Being Right Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry

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.

40 thoughts on “Being Right Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry

  1. Richard G. Kopf


    This may be the perfect case for a very short jail sentence. Say, 5 days, but in a regular pod in a regular county jail with regular orange jumpsuits and those spiffy canvas shoes. Professors of the nonesense this gal teaches should understand that jail (or prison when significant injury takes place) while be imposed when unwelcome speech is met with violence. Take it as trigger warning.

    All the best.


    1. SHG Post author

      That’s exactly what I was thinking. A night or two in a jumpsuit (and those spiffy canvas shoes) would give her (and her followers) some scholarly perspective on responding to ideas with violence.

      1. ExCop-LawStudent

        No, that’s too lenient because the battery was on a child. Thirty days, work release, report on Friday night, released on Monday morning. Four days credit every weekend, eight weekends total.

        Cut it to one weekend if she’ll do her community service with the Short’s anti-abortion group.

          1. ExCop-LawStudent

            I don’t like limitations on free speech and I don’t like assaults on children, so yeah, I’m harsh.

            I also don’t like when there is no real remorse, which is the case here.

            Plus, I’m from Texas. 😀

            1. SHG Post author

              It’s not her fault she felt no remorse. After all, she was right all along, and that’s why she has so many academic supporter. See how that works?

        1. UltravioletAdmin

          >Cut it to one weekend if she’ll do her community service with the Short’s anti-abortion group.

          I’m with you except for this. It smacks of endorsing the opposing political position when she had a legitimate political position. Her position, speech, and opinions are all fine. Her crime was in her actions and doing anything that focuses on her views distorts justice and makes political fodder out of what should be a neutral point.

          1. ExCop-LawStudent

            The point is that she has to tolerate views that she does not like, without resorting to violence.

            I don’t have a problem with her viewpoint and I find the tactics of Short and similar groups abhorrent. I don’t like gun control, but if I were to twist off violently against an anti-gun protest, doing my community service at the Brady Campaign could serve a useful purpose.

    2. Neil

      I aint no intellectshual, or even an actuary, but you know the saying – where there’s nonsense there’s recidivist. So my guidelines says 10 days! Cuz nuthin offends more then the professional professorial doing stupid ( and snooty ), and I don’t need no ‘impirical research on risk to re-offense’ study to tell me that.

    3. George B

      I am in agreement with His Honor here. Freedom of Speech, even unwanted, uncomfortable, and ESPECIALLY unpopular speech is a core value & treated that way. But I’d go for one day per month; to give her time to reflect between.

      But I also agree with SHG re: she does not get the point…..

  2. nidefatt

    You do realize you are describing yourself, right? You act like this lady all the time. Besides, you’re conflating free speech and the market of ideas imposed on the government and just how that plays out among private citizens. By your reasoning here, I’d imagine you’d stop deleting everyone you disagree with that posts on your page. But you won’t, because you don’t actually hold this ultra egalitarian view. The “free market of ideas” is all about private actors going to war. Hell, you’re a lawyer, you should know better.

    1. SHG Post author

      As a courtesy, I’m going to attempt to explain the irrationality of your comment to you. First, I do not use violence against anyone, no less those who disagree with me. Second, there are a million places on the internet for people with ideas I find anathema to express themselves; I am not obliged to provide them with a soapbox. I do not advocate the elimination of forums where people disagree with me, and fully support their right to express their ideas, no matter how irrational or wrong. Just not on my dime.

      At the same time, it is not incumbent upon me to offer up my blog as a forum to ignorance. But what you are really talking about is that I haven’t shown your comments, your strokes of brilliance, the adoration you think they deserve. It’s hurts your feelings that you aren’t allowed the voice to which you believe yourself entitled at the grownup blogs. That’s why you raise this, because you’re a butthurt, self-important baby PD who demands the right to have grownup lawyers hear your very important thoughts.

      Sorry, but no. You have a blog. Nobody reads it? Bummer. That is the marketplace of ideas talking, and it’s telling you that nobody is buying.

      I am nothing like Miller-Young, and your inability to grasp these fairly simple, basic concepts scares the crap out of me.

    2. Myles


      I’m a PD too, though I’ve been around quite a while. I see a lot of new PDs come into the office, all filled the righteous indignation. They tend to be political ideologues, absolute in their views and angry at anyone who doesn’t see the world through their eyes. I’ve read some of your comments at other criminal defense blogs, and I see this in you.

      Most of us mature in this job, and come to realize that the world isn’t as simple as our angry beliefs would have it. You see SHG as stifling your voice, and thus the same as Miller-Young. Your comment is truly irrational. Scott doesn’t silence you. He just doesn’t give you the attention you think you’re entitled to. It’s the polar opposite, but you’re so angry that you can’t see it.

      Chill out. This is a marathon, not a sprint. One day you will understand why experience changes our angry beliefs. For now, you ought to stop making enemies with your foolish accusations and listen instead. You have a lot to learn. If you don’t learn, you won’t be of any use to anyone.

    3. lawrence kaplan

      The equivalent of SHG not letting you post comments on his blog would be if Miller-Young had a blog and did not let the Shorts post any comments. Which I am sure SHG would be the first to say she would be perfectly entitled to do. Your comment does not make any sense. You are blinded by your anger.

  3. ShelbyC

    Her twitter account’s all over the police suppressing the protests at Ferguson. Maybe she can offer them a few pointers.

    1. SHG Post author

      It’s about the political agenda, being “for” the right things. Much as I agree with many liberal positions, those who blindly adhere to the liberal agenda are usually the most repressive. It’s just nuts.

  4. Ken Hagler

    I’d read about Miller-Young in several other places that were all critical of her, but this is the first time I’ve seen any mention of her skin color. I get the impression that the people talking about “fomenting racial hatred” may actually be unaware that the person they’re ranting at is actually a mirror.

