A cribber and a fibber
A case of plagiarism by Robert Manne
In 2005 Robert Manne edited a collection of his political essays entitled Left Right Left . It is a large book of 38 works, ranging from those published as long ago as 1977 to as recently as 2005. The turning point within them, Manne says, is the year 1995, roughly the time when he switched his allegiances from the political Right to the Left. Many of the essays published before that year, he says in the preface, involved arguments with the Left; after 1995 many involved arguments with the Right.
One essay called “A Case for Censorship” was originally published in Quadrant in September 1993 when Manne was the journal's editor. It is both a lament about the ready availability of sexually explicit and sexually violent pornography plus a critique of the ideology of the liberal intelligentsia of the 1960s that allowed this to happen. It is also a review of evidence presented by academic and police sources that point to the degree of harm caused by pornography, both to consumers of this material themselves and to the victims of sexual offenders and murderers whose consumption of pornography fuelled their behaviour.
I sympathise with the position Manne argues in this piece. He makes a strong case that much pornography is socially and individually damaging, that it fosters misogyny and pederasty, and that anti-censorship intellectuals, rather than defending freedom from a censorious puritanism, are simply helping the porn industry generate fortunes from degrading sleaze.
It is a pity, therefore, to have to report that Manne has spoilt his case by indulging in an entirely different vice of his own. For his essay abounds in the academic sin of plagiarism. Manne plagiarises not inadvertently, just once or twice, but several times throughout the essay. It is integral to the very way he makes his case about the social damage caused by pornography. In this work, plagiarism becomes his modus operandi .
Manne is a professor of politics at La Trobe University, an institution that has a powerful set of regulations about academic misconduct. La Trobe requires its academic staff and students “to observe the highest ethical standards in all aspects of academic work”. The university says it will enforce these values “by penalising academic dishonesty and all forms of cheating”. The very first type of cheating and dishonesty defined by the regulations is plagiarism. It identifies five examples, including copying extracts from someone else without proper acknowledgement and passing off the assignments of others as one's own. The regulations specifically identify two kinds of plagiarism that can be found in “A Case for Censorship”. They are:
1.2 (b) paraphrasing someone else's words without acknowledging the source;
1.2 (c) using facts and information from a source without acknowledging it. 
La Trobe is not, of course, the only academic institution to publish a code of academic misconduct. They are mandatory for all public and accredited institutions of higher education. Plagiarism is a common offence in all codes, though some go to greater lengths than others to spell out what they mean. The University of Melbourne's Policy and Procedures for Responding to Academic Misconduct provide the following advice:
3. Secondary citation
When you want to use a quotation that another author has used, you should locate and read the original source of the quotation for yourself. Using the quote and copying the second author's footnote reference without either checking the original source for yourself or acknowledging the second author is technically plagiarism.
If you cannot locate the original text for some reason (eg the original source is not available in the library or on-line), then your footnotes must acknowledge that you are relying on the second author's recording of the quote. 
Manne's essay clearly breaches this rule of conduct too. Rather than doing as much research into the original sources as he led his readers to believe, Manne lifted the findings of several primary research projects from two secondary works on the topic in a way that the above university policies prescribe as unethical.
There are at least six examples of plagiarism in “A Case for Censorship”. They were submitted to Quadrant by a Melbourne informant who chooses not to be named. I have double-checked his work in all the available sources cited by both him and Manne, and can confirm the points he makes are accurate. Although Quadrant does not usually publish notes with articles, we are breaking the rule in this case and including endnotes since they are essential to establishing the case. What follows is my informant's findings and commentary:
1. “Pornography once existed on the margins of society. It is now a huge mainstream business. In 1985 Harper 's magazine estimated that it was larger than the film and record industries combined, grossing some $8 billion in the USA annually.” (Manne, “A Case for Censorship”, page 48) 
Harper ' s magazine published no articles on pornography in 1985 other than letters to the editor and a one-page essay by Alan Dershowitz, none of which cited any $8 billion figure or made any comparison with film and record earnings.  A Harper's article, “The Place of Pornography”, in November 1984 said “porn has exploded into a $7 billion a year industry” but, again, made no comparison with the film and record industries. 
In the 1992 book Pornography: Women, Violence & Civil Liberties edited by Catherine Itzin, which Manne mentions later in his essay, however, the very first sentence of chapter one reads:
In the USA in 1984 the pornography industry grossed $8 billion said to be more than the music and the movie industry combined. 
