Another week, another plagiarism scandal. THE is reporting that one of Britain's favourite blah blah sociologists Zygmunt Bauman has been a bit naughty and caught out by a Cambridge PhD student. The claim is that Ziggy was a little lax in attributing his debt to Wikipedia. Oh well, when your USP is to publish more words than any comparable blah blah sociologists I can see how it might be necessary to cut a few corners. But the sage of Leeds isn't giving up without a fight. Taking a leaf out of Maria Miller's book he is brazening it out with a "the rules don't apply to me" type defence. THES quotes him as saying that in 60 years he had :
“...never once failed to acknowledge the authorship of the ideas or concepts that I deployed, or that inspired the ones I coined” and goes on to say: “All the same, while admiring the pedantry of the authors of the Harvard Guide to Using Sources, and acknowledging their gallant defence of the private ownership of knowledge, I failed in those 60-odd years to spot the influence of the obedience to technical procedural rules of quotations on the quality (reliability, effectiveness and above all social importance) of scholarship: the two issues that Mr Walsh obviously confuses.”and then: “As his co-worker in the service of knowledge, I can only pity him.”
Brilliant. An object lesson. When caught with your trousers around your ankles first assert against all the evidence that they are in fact securely belted round your waist. Then say that in the purely hypothetical circumstance that they might be around your ankles this would, in any case, be irrelevant. Then patronize the person that points out that the Emperor is naked and exposing himself in a vulgar fashion.
And what of the bold Polity Press, publisher by appointment to Bauman and a whole host of sociology's blah blah merchants? Apparently no one was willing to comment and, I assume, no one was prepared to admit that they had been the publisher's reader. Shame also on the "senior Cambridge academic" who was prepared to opine that Bauman had “a strong prima facie case to answer” but didn't have the cojones to allow their name to be published. If you are that senior you surely have nothing to be afraid of: Mr Walsh, who in his more humble position has much more to fear, has put his head above the parapet so why shouldn't you? Of course in academic life as elsewhere it has always been the way of the generals to shove the subalterns over the top first.