There has been some big news brewing in Germany the last couple of days. CSU darling Theodor zu Guttenberg, a shooting star of the conservative movement and possibly the next chancellor, has been accused of plagiarizing. To make things as clear as possible he has been accused of plagiarizing several different parts of his doctoral thesis. I wasn’t very aware about how plagiarizing is dealt with in German universities until this case came up and now that I am learning, I am quite surprised to be honest. It seems that they are a bit more relaxed with these kinds of things. A lot of people have even been coming to his defense and claiming that this is somehow politically motivated.
Why would anyone ever have sympathy on a plagiarizer, especially when they have used their doctoral thesis to propel them to the place where they are today. As far as the accusations go that this is somehow politically motivated, it seems strange to have to ask this question but whatever: either he did or he didn’t plagiarize. If there is one small sentence somewhere in the thesis then that is one thing, now if there are several paragraphs worth of stolen sentences then I would say this seems like a slam-dunk case of a person loosing his doctorate. It would be even funnier if Merkel fired him after that. Of course like most politicians these days, he seems to not have anything stick to him too long. He is like Merkel in that sense: both of them are made out of Teflon.
Now Guttenberg has given up his “Dr” title, but while that seems a bit hasty (the university gives and takes those kinds of things), it isn’t as if he is out of the danger just yet. For one thing the man has lied to everyone, made the university he attended look really bad, and is now trying to simply take away his title as if that will magically fix everything. If he remains in power that will say a lot about German attitudes toward their possible next chancellor.