Really???

[Content Note: Author is an asshole]

I find the whole concept of trigger warnings to be so laughably absurd that I honestly can’t believe some people are serious about it. It sounds like something Rush Limbaugh would make up to attack the left.

*** Update ***

Some of you seem to be conflating two issues, or, much more likely, I was not clear. I have no problem with someone voluntarily doing this kind of thing. They want to create a safe environment or do it on their own volition, more power to them. I’m a live and let live kind of guy, and generally take the attitude of “whatever blows your trumpet so long as it isn’t making my life more difficult.” What I object to is the notion that these be mandatory. That’s nonsense.






505 replies
  1. 1
    raven says:

    PTS fucking D from a book!

  2. 2
    Baud says:

    [Content Note: Author is an asshole]

    Wait, are you referring to yourself or the author at the link?

  3. 3
    Betty Cracker says:

    I find the concept dumb too. I have extra-dainty, exquisitely sensitive fee-fees on some topics. It’s my cross to bear, and it’s not anyone else’s job to protect me.

  4. 4
    Orpho says:

    Yeah, I hear PTSD is made up, too. Those slackers are just cowards who can’t take it, and if they get all upset when they hear a car backfire or watch the first 10 minutes of Saving Private Ryan, they really should just toughen up.

    And if watching a rape on screen makes someone feel like they’re being raped again, same deal. No warnings for them! Get raped again in your head, and learn to love it.

  5. 5
    Roger Moore says:

    It seems to me that there are cases where a trigger warning is appropriate (e.g. in a post about terrorism that includes graphic images of victims) but that it’s been carried too far. As long as the trigger warnings are put there by well meaning people who are going too far in trying to be sensitive to their readers, they seem like they’re mostly silly; it’s only when people complain about them not being used for every possible situation under the sun that they get really crazy.

  6. 6
    Baud says:

    Now that I’ve read the post, I have mixed feelings. I think we need trigger warnings for HuffPo and Politico links, but where does it end?

  7. 7
    RandomMonster says:

    My initial reaction is that trigger warnings sound dumb. But then again, we put content warnings up for videos and movies, and those aren’t just for parents, they’re also for people who may not like watching certain objectionable types of content. What’s wrong with doing it for books?

    Note: I don’t have strong opinions on the subject, just posing a counter-argument for the hell of it.

  8. 8
    gogol's wife says:

    This is the first I’ve heard of it as an official thing, but I do give warnings about readings sometimes, based on common sense, and have done so for 30 years. I teach at “P.C.U.,” so I expect to be encountering this officially before long. I have no problem with it, honestly.

  9. 9

    @Orpho: Really? You needed a warning to know that there was going to be violence in Saving Private Ryan? NOT TO MENTION MOVIES ALREADY HAVE WARNINGS.

  10. 10
    raven says:

    @RandomMonster: Just ban all books, fuck it.

  11. 11
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Orpho: No one is saying PTSD isn’t real or that movies shouldn’t have ratings to warn viewers about disturbing content. I think we’re talking about books and written web content.

  12. 12
    Digital Amish says:

    Oh for christ’s sake! Okay, let’s make this simple. Anyone who thinks they need “trigger warnings” just post a sign on all the exits to their domiciles stating “Warning. You are about to enter the world.”.

  13. 13
    gogol's wife says:

    Don’t the tags on B.J. posts serve as trigger warnings? I use them that way sometimes, even though I didn’t know the official term for it.

  14. 14
    PsiFighter37 says:

    OT but I fucking hate United and Newark ‘Liberty from being a fucking functional non-4th World shithole’ International Airport more than anything at this point in time.

    PF37 +3

  15. 15
    raven says:

    All garden threads all the time.

  16. 16
    gogol's wife says:

    @PsiFighter37:

    There’s nothing worse than being stuck at Newark waiting for United to get their “equipment” to the place it’s supposed to be.

  17. 17
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    As a recovering alcoholic (and a BCrakcer fanboy) I endorse this sentiment.

  18. 18
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    No one is saying PTSD isn’t real or that movies shouldn’t have ratings to warn viewers about disturbing content. I think we’re talking about books and written web content.

    I think RandomMonster has a point, though. Why are books so different from movies that movies need content warnings but books don’t?

    Personally, I would have liked a warning that someone’s penis gets accidentally bitten off before I read The World According to Garp, but maybe it’s just me.

  19. 19
    Morzer says:

    There’s a fairly long tradition in English literature of supposed trigger warnings actually being selling-points. You know, stuff like “This book may contain provocative images and salacious content” vel sim.

  20. 20
    Orpho says:

    @John (MCCARTHY) Cole: I’ll take it a little slower if you need it. Clearly some situations will probably trigger a reaction in people sensitive to the trigger – PTSD war vets and Saving Private Ryan being the obvious example.

    Now walk it a little farther. Rape PTSD is real? Rape triggers might be real, too? So… you mean you could label material with what’s inside, if it falls into established categories of triggers that set off large numbers of people who have survived those events? Why, that’s just radical! Clearly a right-wing invention! Must be a hoax.

  21. 21
    RandomMonster says:

    @raven: Nobody’s talking about banning books. It’s a content warning. We do it for all sorts of things.

    Fuck it, let’s take all warnings off of movies and TV, and food items too! If you don’t know that a candy bar has calories in it, you’re an idiot!

  22. 22
    Mnemosyne says:

    D’oh! I referred to male genitalia — can someone please free me from moderation?

    Done–sg

  23. 23
    Lee Rudolph says:

    @Baud:

    I think we need trigger warnings for HuffPo and Politico links, but where does it end?

    Warning: this post processed in a facility that also processes Prestone cocktails.

  24. 24
    gogol's wife says:

    @Morzer:

    You mean like “memoirs of a woman of pleasure”?

  25. 25
    Orpho says:

    @Betty Cracker: If we are, I think it’s an objective question: does written material cause PTSD flashbacks? You can test that shit in a lab. If it does, then yeah, for standard war vet/rape scenarios, what’s the problem with a trigger warning? Where’s the hoax? Where’s the nonsense?

  26. 26
    PsiFighter37 says:

    @gogol’s wife: I am stuck in Raleigh; my flight was cancelled because of ‘air traffic conditions’. In other words, Newark has runway construction because it’s a POS tiny airport and arbitrarily cancels 20-30% of flights daily (their words, not mine) because of this.

    Now I am waiting for a US Air flight to Philly (no flights into Laguardia or JFK were available), and we’re leaving 40 minutes late. And I booked a non-refundable Amtrak ticket to get myself back to Penn Station. That I may or may not miss.

    Fuck the US airline system. This is such fucking bullshit.

  27. 27
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    So, anyway, while I wait to be released from moderation: why are books so different from movies that it’s good to have content warnings for movies but bad to have them for books?

    My specific example will have to be freed from moderation.

  28. 28
    Soonergrunt says:

    It’s like the tweet by @DarinStrauss at the top of the source article: “Trigger Warning: all human experience.”
    If I demanded a trigger warning for everything that might set me off, some of the warnings would be longer than the articles or videos themselves.

    The rest of you are not responsible for how well I deal with the world around me, or not.

  29. 29
    gnomedad says:

    Damn straight! And why do we have to “press 1 for English”? Impeach now!

  30. 30
    RandomMonster says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I think we’re talking about books and written web content.

    I don’t know about web content, but a book can be as visceral as a film.

  31. 31
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    Right, but if there are certain triggers that are common — gunfire, or graphic descriptions/portrayals of rape — why not do a brief content warning?

    I agree that the Shakesville example is a silly one, and it’s one of the reasons I stopped reading them, but why do we accept as normal a level of media violence that other countries find kind of insane?

  32. 32
    Baud says:

    Content Warning: This blog may feature discussion of kitten skull-fucking, cat-ass shaving, and dying in a fire.

  33. 33
    Morzer says:

    @gogol’s wife:

    Yes. Mind you, you get the “reverse trigger warning”, where a novel will be described as a moral warning to avoid vice – and then proceeds to glory in unstinting and detailed depiction of all the most enjoyable aspects of it.

  34. 34
    smintheus says:

    I’ve taught some pretty graphic literature and shown some graphic images of artifacts in courses on the ancient world. For ex. I just finished teaching a Roman novel in which a man transformed into a donkey is forced to have sex with a noblewoman. Over a few decades I’ve had complaints only once about any of it. That was in 2004 when I taught Thucydides for the umpteenth time; certain conservative students did not particularly like his account of the run-up to the Peloponnesian War, suggesting as it did that Pericles rushed to war for no good reason and without a clear idea of how to get out of it.

    But stories of rape, pillage, incest, murder…students seem to think it’s all good.

  35. 35
    Morzer says:

    @Baud:

    Also: Naked mopping, failed sports fandom and the location of mustard in all the wrong places.

  36. 36
    Persia says:

    If only, like the violence in “Saving Private Ryan,” it was obvious when a movie was going to throw in a rape scene for cheap thrills/angst. If fuckin’ only. (I’m kind of agnostic on warnings but let’s not pretend you can’t wander into what you think is a perfectly innocuous book/movie/what have you and bam, let’s see someone get raped!)

  37. 37
    gnomedad says:

    Inevitably, some will use it to attract attention or underscore how profound they are being. We’ll survive it.

  38. 38
    gogol's wife says:

    @Persia:

    For me it’s gratuitous animal torture/killing, often played for laughs.

  39. 39
    🌷 Martin says:

    This strikes me as a very self-absorbed student movement thing. 3 students hatch a plan to ‘do something big and meaningful’, and that spreads to 30, then to 300, etc.

    UCSB was referenced, but I haven’t heard a peep about trigger warnings where I am, which suggests our students have something else ‘big and meaningful’ in mind.

    I’m curious how they expect this will be implemented? Do we add a warning to every scheduled class? Doesn’t do much good to put the warnings in the syllabus, after you’re already in the class. Anyone want to harbor a guess how much that will cost (factoring in the administrative layers to handle how the warnings are identified)? I’m going to optimistically claim $15/student/year.

    And put me on the record for opposing this. The reason we put these topics in the classroom is to confront them, discuss them, learn how to deal with them as a culture. It doesn’t work to hide from them. FFS, my kids are reading some of these books in fucking middle school with no parental or trigger warning. They’ve been doing that for years with no complaint. The parents seem to universally like that the kids are being given something that isn’t generic whitebread lit.

  40. 40
    jl says:

    @Baud: And punchings in the neck.

    I do not know enough about the topic to make a useful comment (that problem has not stopped me before, but I feel lazy today).

    I do think, however, that wrt trigger warnings, Cole is acting in his insensitive boor capacity, not his asshole capacity. So, I can offer uninformed sympathy to his perspective.

  41. 41
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Mnemosyne: “but why do we accept as normal a level of media violence that other countries find kind of insane?”
    That’s a deeper question than the use of trigger warnings.

    My point was that I see things every day that get to me from time to time. I’m glad that I have a place like Balloon-Juice to come to where I still get treated like a capable, responsible adult.
    Life is R-rated. And I think it’s a fine thing that television shows and movies should have to state those things so that parents can make up their minds about what their children see (or ignore those warnings and bitch about the content later which is what most parents seem to do)

  42. 42
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Mnemosyne: Shakesville is a silly place. I still remember that there was a thread a few years ago where Melissa, a Cubs fan, was giggling about how they had an outfielder named Reed Johnson, which sounded like a p0rn name to her. I said that if we were looking for p0rnographic names on the Cubs, the discussion should begin with Kosuke Fukudome. She and her henchpeople then harangued me for the offense of “othering.”

  43. 43
    jl says:

    Wait just one damn minute here. Did Cole provide an asshole trigger warning to his asshole trigger warning post? Damn you, Cole.

  44. 44
    Morzer says:

    @jl:

    Please, don’t start an infinite asshole trigger regress.

  45. 45
    Alex S. says:

    I hope the Bible gets a couple of warnings, you know, genocide, torture, crucification, sex, agony, animals get hurt, cities eradicated and so on….

  46. 46
    Baud says:

    I wonder if Liberty University uses trigger warnings for homosexual content.

  47. 47
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    And I think it’s a fine thing that television shows and movies should have to state those things so that parents can make up their minds about what their children see (or ignore those warnings and bitch about the content later which is what most parents seem to do)

    So those warnings are only for children? A woman who reads the TV/movie warnings and avoids movies or TV shows with rape scenes because she was raped is acting like a child? She needs to toughen up, be an adult, and deal with those scenes?

    Again, we’re not talking about censorship, or cutting those things out. Just a “hey, you might want to know that there’s a rape scene in here.”

  48. 48
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Alex S.: Can you imagine the trigger warnings at the beginning of each chapter of each book? The NEV would grow by 200 pages.

  49. 49
    Cassidy says:

    So a whole post, with matching comments, to say “I get to decide what You may find traumatic.”? Interesting.

  50. 50
    Tom Q says:

    Count me in the opposed column. This falls under child-proofing the world.

    As John Updike wrote when Rabbit thought about not letting his son see someone smoking a joint: “God made the world; let God hide it from him”

  51. 51
    jl says:

    @gogol’s wife:

    ” Don’t the tags on B.J. posts serve as trigger warnings? ”

    Those seem to be trigger warnings about the front poster’s whim of the moment, don’t seem to have much connection to the subject of the post.

  52. 52
    Morzer says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    And that’s before we include the Godly Conservative Trigger Warnings about how:

    The following scenes may involve Liberal Content, including, but not limited to:

    Compassion, Empathy, Favorable Evaluation of Unemployed Persons, …..

  53. 53

    I’m sympathetic to people who have suffered trauma. But I’m not sympathetic at all to moral scolds and sheltered little minds who will ‘suffer’ should they be exposed to materials that shock their sensibilities or contradicts their beliefs.

    All that to say, okay, if books really can cause flashbacks or further trauma to someone who’s suffering, then let’s put a small warning label somewhere on the first page of a book that says “This book has a depiction of rape or intense combat situations.” and leave it at that.

    Everyone else whose complaining about a book or material simply because they’re offended can grow the hell up.

  54. 54
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Mnemosyne: Of course adults can use those warnings to their own purpose regardless of the presence or absence of children.
    having said that, there is no moral requirement in my mind for Youtube, blogs, Pintrest boards, or anything else to protect adults from themselves.
    Society got along just fine for several thousand years without a deep seated need to shelter everybody from everything. Hell, the idea of rating movies and television isn’t even as new as is newer than those media are.

  55. 55
    jl says:

    OK, I do have one comment that may be useful. If institutions are going to have trigger warnings, they have to come up with a very specific list of topics that require them, and criteria for triggering the trigger warnings. Otherwise, the thing will be come an endless mess of controversy and complaints.

    That means for the academics out there, there may well be a trigger warning topic list committee membership in your future. Yay!

  56. 56
    Sir Laffs-a-Lot says:

    Cole’s socks and sandals need a trigger warning

  57. 57
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Persia: I don’t want to “rape-splain” or something, but a work that vividly described rape in order to increase awareness of how terrifying it is should IMHO have more readers, not fewer. The issue I have with “trigger warnings” is that there’s not enough thought put into establishing the boundary between gratuitous/titillating depictions and critical/consciousness-raising depictions. The readership of places like Shakesville started to say things like that any depiction of sexual assault was effectively turning sexual assault into entertainment, which is in itself repugnant. I get the intention there, of course. But wouldn’t that rule out a vast number of muckraking exposes, which are all about confronting the reader with squalor and violence and the like in order to motivate him or her to get outraged about those things in real life? I don’t know how to solve that. It seems like the logic behind trigger warnings would lead to putting them on just about everything, which would totally negate the seeming purpose.

  58. 58
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I agree that the Shakesville example is a silly one, and it’s one of the reasons I stopped reading them, but why do we accept as normal a level of media violence that other countries find kind of insane?

    There’s a fairly big gap between what shows up in academia and what shows up in entertainment. When violence shows up in academia, it’s almost always either followed by a critique of the nature of the violence, the consequence of the violence, or of the acceptance of the violence by the culture. That is, the violence is illustrative of a concept that is being communicated. That doesn’t describe the majority of violence on TV or movies, with some exceptions.

    Because the critique, the concept that follows is the whole point of introducing the student to the violence, etc. I disagree with the need for the warning. It imagery exists to perform a social good – to teach us, to make us better people. Die Hard exists solely to shift money from your pocket to the studios. There’s no social good there. There’s no context. You can’t go to the office hours of the producer and ask him/her why you were exposed to that, and AMC certainly doesn’t have counseling services if the work hits too close to home.

