Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Plagiarism Derails German (Ex) Minister

In spite of early (and firmly articulated) support from his boss, Chancellor Angela Merkel, public outcry over his plagiarized thesis has forced zu Guttenberg to resign from Merkel's ministry.

The outcry has taken   several   forms, including Guttenberg being dubbed zu Googleberg and, even worse, Germany's Sarah Palin! The most substantive protest is through this letter to Chancellor Merkel, signed by over 20,000 academics, post-docs, and students. Here's an excerpt:

... When it is no longer an important value to protect ideas in our society, then we have gambled away our future. We don't expect thankfulness for our scientific work, but we expect respect, we expect that our work be taken seriously. By handling the case of zu Guttenberg as a trifle, Germany's position in world science, its credibility as the "Land of Ideas", suffers.

A second line of attack -- which probably clinched the issue -- targeted his leadership of defence academies, especially since it came from political adversaries partners:

"Should he continue to allow the circumstances of his dissertation to remain so unclear, I think that he, as minister and as the top official of two Bundeswehr universities, is no longer acceptable," Martin Neumann, parliamentary spokesman for academic issues for the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP), Merkel's junior coalition partner, told the Financial Times Deutschland newspaper.