On March 4, a group of anti-abortion protesters descended upon the UC Santa Barbara campus. It did not go smoothly.
The Santa Barbara Independent reports that Mireille Miller-Young, an associate professor of feminist studies at UCSB, was charged last Friday with misdemeanor theft, battery, and vandalism, due to her "passionate" methods of exchanging views with those anti-abortion protesters. She reportedly "took one of the signs, walked with it across campus, then destroyed it in her office with scissors and help from students." Which is pretty funny! She also reportedly scratched a teenage protester, which is somewhat less funny. Here is Miller-Young's explanation, via the police report:
In essence, Miller-Young told me she felt "triggered" by the images on the posters. Miller-Young stated that she had been walking through the Arbor to get back to South Hall. Miller-Young said she was approached by people who gave her literature about abortion. Miller-Young said that she found this literature and pictures disturbing. Miller-Young said that she found this material offensive because she teaches about women's "reproductive rights" and is pregnant. She said an argument ensued about the graphic nature of these images. Miller-Young said that she [sic] situation became "passionate" and that other students in the area were "triggered" in a negative way by the imagery...
Miller-Young went on to say that because the poster was upsetting to her and other students, she felt that the activists did not have the right to be there...
I asked Miller-Young if she felt anything wrong had happened this afternoon. Miller-Young said that she did not know enough about the limits of free speech to answer my question. Miller-Young went on to say that she was not sure what an acceptable and legal response to hate speech would be.
This seems like one of those cases where the best course of action is to say, "Dang, I got so mad at these jerks that I just lost it, my bad," and then you promise not to do it again, and then there is perhaps some tiny slap on the wrist just for the sake of formality because most people agree with your sentiment, if not with your actions, and then everyone just moves on with their day.
Mireille Miller-Young is not a professor of law.