  59. 59
    Baud says:

    Game of Thrones Content Warning: The author will die before he finishes the series.

  60. 60
    MikeJ says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    but why do we accept as normal a level of media violence that other countries find kind of insane?

    Large chunks of what I see on TV in other countries is made in the USA. They love American media.

  61. 61
    Morzer says:

    @jl:

    What about people who have an allergic reaction to trigger warnings? How do we warn them that books might contain trigger warnings?

  62. 62
    Mnemosyne says:

    Okay, I have to go run some errands, but I’ll throw this out there:

    I really don’t get what’s wrong about having a professor warn students that (for example) there’s a graphic rape scene in a book that’s been assigned.

    Or, to use another example, I just finished re-reading Wodehouse’s Thank You, Jeeves. Would I recommend it to other people? Yes, but I would tell them that the N-word gets thrown around very casually, because if you don’t know that ahead of time, it’s kind of a shock to see characters discussing nigger minstrels in a light romantic comedy.

  63. 63
    gogol's wife says:

    @jl:

    I’ll be the first one elected, unfortunately.

    I hope it doesn’t become official. But I will continue to do it as a common-sense measure in certain cases. It saves a lot of grief. I’ve never had a student ask to opt out of reading or discussing a particular text, but I think they appreciate the heads-up.

  64. 64
    Suzanne says:

    I have no problem with trigger warnings. I am not triggered by anything I read, but it’ snot a major imposition in my life to read the words “trigger warning”, and then skip over to the content. This is really the same argument people used to oppose the ADA, as if putting in wheelchair ramps and larger toilet stalls were some backbreaking burden, even though they let a certain percentage of their population conduct themselves in public with dignity. PTSD sufferers deserve the same. It’s not like, by having a trigger warning, that content is inaccessible to me.

  65. 65
    jl says:

    @Morzer: OK, now you are trolling for infinite regresses on assholes and trigger warnings. We need a trigger warning for Morzer.

  66. 66
    Morzer says:

    @Baud:

    He will, however, be able to write roughly 2,500 blog posts advertising small metal figurines, board games, beer mugs, throw rugs, hookahs and all manner of of other things tangentially related to nothing in particular except GRRM’s bank account.

  67. 67

    My gut reaction to trigger warnings is negative — and yet I see the appropriateness of being sensitive to survivors of war, sexual violence, childhood abuse, and so on.

    I agree with that. I’m not sure where to draw the line. I’d really like actual research about what reactions are triggered by what stimuli in trauma survivors. How big a problem is this? How many people are suffering how badly? We can’t child-proof the world, but trigger warnings isn’t a giant request and reducing human misery is good. I’m not sure I can make a judgment on where the line should be drawn with no idea of how big the problem is. I can’t either support and encourage trigger warnings or complain if others think they’re necessary.

  68. 68
    Morzer says:

    @jl:

    Of course!

  69. 69
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    I hate to break it to you, but life rates a full-on X.

  70. 70
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    Hell, the idea of rating movies and television isn’t even as new as those media are.

    Well, yes, movies and TV only recently started being rated because they were heavily censored before that. I think a lot of people don’t realize how heavy-handed and all-encompassing censorship was before 1966.

    So, no, the past wasn’t a free-for-all. It was heavily censored (ever heard the term “Banned in Boston”? That was for plays and novels, not just movies). You rarely see rapes portrayed in 1940s movies not because women weren’t being raped, but because it wasn’t permitted to be shown.

    In my mind, the question is between censorship and warnings, and I would strongly prefer warnings over censorship. It’s better to say up-front that a book contains a graphic rape scene than to have someone complain and have the administration pull the book from class use because it’s too “controversial.” Warn people and let them make up their own minds.

  71. 71
    Suzanne says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    Society got along just fine for several thousand years without a deep seated need to shelter everybody from everything.

    Did it? Did it really? Because I would not really characterize the last few thousand years of human history as “society getting along just fine”.

    The people that tend to see trigger warnings as silly tend to be those that aren’t triggered. Okay. That’s great. Glad that you are not dehabilitated in that manner. Other people are, and there’s really very little cost to accommodate them in the manner that they have requested.

  72. 72
    🌷 Martin says:

    @jl:

    they have to come up with a very specific list.

    And that’s why this becomes impossibly expensive. The whole point of academia in the US and the tenure system is that there isn’t some overarching authority on what is and isn’t appropriate to teach. Does ‘sex’ as a broad category warrant a warning? No? What about gay sex? Interracial sex? That’s going to vary from group to group. What about underage sex? 17? 15? 13? Does the time period matter? 13 is pretty taboo now, but it wasn’t in the 19th century. Does the imagery in the sex matter? What if it’s just a mention in passing?

    There’s no way to avoid descending into “It’s too hard to define, but we’ll know it when we see it.”

    And if the committee defining it is mostly male it will be defined differently than if it’s mostly female. It will vary based on religion, culture, probably even the age of the people on the committee. It’s impossible and it’s entirely antithetical to what a college education is about.

  73. 73
    Cassidy says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: It’s different for everyone. I don’t watch war movies depicting anything the ME. Even The Kingdom was difficult to watch.

  74. 74
    MattF says:

    @Baud: Aw, shit. I just finished Book 5.

  75. 75
    seabe says:

    Clearly Steve and Cole are being huge assholes. Shakesville is a safe place for survivors of different sorts f violence. If you don’t like it, then do what Steve does and don’t go there. Why is it so difficult to scroll past them if you don’t need them?

    In the end, I agree with Orpho:

    “And if watching a rape on screen makes someone feel like they’re being raped again, same deal. No warnings for them! Get raped again in your head, and learn to love it.”

  76. 76
    Alex S. says:

    @Baud:

    In book 7, the characters will have to fight the White Walkers but can only do so if they walk through a dimensional gate and meet a certain George R.R. Martin. They need him to write the ending to make it happen.

  77. 77
    Morzer says:

    @🌷 Martin:

    Moreover, some people will see that such lists can easily be used as a way of censoring topics that they don’t like or which they find unsuitable for others. It’s the same line of thought that insists that “people” (whoever they are) don’t want to see Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend on “Sports” TV.

  78. 78
    Suzanne says:

    @seabe: I personally don’t enjoy reading Shakesville because I find the readership too sensitive for my tastes. So I don’t go there. They get to have their safe space. They need that more than they need to hear my dumb opinion.

    Empathy. Try it sometime.

  79. 79
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I really don’t get what’s wrong about having a professor warn students that (for example) there’s a graphic rape scene in a book that’s been assigned.

    There’s nothing wrong with having a professor warn students.
    There’s everything wrong with requiring a professor warn students about everything that might offend them.

    Every policy requires an enforcement mechanism. How do you determine what requires the warning? How do you resolve disputed cases? It may not be censorship, but it requires all the same mechanisms as censorship. And it’s the mechanisms that best illustrate why censorship is a bad idea.

  80. 80
    Ruckus says:

    @jl:
    If you need that it’s right there at the start of each of his posts.

  81. 81
    Ruckus says:

    Certain commenters do cause a negative reaction in me. So I installed cleek’s trigger warning device which he cleverly disguised as a pie filter.

  82. 82
    Morzer says:

    @Ruckus:

    Dagnabbit, Ruckus, did you have to let the ass-unshaved-cat out of the bag?

  83. 83
    raven says:

    In a surprising move, a commencement speaker at Haverford College on Sunday used the celebratory occasion to deliver a sharp rebuke to students who had mounted a campaign against another speaker who had been scheduled to appear but withdrew amid the controversy.

    William G. Bowen, former president of Princeton and a nationally respected higher education leader, called the student protestors’ approach both “immature” and “arrogant” and the subsequent withdrawal of Robert J. Birgeneau, former chancellor of the University of California Berkeley, a “defeat” for the Quaker college and its ideals.

    Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/e.....ODzKbK8.99

  84. 84
    Soonergrunt says:

    As far as PTSD goes, avoidance is not a remotely effective treatment. It is in fact, a symptom of long term PTSD. Therapy for PTSD specifically encourages the patient to relive the specifics of the traumatic events in order to assist him or her with dealing with the emotional and sometimes cognitive impairment that is the hallmark of the disorder.
    So your trigger warning likely isn’t actually helping.
    On that subject, I don’t know anyone who has a flashback from a text article. I suppose people like that may exist probably. Most people with PTSD get triggered by sights, sounds, or odors, particularly when under elevated stress.

    It seems to me that trigger warnings serve more of a purpose for a small group of people as a tool to control the dialog than they do to actually alleviate suffering. It’s a way to censor without the actual effort.

  85. 85
    Juju says:

    @gogol’s wife: I agree. I can’t stand it when the kitty or dog gets it just for the heck of it, in a movie or whatnot.

  86. 86
    Morzer says:

    @raven:

    A trigger warning for commencement speakers might have been a good idea.

  87. 87
    RandomMonster says:

    @Suzanne: I agree with your points, and I’m now decidedly in favor of the warnings.

    The “you can’t childproof the world” argument strikes me as silly. Why do anything at all in the interest of any consumer, if it doesn’t create a perfect world? Somewhere there’s a car maker that argued “seatbelts won’t prevent accidents.”

  88. 88
    TooManyJens says:

    PTSD triggers are real, and it’s reasonable to want to know if the work you’re about to watch/read is going to suddenly make you relive your rape. (And creators of popular culture do loooove their rape scenes. Gotta keep it “edgy” and “realistic,” you know.)

    That said, I have no idea how useful blanket trigger warnings are, since my understanding is that triggers are highly individual. Also, there are some people who seem to equate “this is triggering” with “I find this upsetting,” and that should be resisted. I find depictions of child harm extremely upsetting, but that’s not triggering, because I don’t have any actual trauma associated with them.

    Ultimately, I think the best way to deal with teaching sensitive material is to be sensitive about teaching it. By all means, let people know the nature of the content they’re going to be reading, so they can be prepared. But requiring a specific set of trigger warnings campuswide just doesn’t seem like the right approach.

  89. 89

    Tigger warning for the trigger warning.
    Then the actual trigger warning.
    It’s like the extra wetsuit.

  90. 90
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Orpho:

    You’re sounding like a damned jerk and the reason that I say so is that you’re taking reasoned objection to something and creating a hyperbolic response that goes light-years beyond the wording and the intent of the objection.

    I am a Vietnam combat veteran. I don’t approve of the notion of putting warnings on every bit of content that may be disturbing to someone, somewhere. I’ve read and very much enjoyed The Things They Carried, Matterhorn, and Going After Cacciato. None of them made my chronic PTSD any better or any worse. If they want trigger warnings on graphic images that’s okay with me. Written content doesn’t need it. Life does not come with trigger warnings.

  91. 91
    TG Chicago says:

    Not including a trigger warning could cause a victim of rape or abuse to suffer a painful flashback of trauma.

    Including a trigger warning could cause someone to have to laboriously skim over an entire sentence.

    Clearly the latter is more of a concern than the former.

  92. 92
    Ruckus says:

    @Morzer:
    LMAO.
    And as always thanks for that, I can always use a good laugh.

  93. 93
    seabe says:

    @Suzanne: exactly. I go there because I need a lot of checks on different sorts of things I don’t even think about from a different perspective. The commenters and Melissa provide that for me so I can learn.

    Plus I get a kick out of her Gwyneth Paltrow disgust.

  94. 94
    Tiny Tim says:

    I have friends who teach film in their courses. They all have an obligatory warning on the syllabus, something along the lines of “This course includes material that some may find disturbing, including depictions of X,Y,Z. If any students are concerned they might have some trouble with this they might wish to reconsider taking this course. It is the responsibility of students to acquaint themselves with the material on the syllabus and if they forsee any potential problems they should come and talk to the professor before the class to see if other arrangements can be made.”

    Whether or not that should be mandatory policy or not, it’s certainly a smart and polite warning to give to students. But requiring anything more than that really is problematic, and my friends have started getting more students complaints because it has become a faddish thing to complain about. How much more can a professor reasonably do?

  95. 95
    Citizen_X says:

    Game of Thrones trigger warning: “The following contains…oh, fuck it. You name it.”

    @Baud: That’s the ultimate one, of course.

  96. 96
    Roger says:

    IF situations described in books are somewhat likely to cause PTSD or other serious adverse reactions in people who read them and are more likely to do so than random smells in a marketplace, the taste of a particular food, or fragments of old music and the like, then I think trigger warnings would be a reasonable measure.

    However, at this point I do not for believe this to be true. I think the vast majority of such triggers are similar to the example above about the Japanese radio station and thus pretty much impossible to predict for the rest of us.

    In line with the above beliefs, I am for now consigning “trigger warnings” to the dustbin of the over privileged social justice police, trying to find victimisation anywhere they can.

  97. 97
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Comrade Dread: That seems like a reasonable compromise, but the question would be where to draw the line. In the article, students were requesting trigger warnings for “The Great Gatsby.”

    That seems nuts to me, but then who among us gets to decide what’s potentially traumatizing for someone else? That’s where things can get out of hand.

  98. 98
    Morzer says:

    @Ruckus:

    I’ve been trying to pie filter myself in case any of my posts upset me, myself and I, but somehow the trigger warning isn’t working.

    I blame Obama.

  99. 99
    RandomMonster says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    It’s a way to censor without the actual effort.

    What’s being censored, and how?

  100. 100
    Morzer says:

    @Citizen_X:

    Every episode of GoT is preceded by an episode length trigger warning in which the narrator explains the scenes of rape, torture, dismemberment and 1% lifestyles that are involved. Warning: may contain spoilers and gluten.

  101. 101
    TooManyJens says:

    @Tiny Tim: That sounds completely reasonable. What kind of complaints have your friends been getting?

  102. 102
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    Well said. Gunfire doesn’t trigger me, the smell of gun smoke isn’t a trigger either. The smell of pigshit? Oh, fuck. Rainy night? Time to do some reading.

  103. 103
    raven says:

    @RandomMonster: If you don’t think the godbotherer’s won’t use this to censor you’re dreaming.

  104. 104
    MattF says:

    @Betty Cracker: Well, I grew up in what Fitzgerald called ‘The Valley of Ashes’, and I had a high school English teacher who (gleefully) pointed that out. I survived that trauma, but only just.

  105. 105
    Ruckus says:

    @Morzer:
    OK now you’re just going to make me NEED to read all of your comments just for the comic relief. Stop that. No don’t. OK now I’ve confused myself.

  106. 106
    raven says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: Diesel smoke still gets this truck driver.

  107. 107
    hells littlest angel says:

    I can think of other shitty movies I’d rather live in than M Night Shyamalan’s The Village.

  108. 108
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @Ruckus:

    Well, what can I say? I tried and then, when I got my cyberbreath back, I tried again.

  109. 109
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @raven:

    My trigger is mid-blue Toyota Tercels, but that’s another story.

  110. 110
    RandomMonster says:

    @raven:

    @RandomMonster: If you don’t think the godbotherer’s won’t use this to censor you’re dreaming.

    As a videogame producer I’ve gone through the process of getting games rated, which includes content warnings. Godbotherers haven’t stopped us in the least.

  111. 111
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Rape seems like a valuable content area to consider applying “trigger warnings.” So far, so good. But I think those of us who teach have to be thoughtful about the difference between “triggering” in the strict sense and “making me uncomfortable” in a general sense, along the lines of what TooManyJens was saying earlier. Because the closer we get to the latter the more we’re going to have to consider giving warnings for profanity, blasphemy, etc. I don’t feel any particular sympathy for a student who doesn’t want to read the word “fuck” or learn about evolution, no matter how genuinely upset he or she feels. I want to be sensitive to legitimate concerns. Which concerns are legitimate? Ay, there’s the rub.

  112. 112
    Comradde PhysioProffe says:

    I have always viewed trigger warnings as a courtesy: an attempt to make a place more hospitable to as many people as possible. I also think it is a terrible idea to require university faculty to provide them.

  113. 113
    Tiny Tim says:

    Oh, students have been going to whoever their designated complaint listener is (deans, etc) and complained about the showing of rape scenes, etc. One staged a walkout, convincing other students (not all, but a few) to boycott a class which was going to be discussing that material. All had happy endings, but the institutions are getting jumpy about this stuff, given the (appropriate) ramping up of title IX enforcement by the Feds.

