The technicians carefully positioned the electrodes at specific locations of Ronnie’s freshly shaved head. The adhesive paste was cold like the room and she started to shiver.
It wasn’t just the temperature, though. Ronnie was terrified. She struggled against the straps restraining her to the chair.
“Now Ms. Pierson. This will go easier for you if you don’t resist.” Dr. Williams, head of the University’s Department of Diversity Instruction stood directly in front of Ronnie, her arms crossed. “This really is for your own good as well as for the sake of the other students here at Libra U.”
“When I came in here this morning…I thought you said this was going to be a workshop.” In spite of herself, in spite of not wanting to give in to these bastards, Ronnie was close to tears.
“It’s much more efficient to provide the corrective programming digitally, through direct cognitive induction, rather than have you attend a series of classes.” Williams leaned slightly toward Ronnie. “Externally presented materials can be ignored or minimized. When we introduce the correction electrically, it will become a part of you.”
Mind control. Ronnie had heard rumors, but she didn’t believe them…well, not until now.
She’d heard of students being sent to Diversity Instruction, she’d even met one. Seth, her dorm mate’s boyfriend, attended “the workshop” a couple of months ago after an “incident” in which he sent a tweet saying that he thought that criticism of “white privilege” was way overemphasized on campus.
He received the summons from the DDI backed up by the threat of cancelling all his academic credits for the semester if he failed to comply. So he complied. Seth never quite seemed like himself after the workshop. In fact, he had joined the “Social Justice Witnesses on Campus” (SJWC or sometimes just SJW) club a few days after he attended the workshop, and became one of the most outspoken critics of White Privilege, renouncing his own to the point of practically groveling.
Now that she thought of it, not only Seth, but everyone who had attended “the workshop,” came back with a shaved head. They said that it was one of the exercises in the diversity training, but now Ronnie knew what it really meant.
It was after the shooting of five Dallas police officers by a sniper, someone who claimed affiliation to BLM (although BLM denied this) and how he, in the manifesto found in the shooter’s home the next day, stated that he wanted to “take out” as many white cops as he could in order to save black lives.
Ronnie’s Dad is a retired police officer and the news hit her in a bad way.
She was only twelve when her Dad was shot on duty trying to stop a liquor store hold up. Fortunately, the wound wasn’t serious and Dad’s partner returned fire and kept the shooter from getting off another round.
Dad only spent a couple of weeks back home recovering, and then was put on light duty for another couple of weeks. For the rest of his career, he was never fired upon and never had to draw his service revolver.
But Ronnie would cry herself to sleep at night after her Daddy went to work. “What if he gets shot tonight? What if I never see him again?”
All those years of fear and rage surfaced after the Dallas police shootings. She got on Facebook and ranted about how the lives of cops matter, too and (this is the part that got her in trouble) how #AllLivesMatter (hashtag included).
She was immediately removed from all participation as an officer of the University’s Student Body and placed on a plan of correction including attending a workshop, the same one Seth had attended, at the DDI.
Now she realized that the workshop wasn’t just incredibly effective at disseminating propaganda, it was actually a process of invasively altering a person’s thoughts and emotions, effectively making them a social justice drone.
Ronnie didn’t want to be digitally lobotomized.
In the past, she could have refused and the worst that would have happened to her would be the loss of her position on the Student Body and probably a lot of “hate mail” aimed her way on social media.
But since the Educational Social Justice initiative was passed by Congress last year, universities now had broad powers on how to discipline “disruptive influences” such as Seth and Ronnie. She didn’t think discipline was going to mean forced medical treatments.
“Now just try to relax.” Dr. Williams’ stern attitude had swiftly shifted to one of sugar and sweetness. “It will all be over soon.”
She dropped her smile and nodded to one of the techs who was operating the controls for the device Ronnie was attached to.
“No,” Ronnie whined. She could feel the electrodes heat, then there was a tingling sensation. And then it was like her head exploded.
At first she thought she’d gone blind, but it was whatever they were doing to her brain. Darkness. Flashes of light, sometimes like lightning, and then like lightning bugs. Ronnie didn’t know if the machine triggered one of her migraines or if the pain was part of the process.
