Blair Redux
July 11, 2003 9:54 AM   Subscribe

Comeuppance is served: Blair Hornstine, the litigious valedictorian MeFi loves to hate, has been dropped from the Harvard class of '07 for her adventures in plagiarism. Quoting Nelson Munz here would be superfluous.
posted by serafinapekkala (158 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
ok, i can't help it: HAH-HA! here is the Crimson article...i expect a lawsuit at 11.
posted by serafinapekkala at 9:56 AM on July 11, 2003


Lawsuit against Harvard in 5, 4, 3, 2, ....
posted by Argyle at 9:59 AM on July 11, 2003


ba ha ha ha.
posted by xmutex at 10:01 AM on July 11, 2003


Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of schadenfreude.
posted by Cyrano at 10:01 AM on July 11, 2003


“I am confident that, at the end of the day, Harvard will see that this is a non-issue, and, quite frankly, something that is another example of Blair being singled out and victimized,” he told The Crimson.

If I were on the Harvard admissions board. That quote right there would be enough to revoke her admission.
posted by jpoulos at 10:01 AM on July 11, 2003


you reap the seeds you sow...
posted by shadow45 at 10:03 AM on July 11, 2003


Someone complaining about another Blair Hornstine FPP in 5, 4, 3, 2, ....
posted by pmurray63 at 10:06 AM on July 11, 2003


HornstineFilter!
posted by yhbc at 10:08 AM on July 11, 2003


Forgive me, but who is Nelson Munz and what did he memorably say?
posted by alumshubby at 10:09 AM on July 11, 2003


Nelson Munz say 'Ha-ha' on the Simpsons.
posted by Argyle at 10:12 AM on July 11, 2003


OK, allright, but it must be asked: would Bob Dylan or Miguel Cardoso be dropped from Harvard as well? The kid's being persecuted for being elitist, which says something about the encroaching oppression of the dumb, resentful, Jerry Springer-audience masses. I do agree with the decision in the strict sense that plagiarism is an awful thing and should never be explained away, but let's keep in mind the specific context of the Blair Hornstine affair, the petition of the Harvard students etc etc.
posted by 111 at 10:12 AM on July 11, 2003


That poor girl.
posted by Nelson at 10:14 AM on July 11, 2003


Hornstine defended her lawsuit in a written press release, calling her decision to litigate “an act of necessity, aimed at saving others from apathy.”

Umm, what exactly is this supposed to mean?
posted by pmurray63 at 10:15 AM on July 11, 2003


BlairHornstineBlairHornstineBlairHornstineBlairHornstineBlairHornstineBlairHornstineBlairHo
rnstineBlairHornstineBlairHornstineBlairHornstineBlairHornstineBlairHornstineBlairHornstine
BlairHornstine.

Oh yeah, and I almost forgot: Blair Hornstine.
posted by soyjoy at 10:16 AM on July 11, 2003


You know, just when I think that America has become a completely litigous, vapid, unprincipled society who will let anything slip by, incidents like this spring up and remind me that yes, there are still some people out there who *do* give a fuck, regardless how powerful your attorney might be.

Bravo Harvard.
posted by tgrundke at 10:17 AM on July 11, 2003


111-- yeah, those dumb resentful masses who don't like people who sue to be in positions they shouldn't be, who plagiarize and then act indignant when caught.

Those horrible, stupid people.
posted by xmutex at 10:20 AM on July 11, 2003


The kid's being persecuted for being elitist, which says something about the encroaching oppression of the dumb, resentful, Jerry Springer-audience masses.

What the hell are you trying to argue? She's being persecuted for being a lying, deceiving, frivolous lawsuit-filing, system-leeching, elitist bitch. The "dumb" masses have nothing to do with it. She exploited a system designed to help people with disabilities to make her grade higher, by not being required to take gym, health, and all those other low-credit required courses.

She didn't have enough energy to take gym, but she had more than enough energy to do 200 hours of physical activity on her own, to get some sort of scholarship or something. I'm not even going to mention the plagiarism.
posted by SweetJesus at 10:26 AM on July 11, 2003


Mmmmm, that's some go-od justice!

[/Carson]
posted by gottabefunky at 10:26 AM on July 11, 2003


In a column published last month by the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill, Hornstine conceded she did not properly attribute material she used in a teen page commentary column.

This hardly counts as academic plagiarism... you all should leave this poor girl alone.
posted by jokeefe at 10:28 AM on July 11, 2003



posted by jon_kill at 10:29 AM on July 11, 2003


jokeefe: you're kidding, right?
posted by swerve at 10:34 AM on July 11, 2003


OK, allright, but it must be asked: would Bob Dylan or Miguel Cardoso be dropped from Harvard as well?

Yes. They don't like Foreigners and Common Folk.

jon_kill.... umm, what does posting a picture of her have to do with anything? Or do you just want to see if people will start making comments about her physical appearance?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:38 AM on July 11, 2003


This hardly counts as academic plagiarism... you all should leave this poor girl alone.

Have you read the things she lifted? She lifted complete paragraphs, word for word, and put them right in. And this is only her work that has been made public. I imagine that her high school work would be a gold mine.

What kind of high school valedictorian doesn't know how to cite a parenthetical reference? I had that stuff down by 10th grade, and I sure as hell wasn't valedictorian.
posted by SweetJesus at 10:40 AM on July 11, 2003


Schadenfreude rocks, dude.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:42 AM on July 11, 2003


dropped from Harvard as well? The kid's being persecuted for being elitist, which says something about the encroaching oppression of the dumb, resentful, Jerry Springer-audience masses

111's right: Harvard hates and persecutes elitists. It's disgraceful the way they only admit impoverished underachievers from obscure familiies. Who's their dean of admissions, Che Friggin Guevara?
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:42 AM on July 11, 2003


what is it with Blairs and plagiarism?

there's this rather unpleasant girl, the NY Times Blair and Tony Blair, who was also caught out recently.

can anyone explain?
posted by quarsan at 10:43 AM on July 11, 2003


The kid's being persecuted for being elitist, which says something about the encroaching oppression of the dumb, resentful, Jerry Springer-audience masses.

I really don't think it is so much elitism as having no class. (Harvard = Jerry Springer-audience masses? please.) For one thing elitism tends to carry with it a strong individualistic streak which would see turning to the court to get honors (or to be more precise, deny extending a deserved honor to someone else.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:44 AM on July 11, 2003


This has got to be the first time I've actually been happy to see an addition to our ongoing Library of All Things Hornstine... While I'm sure she has a Princeton or a Dartmouth as a backup school, I like the idea of this girl learning in a public way not at all out of proportion to the legal travesty she unleashed that actions have consequences, some of which may not be at all to our liking...
posted by JollyWanker at 10:47 AM on July 11, 2003


What George said. I'd love to see the James Bond-style meeting between Blair's string-pulling father and the head of the University: "Oh, dear, dear Mr. Horstein... you think you're an elitist, litigious ass? Sir... this is Harvard. Welcome to the big leagues, bitch."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:48 AM on July 11, 2003


xmutex and others, please keep in mind that the Blair bashing campaign started before the plagiarism evidence was found-- people resented her because she was a good student who fought for what she considered a fair distribution of merit-based rewards-- regarding the physical ed. classes, she did the right thing; today only the very stupid give sports more than passing attention.
The plagiarism only gave hoi polloi a better reason to knock her. The double standard itself is glaring when the truth about throngs of mediocre cut-and-paste students from high-schools worldwide is quite obvious and when the fact that Bob Dylan shamelessly stole from a japanese author is given a mild, tolerant reception. Never mind the fact that she's white etc etc. I'll stop now, since I can already see some of you out there waving your fists in the air and chanting in unison "go to Oprah! Go to Oprah!"