    The problem with mandating warnings is that teachers will just stamp everything, the way restaurants and food manufacturers put “may contain nuts” on everything. It isn’t helpful. I think it’s polite to put in a little extra warning for the most extreme stuff, but obviously that’s a judgment call. Depictions of homosexual sex acts are “extreme” to some.

  114. 114
    Ruckus says:

    @RandomMonster:
    Think it all the way through.
    On it’s own it isn’t censorship. Now apply it to everything that someone might object to. Now what’s the next step?
    Or think of it like voter ID. What’s so bad about proving you are who you say you are when you go to vote? Except that I’ve had to do this every time I’ve voted. For over 40 yrs. I have to register, then I have to sign my name in a book so that someone can check to see if it’s me. Which it might not be if I’m a good enough forger. But in a state with voter ID I now have to get ID to take to the polls with me and I have to pay for that. The point isn’t to check your identity, that’s already done. The point is to make it harder to vote. The point of trigger warnings (or voter ID) isn’t on the surface a bad idea, but at what point does it become something else entirely?

  115. 115
    Soonergrunt says:

    @RandomMonster: As I said, “without the actual effort.”
    What’s being censored? Whatever the people who demand the trigger warnings find objectionable.
    And it won’t stop with a courtesy warning to victims. The next step (and there’s ALWAYS a next step to this kind of thing) is to demand that objectionable content be cordoned off in foot notes or end notes or some such. Or a broadened list of content to be warned about. Warning, this article contains conservative policy prescriptions and as such may not be appropriate for persons making use of the ACA, the ADA, Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security. And after that you’ll start seeing two versions of books and articles. One that doesn’t trigger anybody, and one that does.

    You know, our children don’t get Huckelberry Finn or Tom Sawyer, or I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, or The Color Purple or To Kill A Mockingbird in most schools because of the content is offensive or triggering to some. THAT’S what’s being censored.

  116. 116
    Suzanne says:

    @🌷 Martin: The point, though, is that a PTSD trigger doesn’t cause offense, it causes a physiological and psychological reaction in those that have that specific flavor of PTSD. The point of the trigger warning is, in part, to protect specific material from those that might be triggered from censorship.

    If we accept that PTSD is a real thing, and is disabling, then it would follow that we should accommodate those that have it insofar as is possible. It is very possible to provide a short, polite warning on content that is likely to trigger. It is, in the parlance of the ADA, a reasonable accommodation.

  117. 117
    Orpho says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: I’m sorry, the “reasoned objection” that _I’m_ being uncivil to is … the notion that trigger warnings are “laughably absurd”? I’ll be sure to moderate my tone in the future. Wouldn’t want to sound like a jerk.

    I’m very glad you don’t have problems with being triggered by [certain things], and instead your PTSD triggers on [other things]. Would you prefer that I call things that trigger you laughably absurd? The _whole concept of trigger warnings_ to be laughably absurd? I ain’t nickpicking here, I can only work with what I’m given.

    In the end, no trigger warnings here, no safe spaces here, I got it. But what’s behind the notion that other places can’t have them? What’s the problem with safe spaces? Are you afraid that people won’t be tough enough? That they’re not ready for the “real world” (which they’ve already experienced in all its gory detail, or they wouldn’t have the goddamn problem in the first place? That’s what the post and comments sound like. Hence: toughen up! (Or, alternatively, let’s look and see if textual triggers can trigger PTSD flashbacks. [spoiler alert! they can.] In that laughably absurd world where textual trigger are real triggers, why not have a warning in safe spaces?)

    Maybe folks are worried that all the places would have to be safe places, because the gov’mint’s gonna come and mandate trigger warnings. There’s a right wing scare for you.

  118. 118
    Roger Moore says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    Can you imagine the trigger warnings at the beginning of each chapter of each book?

    Just the “danger, extreme boredom” trigger warnings would add a lot. Does anyone find the Epistles interesting?

  119. 119
    Not Adding Much to the Community says:

    Indeed, most “trigger warnings” strike me as handholding, care-bear bullshit for people who are too delicate to make it in the real world.

  120. 120
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Suzanne:

    This is really the same argument people used to oppose the ADA, as if putting in wheelchair ramps and larger toilet stalls were some backbreaking burden, even though they let a certain percentage of their population conduct themselves in public with dignity. PTSD sufferers deserve the same. It’s not like, by having a trigger warning, that content is inaccessible to me.

    It’s really not the same argument.

    ADA is designed to ensure reasonably equal access for a community of people that are physically denied access. This effort does not expand access to anyone. It asks a community to devise a set of moral judgements and a means to enforce those judgements. It does not make education more accessible to people with PTSD. If you wanted to do that, then demand investments in fucking treating the PTSD – something that we don’t actually do as a society, so they can read the books without undue trauma.

    Let’s me put this another way. The student community has countless mechanisms without involving the administration to do this. They could easily establish a student group whose job it would be to go through the various course syllabi, make whatever judgements on content they feel are appropriate, and then publish that list where any student could see it. There’s nothing stopping them from getting their warnings, other than their own willingness to do the work. After one year, the work needed would be minimal because course content tends to not change much from year to year.

    Instead they’re trying to transfer the burden to a different group of people – specifically, a group of people that obviously don’t feel the warnings are particularly necessary outside of what will be part of the course, because they’re the people assigning the books in the first place. So this strikes me more analogous to the GOP’s panel on women’s health having no women on it. Worse, whatever money and effort is put into this trigger warning system is money and effort that could have been invested in PTSD counseling if they would instead demand that.

  121. 121
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Soonergrunt: If there were a way to differentiate “offensive” from “triggering,” then we’d be OK. “Triggering” is off the table, “offensive,” on. But is there any way to do that with finesse? I doubt it. In most hands I think it’s bound to be a blunt instrument.

  122. 122
    Roger Moore says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    Society got along just fine for several thousand years without a deep seated need to shelter everybody from everything.

    No, it didn’t. I don’t see how anyone can look at history to this point and describe society as getting along just fine. Society has been absolutely awful for most of human history, and the only way it’s ever gotten better is when people stand up, point out how badly it sucks, and try to do better. Saying “people have always dealt with that, shut up and deal with it yourself” is not helping.

  123. 123
    Suzanne says:

    @🌷 Martin: This effort may expand access to people that are currently confining themselves to safe spaces, because they have no mechanism by which to differentiate between safe and unsafe spaces for themselves.

    I agree that having students themselves undertake the effort would be better. What I object to is the ridiculous argument that any trigger warning anywhere is ludicrous and that people need to toughen up and get over their fucking fee-fees.

  124. 124
    TG Chicago says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    The next step (and there’s ALWAYS a next step to this kind of thing) is to demand that objectionable content be cordoned off in foot notes or end notes or some such.

    Yep. And gay marriage will ALWAYS lead to bestiality, right? And the MPAA has led to a complete lack of adult oriented cinema.

    Slippery slope arguments are the worst.

  125. 125
    RandomMonster says:

    @Ruckus: I’ll invite you to think it all the way through. What TV or film content are you being denied under current content warning rules? Seriously — name something you’ve wanted to watch or that is somehow “banned” because a warning tells you that it might contain X, Y, or Z.

  126. 126
    JoyceH says:

    @gogol’s wife:

    For me it’s gratuitous animal torture/killing, often played for laughs.

    You’re not alone. And there’s a website for people like us:

    http://doesthedogdie.com/

  127. 127
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Roger Moore: And where is the long history of of people standing up and demanding that their feelings not be hurt?
    Change and the occasional growth that societies experience almost never come about without trauma to somebody, usually a LOT of somebodies, and almost always to the least advantaged and most victimized.
    Slavery didn’t end because people thought the depictions of slavery in Uncle Tom’s Cabin needed to be hidden or warned about in advance.

  128. 128
    Tiny Tim says:

    As I suggested these professors would all make reasonable accommodations for a student who did take the time to investigate the course material and, beforehand, express concern about a particular film. But the burden has to be on the students because only the students can know what in particular might be an issue for them. Once you announce “this course contains depictions of rape and other violence” a student can either pick another one or figure out how they can navigate the potential minefield. If it’s a relatively small portion of the course material, any good professor would make appropriate accommodations (how much should be mandated by policy is a separate question).

  129. 129
    TG Chicago says:

    @Not Adding Much to the Community: yeah, if they weren’t so stupid, they wouldn’t have been raped in the first place, amirite?

  130. 130
    Soonergrunt says:

    @TG Chicago: except when there’s ample historical precedent for them, yeah. Censorship always creeps up a little at a time. But it always creeps up.

  131. 131
    RandomMonster says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    The next step (and there’s ALWAYS a next step to this kind of thing) is to demand that objectionable content be cordoned off in foot notes or end notes or some such. Or a broadened list of content to be warned about.

    Honestly, has the content warning system and ratings for TV and film led to this outcome for those media? All we’re talking about is a different medium.

  132. 132
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I think it’s pretty clear that most, perhaps all, human societies in history have been run by people or groups who did, in fact, decide to “shelter” society from things they found inappropriate or offensive. Go back to Classical Athens and you’ll find Socrates being put to death for “corrupting the young” and “introducing new gods”. Similarly, most societies have had book-burnings or forced people who wrote inappropriate things to recant them. Our society is censored by the people who control the various media outlets. We don’t, for example, have too much discussion of white domestic terrorism in the mainstream media. Nor have we heard too much about the views of anti-austerians. Our censorship is more subtle, in that we don’t directly forbid such discussions – they are simply labeled as extreme leftist and so forth and are denied space.

  133. 133
    TG Chicago says:

    @Soonergrunt: the fact that you’re talking about “hurt feelings” demonstrates that you don’t understand the very basics of what’s being discussed.

  134. 134
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @RandomMonster: If I had to offer a significant number of students an alternative reading assignment because the one I had planned was designated as “triggering,” I would rapidly stop assigning the red-flagged one, because it would be too complicated to deal with who was reading what. That’s not censorship per se, but the effect is that something that used to be part of a course won’t be anymore.

    Again, rape seems like an entirely valid area for warnings, sensitivity, and other accommodations. Let’s rule that in. What else is there that a large number of people might see or read about that would lead them to relive their trauma, especially if they weren’t forewarned? Abusive parents, maybe?

  135. 135
    TG Chicago says:

    @Soonergrunt: given that the MPAA has had content warnings for many years and no such additional “censorship” has taken place, I’m not seeing any such historical evidence.

  136. 136
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Suzanne:

    it causes a physiological and psychological reaction in those that have that specific flavor of PTSD. The point of the trigger warning is, in part, to protect specific material from those that might be triggered from censorship.

    But you’re dancing around the problem. What specific flavor? Rape? War? Car crashes? Terrorism? My PTSD surrounded nearly drowning as a child. I wouldn’t go near bodies of water for some time. Reading a drowning scene would have been troubling. Would we have a warning for ‘scenes that might involve drowning’? There are flavors of PTSD and phobias around every fucking thing on earth. I have an acquaintance with a phobia related to touching food with his hands. He has a standing instruction that he will not attend any event that serves pizza or other food primarily eaten without utensils. Does every book involving a picnic get a warning just for him?

    This all descends into some other variation of cherry picking which trauma is deserving of protection and which is not, and saddling the faculty and administration with not only identifying those lines, but codifying them and then defending the line on either side – reprimanding faculty that don’t warn against drowning, but defending the faculty that didn’t warn against eating KFC.

    If we accept that PTSD is a real thing, and is disabling, then it would follow that we should accommodate those that have it insofar as is possible. It is very possible to provide a short, polite warning on content that is likely to trigger. It is, in the parlance of the ADA, a reasonable accommodation.

    I would note that education institutions are not required to pre-screen instructional content for ADA compliance. Students with disabilities register their disability with a campus office and work with instructors on accommodations. Why do we do it that way? So we don’t have to pre-judge every potential disability out there, putting some in the ‘reasonable’ category and others in the ‘unreasonable’ category. PTSD is a recognized disability. Students can register with those offices, and at the start of the course go to the instructor and ask if any of the content of the course would run afoul of that disability, and ask if there’s an alternate way to satisfy that part of the course. That system already exists and has existed for decades.

  137. 137
    Pogonip says:

    @Baud: We may ALL die before he finishes the series.

  138. 138
    Soonergrunt says:

    @TG Chicago: I understand it very well. Possibly as well as if not better than you due to multiple different life experiences. I happen to disagree with you.

  139. 139
    jl says:

    @raven:

    ” a commencement speaker at Haverford College on Sunday used the celebratory occasion to deliver a sharp rebuke to students who had mounted a campaign against another speaker who had been scheduled to appear but withdrew amid the controversy. ”

    Pompous farts need to fart. And he did.

    I guess the bigshot brass at the universities like to think that whomever the university decides to invite to help preside over an official university ceremony, for all sorts of reasons (publicity, promotion, back-scratching, fund raising, etc.) are performing the exact same core mission of education, intellectual investigation and debate. But I do not see how that is the case.

    Edit: but in a strange hall of mirrors sort of way, the old fart was comitting a part of the university’s core function. Oh wait, he didn’t take any questions or put up with any debate at the ceremony did he? Or did he? Maybe the students were allowed to heckle?

  140. 140
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @Pogonip:

    Now you know what valar morghulis really means.

  141. 141
  142. 142
    Tiny Tim says:

    Given that nothing with an NC-17 rating can get wide distribution (something the rating was supposed to, but didn’t, fix), it’s fair to say that the MPAA does effectively censor (with implicit if not explicit government backing) what gets produced. That extreme violence can usually get an R rating, while full frontal male nudity will get you an NC-17, says something about their priorities, too.

  143. 143
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @🌷 Martin:

    I would note that education institutions are not required to pre-screen instructional content for ADA compliance. Students with disabilities register their disability with a campus office and work with instructors on accommodations. Why do we do it that way? So we don’t have to pre-judge every potential disability out there, putting some in the ‘reasonable’ category and others in the ‘unreasonable’ category. PTSD is a recognized disability. Students can register with those offices, and at the start of the course go to the instructor and ask if any of the content of the course would run afoul of that disability, and ask if there’s an alternate way to satisfy that part of the course. That system already exists and has existed for decades.

    I agree with this.

  144. 144
    Not Adding Much to the Community says:

    @TG Chicago: That argument is too stupid to go fuck itself, so the job will have to fall on you.

  145. 145
    TG Chicago says:

    I’m just amazed that people here are actually saying “It’s worse for me to have to skim over one sentence than for you to experience PTSD.”

  146. 146
    RandomMonster says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    If I had to offer a significant number of students an alternative reading assignment because the one I had planned was designated as “triggering,”

    I don’t think it’s about “red-flagging” something as “triggering”, it’s only about summarizing the content within. There aren’t suddenly two classes of books, triggering and non-triggering.

    I would rapidly stop assigning the red-flagged one, because it would be too complicated to deal with who was reading what.

    I was a lit major. Unless the course was on a particular book, we were usually given a selection of things we might read and write about. But I’m not a teacher, so I’m not going to pretend that I see all of the complications.

  147. 147
    TG Chicago says:

    @Soonergrunt: So your PTSD can accurately be described as “hurt feelings”?

  148. 148
  149. 149
    Roger Moore says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    And where is the long history of of people standing up and demanding that their feelings not be hurt?

    The first example that springs to mind is the concerted campaign to stamp out the use of “nigger” to describe African Americans. There’s been a lot of that kind of thing, and it has a genuinely beneficial effect in society.

  150. 150
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: This strikes me as a pretty elegant solution. But some of the “trigger warning” activism seems IMHO to capitalize on the _rhetoric_ of PTSD without presuming an actual diagnosis of same — especially when it comes to the subject of the traumatic effects of rape and sexual assault, which is of course common on college campuses. Seen as a “rape and depictions of rape” problem, trigger warnings make a lot of sense, especially in colleges. Broaden it out from there, though, and I think there are going to be a massive amount of definitional battles over what is triggering, if triggering is the same as trauma, the right way to handle triggered people from an administrative standpoint, etc.

  151. 151
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @Pogonip:

    Game of Thrones is in fact George R R Martin taking a long drawn-out revenge on us for murdering his father Ned Stark.

