoing in the nation is perpetrated by people who went to school. So maybe every time mention is made of some crime, we should start airily speculating, on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, about what schooling had to do with it.

Just because A and B are in the same universe, or even in the same room, doesn't mean A caused B.

Making up fantasies about a whole (wildly diverse) class of people (homeschoolers) may be entertaining and self-satisfying, but it doesn't have much to do with reality.

JanieM - I'm not suggesting that all homeschooled kids turn out lacking, in fact I know quite a few who have turned out to be quite far ahead of their non-homeschooled peers. On the other hand, many kids are homeschooled precisely to isolate them from what are perceived as harmful cultural influences, which necessarily leaves them at a disadvantage when it comes to cultural norms. I'm guessing Mr. Domenech falls into this category.

I don't think the plagiarism issue can be laid at the door of homeschooling alone, and I apologize for giving that impression.

togolosh -- I am a gay parent of 2 homeschooled kids (both now doing well in college). Being a member of not 1 but 2 minorities about whom the public discourse is still often in the "Those people are creepy and dangerous and should be controlled" vein, I have a short fuse when it comes to casual/stereotyping assumptions about homeschooled people. But I am glad to be pulled away from sarcasm and back toward civility by the graciousness of your reply.

I agree that many parents choose to homeschool their children to protect them from influences the parents feel are negative. My sample, I assume like yours, is no doubt too small to provide anything but anecdotal evidence, but all the homeschooling families I know are quite conscientious academically; I just don't buy the plagiarism connection on that basis alone.

As far as isolation from cultural norms goes, where I live even the most "isolated" homeschoolers have lots of social connections, including the opportunity -- which many take -- to participate in school activities like sports. I am not really convinced there's a single cultural norm in this country any more anyhow (the internet being Exhibit A), but if there is, I would find it very hard to believe that someone like Mr. D, who apparently not only went to college for at least a while but also did a stint as a White House speechwriter and went on to blog (however briefly) for the Washington Post, is ignorant of the "cultural norms" around plagiarism. If he did what he's accused of doing, it's kind of preposterous -- and letting him off far too easily -- to imagine that the reason he thought it was okay to steal other people's work and pass it off as his own was that he lacked some kind of nebulous concept of "cultural norms" that would have told him that it wasn't.

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