Saturday, May 24, 2014

Trigger Warnings

If you're so fragile that you need a "trigger warning" to alert you to the fact that something, somewhere, might upset you, then perhaps it's you and not the rest of us who should accommodate that:
“Trigger warnings” about potentially upsetting material are the latest campus fad, reports the New York Times. Advocates believe many students suffer from post-traumatic stress due to rape, domestic violence, racism, sexism, classism, ableism, military service or other things.

Professors aren’t happy about it, reports the Times. “Trigger warnings, they say, suggest a certain fragility of mind that higher learning is meant to challenge, not embrace..."

America’s college kids are mollycoddled babies, writes Checker Finn. “These are the same kids who would riot in the streets if their colleges asserted any form of in loco parentis when it comes to such old-fashioned concerns as inebriation and fornication. God forbid they should be treated as responsible, independent adults!”
Some people call it like they see it:
Radio hosts Gregg “Opie” Hughes, Anthony Cumia and comedian Jim Norton, of the popular “Opie and Anthony Show” on SiriusXM, went on a fiery tirade Tuesday against “trigger warnings” and the current culture on college campuses, which they argue is producing childish adults unprepared to deal with the “real world.”

Norton also scolded the progressive left for becoming “exactly what you hated.”

“You have become exactly [like] the conservative, religious book burners of the 40s and the 50s and the 60s. You are it!” he said. “You are the speech repressors, you are the hypersensitive ones, you are the ones who want people fired immediately, you are the ones calling for people’s jobs. You have become what you hated.”
Update, 6/3/14: Now so-called trigger warnings are being mocked, and I like it:
The National Association of Scholars has announced a Trigger Warning ContestWhat should readers be warned about before reading, say, Hamlet, The Republic, Anne of Green Gables, or The Wind in the Willows? Or the classic of your choice.
Readers can submit entries on Twitter, including NAS’s handle and the hashtag #triggerwarningfail...

The top three trigger warnings will be announced on Friday. Each submitter in the top three will receive a copy of NAS president Peter Wood’s book, A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now (warning: not recommended for the apiphobic).


maxutils said...

The worst thing about this concept ... and there are many bad things ... is that once you establish that you're going to do it, if you miss one?
You set up a legal liability issue, which should be ridiculous and thrown out ... but probably won't. You teach your class. If someone finds the material uncomfortable, he or she leaves. Problem solved.

Anonymous said...

we have two options in life when faced with challenges. we may either choose to be a victim or a victor. if you need a "trigger warning" there is a strong chance you are living as a victim. rise above.

Anonymous said...


You put the warning on everything! Then you don't miss any. Of course, the warning becomes useless then, but ...

-Mark Roulo

allen (in Michigan) said...

I think the point that's being missed here is that all this "trigger warnings" stuff is an assertion of control by those with precious little in the way of a rationale to justify influencing the production of textbooks or much of anything else for that matter. The specific subject's less important then the establishment of the principle that if you whine enough someone's simply got to take you seriously and give you what you're demanding.

My thumbnail estimate is that this issue will disappear relatively quickly being both too vague in goal and too intrusive on precious little reason. Much in the way that the recent effort to create a taboo about the word "pushy" seems to have come and gone in hardly more then the blink of an eye.

Anonymous said...

Trigger warnings are generally to warn people who have suffered extreme abuse that there if something explicit and/or graphic that may cause them issues. This is so they can determine if they are at a point and time where they can read/see the information, or should move to a safe spot to do so.

For example, a vet with PTSD might appreciate a trigger warning before reading an article that uses specific details to describe the aftermath of a car bomb or ambush.

This is not to say it isn't also used frivously. But it doesn't mean it's an inherently bad idea.

Darren said...

I'm quite aware of what trigger warnings are, thankyouverymuch. I just think that in reality, in life, people need to deal, to put on their big-kid undies.

Is there any valid scientific evidence for so-called trigger warnings? I've read there isn't, that's they're made up out of thin air. I do not know this for sure, though.

maxutils said...

I have a friend who was wounded in the Somalia eft-up ... he can't watch Black Hawk Down ... but he didn't need to be told that. If you find yourself in an uncomfortable environment, you leave.