The University of California at Santa Barbara (“UCSB”) is one of the elite public universities in the United States. It is often described as one of America’s “Public Ivy” universities, recognizing its important contributions to research and academic excellence. Among its many degree programs, it offers various degrees in feminist studies. One of the UCSB star faculty in feminist studies, Mireille Miller-Young, an associate professor, teaches courses involving black cultural studies, pornography, and sex work.
Last March, two teen-age sisters and pro-life activists, Thrin and Joan Short, were in the “free speech zone” at UCSB (I suppose that in California, First Amendment free speech rights are limited in public forums. Who knew?) The Short sisters were exercising their freedom of speech and displayed photographs of the aftermath of abortion on posters to engage students in discussion about abortion and the alternatives to abortion.
Professor Miller-Young was walking past the young women, and became deeply incensed at the pro-life literature and photos. She forcibly took their posters, and later assaulted the sisters. You can watch a video of the incident here. Afterwards, police were called, and Professor Miller-Young told police that she found the prof-life literature and graphic photos “disturbing” because she teaches reproduction rights. (One could think that she would welcome, as an esteemed and learned professor, an opportunity to challenge the thinking of two teen girls. But I digress.) Following the police investigation, Professor Miller-Young was charged with multiple offenses. After trial in July, she was convicted of grand theft, vandalism, and battery, which are non-trivial offenses. In August, as Professor Miller-Young sat in the front row dabbing her eyes, Judge Brian Hill handed down his lenient sentence: 108 hours of community service to be performed in conflict-resolution workshops (no, I am not making this up), ten hours of anger management classes, restitution of $493 to the Short sisters, and three years of probation. No response was received for requests for comments by Mere Comments to UCSB Chancellor Henry Tang and Professor Miller-Young.
In our society, one can disagree vehemently with pro-life activists, but even at UCSB, disagreeing doesn’t give anyone, particularly one in a power position as a university professor, the right to steal the young women’s property, and then to attack them when they tried to get it back. Of course, one can expect that Professor Miller-Young will soon receive a promotion to full professor, and an invitation to the Obama White House for being another “victim” in the evil, pro-life war on women reproductive health rights by people of faith. Why are pro-death advocates afraid of two teen girls and depictions of the aftermath of abortion? Kudos to the Short sisters for reminding us about the horrific effects of abortion in a society where the institutions of influence hate any notion of protecting the unborn.