We’ve all stolen words from others and failed to give them credit for it.
Joe Biden did it all the time as far back as the 80s, over thirty years ago. Still does it in fact, as recently as this new 2020 campaign. But in all fairness, Biden doesn’t write his own speeches, and pays others to do it. That it occurred both in 1987 and in 2020 tells me he’s paying minimum wage, for which his crime is of being a cheapskate, not a plagiarist.
But he’s never apologized (to my knowledge) and keeps on doing it.
Me? I have favorite quotes, and favorite deliverers of quotes, such as Mark Twain, but often there is no need to pause and credit him for saying “It is French”, one of my most used, and which was Twain’s Gallic shrug at trying to explain why bad thinking keeps occurring over and over again, despite our acknowledgment of it…in this instance, the ghettoization of America’s inner cities that has been going on at least fifty years.
The American welfare system is a daylight robbery of America’s treasuries that has been going on for almost as long as America had developed a social conscience about the migrants who failed to make the jump from being Sicilian to that of being American. American urban blacks have been here for 300 years, plus, and living in those urban areas for over a century, still they have never been able, or allowed to take that first step upward on the ladder to becoming American.
The basic French notion simply is that some types of people are incurable and the best thing to do about them is to keep at a safe distance, but stilldo the Christian thing by giving them enough money for food and housing…only now it’s gold teeth, hair extensions, Nikes, etc.
You can see how this can get out of hand after 50 years.
But all the French ever require is that they keep their distance, for it is important to their own self-esteem that there always be a large number of people “not like them” be kept nearby to remind them of their own superiority. (This is for you who are looking for a subliminal reason as to why Democrats like having degraded poor people in their charge. It is French.)
This notion never got far away from Nancy Pelosi, who is Italian by birth, but closely connected to Baltimore, nor Elijah Cummings, a black man, who also knows his place on the pecking order.
It is all very French.
So, what about Twitter?
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could require every user of the “f” word, or “m-f” word, and all those other words of similar vulgarity, to give attribution for them? They won’t because they can’t, and Twitter would have to allow another 400 characters which would undo their basic premise.
Maybe Twitter could prepare its own footnote register, where readers could go see the derivation of the M-F word at #7, and the “sh*t” word at #22. How cool would that be?
Besides, no can tell us with any certainty who invented any of these words, anyway. Words with hard “f’s” and hard “k” likely started out in the German tongue, probably shortened versions of much longer words, such as “bra” is for “brassiere”. Germans and Slavic languages have this habit of describing as a single noun a thing with multiple designs and purposes, which if you read any technical dictionary, especially military, e.g., the self-propelled tracked gun with a swivel turret, is written as a single word. Russians do that too. So you can imagine how long the German “flopperschtopper” word could reach, once their make it strapless, or padded. I think Google lists 18 types. And they would all be one word. Colors? Fuggetaboutit.
But take the carnal filth out of it, and move to “damn”, “g-damn” and “sh*t”. Who invented their polite replacements, “Darn”, “Dang”, “Gosh darn”, “shoot”, and “poop” and maybe even, in some quarters “crap”? George Carlin said he wasn’t allowed to say “crap” on stage in Las Vegas but it was the number game in town. How about “Shucky-dern”? No one knows. Southern folks seemed to go to great lengths to fool God by saying “darn”, as if it was the word itself that was the sin and not the sentiment. “Sh*t”‘s not even a dirty word. Well, actually that’s exactly what it is, but it’s not profanity. I haven’t used that term in 40 years except to complain about one of the cats pooping in the floor. I was in law school when I read one of James Herriot’s books, where he described a Welsh farmer saying “Oh thou shiteing bovine” as a cow pooped on Herriot during an examination. But in my house, actually, my entire town, “sh*t” was the worst of words, and the one that would get your mouth washed out with soap quickest. Four times, so also the hardest word to control.
But when someone steals your words, it matters more.
When I wrote at RedState I had a much larger following than now, and I recall after one article a commenter wrote the next day, in pretty much real time, that he’d heard Glenn Beck recite a paragraph from that article, word for word. I could never confirm this, and was actually a little honored, but a fellow in the blog business said it was not uncommon for Beck’s staff to glean others’ words, just like Biden’s writers. Or Milton Berle.
My most naked theft was Florence King, the great writer who got her writing start doing 1-2 porn novels a week to sell to OTR truck drivers. She was a lesbian, and the most acerbic wit alive at “National Review” in the Buckley era. We exchanged notes a few times about her columns at NR, and I even tongue-in-cheek proposed marriage.
It was in one of those notes that I mentioned (to the effect) “if the WWII generation was the “greatest generation” then how come they raised the rottenest generation?”
She never replied but did say the same thing in a later writing at NR. Without attribution. Still, I was honored.
Finally, as you may know, I spent late 1991 thru mid-March 1992, in the Soviet Union, both Ukraine and Russia, just as it collapsed. At the time, I may have been the only private foreign citizen in the USSR in that historic time.
Those three months set the pattern for my approach to business in the region for the next 15 years, for I dealt with small businesses and manufacturers exclusively.
I thought my approach observations about private sector solutions could be useful to Americans who could be of great benefit to the “new Russia”, so began keeping a journal after about the second week.
On the first leg of my trip home, from Moscow to Frankfort, I sat next to a fellow with the Commerce Department and we talked for most of the three hour trip. He expressed interest in what I had seen and done, and I gave him a brief overview. We exchanged cards, with the promise that I would send a summery in a few weeks.
So when I returned I sat down at my IBM Selectric and put all those notes into print. Then I wrote a 4-page “executive summary”, basically laying out how the American private sector would be the key to turning the new Russia toward the right direction, especially since people in the USSR wanted to do business with Americans much more than they did with any other nationality.
I mailed it to my acquaintance at Commerce. He never replied.
Later in ’92, Robert Strauss, former DNC chairman, and then-Ambassador to Russia under GHW Bush, testified before a House subcommittee I happened to be watching on C-SPAN. Nearly asleep, my head jerked up when I heard Strauss reciting my summary, at least two pages of it, word for word.
In the 27 years since, I have never spoken with another government official, but I decided then that no government can be reformed from within the system.