2 March 2011

zu Guttenberg Part II

I think it right that Guttenberg bit the bullet and resigned. I did not mention it when I voiced my opinions on the scandal of his plagiarism earlier, but should have done.

The majority of politicians fall because of the poor manner in which they deal with a crisis. Guttenberg is no exception here and should really have fallen on his sword the first time the story broke. I cannot believe he did not know what his thesis contained, unless of course he paid someone else to write it. There are any number of such offers to be found on the Internet. What we do not know is whether or not he (cut and pasted) stole other peoples work intentionally and with "malice aforethought" as they say. Or whether attributing all these "quotes" was just too much work for him. Either way he was a foolish young man.

How many of us have tried to cheat in an exam? Most of us will know of a class mate who has done so successfully. As a boy I watched many of my classmates do so, but I never had the courage to try, I rather quaked at the idea of being found out if I did, which is why I left it to others. That some manage to get away with it, does not make it right. At the back of any thesis submitted to a German university is a sworn statement to the effect that you testify that it is all your own work. On your own head be it if it is not.

What still annoys me is in this whole affair is the role the university and his tutor (Doctor-Vater) played. Surely a doctorate thesis is examined by a panel of experts, before being passed. How come they did not notice the blatant plagiarism? Had they done their job back in 2006 this whole affair need not have happened. Yet now the university and his tutor are accusing him of being a liar and a cheat. He may well be all these things, but for them now to wash their hands like Pilate and claim innocence is absurd. At the very least, since they awarded him "summa cum laude" for this work they must shoulder some blame for the fiasco?

The Lion exits stage right!
zu Guttenberg has now retired to the political wilderness to rethink his future. I predict that in a couple of years he will return to prominence having washed his image until it is squeaky clean.