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California feminist studies professor pleads no contest to attack on anti-abortion protesters

July 24, 2014 - Andrea Johnson
The University of California-Santa Barbara professor involved in last spring's brouhaha over an anti abortion protester's sign has pleaded no contest to misdemeanor grand theft, vandalism and battery charges, according to a press release issued by the Life Legal Defense Foundation.

Mireille Miller-Young, an associate professor of feminist studies, will be sentenced at a hearing Aug. 14 in Santa Barbara Superior Court.

During the incident on March 4, Miller-Young and some students allegedly snatched a poster from a group of anti-abortion protesters on the campus. When one of the protesters, 16-year-old Thrin Short, followed the group and tried to snatch back her sign, Miller-Young scratched her arms. Miller-Young and the students took the sign back to her office and cut it to pieces with a pair of scissors. The protesters were set up in a so-called "free speech zone" on the college campus. Miller-Young, who was pregnant, claimed the sign "triggered" her because it displayed graphic and bloody images of aborted fetuses.

The protest group took video of the assault and uploaded it to YouTube. The video can be seen at

The video shows that Miller-Young displayed a rather alarming disregard for freedom of speech. I am glad that Miller-Young is going to be held accountable for her actions in a court of law, though I suspect any penalty she receives will amount to little more than a slap on the wrist. I have not heard whether the university also plans to take disciplinary action against the professor.


Miller-Young was supposed to have been sentenced on Thursday, but the sentencing hearing was apparently postponed.

What I continue to find interesting about this misdemeanor battery, theft and vandalism case is how very delusional some of the people involved appear to be. According to The Santa Barbara News-Press, one of Miller-Young's colleagues in the feminist studies department attributed Miller-Young's demeanor to the legacy of slavery. "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,” wrote Eileen Boris in a letter of support for Miller-Young sent to the court. “If she appears smiling on camera,” Boris continues in the letter, “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.” Hmmm. So Boris thinks being three months pregnant and black is a good defense for committing an assault.

Miller-Young wrote the court a letter apologizing for stealing the sign and acknowledging that the anti abortion group had every right to be on campus. However, her letter makes no mention of -- or apology for -- her decision to push and scratch a 16-year-old girl.

Whenever Miller-Young is sentenced, she's probably likely to get a fine and community service.

The latest story can be found at


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