Rand Paul does what gets kids in trouble: ‘Borrow’ from Wikipedia

Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr., left, speaks with U.S. Sen Rand Paul, center, and republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli during their convocation on Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 at the Vines Center in Lynchburg, Va. (AP Photo/News & Daily Advance, Jill Nance)
Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr., left, speaks with U.S. Sen Rand Paul, center, and GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli at Liberty University on Monday.  (AP Photo/News & Daily Advance, Jill Nance)

Sen. Rand Paul gave a  speech at Liberty University in Virginia on Monday that got a lot of media attention because he said he believes that the combination of abortion and modern scientific advances could lead to the practice of eugenics. But he got coverage for more than just that message: MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said he “seems to have totally plagiarized” Wikipedia’s entry on a 1997 science fiction film — a finding that would get any student in any class in big trouble.

Maddow said on her show (see video below) that Paul — who  was speaking in support of Virginia’ Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli — took material from Wikipedia’s entry on a movie called “Gattaca” for his speech and did not give any attribution.

The online dictionary’s entry for the film, with Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, says it is about a “future society  driven by liberal eugenics where potential children are selected through preimplantation genetic diagnosis to ensure they possess the best hereditary traits of their parents.”

She cited several instances in which Wikipedia’s “Gattaca” writeup and Rand’s speech are remarkably similar.

For example, Paul said:

In the movie ‘Gattaca,’ in the not-too-distant future, eugenics is common. And DNA plays a primary role in determining your social class.

The Wikipedia entry said

In the not-too-distant future, liberal eugenics is common and DNA plays the primary role in determining social class.

Paul said:

Due to frequent screenings, Vincent faces genetic discrimination and prejudice. The only way to achieve his dream of being an astronaut is he has to become what’s called a ‘borrowed ladder.’

From the Wikipedia entry:

Due to frequent screening, Vincent faces genetic discrimination and prejudice. The only way he can achieve his dream of becoming an astronaut is to become a ‘borrowed ladder.’

There’s more, which you can see here.

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss | October 29, 2013