Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Class Act

I just finished reading a rather unextraordinary column is Slate about recent plagiarism scandals in the academic world. It's pretty uncontroverial even if it does seem to hand Doris Kearns Goodwin a pass when it comes to her transgressions. Maybe her plagiarism was unintentional, but she did reach a private settlement with the plagiarized author and did not subsequently publish a correction.

The most striking thing about the article is the final paragraph, where the author states:
For all the media hysteria that standards had fallen, it should be noted that Bellesiles was stripped of his job, Ellis suspended for a year, and Goodwin bounced from the PBS NewsHour and the Pulitzer Prize board. These were all perfectly appropriate punishments. Ambrose, as an author who simply didn't care about his scholarly reputation anymore and who could get paid handsomely for cookie-cutter best sellers, seemed distressingly beyond penalty. But, a lifelong smoker who had testified in court on behalf of big tobacco, he died of lung cancer in October 2002.

Is is just me or is that last sentence quite over the top and vile?