Anyone interested in understanding the most effective techniques for policing people's thinking and enforcing approved beliefs might learn a thing or two from the experience of a friend of mine who works at one of the nation's largest banks. Here is his recent message to me:
I've worked at Chase for the past 11 years. Yearly (sometimes skipping a year though) the bank will send out an Employee Survey to gauge how the employees feel about the bank and the management team they report up to. Every year that's all the questions ever related to: the bank in general and management. But this year there was a question that had many of us scratching our heads. This is a company wide survey. All lines of business have the same survey. There was a question where it said to check the boxes that were applicable to you. You could select one, more than one, or none. Here it is: Are you: 1) A person with disabilities; 2) A person with children with disabilities; 3) A person with a spouse/domestic partner with disabilities; 4) A member of the LGBT community.
I thought 4 was a little oddly placed, but oh well. It was the next option that pulled the needle off the record: 5) An ally of the LGBT community, but not personally identifying as LGBT.
What?! What kind of question was that? An "ally" of that community? What's the alternative if you don't select that option? You're not a ally of the LGBT community?
This survey wasn't anonymous. You had to enter your employee ID. With the way things are going and the fact that LGBT rights are being viewed as pretty much tantamount to the civil rights movement of the mid 50s to late 60s, not selecting that option is essentially saying "I'm not an ally of civil rights"; which is a vague way to say "I'm a bigot." The worry among many of us is that those who didn't select that poorly placed, irrelevant option will be placed on the "you can fire these people first" list.
The message to all employees is perfectly clear: You are expected to fall into line with the approved and required thinking. Nothing short of assent is acceptable. Silent dissent will no longer be permitted.