Public Discourse: Plagiarism
The national news article I chose from NPR.org is titled, Trump Campaign Says Melania Trump’s Words Were Her Own by Scott Detrow. The article was published on July 19, 2016, the morning after potential First Lady Melania Trump’s controversial speech at the Republican National Convention (RNC). Why was her speech divisive? Because it’s identical to First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention (DNC) speech.
The article’s standpoint suggest that Melania Trump plagiarized First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech. Yet, Donald Trump’s campaign chair, Paul Manafort denies plagiarism allegations. I believe this article is appropriate for week four’s COM 616 Communicating Mindfully course at Queens University of Charlotte. Suitable because chapter six in the textbook, Communication ethics literacy: Dialogue and difference addresses public discourse and public decision making. Arnett, et. al., (2009) write:
“The standard for public decision making is not one’s opinion, but an idea, theory, story, or action known by a group of persons and offered as a public decision-making map. For example, calling someone to account for plagiarizing requires that there be a public standard that roots the decision making/judgement in a public evaluative base,” (p. 100).
There were 5,263 comments when I read the article. When I think about whose voices are missing in the discussion, it’s simple— not a representative, or campaign chair, but First Lady Michelle Obama and Melania Trump. I would enjoy a public dialogue between Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Trump. Not for entertainment purposes, but to hear their personal thoughts, or even an explanation from Melania Trump. Plagiarism is wrong, and I would be upset if someone stole my material and presented it as their own. Another voice that is unheard is the legal voice. What are the ramifications for plagiarizing? A lot of us are inspired by others, so it is imperative to credit your sources.
The comments that provide examples of “undue confidence and unsubstantiated opinion” are seen from comments like, “She’s a model that speaks five languages so she’s not some stupid toilet-paper eating stick”, and “As if there are that many ways to say, I think my husband should be President,” or “She dropped out of school to be a model…..and she can barely speak English. She was smart enough to fool around with an old married man and become his newest trophy wife”. As stated by Arnett, et. al., (2009) “private discourse in the public arena is akin to “junior high” discourse that rejects anyone or any idea different from one’s own…such private discourse that invades the public arena seeks not to change public policy, but to enhance the self relationally,” (p. 105). Some of the comments were negative attacks about Melania Trump and her character, or jokes about her use of plagiarism. Based on the article’s comments, it doesn’t represent the public arena as a “sacred space” defined in our textbook as, “a space to be protected, a space that is honored and valued,” (Arnett, et. al., 2009, p. 109). I believe having an informed moderator would enhance dialogue in the public arena of public comment sites because it would challenge others to have an open mind, possibly lower the amount of ignorant comments, and educate the misinformed. What thoughts or comments do you have?