    1. SHG Post author

      I failed to see what her skin color had to do with anything here, and yet it was prominent in the supporting letter of her defenders. Some have argued that they were playing the race card, but I think that’s too cynical. I attribute it to political myopia: whenever someone is black, race inherently plays a role.

      1. Jeff Hall

        Isn’t it possible that her friends were trying to come up with reasons for the judge to be lenient, and were grasping at straws? For example, “hiding her actual state through a strategy of self-presentation that is a cultural legacy of slavery” strikes me as lamely desperate rather than lamely racist.

        1. SHG Post author

          Isn’t it possible…

          Why yes, it’s possible. Lots of things are possible. Yet, we presume that people meant what they said, not something entirely different than what they said.

  5. John Barleycorn

    Speaking of cameras. There is a video of Mireille Miller-Young and her student disciples making off with the sign across a campus quad and then into the cavernous enclaves of a campus building.

    Keep in mind the sign belonged to a 16 year girl.

    Mireille Miller-Young has been referred to as the Bigfoot of Feminists by some.

    I disagree. During her and her students great escape while fleeing the scene of the crime she comes off much more like the ring leader of a prepubescent slumber party.

    After watching the video I can’t even bring myself to imagine the giddy laughter shared at the slumber party as she and the girls devised their plan.

    Wow! I really need to dust off some of my old threads and enroll in some classes. I have been letting the world go by.

    P.S. The three years probation is going to be way more punishment that 10 days in county. I got two grand says she will not be able to stop fighting terrorists.

    1. SHG Post author

      Just thinking aloud here: what were the chances that Greenfield deliberately decided not to include the video, so just in case, maybe someone else should trot back to the beginning, include the video in the comments, and refocus the discussion on the initial conduct rather than the sentence and arguments in mitigation? Inquiring minds want to know.

      1. John Barleycorn

        Guilty as charged.

        I take it my tireless efforts to at long last get you to refer to yourself in the third person as well as the probability of me returning to campus on sunny afternoons this fall with cheese sandwiches and a six pack cooler of PBR’s packed on dry ice to catch up on all I have been missing will not be admissible as mitigating factors?


        Do what-ca-ya-gotta-do.

        The window remains open at two grand until the close of business today.

        1. SHG Post author

          Whoa. It was a rhetorical gimmick. I don’t do the third person thing. I do not!!! (stamps feet multiple time)

      2. lawrence kaplan

        SHG: So why didn’t you delete the link? I think you are cutting Barleycorn too much slack.

        1. SHG Post author

          I’m have soft spot for Barleycorn. Besides, he keeps the other “curious commenters” in check. They can’t compete.

  6. Fubar

    “I may be a thief,” a smiling Ms. Miller-Young replies, “but you’re a terrorist.”

    Words fail me here. This is confessional.
    After long and sweet silent thought’s sessional,
    I can’t comprehend
    where such logic will end,
    So I sought an established professional:

    Edward Lear wrote the tale of a Dong [1]
    With a glowing nose that was quite long. [2]
    He made far more sense
    Than Ms. Miller’s pretense:
    “Terrorism’s an image that’s WRONG!”

    FN 1: Cf: Edward Lear, “The Dong with a Luminous Nose”.

    FN 2: Doubtless inspired by the hegemonic patriarchy. [3]

    FN 3: Whatever that is.

    1. SHG Post author

      Up to now, I’m informed that I’m a supplicant to the patriarchy. Is there an application form around for the hegemonic patriarchy? It would enhance my self-image and resume enormously.

      1. Fubar

        To aspire unto realms hegemonic
        Takes the whole Western oeuvre, not laconic
        Views you engage
        With one well crafted page.
        Too much work! Why be Napoleonic?

  7. Nullifidian

    I’m amazed that Miller-Young has so much support, even if you accept her pro-choice views (as I do). This wasn’t a principled stand for a political position but just an adult throwing a child’s tantrum. Most of us get over the fact that the world isn’t ordered precisely as we would wish it and that other people don’t have to abide by our whims by the age of ten. If she’s like this with a 16-year-old girl, how does she treat dissent from within her own classroom? Perhaps that’s why her students are rallying around her: they know that with her attitude it could be a case of “Support me or there will be trouble”.

    1. SHG Post author

      I, too, am pro-choice. I’m also pro-speech and anti those who think their beliefs entitle them to violate anyone else’s rights that hurt their delicate feelings with impunity.

      Your point about her student’s fearing her bizarre conduct is interesting, though I wonder how many students take her feminist studies courses without sharing her special world view.

      1. Nullifidian

        It’s likely that self-selection is responsible for most of her support, but depending on the types of courses that Prof. Miller-Young teaches, she could be getting students who have absolutely no interest in becoming women’s studies majors. Much of a women’s studies department’s offerings replicate the other types of courses on offer, but with a women-centered focus. So a student looking to fulfill a GE requirement for literature might take “Women in Literature” or one filling a history requirement might take “Women’s History”. I can imagine students like these who just want to keep their heads down and take their credits going along with an unhinged professor instead of standing up to her.

        In fairness to my professors in a different UC college—UCSD—none of the “studies” professors I took GE classes from ever went on tirades in class or abused students who disagreed or any of the other outrages that fire the imagination of the people in groups like ACTA. But since I wasn’t a studies major, but in biology, I admittedly don’t have too much of an insight into the culture as a whole.

        1. SHG Post author

          As I said, your point was interesting. But there is no purpose whatsoever in arguing a point based entirely on speculation. Your arguments are fair, but they’re still completely speculative. That’s a waste of time. You raised the question, but that as far as it can go without evidence to support your point.

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