To a UC Santa Barbara professor of feminist studies, there are small wrongs and big wrongs. Mireille Miller-Young committed a small wrong, for which she offered a small apology in anticipation of sentence:
“As much as the images they displayed were offensive and distressing to my students, and to me, I had no right to take their poster or destroy it,” she writes.
The poster refers to the anti-abortion poster used by Thrin and Joan Short. Miller-Young saw it, lost it, seized it and, in the process, committed battery on Thrin. But all this, from the suppression of ideas Miller-Young found wrong to the physical harm of Short, was secondary to the big wrong. The big wrong was that the Shorts were WRONG, WRONG, WRONG about abortion, meaning that they must be silenced and their ideas must be eradicated by any means necessary.
Not surprisingly, there was strong, perhaps even overwhelming support, for the feminist prof. Those who agreed with her backed her up, because the Shorts were WRONG. The inability to distinguish between the process of allowing people to express their thoughts even when they differ from your own is apparently too much to bear when they are WRONG, Thankfully, Miller-Young possessed no weapons at the time.
Others who shared Miller-Young’s certainty that any ideas inconsistent with her own were wrong stood up for her at sentence to explain her behavior.
Some of the letters were written on UCSB letterhead, presumably on university equipment and university time. Among them is one from history professor Paul Spikard, who states that his colleague is the object of “an energetic smear campaign that seems to have little to do with her person or her actions, and a great deal to do with fomenting racial hatred and rallying right-wing political sentiment.”
“It would be tragic if Dr. Miller-Young were sentenced to jail time or mandatory anger management classes based on the press’ portrayal of her as an Angry Black Woman.”
It would be tragic, indeed. Except the press didn’t portray her as anything except a person who believed that her hatred of other people’s ideas entitled her to destroy and harm. There’s a lot of that going around.
Another letter of support, also on UCSB letterhead, comes from Eileen Boris, a professor in the Department of Feminist Studies.
Prof. Boris seeks clemency for her colleague, stating, “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.”
“If she appears smiling on camera,” Prof. Boris continues, “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.”
There is no explaining this argument. Sure, pregnant women are sometimes claimed to be irrational and violent, surging hormones and all, but a “cultural legacy of slavery” made her smile? This is the stuff of very bad headaches. As Miller-Young smiled, she also says:
“I may be a thief,” a smiling Ms. Miller-Young replies, “but you’re a terrorist.”
Not to suggest that the use of the word “terrorist” is a bit overblown, but by this calculus, anyone can do anything to anyone with whom they disagree, angry black woman, cultural legacy of slavery, feminist studies professor, entitled person who is right when the other person is WRONG, notwithstanding.
Via Jonathan Turley, Mireille Miller-Young pleaded guilty and was sentenced:
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 three years of probation, 108 hours of community service, 10 hours of anger management, $500 in restitution and a small fine.
While this sentence seems appropriate for the conduct for which she pleaded guilty, there was no punishment for the murder of intellectual honesty. She killed it. Her supporters killed it. They murdered it in cold blood.
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 has 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.
We cannot stop stupid people from being stupid, from being incapable of distinguishing between the rights of others to express ideas that they detest, and their absolute certainty that they are WRONG. But it’s the entitlement of eradicating despised ideas that those who Turley calls “intellectuals” should find intolerable.
At its most shallow level, it’s based upon free speech. Let the best concept win in the marketplace of ideas. But at a deeper level, there is an agenda at work of Orwellian proportions to eliminate the existence of hated ideas, and it has overwhelming support of the academics who share the political agenda of Miller-Young.
Students 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.
There would be no issue with Miller-Young’s friends offering her virtues in mitigation of sentence. I am happy to assume she has many, not the least of which are her efforts to serve her students and advocate for causes in which she believes. But this didn’t happen because she was portrayed in the press as an “angry black woman.” It happened because this is the weapon and credo of modern, entitled, feminism. And the Shorts were WRONG.
Turley finds the support given Miller-Young “incredibly depressing and alarming.” I find it banal and pervasive, which makes it far worse than merely alarming. This is a danger to the very foundation of ideas, and those willing to allow and support it under the guise of being “scholars” are a disgrace.
Miller-Young owed the Shorts an apology. Those academics who supported her owe society an apology. But they won’t give it, because the Shorts were WRONG.