  152. 152
    TG Chicago says:

    @Soonergrunt: that’s a totally different issue. Anti austerity views aren’t shunned due to PTSD. And, unlike austerity, everybody agrees rape is a bad thing. Mozer’s argument is a non sequitur.

  153. 153
    TG Chicago says:

    @Not Adding Much to the Community: Well, it was your argument, so.

  154. 154
    Pogonip says:

    I usually see trigger warnings on sites that tend to attract drama queens. Especially the trigger warnings followed by a long list of -isms. So I like them; they let me know I probably won’t enjoy the site and so I can move on to find sites full of snarling jackals.

  155. 155
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @TG Chicago:

    The point is that censorship comes in different forms – explicit and implicit. You don’t need to ban something to censor it, if you can control the various information outlets. You just don’t show it or mention it or allow discussion of it. Instead, you label concern for the topic extreme, crazy etc etc.

    Feel free to explain how that is a non sequitur.

  156. 156
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @TG Chicago: What things should get trigger warnings? Is the mere mention of the thing enough to warrant a trigger warning or does it require a graphic description? Who gets to decide?

  157. 157
    Suzanne says:

    @🌷 Martin: I think that sounds like a great way to deal with the issue.

    Again, what I object to is the whole attitude that any trigger warning is, on its face, dumb, and that people who have PTSD just need to learn to deal. While it is unreasonable to expect to accommodate 100% of people who have been traumatized, because, as you rightfully point out, there are just so many variations, I reject the assertion that because we can’t help EVERYONE that we shouldn’t help ANYONE. The ADA doesn’t work that way—some disabilities are just too specialized. But it can be better.

  158. 158
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @Pogonip:

    I insist on objectively despicable jackals as my minimum bribe level for further reading. Liberal fascist ODJs are, of course, better.

  159. 159
    JoyfulA says:

    @Mnemosyne: Wasn’t there a time in the 1930s before movie censorship?

    Somebody has a blog on that topic, and IIRC it’s a commenter here.

  160. 160
    cleek says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    let’s put a small warning label somewhere on the first page of a book that says “This book has a depiction of rape or intense combat situations.” and leave it at that.

    i vote No.

    if it became common practice to put warnings about contents of type A, B and C, then people who assert their sensitivity to content of type D, E and F will demand that they get covered, too.

    soon, the covers of books will look like the first few seconds of TV shows, where 85 different warnings about every little bit of content, no matter how fleeting, needs to appear – by law.

    the world should not be padded and fenced and posted and strung up with bells and sirens to protect against the possibility that somebody could possibly inadvertently suffer having to deal with something 99.9% of the world has no problems with.

  161. 161
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    Trigger warnings, like their precursor political correctness, strike me as another practice that is easy to start, hard to stop, and that will in the end be carried to such extremes that liberals will look like buffoons. Again.

  162. 162
  163. 163
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @RandomMonster: If the whole class doesn’t have a common reading list, it plays havoc with your assignments, your exam questions, etc. In a very advanced class you can give students more latitude, but in a period or genre survey, it would be very inconvenient. And two of the most famous and influential novels in the history of the genre, Samuel Richardson’s _Pamela_ and _Clarissa_, have primary plots about rape, so if rape were entirely off the table as a matter for discussion, it would start to be extremely difficult to teach the history of the novel without warping it. That concern is obviously something that matters a lot less than someone’s rape trauma, I hasten to say, but I think it matters a little.

  164. 164
    Pogonip says:

    @Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity): Valar Coleghulis (all men must bitch).

    I am sure trigger warnings are kindly meant, but, well, they do come across as sort of silly, and the longer the list of -isms the more drama queens will show up. I’ll pass.

  165. 165
    TG Chicago says:

    @cleek: Comrade Dread said first page. You moved the goalpost to the cover.

    Another useless slippery slope argument.

  166. 166
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @TG Chicago:

    What you said makes no sense. My comment said nothing about PTSD and was a response to what Roger Moore had said on the same topic. You seem to be lashing out at random using terms that you don’t understand.

  167. 167
    Not Adding Much to the Community says:

    @TG Chicago: My argument? More bullshit. I said “-most- strike me as…” so, I was not all-inclusive, and I was relating an opinion. Why are you discounting the validity of my experience? Don’t Other me.

  168. 168
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @cleek:
    @TG Chicago:

    You moved the goalpost to the cover

    Cleek, I salute you wholeheartedly. You’ve managed to evoke the most mixed metaphor I’ve seen in a long time, so you must be doing something right.

  169. 169
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Soonergrunt: This, just recently.

  170. 170
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Along those lines, a hypothetical book called _Rape is Horrific_, written by a feminist anti-rape activist, would clearly be about rape, but would it be “triggering”? I think there’s a distinction between depiction of an atrocious act and _exploitative_ depiction of an atrocious act, but figuring out where to draw the line is… difficult.

  171. 171
  172. 172
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @Not Adding Much to the Community:

    I think you are about to be threatened with a visit from TG Chicago’s daddy to have a stern word with your parents.

  173. 173
    D58826 says:

    Rather than putting content warnings on some material rather than others I have a more generalized suggestion. Since we cannot possibly put warnings on all content that might offend someone, just put a large note on the inside of the door of each dorm room and the same note on the outside of the classroom doors say ‘You might be offended by something in this world. Proceed at your own risk’.

  174. 174
    TG Chicago says:

    @Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity): if your comment had nothing to do with the subject at hand, then I don’t know why Sooner pointed me to it.

  175. 175
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Right. I was remembering the depiction of rape in The Accused, back in the day. Was it exploitative? Was it a legitimate depiction of a horrible event? etc etc.

  176. 176
    brendancalling says:

    This post really needed a trigger warning.

  177. 177
    brendancalling says:

    This post really needed a trigger warning.

  178. 178
    brendancalling says:

    This post really needed a trigger warning. Brought back all sorts of memories of fruitless arguments from the past.

  179. 179
    smintheus says:

    @Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity):

    Go back to Classical Athens and you’ll find Socrates being put to death for “corrupting the young” and “introducing new gods”.

    That’s not really what happened, even if we tried to take the highly biased (mostly Platonic) ancient sources at face value. Socrates was associated with some of the worst of the tyrants who overthrew the democracy. Without that as your starting point, nothing else you make of the episode is likely to make much sense.

  180. 180
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @TG Chicago:

    Perhaps he had faith in your powers of reading comprehension and critical thinking?

  181. 181
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  183. 183
    Linnaeus says:

    @Suzanne:

    Again, what I object to is the whole attitude that any trigger warning is, on its face, dumb, and that people who have PTSD just need to learn to deal. While it is unreasonable to expect to accommodate 100% of people who have been traumatized, because, as you rightfully point out, there are just so many variations, I reject the assertion that because we can’t help EVERYONE that we shouldn’t help ANYONE. The ADA doesn’t work that way—some disabilities are just too specialized. But it can be bettet.

    I agree with this. Trigger warnings can be used excessively or improperly, but 1) I think in some contexts they can serve a purpose, especially when dealing with a population whose traumas you may not know and who may still be processing those and 2) I’m not convinced that a trigger warning on certain material opens up the floodgates to labeling everything.

  184. 184
    CTVoter says:

    @FlipYrWhig: A related point. Say you teach a literature class, put trigger warnings on the texts, and one of your students refuses to read that text, or do the related assignments or participate in related discussions. What does the professor do in that situation?

    On the flip side, I teach intro psych, and, once, while talking about phobias, showed a picture of the Mohawk iron workers in NYC. One of my students who genuinely has a fear of heights nearly passed out. I felt awful–and decided the photo didn’t add enough to the discussion in the first place and took it out.

  185. 185
    Orpho says:

    Well, I for one have been persuaded. I think that trigger warnings are stupid – laughably absurd. I think that the whole of human experience should be available without warnings to everyone, and I think that any, say, lit major who was abused as a child and has a problem reading Lolita in a required class without feeling like she’s being raped again should:

    1) call on the beneficence of our just and equal society to see that her rape was appropriately believed, treated, and prosecuted by the tender age of 10 so that it is sufficiently behind her.

    2) call on the beneficence of our just and equal society to receive adequate mental health assistance in her small town where her rapist whose life she ruined with her accusations lives until she has adequate cognitive skills and drugs to deal with her crippling anxiety and other aftereffects of PTSD.

    3) write moving and insightful essays about Lolita and go on to work at the New York Review of Books and write memoirs.

    This is a similar trajectory for most veteran PTSD survivors coming home as well – GI Bill, stable home life, and profit! If they can’t handle this kind of material, they just shouldn’t go to college. There’s no keeping the world out of the classroom, and if it isn’t gritty there, where will they learn about the horrors of the world?

  186. 186
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @smintheus:

    You realize that either way we are talking about the same phenomenon of censoring someone that the community should not be exposed to? Also, the tradition consistently says that Socrates did not collaborate with the Thirty and, in fact, risked his life by refusing to do so. Now, you can certainly insist that you know better than the sources what happened – but there’s no sign of any ancient tradition that claims that Socrates did collaborate.

  187. 187
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Suzanne: Excepting that people who have PTSD do, in fact “need to learn to deal” because dealing with the trauma itself, and the emotional and cognitive difficulties it causes are the whole point of PTSD counseling. Avoidance of either the trauma, or things that make one remember the trauma are symptoms of the condition, not treatments, cures, or help.

  188. 188
    Fred says:

    How can anyone expect to predict what (in literature, art, film,…) will upset them. Some of the most disturbing stories or scenes disturb because of their very ordinariness.
    I guess it’s OK to give warnings if people really feel they need it but canaries in the coal mine are a bit exasperating. It’s all just a story made of words or pictures. Take a deep breath, exhale and repeat.
    Now there was that one scene in “Hell Raiser II” that somebody shoulda’ warned me about. Gave me the creeps for weeks. I want a warning specifically about scenes where some guy has wire mesh stretched over his face till it cuts into his skin and then little studs pop out of the squares of flesh like he’s a roasted ham. Can we get a rule for that?

  189. 189
    TG Chicago says:

    @D58826: If you think this is about ‘taking offense’ you misunderstand the entire subject.

  190. 190
    smintheus says:

    @jl: His speech sounds bizarre. He says he wants student protests to be non-disruptive, and then cites as a positive example students at Princeton turning their backs on George Schulz when he was commencement speaker. But the Haverford students who dared (!) to write in advance demanding an explanation from an honoree who’d used aggressive police tactics on student protesters (what other kind is there at Berkeley?)…Bowen condemns them in the harshest terms. He even singled out a graduating senior for condemnation because she expressed an opinion on the matter he disagrees with. He seems like a real putz.

  191. 191
    Linnaeus says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Along those lines, a hypothetical book called _Rape is Horrific_, written by a feminist anti-rape activist, would clearly be about rape, but would it be “triggering”? I think there’s a distinction between depiction of an atrocious act and _exploitative_ depiction of an atrocious act, but figuring out where to draw the line is… difficult.

    Yes, it is difficult, but that’s true for a lot of things. And what we usually do is try to find the best solution that we can, and modify that solution as we go along in response to new information, changed contexts, etc.

    When I taught my nuclear history class, I showed some footage of what nuclear weapons can do to people. It is, as you might guess, not pretty. I didn’t find it especially onerous to tell the class that they would be seeing something pretty disturbing, and that didn’t detract from the pedagogical value of showing it.

  192. 192
    D58826 says:

    @Linnaeus: I’m afraid it will open the floodgates. There is always someone who will be offended. There were folks offended by the TV show ALF, (since he wasn’t created in God’s image) and the Wizard of Oz (good witches and flying monkeys and all)

  193. 193
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Roger Moore: And of course, the aforementioned books that had that word in it, many of them classical examples of great American literature, are casualties of that.

  194. 194
    Suzanne says:

    @FlipYrWhig: The point is not to censor any depiction of rape, but to allow those who might have a visceral reaction the opportunity to turn away if they choose to do so for their own health and happiness. It is absolutely not censorship.

    For example, many Holocaust survivors chose to never again watch any film or read any book that depicted a concentration camp. That is not even in the same universe as any censorship. They never argued that Holocaust films shouldn’t be made or that others shouldn’t watch them or that they had no cultural value. Just that they specifically didn’t need to see them. The concept of the trigger warning is much the same. The censorship arguments are a strawman. No one is censoring any damn thing.

  195. 195
    IM says:

    @Alex S.:

    King already did write exactly that, right?

  196. 196
    Not Adding Much to the Community says:

    @Orpho: If one needs trigger warnings on random web pages and college syllabi, one should pursue professional help.

  197. 197
    Soonergrunt says:

    @TG Chicago: Some would consider it so. Your obvious hurt feelings over my PTSD certainly count.
    I don’t recall appointing you nor anyone else appointing you or any other person for that matter, to be the protector of people with PTSD.
    Please feel free to take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut and let us live our lives in the world on our own individual terms.
    Thank you.

  198. 198
    ruemara says:

    Man, I’m glad some of you find the concept of triggers so childish. What would people who actually experience them from odd, random occurrences do without you to patiently ridicule, I mean, explain that they’re just trying to baby-proof the world? I swear, much of this thread would be perfectly at home at Yahoo. triggers aren’t censorship, they’re simple warnings. Why? Because you don’t know what can send someone with PTSD off on a spiral. It’s amazing how something simple can just put you back in a space and time that is horrifying. Warnings about book content because it doesn’t subscribe to someone’s religious or political leanings isn’t a trigger warning. That’s what you should be mocking-the idea that your worldview is so tender and delicate that a new idea should come with a warning label lest you think. Trigger warnings for people who’ve experienced stress, disaster, violence, sexual abuse, assault and rape are perfectly sensible and a sign of compassion.

  199. 199
    Suzanne says:

    @Soonergrunt: They can learn to deal in their own damn fashion on their own damn timetable. Maybe, for example, someone wants to look at some cute pictures of cats on the internet after a hard day, and would prefer at that moment to not come across a vivid description of animal abuse. People who have PTSD deserve the opportunity to heal slowly.

  200. 200
    CTVoter says:

    I’m puzzled by the reaction that this is about helping people to avoid being “offended”. It’s not that, at all. While you may disagree whether trigger warnings are even necessary, to frame it as “people are going to be offended about everything” and therefore, trigger warnings aren’t necessary is …. condescending.

  201. 201
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut

    A fine, resonant phrase. You’ve reminded me of a friend of mine who detested the police and who, every time he drove past a cop car would roll down his window and bellow “Donut fuckers!” at the top of his voice. It made for some nervous moments as I tried to work out what the sentence was for being an accessory to the crime of insulting the Keepers of Law and Order.

  202. 202
    smintheus says:

    @Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity): The episode is vastly more complicated than our obviously inaccurate sources would have us believe.

    In any event, Socrates was put to death (if we can trust our sources) because he refused to take the trial seriously and accordingly proposed to the jury as his alternative punishment that he be made a public benefactor and supported for life by the state. That was something only the Assembly could grant; hence he condemned himself to death.

  203. 203
    Not Adding Much to the Community says:

    “odd, random occurrences”

    If they’re odd and random, why would a trigger warning help? “Warning: contains references to the smell of rain and light blue sedans.”

  204. 204
    RandomMonster says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    so if rape were entirely off the table as a matter for discussion,

    No one is talking about taking things off the table as a matter of discussion. It’s just a freaking assessment of the content of media you’re about to consume. The question of whether it can be required or not is a totally different argument, and wasn’t even mentioned in the original article John linked to.

  205. 205
    WereBear says:

    @JoyceH: Thanks! I love that.

    I feel that killing a pet can be the lowest form of movie story telling: SEE the villain is dangerous… which is my main objection.

    Yes, I cried my eyes out at Old Yeller and have never watched it again but I wouldn’t stop anyone else from doing so. And this film is one of the few where the sad ending, (highly traumatic for animal lovers,) is the point of the film, and is NOT gratuitous.

    And if anyone didn’t know, well, now you do.

    But then, I manage to avoid such events by not watching bad movies.

  206. 206
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Suzanne:

    I reject the assertion that because we can’t help EVERYONE that we shouldn’t help ANYONE.

