A recent rampage by a feminist porn professor who allegedly destroyed a pro-life sign and assaulted a student was just the latest in a long list of campus attacks on free speech, according to an organization defending First Amendment rights.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said the incident at the University of California at Santa Barbara was among many “in which students and faculty members have taken it upon themselves to silence ideological opponents, particularly those with socially conservative views.”
Police are investigating the alleged attack by Mireille Miller-Young, who teaches feminist studies such as pornography, queer theory and black film.
According to the Santa Barbara Independent, which broke the story, Miller-Young came across the pro-life display sponsored by the Christian pro-life group Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust on March 4. She allegedly went berserk, stealing and destroying an anti-abortion sign and assaulting a teen girl who tried to retrieve it.
Meanwhile, at Stanford University, FIRE is protesting the school’s demand that its Anscombe Society student group pay a $5,600 “security fee” for holding a “Communicating Values: Marriage, Family and the Media” conference and the student government’s refusal to contribute support, as it does for other events.
“Stanford promises free inquiry and free expression, but in this case has delivered viewpoint discrimination and allowed a ‘heckler’s veto,’” said Peter Bonilla, director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program.
“Refusing to fund an event because you don’t care for the viewpoints that will be expressed impoverishes discourse on campus. Charging huge security fees gives would-be hecklers more incentive to threaten to disrupt events in the hopes that the organizers won’t be able to afford to speak.”
FIRE, a nonprofit foundation that supports academic freedom, freedom of expressing and rights of conscience at universities and colleges, just released a video highlighting how a student pro-life display at Dartmouth College was damaged “when a student literally ran over it with his car.”
Dartmouth student Robert Smith explained that his group had, with permission, put up a display of American flags representing abortion victims.
A fellow student then drove his car, which incidentally was sporting a “Coexist” bumper sticker, over the display.
“The student was so offended by what we were doing, he thought it was his constitutional right to destroy it,” Smith said.
FIRE reported that other constitutional violations have taken place at Missouri State, Northern Kentucky and Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
At Missouri State, the student group Bears for Life put up a memorial of 4,000 crosses, and recorded video as a young women vandalized the display.
A commenter on the website wrote: “For a group to take the time and initiative to create a display of the magnitude of four thousand crosses (popsicle or not) is a creative – and protected – form of speech. For another group to willfully destroy said speech is a cowardly and uninspired act of vandalism and suppression. It not only destroys the current work, but acts as a threat to destroy all future works. Thus it becomes more than simple vandalism, but also an act of bullying and suppression.”
FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff said that at Northern Kentucky, after “nearly five years of dealing with all the terrible and often absurd abuses of free speech in higher education, I am a hard person to shock, but hats off to professor Sally Jacobsen of Northern Kentucky University (NKU) for showing me the most perverted inversion of the concept of free speech I have seen in a long time.”
He said Jacobsen, a professor at NKU, invited students in one of her classes to “to express their freedom-of-speech rights to destroy [an anti-abortion] display if they wished to.”
The anti-abortion display had been erected by an NKU student group with permission from university officials, Lukianoff said.
He called it “madness” for the professor to claim “destruction of others’ property and expression equals free speech.”
“So Jacobsen is so compassionate and tolerant that she feels she has the right to destroy expression that disagrees with her world view? I am so tired of college administrators, faculty, and students excusing their attempts to silence opinions they dislike or disagree with by treating their censorship as a necessary part of a decent university society. This turns the ideal of individual freedom on its head and transmogrifies it into a mandate for enforced conformity.”
At Wisconsin-Stevens Point, a student attacking and destroying a pro-life display told sponsors they didn’t have any rights to express themselves.
In Santa Barbara, 13 members of the pro-life group posted banners and literature which displayed graphic imagery of late-term abortions designed to spark conversations with passing students.
Joan Short, a 21-year-old student at Thomas Aquinas College and a member of the pro-life group, said Miller-Young exchanged heated words, complained about the anti-abortion message and led the gathering crowd into a chant of “Tear down the sign! Tear down the sign!” before grabbing a banner and walking with it across campus.
As Joan Short called 9-1-1, her 16-year-old sister, Thrin Short, began recording the incident on a smart phone as the pair followed the professor and two of her students into a building to try to retrieve the banner.
As Miller-Young and the students boarded an elevator, Joan said that Thrin repeatedly blocked the door with her hand and foot and that Miller-Young continually pushed her back. Miller-Young then exited the elevator and tried to yank Thrin away from the door while the students attempted to grab her video camera. “As Thrin tried to get away, the professor’s fingernails left bloody scratches on her arms,” Joan claimed. The struggle ended when Thrin relented, Miller-Young walked away, the students rode up in the elevator, and officers arrived to interview those involved.
“The police did not seem overly concerned about the incident until they saw the video and realized how violent the professor had been,” said Kristina Garza, director of campus outreach for the Survivors ministry, which is planning to release video of the conflict.
“[Miller-Young] was definitely leading the group,” said Joan Short. “I sincerely doubt any crime would have been committed if she hadn’t been there.”
Police later found the sign destroyed.
Miller-Young declined comment to local media but has reportedly retained legal counsel.
The incident even captured the attention of top-rated radio host Rush Limbaugh, who commented Wednesday about the professor:
So what do we have here? We have hyphenated name? Check. Teaches multicultural nonsense? Check. Attracted to perverted and worthless areas of academic emphasis? Check. Instinct to lash out violently at those who disagree with her? Check. Resorts to violence when she doesn’t get her way? Check. Logical conclusion: She is a madcap leftist and she has tenure. She is teaching young skulls full of mush, inculcating them with this worthless drivel that their parents are paying through the nose for.