New York, NY—The Association of American University Presses strongly supports the position taken by the Association of Canadian University Presses/Association Des Presses Universitaires Canadiennes on the defamation suit filed by The Edwin Mellen Press against McMaster University and its associate librarian, Dale Askey. In September, 2010, Mr. Askey posted on his blog a short piece, “The Curious Case of Edwin Mellen Press,” in which he characterized the Press as a “dubious publisher” because of their “egregiously high prices” and record of publishing “second-rate” scholarship. The blog drew an extensive series of comments from EMP authors, some defending the press, and some adding criticisms of their own.
Mr. Askey’s post and the comments have been withdrawn from his blog, presumably under pressure from the Press, but you can read them courtesy of the Wayback Machine on the Internet Archive: http://web.archive.org/web/20110630153231/http://htwkbk.wordpress.com/2010/09/22/the-curious-case-of-edwin-mellen-press/. We believe Mr. Askey’s criticisms of the Press were measured and well within the scope of his professional expertise as a trained librarian. Moreover, the inclusion of comments from authors defending the Press makes it perfectly clear that the readers of Mr. Askey’s blog were hearing both sides of the issue.
Academic freedom includes the freedom to criticize, and Edwin Mellen Press should not be using the courts to silence and intimidate its critics. We join ACUP/APUC in asking the Press to withdraw its suit. Whatever slight damage Mr. Askey’s blog may have caused to the Press’s reputation is being magnified many times over by Edwin Mellen’s pursuit of this frivolous and vindictive course of action.