Itzin provided two notes for two separate assertions. The first of her notes, for the “$8 billion” figure, cites “The Place of Pornography” from Harper's , misdating it to 1985, together with a misprinted cross-reference.  Her second note, for the comparison with music and movie earnings, cites a different source entirely: “Van E. White, ‘Pornography and Pride', Essence , September 1984, p. 186.”  Manne ignores this second note, attributing both the “$8 billion” and “music and movie industry” assertions to Harper's alone, and he repeats Itzin's “$8 billion” error and her misprinted date “1985” for the Harper's reference. He obviously relied on her book here, without acknowledgment and without consulting Harper's for himself.
2. “A number of detailed analyses have been made in the US, Britain and Canada. In a recent study, for example, of thirteen ‘adult' stores in four major American cities, one quarter of the more than 5,000 books, magazines and films that were sampled involved one or another form of sexual violence — sado-masochism, whipping or ‘fisting'; 10 per cent involved ‘pseudo-child' pornography, with young women dressed as children or with pubic hair shaved.” 
Manne is implying (by omission) that he has read that “recent study” but is in fact again cribbing from Itzin, who wrote:
In 1985 and 1986 in the USA a survey of 5,132 books, magazines and films was carried out in four American cities (New York, Washington, DC, Baltimore and Boston), based on a random sample sold in thirteen adult book stores.
Sado-masochistic images were depicted in 11.6 per cent of the total. In addition to the sado-masochism, a further 12.7 per cent depicted violence such as bondage, spanking, whipping and ‘fisting'. A quarter of the covers therefore depicted violence.
Nearly 10 per cent depicted ‘pseudo-child pornography' — adult models portrayed to look like children 
Manne paraphrases this too without acknowledgment, again without having examined the primary source.
We know that Manne did not consult the original study (readily available though it was: Park Elliott Dietz and Alan E Sears, “Pornography and Obscenity Sold in ‘Adult Bookstores': A Survey of 5132 Books, Magazines, and Films in Four American Cities” (1987), 21 University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 7) again because of mistakes made by Itzin that he mindlessly repeats. Itzin's claim that “[a] quarter of the covers therefore depicted violence” is the obvious result of adding 11.6 per cent to 12.7 per cent, but is flatly wrong, because the 11.6 per cent figure forms a component of the 12.7 per cent total to which she adds it.  By adding them together Itzin counts the 11.6 per cent figure twice, nearly doubling the relevant result: only 12.7 per cent of the 5132 items in the study actually featured sexual violence,  a finding that its authors restate in their conclusion. 
Only 5.3 per cent of the items in the study contained what Manne defines as “pseudo-child pornography”  — the study itself uses this term more narrowly, to mean only the “childlike clothing or photographed amid childlike props or settings” material,  which accounts for 3.7 per cent of the items.  On either definition Itzin is again flatly wrong in calling this result “[n]early 10 per cent”. 
Anyone who had looked at the study for himself would have spotted the correct figures within minutes. Repeating both of these howlers of Itzin's, Manne is obviously relying on her account of the study and not the original.
3. “Polly Toynbee was a member of Professor Bernard Williams' commission into pornography, conducted in Britain in 1979. This was how she described what she witnessed: ‘Cannibalism, flaying, the crushing of breasts in vices, exploding vaginas packed with hand grenades, eyes gouged out, beatings, dismemberings, burnings, multiple rape and every other horror that could befall the human body.' After viewing such material she concluded, along with the other committee members, that pornography did no harm!” 
Here is the uncited Itzin on the first two pages of her book's introduction:
My interest in pornography dates from an article by Polly Toynbee published in the Guardian on 30 October 1981, describing what she had seen as a member of the Williams Committee on Obscenity and Film Censorship. “These included scenes of castration, cannibalism, flaying, the crushing of breasts in vices, exploding vaginas packed with hand grenades, eyes gouged out, beatings, dismembering, burnings, multiple rape and every other horror that could befall the human body.” She had also witnessed “women engaged in sexual intercourse with pigs and dogs” and heard of women killed on screen in snuff movies. However, she, together with the other members of the Williams Committee, concluded that there was no evidence that pornography harmed people, 
Note that Manne rounds off one of the same quotations from Toynbee in truncated form with an ironic observation strikingly similar to Itzin's:
she concluded, along with the other committee members, that pornography did no harm! (Manne)
she, together with the other members of the Williams Committee, concluded that there was no evidence that pornography harmed people, (Itzin)
Note also Manne's duplication of the pointed word ‘witnessed' as used by Itzin.