XQUZYPHYR, lol.
posted by 111 at 10:48 AM on July 11, 2003


I am eternally grateful that the national media never had the chance to scrutinze me for the dumb shit I did in high school. We all did regrettable stuff in high school, but few of us will feel the effects of our childhood wrongs extend into our adult lives and careers. Poor woman. I hope she's able to find a path to peace and happiness. Poor us, because the law and Harvard policies will be acted on, and yet justice will not be had, and the problem will not be solved.
posted by eustacescrubb at 10:49 AM on July 11, 2003


I'm sure she has a Princeton or a Dartmouth as a backup school

When my best friend applied to Dartmouth and got accepted, he was asked to notify other schools that he was going there and to request his applications be recsinded to, among other places, Harvard. Most schools even "below the prestige" of Harvard and such fill their rolls and recieve letters of intent form eager students well before the start of Summer.

Sorry to say this for Blair, but methinks the Ivy League doesn't have any more open slots for the 2003 semester in the middle of July.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:51 AM on July 11, 2003


Schadenfreude rocks, dude.

You know what rocks even more? Seeing someone born into privilege and money get greedy, and crash and burn. Like a lying Icarus, she flew too close to the sun on the wings of other people's work, and now she's paying the price.
posted by SweetJesus at 10:51 AM on July 11, 2003


Altho I agree with Harvard's decision, I still can't take any glee from this whole thing. She is still a young girl, and it would not surprise me to learn that her dad pushed the h*ll out of her all through school. Rock, meet hard place.

I guess she'll be taking a year off, then.
posted by konolia at 10:51 AM on July 11, 2003


JW, I don't think Princeton or Dartmouth look too kindly on plagiarists either -- or for that matter people who try a little too hard to play the system and head straight for the courtroom when it backfires. Admitting her would like clasping a viper to your bosom.

On preview: 111, Hoi Polloi? dumb, Springer-audience masses? Damn, I can see why the persecution of elitists is a personal matter with you. You're a superior sumbitch, aintcha?
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:52 AM on July 11, 2003


eustace- I did a lot of foolish shite in HS as well. I also didn't sue to be the only valedictorian (as if I was close enough!). You make a public stink, you get a public lashing.
posted by oflinkey at 10:52 AM on July 11, 2003


those dumb resentful masses who don't like people who sue to be in positions they shouldn't be, who plagiarize and then act indignant when caught.

xmutex, this post is about Blair Hornstine and not George W. Bush. Please keep yourself on topic.
posted by DragonBoy at 10:54 AM on July 11, 2003


I am eternally grateful that the national media never had the chance to scrutinize me for the dumb shit I did in high school.

You ever try and forcibly take 2.7 million dollars from your local school district because they wanted you to *gasp* share the valedictorian honor?
posted by SweetJesus at 10:54 AM on July 11, 2003


p.s.: quarsan, good point. For a fraction of a millisecond I actually thought quonsar had finally said something interesting , but no such luck.
posted by 111 at 10:55 AM on July 11, 2003


You make a public stink, you get a public lashing.

Exactly. The fact that this girl, whose family can afford to support all of her community service endeavors, her private tutors, and Harvard tuition for not one, but two children, sued the school district asking for 2.7 million dollars in compensation for being listed as "co-valedictorian" is what got my knickers in a twist.

Her father/parents may have created much of the stink, but maybe it's a good time for Blair to learn that there's a lot of "tough shit" in life. There are still some of us in this country who don't go suing people over it.
posted by greengrl at 11:03 AM on July 11, 2003


what is it with Blairs and plagiarism?

i hereby suggest the term "the Blair Flair" be used when the truth is being stretched...Rumsfeld, et al., take note.

as for Miss Hornstine, getting kicked out of Harvard before even matriculating could very well turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to her. take a year off (just like Prince Harry) to bum around Europe or Santa Cruz or something...or at least get a job at dad's courthouse. or, there's always Rutgers -- go Scarlet Knights!
posted by serafinapekkala at 11:05 AM on July 11, 2003


"This hardly counts as academic plagiarism" ... why not ask Joe Biden about the importance of non-academic plagerism?
posted by Jos Bleau at 11:08 AM on July 11, 2003


I, for one, am curious who will get Harvard's sloppy seconds. I'm just hoping it's not Columbia.
posted by kickingtheground at 11:08 AM on July 11, 2003


come on 111,"today only the very stupid give sports more than passing attention." Do you know how many study's show that phys.ed. is hugely valuable for scholastic acheivement. Even if it is stupid, it's still getting people off of their fat asses.
posted by jmgorman at 11:09 AM on July 11, 2003


While I think her cynical manipulation of the system is indefensible she did have one thing on her side: if the school district is going to change the rules of the game, they need to do it at least by the start of the academic year to which it applies. While valedictorian is supposed to be more than a trophy -- for one thing the sole duty is to give the address at graduation, and she chickened out of that duty -- it nevertheless is a trophy and kids are going to try for it. Tweaking the rules to change the outcome after the numbers were in wasn't entirely cricket.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:10 AM on July 11, 2003


xmutex and others, please keep in mind that the Blair bashing campaign started before the plagiarism evidence was found-- people resented her because she was a good student who fought for what she considered a fair distribution of merit-based rewards.

Or because she's a self-serving and people are tired of frivilous lawsuits, especially ones that are victorious.

-- regarding the physical ed. classes, she did the right thing; today only the very stupid give sports more than passing attention.

I'm sure you're just attempting to solidify your own position as an elitist in league with this Blair girl, but these sorts of strongly-worded, this-is-what-matters-in-life comments always strike me as being both silly and more than a little ignorant in their aim.

Then again, why teach kids about being active and healthy when they live in a country that has an adult obesity ratio in the neighbourhood of 2 to 1. That's just beyond the pale!

The plagiarism only gave hoi polloi a better reason to knock her. The double standard itself is glaring when the truth about throngs of mediocre cut-and-paste students from high-schools worldwide is quite obvious and when the fact that Bob Dylan shamelessly stole from a japanese author is given a mild, tolerant reception.

Excuse me for stating the obvious, but it seems that she is, quite literally, the full embodiment of the "cut and paste" student you mention. Dylan used passages from a novel in creating another work of art, which is radically different than plagiarising in the academic field--a fact which most anybody with absolutely any experience in the field (highschool, university, or otherwise) can attest. Read any number of great novels from the past century and tell me how many of them make a point of explaining exactly what it is they're making literary allusion to every time they do it. Trying to draw any comparison between that and plagiarising academic writing (in a publication no less) is ridiculous.

Never mind the fact that she's white etc etc. I'll stop now, since I can already see some of you out there waving your fists in the air and chanting in unison "go to Oprah! Go to Oprah!"

Yeah, poor little white girl.
posted by The God Complex at 11:10 AM on July 11, 2003


XQUZYPHYR, I just thought since we were gonna discuss her every few days we might as well know what she looks like.
posted by jon_kill at 11:19 AM on July 11, 2003


111, you have got to be the most arrogant ass here with "today only the very stupid give sports more than passing attention."

You are aware that we have physical, actual bodies connected to the hands that type, aren't you, and that when we use them all sorts of wonderful things happen to our brains?

And that a whole bunch of well-educated people enjoy the relaxation of sporting events?

And that a whole bunch of people's mental well-being and sense of self relies upon the fact that they take good care of their bodies and engage in competitive, physical activities?

You are aware of all these things, aren't you?

Next thing you'll be calling sex something for dumb primates.
posted by jon_kill at 11:24 AM on July 11, 2003


111 -- you're kidding, right? Maybe you don't know the whole backstory to this, but Hornstine has played every system at her fingertips to give herself an edge over her classmates/peers. She's alleged a fatigue illness to allow her to be schooled at home (at the district's expense) yet somehow found the energy to participate in an inordinate amount of volunteer work and then threw it in everyone's face by claiming "there's plenty of time in the day." She's weaseled her way out of classes that despite an A+ grade in the class would lower her GPA because of how the classes were weighted in the system. And then to top it all off she sues her school system because they wanted her to -- Oh my God!! -- share an honor with another student equally as deserving. How can someone who claims to be such an avid community volunteer act so at odds with that character?

