Published March 27, 2014
The California school that employs a professor accused of attacking a teen-aged pro-life demonstrator has issued an apology…sort of.
In a long-winded 1,000-word letter that reads more like a diatribe than a mea culpa, University of California at Santa Barbara Vice Chancellor Michael Young eventually conceded that women’s studies professor Mireille Miller-Young should not have snatched a pro-life sign from 16-year-old Thrin Short, giving backhanded praise to the framers of the Constitution.
“Our Founding Fathers - all white men of privilege, some even slave owners - got it right when designing the First Amendment of the Constitution,” Young wrote in an open memo to the student body.
The price of freedom of speech, Young was enlightened enough to acknowledge, is that students, staff and faculty must tolerate "outside groups and individuals coming here to promote an ideology, to promulgate particular beliefs (at times extreme beliefs), or simply to create discord that furthers a certain personal agenda."
"Some passionately believe in their causes, while others peddle hate and intolerance with less-than-noble aims," Young added, mentioning "evangelical types."
He did not specifically state what category he believes Thrin, who was in a designated free speech zone and demonstrating with members of a group called Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, fell into. But the girl's mother, Katie Short, told FoxNews.com the memo left her feeling Young was painting her daughter as a hater because of her deeply-held beliefs.
“We appreciate that the vice-chancellor has made clear the university’s commitment to free speech, but before he tars pro-life speakers as people who deliberately taunt and provoke and peddle hatred, he should come and watch a pro-life outreach,” Katie Short said. “I think he would be edified — he should be edified — to see students listening, discussing, debating, and reading about one of the most important issues of the day.”
Short added that she was concerned that faculty and staff at the public school would consider some citizens "outsiders."
“This gives the impression of the University as a bubble, in which only administration-approved ideas are welcome,” she said. “His encouragement to students to avoid disturbing ideas by avoiding the free speech area, because ‘the visitors will hate it,’ shows even more disrespect for outside voices.”
Members of the Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust also blasted Young's statement.
“Using terms like ‘evangelical types’ he denigrates a group of people for their religious views,” the group stated in a news release. “Had he said ‘gay types,’ ‘black types,’ or ‘Muslim types,’ clearly there would be outrage, as there should be,” the statement read. “Intolerance must be intolerant of all hate speech.”
Miller-Young, through her attorney, declined to comment, and Vice Chancellor Young did not immediately return requests for comment from FoxNews.com. It was not known if they are related.
Thrin recently told FoxNews.com that she and her older sister Joan, 21 were with holding signs and demonstrating in a free speech zone on the UCSB campus with other pro-life activists when the feminist studies professor—who teaches one course on campus titled “Black Woman in Pornography”—approached the group.
“Before she grabbed the sign, she was mocking me and talking over me in front of the students, saying that she was twice as old as me and had three degrees, so they should listen to her and not me,” Thrin Short wrote in an email to FoxNews.com earlier this month. “Then she started the chant with the students about ‘tear down the sign.’ When that died out, she grabbed the sign.”
The professor snatched the sign and then allegedly walked through two campus buildings as Short, her sister and two UCSB students followed her before Miller-Young pushed the young demonstrator at least three times as Short tried to stop the elevator door from closing and get back her sign.
“I explained how I had been trying to keep the elevator door open with my foot, because I thought the police would be there any second, and that’s when she pushed and grabbed me,” Short’s email continued. “She then got off the elevator and tried to pull me away from the elevator doors so the others could get away with the sign.”
Short claimed that she suffered minor injuries during the melee — scratches on both wrists.
Miller-Young was charged last Friday by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office with misdemeanor counts of theft, battery and vandalism.
It’s unknown if Miller-Young will face any punishment from the school, but in a statement sent to FoxNews.com earlier this month, UCSB spokesman George Foulsham said that, “The university is aware of the incident and it is being reviewed by the appropriate offices.”
FoxNews.com's Perry Chiaramonte and Joshua Rhett Miller contributed to this report