“I’ve got to keep control of who I am,” she internally repeated her mantra. She could feel these alien thoughts being intertwined with her own.
Thoughts and feelings: Race relations. White Privilege. LGBTQ rights. Islamophobia. Antisemitism. Gender inequality. Racial profiling. ‘Harmless’ off-color jokes. Black Lives Matter versus All Lives Matter. School to prison pipelines. Personal responsibility versus institutional oppression. Bias. Prejudice. Discrimination. Aggression. A swirling chaos of concepts and values were consuming her from the inside, like she was prey and they were the predators.
Ronnie had hoped she’d have the will power to resist, but everyone succumbs to torture sooner or later. It’s just a matter of time and how much pain is applied.
A few days later, after Ronnie had recovered from her “workshop,” she got on Facebook and totally renounced her former comments, promising to spread her new, enlightened point of view. The next week, she joined Social Justice Witnesses and was assigned to Seth for orientation and training.
A month later, her migraines got worse again. They were almost unbearable whenever she attended a meeting at Social Justice.
One evening during a meeting at the SJW center, Ronnie’s head felt like it was going to split. Seth was surprisingly kind. “Why don’t you come into one of the offices and lie down on the couch.” Part of her was suspicious. A woman being alone and put in a reclining position by a male student could be perceived as a sexual threat. “I’ll go get you something for your migraine.”
She laid down stiffly on the sofa as Seth left and closed the door behind him. She remembered liking Seth and half-wished her roomie would break up with him so she’d have a chance at him. But since the workshop, she found she was distancing herself, not just from Seth, but from all guys, like they all represented some sort of danger just because they were guys.
Ronnie even caught herself fantasizing about going to bed with girls as a way of expressing herself sexually. But she knew she wasn’t a lesbian. She’d been attracted to guys as far back as fifth or sixth grade. She’d lost count of the number of crushes she’d had on boys on her favorite TV shows growing up.
Ronnie didn’t know how much time passed, but Seth returned with a cup of water and some pills. “Rape drugs!” The thought went off in her head like a flash bulb. The image of the light reminded her of the day she underwent conditioning. What was wrong with her? Seth wouldn’t hurt her, assault her, would he?
Ronnie hesitated, not knowing if she should take the pills.
“Is it beginning to come back to you?” Seth sounded conspiratorial. “The treatment. It wears off. We have to be careful not to let anyone outside of our group know.”
“Treatment?” Ronnie’s headache suddenly got worse, like she was fighting something and something was fighting back.
“These are just ibuprofen.” Seth sat on the floor a few feet away from the sofa. Somehow Ronnie knew that putting himself below her eye level was a way to make her feel safer. “You don’t have to take them if you don’t want to.”
“The treatment. Dr. Williams.” Ronnie was staring into Seth’s eyes, as if only Seth and she knew some terrible secret.
“That’s right, Ronnie. They did something to us. To control our thoughts. To change our personalities.”
It hurt to try remembering, but she had to.
No use. There was too much pain. She gestured to Seth, asking for the ibuprofen and water. Of course it wouldn’t help. She always had to sleep off her migraines.
Seth walked Ronnie back to her dorm. On the way, she felt like she could trust him a little more.
Two days later, they met in a burger place off campus, one that most of the students didn’t frequent. It was Seth’s idea.
“We can’t meet in a place where other students or staff might overhear us. I’m beginning to think even our dorm rooms are bugged.”
That really did sound paranoid to Ronnie, but her head had been clearing since the last time she saw Seth, and as paranoid as listening devices sounded, there was a part of her that had the same fear.
“I remember now.” Ronnie was surprised to hear herself whisper. “I remember Dr. Williams. The electrodes on my head. The pain. The alien thoughts being … programmed into me.”
“Same for me, but we aren’t the only ones.”
“How many others?” Ronnie wanted to know who else shared the secret of their assault.
“Everyone who’s ever been ordered to DDI for the Diversity Workshop. Almost a hundred of us are currently attending L.U. Who knows how many have transferred to other schools, graduated, or dropped out.”
“Do you know who they all are?”