    I guess my viewpoint is different. Knowing that all higher ed institutions that receive federal financial aid have to comply with federal disability laws, and that virtually everyone diagnosed with PTSD would be covered under ADA, I don’t understand how the trigger warning actually helps anyone except those people that don’t face a disability. That is, people who are offended…

    One other thing to consider – US universities have a large number of foreign students that don’t always have the best understanding or appreciate of the first amendment. Most of the foreign students at universities like UCSB (probably 20% of their population) are from China and the middle east. Having worked with students from Saudi Arabia for some years, they have VERY different notions of what should be covered under such a trigger warning. And this leads into an area that I guarantee would transpire – should the trigger warnings that we have for students with PTSD give consideration for students from other cultures, particularly those that are paying a tuition premium. Denying that consideration will be attacked as a judgement that their cultural norms aren’t deserving of recognition under the same terms that detractors of trigger warnings are being attacked, and the administration will wobble on that point because there is a financial motive there. Remember, these are students that aren’t paying their way – their government is paying their way. Now we have a US institution, comprised of faculty, setting rules in consideration of another institution, a foreign government. This isn’t a hypothetical, it happens constantly right now. The student is only considered as an abstraction in this. Nobody is actually being protected except for the perception that both institutions are trying to put forward – our university wants to be seen as caring and considerate (even if the thing we institute is otherwise useless) and the other institution is trying to protect their national identity and norms (think of the counterproductive bullshit we continue to do in Cuba out of some misguided sense of principle.)

    I tell you from decades as a university administrator, trigger warnings are a horrible idea. They sound fine at the top level until you start to implement it, and then it will spiral horribly out of control.

    I’ll give you another anecdote. My institution recently instituted a smoking ban for all university property. Well, it was a debate between a smoking ban and a tobacco ban. Is chewing tobacco worth banning? What about e-cigarettes? The committee did a mountain of work before some staffer asked a very important question: what about smoking in faculty housing, which is on university property. It turns out the faculty was okay banning cigarettes as nobody on the committee was a cigarette smoker, but they were very cagey on the topic of ‘smoking’ more broadly. They didn’t want to give up their evening joint habit. And that then spun off into a debate over whether they could ban the use of medical marijuana, given that it was prescribed.

    So, in the end they determined that they could ban smoking, but non-smoked forms of tobacco would be okay so that they could sneak pot in other forms into faculty housing under the same loophole.

    It is very easy for institutions to support the idea of drawing moral lines but very, very difficult to actually draw them.

  207. 207
    D58826 says:

    @ruemara: A valid point

    Because you don’t know what can send someone with PTSD off on a spiral. It’s amazing how something simple can just put you back in a space and time that is horrifying.

    but if we don’t know what will trigger the flashback how do we decide what to label? Look the last thing I want to do is cause someone more pain but there are so many things in life that can trigger bad memories of varying intensities’ I’m just not sure how you go about deciding what to label. PTSD and rape are kinda obvious but are they the only category?

    It just looks like another form of the much maligned speech codes.

  208. 208
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @smintheus:

    So, you want to take the same sources seriously in one matter, but not in another? Either way, we are still talking about censorship – a society being “protected” from a controversial voice.

    FWIW, the most sustained negative portrayal of Socrates in the Clouds depicts him as a pretty standard-issue practitioner of dodgy rhetoric (and teaching younger men to disrespect their elders and betters) with an interest in matters meteorological. Not a word about any political sympathies. Given that Aristophanes was perfectly willing to name names and point fingers about politics elsewhere, I would suggest that the reasonable conclusion is that Socrates was, in fact, put on trial because he made people uncomfortable by the things he said and the way he said them, much as Plato and Xenophon claim to have been the case.

    Bear in mind that Socrates was a very widely discussed figure, judging by the fragments of a large number of Socratic logoi that date from soon after his death. It’s hard to imagine Plato and Xenophon making fools of themselves by putting forth claims that would be immediately known to be false in that talkative and competitive environment.

  209. 209
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Suzanne: It’s not censorship, no, but the effect is still going to be that certain works aren’t taught, because the more people who are triggered by them — even when there are only valid claims to being triggered — the more it makes it complicated to teach that work in the first place. If you want the class to read the same stuff, and the triggered people won’t read it, and there are a lot of triggered people, then you can’t teach that stuff. If you taught a World War II class and half the class refused to look at or read Holocaust images, you’d have a logistical problem, the simplest solution for which would be not to teach them to anyone.

    There’s a difference between refusing to consume depictions of something on your own, and refusing to do it in an educational context, where a lot of instruction really does rely on some amount of compulsion: “a lot of you won’t like this, but it’s worth it for you to overcome that and view it anyway, and then we’ll talk about it.” Some of the pushback against “triggering” has to do with a desire to preserve that element of provocation that a lot of people use in teaching. So if you want to be able to provoke, but you also want not to trigger, that’s a difficult needle to thread.

  210. 210
    ruemara says:

    @Not Adding Much to the Community: Yet again, ridicule, because you don’t think it’s a problem. You live up to your nym.

    God Damn. Fuck you all.

  211. 211
    Orpho says:

    None of these people should need trigger warnings on any material because they’re still dealing with lingering PTSD effects that will be with some of them the rest of their lives to some degree. A sentence or two (or even a few parenthetical words), let alone an alternative reading, is too much accommodation by a federally funded university for these people who are dealing with issues that our society has just recently started to treat as actual traumas with physical and psychological impacts. They should just get help under their free insurance plans until they are asymptomatic, it shouldn’t be something that _we_ have to deal with or accommodate.

    Being triggered and re-living a traumatic experience is just like being offended, or being scared at a scary movie, or seeing something that disturbs you, and that happens to people all the time and is part of the human experience and part of being educated. There’s no medical issue here, or if there is it should be dealt with by drugs and therapy until these people react just like the rest of us, or at least enough so that we don’t need to put in any extra sentences to our syllabi.

    Any accommodation of material for PTSD would mean that teachers would have to avoid books where there’s any evidence of, say, bullying or mean words.

    Frankly, it’s a parallel to the accommodation of other “real” disabilities that has led to a proliferation of alternative types of assessments, more time on tests, and actual university-provided note-takers for people who “can’t learn aurally” and work best from written material. It’ll be like trying to ban smoking. It’ll be the pussification of the academy, all over again.

  212. 212
    Keith G says:

    To be alive is to be confront with uncomfortable-ness , time and time and time again.

    Yet there are those who want, nay, demand guarantees that those things that they do not want to confront, stay away from them. For some it’s scenes of violence for others, it is scenes of intense third-world poverty.

    It reminds my of the concerns about germ-phobic parenting:

    When we overly sanitize infants’ environments to protect them from illness, we may instead be depriving them the opportunity to build a strong immune system.

    In addition to overzealous hygiene campaigns that may prevent kids from exposure to natural microorganisms that are good for them, there are other practices — like the overuse of antibiotics — that threaten to make us less healthy, not more.

    While one can never know where the line is, but in most cases humans are a lot more stalwart than the folks in question think they are.

    Edit

    @Orpho:

    Any accommodation of material for PTSD would mean that teachers would have to avoid books where there’s any evidence of, say, bullying or mean words.

    That made me giggle

    There goes everything from Dr. Seuss to Shakespeare.

  213. 213
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @RandomMonster: If we’re still talking about college classrooms, if a lot of people are triggered by certain depictions, those depictions are going to end up being off the table, because the alternative is creating a more complicated syllabus with accommodations and backup assignments, and different sets of exam questions, and so forth. Most instructors aren’t going to bother doing that–they’ll just drop the potentially triggering content from the syllabus so they don’t have to deal with the fallout at all.

  214. 214
    🌷 Martin says:

    I would note another distinction with higher-ed.

    I find exceedingly few instances where faculty would put students in a situation that they could expect would be uncomfortable without warning them ahead of time. It is in faculty’s best interests that students see their classroom as a safe place. There is no divergence of interests here that require protecting students from faculty in any broad sense (exceptions, sure). Faculty don’t reap their rewards until the end of the course, and a large number of unhappy students over easily avoidable things (that is, not grades) are bad for faculty.

    We tend to put protections like these in situations when the student/consumer/citizen’s interests are at odds with the group being regulated, or when the accommodation can’t be easily rectified on the spot. Those don’t apply to this case. That’s why the movie industry got their rating system. The studios have won as soon as they collect your ticket money. They don’t really care all that much that you leave the theatre happy. And it’s difficult for audiences to get an accurate picture of a film when the parts that would offend aren’t allowed to be advertised because of a different set of censorship rules. So there’s asymmetrical information in those cases. And in the case of movies, the ratings don’t really exist to protect the kids. They’re mainly to keep the kids from seeing the stuff they want against their parent’s wishes (who are voters, unlike the kids). So, there’s a whole other social perversion taking place there.

  215. 215
    Not Adding Much to the Community says:

    @ruemara: Honestly, it wasn’t ridicule, it was an honest question. If triggers are so idiosyncratic as to be “odd and random,” what’s the cost/benefit analysis on labeling everything that may be triggering? Some people’s triggers ARE the smell of rain, and cars of a certain color.

  216. 216
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Suzanne: You know, I know your heart is in the right place. You don’t wish to be responsible for doing anyone harm. And I thank you for that. I really do. It seems like you think I’m attacking you, but I’m not, and I’m sorry that I’ve given you that impression.

    PTSD sufferers have to confront the ugly in the world in all its forms whenever and wherever they find it, because the world is an ugly place. When confronted with that, One has to (re-)learn how to deal with it in the context within which one finds it.
    Healing slowly, as you put it, can be extending the suffering. And the longer one puts off dealing with it, the worse the disorder gets.
    Locking three tours worth of horrors away “to deal with them later” became not actually dealing with them for years, (because what kind of sick fuck wants to relive that shit?), and nearly led to a divorce or a shotgun under my chin. It did take one friend that I’m certain of, and another that I’m pretty sure about. And there are thousands like me if the doctors at the VA know anything.

  217. 217
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    D58826 says:

    Lets put the shoe on the other foot for a second. We are talking about college students here. This is 2014 and the Google has been around for a decade. Google the book and get a review of what’s in it and other peoples reactions. At least you would be forwarded about the content and can plan accordingly.

  219. 219
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @ruemara:

    FWIW, I think it’s a very serious problem – but I don’t know that there are good, universal solutions to it. I’ve known traumatized people react to a wide variety of things – one person would freak out over any expression/image of the idea of falling from a height, one person found the sound of steam from a kettle deeply upsetting, another person couldn’t walk near to multi-storey buildings and so on. I don’t know how you can bridge the gap between wanting to warn people off things that might trigger something, and the seemingly endless array of things that could have that effect on them. I don’t see how you can include trigger warnings for people with such a diverse variety of triggers.

  220. 220
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @Pogonip:

    I could find that perversely incentivizing…. But it ain’t up to me.

  221. 221
    Not Adding Much to the Community says:

    @Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity): Ah, but if you have to ask it’s ridicule and god damn and fuck you all.

  222. 222
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Orpho: Are we talking about diagnosed PTSD or traumatization in general? Because Martin spoke usefully about the former, and when it comes to the latter, it seems like things are going to get difficult very fast, because everyone’s traumas are different.

  223. 223
    D58826 says:

    @Keith G: Watch the movie Marnie. What was the trigger thunderstorms and the color red.

  224. 224
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @Not Adding Much to the Community:

    Well, people do react strongly on topics that mean a lot to them, especially if they feel that those topics are being taken lightly. I guess on this one I’d be inclined to assume that ruemara has some serious history in this area and not take it personally if ruemara is upset.

  225. 225
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity): That’s why “be thoughtful about teaching content involving rape and depictions of rape” is IMHO a lot more useful than “be thoughtful about all content because trauma comes in many forms,” because the second is either going to catch everything or catch nothing. What kinds of acts are we really talking about, other than rape and rape attempts?

  226. 226
    Not Adding Much to the Community says:

    “not take it personally” Thanks. This isn’t my first Internet, ya know :D

  227. 227
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    The issue I have with “trigger warnings” is that there’s not enough thought put into establishing the boundary between gratuitous/titillating depictions and critical/consciousness-raising depictions.

    I don’t know if this is still the case, but for several years after public libraries introduced computers for their patrons’ use, they (well, many of them) blocked any results for a search with “breast” as one of the search terms, on the grounds that the results might be pornographic. Never mind if the patron was a mother-to-be researching the pros and cons of breast-vs.-bottle-feeding, or a terrified middle-aged woman who had just discovered a lump in her breast and feared a cancer diagnosis. Your thoughtful sentence reminds me of that whole scenario.

  228. 228
    jl says:

    @🌷 Martin: I agree with most of your suggestions, two in particular. If the demands for trigger warnings are coming from students, then students should participate in determining criteria for them. Probably needs to be joint effort of faculty and students, with students taking initiative in identifying and describing what they think requires warnings.

    And I think you make a very good point that, if the problem is exposing people with PTSD to material that might trigger episodes, then then student health service should be involved through identification and counseling of those with the condition. And maybe treating the issue on an individual basis through campus counseling services is where the primary effort should be.

  229. 229
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    I guess graphic depictions of various forms of violence might be worth considering.

    I remember, back in the day, that our high school had a film warning us of the dangers of drug use. It opened with a very graphic depiction of an autopsy – at which point a significant fraction of the young ‘uns in attendance fainted, including my best friend, who had never shown any desire to rest his head on my shoulder before. Now, would it have helped if there had been a trigger warning? Was the point of the scene to shock people – and so a trigger warning might have taken away its impact? How do you balance those things? Beats me.

  230. 230
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Linnaeus:

    I didn’t find it especially onerous to tell the class that they would be seeing something pretty disturbing, and that didn’t detract from the pedagogical value of showing it.

    But in that case you gave a kind of “trigger warning” that didn’t make anyone’s trigger fire. That’s too easy. Sure, we can all give warnings and then go on to do whatever we would have done. But that’s like warning a bunch of people who don’t have nut allergies that what you made for the party has nuts in it. If you know people at the party have nut allergies, you probably make something that doesn’t have nuts in it, because you want to be accommodating. But you can’t always do that in an educational context. There aren’t an infinite number of substitutable things. What if the warning results in someone coming forward to say that she or he is sufficiently likely to be triggered that she or he will step away, or read something else instead? Now you’ve got a class where different people are reading/viewing different things. That introduces a new set of problems.

  231. 231
    LB says:

    I am a woman who fortunately has never been raped, though I was touched appropriately as a child. I know many many women who have experienced rape. I view the trigger alert as an internet courtesy similar to a spoiler alert. Shouldn’t we show at least the same modicum of civility and empathy to this issue for women as we do for dudes who haven’t yet seen the latest Game of Thrones or House of Cards episode?

  232. 232
    WereBear says:

    I think triggering warnings are most pertinent for when you don’t expect it.

    I’ve known trauma survivors who went into counseling because of their issue, to help people with their issue, and they expected the courses, internships, and actual work to be somewhat triggering. I watch any of the thousands of Friday the 13th movies and expect some form of demise-by-impalement. I rarely watch fratboy comedies because I figure they will disgust me.

    But consider the case of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom where people took their smaller children to what they thought would be a light-hearted adventure movie and instead treated their ten year olds to child slavery and hearts torn out of chests. Or the case of My Girl which was sold as a light-hearted children’s film but had many scenes set in funeral parlors and the death by bee stings of one of the children in it.

    There is a place for a Heads Up and I see no harm in providing such. I read many sites which are about recovering from toxic religions and all of them have trigger warnings about rape and abuse because that’s what toxic religions are all about.

    It’s sensible, it’s proper, it’s courteous. Because the readership is likely to have suffered from it while dealing with their toxic religion.

  233. 233
    Ruckus says:

    @RandomMonster:
    None.
    But that isn’t the point. And I didn’t say we shouldn’t have trigger warnings, what I’m basically saying is that a lot of people in this country(and others BTW) (will) want them because they don’t want certain groups reading/watching/experiencing things they don’t think are appropriate. The movie codes are exactly that, and some places prohibit kids under 13 in a PG13 movie or even older in an R rated one. And yes I’ve seen this happen. It is a balance but right now we have nutjobs not only speaking out (which is of course their right) but in power trying to restrict what even consenting adults can do. This has a real probability of becoming another layer of that.
    First they said….
    And I said nothing
    Then they did…..
    And I did nothing
    And then there was no one to listen.
    The gun nuts do have a point, most of us don’t want the gun NUTS to have guns. But how many want to discuss this rationally and not just stop at the first step and say everything is OK.