The fact that she plagiarized is important. There is no way in hell someone in all advanced classes does not know what exactly plagiarism is. Her defense of her actions was inexcusable. Yeah, newspapers don't use footnote annotation, but that didn't prevent her from writing "According to a speech made by President Clinton . . " or any of the other 300 methods of citing a source of your scholarship.

I'm not sure what your point is about the phy ed classes and only the stupid giving attention to sports. All the other students in her class had to attend Gym.

If you want to claim special rights because of an illness (i.e., the ability to not take gym) then you surrender your rights to be treated as equal.
posted by archimago at 11:25 AM on July 11, 2003




she's a bitch.
posted by quonsar at 11:27 AM on July 11, 2003


Count me among the sympathetic. And I think that most of the behavior in this thread is reprehensible.

Yes, Harvard made the right decision. But I still feel sorry for the girl.
posted by gd779 at 11:28 AM on July 11, 2003


I must admit I've been fascinated by this story. A few of my thoughts.

1. The school should never have let her be in the running for valedictorian in the first place if she was being home-schooled for half of her classes. Most people with private tutors will do better than in a class of 30 people. But by approving all her curricula the school put itself in the position of having her as valedictorian.

2. Ms. Hornstein made a bad decision to sue to be sole valedictorian. She should have taken the co-valedictorianship with grace.

3. Ms. Hornstein made the even worse decision to sue for monetary damages. Taking money from public schools tends to piss people off.

4. Ms. Hornstein knew exactly what she was doing when she directly lifted passages from work that was not hers. I got a lower SAT score than she did, but I learned in 2nd grade that you do not copy off of other people's papers. Ever.

5. It is possible to feel sorry for Ms. Hornstein and also feel like most of the bad things that are happening to her result from her own bad choices.

The good news is that most people recover from the traumas of high school. And some of them even learn something.
posted by witchstone at 11:32 AM on July 11, 2003


what is it with Blairs and plagiarism?
there's this rather unpleasant girl, the NY Times Blair and Tony Blair, who was also caught out recently.
can anyone explain?


well, Orwell's real name was Eric Arthur Blair. was he a plagiarist, too?

( I understand that the Blair Witch Project idea according to some appeared to have been lifted from another student movie, about a tv crew finding the Jersey Devil in the woods, or something )
posted by matteo at 11:35 AM on July 11, 2003


gd779, I feel sorry for her to the extent that her father probably pushed her into this stuff.

On the other hand, I also feel sorry for the students behind her who will have to deal with a 5% budget cut if Hornstine wins her lawsuit.

On preview: what witchstone said.
posted by pmurray63 at 11:35 AM on July 11, 2003


And I think that most of the behavior in this thread is reprehensible

Care to elaborate, oh morally superior one?
posted by archimago at 11:36 AM on July 11, 2003


jon kill, I thought you put up her picture so we could paste it next to the dictionary definition of "hubris".
posted by wendell at 11:37 AM on July 11, 2003


I feel mostly sorry for this girl. I don't think she would be filing multimillion dollar lawsuits on her own. She sounds like your typical "parents' precious" overachiever - going for top honors in everything because that is what those around her expect. She isn't old enough to really have had time to think about it yet. There are plenty of parents who want to believe that their kid is really something special, and plenty of kids smart enough and willing to work hard enough to make their parents' fantasy come true. There are certainly plenty of semi-spoiled stuck up kids who consider anything less than head of the class to be a failure.

As far as I can tell Blair Hornstine herself has done nothing worthy of the scorn heaped upon her. There are thousands like her; the only reason we hear about this one is that her parents are a little too high on their own ambition and couldn't tell when enough is enough. It's her parents who are working the system. It's her parents who filed that damned lawsuit. It's her parents who got her on the front page and who got her into media hot water. I'm sure there are dozens of people in Harvard's class of 2007 who have committed the same kind of petty plagiarism she is getting strung up for, but since their parents didn't call down a firestorm on their heads, nobody cared.

Hornstine's parents may well have raised a self-absorbed monster, but we don't really know that, or much of anything about her. We know about her list of achievements and we've heard all about her parents' hubris. She's done nothing that I can see to deserve the scorn heaped upon her.

The Hornstine parents, on the other hand, appear to be the sort of wretched, selfish, rank-besotted scum that ruin the education system for everyone else, and I see nothing wrong with pointing that out in detail. Maybe the next set of Hornstine parents will learn something from this and not risk screwing up their kid's future by playing the system too hard.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:37 AM on July 11, 2003


Wendell: Ah, the old picture in the dictionary joke.

Nope, I was just adding an Emmanuel Goldstein kind of vibe to the proceedings. Whether I was for or against it is still a mystery to me.
posted by jon_kill at 11:41 AM on July 11, 2003


Sorry. I am very sorry. I don't think this is going to help anyone, or anything.
She looks like someone who has been effected by the Joker's 'laugh yourself to death' chemical agent in Tim Burton's 'Batman'.
*Spanks self with bent coat-hanger*
posted by asok at 11:43 AM on July 11, 2003


0. The school district screwed the pooch when it said that they were going to have co-valedictorians *because of her accommodations*. If they'd had a lick of sense, they'd have merely announced that they were going to have everyone with a GPA over *foo* be a valedictorian and denied strenuously that Ms. Hornstein had anything to do with it.

You know what rocks even more? Seeing someone born into privilege and money get greedy, and crash and burn. Like a lying Icarus, she flew too close to the sun on the wings of other people's work, and now she's paying the price.

I feel bad for the kid to the extent that it wasn't her flying too close, it was her dad throwing her too close. Would that her dad could pay the price instead of her.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:44 AM on July 11, 2003


What Mars said, with emphasis on the parents' hubris and responsibility. I suppose it's not impossible, but I find it really hard to picture any teenager, and particularly a kid as bright as Blair, saying, "Daddy, I want to sue the district for millions of punitive damages!"

The amount and the strategy and the vindictiveness of it all smacks of Judge Hornstine driving the bus. Blair would've surely seen the backlash against her coming a mile away with that kind of money and inevitable public comment, and would have wanted to avoid it, whereas Daddy may not give a damn if she's hated as long as she's first.
posted by clever sheep at 11:46 AM on July 11, 2003


millions IN, not OF.... coffee, NOW!
posted by clever sheep at 11:49 AM on July 11, 2003


please keep in mind that the Blair bashing campaign started before the plagiarism evidence was found-- people resented her because she was a good student who fought for what she considered a fair distribution of merit-based rewards.

I think what irks many (at least me) is that she feels she deserves $2.7 million in punitive damages. Or is this amount somehow figured into the "fair distribution of merit-based rewards"?
posted by girlbowler at 11:50 AM on July 11, 2003


Will no one think of the family?! How disappointed they must be! It's sad really, to see 18 years of a plan go to waste and what now of her fathers job at Harvard?

Clever sheep: would that be the short bus?
posted by dirtylittlemonkey at 11:53 AM on July 11, 2003


well, really now, i mean, what WAS her daddy to DO? i mean, she's no jon benet so the pageant route was out, imagine the heartbreak that family must have felt knowing that they were relegated to fallback on a lower caste accomplishment like academic renown?
posted by quonsar at 11:53 AM on July 11, 2003


DirtyLittleMonkey: Her dad should have thought of that before abusing the legal system.
posted by jon_kill at 12:02 PM on July 11, 2003


As far as I can tell Blair Hornstine herself has done nothing worthy of the scorn heaped upon her. There are thousands like her; the only reason we hear about this one is that her parents are a little too high on their own ambition

well, there's always that apple-tree relationship thingy, plus she is old enough to make some decisions for herself. The plagiarism really can't be ignored though; that wasn't somehow forced on her by her parents (at least, one hopes not!) and it was an egregious misstep on her part. Her defense was even worse. If she really didn't know that was plagiarism, she does not deserve a high school diploma, much less an acceptance to university. She should've at least gone with "I was so stressed out and exhausted from all my projects..." or something.

she did the right thing; today only the very stupid give sports more than passing attention.

