A well-known principle of academic debate is, "If someone challenges your intellectual credentials, the best way to prove them wrong is to try to sue them into oblivion." So it goes for the poor college librarian who's being sued for millions of dollars over a blog post disparaging an academic publisher. (Ironically, no college librarian's blog post disparaging an academic publisher has ever been read by a human being.)

As Inside Higher Ed reports, Dale Askey was a librarian at Kansas State U in 2010. He wrote a post on his blog noting that a particular academic publisher had a bad reputation. It sounds like a Hollywood drama already!

According to court documents, Askey's critique was posted as "The Curious Case of Edwin Mellen Press," through early 2012, and referred to Mellen a "vanity press" with "few, if any, noted scholars serving as series editors," benefiting largely from librarians not returning books sent for approval at "egregiously high prices." (In the suit, Mellen refutes many of these claims, saying its average list price is lower than Askey alleged; that most books are sent out by special order and not through approval plans; and that books are edited by reputable scholars.)

Essentially the exact same plot line as Die Hard. AND NOW: Edwin Mellen Press is suing Askey and his employers for a total of $4.5 million, for libel. I'm no lawyer, but can't judges immediately dismiss libel lawsuits that are clearly about topics that no one in their right mind would care to read about? And can't those judges also order the clown-like academic publisher that filed said lawsuit to be locked in a room for a period of one hundred days with nothing to read except The Middle Eastern Influence on Late Medieval Dances: Origins of the 29987 Istampittas? During which time the publisher that filed said lawsuit would be required to compose a thesis-length essay entitled "Clown Studies From a Locked Room: A History of Superfluous and Vindictive Lawsuits, OR, Why I Should Just Move to England If I Love Fake Libel Suits So Much?"

Something for academe to consider.

[Inside Higher Ed. Photographic representation of the way in which this academic legal dispute has captured America's attention: Shutterstock]