Wokeism: It’s Not the Law

In a number of cases across the country, academics who have been fired or otherwise penalized for failing to go along with the “woke” fad have successfully sought legal redress. It is remarkable how little understanding the academics who run our colleges and universities have, apparently, of the basics of constitutional law. They generally seem to think that they have free rein to impose wokeism on all those within their domains.

The latest such case is Hiers v. The Board of Regents of the University of North Texas System. The district court’s decision lays out the facts at length, and Louis Bonham summarizes them more briefly here. Plaintiff Nathaniel Hiers taught linear algebra at North Texas State. One day someone left leaflets in the faculty lounge that talked about “microagressions.” The leaflets were, by normal standards, painfully stupid:

The flyer defines microaggressions and provides examples of statements characterized as microaggressions that it suggests faculty should avoid using in the workplace. For instance, statements such as “I believe the most qualified person should get the job” and “America is the land of opportunity” are cited as microaggressions promoting the “[m]yth of [m]eritocracy.”

Professor Hiers, unamused, left a message on the lounge’s blackboard that said “Please don’t leave garbage lying around.”

Confronted by his department chairman, Hiers refused to recant–why can’t political speech be countered with differing political speech?–and declined to undergo Communist re-education diversity training. So he was fired.

The department chairman took umbrage at the idea that the flyer about “microagressions” was political speech:

In our conversation you characterized the flyers that upset you as political statements. I looked at them in detail, and they are anything but. Every example of a microaggression listed there makes very much sense, and I am disappointed about your general dismissal of these issues and that you failed to put yourself in the shoes of people who are affected by such comments.

So Hiers was fired. The linked court decision denies the defendants’ motion for dismissal on the key counts. The court saw the case as one of a constitutionally impermissible attempt to compel speech:

[P]recedent establishes that the government violates the First Amendment when it tries to compel public employees to affirm beliefs with which they disagree. Period.

Wokeness may be a religion, but it isn’t the law. The more often university officials are forced to pay damages, preferably out of their own pockets, the better. But these cases also underline the importance of the Supreme Court. I think it is fair to say that the Democratic Party believes in wokeness and does not believe in the Constitution. Justices appointed by Democratic presidents like Joe Biden can be expected to side with university administrators and others who seek to impose left-wing dogmas on their employees. We are never more than a couple of justices away from losing our constitutional rights.

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