Shall I tell you why we have brought you here? To cure you! To make you sane! Will you understand, Winston, that no one whom we bring to this place ever leaves our hands uncured? We are not interested in those stupid crimes that you have committed. The Party is not interested in the overt act: the thought is all we care about. We do not merely destroy our enemies, we change them. Do you understand what I mean by that?
—George Orwell, 1984
There’s nothing like a little government-sponsored re-education to get my blood boiling on an otherwise ordinary Tuesday.
Under the University Community Conduct Code at Metropolitan State University in Minnesota, sanctions for exhibiting “manifestations of prejudice regarding race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation” include “appropriate sensitivity training.” Sensitivity training includes “attendance at appropriate workshops, readings or other activities designed to enhance sensitivity of individual in area of violation.”
That policy should send chills up your spine. It’s bad enough when the government censors you for expressing unpopular or offensive ideas. But when the government forces you to attend “workshops” in an effort to intrude upon your private conscience and reform your innermost beliefs, whatever they may be, that is just plain nightmarish. It is also plainly unconstitutional—the First Amendment protects our right to freedom of conscience, the right to keep our innermost thoughts free from governmental intrusion. No agency of the state or federal government—be it Metropolitan State University or the CIA—can take that away.
If you want more information on what you can do to combat “sensitivity training” and other types of thought reform, see FIRE’s Guide to First-Year Orientation and Thought Reform on Campus.