While the AP and other stories are calling Bryan LeBeau’s letter on HistoryNetwork and consequent interviews an admission of guilt, it is only half so. Yes, he admits copying, but only quotes — as in “I don’t recall where I got Cornel’s quotes. As they were just quotes, I suspect he was quoted somewhere, and I clipped them.” Not exactly random quotes. See for yourself. West here. LeBeau here.
Then there is the introduction given by LeBeau taken from Russell Baker as yet unacknowledged.
LeBeau also attempts to change his misdeed by removing the publication aspect of his theft. Although all of his Dean’s Newsletters are on the net, he claims to be uninformed that they are and have been for several years.
I do believe that LeBeau is sorry, but while he owns up to having done something “stupid,” he has not confessed to having done wrong. There is a difference. Searching for excuses is not the same as coming clean as anyone who has attended Confession should have learned.
Yet there are consequences, the Kansas City Star reports:
The dean, Bryan LeBeau, also said he has withdrawn from consideration to be executive vice president at DePaul University, a job for which he was a finalist, in the wake of news reports about the similarities.
But this is not tragic. Sadly, it is pathetic.
To quote Cornel West (or to quote LeBeau as he quotes West without acknowledgement):
We ought not to confuse the tragic with the pathetic. The tragic is about the exploration of human possibilities for freedom.
Ralph Luker writing on the Cliopatria History News Network has a more detailed and, I would admit and confess but not decry, a smarter and more complete take on the LeBeau borrowings.