Where are Your Footnotes, Minister?


Protesters in Germany are dominating the news and taking their outrage to Facebook. Unlike protesters in other parts of the world, these angry citizens aren’t hoping to overthrow their government — they are calling on it to exercise more intellectual honesty.

The scandal: a cabinet minister has been accused of plagiarizing a few paragraphs of his doctoral thesis.

“Several hundred protesters hung their shoes on the iron fence outside the Defense Ministry in Berlin in a sly (again, typically German) multivalent allusion both to the now familiar Arab insult of displaying the soles of one’s shoes and also to the missing footnotes in Mr. Guttenberg’s dissertation.”

Jill Haberkern has lived in a one-room house made of tombstones and a farmhouse with a walrus head. She currently lives in Berkeley, California, with neither. Her writing has appeared in the Mid-American Review. More from this author →