    Yes this is a slippery slope argument. How many of them aren’t? That is the beauty and the bane of a democracy. Compromise. But you don’t get compromise by throwing up either walls or having a free for all. We have freedom of speech. To a point. Inciting a riot for example. Yes we have movie guides but should they be used as a control or just as a guide? We have warnings on cig packs, but we still sell them. We have blue laws about alcohol sales, has that stopped drunks? Or people from drinking? But we also had prohibition, which I understand worked wonderfully.
    IOW I think we have to find a balance. Some things need a warning because they are dangerous. Are movies dangerous? They can be if you think they are real. Do we need warnings on everything? I’ll bet not. Personally I think religions and religious writings should have a trigger warning but I’ll bet I’m in the minority on that. So how would that be if you were a preacher and had to give a warning every Sunday?

  234. 234
    JoyfulA says:

    I started with Perry Masons in the fourth grade and have read hardboiled crime fiction in the decades since. It’s a rare book I toss aside because it grosses me out.

    Yet movies, TV, and even a photo can gross me out fast. So I read a lot and rarely watch movies or TV. I would never have taken, say, a film appreciation course.

    I don’t have PTSD. Are those who do likely to suffer from reading something? (Private eyes sometimes have PTSD, but it’s set off by what they hear or smell, not by what they read.)

  235. 235
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity): Exactly. There’s a long tradition of using shock and discomfort to raise consciousness. Think of Upton Sinclair or, in a different vein, Bertolt Brecht. There’s also a long tradition of using shock for the sake of shock. No one wants to lose the former as a pedagogical tool, or to lose the ability to teach works that capitalize on it. I think that’s some of the reasoning behind resistance to trigger warnings in education. Clearly no one wants to re-traumatize people who have been raped. But figuring out where shock and discomfort end and trauma begins… that ain’t easy.

  236. 236
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    There’s a long tradition of using shock and discomfort to raise consciousness.

    I owe all my raised consciousness to John Cole’s naked mopping. That said, I can see that it would traumatize a few people in the general population.

  237. 237
    smintheus says:

    @Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity): No, I never say that we need to take any of our sources on the trial of Socrates at face value. Just the opposite. Plato’s account of the trial is risible, if meant to be taken as a factual version, so I don’t understand why you’d trot out the a priori argument that our sources wouldn’t have dared to misrepresent Socrates.

    But then, I also don’t understand why when I said that Socrates was “associated with” some of the tyrants you turned that into an argument that he “collaborated with” them.

    Trials for impiety were are fairly standard pretext in Athens to get at people for reasons that had little or nothing to do with piety. And the amnesty after 403 BCE made it very difficult to prosecute associates of the tyrants; pretexts were sometimes used.

  238. 238
  239. 239
    Steeplejack says:

    @Baud:

    Neck-punching.

    ETA: Choking out with a strap-on.

    ETFA: Halp! I’m being triggered!

  240. 240
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    who among us gets to decide what’s potentially traumatizing for someone else? That’s where things can get out of hand.

    Here’s an example from fiction. I’ve mentioned previously on this blog that I am a huge fan of the Lord Peter Wimsey detective novels by Dorothy L. Sayers. One of the minor fascinating things about Lord Peter is his own struggles with what was then called “shell-shock” (what we would today call PTSD). As a Major during WWI, Wimsey was essentially buried alive in a foxhole near Caudry. Traumatic enough, that. But even more devastating to him was that as an officer he had been responsible for giving orders that sent young men to their deaths. As a consequence, he was incapable of giving even the simplest order for a long time thereafter. And when he was faced with acting on a piece of evidence or information that would likely send a sympathetic criminal to the gallows, he had awful flashbacks, and the old indecisiveness all over again. How do you send up a “trigger warning” for that kind of trauma? Put a trigger warning on Hamlet?

  241. 241
    RandomMonster says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    But that’s like warning a bunch of people who don’t have nut allergies that what you made for the party has nuts in it. If you know people at the party have nut allergies, you probably make something that doesn’t have nuts in it, because you want to be accommodating.

    To mix analogies here: If the class is “Cooking With Peanuts”, you simply say that it’s mandatory that you cook and eat dishes with peanuts. But you offer a fair warning that peanuts are on the menu.

    Again, the article only talked about providing a summary of the course contents and what might be objectionable to some students. It didn’t talk about making accommodations — you, Soonergrunt, and others are making this incredible leap that even forewarning someone about uncomfortable material inevitably leads to accommodating every whim, followed by draconian one-size-fits-all censorship. But if you read what the students at UCSB are talking about, it’s as mundane as the content warnings you ignore every night watching cable TV. Why is this so complicated?

  242. 242
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    That first sentence should say “Here’s an example from fiction.” FYWP suddenly won’t give me permission to edit my own comment.
    IFIFY. Full-service blog, we are.–SG

  243. 243
    MaryRC says:

    @FlipYrWhig: That was my thought too. The NYT article that launched this discussion mentions The Great Gatsby which, according to a Rutgers student, contains scenes of “gore, violence and misogyny”, presumably referring to several scenes that don’t end well for poor Myrtle. But supposing the syllabus carries a trigger warning for the book … then what? Can a student opt out of reading it? Skip the gory parts? (one of which at least is essential to the plot) What’s the point of a trigger warning if you have to read the book anyway?

  244. 244
    MsLis says:

    I’m looking at a food wrapper which says “contains soy, milk; may contain peanut, almond, sunflower and wheat ingredients”
    I have no food allergies, so this info neither helps nor harms me.
    But, a small minority of people suffer harmful physiological reactions which are triggered by such ingredients.
    We could (and used to) leave it up to them to conduct their own research on what is safe to eat, or take risks on trial-and-error.
    Instead, society deems it worthwhile to label products with this information, where consumers can use or ignore it as they see fit.

    A minority of trauma survivors suffer harmful physiological reactions which are triggered by accounts: descriptions of abuse, suicidal thoughts, etcetera.

    Is the presence of an analogous label really such a hardship?

  245. 245

    Can we take a moment to note that the majority of commenters here who think content warnings might be useful are women, and the majority pooh-poohing them are men?

    Fellas, you might want to think about your automatic reaction to this idea and why you’re automatically discounting what women think about it. Just saying.

  246. 246
    Soonergrunt says:

    @JoyfulA: “I don’t have PTSD. Are those who do likely to suffer from reading something?” I can’t speak for anyone else except to say that neither I nor anyone I know gets PTSD triggered by text.

  247. 247
    gogol's wife says:

    @JoyceH:

    Oh, thanks, I’ve got to show that to my brother.

  248. 248
    Emma says:

    @Orpho: You know, I am trying to see your point, but you’re not helping. All you’re doing is trying to shame the rest of us into acting the way you want us to. Convince me. Tell me how you would solve the problem.

  249. 249
    MsLis says:

    But supposing the syllabus carries a trigger warning for the book … then what? Can a student opt out of reading it? Skip the gory parts? (one of which at least is essential to the plot) What’s the point of a trigger warning if you have to read the book anyway?

    It gives the reader an opportunity to prepare/brace themselves for the experience, rather than being suprised by it from out of left field.

    Knowing a meal will have a lot of dairy dishes, [friend] can take Lactaid before he starts eating. Much more pleasant for everybody than either alternative: being unable to eat, or eating dairy unprepared.

  250. 250
    gogol's wife says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    If you look at the list of things the Oberlin students are asking for warnings on, it goes way beyond anything that could be classified as PTSD triggers.

  251. 251
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @smintheus:

    The trouble with that line of argument is that you don’t explain why Aristophanes didn’t link Socrates to anti-democratic politics in any way; you can’t explain why the other sources are explicit in saying that Socrates refused to collaborate with the orders of the Thirty – and no-one disagrees with them. Our sources didn’t misrepresent Socrates because it would have been a remarkably foolish and pointless thing to do. What would you gain by exposing yourself to ridicule and mistrust by publishing a version that everyone knew to be false? You keep talking as if you have some privileged understanding of Athens outside the sources – but you can’t cite any actual evidence. Your whole argument rests on silence – and that’s simply not a good basis for anything.

  252. 252
    Not Adding Much to the Community says:

    I had not looked at it that way. I had assumed Orpho, TG Chicago and some others in the ‘pro-trigger warning’ camp were male. Must be my inherent sexism at work.

  253. 253
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): You may also notice that a number of people commenting here who actually have PTSD are not fans of the idea.

  254. 254
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @RandomMonster:

    you, Soonergrunt, and others are making this incredible leap that even forewarning someone about uncomfortable material inevitably leads to accommodating every whim, followed by draconian one-size-fits-all censorship

    I don’t think I’ve said anything like that. But I think you’re begging the question: you’re imagining a situation where trigger warnings politely warn everyone, and then everything proceeds according to plan, because anyone who would be triggered never takes the class in the first place. But what if a person who is warned in advance takes the class anyway and wants to read something else? Fair enough, what’s the harm. I’ve done that with quasi-p0rnographic material before. But what if there are more than a few triggered people? What if you have 50 people in class and 10 of them are honestly triggered by one work and 10 others are honestly triggered by something else?

    Is the point to warn people before they read something, so they appreciate the warning and read it anyway; or is the point to warn them so that they have a chance to read something else? I think the former is entirely reasonable, and I think a lot of people who teach already do that sort of thing without thinking of it in terms of “trigger warnings.” Lots of complications arise from the latter.

  255. 255
    JoyfulA says:

    @Soonergrunt: Thanks. I have education and experience in psychotherapy, but pre-GWB, and I don’t recall there being much mention of PTSD in those days.

  256. 256
    TG Chicago says:

    @Soonergrunt: I didn’t ask if “some” would consider it so. I asked what you thought.

  257. 257
    NotMax says:

    And for the internet, cat warnings.

    It’s well past time.

    (Come to think of it, might be a potential sale for a light-hearted Dave Barry-ish type article on that )

  258. 258
    RandomMonster says:

    @MsLis:

    Knowing a meal will have a lot of dairy dishes, [friend] can take Lactaid before he starts eating. Much more pleasant for everybody than either alternative: being unable to eat, or eating dairy unprepared.

    Apparently a vocal contingency here believes that must lead to all dairy being banned forever. Sorry if you’ve had explosive diarrhea due to your lactose intolerance, real men just hold it in. [rolls eyes]

  259. 259
    Keith G says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): Please tell us more. Develop that idea.

  260. 260
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @MsLis:

    I don’t think most people are arguing against the possible usefulness (or validity) of warnings/triggers per se. The concern seems to be how people decide what to include in such a warning, given the wider variety of triggers, and whether sometimes a trigger warning might turn into a spoiler, plus the question of whether warnings might be exploited to create censorship. If you consider your example food product, there are a limited number of substances in it, so you can issue a warning about all of them fairly easily on one label. How does one deal with something like a movie where there could be a higher number of potential triggers? I am not making light of your concerns, or those of others, but I don’t think it’s a clear-cut or easy issue.

  261. 261
    Linnaeus says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    But in that case you gave a kind of “trigger warning” that didn’t make anyone’s trigger fire. That’s too easy.

    A fair point, but I had no way of knowing that ahead of time. And so it seemed to me that, despite my sense that the material I was showing was pedagogically appropriate, it was worthwhile to let students know ahead of time what they were going to see. No one objected, but if someone had, I did have material that I could have recommended as an alternative.

    Now, it’s entirely possible that an unmanageable situation could have developed. In that case, I would have done my best to make it manageable and then used that as a lesson for the next time around. Point being, we draw lines and form imperfect solutions all of the time and enact them if, on balance, we decide the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

  262. 262
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @WereBear:

    Yes, I cried my eyes out at Old Yeller and have never watched it again but I wouldn’t stop anyone else from doing so. And this film is one of the few where the sad ending, (highly traumatic for animal lovers,) is the point of the film, and is NOT gratuitous.

    For me it is The Yearling, but the principle is identical.

  263. 263
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): I think you’d find a lot of support for “rape depiction warnings” among both men and women.

  264. 264
    RandomMonster says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Is the point to warn people before they read something, so they appreciate the warning and read it anyway; or is the point to warn them so that they have a chance to read something else? I think the former is entirely reasonable, and I think a lot of people who teach already do that sort of thing without thinking of it in terms of “trigger warnings.” Lots of complications arise from the latter.

    I’m only talking about the former. As are the students who brought this forward:

    Ms. Loverin draws a distinction between alerting students to material that might truly tap into memories of trauma — such as war and torture, since many students at Santa Barbara are veterans — and slapping warning labels on famous literary works, as other advocates of trigger warnings have proposed.

    “We’re not talking about someone turning away from something they don’t want to see,” Ms. Loverin said in a recent interview. “People suddenly feel a very real threat to their safety — even if it is perceived. They are stuck in a classroom where they can’t get out, or if they do try to leave, it is suddenly going to be very public.”

    I’m not begging the question. You’re overcomplicating the issue.

  265. 265
    Alex S. says:

    @IM:

    Yes ;)

    Edit: He actually needed a real death scare to finish his magnum opus.

  266. 266
    raven says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Have you seen Cross Creek?

  267. 267
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Another concern in higher education is that the question of whether something is a trigger for PTSD or simply something the person finds disturbing or uncomfortable. Dealing with the first is one thing, and I think that Martin’s suggestion is a better method of of dealing with it than generalized trigger warnings Individual solutions to individual conditions. OTOH, attempts to avoid being uncomfortable or being disturbed don’t elicit a lot of sympathy from me. Higher education can and should push people’s boundaries.

  268. 268
    CTVoter says:

    @🌷 Martin: I find exceedingly few instances where faculty would put students in a situation that they could expect would be uncomfortable without warning them ahead of time. It is in faculty’s best interests that students see their classroom as a safe place.”

    I’m a chapter president of a local faculty union, and this is most definitely the case. A majority of faculty are conscious and careful of the people in their classes for the semester.

    It’s the a-hole minority that creates problems. Problems that produce solutions that create obstacles and barriers to the non a-hole faculty.

  269. 269
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I’d offer as an example of something that made me uncomfortable in a beneficial and educational way the movie Conspiracy, about the Wannsee conference where the Nazis planned the Final Solution. I find it a very difficult movie to watch, because paradoxically it includes no graphic depictions of the Holocaust. It’s just men, talking in a rather nicely fitted out house, about how they propose to destroy their fellow human beings. It’s that contrast between the comfortable, borderline luxurious, civilized trappings and the crude, cold barbarity of what is being proposed, applauded, even joked about that makes me feel despair and terror every time I see it. I don’t know how you would set trigger warnings for it, I don’t even know if you should. I do believe everyone should see that movie, several times, and think about it and take it to heart.

  270. 270
    TF79 says:

    What Martin said.

    If there’s some reason a student can’t participate in the “typical” classroom experience, they run it through the folks who are professionally TRAINED to sort this stuff out – and when I get that letter saying I need to make accommodations for such a student, I make them without hesitation. Whatever the moral arguments for trigger warnings (coddling versus courtesy), requiring individual faculty members to provide warnings is nuts when there’s already an office that professionally handles precisely these sorts of issues.

  271. 271
    🌷 Martin says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    But you can’t always do that in an educational context. There aren’t an infinite number of substitutable things.

    Education is often walking a much finer line, as you allude to at the outset of your comment.

    The opening scene in Saving Private Ryan is supposed to make you uncomfortable, uneasy, disgusted. That’s the whole fucking point: war is not John Wayne taking a bloodless bullet then saying something profound and selfless before courageously passing. Its about screaming for your mommy while your guts spill out into your hands. Education is often about taking these cultural lines and at the very least stepping on them, if not over them.

    One of my best writing classes was a semester on taboo writing. How do you write about rape? About inçest? How do say ‘nigger’ without offending people more than you intend? Of course you’re going to offend, that’s why the word exists and why you (I in this case) wrote it, but the intent was not to do harm. Its necessary at times for a character to call another a cunt because that’s the nature of the character, even if it’s not the nature of the author. And part of the course was the usual peer review, but also presenting your writing in front of the class.

    There’s no way to teach writers how to walk that line without walking that line, and every student in that class has a different sensibility. But the classroom is a safe place. The context of the classroom is very important. You take what we did out of the classroom and it would be offensive, and in some instances it was offensive inside the classroom because we were students and we were learning and making mistakes. You need space to safely break the rules in academia.

