A graduate student plagiarized a paper and I caught her. Plagiarism comes up at least once every semester but I really didn't expect it to happen in my graduate seminar. The student in question is not only older than me, she is a teacher herself. And she didn't even plagiarize a respectable critical source. She copy-pasted some really dumb crap from a silly website.
The most annoying thing to me isn't even that she plagiarized but rather the way she chose to handle the situation. If a student comes up to me and says: "I'm sorry, I messed up. It won't happen again", I can respect that and let the situation go. This grad student, though, didn't do this. Instead, she subjected me to a 20-minute-long bout of weeping, chest stumping, and convoluted explanations about how her life is extremely difficult, and she has to drive for an hour to get to class, and it wasn't really cheating, and it's all somehow my fault anyways. By that time, I had been at work for exactly 10 hours and 15 minutes and felt completely exhausted. My students know how difficult my Monday schedule is for me. Nevertheless, the plagiarizing student decided it was a good idea to expose me to her immature tantrum when she was the one to blame for the situation. While she was doing the weeping thing, I repeated several times that I'm ready to move on and forget this ever happened, as long as she agreed not to plagiarize again. In response, she would begin yet another round of endless, hysterical excuses and explanations of how I was to blame for her cheating.
The truly ironic thing is that during that class session we talked about how late the concept of childhood appeared in our Western civilization. We discussed how nowadays people take forever to grow up, mature, and start taking responsibility for their lives and how none of this would have been possible for the people of the XVI and the XVII centuries (which is the time period we are covering in this course.) Of course, it's great that today we cherish childhood in a way that people of the Golden Age Spain couldn't imagine. Still, we often go too far in our support of personal immaturity that many people choose to practice well into their forties. As a result, there are crowds of people who are simply incapable of taking responsibility for their own lives. Get caught plagiarizing? Well, your teacher must be somehow to blame. Get into crushing debt because it's impossible for you to live on some puny $200,000 per year? Blame the society that made you do it.
When the number of immature middle-aged people reaches critical mass, we get a society where people elect a bumbling, illiterate fool to be President because they would prefer him as a drinking buddy over his opponent. We get a society where bankers and lenders destroy the economy because of their incapacity to look one step ahead. We get a society where voters from economically blighted areas consistently vote for the political party that is the most likely to rob them blind.