Further evidence of copying is, once again, the errors that Itzin makes and Manne repeats. In the quotation from Toynbee that Manne also uses, Itzin makes three transcription errors. Toynbee actually wrote:
These included scenes of castration, cannibalism, flaying, the crushing of breasts in vices, exploding vaginas packed with hand grenades, eyes gouged out, beatings, dismemberings, burnings, multiple rape, and any and every other horror that could ever befall the human body.  [emphases added]
Itzin omits the words that I have put in bold, and so does Manne.
Against this I should point out that Manne appears to correct Itzin on one other word. Toynbee wrote ‘dismemberings'. Itzin misquotes this as “dismembering” but Manne gets the original word right, so there is evidence both for and against him here that needs to be weighed.
Alteration of Itzin's singular “dismembering” (surrounded by other plural gerunds) to the plural “dismemberings” I can readily believe to have been an unconsciously corrective “error” by Manne of the kind that the human mind is occasionally capable of. The two errors of omission that he has in common with Itzin in contrast strike me as being practically impossible to explain unless we conclude, as the other similarities suggest, that he copied Itzin's version despite implicitly citing Toynbee as his source.
4. “According to one study of thirty-six serial killers in the USA , conducted by the FBI, ‘twenty-nine were attracted to pornography and incorporated it into their sexual activity which included serial rape-murder'.” 
Manne's implied source for his direct quotation here is the FBI study itself (published with other material as Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives by Robert K Ressler et al, Lexington Books, 1988). But he is in fact quoting and paraphrasing an account of the study given by Franklin Mark Osanka and Sara Lee Johann in their Sourcebook on Pornography :
In fact, a study of thirty-six serial killers by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) revealed that twenty-nine were attracted to pornography and incorporated it into their sexual activity, which included serial rape-murder. 
Manne yet again repeats the mistakes of his unacknowledged source. It was a study of 36 sexual killers not serial killers, seven of whom had killed only one victim.  It says that pornography was listed as a sexual interest by 25 out of 31 respondents, not 29 out of 36 (which still made it the highest-ranking sexual interest).  No figure for incorporation of pornography into the subjects' sexual activity and crimes appears in it anywhere. As before, the mistakes confirm that Manne hadn't seen the original study when he implicitly cited it.
5. “According to another study, of more than 35,000 sexual offenders, conducted by the Michigan police, ‘in 41 per cent of all sexual assault cases, pornography was involved just prior to … or during the act'.” 
Manne is again obviously relying here (again without saying so) on the authors of Sourcebook on Pornography , who wrote:
As of May 1979, there were between thirty-five thousand and thirty-eight thousand such cases in the computer. According to a report by Detective Lieutenant Darrell Pope, head of the Michigan State Police Investigative Resources Unit on May 1, 1979, “… in 41 percent of all sexual assault cases, pornography was involved just prior to the act or during the act.” 
The citation in Sourcebook on Pornography — “Darrell Pope, ‘Does Pornographic Literature Incite Sexual Assaults?' Memorandum to the Western Michigan Committee for Decency in Media, 1 May 1979, 1–13, 5”  — indicates that this report was unpublished. Manne is highly unlikely to have seen it for himself: the Michigan State Police were unable to find a copy after years of trying and have declared “that no such study was ever conducted.”  (I owe these last two facts originally to Irene Graham's libertus.net website.)
Even Manne now knows better than to cite it. A few days after he renewed his arguments for censorship in a newspaper article for The Australian in January 1997,  a letter from Robert Swan of the Eros Foundation pointed out that the Michigan study had been declared non-existent by the Michigan State Police and challenged Manne to say “where he referenced this research and how much of the rest of his rant was as spurious as this piece.”  Harsh words, of course, but they raised a valid question, and although Manne wrote a follow-up article in withering reply to his critics, he had no answer there for Mr Swan. 
