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Letter | The senator, in his own words

Brown flubbed chance to be a role model in flap over website text

October 19, 2011

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RE “BROWN dismisses flap over copied speech as ‘a little silly’ ’’ (Page A2, Oct. 14): Senator Scott Brown had a wonderful opportunity to take a public stand highlighting his values and character, and muffed it.

Accused of having used text written by Elizabeth Dole in a statement of personal values on his website, the senator replied that charges of plagiarism are getting “a little silly.’’ Apparently, he was too busy to review his website and the values that he was claiming to hold dear, so he feels justified in blaming his staff for the error.

In a values-driven response, the senator could have admitted that there was a mistake and accepted the blame. He could have said, “I take full responsibility for the error. Plagiarism is serious, and I’d hate to have anyone, especially any young person, think that I take it lightly.’’

Young people need adults to mean what they say about values. Many of my students at a community college near Boston think that copying someone else’s words without giving proper credit for their source is acceptable. Their excuse is that everyone does it. If Brown makes excuses, that could justify their doing it too.

This could have been a teachable moment about how one has values and lives by them, but Brown couldn’t see that.

Mary Wasserman