When Liberals encounter the First Amendment

politics | Mar 17, 2014 | By Camille Giglio

On March 4, 2014, thirteen young students paid a visit to the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara. Their plan was to avail themselves of the free speech zone open to the public on campus and set up a display of pro life material including visuals depicting the results of an abortion. According to Thrin Short, 16 year old high school student, the University’s students were interested  in their information accepting almost 1,000 copies of brochures and also apparently comfortable with viewing the rather graphic depictions of the results of abortion.
Campus Professor Mireille Miller-Young, PhD. however, was not at all happy or comfortable with the display or the pro-life message in general. Shouting “tear down this sign,” she called upon several of her students who had accompanied her to tear down Miss Short’s display. Eventually, Miller-Young herself grabbed the sign out of the hands of one of the demonstrators and walked away with it, accompanied by two or three students. Police later found it cut up in a waste basket near her office. Click here.
Professor Miller-Young teaches classes in pornography and sex work at the Santa Barbara campus of the University of California. Click here.
Charges of vandalism, battery,  and robbery are being considered by  the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office against Professor Miller-Young. During her attempts to retrieve her signs, Short followed the professor into a building and attempted to prevent her from leaving in an elevator by blocking the elevator door from closing with her foot. The professor shoved Short away from the door several times and finally got out of the elevator and pulled Short away, while telling her students to leave with the sign. In the process, Short received several scratches on her arms inflicted by Miller-Young.  
Short managed to video the event while her sister called campus police to report the crime request assistance. See YouTube video here.
There is a copy of a campus police Crime Report online. In that report it is stated that the Professor acknowledges that she “just grabbed” the sign to take it to a “safe place.”  Asked if there was a struggle for the sign Miller-Young stated, “I’m stronger so I was able to take the poster.” See here
Professor Miller-Young was also asked if she had carried the poster away herself? Saying, Yes, she felt she had a moral right to take the sign even though it wasn’t hers to take. Asked, further, if she carried the sign away herself she said, “Yes” although the video shows her walking with the students who were actually carrying the poster.
Miss Short stated that she has set up displays during the last two years on about 7 college campuses, just picking the schools at random.  “At no previous time,” she said had she been so violently confronted by either students or teachers. She stated that she really felt quite threatened by the professor’s attitude.
This particular incident has caught the attention of various members of the media who have reported on the case such as the Drudge Report and Rush Limbaugh since it so directly conflicts with the First Amendment Freedom of Speech, especially on a state owned University campus which so honors and demands the right of free speech.
Professor Miller-Young should not have been so outraged at these students since she is, herself, involved in what can only be understood as controversial.
Miller-Young is an Associate Professor in the Feminist Studies program at the University of California at Santa Barbara. She teaches black cultural studies and, specifically pornography and sex work. She acquired her B.A., M.A. and PhD. in American History and History of the African Dispora (sic), writing her dissertation on the history of black women in American pornography.
Her bio further lists her as a Co-Convener of the Black Sexual Economies Working Group; and part of an 8 member interdisciplinary group within the Study of Work and Social Capital out of Washington University Law Center.
Professor Miller-Young and her professional status is probably as controversial as she claims Miss Short’s work is.  She seeks to use what she perceives as her constitutional rights to an education, the classroom and education of students to obtain equal justice and rights for the black community.  Miss Short and her friends state that they are trying to accomplish the same end: equal justice for pre-born babies by protecting  and defending their First Amendment right to life.
Miss Short is not the first or only person to be the object of violence or harassment in attempts to educate people to the plight of pre-born babies and the authorization of the medical profession to take that pre-born life through abortion.
A young woman by the name of Junie, also a pro-life supporter talked with this reporter about “receiving a pummeling” from pro-abortion supporters at Berkeley City College in Berkeley, California, when she entered that campus with a pro-life display.
On another occasion she and two other students while at Los Medanos College in Antioch, California, received a lengthy barrage of foul language from an English teacher  who was trying to pressure the students into leaving the college.  In this situation, other teachers and students came to their defense resulting in the pro-life students being given an opportunity to return and give a pro-life presentation to a class of students.
In another very unfortunate situation, not associated with campus demonstrations, a young pro-life teenager, Andrew Moore, a resident of Contra Costa County, last year lost his life when he was hit by a car while in a Southern state on a summer Walk Across America campaign to create recognition for the plight of the pre-born.
This accident was not connected directly to a pro-life demonstration but is significant in that young people are willing to subject themselves to perils for their belief in the value and sacredness of human life knowing full well that they put their own lives on the line for their beliefs.
On another occasion, during a Presidential campaign event held on a community college campus a few years ago, a woman who did not wish to be identified,  while holding a pro-life sign, was told by a very angry attendee that she was going to hell for bringing that sign on campus. Attempts were then made were made to grab the sign out of her hands until she was protected by a group of rather tall and muscular young men.
These pro-life students and many others like them do not go about their tasks haphazardly.  The students mentioned in this article have all taken courses in how to conduct a demonstration.  They receive the same training as students who engage in civil rights demonstrations and community organizing groups. They are trained in understanding their rights, how to conduct themselves within the law, and how to approach and talk to interested citizens.  See Survivors Pro Life Training Camp here.
There is much to be learned through this incident at UC-Santa Barbara. The American and self-sacrificing  motivation to defend the rights of the most vulnerable, the pre-born, disabled and elderly, in defense of First Amendment rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness, lives on in the minds and hearts of many of our young people.
It is also a fact that many people would stoop to whatever it takes to silence these people’s right to speak in defense of these rights.
One side can command the classroom, the courts, the media and public policy to influence the world to their position while others, still, in our modern day beloved America, are forced to the streets and put in harm’s way to defend their beliefs.
Do we still hold these beliefs as self evident? It would seem not.
Spero columnist Camille Giglio resides in California.



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