I disagree about the worth of athletics, but that isn't the issue; I would not have a problem with academic achievements being counted separately from phys ed, but it would have to be fair across the board - either everyone has gym counted or no one does. It is obviously unfair to count it for everyone except hornstein.

Anyway, sad situation, but not tragic or anything; she's still rich and bright and I'm sure she'll be fine. Maybe she'll even learn something and care and humility and the errors of her parents. For some reason I'm inclined to think that's unlikely, but I am often wrong...
posted by mdn at 12:05 PM on July 11, 2003


Really, the more I think about it, the more my initially gleeful schadenfreude ebbs away and the sorrier I feel for Blair. As others have pointed out, more than a few of us have pulled some truly lame stunts as teenagers, and none of them resulted in nationwide press. I imagine that she's genuinely miserable right now and has been so for several months. The disappointment of losing her place at Harvard must be an interesting change from the gut-wrenching anticipation of attending a school where several hundreds or thousands of fellow students had signed a petition condemning your behavior and asking that your ticket be revoked.

Wherever she goes from here, whatever school she attends, it will be with the knowledge that her actions and her grades will all be endlessly scrutinized, searching for the next chapter in the story. Every acquaintance will either already know that story and have formed frequently negative advance opinions of her, or alternatively will be initially ignorant but prone to nasty revelation scenarios once a relationship has been formed.

I can't help but wonder if all this is going to end in a suicide attempt. At minimum, it's fodder for lifelong therapy. No matter how little the case merits such an award, she's going to need that 2.5 million.
posted by clever sheep at 12:10 PM on July 11, 2003


I wasn't going to comment until I read this in the Crimson article.

The media spotlight returned recently when she did not appear at her high school graduation and did not deliver the valedictory address for which she had gone to court.

She sues and then doesn't show up?

C'mon.
posted by szg8 at 12:13 PM on July 11, 2003


I feel a little sorry for her. She is obviously living in the shadow of controlling parents that don't accept any thing less than perfection. It sounds like they are basically using her as a puppet. The father even ran the charity work that she supposedly did.
posted by Dr_Octavius at 12:18 PM on July 11, 2003


Why does everyone believe that the 18 year old is obeying Daddy, rather than the other way around? "daddy daddy they're making me share valedictorian! Do something!" I wrapped my dad around my little finger at a younger age than that. And at 18, I knew what I was doing - and it was not my parents wishes.
posted by dabitch at 12:18 PM on July 11, 2003


Why isn't there AP Phys Ed? That would be an interesting class. I wonder what it would be comprised of?
posted by dirtylittlemonkey at 12:27 PM on July 11, 2003


AP Phys Ed:

"Use the Force, Luke!"
posted by yhbc at 12:33 PM on July 11, 2003


It's simple. She decided that it was OK to sacrifice not just the graduation of her class, but of future classes (after all, where in the hell is that $2.7 million going to come from? The school budget for next year, of course...) to get what she wanted.

She sued not because she was going to lose the valedictorian position, but because she had to share it! She claimed, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it was hers, she earned it, and that by diluting it she was being unfairly forced to dilute her career potential.

Now, she may actually end up losing not just her long-term career goals, but her graduation itself; if any of her school work is plagarized, she may fail a class (and, as such, be ineligible to graduate.)

All because she was a selfish, elitist, privileged, spoiled twit. Screw "it's her parents' fault", screw "she's a victim" - she was the person to do this, and she was the person to go along with it. Like many other people, she needs to learn that you can do anything you like, but you must be willing to suffer the consequences.

Comeuppance, indeed.
posted by FormlessOne at 12:34 PM on July 11, 2003


On the thought of a possible lawsuit. Harvard isn't a school district struggling in tight economic times. Sure, they may not be getting the Alumni donations they did 5 years ago, but an Ivy League school with a 360+ year old endowment will put up a lot stiffer fight. Even if they lose, it won't be until after she has graduated from somewhere else.
posted by Badgermann at 12:35 PM on July 11, 2003


dabitch, sure, I can picture Blair initially saying something along the lines of your hypothetical quote. But the punitive damage request just doesn't sound like something a teenage girl thought up--particularly one with any hope whatsoever for an even quasi-normal social life, graduation experience, or college career. I doubt that she's the one that chose to make herself hated by her entire community, and scorned by newspaper readers across the nation. But Dad seems capable both of cooking up the claim and carrying out the idea with total disregard for the consequences to Blair's personal life.

Without those punitive damages, do you think this case would have received even half the press it did? Sure, the story would merit coverage because of the crazed-HS-academic-competition and disability-claim angles, but it's the crass and excessive damages angle that really stoked the media circus.

I still think that the punitive damages are most likely the sign that Judge Hornstine was the one making the decisions here. Blair's not innocent by any means, but I sincerely doubt she's been the one driving most of the decisions for which she's been so damned.
posted by clever sheep at 12:39 PM on July 11, 2003


kickingtheground: I, for one, am curious who will get Harvard's sloppy seconds. I'm just hoping it's not Columbia.

Or Princeton.
posted by oaf at 12:41 PM on July 11, 2003


I agree with Mars, and would add that the at least we have a lesson for what happens on the extreme end to parents like this. If Blair is as smart as she appears, she'll bounce back and have a fine life. I feel sorry for her, but at the same time I'm glad all her parents manipulating of the system has come back to haunt them. If they had never pursued their lawsuit, her plagiarism would never have been found out, and she would have been valedictorian, and a Harvard student.
posted by cell divide at 12:43 PM on July 11, 2003


eustace-- Speak for yourself, sir. I did nothing in HS I am ashamed of. Nor did I achieve my class rank by academic fraud. Nor did I game the system in order to get higher grades. Nor did I sue the school for not treating me the way I felt I deserved.

"We all" indeed.
posted by Cerebus at 12:51 PM on July 11, 2003


my favorite quote of the day: Who's their dean of admissions, Che Friggin Guevara?
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 1:01 PM on July 11, 2003




If they had never pursued their lawsuit, her plagiarism would never have been found out, and she would have been valedictorian, and a Harvard student.

Is that so? Do we know how the paper found out about the plagiarism? That's a detail I don't think I've come across. It's entirely possible she still could have lost the Harvard admission even without all this other bruhaha.
posted by JanetLand at 1:05 PM on July 11, 2003


we've heard all about her parents' hubris. She's done nothing that I can see to deserve the scorn heaped upon her.

She should have thought more critically about participating in that lawsuit, and far more critically about plagiarising.

You can't simultaneously exonerate someone on the basis of being an unaccountable drone and admit them to Harvard.
posted by scarabic at 1:06 PM on July 11, 2003


the best thing ever would be if she got black-balled from all the elite colleges in the US, and ended up attending some state university in jersey. oh the joy.
posted by ruwan at 1:09 PM on July 11, 2003


my favorite quote of the day: Like a lying Icarus, she flew too close to the sun...
posted by mookieproof at 1:11 PM on July 11, 2003


I'm just hoping it's not Columbia.

Or Princeton


Or Virginia, the other other state school of New Jersey (at least when I was there). It would be nicely ironic for her to go to UVa and end up being an honor judge though.

Do we know how the paper found out about the plagiarism?

The owner or publisher of the paper is in some way connected to the school board, but I can't remember how and am too lazy to go find a reference.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:22 PM on July 11, 2003


fodder for lifelong therapy. No matter how little the case merits such an award, she's going to need that 2.5 million.

clever sheep, i didn't know you were a therapist!
posted by quonsar at 1:23 PM on July 11, 2003


(Gollum) Hornstine...we... hatesssss it! (/Gollum)
posted by Ty Webb at 1:25 PM on July 11, 2003


As others have pointed out, more than a few of us have pulled some truly lame stunts as teenagers, and none of them resulted in nationwide press.

