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Groupthink and Crimes of Opinion

by Bryan Hyde

The Age of Political Correctness

The beauty of totalitarian concepts like groupthink and crimes of opinion is that everyone is a potential thought criminal in need of sensitivity training.

For instance, when a student at Alta High School jokingly donned a white pillowcase with eye-holes during a school pep assembly last spring, a few people were understandably offended.

Was it a silly thing to do?  Absolutely.

Was it an act that could be interpreted as making light of what a Klansman might wear?  Yes.

Was it an act of overt racism aimed directly at the school’s minorities?  Hardly.

But in the age of political correctness, never underestimate the willingness of opportunists to take offense to dizzying new heights.

One of those offended, a student named Larz Cosby, brought the incident to the attention of members of the Salt Lake media who sensed an opportunity to fan the flames of contrived outrage.

The anti-racism witch hunt that followed would see both the Principal and Assistant Principal of Alta High placed on leave and both eventually leaving the school.

Meanwhile, the Canyons School District’s office of civil rights sought to find and punish the student who had worn the pillowcase.

In the spirit of politically correct overreaction, district officials somberly affirmed that even misinterpretation of the difference between a pillowcase and a Klan uniform leaves absolutely no room for snickering at youthful foolishness that fails to conform to acceptable attitudes.

It should have stopped there, but when enough professional offense-seekers got wind of the incident, it quickly reached critical mass.

Next, the U.S. Department of Justice intervened and Sandy police cited three students for misdemeanor unlawful acts for the incident.

Two of the students were also cited for texting an image of a burning cross with the words “Alta pride”.

Not once did it occur to officials that blowing the incident out of proportion might spark something other than cringing servility on the part of those who had violated the innumerable unwritten rules of political correctness.

The district soon announced it would institute plans to combat racism.

After all, a student behaving insensitively could only be seen as proof of deep-seated, institutional racism running rampant through the high school.

But the worst intervention was still to come.


The incident began as a molehill of poor taste that might have been smoothed with a simple apology.

Instead it quickly became a mountain of racism from which the infamous Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) came to Salt Lake City to publicly condemn its pet crimes of opinion while simultaneously dispensing its preferred brand of groupthink.

Under the guise of “tolerance training” select parents, students and faculty of the Canyons School District are being taught by members of the SPLC to form acceptable attitudes that conform to the sensitivity standards of political correctness.

To understand what is happening to the participants of this “training”, one must first recognize the consensus-building and group manipulation techniques that are being employed.

Professional alarmists like the SPLC rely on tolerance workshops to conduct a not-so-subtle form of psychological warfare.

Their goal is to create a culturally Marxist mindset through values clarification.

Old school Marxists referred to it as “collective spirit” but the group manipulation tactics are the same ones that have been utilized for centuries by those seeking to dominate others.

It’s a psychologically proven fact that groups are easier to control than individuals.

With this in mind, consensus-building exercises like the ones being taught by the SPLC are a powerful and effective tool to indoctrinate groups of people with politically correct dogma using the power of peer pressure.

It’s especially effective on those who don’t recognize that they are being manipulated.

A recent article in the New American magazine lauded author Beverly Eakman whose book How to Counter Group Manipulation Tactics: The Techniques of Unethical Consensus-Building Unmasked should be required reading for anyone who wishes to retain their individuality.

The quest for official conformity takes many different forms, but the ultimate goal is still thought control.

Control the thinking and everything else follows.

Mrs. Eakman cautions that such tactics may be encountered in “the workplace, a community forum, airport security, or the PTA” where consensus is valued above individual conscience and over unique ideas.

It’s the same old Marxist tactics, just re-invented and marketed as “sensitivity”.

She writes:

“A consensus is essentially a collective opinion that isn’t necessarily reflective of anybody’s private view. Manipulators get away with this because the collective good (or “team”) trumps the individual — a socialist concept.  Provocateurs, or agitators, often call themselves ’facilitators’ because that sounds neutral. But what these pros really do is to work the group over to ensure a predetermined outcome which they call a ’consensus.”

When Resistance is Futile

Image Source: Star Trek The Next Generation

Resisting such tactics will get you labeled as a resister or worse.

Count on being ridiculed, pressured and ostracized by the facilitator and members of the group when you refuse to engage in their politically correct consensus.

Just remember that this has always been the price paid by individuals who refuse to surrender their conscience to collective thought.

Remember, the facilitator’s and group’s goal is to assimilate you into the Borg of politically correct thought.

They’ll tell you that resistance is futile, but stand your ground anyway.

So long as you refuse to give in to the groupthink, you win.

The freedom to think for oneself is of inestimable value.

Sacrificing that freedom for the sake of psychologically manipulative conformity is simply unacceptable.

Above all, do not fear the willingness to assert your freedom of conscience when the manipulative cry “racism”.

In a free society, holding unpopular opinions should not be a crime.

Nor should clumsy, insensitive, juvenile humor be criminalized just because a few overly sensitive officials blew someone’s poor manners out of proportion.

If there was ever a time our society needed individuals who are unafraid of thinking independently, it’s now.


bryanhyde1Bryan Hyde is a radio host, husband, father, graduate student at George Wythe University, and seeker of truth. He does professional voice work through his company One Clear Voice.

Bryan blogs at Hydeologue.com. He and his wife Becky are raising their six children in Cedar City, Utah.

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  1. It’s always a hoot to see the Southern Poverty Law Center “teaching tolerance” when NOT ONE of its own top ten, highest paid executives is a minority.


    In fact, in its entire 40 year history, the SPLC has NEVER hired a person of color to a highly paid position of power.

    They sent Lecia Brookes, a mid-level black staffer, out for the photo opportunity of “teaching tolerance” to the evil high schoolers, but if history is any guide, our Ms. Brookes will never break into the top tier of SPLC executives.

    Some things just never change in Montgomery.

  2. Nice piece and I don’t find much I object to. While I know it isn’t the objective of your article it’s important to evaluate who the CSD hired as the principal at Alta.

    When I received the letter from the school district there was only one thought that entered my mind as I saw the name and then the qualifications of the individual.

    While this man may be a great and qualified one it’s impossible to ignore the implications of the hire.

    You be the judge of hiring practice of the CSD.

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