Professor Miller-Young Sentenced To Probation and Anger Management Classes For Attack On Pro-Life Advocates

milleryoungincident2 We have been following the controversy surrounding the confrontation of Feminist Studies Associate Professor Mireille Miller-Young with pro-life advocates on campus. Miller-Young led her students in attacking the pro-life display, stealing their display, and then committing battery on one of the young women. Thrin Short, 16, and her sister Joan, 21, filed complaints and Miller-Young was charged with criminal conduct including Theft From Person; Battery; and Vandalism. To the surprise of some of us, faculty and students rallied behind Miller-Young. She remains employed as a faculty member. Miller-Young initially pleaded not guilty but later entered a guilty plea with an apology. She has now been sentenced to sentenced to three years of probation, 108 hours of community service, 10 hours of anger management, $500 in restitution and a small fine. While her actions (and absence of serious university punishment) remain highly disturbing, some of the letters written on her behalf raise new questions over the commitment of University of California faculty to free speech and core academic principles. Miller-Young has been defended by faculty as the victim of a media campaign to portray her as “an Angry Black Woman” and her seemingly happy demeanor on the videotape has been dismissed as a “mask” that she wears as part of a “cultural legacy of slavery.”

Miller-Young’s actions should be anathema to all intellectuals and a violation of the most sacred values of an educational institution. Ironically, she has acted in the same way that critics of early feminists and birth control advocates responded to their protests. Feminist signs and protests were attacked and students censored for their views. However, it became clear later that students in her department have been taught that such action is not only justified but commendable. Pro-life advocates have been denounced as simply terrorists or haters who deserved what they got from Miller-Young and her students.

thrinshortmilleryoungThe Shorts were handing out pro-life pamphlets when they say Miller-Young confronted them and became irate over their demonstration. They videotaped her after she appeared to organize students in yelling “take down the sign.” They say that she grabbed the sign and walked off–ignoring the protests of the teenagers. Campus police were called and Short says that she was pushed by Miller-Young three times — leaving bruises on her wrists — at an elevator confrontation.

On the video below, Miller-Young is seen taking the sign with graphic images and saying “I may be a thief but you are a terrorist.” At the elevator, she can be seen shoving the teenagers and blocking them. The fact (as noted by her students) that the teenagers do not go to the school is no excuse for this type of conduct. If there was some real violation in the protests (which seems dubious), Miller-Young has no authority to quash the speech. This appears a clear content-based act by Miller-Young. It is even more disturbing to see her encouraging her students to silence opposing views by stealing a sign. It is the very antithesis of the academic mission which is based first and foremost on free speech and association — and civility.

Miller-Young lists her areas as “Pornography; Sex Work; Black Film, Popular Culture and Art; Feminist & Queer Theory; African American & African Diaspora Studies; Visual Archives; New Media; Ethnography; Oral History.” Her bio states that she focuses on pornography and African-American women.

Miller-Young’s view that pro-life advocates are “terrorists” were picked up by her students and continue to be heard in her defense. Others have insisted that such images were virtually hate speech when displayed in front of a pregnant woman (Miller-Young was three-months pregnant at the time).

paul_spickard_mVarious faculty members publicly supported Miller-Young and some wrote to the court to ask for leniency. Some publicly denounced the media and the victims in this case. History professor Paul Spikard (left) wrote to object to the court that Miller-Young is the victim of “an energetic smear campaign . . . fomenting racial hatred and rallying right-wing political sentiment.” He insisted that the media was intent on displaying another example of “an Angry Black Woman.” What is striking is that Spikard opposed even a mandatory anger management class in the case. It is hard to see how the media is concocting a smear campaign when a professor is seen stealing a display and trying to stop an act of free speech on campus. Most academics would be horrified by that scene, including professors who are not part of a “right-wing political” agenda. I have an academic agenda that includes faculty member respecting and encouraging free speech on campus. Spikard teaches social and cultural history and has a faculty bio stating that he has been “blessed to spend most of my life immersed in racial populations and cultural traditions that are different from my own.” I have no question that that experience has given him great insight into cultural and racial controversies. However, I fail to see the dominant race issue in a professor acting in this reprehensible and violent manner. We all teach different subjects but we are committed to an intellectual enterprise. We inherited a commitment as educators to protect the unique environment — and our students — on campus. It is not a protection from ideas but a protection of an environment for the free discussion of ideas. It is a safe harbor for ideas even when many would silence such debates outside of our walls. In this case, it was a professor who was physically seeking to silence those with opposing views.