    Universities also routinely put on theater performances that involve nudity, and the performances are part of a class. This is where ‘sexual harassment’ training gets very interesting at universities. Nudity at work is usually a no-no, but it’s sometimes appropriate in the classroom. There’s even a few ‘porn studies’ programs developing. It becomes almost impossible to lay down hard and fast rules about what is and isn’t appropriate. Nudity in a calculus class is a no-no. In a sociology or theater class, it may or may not be okay. How do you write that rule without involving discretion of the faculty? And if faculty have discretion, how do you write an a priori policy about appropriate content? What about a film studies class that explores violence in cinema? There are classes out there that focus exclusively on violence against women in cinema, about subjugation and rape and the whole spectrum. The whole fucking class is one extended trigger warning, but that’s the whole point of the class – to pluck out the bits that should be uncomfortable and deconstruct them and put them in a larger context, with the goal of having you be even more uncomfortable (not viscerally, but intellectually) by what you see than you were initially.

  272. 272
    Ruckus says:

    @Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity):
    Sounds a lot what I think our last president’s entire time in office must have sounded like behind closed doors.

  273. 273
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @RandomMonster: I don’t see what’s “overcomplicating.” Your second quoted paragraph is expressly about the effects on the triggered person. So you alert your students to the presence of something potentially triggering, and then they try to get through it but can’t, having been triggered, and then what? Is the trigger warning that fails the triggered person’s fault? That can’t be right. So IMHO it’s still imagining a trigger warning that’s either unnecessary or works perfectly. Maybe that’s why it seems artificially easy.

  274. 274
    Cassidy says:

    So, are we past the “I had to go get my trauma walking uphill, both ways, backwards with an onion my belt and everything turned out just fine!”, yet or we still at the phase of people making asses off themselves?

    It’s kind of funny, this thread reminds me of that cartoon where the guy asks what would happen if we did all this stuff to make the world better, air cleaner, nicer to live in, etc. and climate change wasn’t just man made or something like that. So what if we incorporate the idea that trauma is subjective and people don’t just get over it, and become more sensitive to people’s pain….

  275. 275
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @raven:

    No, because when it first came out I understood (reviews or trailers, can’t remember) that it was the real-life basis of the fictional The Yearling. I’m sure it’s a fine film with outstanding acting, and I know I’ve missed out on a lot of good movie, TV, and reading experiences over the years, but I’d just as soon pass, TYVM.

    Note, though, that I am not asking for a “trigger warning” in these instances. I was required to read The Yearling in school, and I deliberately avoided ever watching the film. In a sense, the story served as a trigger warning for the movie.

  276. 276
    Pogonip says:

    @Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity): Balloon Juice: you will never find a more wretched hive of snarling, donut-fucking jackals.

  277. 277
    WereBear says:

    @Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity): That is an awesome movie and it likewise upset me very much. But it was supposed to, and I can’t imagine it being an unexpected trigger for anyone, since the upsetting content was implicit in the movie’s setting.

    And (not directed at you in particular) do I have to have PTSD to feel upset over this issue? As a step-parent and aunt, I have been shocked and dismayed that a movie I assumed a child would enjoy turned out to have inappropriate content, right out of the blue.

    Yes, people skip along in meadows, hand in hand with their sweetheart, and stumble across dead bodies.. in real life. I actually expect this in a mystery. I don’t expect it in a children’s musical.

    Is that wrong of me?

  278. 278
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @🌷 Martin:

    The whole fucking class is one extended trigger warning

    Which is why there’s really no problem in the “alert” aspect of what we’ve been talking about: “be advised that the material in this course includes depictions of rape, abuse, nudity, obscenity, cruelty,” etc. Great. I’m all for that. If you know in advance, then you can take a different class, or talk to the professor about substitutions. I think all the tough cases arise from what happens if the warning doesn’t work. And if there are multiple people in the course concerned about being triggered by some things but not others and they’re all asking for different kinds of accommodations and substitutions, that’s a hassle, and IMHO the endpoint of that hassle is inevitably going to be dropping the triggerable material from the course. Depending on the course, that might be a significant loss.

  279. 279
    Keith G says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    But you can’t always do that in an educational context. There aren’t an infinite number of substitutable things.

    Further, we do not even know if such an act of substitution would be the developmentally correct things to do for a student.

    I am reading a lot of claims, yet I am not seeing a lot of data.

  280. 280
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @WereBear:

    I agree this isn’t just a matter of PTSD – I think the discussion of PTSD in this context arose from the personal experiences of people on the thread, but was never intended to limit the discussion. I agree about finding things unsuitable, even if they don’t trigger PTSD. I would personally be happy to see rather less of Theon Greyjoy being abused in Game of Thrones, partly because I do find the repeated gratuitous sadism repugnant and because it gets in the way of story arcs that interest me more. Likewise, I could live without the repeated softcore porn scenes of Littlefinger’s various brothels.

  281. 281
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @WereBear: I think we need to separate content advisories in media from content advisories (subset: trigger warnings) in education. You can choose not to consume upsetting media when the objective is entertainment. Sometimes you can’t choose not to consume upsetting media when the objective is education, because it’s often worthwhile to learn about atrocious things.

  282. 282
    Ruckus says:

    @WereBear:
    I don’t know.
    But I do know of people who at mid life have never seen a dead body or real injuries up close. And they don’t seem to have any idea how to deal with a very real part of life, one that all of us usually have to at some point. How do we go about learning that without unnecessarily traumatizing people? One of the things learned from Vietnam was that televising the war turned many people against it. Finding out how senseless war usually is and how real nasty and dirty it always is ends up making a lot of people question the always needed war. So that had to be censored. Finding out about what the secret side of our government has done and is doing has not won them any friends so what do they do? Make things more secret and hidden. Will it help? Depends on what you think needs help.

  283. 283
    raven says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Rip Torn is great as the father of the girl with the Yearling. The film is actually a compendium of Rawling’s stories with strong acting throughout. The Yearling part and the aftermath are heartbreaking.

  284. 284
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Keith G:

    Further, we do not even know if such an act of substitution would be the developmentally correct things to do for a student.

    I would argue that if it’s a legitimate trauma (diagnosed, covered under ADA) then it is the correct thing to do. The education rule is pretty simple: don’t argue with the doctors.

    If it’s not a legitimate trauma, and there’s plenty of cases out there of people being ‘subjected’ to things they disapprove – a gay kiss on TV, evolution, etc., then I think it’s wrong to give them an out. Many of these outrages are learned at home or in church, etc. Education is about learning as well. That’s a conflict we shouldn’t shrink from.

    Think of all of the cases where parents are sent forms to opt their kid out of sex ed, out of evolution education, etc. Do we want to opt adults out of those same topics? People will argue that there is no trauma associated with them, but the students will often disagree with that. That’s why the ADA standard is so beneficial. Good luck convincing your doctor that exposure to evolution is traumatic.

  285. 285
    RandomMonster says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    So you alert your students to the presence of something potentially triggering, and then they try to get through it but can’t, having been triggered, and then what? Is the trigger warning that fails the triggered person’s fault? That can’t be right.

    You’re misreading it. She’s saying you’re stuck in a classroom with something that makes you uncomfortable because you didn’t have fair warning. If you did have fair warning, you could have made other arrangements by taking another class or pleading some special situation. She’s not saying that you’re warned, take the class anyway, and then complain about the trigger.

    You’re overcomplicating it because it’s just a warning about course content. You claim that you do this anyway — so again, what is the problem? You’re the one who’s saying that people are demanding you change your course content, but if you read the original article you can’t find someone saying that schools should do that.

  286. 286
    Svensker says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Does anyone find the Epistles interesting?

    Seriously? I find them the most interesting. It’s a record of folks trying to work out how to organize a new religion — what old habits will be honored, what old things have to make way for new ways, what to do about a ructious group that’s causing problems. If you don’t read it as “The Bible!” but as letters from people involved in a new endeavor, they are kind of fun. YMMV

  287. 287
    WereBear says:

    @Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity): Game of Thrones is a good example because that was one I bailed on early, even though its warnings are no different from many another cable drama.

    And I bailed even though I have no problem with either Sopranos or Boardwalk Empire; even though there certainly plenty of violence in all three. The difference is that mob stories generally have people “asking for it” while in Game of Thrones, you just have to be in the country at the time.

    And I couldn’t take it. But I don’t see content warnings helping me there… what would they say? Random life-altering mayhem happening to innocents who were in the area…

  288. 288
    Suzanne says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I guess my point is that a trigger warning is the accommodation, not a change in course content. If someone can’t deal with something being taught, they can not enroll in the class. But without a warning or a pre-screening, they don’t have that opportunity to make that choice for themselves.

  289. 289
    RandomMonster says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Which is why there’s really no problem in the “alert” aspect of what we’ve been talking about: “be advised that the material in this course includes depictions of rape, abuse, nudity, obscenity, cruelty,” etc. Great. I’m all for that.

    If we both agree on this, fine. I don’t need to argue here more :)

  290. 290

    @Mnemosyne: Content warning: beware TRISTRAM SHANDY. It was years before I could approach an open window after that.

  291. 291

    Trigger warnings for books? Are you all fucking serious? It’s a book, which means you are reading it word by word. When you start to become uncomfortable, STOP FUCKING READING.

    Unless you all read chapters at a time, I think this is a useful workaround.

  292. 292
    ellennelle says:

    as long as they come with smelling salts, i think i’m ok with it.

    ;-)

  293. 293
    WereBear says:

    To come up with another few examples of deeply wrong and nobody could warn me, both the live-action Grinch and the Willy Wonka remake freaked me out, and these were children’s films. For all I know the weirdness went right over the younglings heads, but in one case I was disturbed I had taken a child, and in the other, glad I did not.

    But I didn’t blame anyone. That’s a subtlety.

    But that’s not what I believe this discussion is about. If you sign up for “Themes in the English Novel” and you wind up with a bunch of torture, exploitation, and sexual abuse (and it’s easy to do) there should be a line in the catalog which warns about disturbing content. Some will drop out and some will sign up and that’s fine.

    Knowledge is power. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

  294. 294
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @RandomMonster: I never said anything about “demanding.” But I do think the effect would be to drift towards removing trigger-warn-able content from courses, because the more people warned to the point of opting out, the greater the hassle of multiple parallel versions of course content.

    She’s not saying that you’re warned, take the class anyway, and then complain about the trigger.

    Even though we’re probably closer than we suspected on all this, I still don’t think this aspect has been worked out fully. Let’s say I’m teaching a lit course that’s required of all majors, and a person with a genuine trigger — let’s say it’s for rape — takes the course. There’s a warning about depictions of rape. Even knowing that, she’s in the course. She decides to read the objectionable material and reacts badly. The warning was in place — but she’s still traumatized. Is it “her fault”? Well, that’s a loaded question, especially given the context of rape.

    So in any event I think the content warning is a nice gesture, but I don’t think we can count on its success. And I’m still leery that content warnings might be overcorrections that scare off people who might actually benefit from a critical discussion of depictions of awful things, but I suppose I have to trust that everyone knows their own triggers.

  295. 295
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Ninedragonspot: Me, I haven’t been able to fight the battle of Namur ever since.

  296. 296
    🌷 Martin says:

    @RandomMonster:

    She’s saying you’re stuck in a classroom with something that makes you uncomfortable because you didn’t have fair warning. If you did have fair warning, you could have made other arrangements by taking another class or pleading some special situation. She’s not saying that you’re warned, take the class anyway, and then complain about the trigger.

    This is tricky. Federal law says that costs related to a course must be disclosed at the time the student enrolls. That’s long before the first day of class. Many students have already enrolled for fall semester classes, so those disclosures have already happened. Part of the reason for the early disclosure is that if you want to drop a course on the first day, there isn’t necessarily another course you can enroll in. Varies a lot by institution. Deferring the enrollment decisions to the start of the semester is quite dangerous at some schools, and the feds to their credit have recognized that.

    So, is the syllabus (which generally isn’t available prior to the first day of class) adequate, or does it need to go out when the student enrolls? If the latter, you have a massively more complex administrative problem to deal with. The students are calling for syllabus, but they’re also all at institutions that class enrollment is relatively easy. UMich is probably the hardest of the lot. You go to Cal State Long Beach and syllabus isn’t adequate. So this is a little thornier issue if you are legitimately trying to protect a category of students. If that’s the true rationale, I as an administrator would argue that the warning needs to be at the point of enrollment. I don’t even have a mechanism to do that. I’d have to invent it. And then staff it. And then get instructors to commit fully to their course contents 6 months out from the start of the course, because that’s how enrollment works.

  297. 297
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @John (MCCARTHY) Cole: Uh, if the book is on the test, you can’t really just stop fucking reading, unless you figure you’ll blow off any questions that come up on the part between when you stopped reading and when you started back up again.

  298. 298
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @John (MCCARTHY) Cole:

    “We want you to tell us that we are fools and to show us your books.”

  299. 299
    MomSense says:

    I started to read the comments now and just wanted to add a few thoughts to this discussion.

    First, not everyone responds the same way to PTSD. As someone who has gotten pretty good at coping with it many years later, I will tell you that when I was in a more acute phase, I appreciated the professors who just gave a heads up/trigger warning mostly because it allowed me to prepare myself. Sometimes being surprised is too much to take.

    I wouldn’t want to mandate trigger warnings, but I do think it would be helpful for more people to know that providing a trigger warning can alleviate a lot of stress and suffering. I was a teacher for many years and accustomed to making different kinds of accommodations to make it possible for my students to participate in class as fully as possible. I think of trigger warnings as a way of being thoughtful.

    Some of the comments in this thread come across with a, shall we say hint of shaming. ‘I’m dealing with my PTSD even though I experienced __________ and I don’t expect any “special treatment’. Again, not everyone copes the same way. Perhaps thinking of “special treatment” more as consideration would help.

    Imani did an amazing post a few years ago at ABL about surviving rape and some of the long term effects. She offered a trigger warning which meant that I could plan the right time to read it. It was an incredibly painful and helpful piece for me to read when I could prepare myself and give myself the gift of time and safe space to read it. It actually helped a great deal in recognizing and healing some behaviors of mine that I hadn’t connected with abuse.

    A thoughtful trigger warning can be a kind and empowering tool to help people who are learning to cope with the aftermath of trauma. This is a great community of people — snarling, vitriolic jackals on the outside, and salt of the earth would give you the shirt off your back on the inside. Surely we can find ways to be as helpful as possible to people who need support.

  300. 300
    different-church-lady says:

    @raven:

    All garden threads all the time.

    Trigger warning: insects, worms, creepy wriggly things that live in soil.

  301. 301
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @different-church-lady:

    Also: whoreteaculturalists.

  302. 302
    Cassidy says:

    @John (MCCARTHY) Cole: So, thinking about dead cats lately? Oh yeah, you can stop reading if that makes you uncomfortable.

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  305. 305
    RandomMonster says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    She decides to read the objectionable material and reacts badly. The warning was in place — but she’s still traumatized. Is it “her fault”? Well, that’s a loaded question, especially given the context of rape.

    It’s wrong to characterize it as “her fault” in this context. But at least she had some expectations, which is better than being surprised.

  306. 306
    Suzanne says:

    @MomSense: thanks for the testimony about what it means to heal on your own terms.

    The civil rights movement is really the history of a marginalized group of people saying that they have been hurt by a dominant group, and the dominant group says, “That’s the way the world works—deal.” If one finds oneself making that same argument, that’s probably a sign that you’re not on the right side of the argument.

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    smintheus says:

    @Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity): Aristophanes’ Clouds predates both oligarchic revolutions by a lot…as well as the disastrous Sicilian expedition ginned up by Alcibiades, one of the most notorious of Socrates’ associates. Why in the world would you expect him to paint Socrates as a threat to the democracy, much less demand that I explain why he failed to do so?

    It is your interpretation that is built on rather strange and certainly baseless assumptions about the sources – particularly your insistence that none of Socrates’ contemporaries would dare to misrepresent him. And yet there we have Plato portraying his trial in a way that every Athenian would have known was impossible; trials simply weren’t conducted that way. It takes a considerable leap of faith to trust any aspect of Plato’s portrait of the trial and final days of Socrates.

    I know the sources, and ancient historical method, well enough to recognize that we simply cannot draw many firm conclusions about Socrates’ trial based on the evidence we have. You, apparently, do not realize that.

