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COMMUNITY FORUM: McInnis & plagiarism; politics & politicians

July 16, 2010

Shortcuts shortchange

The recent discovery of the plagiarism committed by GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis over 20 years ago bears out just how the “Internet Age” makes it easier to catch plagiarism.

A story several years ago on NPR’s “All Things Considered” profiled a University of Virginia professor’s new innovation to catch Internet cheaters — a search engine that can locate patterns of phrasing and match them to other works. The device has already turned up a number of cheaters not only in academia, but also in other areas of our lives, e.g., the 2010 governors race!

Welcome to the “dark” side of the information age. While we have arrived at an era where so many things can be done to manipulate information, we have forgotten its true value — “its ability to challenge our minds.”

When I was a student two generations ago, a written paper was an ordeal with a purpose. Research was laborious, hours spent in the library unearthing facts and information in hopes of seeing a pattern emerge that might result in a thesis; I did not get paid $300,000 either!

But in today’s world of instant success, why bother — a person can look up a prewritten paper and turn it in as if it were original work, e.g., the work of Justice Hobbs that McInnis portrayed as his own, albeit 20 years ago.

What should disturb us all is not that this system exists, but that it is so widely used. According to a study of 21 colleges and universities by Duke University, a full 10 percent of students in college admitted to some form of Internet plagiarism, and 5 percent lifted their work entirely from Web sources.

We should not be surprised by these phenomena. Our age of instant information offers in nearly every aspect of business, academia and media the temptation to exalt outcome over process, to overvalue doing something quickly over doing it effectively and honestly.

Maybe public exposure will put an end to this character defect, but I doubt it. In the long run, society at large will have to re-establish the values of effort and process, rather than simply holding up too high the rewards of success, power, being elected or money.

 All in all, this will be a difficult task, but the message must go out loud and clear that there is no such thing as instantaneous writing, and those shortcuts shortchange. That message may sound old and familiar, but that’s because it is lifted from the familiar lessons of life, not some site on the Internet.

I thought it was character, not image. How naive I am. Scott, if plagiarism is a “nonissue,” then so is this election.

Jim Martin

Colorado Springs


Return prosperity to state

Scott McInnis is staying in the race, and that is good news for us in Colorado who want to see jobs and prosperity return to Colorado. In his darkest hour Scott McInnis owned up to his mistake and took responsibility for his actions and then moved on, highlighting the need for Colorado to focus on a path to bring jobs into the state. This is the most important issue of this election year as many are out of work and taxes continue to be raised by the party Democrats in Denver.

Like his new commercial says, Scott will veto new tax hikes and cut government spending. This is welcome relief during the onslaught of taxes and fees put into effect by Gov. Bill Ritter. John Hickenlooper already looks like he will govern just like Ritter, and Colorado cannot afford that anymore. We need Scott’s leadership to bring prosperity back to Colorado.

Nate Marsh

Colorado Springs


Get back to the issues

I am glad to see Scott McInnis staying in the race for governor. He is a strong candidate and is the best choice for Colorado.

This is the only “dirt” that anyone has on him. Get back to the issues and you will remember why he is leading in the polls, and why independents and moderates embrace him. He’s going to be stronger than ever after August 11, and everyone will see that this was just a hit job to get him to lose the primary.

Jennifer Bender



‘Put me down as a no’

I can see where returning only three bucks to “we the people” seems like a pretty insignificant amount and that the possible good that could be done with the $600,000 seems like a much better use of the extra money that the mayor and his pals are salivating over.

My problem is trusting the nine folks who proclaimed a horse pasture qualified for urban renewal with any more than they already have. And let’s not even get started on the whole Olympic headquarters fiasco.

Put me down as a no for letting them keep the money. Perhaps we could put it in a secure account somehow, and maybe the next council will be sharper.

Dennis Runnells

Colorado Springs


Send in a check

Take a look at our city government’s reaction to $600,000 of unexpected income, and you will see what fuels some of the tea party philosophy. The first (and only) reaction has been, “Wow! How can we spend all this?”

The principle behind TABOR is a response to that attitude. Keep money out of government’s hands, and government can’t spend so much.

I would be excited to let the city keep it if they wanted to pay off some debt with it, but so far the only approach they’ve floated is to ask for “best” ways to spend it.

No thanks. I’ll take my three bucks back. Those who want the city to spend more of their money are free to send in a check.

Joe Oppelt

Colorado Springs


It’s just not right

Should “dang” foreigners have a say in the quality of our schools? Should foreigners have a say in the quality of our parks? Should foreigners have a say in the quality of our community?

Well, that’s exactly what some foreigner is trying to slip in under the radar with Amendment 60. Specifically, some foreigner wants to have a say in property taxes wherever he owns property. Amendment 60 gives him that say by handing property owners the right to vote on and petition property tax issues in any locale in which they own property, even if they do not live in that locale. And that’s just not right.

Do you think for a moment that a foreigner gives a hoot about the quality of your schools? Do you think for a moment that a foreigner gives a hoot about the quality of your community? Of course he doesn’t. So why would you want to let foreigners have a say in your community? You wouldn’t. So don’t. Vote no on Amendment 60.

Paul Hanke



Fight is one-sided

The article “Norton, Buck are in bitter fight,” July 12, is only half-right. Only one is waging a bitter fight.

The Gazette has run some excellent opinion pieces in editorials the last several years. The editorial page is where they belong. However, far too often reporters have let opinion rule their stories, when they apparently don’t understand the total picture, and that has cost The Gazette readers.

Rep. Larry Liston is welcome to his opinion; however, let’s look at his history. Larry supported Pete Coors. Is Pete Coors our U.S. senator? No. Larry supported Bob Beauprez dropping out of the 7th Congressional seat and running for governor. Is Bob our governor? No. Larry picks losers.

Jane Norton is a loser. She is not the conservative that Larry claims, but rather as a lieutenant governor candidate with Bill Owens supported Referendum C, which was the largest tax increase in state history. Jane thumbed her nose at the Republicans by not running through the state convention. Had she only received 10 percent she could have petitioned onto the ballot. Was she afraid she couldn’t get 10 percent? That is the sign of a loser.

On the other hand, Ken Buck garnered 76 percent of the votes of the delegates at the state convention.

It certainly looks like Ken Buck is very electable by the people as a whole, even if Larry cast his lone vote for Jane. Any candidate of any party cannot win with just the votes of the party, but must be acceptable to a broader scope of voters. That is why Larry’s choices have lost in the past and will continue to in the future.

Larry supports Scott McInnis, too. You know, the guy with no brain function, who was highly paid for some research, which he plagiarized, then admitted he didn’t even put together.

Yeah, the guy who claims to be conservative but voted more liberally then the two extremely liberal democrats in Colorado’s congressional delegation, Diana DeGette and Mark Udall.

Dr. W. Kenneth Bull

Colorado Springs

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