Abby Smith, a graduating student at Parkersburg High School in West Virginia, noticed something vaguely familiar about the speech given by the school’s principal, Ken DeMoss, at her graduation last week. Later, she went home and looked for a video of a speech actor Ashton Kutcher (formerly the goof on “The 70s Show,” the goof who succeeded Charlie Sheen on “Two and a Half Men,” and the guy who took over froim Bruce Willis when Demi Moore decided she wanted a husband with hair) gave at the 2013 Kid’s Choice Awards. Then she edited DeMoss’s speech and Kutcher’s together, and posted them on YouTube.
There’s no doubt about it, as you can see above. The principal ripped off the speech.
Some might say that what Smith did was mean and unnecessary. No, it was responsible, essential, and gutsy. Students are taught in school, or are supposed to be, to do their own work, a lesson especially hard to convey when the internet makes plagiarism easy to do and hard to detect. The distinction between being inspired by another person’s creative output, using it as a foundation for an original work, borrowing phrases and ideas (with attribution), and, in contrast, stealing intellectual property and presenting it as your own, is a crucial one for students to understand. When a role model, a school administer, flagrantly does what the school must teach students not to do, and worse, does this in front of students, and even worse than that, does it in the course of a speech about the virtues of hard work, such cynicism, laziness, and cheating must not be allowed to pass unnoticed, and I hope, unpunished.
After he was caught, “Kenny” issued this epicly horrible statement, incorporating rationalizations, unethical apologies, multiple logical fallacies, a Jumbo and, of course, lies: Continue reading