If there were any justice, however, they would have. It's not difficult to not do stupid things, even for a teenager, if there ore sufficient negative consequences. In my opinion, it would not be a bad idea at all for teenagers to get more practice at not doing stupid things.
posted by kindall at 1:32 PM on July 11, 2003


Heh...quonsar, many years ago I actually did intend to become a therapist, but luckily came to my senses late in my college years. I switched paths in the nick of time to the one that's made me the soulless corporate shill that I am today.
posted by clever sheep at 1:34 PM on July 11, 2003


more than a few of us have pulled some truly lame stunts as teenagers, and none of them resulted in nationwide press.

You know, if any of my lame stunts, some of which were truly lame, had resulted in the transfer of $2 million, I suspect it just might have made the nationwide press.
posted by Ty Webb at 1:44 PM on July 11, 2003


It's never just the parents. Everybody's parents try to get them to do things. You don't have to do them, that's half of the fun of being a teenager. There's some level of complicity no matter what, question is how much.
posted by Hildago at 1:45 PM on July 11, 2003


Life's a bitch, ain't it?
posted by moonbiter at 1:51 PM on July 11, 2003


Blair, here's your first life lesson. If you act like a self-serving, lying, manipulating, egotistical wench, then try to extort the very system you leeched off of, said system will kick you in the ass, and most deservedly so. Here's some nice quotes to plaidgerize:

"Those who sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind"

"I will strew your flesh upon the mountains, and fill the valleys with your carcass. I will drench the land even to the mountains with your flowing blood."

"The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth."

... and my favorite Bible quote: "Retribution's a bitch."
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:52 PM on July 11, 2003


... and my favorite Bible quote: "Retribution's a bitch."

I Hezekiah 3:16?
posted by konolia at 1:56 PM on July 11, 2003 [1 favorite]


Echo witchstone.

I really think that if her parents had taught her to play nice with the other children, then none of this would have happened. Sharing...it's not just for preschool anymore...
posted by dejah420 at 1:56 PM on July 11, 2003


From the Weekly Standard article referenced here previously:

according to one of the court documents, Judge Hornstine will "be spending a lot of time in an adjunct position that he accepted at Harvard."

Anybody still think that will happen?
posted by pmurray63 at 1:58 PM on July 11, 2003


Too many things to address one by one, but some general remarks:

-blair shouldn't be punished or resented for choosing the best for her out of already existing frameworks; she didn't attend the phys. ed. classes because she was entitled to do that on account of a medical condition-- otherwise I guess the school would have forced her somehow;

-she sued because it's within her rights as a citizen. It was the school who invented the co-valedictorian idea, wasn't it? (Correct me if I'm wrong; archimago you're right, I'm not 100% acquainted with the details). So here's a lesson for life: the laws and regulations of society are open to things like this. As they say, blame the game, not the player.

-Re phys. ed., it must be given only the attention necessary to keep yourself "mens sana in corpore sano" fit; btw, my own personal opinion is that working out at a good gym is a much better alternative to playing basketball with a bunch of peanut-brained individuals. Everybody knows that sports-obsessed people are not the smartest demographics on earth;

-if it weren't for the plagiarism thing, I'd like her to get the 2.7 million;

-there is, as this thread amply shows, a deeply rooted resentment against ambitious, aggressive social climbers. While this is not wholly unjustified, the fact is that these people, from Bill Gates to Blair, tend to be the real movers and shakers of society, as opposed to the lazy, the cynical and the outright stupid. There is of course a third alternative, which would ally an ethical behavior with a legitimate ambition for improving yourself and the world.
posted by 111 at 2:39 PM on July 11, 2003


She is better off not going to Harvard anyway. Her fate was sealed. The assholes would have never left her alone after this mess. But hopefully this will allow her to have some time off and if this was largely because of her parent's pushing her into everything, maybe she can find some independence and her own way through life rather than becoming just another soulless family-driven ivy-school grad following the typical paths.
posted by bargle at 2:42 PM on July 11, 2003


I really don't think it is so much elitism as having no class. (Harvard = Jerry Springer-audience masses? please.) For one thing elitism tends to carry with it a strong individualistic streak which would see turning to the court to get honors (or to be more precise, deny extending a deserved honor to someone else.)

This is true. No class. She won her case. But come'on, "she stole whole paaragraphs!" Whine, Whine. We ALL know "good writers borrow and great writers steal." She's just trying to fit in. ehehe
posted by xtian at 2:43 PM on July 11, 2003


Re phys. ed., ... working out at a good gym is a much better alternative to playing basketball with a bunch of peanut-brained individuals.

I'm sorry to belabor the issue here, but I'm wondering whether you've missed the point. This isn't about jocks. The other students were required to take physical education. Hornstine took another weighted class in place of PE, which gave her an unfair advantage. What part of this is unclear?
posted by swerve at 2:59 PM on July 11, 2003


Well, if plagiarism is no big deal, then why do I find these guys spidering my site?
posted by Samizdata at 3:00 PM on July 11, 2003


there is, as this thread amply shows, a deeply rooted resentment against ambitious, aggressive social climbers.

Yeah, and those 2,700 students at Harvard who signed the petition to rescind her acceptance are leading the charge against ambitious, aggressive social climbing.

Slackers.
posted by scody at 3:03 PM on July 11, 2003


I did nothing in HS I am ashamed of.

Lucky bastard ;)
posted by Cyrano at 3:05 PM on July 11, 2003


If I was Blair I'd be looking for some nice quiet, private, university somewhere in Europe. France or Germany most likely. It'd get me away from the publicity and, more importantly, away from my parents. Get some perspective and relax.

Personally I can't imagine living under the microscope that going to college in the US would mean for her.
posted by Mitheral at 3:08 PM on July 11, 2003


swerve, it was within the rules as given by her school. Let's suppose she had an equally driven competitor; why didn't s/he resort to the same strategy? Why didn't the school issue regulations to prevent this kind of "unfair advantage" to happen? I say you resent the fact that she read the fineprint and planned beforehand. That is: she was smarter, even if she was unscrupulous.
posted by 111 at 3:35 PM on July 11, 2003


111 is miffed. he's adopted all the characteristics: the arrogance, the sneering superiority, the self-worship and judgmental condescension, and STILL society obstinately refuses to move OR shake for him. it's damned unfair, eh?
posted by quonsar at 3:40 PM on July 11, 2003


111:swerve, it was within the rules as given by her school.

Assuming, of course, that Hornstine's "illness" was genuine, which does not appear at all clear. She was too "ill" to have to take state-mandated gym classes, and yet she's well enough to spend hundreds of hours at college app enhancing volunteerism? Does not compute. She didn't have to prove her disability to secure the injunction naming her sole valedictorian, but I can't wait to see the medical experts they'll drag in there to rip her facade of victimhood apart when there's really US$2.7M at stake...
posted by JollyWanker at 3:49 PM on July 11, 2003


-blair shouldn't be punished or resented for choosing the best for her out of already existing frameworks; she didn't attend the phys. ed. classes because she was entitled to do that on account of a medical condition-- otherwise I guess the school would have forced her somehow;

I don't think that anyone is resenting her for getting out of physical education classes. The basic issue here is that having been given a special exception to replace physical education with an advanced placement class, she chose to deny equal honors to a student who also received perfect grades in his/her high school career.

-she sued because it's within her rights as a citizen. It was the school who invented the co-valedictorian idea, wasn't it? (Correct me if I'm wrong; archimago you're right, I'm not 100% acquainted with the details). So here's a lesson for life: the laws and regulations of society are open to things like this. As they say, blame the game, not the player.

