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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Academia and the Law

Oh, this is good. The next time someone criticizes my work in print, I'm going to sue him (or her):

John Lott Jr. of Virginia, a former U. of C. visiting professor, alleges that [Steven] Levitt defamed him in the book [Freakonomics] by claiming that other scholars had tried and failed to confirm Lott's conclusion that allowing people to carry concealed weapons reduces crime....According to Levitt's book: "When other scholars have tried to replicate [Lott's] results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime."

.... Lott acknowledged in the suit that some scholars have disagreed with his conclusions. But he said those researchers used "different data or methods to analyze the relationship between gun-control laws and crime" and made no attempt to "replicate" Lott's work.

In reality, I imagine I'm actually more likely to be sued by someone with plenty of time on his hands than I am to call "my lawyers" (because I have more than one, like all the best litigious students). But I do love the idea of introducing legal damages into Shakespearean criticism. I look forward to the day when the heirs of A. C. Bradley and Northrup Frye begin suing professors and grad students for defamation. And I'd pay to see in court the likes of Frank "I Do Not Mean That All Modern Writing on Shakespeare is Rubbish, Just Most of It" Kermode, Richard "Not a Fallen Liberal" Levin, and Harold "School of Resentment" Bloom fighting the good fight (or not, depending on your perspective) against today's Shakespeareans.

 Scribble some marginalia

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