Mona Charen

The mother of the 16-year-old pro-life demonstrator who suffered a rough confrontation with a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has shown a rare civility -- the spirit liberals are forever bemoaning the lack of but rarely demonstrating themselves.

The event: A small group of pro-life activists visited UCSB to demonstrate against abortion. They bore posters and leaflets and set up their display on the campus's "free speech zone." Professor Mireille Miller-Young was offended, no "triggered," by the photo of an aborted baby on Thrin Short's poster. Together with two or three students, the professor grabbed a large sign and then pushed and scratched the girl who attempted to take it back. This was captured on video by the pro-lifers. "I was stronger, so I took the sign," Miller-Young explained later.

Miller-Young has since been charged with misdemeanor theft, battery (Short's arms bore scratches, also photographed) and vandalism (Miller-Young and her students cut the sign to pieces).

Throughout the unpleasant encounter, the professor and her students let fly with profanity and insults.

The civility: Catherine Short, mother of Thrin, issued a statement reading in part:

"Unfortunately, along with the expressions of support we have received, we have become aware of individuals engaging in ad hominem attacks against Miller-Young. We do not condone this, and we ask that such attacks stop."

The university administration issued a statement on the episode dripping with contempt and disgust toward the demonstrators. Vice Chancellor Michael Young described the pro-lifers as "outsiders" and "Evangelical types," whose words can be "disruptive." Not surprisingly, pro-lifers were offended.

Still, perhaps because one's expectations of academia have sunk so low, the rest of his statement merits at least tepid applause. "The price of freedom for all to speak is that, at times, everyone will be subjected to speech and expression that we, ourselves, find offensive, hateful, vile, hurtful, provocative, and perhaps even evil," Young wrote. "So be it! ... Our Founding Fathers -- all white men of privilege, some even slave owners -- got it right when designing the First Amendment of the Constitution."

The surprising section of that paragraph is not the description of the Founders as white men of privilege and so forth -- that's boilerplate these days -- it's the endorsement of free speech, which cannot be taken for granted on college campuses (see, e.g., "Unlearning Liberty," by Greg Lukianoff).


Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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