Well, one of the wisest things that someone ever told me was that "right" does not translate into "license." To start with, the school board has every right, within reason to define both the types of honors to be rewarded, and the criteria for rewarding those honors. The fact that the court system ruled against the school in this case is something to be regretted. (My high school graduating class awarded co-validectorianships and several multiple saluditorianships.)

Certainly the laws and regulations are open to things like this, however a part of "the game" is that a failure to demonstrate good sportmanship leads to a bad reputation and censure. I don't think that this thread is about resentment about ambition, but about fair play and class. Her mercinary refusal to share honors demonstrates a lack of class.

swerve, it was within the rules as given by her school. Let's suppose she had an equally driven competitor; why didn't s/he resort to the same strategy? Why didn't the school issue regulations to prevent this kind of "unfair advantage" to happen? I say you resent the fact that she read the fineprint and planned beforehand. That is: she was smarter, even if she was unscrupulous.

Well, here is the other side of the question. Should Blair be rewarded for an unethical manipulation of the rules while the co-validictorian who followed the letter and the spirit of the rules be punished?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:00 PM on July 11, 2003


"-if it weren't for the plagiarism thing, I'd like her to get the 2.7 million"

I'd like to see anyone justify this remark.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:12 PM on July 11, 2003


Too many things to address one by one
Looks pretty "one by one" to me. Here, lemme try:

blair shouldn't be punished or resented for choosing the best for her out of already existing frameworks;
So if there's a hole in the system, exploit it. If you can cheat your way to the top and not get caught, you aren't really guilty. Bah, I say. Bah!

she didn't attend the phys. ed. classes because she was entitled to do that on account of a medical condition
As has been said already, she didn't attend the PE classes because it would have lowered her GPA to do so.

she sued because it's within her rights as a citizen.
Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Anyone can sue someone in this country, regardless if there is merit behind the choice. I guess if a large corporation tries to stifle competition from a small competitor by suing them over a bogus intellectual property infringement, and can intimidate them into subservience because they have a larger payroll of lawyers behind them, I suppose that's just "choosing the best" course of action in the existing "framework", too. Right?

It was the school who invented the co-valedictorian idea, wasn't it?
Lots of schools do it. The "game" was changed so Blair could save face in light of obvious cheating by sharing the glory. But her ego wouldn't allow for that, even after she'd already been accepted to Harvard; at that point, the title was merely for sake of ceremony.

my own personal opinion is that working out at a good gym is a much better alternative to playing basketball with a bunch of peanut-brained individuals.
Which is completely irrelevant. She had plenty of other physical activities in her life, anyway. The point is that all students were required to take the class, and thus "suffer" the lack of the weighted GPA. All students except Blair, who wanted the rules changed for her.

Everybody knows that sports-obsessed people are not the smartest demographics on earth
Smarter than trolls on internet message boards, that's for certain.

if it weren't for the plagiarism thing, I'd like her to get the 2.7 million
Why? Where was there any financial damage done? Why should the school, and subsequently the student body as a whole, be punished for her ego? $2.7 million can buy a lot of textbooks, pay quite a few teacher's salaries, etc.

there is, as this thread amply shows, a deeply rooted resentment against ambitious, aggressive social climbers.
No, there's a deeply rooted resentment towards people who try to cheat and get their just desserts. There's also a deeply rooted resentment towards litigeous rich people who think they can bully others into having thier own way. While we're at it, there's a deeply rooted resentment towards people who are wealthy and "successful" feeling a sense of entitlement to their position when it is based on guile and deceit.

these people, from Bill Gates to Blair, tend to be the real movers and shakers of society
I can't believe you could possibly compare these two people.

There is of course a third alternative, which would ally an ethical behavior with a legitimate ambition for improving yourself and the world.
A solution that clearly was beyond Blair, who would rather combine deception and underhandedness with an ego-maniacal ambition for improving nobody but herself.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:19 PM on July 11, 2003


111: Everybody knows that sports-obsessed people are not the smartest demographics on earth

Just a little bit of a generalization there. What is is that you have against sports enthusiasts? Is your attitude the result of some sort of mental self-defense mechanism you invented to keep bullies from getting to you in high school? If it is, let go and forgive. Even the meanest bullies probably eventually matured enough to realize the error of their ways. But until you can learn to be strong and forgive those bullies, the bullies inside you will be in control.
posted by crazy finger at 4:20 PM on July 11, 2003


quonsar, last time I checked "society" often stood for nazism, Britney Spears, Kangaroo Jack etc. The point is not how many people think this or that, but the nature of the question itself plus the honesty, knowledge and effort required to have a true opinion as opposed to following the herd and justifying your own prejudices and/or shortcomings.

Charles Bukowski once wrote that the masses are always wrong, but I wouldn't go that far-- they're simply often wrong or misinformed. Socrates died under circumstances not totally dissimilar to Blair Hornstine's own ordeal-- Blair obviously has a flawed character and no apparent genius, but the peer pressure, the surrounding mediocrity and the envy are the same. Also it's a mistake to take arrogance for candor. Not everybody is a sheep afraid to go against commonplace opinions. I respect people who dislike her, but I see through most of their claims and feel comfortable to denounce them for what they are.

JollyWanker, you're clearly rooting against her, but even if her illness was totally fake her school would have been an accomplice to her lie for failing to check the accuracy of her health claims.

KirkJobSluder, here's another question: should people be blamed for bad laws they didn't create in the first place? Should the rules of the game be altered because there's a feeling of unfairness?
posted by 111 at 4:26 PM on July 11, 2003


Cerberus- Really. No raging keggers in th local park and a near-miss by the local authorities? You missed out.
Really, though. Good for you. You *are* lucky.
posted by oflinkey at 4:26 PM on July 11, 2003


Let's stop talking about Blair Hornstine and instead talk about the worst things we did in High School. Oh my gosh- somebody else go first!
posted by crazy finger at 4:34 PM on July 11, 2003


Socrates died under circumstances not totally dissimilar to Blair Hornstine's own ordeal

You have been misinformed.

Socrates was put to death for two major reasons, (inciting the youth of Athens and irreverence to the Gods). Blair incited the youths of Morristown, but against her and in favor of authority. In other words, the opposite of Socrates. And Blair's religious background is irrelevant, much like the charges of irreverence in Socrates' case, which I guess is similar. And if you did even a cursory analysis of Athenian history during Socrates' time, you would realize that the Athenians were, in fact, right in putting Socrates to death. But perhaps you already know that, and are saying that Blair's punishment is similarly deserved.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:35 PM on July 11, 2003


Why isn't there AP Phys Ed? That would be an interesting class. I wonder what it would be comprised of?

Well, if traditional AP classes are supposed to simulate the rigors of freshman level college classes, then maybe AP PE would simulate the physical rigors of freshman year.

Binge drinking training, sleep depravation training - there are many, many important skills that motivated high school kids should be able to get a head start in.
posted by pitchblende at 4:37 PM on July 11, 2003


quonsar, last time I checked "society" often stood for nazism, Britney Spears, Kangaroo Jack etc.

so, you see blair as a mover and shaker amongst the nazis, britneys and kangaroo jacks? sheesh. why'n'cha just say so in the first place. glad to have you aboard!
posted by quonsar at 4:40 PM on July 11, 2003


er, sleep deprivation, that is. Although "sleep depravation" sounds like something that college freshman might engage in too.
posted by pitchblende at 4:41 PM on July 11, 2003


I have the perfect solution. Remove PE classes totally when figuring GPA.

I just cannot understand why being valedictorian was so stinking important. Was her self-esteem (or her parents') so wobbly that the world would come to and end if she didn't get it? I don't even remember who gave the speeches at my graduation.

I agree with the above poster-a trip overseas would be the ticket. If I were to choose the itinerary she would find her perspective changed dramatically...a slum in Bangkok, an AIDS orphanage in Romania, wartorn places where leftover land mines maim or kill little children...real life doesn't give a rat's hiney what one's gpa is.
posted by konolia at 4:50 PM on July 11, 2003


Civil, I won't even try to disprove the absurd assertion that the athenians were right in executing Socrates because I trust you'll be sober enough in the near future to realize how wrong you were.
Now

Socrates was put to death for two major reasons, (inciting the youth of Athens and irreverence to the Gods).

