That Time Rachel Maddow Caught Rand Paul Plagiarizing Gattaca's Wikipedia Page

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 29 2013 10:52 AM

Rachel Maddow Catches Rand Paul Plagiarizing Gattaca's Wikipedia Page

During a Monday rally for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, Rand Paul took to the stage and dropped some 1990s movie knowledge, using the plot of Gattaca to paint a bleak future where a combination of abortion and scientific breakthroughs lead to the practice of eugenics.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

One problem (other than the obvious issue that he doesn't seem to have mentioned how awesome that movie is!): The Kentucky senator appears to have lifted his description almost verbatim from the movie's Wikipedia page. MNSBC's Rachel Maddow flagged the apparent plagiarism last night. Here are the relevant passages:


1) Rand Paul: “In the movie Gattaca––in the not-too-distant future, eugenics is common. And DNA plays a primary role in determining your social class.”

Wikipedia: “In the not-too-distant future, liberal eugenics is common and DNA plays the primary role in determining social class.”

*** *** ***

2) Rand Paul: “Due to frequent screenings, Vincent faces genetic discrimination and prejudice. The only way to achieve his dream of being an astronaut is he has to become what’s called a ‘borrowed ladder.’”

Wikipedia: “Due to frequent screening, Vincent faces genetic discrimination and prejudice. The only way he can achieve his dream of becoming an astronaut is to become a ‘borrowed ladder.’”

*** *** ***

3) Rand Paul: "He assumes the identity of a Jerome Marrow, a world-class swimming star whose genetic profile is said to be 'second to none,' but he's been paralyzed in a car accident..."

Wikipedia: "He assumes the identity of Jerome Eugene Marrow, a former swimming star with a genetic profile 'second to none,' who had been injured in a car accident..."

*** *** ***

4) Rand Paul: "Jerome 'buys' his identity, uses his DNA—his blood, his hair, his tissue, his urine—to pass the screening."

Wikipedia: "Vincent 'buys' Jerome's identity and uses his 'valid' DNA in blood, hair, tissue, and urine samples to pass screening."

Maddow's staff reached out to Paul's office for an explanation, but didn't hear back. For what it's worth, Buzzfeed's Andrew Kaczynski was quick to show that Gattaca's Wikipedia page had not been changed between Paul's appearance in Virginia and when Maddow went on the air last night. Watch the full Maddow segment here.

***Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.***

This post has been updated.


Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
Sept. 23 2014 12:43 PM Occupy Wall Street How can Hillary Clinton be both a limousine liberal and a Saul Alinsky radical?
Sept. 23 2014 12:36 PM Krispy Kreme Stuffed Half a Million Calories into One Box of Doughnuts
The Eye
Sept. 23 2014 11:33 AM High-Concept Stuff Designed to Remind People That They Don’t Need Stuff  
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 11:13 AM Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 11:48 AM Punky Brewster, the Feminist Punk Icon Who Wasn’t
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 10:51 AM Is Apple Picking a Fight With the U.S. Government? Not exactly.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 11:00 AM Google Exec: Climate Change Deniers Are “Just Literally Lying”
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.