“Someone else’s opinion in the room is more important than yours”—Woke Tyranny at a State University

We have all seen the videos of woke students shouting down conservative speakers and have read about woke professors bullying non-left-wing students. But there is an even more insidious side of wokeness. To wit, classroom-level peer pressure campaigns by woke students to silence anyone who deviates from the radical agenda.

A notable example of this is a recent editorial in The Whit, the student-run newspaper of the state-operated Rowan University in New Jersey. This is an important issue because this is a tax-payer funded institution and free speech should not be stifled in such settings.

The April 13, 2022 editorial in question is entitled, Editorial: Sit Down and Stop Talking and the title says it all.

Basically, the editorialists want to mute in the classroom anyone whose views they do not like. And they seem to miss the irony of student journalists who, one would think, would be in favor of, you know, free speech and a lively exchange of ideas, arguing that students should stifle their views and depend on their professors to decide who gets to speak and whose views shall be heard.

This is not just an op-ed by a single woke free-speech crusher. This is an editorial by the staff of the paper and, therefore, is the position of the paper. Again, this is a publication at a state-run university that is arguing that students at this tax-payer funded institution should not be allowed to put their intellects to full use and to enable their peers to engage with them as equals and hone their arguments in response. What on earth do these editorial writers think a university is for?

Let us examine this soft tyranny in action.

We read:

In the age of constant communication and unlimited talk and text, everyone has forgotten how to shut up.

Does one go to college in order to learn how to shut up?

And note who is supposed to shut up. Basically, anyone who is white, male and heterosexual:

With so many societal issues revolving around people of color, sexuality and gender, your first thought when explaining your opinion shouldn’t be about how to articulate yourself. It should be to reflect and recognize if someone else’s opinion in the room is more important than yours.

Oh, I thought the purpose of education was to learn how to think--not to try to determine how someone else does. And it is genuinely creepy that the writers are telling their peers what their duties as students are—in this case, to be woke.

And note that the matter of truth seeking goes entirely unmentioned in the editorial. It is not that a person’s opinion might lead to truth. It just might be “more important than yours.” That is, more woke.

In these days of hysteria about “hate speech,” I gather that the possibility that a white heterosexual man might utter a thought in a college classroom is deeply upsetting to the editorial writers at The Whit. Thankfully, their weird, sexist and racist neurosis is probably not shared by everyone in New Jersey.

Oh, and by the way, such a policy would an unconstitutional restriction on speech by a state institution. But it seems uncharitable to point that out to these eager young speech-stifling zealots.

One of the few endearing things about the woke is how often they reveal that they have not thought through the nuances of their own statements.

For example, read this:

If you identify as a man and there is a discussion on gender inequality, what makes your opinion so critical that you should voice it over the women that do experience this issue?

Now, in the weird world of transgenderism there are biological women who “identify” as men but who are women except in their own heads. We have guidance from the ever helpful left-wing lexicographers of Planned Parenthood to help us out here:

Transgender Man (Trans Man): A person whose sex assigned at birth was female but whose gender identity is male.

Are the editorialists arguing that such “men” be excluded from discussions on matters concerning gender equality? Hmm, that doesn’t seem quite right—but then, I am not woke.

Moving right along, the writers seem to assume that there are no differing views among women on, say, the ruination of women’s sports by the transgenderist movement. We are told that it is not “considerate” to speak in favor of bills designed to protect children from mutilating surgery in the name of transgenderism. Oh--and only left-wing economic views are permissible in college classrooms:

The same can be said for discussions on wealth inequality, anti-trans bills, women in sports, the Black Lives Matter movement and media representation. Everyone’s opinion is valued in all impassioned discussions, but we also need to be considerate of those that can provide a more nuanced opinion within these talks due to their personal experiences.

Only those who are among the groups favored by the woke have “nuanced opinions” due to “personal experiences.” Shut up, middle class white heterosexual male. Oh, and anyone who is not a middle class white heterosexual male will definitely benefit from an atmosphere is which speech is suppressed and ideologies imposed.

And to those leftists who scoff at the idea that college students live in fear of saying something unwoke and so engage in self-censorship—please note that is exactly what these writers at a sizable state university are championing:

When it comes time to have a discussion in your next class, take a moment to evaluate your opinion and position in relation to the topic. Could your opinion provide the same intricacy as that of your peers? Are you monopolizing a conversation? Is there someone near you more qualified to provide the same information?

It’s not that you shouldn’t voice your opinion, it’s that everyone needs to learn to sit down and stop talking. Let someone else have the floor.

And what is truly odd is that the supposedly bottom-up woke movement wants to cede quite a bit of power to left-wing professors to enforce this anti-free speech regime—and to compel any professor who might not be woke to do the same:

Professors also hold a certain level of responsibility within these discussions. They have the ability to guide these conversations so students stay on-topic and be conscious of who is speaking within the discussion. When calling on different students to speak in class, professors need to prioritize those with nuanced and personal opinions in order to facilitate well-rounded discussions that are inclusive to all members of the classroom.

Hmm, sounds openly racist and otherwise biased. And is a professor supposed to say on the first day of class, “Those of you from poor backgrounds, please identify yourselves so that I may disproportionately call on you throughout the semester.” Or, “White non-queer men, please feel free to submit personal petitions to be allowed to be allowed to speak on certain specified topics. I will review those in due course.”

Can you imagine how college students who being told to stifle their own opinions or who are privileged by woke professors due to specified identities and who are being systematically prevented from learning how to defend their views in an intellectually vibrant setting are going to function in the workplace—or in a democratic society?

And how are students supposed to determine who among them is “nuanced?” By skin color? Are queer students going to have to wear “Pride” pins so that professors can more easily identify them? Will professors have to arrange seating so that the non-nuanced students are segregated from those who are nuanced?

What a condescending view of everyone who is not a white male heterosexual. Structuring classroom discussions on the basis of shutting people up is not for good for anybody.

It’s amazing that college students are arguing for their peers to refrain from contributing to classroom discussions and demanding that professors engage in highly visible acts of discrimination. Hello, lawsuits!

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