In Defence of Academic Freedom

Dale Askey

The Langara Faculty Association (LFA) is writing in support of Dale Askey and McMaster University and strongly urges Edwin Mellen Press to immediately drop its libel lawsuits. The lawsuits present an outrageous attack on academic freedom and the exercise of free speech.

As faculty, making professional judgments and recommendations on the quality of books and other publications that their libraries may acquire is a central role of academic librarians. This expertise is critical at a time when colleges and universities face rising costs and budget constraints. Librarians’ professional opinions on content must be shared freely and publicly, without fear of reprisal or outside interference. 

A more appropriate response from Edwin Mellen Press would be to focus on the quality of its editorial processes and publications. A healthy academic press has nothing to fear from open dialogue and critiques, whether positive or negative.

The March 1st press release from Edwin Mellen Press states that in response to a “social media campaign” it has “discontinued the court case against McMaster University and Dale Askey”. This is at best a disingenuous response from the publisher: what the release fails to mention is that they are continuing with the remaining libel case, which is directed solely against Dale Askey.

Librarians at Langara College are members of the LFA and join the Association in condemning this assault on intellectual and academic freedom.  As a matter of principle, no future purchases of Mellen Press titles will be considered until all lawsuits against Dale Askey and McMaster University are withdrawn.