No! This is high school Socrates for dummies! Those reasons were only aspects of an overall social malaise re Socrates' open disregard/contempt of athenian democracy as it was and the athenian lawmaking process, his refusal to perform the common duties of a citizen, his disobedience of military injunctions (refusal to punish a soldier under his command) etc etc. While there are no ascertainable facts to name the main reason, it is known that he died because he looked beyond the surface of the laws of his time and place.
posted by 111 at 5:00 PM on July 11, 2003


Without passing judgement on Ms. Blair's actions, I wonder how many of us lead a life that can stand an all-out mass media investigation and emerge unharmed on the other side. On the top of that, how many of us led such a life during high school? I not even Christian, but at least I know one shouldn't be caught throwing stones on misguided teenagers even if one is a saint. Thinking of it, specially if one is a saint.
posted by nkyad at 5:07 PM on July 11, 2003


I propose a new tagline for MetaFilter.

MetaFilter
A Mob can be an Ugly Thing

;)
posted by Blue Stone at 5:13 PM on July 11, 2003


KirkJobSluder, here's another question: should people be blamed for bad laws they didn't create in the first place? Should the rules of the game be altered because there's a feeling of unfairness?

Hrm, who is blaiming her for a bad law? And what is the bad law here? Again, in my opinion the ultimate authority on how honors are defined and rewarded is the school system. Should not the school board as the democratic representative body of the the community in how the school is run get the final say in determining what is and what is not fair in awarding honors (as long as the school board is not breaking any laws in doing so)?

As I've said before, "rights" do not equate to "license". There are quite a few things in this world that are legal, but they are not necessarily either ethical or moral. In fact, I find your position to be on the side of overwhelming moral mediocrity rather than virtue. The notion that that this is a "game to be played" for maximum personal benefit while disregarding community and ethics indicates an extreme lack of class. There is also a basic consensus that the justice system should be used to right actual wrongs than as a weapon to attack others. In what way would Ms. Hornstein have been harmed by sharing honors with one other student?

But, in regards to the game of life, is not part of the game building a good reputation in your community?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:16 PM on July 11, 2003


Civil, I won't even try to disprove the absurd assertion that the athenians were right in executing Socrates because I trust you'll be sober enough in the near future to realize how wrong you were.

It's funny, because in one breath you say you won't try to disprove me, and in the next, that's exactly what you try and do.

It's even more funny because you do it by first insulting me (high school Socrates for dummies), when ironically I was dumbing down the argument for you, then you follow up your argument with this caveat: "While there are no ascertainable facts to name the main reason". As someone who spent several university years reading the very evidence you claim doesn't exist, I find this statement simply astounding.

Now I'm already risking a thread derailment on this, and I apologize to those reading this who would like to get back to the Blair bashing, but I am curious, 111, if you have anything more than a superficial knowledge of fifth century B.C. Athens. If you'd like a little help, do a quick Googling on the names "Alcibiades and Critias", cross reference it with "Socrates", then get back to me.

I realize the sad state of education these days allows only the most quick and perfunctory summary of historical and philosophical details, and you could be forgiven your ignorance if you weren't so damned arrogant about it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:35 PM on July 11, 2003


MetaFilter
A Mob can be an Ugly Thing


So she was just vollowing in her grandfosser's vootschtopps? VOOTSCHTOPPS, VOOTSCHTOPPS!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:06 PM on July 11, 2003


Wow. Now that she can't go to Harvard, she's really going to need that 2.7 Million.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:23 PM on July 11, 2003


matteo: I understand that the Blair Witch Project idea according to some appeared to have been lifted from another student movie, about a tv crew finding the Jersey Devil in the woods, or something.

The Last Broadcast is similar only in the basic frame of the story: film makers go into the woods and something mysterious and bad happens to them. If you follow the story to the end, you'll find that Broadcast is inspired, in a way, by Errol Morris's The Thin Blue Line.
posted by SPrintF at 6:36 PM on July 11, 2003


111: even if her illness was totally fake her school would have been an accomplice to her lie for failing to check the accuracy of her health claims.

Uh... Based on some the other less sensible things you've been saying in this thread, I don't think you're joking, are you? Let's say I'm right and Hornstine conspired with her parents and, presumably, her doctors to exaggerate her medical condition in order to pad her grades. Of what is the school system "guilty" in that scenario? Believing her, when she supplied the proverbial "note from her doctor"? That's hardly grounds for labeling the school "accomplices." Too bad your desperate need to exonerate Hornstine comes at the cost of a complete dismissal of common sense.
posted by JollyWanker at 7:03 PM on July 11, 2003


Do we know how the paper found out about the plagiarism?

The paper found out about the plagiarism when a freelancer was reading through her published articles while in the midst of writing an article about her and the brouhaha, and noticed that four paragraphs of one of President Clinton's Thanksgiving speeches made up the body of one of "her" essays.
posted by headspace at 7:18 PM on July 11, 2003


If you want to claim special rights because of an illness (i.e., the ability to not take gym) then you surrender your rights to be treated as equal.

I call bullshit. I'm disabled. Having the disability I have affords me a handicap parking permit. Which means I have a larger, closer parking space, so I can get my wheelchair in and out of my vehicle.

That's special treatment. Because of this, I shouldn't be treated as equal to an able bodied person?

As has been said already, she didn't attend the PE classes because it would have lowered her GPA to do so.

Prove it. Just because you think that's true doesn't mean it is so.

My mother has fibromyalgia. If you look at her, you would never know that she has this disease. Yet, there are days when she is wracked with pain and completely exhausted.

Not all disablities come with outward signs. Sure, you see me and my chair you know I'm disabled. Should my Mom have to wear a sign with her diagnosis so others will know she has it?
posted by SuzySmith at 7:27 PM on July 11, 2003


"As has been said already, she didn't attend the PE classes because it would have lowered her GPA to do so.

Prove it. Just because you think that's true doesn't mean it is so."

She left school with her illness during a semester when she was taking PE. They gave her an A even though she didnt finish the class. A = 4.0 GPA, she had well above that because of honors classes, so it would have brought her GPA down. Her dad bitched until the A was removed and changed to somethign that gave her credit for the class but did not affect her GPA.
posted by outsider at 7:33 PM on July 11, 2003


If she gets the $2.7 million she doesn't NEED to go to college. See you in Hawaii, Blair!
posted by wackybrit at 7:47 PM on July 11, 2003


Thank you, outsider. I think the fact that she wanted the free "A" removed from her transcript is pretty damning. I guess some people just love living in the dark, no matter how much light you shine in their eyes.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:08 PM on July 11, 2003


Not all disablities come with outward signs

Not at all, but when you claim that you cannot perform 60-odd hours of PE in school and then go on to perform 200 hours of PE on your own to get a presidential medal, that starts to look suspicious. I imagine their could be medical circumstances where this can happen, but it certainly appears odd.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:20 PM on July 11, 2003


Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well we all shine on
Ev’ryone come on
posted by McBain at 11:16 PM on July 11, 2003


I think it's fair to say that 111 is one of those people that does his best to disagree with 99% of the population on 99% of the issues be he thinks it makes him a martyr for causes that, judging from what's been on display here, aren't even passably comprable to the past events he tries to pass them off as. I don't even see the point of attempting to refute an argument as weakly stated as the above comparison to Socrates. People disagreed with what both of them did, so they're somehow similar? Is Mike Tyson also fighting the good fight, raging against the anti-violence, anti-rape laws that the general populace--that barbaric, idiotic, shameless mass--has seen fit to pass?

