If you’ve had the good fortune to spend even a passing few moments near the internet in the last couple of days, you’ve no doubt heard about new scandal rocking the circus that is the Trump presidential campaign. Melania Trump, the upgraded 3.0 wife of the businessman-turned-entertainer-turned-policitian, gave what was to be her first major speech in support of her husband’s campaign. It was a risky move, considering her husband’s antics have been decidedly anti-immigration and she was addressing the very followers who put him where he is, and she herself is Slovenian with a pronounced accent to her non-native English.
So what do you do when you’re faced with that kind of pressure? You steal parts of a widely respected, well-educated attorney’s speech to a similar audience. The unfortunate Republican National Convention keynote speech wasn’t even over before journalists took to social media to highlight the theft of First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech before the Democratic National Convention.
And the rest of the story is media fodder, to say the least. But it’s amazing how the internet has expressed its collective outrage over plagiarism. Where was this outrage when authors, both traditionally published and self-published, have fought against thieves making a quick buck off their work in Amazon’s Kindle store? Plagiarism is nothing new, of course; it dates back to probably moments after the first written words appeared on some early form of parchment or papyrus. But this fiasco begs the question: why is the public only now furious over something that authors have begged retailers and readers alike to help put a stop to?
The obvious answer is that there’s so much more at stake this time. The stolen speech is only one more in a long line of what critics argue is the destruction of the US political system and democracy as a whole. But the public would do well to remember that someone–whether a European swimsuit model or a speechwriter, depending on whose version of the story you’re getting–thought it was okay to present a plagiarized speech due to the mentality that someone’s words aren’t actually their property. Authors, especially indie authors who don’t have the legal clout of a major publishing house behind them, have been forced to overlook the theft of their work for so long that it’s finally come home to roost in our political arena.