eileen_borisAnother to the court came from Eileen Boris, a professor in the Department of Feminist Studies. Boris picked up on the earlier defense that the signs were traumatizing to a woman who was three-months pregnant. Boris told the court “she was at the stage of a pregnancy when one is not fully one’s self fully, so the image of a severed fetus appeared threatening.” Boris then tries to deal with the fact that Miller-Young is smiling and both she and her students appear to be proud of their actions in the video. Professor Boris dismisses the video record as misleading and inaccurate. She explained to the court that “[i]f she appears smiling on camera, she is ‘wearing the mask,’ that is, she is hiding her actual state through a strategy of self-presentation that is a cultural legacy of slavery.”

It is hard to see how a court is expected to ignore the record of the video under a “cultural legacy of slavery” claim. Miller-Young and her students referred to these young women as “terrorists” for voicing their views and creating their display. There was not a hint of hesitation on the video in seeking to stifle free speech.

I previously wrote a critical piece of the response by Michael D. Young, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs which seems to treat the pro-life demonstrators as the problem while encouraging faculty and students not to attack such “outsiders.”

In addition, some 2000 faculty and students have signed a petition in support of Miller-Young while only 150 have signed a counter petition calling for her termination.

milleryoungincident2Students have clearly learned a lesson from Professor Miller-Young that free speech is only protected when we agree with the message. Consider the truly chilling view of UCSB sophomore Katherine Wehler, a theater and feminist studies major: “They are domestic terrorists, because the definition of a terrorist is someone who terrorizes.” Wehler added:

“I have a lot of feminist friends that went to them [pro-life protesters] with an educated academic response, because they were extremely triggered by these images, and the activists were saying this is for ‘women’s rights,’ . . . As feminist scholars and activists, we were insulted to hear that their cause is for women’s rights, because we felt personally attacked as women. Then, we were repeatedly called murderers. That is not okay. . . In my opinion, Professor Miller-Young would never attack anyone as the media suggests unless feeling an invasion of her own personal space like anyone else would in a fight or flight situation . . . If the university did decide to revoke her employment, there would be a large uproar because she is so celebrated.”

These letters reflect how such views of intolerance can take hold in students. I have become alarmed by the increasing anti-speech activities by students. For decades, social activists, including feminists, faced this type of intimidation in having signs ripped down or being called criminals. Campuses were the bastions of free speech and students were its champions. Increasingly however the West seems to have lost patience with free speech and often the voices for speech regulation and even criminalization are coming from the left.

As someone long associated with the free speech community, I find the Miller-Young scandal — and the response to it by faculty and students — to be incredibly depressing and alarming. We have seen the corrosion of our foundation of free speech in our educational institutions. It has long been the very touchstone of the intellectual life of our schools, but it is now denounced as shield for terrorists and haters. Such views will cut us adrift without any common principle or commitment as academics. The loss of a single sign is of little consequence, but what has clearly been lost at the University of California Santa Barbara (and other schools) is a common article of faith.

102 thoughts on “Professor Miller-Young Sentenced To Probation and Anger Management Classes For Attack On Pro-Life Advocates”

  1. @markkernes

    Well, I don’t think the old biddy should have been fired for what she did. After all, she plead guilty and has to go through all the crap associated with probation and community service. But was the left so forgiving of Paula Dean, who said n—-r 16 years ago??? Would they be sooo forgiving if this had been Sarah Palin who shoved somebody and grabbed their sign???