I'm tempted to think you're just having a lark at the expense of people posting in this thread. And if you're not, well, good luck with all that.
posted by The God Complex at 3:45 AM on July 12, 2003


Nor did I game the system in order to get higher grades. Nor did I sue the school for not treating me the way I felt I deserved.

[Hits self on head] I can remember joking in HS that my B in phys. ed. pulled my GPA down. Who knew that instead of joking, I was supposed to sue because I ended up *only* cum laude and *that* ruined my life?

As umpty-jillion others have said, we all learn the hard way about sowing/reaping. That is, if we're at least perceptive enough to eventually learn that lesson. So many are not, including evidently Daddy H.

His daughter is at a major turning point in her life. Will she allow this to make her bitter and (more) selfish? Or will it be an eye-opening, thought-provoking revelation.

Everybody knows that sports-obsessed people are not the smartest demographics on earth ...

Er, just a few examples from some of the sports I follow:
*Tenley Albright, Olympic figureskating champion, M.D.
*Dick Button, two-time Olympic champion, Harvard law
*Jenny Thompson, multi-Olympic gold medalist swimmer, studying medicine at Columbia
*Sarah Hughes, Olympic champion, enrolling in Yale pre-med ...

Yeah, what a bunch of "maroons."
posted by NorthernLite at 6:42 AM on July 12, 2003


I'm sorry to tell you that you're all missing the point!

The point is...

[Uh, well, what is it, exactly?]
posted by PigAlien at 8:50 AM on July 12, 2003


Oh yeah, my point.

I'm lame because I can't think of anything important to say.

[I think you've said it all for me. Just wanted to say something after reading every one of the 100+ fascinating comments.]
posted by PigAlien at 8:52 AM on July 12, 2003


Oh, and thanks, Northernlight!
posted by PigAlien at 8:54 AM on July 12, 2003


Yeah, what a bunch of "maroons."

Let me add to the list:

Debi Thomas -- Bronze medal figure skating 1988, Stanford engineering 1991, Northwestern MD 1997, and astronaut training. You should have caught this one, NorthernLite.

And don't forget Bill Bradley -- college and pro basketball player, Rhodes scholar, and Senator.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:07 AM on July 12, 2003


I plagiarized in high school. I had good SAT scores, took challenging AP classes, attended one of the best public schools in the country, and somehow I didn't realize what I was doing was wrong. I didn't copy anything verbatim, but on a senior AP Literature paper I got a lot of ideas from uncited sources.

When my teacher had me stay after class after she had graded all of the papers, I received my first lesson on "plagiarism is wrong," a concept that seems extremely obvious to me now, but that I honestly had missed up to that point. Rather than flunk me -- the school's official policy -- she allowed me to re-do the paper and knocked off some points.

Until then, I had no idea that not citing sources was tantamount to cheating. I'm pretty sure I was not alone.

The lesson stuck. In college we had mandatory seminars and had to sign statements that we would not plagiarize. Now I'm a journalist and very much aware about the ethical importance of citation and attribution. But even very smart kids can miss important life lessons at key moments.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 11:22 AM on July 12, 2003


And Amy Chow, two-time Olympic gymnast (1996 and 2000), now in medical school at Stanford.
posted by swerve at 11:47 AM on July 12, 2003


Oh, I was going to mention D. Thomas, along with Paul Wylie, Olympic silver medalist and Harvard MBA. But that's the point -- the list of high-achieving athlete-students could go on for quite a bit. (Mark Spitz the dentist, Eric Heiden the orth doc ...) The trend seems particularly true when it comes to Olympic athletes.

But by mentioning Bradley you ruined the snarky remark I was going to add about NBA players . :)
posted by NorthernLite at 2:01 PM on July 12, 2003


It doesn't really surprise me that you see high-level athletes who are smart cookies. For a lot of sports, really excelling (being world-class, not being high-school quarterback) is going to require not inconsiderable raw brainpower, even if it won't necessarily require you to be articulate or generally well-educated*. Couple a good brain with the off-the-chart levels of drive you also need to excel, and it's really no shock to see ex-athletes doing smart-people stuff.

*ie, even if they're not book-smart or school-smart, excelling at sport often requires you to be smart in other ways (situational awareness, information processing, etc) -- even if you aren't necessarily book-smart or school-smart, world-class sport draws people who
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:46 PM on July 12, 2003




Until then, I had no idea that not citing sources was tantamount to cheating. I'm pretty sure I was not alone.

but did you realize that directly lifting multiple paragraphs from other sources and using your name as the byline was tantamount to cheating? Hornstine attempted damage control by stating that she didn't realize she ought to have made "citations" but the actual articles she wrote were simply copied from other people's speeches.

strangely, all the links that originally went to the newsday story that compared hornstine's words to those of the original sources seem to be blank now. But I read them a couple weeks ago when they were first printed, and this was no case of "being inspired" or even "stealing ideas" - this was plain and simple copying what someone else wrote and stating that you wrote it. That's lying; that's stealing; you don't have to know fancy words like "plagiarism" [which anyone with a 1570 sat does know, anyway, but whatever] to know that it's wrong.
posted by mdn at 3:28 PM on July 12, 2003


McBain, I think the more fitting Lennon lyric to quote here is:

Instant Karma's gonna get you,
Gonna hit you right in the face.
Better get yourself together, darlin',
And join the human race.


A few months perhaps isn't INSTANT karma... but it's close enough for me.
posted by Shoeburyness at 4:31 PM on July 12, 2003


The shine on bit is from Instant Karma, I just realized. Please excuse my momentary dumb-assedness.
posted by Shoeburyness at 4:40 PM on July 12, 2003


mdn: examples of Hornstine's plagiarism
posted by swerve at 5:14 PM on July 12, 2003


Meanwhile, in the real world, plagiarism can warrant punishments as severe as a reprimand from an employer.
posted by transona5 at 6:06 PM on July 12, 2003


I'm wondering how many more Hornstine posts there will be. I'm thinking there'll be at least one on the progress and outcome of her lawsuit, and at least one on what Blair does next year. Must admit I'll be clicking on each and every one. Call it morbid fascination, call it what you will...

I'm imagining Blair doing some googling and finding the MetaFilter threads on her, and quite possibly reading some of our comments. Perhaps she'll learn something. Or maybe she'll just do 111 the honour of lifting from his
comments for her press releases.
posted by orange swan at 9:27 PM on July 12, 2003


Actually, at this point, I am hoping that Blair's life will take a positive turn. I believe that her story has much in common with classical Greek tragedy. To whit:

- A member of the upper class wants something.
- They ignore popular morality to get that thing, drawing the wrath of the gods'.
- They get the thing, but are not able to enjoy it.
- As a result of getting the thing they wanted, they lose something more valuable.

Consider Sophocles' Oedipus. He is King of Thebes (or something) and believes he can solve any problem. He tries to discover why his city is suffering from plague, despite warnings that his seeking the answer will have dire repercussions for him. He solves the problem, but discovers that he is the source of the plague. His wife kills herself and he blinds himself.

Blair's story smacks of this structure, at least as it has been reported in the press. All the story lacks is the recognition/reversal moment, where she cries out, "I have been a fool" or some such, though that might just be a moment that has not been reported.

Anyhow, once I steal her life story and turn it into a thinly veiled biographical screenplay, I'm going to make 2.7 million dollars.

I hope that this experience ultimately turns her into a great (and, in the long run, happy) human being.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:27 PM on July 12, 2003


i hope she ends up at rutgers. we have a grand tradition of fostering academic excellence while inspiring young adults to mature and explore new personal and vocational options.

see asia carrera (nsfw).
posted by ronv at 3:39 AM on July 13, 2003


The double standard itself is glaring when the truth about throngs of mediocre cut-and-paste students from high-schools worldwide is quite obvious and when the fact that Bob Dylan shamelessly stole from a japanese author is given a mild, tolerant reception.

Oh, if there's an original thought out there, I could use it right now.
posted by y2karl at 8:59 AM on July 16, 2003




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