Friday, August 24, 2012

A Socially-relevant Blog Post

Before anything else, I'd like to congratulate Mark Anthony Bersola for winning the "Guess the Haribon's Base Kit" contest.  He was one among three who guessed it correctly with whatever "vague clues" I gave.  Thanks to Malvin Lim of Great Toys online for all the nice freebies, and to those who took the time to attend the MACY2MEET.  I'll post a more detailed entry later on.

I would like to set Gunpla aside to give way to a socially-relevant issue, mainly because it affects me directly, as a writer/blogger, artist and songwriter, and maybe even you guys.  This is with how Senator Tito Sotto got caught plagiarizing not one but 5 (or maybe even more) bloggers in his speech about House Bill No. 4244, otherwise known as the Reproductive Health Bill (RH Bill for short).  His position on the RH Bill got drowned by his plagiarism, so much that whatever veracity it may have had is now as meaningless as his position as a Senator.

Why?  Because instead of owning up to it and apologizing for an obvious mistake, Sotto remained adamant and even ridiculed bloggers in general by saying "she's just a blogger, why would I quote her?" referring of course to blogger Sarah Pope.  His "thief of staff," Atty Hector Villacorta, later on defended Sotto by saying that blogs are in the public domain and do not have copyright.  A lawyer who does not know his law isn't a precedent, it seems to be as common as house flies circling trash.  What's worse is this tandem seem to miss the point by saying that plagiarism is common place; everyone copies, even god, when it made man in its image.  They're just words, and even the words "copyright" and "plagiarism" were, er, copied.  Other Senators of the Philippines defended Sotto, others, like what most politicians do, remain silent.

For sure, this lawyer did study law, right?  But how can he miss the fact that copyright is BY VIRTUE OF CREATION.  When Sarah Pope made that blog entry, she cited Natasha McBride.  Sotto's and Villacorta's reasoning was they cannot quote a blogger for quoting McBride, and since they can't seem to find McBride's website, they copied from Pope's website instead.  Technically, they weren't quoting McBride anymore, since they used Pope's entry near-verbatim.

That's not the worst of it.  Miguel Syjuco of Rappler wrote a very lengthy thesis on Sotto's plagiarism.  I won't get into detail about what he wrote, lest I plagiarize him, you can go read his article for yourself, but Sotto plagiarized a lot more people than earlier cited.  Also, Villacorta stands in for Sotto in getting flak from Netizens, but, for crying out loud, Tito, don't you know what COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY means?  It's still YOUR (plagiarized) speech, even if you had others write it for you.  It's still YOUR position on the RH Bill.  Unless of course, you thought being a Senator excuses your from that responsibility.  Sarah Pope's "just a blogger," but remember, you're just a Senator, a position afforded to you by the people who elected you, and if need be taken away from you

Someone asked me if I ever plagiarized, meaning directly copied verbatim, anything in my lifetime.  Probably, when I was a kid who didn't know better, when I copied from books onto my notes for homework, which I later gave up on because I was already reading the damned thing, so why do I have to copy it?  Later on in High School, a very good English teacher taught me the virtue of speaking and writing better English, and the follies of plagiarism.  By then, I was already "inventing" stuff from what I read, basically condensing those into something I wrote, but, that English teacher knew better to remind us of citing our sources.  At one point, I erroneously used someone's photograph and made a vector version of it, but I couldn't find the source.  As I later one was able to, I gave the photographer notice, and he said okay, but later on rated about it on his dA account.  Even the smallest of infractions matter. 

Personally, I don't really mind being copied (it's flattering in most cases), it doesn't even matter if I am credited (both have happened).  But, when I do post something that isn't mine, especially in this blog, I quote my sources whether it was significant or otherwise.  The crux of the matter is, we have a Senator who is shameless and unremorseful, and a lawyer who doesn't know his law his excuses is similar to a kid whose dog ate his homework.

What else is there?  Do we eventually end up doing this?

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