But what if she had been deaf and blind?
That was a question raised in a discussion at Metafilter, where Andrew Shalit, in a defense of Ms. Viswanathan's claim of unconscious copying, pointed to the Helen Keller archives at the Web site for the American Foundation for the Blind.
There, in her autobiography "The Story of My Life," Ms. Keller describes how, at age 12, she wrote a story — "The Frost King" — that created her own publishing scandal.
"Mr. Anagnos was delighted with 'The Frost King,' and published it in one of the Perkins Institution reports," Ms. Keller wrote (Chapter 14 at afb.org/mylife). ...
Back at Metafilter, Keith M. Ellis wondered if Ms. Keller would have received a fair shake in the rush to judgment that is now de rigueur in the Internet age.
"It seems to me we give zero consideration to the possibility that it might be plagiarism, but unintentional," Mr. Ellis wrote, adding: "If we changed the name and obscured the disability-indicating details, would we still be willing to consider innocence?"
A piercing question, that...