When the Left Turned Against Free SpeechPosted: May 31, 2014
The long, ugly journey from the Free Speech Movement to professors assaulting protesters
For Reason, Matt Welch writes: On March 4, in a designated “free-speech zone” at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), associate professor of feminist studies Mireille Miller-Young walked over to a 16-year-old anti-abortion protester named Thrin Short and demanded that Short take down a graphic sign showing pictures of aborted fetuses. When Short refused, Miller-Young forcibly snatched the sign out of the smaller girl’s hands, then handed it to her students and walked away triumphantly. The rattled teen accurately accused Miller-Young of being a “thief,” to which the professor implausibly retorted: “I may be a thief, but you’re a terrorist!” Adding injury to insult, Miller-Young then shoved the protester and barred her from entering a campus elevator. Moments later, the professor and her students cut the stolen poster to shreds.
The story gets worse. According to the ensuing police report, Miller-Young maintained that she had set a good example for her students by acting like a “conscientious objector” to offensive hate speech that had “triggered” her emotions and violated her “personal right to go to work and not be in harm.” Many students, too, remained defiant about the assault long after tempers cooled.
“We, as students of UCSB, are in solidarity with Professor Miller-Young and urge our student body, staff, faculty, and community members to provide as much support as possible,” reads a petition submitted by “UCSB Microaggressions” that as of press time had received more than 2,000 signatures, dwarfing a rival petition asking for the professor’s ouster. “We do not condone the hate speech and media attention she has been actively receiving.”
Our tale gets worse still. In an open letter to students on March 19, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Michael D. Young did not mention Miller-Young by name, did not address either the outrageousness of her actions or the inanity of her logic, and instead aimed most of his fire at “outsiders coming into our midst to provoke us, to taunt us and attempt to turn us against one another as they promote personal causes and agendas.”
Here is how Young’s letter begins: “Over the past several weeks, our campus has been visited by a number of outside groups and individuals coming here to promote an ideology, to promulgate particular beliefs (at times extreme beliefs), or simply to create discord that furthers a certain personal agenda. Some passionately believe in their causes, while others peddle hate and intolerance with less-than-noble aims. Whatever the motives and goals, the presence of such people and groups on campus can be disruptive and has the potential to draw us into the kind of conflict that puts at risk the quality of exchange of ideas that is fundamental to the mission of our university.”
Young’s letter–filled with to be sures about “the sanctity of free speech” and in-group signaling about how the Founding Fathers were “all white men of privilege”–was shockingly familiar to those of us with a certain amount of historical memory….(read more)
- UC Santa Barbara professor steals young anti-abortion protester’s sign, apparently assaults protesters, says she ‘set a good example for her students’ (washingtonpost.com)
- Trigger-happy trigger warnings (sfgate.com)
- Please Don’t Attack The “Outsiders”: California University Official Issues Letter In Miller-Young Controversy (jonathanturley.org)
- Pro-life teen called ‘domestic terrorist’ in petition supporting feminism professor (foxnews.com)
- Feminist Studies Professor Accused of Attacking Teenage Female Pro-Life Demonstrator (nationalreview.com)
- Here’s video of the feminist studies prof facing assault charges for attacking 16-year-old abortion foe (dailycaller.com)
- EUGENE VOLOKH: UC Santa Barbara Vice Chancellor issues statement supporting free speech. Here’… (pjmedia.com)