It’s tough being a “one-man global content provider”. You would have to do a lot of recycling – but don’t readers deserve to know about it? And do editors know about it? And what if the “content” you’re providing is years out of date or erroneous?
I’ve already noted numerous examples here – sometimes word for word sections, sometimes slightly altered paragraphs - that appear in two or more different Mark Steyn columns in different venues. Months after requesting a correction for an April 9, 2009 article ("We're in the fast lane to polygamy") that claimed gay marriage had led to rampant polygamy, in which Mark Steyn somehow turned this 2008 Toronto Star quote:
“In the past five years, Hindy said he has officiated or "blessed" more than 30 polygamous marriages; the most recent was two months ago.”
“Last year, Aly Hindy, a Scarborough imam, told the Toronto Star that he’d performed 30 polygamous marriages just in the last few weeks”.
a closer look at the rest of that article again reveals swaths of text similar to another of his publications from a few years earlier – a 2006 article in the now defunct Western Standard.
Oddly enough, Steyn begins his 2009 Maclean’s column by citing a different 2004 Western Standard article from which he provides an identified quote. Unable to access that text, I can’t tell if there are other sections that also appear in the Maclean’s piece. But given Steyn’s acknowledgement of the 2004 column, why does he choose not to cite the more substantial paragraphs from 2006, or a similar paragraph from a separate 2008 article?
Note: the following excerpts are presented in random sequence, at times with indicated ellipsis for words I omitted for purposes of comparison. No link is available for the Western Standard.
Steyn, “History swings both ways”, Western Standard, Feb. 27, 2006: “In these pages in 2004, I suggested that polygamy was ‘closer than you think’"
Maclean’s, 2009: “What’s my line on legalized polygamy? Oh, I pretty much said it all back in 2004, in a column for Ezra Levant’s Western Standard. Headline: ‘It’s Closer Than They Think.’”
Maclean’s, April 9, 2009: “A couple of years ago, Nicole Langlois of the London Free Press went to see Brokeback Mountain, the Oscar-winning gay cowboy movie, and found herself oddly distracted. ‘I watched it—the lush, majestic beauty of mountains and streams; the struggle and surrender between the two men,’ gushed Miss Langlois, ‘and I thought of Stephen Harper.’
Each to her own. When I saw Brokeback Mountain, Stephen Harper was the last thing on my mind. At the moment of ‘struggle and surrender between the two men,’ I don’t remember looking at Jake Gyllenhaal and thinking, ‘The West wants in.’ But to Miss Langlois, brooding on the Prime Minister, the scene underlined ‘how truly powerless he is . . . against the rising tide of cultural acceptance for gays.’
Rising tides lift all kinds of boats…”
“History swings both ways”, 2006, Western Standard: “The other day Nicole Langlois of The London Free Press went to see Brokeback Mountain, the Oscar-nominated "gay western," and found herself strangely distracted. ‘I watched it--the lush, majestic beauty of mountains and streams; the struggle and surrender between the two men,’ she cooed, ‘and I thought of Stephen Harper.’
Well, each to her own. I saw Brokeback in Montreal and Stephen Harper was the furthest thing from my mind. At the moment of ‘struggle and surrender between the two men,’ I don't recall looking at Jake Gyllenhaall and thinking, ‘The West wants in.’ But to Ms. Langlois the scene underlined…. Stephen Harper… ‘how truly powerless he is--no matter that he now holds the so-called reins of power--against the rising tide of cultural acceptance for gays.’…
…One might also note that a rising tide lifts all boats.”
Maclean’s, 2009: “If the sex of the participants is no longer relevant, why should the number be?”
Western Standard, 2006: “If the sex of the participants should not be relevant in our marriage laws (as Ms. Langlois believes) why should the number of participants?”
Maclean’s, 2009: “...Martha Bailey advocating polygamy on economic grounds: ‘Stressing ‘the multicultural nature of Canadian society,’ Bailey claims that Canada has an urgent practical need for more Muslim immigrants. If Canada can just ‘expand the pool of applicants,’ says Bailey, it just may win ‘the global competition for highly skilled immigrants.’… I’m not myself persuaded that there’s any correlation between polygamy and “skills…”
Western Standard, 2006: “Martha Bailey has been determined to move Canadian marriage ‘beyond conjugality’ …’Stressing 'the multicultural nature of Canadian society,' Bailey claims that Canada has an urgent practical need for more Muslim immigrants. If Canada can just 'expand the pool of applicants,' says Bailey, it just may win 'the global competition for highly skilled immigrants.'… do polygamy and ‘high skills’ correlate in any way?”
Maclean’s, 2009: “…Martha Bailey’s pitch for immigrants: how many highly skilled polygamists and their legions of wives have to emigrate to Canada before “’the rising tide of cultural acceptance for gays’ begins to ebb?”
Western Standard, 2006: “But let's say Ms. Bailey gets her way… in attracting more skilled Muslim men and their legions of wives to Canada. What proportion of the population has to be Muslim before Nicole Langlois notices that ‘the rising tide of cultural acceptance for gays’ is beginning to recede?”
Maclean’s, 2009: “In fairness to your big-time polygamist in Yemen or Waziristan, he has to do it on his own dime. If he wants to get the taxpayer to pick up the tab, he has to hop a flight to Toronto. East is east and west is west, and these days when the twain meet you usually get the worst of both worlds, of which government-funded polygamy would appear to be a near parodic example”.
From “Lights out on Liberty”, Imprimis/Investigate, August, 2008: “Kipling wrote that East is East and West is West, and ne'er the twain shall meet. But when the twain do meet, you often wind up with the worst of both worlds. Say what you like about a polygamist in Waziristan or Somalia, but he has to do it on his own dime. To collect a welfare check for each spouse, he has to move to London or Toronto. Government-subsidized polygamy is an innovation of the Western world.”
Western Standard, 2006: “After all, there are potentially far more takers for polygamous marriage than there ever will be for gay marriage.”
Maclean’s, 2009: “There are many more takers for polygamy than there ever will be for gay marriage.”
Self-plagiarism, defined in some J schools as “the submission of work by a person that is the same or substantially the same work for which he or she has already received academic or professional credit”, doesn’t get as much play as the non-reflexive kind, but it's not exactly
recommended, and seems to be associated with a certain dishonesty, according to some
sources. It can also end up providing out of date information that readers will be unaware of - as happened in at least one of the earlier instances where Steyn, in a recent Maclean’s article on Ignatieff, reused an almost identical paragraph from an earlier publication that itself contained events recycled from 2003, presented as new evidence of creeping – well, the usual creeping stuff you find in a Mark Steyn article.