In the 2005 version of “A Case for Censorship” in Manne's Left Right Left , all reference to the Michigan police study has been quietly dropped  — after a preface in which Manne piously assures the reader that no face-saving changes have been made to the essays that Left Right Left reprints:
Despite considerable temptation, no essay has been edited in such a way that its original meaning has been made more agreeable to my present self. There are one or two sentences in this book that make me wince. The only form of editing that has taken place is the removal of passages that summarise or repeat material found elsewhere in this volume. 
(So he's a fibber as well as a cribber.)
Manne mentions both Sourcebook on Pornography and Itzin's book by name in his article, but for other reasons, not for any of the items I have quoted here. His occasional specific references to these two books to my mind only make his covert reliance on them the more problematic, and in the version of the article that appears in Left Right Left  even some of this acknowledgment is omitted. Relied upon and paraphrased there more than once, Sourcebook on Pornography is not mentioned in the Left Right Left version of “A Case for Censorship” at all.
6. “And according to yet another study, conducted by the Chicago police, pornography was incorporated, in one way or another, in almost 100 per cent of the paedophilia cases they dealt with.” 
I have not been able to locate Manne's Chicago police study either. The only citation I have found for this supposed item is provided by a Lydia W Lee writing in the Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal , who mentions it and refers the reader to our old friend (and Manne's older friend) Catherine Itzin's Pornography .  The contributing author we are directed to there, Tim Tate, himself gives no citation for it.  (The copyright notice for Tate's chapter says it “is condensed from a full-length study” ; for the record, Tate's full-length book makes no mention of this Chicago police study. ) 
* * *
Our Melbourne informant concluded his investigation by observing that more serious than the plagiarism of Manne's article was the shabby undergraduate pretence that he displayed in it, relying again and again on a pair of secondary works while affecting a scholar's familiarity with the primary sources. Here was someone who hardly seemed to care whether the claims that he repeated were true or not, provided they suited his argument.
As current editor of Quadrant , I should declare an interest in publishing the above material and commentary. As some readers will be aware, Robert Manne accused me of plagiarism in 2002 in my book The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Volume One . He said I had lifted text from the American anthropologist Robert Edgerton's 1992 book Sick Societies . Manne produced a side-by-side list of quotations from both books showing their apparent similarity and drawing the inference that, since Edgerton had published first, I had copied directly from him.
He gave his list to a journalist on The Age , Misha Ketchell, who made it a page one story on December 16, 2002. At the time, plagiarism was a very newsworthy topic since in July that year the Vice-Chancellor of Monash University, Professor David Robinson, had been forced to resign after revelations he had plagiarised text for two books he had published in Britain. Manne was obviously hoping to destroy me in a similar fashion.
Unfortunately for him, he failed. I had not plagiarised Edgerton. In the passages in question, I was paraphrasing the writings of two Australian anthropologists Ling Roth and Rhys Jones with open and fully-acknowledged citations of their work. Edgerton had done the same in his own book, hence the similarity of our texts. Edgerton himself agreed I had not plagiarised him. When The Australian newspaper contacted him at the University of California , Los Angeles , Edgerton said: “I do not regard Windschuttle's work as plagiarism and do not believe that he needed to cite me more than he did.” 
In half the examples in his list, Manne did not faithfully reproduce either my text or Edgerton's. Instead, he either cut or creatively stitched together various phrases and half sentences of mine, all heavily punctuated by ellipses, to make it appear as if my text was the same as Edgerton's. A full account of this incident, together with the complete text of all the relevant passages, is reproduced on my website The Sydney Line .  In his 2003 book The Electronic Whorehouse , Paul Sheehan wrote a chapter on this whole business highly critical of Manne's tactics.
Hence, the publication of these revelations about Manne's own practices does satisfy one's sense of poetic justice. Nonetheless, I do not think he should suffer the fate of David Robinson and be forced by the university to resign. Indeed, Robinson himself should not have been treated as he was. There are very few cases where plagiarism should be a sacking offence for a university teacher.
As I write, there is a campaign underway by disgruntled former staff, aided and abetted by the Sydney Morning Herald , to force the dismissal of the Dean of the Conservatorium of Music at the University of Sydney , Kim Walker, over allegations of plagiarism.  Such charges are increasingly used today as the continuation of academic politics by other means.
