Plagiarism is the “act of stealing the ideas and/or expression of another and representing them as your own,” though I can’t remember where I got that quote from — just Google it for the source.
On my home planet of Neecknaw, this is not only an academic offence, but it is also a capital crime.
This stems from the days of Kargnak the Betrayed, one of the great warlord monkey rulers of the ancient days. Legend has it that Kargnak was an impressionable young screen-writer before he became the first in a long line of bloodthirsty intergalactic conquerors from the Planet Neecknaw.
As it happens, he wrote a promising screenplay called, “Planet of the Hairless Hominids”, about a dystopic future in which all good Neecknabian chimps were ruled by self-absorbed, ecologically retarded hominids he styled “humans”. (We had yet to discover the Milky Way Galaxy and your backwards corner of it in those days.) A producer showed some interest in it, but alas, did not buy the manuscript.
And wasn’t Kargnak surprised when the next summer, “Planet of the Humans” appeared at his local Chimpaplex? It was a huge hit, and made millions, and was (of course) based entirely on Kargnak’s original screenplay. He didn’t see a single banana skin for it, and thus Kargnak gave up the writing game for the bloodthirsty and cruel warlord business. At which he was moderately successful, taking over all of Neecknaw and some of our neighboring planets.
Actually, he didn’t give up writing completely, as he penned the Kargnakian Code, which for the first time set out all of our laws in a logical and ordered way. Under the Kargnakian Code, plagiarism is a capital crime, and the condemned are put to death by having all their hairs plucked out (very painful when you’re covered with them), then having a thousand unpublished writers slicing them with the sharpest paper they can find, while lemons are crushed in a massive press above them made of all unpublished writer’s manuscripts. Oh, and hot pokers are inserted wherever paper cuts cannot be administered.
Good god, that’s horrible! What about self-plagiarism?
Self-plagiarism is style, baby. (*)
Next time: What should I say when my girlfriend asks me, “what are you thinking”?
*) Alfred Hitchcock said this defending repetition of his filming techniques in the London Observer, 8 Aug., 1976. Actually, he said “self-plagiarism is style.”