Dr. Mireille Miller-Young — an associate professor with UCSB’s Feminist Studies Department — approached the demonstration site and exchanged heated words with the group, taking issue with their pro-life proselytizing and use of disturbing photographs. Joan claimed Miller-Young, accompanied by a few of her students, led the gathering crowd in a chant of “Tear down the sign! Tear down the sign!” before grabbing one of the banners and walking with it across campus.While wrong and probably in violation of the law, acting out on the basis of strong emotion is neither surprising nor can I get too worked up about it since no one was significantly hurt. What's slightly more surprising and definitely more disconcerting, is that after the heat of the moment passed, Miller-Young still believed herself to be the victim. From the police report:
I asked Miller-Young what crimes she felt the pro-life group had violated. Miller-Young replied that their coming to campus and showing “graphic imagery” was insensitive to the community. I clarified the difference between University policy and law to Miller-Young and asked her again what law had been violated. Miller-Young said that she believed the pro-life group may have violated University policy. Miller-Young said that her actions today were in defense of her students and her own safety.
Miller-Young said that she felt that this issue was not criminal and expressed a desire to find a resolution outside of the legal system. Miller-Young continued and stated that she had the “moral” right to act in the way she did.
I asked Miller-Young if she could have behaved differently in this instance. There was a long pause. “I’ve said that I think I did the right thing. But I acknowledge that I probably should not have taken their poster.” Miller-Young also said that she wished that the anti-abortion group had taken down the images when they demanded them to.
Miller-Young also suggested that the group had violated her rights. I asked Miller-Young what right the group had violated. Miller-Young responded, “My personal right to go to work and not be in harm.”I guess free speech can be traumatic and "harmful" to others. And many rallied to Miller-Young's defense. For example, from the Belmont Club:
Stephanie Gilmore at The Feminist Wire lost no time in supporting Miller-Young, describing what happened to the professor as “domestic terrorism is intended ‘to intimidate or coerce a civilian population’” — meaning Miller-Young — from feeling safe at her workplace."Domestic terrorism? Wow. A couple of signs at a small, peaceful rally or bombs and jetliners flown into buildings. Apparently, much the same. Afterall, they do say that the pen is mightier than the fuel-laden jumbo jet.
But it turns out that Ms. Gilmore herself then stepped beyond the politically correct pale of the left by proclaiming:
But I stand with Mireille Miller-Young because she stands with women – ALL women – in the face of political intimidation and harassment.As Heidi Cautrell pointed out in a comment to Ms. Gilmore's article:
“stand with” is abelist toward those who are unable to stand.I hate to admit it, but I had no idea what "ableism" was prior to following the above thread. In case you were also equally unenlightened, here is the definition:
a form of discrimination or social prejudice against people with disabilities. It may also be referred to as disability discrimination, physicalism, handicapism, and disability oppression. It is also sometimes known as disablism, although there is some dispute as to whether ableism and disablism are synonymous, and some people within disability rights circles find the latter term’s use inaccurate. Discrimination faced by those who have or are perceived to have a mental disorder is sometimes called mentalism rather than ableism.By now I am so far into the unknown that I hardly know which way is up. Take any active verb and there's probably someone who can't do it. If so, perhaps ableism should be called active-verbism? What a crazy world. As is often the case, I found much of Belmont Club's commentary on this topic insightful:
“Abelist” is a word from the world of Mireille Miller-Young, Stephanie Gilmore and Heidi Cautrell. If you don’t recognize the word, you might be forgiven. The Left is another country. They do things differently there. Even the words are different. The inhabitants of that strange country routinely refer to objects you might not recognize. They talk about Whiteness Theory, Phallogocentrism, Gynocriticism, and the Écriture féminine as you would WD-40, grass, spare tires or doorknobs. They are everyday objects of their world though you may never have heard of them.
If it has never occurred to you that to use the phrase “to stand with” is a mortal insult then you’re not with it. [...]
The inhabitants of the strange country take umbrage for reasons known only to themselves and it’s all that matters. It’s a clash of cultures, a collision between one part of America and another.
The pro-life demonstrators holding up their poster can be forgiven for thinking they were still in America. After all they had crossed no marked boundaries. So they thought it was alright to peaceably assemble. But in reality they had wandered into the precincts of some strange tribe where such things are not tolerated; a kind of Twilight Zone; a place governed by mysterious customs, prey to obscure taboos and worshipping some monstrous, unnamed idol. Everything was different there. Thus what followed was predictable.
When Mireille Miller-Young snatched away the banner from Joan and Thrin Short, she was doing no more than fulfilling her tribal duty, defending her “workplace” against some interloper from Flyover Country, rumored to exist somewhere beyond the borders of the University of California, a place imbued with strange ideas about the First Amendment and the Constitution. [...]
Neither Mireille Miller-Young nor the Short sisters are bad people judged by the standards of their own cultures. But they are different cultures. Mireille Miller-Young has a simple desire: not to stop until her tribe conquers all the rest. And in that she is just as ordinary; just as commonplace, just as unimaginative as any tribesperson who ever lived in the long and doleful history of the world.I disagree with the last sentence though. I could never be so imaginative to create such a convoluted and crazy world.