In fact, there would be few members of the academic or media commentariat who have not at some stage in their careers been carelessly guilty of this offence, which their opponents could potentially use against them. For the same ends, allegations of bullying and sexual harassment have long been exaggerated in the bureaucracies of the education system, the public service and the corporate world.
Nonetheless, while it would be objectionable on grounds of academic freedom for any professor to be summarily dismissed for failings of Manne's kind, it is difficult to see how in the future he can look his students squarely in the eyes. How can he instruct them in the art of political essay writing, when he is forced to tell them: do as I say, not as I do?
1. La Trobe University, ‘Academic Policies: Academic Misconduct', www.latrobe.edu.au/policies/assets/downloads/academic_misconduct.pdf, at 15 October 2005
2. ‘ Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Avoid It ' , www.law.unimelb.edu.au/grads/Procedures/PlagiarismGuide2004.doc, at 10 March 2008, p 4. [italics in original]
3. Robert Manne, ‘A Case for Censorship', Quadrant , September 1993, 48.
4. Hugh M Hefner et al, ‘Letters: Pornography and Its Discontents', Harper's , February 1985, 4–6, 73–6; Alan Dershowitz, ‘Partners Against Porn', Harper's , May 1985, 22.
5. Lewis H Lapham (moderator), ‘The Place of Pornography', Harper ' s , November 1984, 31–45, 31.
6. Catherine Itzin, ‘‘Entertainment for Men': What It Is and What It Means', 27–53 in Catherine Itzin (ed), Pornography: Women, Violence & Civil Liberties , Oxford University Press, 1992, 27.
7. Ibid 52, n 1; the cross-reference to ‘note 39, Chapter 21' should read ‘note 39, Chapter 23.'
8. Ibid 52, n 2.
9. Manne, ‘A Case for Censorship', 48.
10. Itzin, ‘‘ Entertainment for Men'', 35, 38.
11. Park Elliott Dietz and Alan E Sears, ‘Pornography and Obscenity Sold in “Adult Bookstores”: A Survey of 5132 Books, Magazines, and Films in Four American Cities' (1987), 21 University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 7, 24.
13. Ibid 39.
14. Ibid 20.
15. Ibid 28.
16. Ibid 20.
17. Itzin, ‘‘ Entertainment for Men'', 38.
18. Manne, ‘A Case for Censorship', 48.
19. Catherine Itzin, ‘ Introduction: Fact, Fiction and Faction ' , 1 – 24 in Itzin (ed), Pornography , 1 – 2.
20. Polly Toynbee, ‘The Williams Committee worked hard. We giggled, and even blushed a bit. Who wouldn't? But now does anyone really care what we decided?', The Guardian , 30 October 1981, 9.
21. Manne, ‘A Case for Censorship', 49.
22. Franklin Mark Osanka and Sara Lee Johann, Sourcebook on Pornography , Lexington Books, 1989, 81.
23. Robert K Ressler et al, Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives , Lexington Books, 1988, x.
24. Ibid 25.
25. Manne, ‘A Case for Censorship', 49.
26. Osanka and Johann, Sourcebook on Pornography , 81.
27. Ibid 122, n 6.
28. Letter from Michigan State Police D/Sergeant David Minzey tabled in Federal Parliament: Commonwealth of Australia, Parliamentary Debates , Senate, 20 August 1992, 399–400, 400 (Alice Zakharov).
29. Robert Manne, ‘Liberals deny the video link', The Australian , 6 January 1997, 11.
30. Robert Swan, Letter to the Editor, The Australian , 9 January 1997, 10.
31. Robert Manne, ‘Evidence demands a tenacious stand on censorship', The Australian , 13 January 1997, 11.
32. Robert Manne, Left Right Left , Schwartz Publishing, 2005, 137.
33. Ibid x.
34. Manne, Left Right Left , 132–40.
35. Manne, ‘A Case for Censorship', 49.
36. Lydia W Lee, ‘Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996: Confronting the Challenges of Virtual Reality' (1998) 8 Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal 639, 655.
37. Tim Tate, ‘ The Child Pornography Industry: International Trade in Child Sexual Abuse ' , 203–16 in Itzin (ed), Pornography , 207.
38. Itzin (ed), Pornography , 638.
39. Tim Tate, Child Pornography: An Investigation , Methuen , 1990.
40. The Australian , 21-22 December, 2002, 8
42. Sydney Morning Herald , 15 April 2008, 3