Your Honor, my name is Catherine Short. I am Joan and Thrin’s mother. Yesterday we were provided with the filing by the defense with Ms. Miller-Young’s apology and letters of support. I would like to comment briefly on that.
First, I would like to point out that Miller-Young’s apology says nothing about her pushing, grabbing, and scratching Thrin. Until Miller-Young takes responsibility for everything wrong she did that day, it is hard to take her apology at face value.
Second, if Miller-Young is sincere in her apology, why did she nonetheless let her colleagues tell this court things she knows are not true? A letter from Kayla Martin says that Miller-Young was “triggered” by the loud chants of the pro-lifers that disrupted a nearby classroom. Miller-Young knows very well that the only chanting that went on was when she herself led students in a chant of “Tear down the sign.” A letter from Jennifer Morgan praised Miller-Young’s efforts to create productive and useful dialogue, and accused the pro-lifers that day of using “shocking and violent images to shut down dialogue.” Miller-Young knows very well that she was the one shutting down dialogue; she was the one breaking up conversations between students and the pro-life group, she was the one who refused to engage in rational discourse. Other letters submitted by Miller-Young are in the same vein. Ms. Miller-Young often decries stereotyping, but she is perfectly willing to let her supporters defend her by deploying the false stereotype of the loud, threatening, belligerent, anti-choice protester, when she knows very well that is not what she encountered that day, and that, indeed, she was the threatening and belligerent one.
Miller-Young also let her supporters tell the court that her actions are so out of character that they must be attributed to her pregnancy. Again, Miller-Young knows better. Shortly after the incident, I was contacted by members of another group, Justice for All. A few years ago they set up a pro-life display at UCSB. Miller-Young approached the display and engaged in the same type of angry, bullying, demeaning diatribe in that situation as she did here. Justice for All sent me photos of Miller-Young at the scene. The difference was that their signs were very large and surrounded by a barricade. Miller-Young’s behavior on March 4 was not caused by her pregnancy. It was caused by her being, once again, confronted by a very effective presentation of a viewpoint that challenged her own. She was powerless to stop that presentation in the earlier incident. On March 4, she could do something to shut it down, and she did.
Finally, the question of an appropriate sentence. I was struck by how many letters emphasized Miller-Young as the peacemaker, open to dialogue, respectful of all viewpoints, etc. The only way I could square that with her behavior on March 4 was to recall the saying attributed to Henry Kissinger: “Academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.” These letters, in fact all the letters of support, come from people who know Miler-Young only through their academic work with her. Perhaps Miller-Young is an open-minded bridge-builder in that narrow field. I think it would be helpful for her if part of her sentence included some community service that involved rubbing shoulders, not as a teacher, or mentor, or leader, but as an equal, with what some at UCSB call “outsiders,” particularly people who beliefs and values are not just a little out of step with hers, but entirely different from her own. I think it would be of great benefit to her to be able to work on her skills of conflict resolution and dialogue in a context beyond the squabbles of the like-minded in the faculty lounge.