I’m suing my department colleagues for libel

My colleagues’ letter to the dean of NYU’s Steinhardt School, demanding that he order a “review” of my “conduct,” is clearly libelous, as it makes many claims about me that are absolutely false, portraying me as a menace in the classroom and beyond, and a purveyor of “explicit hate speech” via News from Underground. You may read their letter, as it’s linked in this complaint (Exhibit 1). 

You may also read my point-by-point rebuttal, which I sent them a few weeks ago, requesting a retraction and apology. I asked for a response by Nov. 20, and didn’t get one. That silence prompted me to retain counsel, and file this lawsuit, as I will not sit back and let calumny and libel rule, or be intimidated by a mob, even one that thinks it’s acting righteously (as the worst mobs all too often do). (My rebuttal is attached.)

Meanwhile, as the dean’s “review” is ongoing—despite FIRE’s powerful letter to NYU President Andrew Hamilton, urging him to quash it, on the grounds that it has no legal basis whatsoever (he too was asked to respond by Nov. 20, and he too did not)—many students, former and current, as well as people who have visited my classes through the years, have been sending statements of support to the dean’s office, noting the enormous gap between my colleagues’ slander and the (as we might quaintly call it) reality of how I teach, and how I’ve always taught, treating all my students with civility and respect, while urging them to do their own research, and make up their own minds. 

This lawsuit makes quite clear that my colleagues’ venomous, fact-free attack is intolerable in any university purporting to believe in academic freedom. I intend to press it, whatever it may cost, because that precious freedom has to be defended, or it’s going to disappear for all of us.

As always, I am very grateful for your staunch support. 

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