    The Left has sown hatred, and now they are reaping what they sowed.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. Ms. Fromm: First of all, Miller-Young is a YOUNG biddy—late 20s, early 30s is my guess. Beyond that, Paula Deen did several more racist acts besides using the “N word.” Feel free to research them if you like. And if you’re seriously suggesting that Sarah Palin is someone whose views or actions should be taken seriously, well, I don’t know how to respond—other than to say I’ve been following her outpourings since her resignation as governor, and I’ve yet to hear an original or worthwhile idea come from her lips. And as for who’s the best at “sowing hatred,” the Left is clearly in third or fourth place behind conservatives, fundamentalists and Tea Partyers—and so-called “pro-life activists”.

  2. She’s “pleasant, intelligent” and has a totalitarian impulse to use force to censor speech she doesn’t like and steal property that doesn’t belong to her. Lovely woman.

    1. Groty: Even she understands she made an error in judgment—and besides, the anti-abortion crowd makes these signs up by the thousands, so there’s no shortage of them, and while the Thrins’ injuries were real, they were minor and not inflicted intentionally—and Miller-Young’s paying a not-inconsiderable fine and will be taking anger management classes, all while pregnant with her own child. So yes, lovely woman.

  3. Mark, Thanks for your personal perspective. I disagree but always appreciate you stopping by to give us your unique take on issues. You are our erudite porn, err adult entertainment, journalist, libertarian and bon vivant.

  4. Mark,
    And yet she destroyed property and assaulted a young woman.

    So there’s that.

    1. Bailers: And she’s paying for it, both in money and time in anger management—and in vilification on just about every right-wing religious website in the country.

  5. I imagine those pictures of aborted fetuses did hit the pro-abortion crowd about the same way having to pick up and bury dead Jews at concentration camps affected the Germans. Something that can be dismissed euphemistically as “ending a pregnancy” seems harsher when little dead baby hands and baby feet stick up out of a bloody mess.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. So you’re seriously comparing the wholesale slaughter of millions of human beings by a power-mad and bigoted tyrant with the ability of a mature, fertile woman who’s carrying a GROWTH (NOT a “baby”) inside her—a GROWTH, known as a “fetus,” which she does not want and/or may feel that she cannot care adequately for, and which she does not wish to play HOST for for nine months? Yeah, THAT’s why there’s an unbridgeable gap between so-called “pro-lifers” and those who believe that women can choose for themselves whether to become, or remain, pregnant!

  6. Correction to above – I was under the impression the girls with the sign were the right to lifer’s.

  7. While I think the professor’s reaction was not the best for someone in her position, I have a lot of sympathy for her. Freedom of speech is not completely free. You have a right to voice your opinion – you don’t have a right to get in my personal space, impede my movement or shove that opinion down my throat. You get too close, I ‘m going to feel threatened and defend myself – either by words or actions as determined by yours. There is no exchange of ideas with the pro-life zealots. They do not give up – and when they don’t get their way they get vituperative or worse. The picture at the top of this article shows two women that appear to be following and hounding the professor. I would not be taking kindly to that if they did it to me.

  8. As someone who has known Miller-Young for several years, neither the descriptions in the article nor those in the comments come close to describing the woman I know. Miller-Young is pleasant, intelligent and has a good grasp of societal issues—including the attempts by religious fanatics to prevent women from exercising their right to choose whether to end a pregnancy. At first, Turley says the Thrins were just handing out pamphlets, but reading further, he acknowledges that they were carrying at least one big sign with grizzly photos of aborted fetuses—as is typical of so-called “pro-life” demonstrators, whose clear objective is to gin up controversy and evoke catcalls if not outright attacks from those on campus. Simply put, they thrive on that crap—and on articles defending it. I doubt that I personally would have done what Miller-Young did—I usually ignore a$$holes like so-called “pro-life” demonstrators—but the idea that she should be fired as a professor at UC-Santa Barbara is clearly an overreaction to the situation. She’ll be paying a fine and taking anger management classes—all while she’s about to deliver the fetus she’s pregnant with. Beyond that, none of us were there for the confrontation; all we have are the words of those who were present, and a short video shot as the situation was ending—not enough for ANYONE to tell what actually happened that day.

  9. PCS,

    Thank you. I did not obtain the entire list; I’m not certain the list is finite.

