Plagiarism and Germs

UntitledI have another confession.

I’ve published more than 50 articles and written or contributed to nearly 10 published books.

I have also plagiarized.

I was in the fourth grade facing a deadline for a poem I was supposed to compose for class. I was sulking around the house when my older brother, Gary, asked why I wasn’t outside playing.

After hearing about my life crisis, he immediately broke out into a silky poem that he had once composed when he was a young man like me. Being always industrious, I snatched up a pencil and began to record his wisdom.

I can still quote it word-for-word from memory. Here it is in full:

Germs, germs are everywhere,
In our clothes and in our hair.

Behind our ears they often go,
Between our fingers, between our toes.

You can squish them and squash them in your hand,
Or flip them around on a rubber band.

But there’s only one way to get rid of these creatures,
And that is to wash all of your features.

So do us a favor and follow this path,
Please go home and take a bath.

[those last two lines are actually mine]

I turned it in and got an A.

I feel better already, confessing to you and officially letting the world know the real artist who crafted this poem.

The word “plagiarism” comes from a Latin word that means “a kidnapper.” In writing, it is defined as passing off another’s ideas as one’s own (“kidnapping” someone else’s ideas). It’s rightly taken very seriously. You can use others’ ideas, just make sure you give standard attribution.

So feel free to quote from the brilliant poem above. Just make sure you give me my brother, Gary, proper credit.


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