“It’s sort of like being Neo in the ‘Matrix’. We wake up and realize that everything we thought was real was all digital programming and lies.”
“But Seth, Neo was born and raised into that world. We were ourselves in the real world until Dr. Williams and that machine.” Ronnie had visions of strapping Williams into her own chair, pasting electrodes onto her head, and doing some programming of her own.
“What do we do?”
“We lay low for one thing. If anyone figures out the machine’s programming isn’t permanent, they’ll probably put us through it again. Who knows what a second exposure would do to us?” Seth stopped talking when the wait staff brought their order.
After they were served and alone again, Seth continued. “We have to be careful about meeting each other. If we get together in too large a group, the administrators and SJW students will get suspicious. They’ll figure out something went wrong with our training.”
“So we just have to keep acting like we’re still brainwashed?” Ronnie hated that idea. She wanted to tell the whole world what was happening at Libra.
“We have to, at least until we can get out from under admin’s authority.”
“How come the students who graduated or left Libra U. never spoke up?”
“I don’t know. By the time I recovered, none of them were around for me to ask. I didn’t even know them.”
“We’ve got to fight back.”
“Not while we’re still students here, and not while the other victims are still here. We’re all at risk. We have to protect them and ourselves.”
This didn’t sit well with Ronnie, but she understood about protecting other innocents. That had been drilled into her by her Dad since she was little.
“This might not be happening just here, Ronnie. Maybe they’ve got DDI Departments at all the colleges and universities.”
It was a horrifying thought, but if Seth were right, this conspiracy could be nationwide, and fueled by the Federal government.
“The Black Lives Matter movement is fighting back against injustice, real and perceived. BLM face down police, push back against the government, or at least some parts of it. They organized. They’re effective. Why can’t we do the same thing?”
“If there are enough of us to make a difference, too many just to be made to quietly disappear.” Seth stopped and thought for a second. “It might work.”
“Then we have to start planning. Figure out how to make our own movement. Fight back against the established order. Our lives, our minds, our free will matters, too.”
A year later, a series of national protests by the Free Will/Free Speech Movement forced the closure of all of the Departments of Diversity Instruction on every American university. The cognitive coercion equipment was dismantled and dozens of university administrators and doctors were indicted.
This time the people stopped Big Brother and his mind control experiments. This time.
Before anyone starts yelling at me for criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement, although this is dystopian science fiction, it’s loosely based on an actual event. No, not mind control as such, but definitely a disproportionate response to a simple incident.
I read a short article written by William Rierson for Campus Reform called UH student govt sanctions VP for saying ‘all lives matter’. Apparently, a University of Houston (UH) student named Rohini Sethi who is also Student body Vice President, ‘posted “Forget #BlackLivesMatter; more like #AllLivesMatter” on Facebook hours after a gunman killed five police officers at a BLM inspired rally in Dallas, Texas.’
This started a “firestorm of controversy on Facebook and Twitter in the UH community.” The President of the Student Body Shane Smith and the school admins went (in my opinion) berserk and laid all these requirements on Sethi, the consequences for failure to comply would be losing her VP spot on the Student Body (personally, I would have quit in a New York minute, but I don’t know Sethi’s situation).
One of the requirements imposed was to attend a comprehensive workshop at The Libra Project (I’m sure you’re beginning to see where I got my naming scheme for this short story). I copied exactly what they instruct on in the body of my story:
“Race relations. White Privilege. LGBTQ rights. Islamophobia. Antisemitism. Gender inequality. Racial profiling. ‘Harmless’ off-color jokes. Black Lives Matter versus All Lives Matter. School to prison pipelines. Personal responsibility versus institutional oppression. Bias. Prejudice. Discrimination. Aggression.”
All Sethi did was post the hashtagged phrase “AllLivesMatter” in response to the murder of five police officers who were at a peaceful BLM demonstration in Dallas. For that, UH basically threw the diversity, progressive, politically correct book at her, requiring she be trained in proper thought etiquette.
Isn’t George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 required reading anymore? Maybe if it was, the people over at UH would understand that their actions against Sethi cast them in the role of Big Brother, the face of government mind control of the masses.