By Rick Pearcey
What is a plagiarist?
"First-class intellectual fraud" is how one newspaper describes a now-fired professor.
It seems rather odd, but there really are people who have no compunction about allowing their names to be slapped onto work done by others.
Sometimes it seems the bigger the name, the easier the slap.
It seems rather odd, but there really are people who knowingly and repeatedly allow themselves to be praised for work they did not do. And not just professors at universities.
"I love your commentary!"
"What a magnificent book on Christian worldview!"
"God has really used it."
"Thank you," says the ever-so-humble con artist.
But why the counterfeits? Perhaps money is to be made, reputations to be shaped, images to be projected, downfalls to be rehabilitated, legacies to protected, embarrassment to be covered.
But we can do better. Most people know this intuitively. It's the way we teach our kids: "Honesty is the best policy" and "tell the truth, even if it hurts you."
Some people are on a learning curve. Many simply haven't yet seen through illusion to the darkness and complicity. In certain respects, we've all been there. Sometimes we are not able to see the darkness until we are so far in that it seems almost impossible to escape.
What counts is what we do when we discover the emperor is rather naked indeed. Some turn around and move toward the light. Others move deeper into darkness. This can be a process that takes a moment -- or weeks, months, and years. By it, cultures are won or lost, lives lived fully or in vain.
When you move into the light, you get Reformation and renewal and humanity. When you persist in enablement, you get the status quo, enslaving praise, and mission failure.
Thus we witness intellectually and spiritually fraudulent books, articles, columns, film reviews, book reviews, blogs, blurbs, letters, and sermons.
Colluding in this con are the ghostwriters, who are paid to allow someone else to be credited with work that is not the putative "author's." Allowing someone to take your work and pretend it is theirs is just as much a form of plagiarism as when the other person steals it outright.
What the ghostwriter does is to join the fake "author" in defrauding the public. Both are stealing from the storehouse of the public trust. A contract simply legalizes the immorality and digs the hole of corruption that much deeper.
Thereby millions of unsuspecting people are involved in this deception. Publishers thereby sell more books, organizations thereby raise more funds. With particular callousness, an "author" might even boast of how royalties are donated to this or that ministry.
Should we ever be too important, too "Big," or too busy to tell the truth? Of course not.
We can do better. We can encourage authenticity in our own lives and elevate the individual and his creative gift instead of smashing him or her.
This is part of the high calling of "loving thy neighbor," of practising the truth that there are "no little people" and of doing "the Lord's work the Lord's way," as Francis Schaeffer so often emphasized.
It can be done with one word, a single phone call can get the ball rolling. Mere seconds can help change the culture and reform manners.
Rick Pearcey is editor and publisher of The Pearcey Report (articles).