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Republican National Convention: Scrutiny of Melania Trump’s speech follows plagiarism allegations

As a college English teacher, I come to the table with a nuanced professional stance on the value of originality in writing. In a given discourse community, I can refer to common ideas without making it look like I am claiming original thinking. For example, when I was an undergrad with a work-study job in the theatre department’s scene shop, I saw a tired grad student scowl at the lopsided chicken-wire…

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The Declaration Of Independence, 240 Years Later (NPR)

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the…

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Katie Couric Gun Documentary Undermined By Manipulative Editing : NPR

Interviewer Katie Couric asks a group of gun owners the question: “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?” The gun owners respond right away, according to audio recorded by one of the participants. But in the documentary Under the Gun, footage taken from elsewhere in the interview shows members of a gun advocacy group looking down, not answering, for…

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Former Facebook Workers: We Routinely Suppressed [a Certain Political Slant] News

One day when I was an undergraduate working for one of two competing student papers, two rallies were held on opposite sides of the downtown mall. One group held signs like “Keep your laws off my body,” and “Keep abortion safe and legal,” and the other group held signs like “It’s a child, not a choice” and “Abortion stops a beating heart.” The student paper I did not work for ran…

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What’s a Snollygoster? Even lexicographers are wrong sometimes

This is an amusing little story about how politics affects the English language. An obscure word that politicians and pundit like to use to refer to their opponents has faded in and out of use. The “wrong” move was removing the word from the dictionary recently, after which it made a comeback. (I’d still never heard of it.) As the dialectal furor faded, so too did snollygoster—so much so that…

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“People are much more frightened than they are bigoted,” making his economic message resonate with “fed up” blue-collar voters, says Trump observer

No actor says “My character does this and says that because he is evil.” How many voters wake up in the morning saying, “I support this candidate because I am evil, stupid, and/or racist”? Nobody votes “against women’s reproductive rights” or “against unborn babies.” Those are labels provided by the opposition, not the identity claimed by the group members. People vote a certain way because they are voting *for* something.…