    I heard that Chelsea got $600K for some “insight” from something media maybe. Chelsea’s not a self-made millionaire, she’s a MOM AND DAD MADE MILLIONARE. Oops. A person can be proud of his/her hard work and accomplishments…or not. People must look on her with respect and awe…or not. The Empress may have no clothes.

    That just how it is when you’re dead broke.

    I am overwhelmed with sympathy for the whole, dead broke Clinton Clan.

  10. It is true. America has experienced some very difficult periods since women’s suffrage.

    Hillary knows about that. She has had difficult periods such Bill’s “Monica” episode and the post-Presidential period when she was “dead broke.”

    BTW, HIllary’s speech booking requirements include $300K cash, a $39 Million jet, luxury hotels, sandwiches shaped like stars, and on and on.

    Dead broke to be sure.

    1. I understand that Hillary is now demanding that she get the Presidential suite whereever she stops.

  11. PCS, it is true; irrefutable. Women can be very difficult during certain periods.

    1. John – my wife used to track me around the house wanting to have an argument and was mad when I would not engage with her. This was happening frequently enough that I started calendaring it and it synced with her pre-menstrual cycle. Luckily for me she was regular enough I could predict when these ‘bad periods’ were coming and fend her off with chocolate. That, and 2 TVs saved my marriage. 🙂

  12. A few words about free speech from one of my ideological heroes, Harvey Silverglate, a principled free speech civil libertarian and founder of F.I.R.E. (The first four minutes are historical background, the “meat” starts about the 3:50 mark).

  13. Annie
    Hear hear Theo, you said it. I’ve said that she was in the wrong for taking the signs and her rough behavior with the protesters. I see there are all the usual suspects and some new ones who want to crucify her. I’m glad the University has used some common sense in this matter.

    Beyond the actual assault, has there been any contrition, any sense from her that she was wrong and her actions indefensible?

    That makes her unsuitable for further employment at the university, not her initial mistake and crime. If she just take her punishment but keeps on teaching, how can we draw any conclusion other than she would do it again, or worse, impart to her students that her actions were moral and lead them to take the same or more forceful actions in the future?

    1. Bailers – from what I have read she has rationalized the situation as have her students, so that everything was the victims fault. ‘Trigger words’ the new campus mantra were involved so she is clear of any personal guilt. She was 3 months pregnant, so clearly insane, and not responsible for her actions.

  14. Hear hear Theo, you said it. I’ve said that she was in the wrong for taking the signs and her rough behavior with the protesters. I see there are all the usual suspects and some new ones who want to crucify her. I’m glad the University has used some common sense in this matter.

    1. Darren – I think the administration covered their butt just enough that FIRE will not sue them. It would be a close call, but I think FIRE will stay out of it. They would have to go on their own.
      I don’t see firing the asst. prof. but I do see putting her on probation and a letter in her file to slow down her promotion track.

  15. Theo, the victims of assault and theft are female. The author and commenters are standing by the victims. It’s a bit of a stretch for you to argue that this is bias against women.

    Why can’t you see assault and theft for what it is? Too, you are exercising your 1st Amendment right to comment here, yet you blatantly deny the female victims their right to speech. Why?

    The professor has already pleaded guilty. What on earth more do you want?

    It is people like you, when in positions of power and authority, that make life miserable and unfair for the rest of us.

    1. samantha – it is a war on women, but not against the professor, but against the young woman she assaulted. Miller-Young comes out of the Feminism Department and they are at War with all women who do not swear allegiance to their cause.

  16. According to the facts of “Fast and Furious” and the Contempt of Congress citation, Eric Holder should arrest and prosecute himself…and his co-conspirator.

  17. “Brain

    “I’m not sure it takes fanaticism….the core values of our modern society are selfishness and hyperbole”

    This nation is ruled by the Preamble, Constitution and Bill of Rights. It was established to obtain “the blessings of liberty” for citizens with a government limited to security and infrastructure.

    You might study what the Founders said, the legal references they availed themselves of and HOW THEY LIVED (i.e. no welfare, governmental control of business, no affirmative action, etc.). Freedom and self-reliance as abundantly distinguished from your


    I presume that refers, as do you, to “community” in which COMMUN – ISTS live.

    Were you indoctrinated in the unionist, striking public school/college system?

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