  309. 309
    RandomMonster says:

    @John (MCCARTHY) Cole:

    Imagine you take a biology class with no idea that you have to dissect a cat. Or imagine an undergraduate class with a live dissection of a frog or turtle. You may or may not be squeamish about such things, but is it a really big imposition on you to have to hear the instructor tell people about potentially disturbing content? Fucking hell.

  310. 310
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @Ruckus:

    Nocturnal vegetable entertainment entrepreneurs of the female persuasion.

  311. 311
    MomSense says:

    @Suzanne:

    Thanks, Suzanne. That is actually a really succinct and helpful way of describing the civil rights (and other!!) movements.

  312. 312
    different-church-lady says:

    @Ruckus:

    Certain commenters do cause a negative reaction in me. So I installed cleek’s trigger warning device which he cleverly disguised as a pie filter.

    Between his pie filter and his eponymous law, he really deserves some kind of Balloon Juice Order of Merit.

  313. 313
    ulee says:

    Cole is just being Cole. I don’t want to see baby seals being clubbed to death. It’s not a trigger, I just don’t want to see that shit. And I appreciate it if there is a warning that it is about to be broadcast.

  314. 314
    muddy says:

    @MomSense: Excellent comment, thank you. I agree about a trigger warning just being a warning. I find that I can be triggered when something bad is unexpected. If I know in advance it’s a whole other thing. Personally I think trigger reactions arise from the subconscious, once you are prepared it doesn’t happen. At least for me.

  315. 315
    Donut says:

    @Cassidy:

    Jesus. What the fuck was that? Please, don’t post while you’re drink, unless it’s something funny.

    TL:DR: go to bed, little man.

  316. 316
    different-church-lady says:

    @ulee:

    Cole is just being Cole.

    Trigger warning: Cole.

  317. 317
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @smintheus:

    You keep coming up with this rather silly line about people not “daring” to misrepresent Socrates. The point is that it would be monumentally stupid to present a version of Socrates to a talkative, litigious public who might well have seen the man in action and possibly been present at his trial. Why would you want to go through the considerable effort (much harder work in the ancient world than our modern Mac/PC blessed age) of writing a book and putting your reputation on the line when it would be shredded, very publicly, by people who had actually known the man himself?

    You go on and on about your alternative reading, basing it on precisely nothing, zero, nada, zilch, zip – and expect to have the actual evidence we have thrown out because of.. what? Oh that’s right – our inability to draw firm conclusions!

    Seriously, look at your argument and ask yourself why you are arguing a case based on nothing with such maniacal belief, as opposed to a case that cites the actual evidence.

    As for the dating of the Clouds, you should know that Aristophanes abused people of various political persuasions openly throughout his long career precisely for their political affiliations, not to mention their sexual habits, clothing, and weird associates. If Socrates had been considered an advocate of oligarchy or tyranny, Aristophanes was not the sort of shrinking violet to pass up such an obvious target. We know that there were debates and civil wars throughout the Greek world during the period when Socrates was alive on precisely the issue of whether the people or oligarchies should rule. We know that Aristophanes denounced all manner of political activists – and yet, somehow, he never denounces Socrates in those terms. For him Socrates is a kook with a strange interest in natural philosophy, an unhealthy practitioner of devious rhetoric – and has no apparent political views. The logical, fact-based conclusion is that Socrates was not known as a man with any particular political allegiances.

  318. 318
    Mnemosyne says:

    @John (MCCARTHY) Cole:

    Trigger warnings for books? Are you all fucking serious? It’s a book, which means you are reading it word by word. When you start to become uncomfortable, STOP FUCKING READING.

    And if the book is Tess of the D’Urbervilles and it’s required for your class, then what?

    In my experience, it’s not unusual for male professors to talk about books like Tess as though they’re about seduction or consensual sex but when you read them, they’re very clearly about rape, even within the context of their time. I’m not sure if this is because said professor is trying to avoid having to have the “rape” discussion, but it’s not uncommon.

  319. 319
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I always remember this scene – which probably deserves its own trigger warning for extreme battery with sexual paraphernalia.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYBueZMb7iA

  320. 320
    Suzanne says:

    @Donut: He was making the point that things that trigger can come on very suddenly, even through just reading about them. This is the point that those people who advocate for trigger warnings have been trying to make—even reading about something can cause a PTSD reaction if one is not adequately prepared.

    Mnem also points out the gendered aspect of this. Many of those who advocate for trigger warnings are women suffering from PTSD after rape. As someone who believes that the proper role of those who have not endured a specific prejudice or mistreatment or trauma is to shut up and listen to those that have, it really is awfully telling that it’s primarily dudes saying that trigger warnings are too much of an imposition into public life.

  321. 321
    Mnemosyne says:

    @muddy:

    I agree about a trigger warning just being a warning. I find that I can be triggered when something bad is unexpected. If I know in advance it’s a whole other thing.

    This right here. The trigger usually happens because you’re not expecting it. If you know up front that the book is going to have a rape, or an animal torture scene, or a human torture scene, you can prepare yourself for it.

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    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    Trigger warnings are a great way to open a whole ‘nother can of worms. There is nothing to prevent the home schooled Bible beaters from declaring that they are traumatized by anything from climate science to actual – as opposed to their fundamentalist Founding Fathers fairytales – history.

  324. 324
    ulee says:

    I think it is the word. Trigger. It pisses off people who think that real world victims are being mollycoddled and over protected, and that the rest of us should not be inconvenienced just because they had a terrible experience. There is not a problem with the warnings, just a problem with those who are resentful of the warnings.

  325. 325
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    Don’t they do that without trigger warnings anyway?

  326. 326
    different-church-lady says:

    …or, much more likely, I was not clear.

    Jeez, what could possibly be unclear about “I find the whole concept of trigger warnings to be so laughably absurd…”

    Careless rhetoric sinks ships.

  327. 327
    MaryRC says:

    @MsLis: Food warning labels work because they’re dealing with one issue: you’re either allergic to nuts or dairy or you’re not and if you are, the warning label is helpful. But who decides what triggers a traumatic experience? In the Rutgers essay, the writer cites The Great Gatsby for violence and misogyny, but there are also instances of racism: not just Tom’s buffoonish fear of the yellow peril, but a racist epithet and some mockery of a group of African-Americans, from the narrator himself. Shouldn’t that be part of the warning too? Not according to the writer.

    The Rutgers essay is interesting and actually rather brave but it poses more questions than it answers. You feel that knowing that a traumatic event will be depicted in the novel is better than nothing. But the Rutgers student proposes that readers should skip triggering passages and come back to them later. How do you skip the climactic events of The Great Gatsby and still make sense of the end? Or that students can discuss alternate reading schedules with the professor. What would that conversation sound like? “Let’s see — how about war injuries resulting in impotence? You OK with that? No? Alright, I guess we can cross off The Sun Also Rises.” You may find you have to write off most of 20th century literature.

  328. 328
    different-church-lady says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    There is nothing to prevent the home schooled Bible beaters from declaring that they are traumatized by anything from climate science to actual – as opposed to their fundamentalist Founding Fathers fairytales – history.

    Trigger warning: reality.

  329. 329
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Suzanne:

    As someone who believes that the proper role of those who have not endured a specific prejudice or mistreatment or trauma is to shut up and listen to those that have, it really is awfully telling that it’s primarily dudes saying that trigger warnings are too much of an imposition into public life.

    I’ve only endured PTSD since mid-1971 so I guess you must have missed my comment above wherein I stated that I have read any number of books about Vietnam, including Matterhorn, without it triggering my PTSD. Take your own advice.

  330. 330
    ulee says:

    I don’t need a trigger warning about Bush and Cheney. I just think it’s funny they can’t travel to Europe.

  331. 331
    MomSense says:

    @muddy:

    My experience is similar to yours. At work I often have to deal with triggers and just knowing in advance that I will have to listen to a recording of a 9-1-1 call helps tremendously. I don’t think I could be a 9-1-1 dispatcher!!

  332. 332
    smintheus says:

    @Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity): It sounds like you don’t have much training in ancient history. As I’ve said several times, your argument is contradicted by Plato’s Apology, which would have been “shredded” by any Athenian who had ever attended a trial. He puts two speeches in Socrates’ mouth, the second and third ones, that could not have been delivered in an Athenian court.

    And no, we do not know that Aristophanes never portrayed Socrates in a political context. There survive only a very few of his many plays. And we also don’t know that he genuinely considered Socrates a “kook”. That’s not the impression one gets of their relationship from Plato’s Symposium.

    So much for my supposed recklessness about the evidence.

  333. 333
    MomSense says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    Did you know before you read those books that the content could potentially cause a painful reaction?

  334. 334
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @MomSense:

    Yes, I did. I also knew that they were well regarded works about the conflict in which I saw close combat. I have learned over time that the only way that I can keep from being engulfed by my PTSD is to confront it to the best of my ability and to try to not shy away completely from reminders of how and why I came to be this way. I tried strict avoidance for years and the condition just festered until it threatened to take me over.

  335. 335
    Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity) says:

    @smintheus:

    My dear Smintheus, I hold a PhD in the relevant area, so you might want to rethink your childish remarks. You show no sign of understanding just how silly your attempts to generalize your way out of historical reality are. Let’s go through this, slowly, so that you can expand your education:

    1) No serious scholar thinks that the Apology is a verbatim transcript of the trial of Socrates. There are no witness statements, no requests to read out the relevant laws, no versions of the prosecution speeches etc etc.

    2) This does not mean you can jump to the opposite extreme and assume that there is nothing in the Apology that accurately reflects the basic facts of the trial. We know that the charges were posted up for public perusal. There is absolutely no evidence from the ancient world that contradicts the accounts given by Plato and Xenophon as to how the trial came about, who the prosecutors were and what their charges were. These were public matters in a very litigious, talkative community. It simply makes no sense that Plato or Xenophon would discredit their own work and reputations by blatantly misrepresenting the facts of the trial, specifically the charges.

    3) It is perfectly clear that Aristophanes referred to Socrates at length in the Clouds and, much later and more briefly, in the Frogs. He attacks Socrates for mocking the traditional deities, teaching the young rhetorical tricks and ways to disrespect their fathers, and, in the Frogs, not respecting the poets. You will note that these attacks line up rather clearly with the accusations made against Socrates in his trial. Moreover, those accusations were ones that had been levied against philosophers/sophists before in Athenian history.

    4) The ancient tradition is quite clear that Socrates (and his friend, Chaerephon, also mocked as a sinister associate and almost vampire in the Frogs) were opposed to the Thirty and refused to obey their orders. No source that survives indicates otherwise.

    5) No serious scholar of the field now takes everything that Plato wrote to be the actual words of Socrates. That said, when Plato brings historical figures into his work, the factual accounts he gives of them and their activities match the evidence supplied by the surviving sources remarkably well. We have no reason to disbelieve the historical facts he recounts concerning Socrates. Note that this is NOT the same as the claim that he repeats what Socrates actually said verbatim, either in the Apology or in his other works.

    6) No serious scholar uses the argument from silence with the reckless and immature persistence that guides your speculations on this topic. It is a basic fallacy that you would have been trained out of, if you had done any serious academic work.

    If you have any facts to bring to the discussion, it is past time for you to bring them forward. So far, I’ve seen nothing from you but a series of claims that since the ancient evidence is not perfect or complete (something which, again, serious scholars take as a given) we can therefore ignore it and proceed to evolve conspiracy theories about “how it really was” based on.. ah yes, a partial reading of why, by the Dog!…the ancient evidence – which is not perfect and complete and so can be safely ignored according to you. And round and round this tedious mulberry bush you go in ever decreasing circles. It’s a silly and pointless game that most people give up after their sophomore year and it is time that you too abandoned it.

  336. 336
    Ruckus says:

    @different-church-lady:
    Agreed.

    Loyal Order of the Half Shaved Cats Ass

  337. 337
    Suzanne says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: I’m glad you aren’t triggered by reading. Other people, numbering well into the tens of thousands, have made it clear that they are. It costs literally nothing other than a few moments of consideration and empathy to make their world a bit easier to travel through.

  338. 338
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Suzanne:

    Other people, numbering well into the tens of thousands, have made it clear that they are.

    I’m not disagreeing with you but, I would appreciate a link which bears out those numbers,

  339. 339
    Suzanne says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: The term “trigger warning” emerged from the feminist blogosphere to make those spaces safe to discuss rape. You could add up all of the readership of Shakesville, Feministing, Pandagon, I Blame The Patriarchy, ABL, and many others, and then divide by three.

  340. 340
    MaryQ says:

    Trigger warnings bother me quite a bit, and I am trying to figure out why. I think it is the assumption, usually by the well meaning, that they can lessen the suffering of the trauma survivors somehow. I wll give them the benefit of the doubt that they are entirely motivatd by altruism, but I do sometimes wonder if there is something of a Performative sensitivity behind this. I read Inside Higher Ed and CHE pretty much very day, and I always get a hint of knight-in-shining-armor condescension from the men, as well as a sort of -in-your-face feminism from the women.

    I guess what I find kind of annoying is the absolute confidence that trigger warnings can protect us (oh, yeah, sorry, rape survivor here-forgot to mention that) from something that they can’t even imagine. Triggers are everywhere, and they are multi sensory, and for me they are often things that no one would predict to be a trigger. The only way I have managed to get though life and achieve some measure of success and happiness is to learn how to recognize and handle triggers, and to get professional help. A bunch of people saving me from reading The Great Gatsby, or telling me not to see Last Exit to Brooklyn are just patronizing fools. My trauma has already happened, I will be processing this for the rest of my life, and you really can’t help me.

    Especially if you insist on treating me like a child.

  341. 341
    Ruckus says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:
    It’s like stuffing all your emotions away in a tiny, tiny box in your mind. It’s never, ever really a closed box, everything in it interacts with everything not stuffed in there, like it or not. At some point the interactions become everything and anything that triggers an interaction can be overwhelming. Working through those things, exposing them in a less than threatening environment allows one to examine them and lessen their impact, to see the reactions and learn to experience them at a slower and controlled pace.
    45 yrs ago I used to enjoy war movies. Now I have to get myself ready to watch them. I find it best to not see them in a theater but at home where I can take a break if necessary. So I avoid them unless it seems like they may be important, especially for reasons other than the warfare, movies such as Saving Pvt Ryan.

  342. 342
    Ruckus says:

    @MaryQ:
    Thank you for this.

    I’m sorry that you have to spend your life, processing, adjusting. Some would say we all have to do that, it’s called living. But it really isn’t the same at all.

  343. 343
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Suzanne:

    That’s both anecdotal and vague. Can you provide a link that bears out the numbers that you quoted?

  344. 344
    MomSense says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    I do not avoid reading/watching/discussing/listening to things that relate to my trauma. Knowing in advance does help me to prepare so that I can actually get something meaningful from the experience rather than just feeling like I can’t breathe and trying to get my heart to stop racing. I don’t learn/confront/engage in anything meaningful if I am surprised.

    The feeling of being in control of the experience is key for me.

  345. 345
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Suzanne: It’s also a feature of fan fiction communities, growing in tandem with the feminist use. It’s kind of reached ludicrous levels in fandom.

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: I know that certain things can send me into a tailspin of depression when I come upon them unexpectedly. Yes, in text. The important part is unexpectedly.

    A lot of the men here remind me of Nora Roberts, who was utterly flummoxed at the outrage aimed at her after she killed a cat in one of her books. Not everyone is wired the same. Some people react more strongly to text than to film.

  346. 346
    Suzanne says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: Nope. But the readership of the social justice blogosphere is very large.

  347. 347
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    @Suzanne: So your assertion that “…other people, numbering well into the tens of thousands…” is just made up shit.

  348. 348
    Mnemosyne says:

    @MaryQ:

    A bunch of people saving me from reading The Great Gatsby, or telling me not to see Last Exit to Brooklyn are just patronizing fools.

    I would never tell you not to see (or read) Last Exit to Brooklyn, but I would probably say, “Hey, you know, there’s a really graphic gang rape scene in there” so you know what you’re getting into before you see it. But I would probably say that to any of my friends regardless of their past traumas because, frankly, I don’t want to be surprised by that shit, either.

    I agree that some “trigger warnings,” especially online, can be pretty condescending, but I don’t see what the problem is with having professors tell people ahead of time that there are rape scenes in the books or movies that are part of the coursework.

  349. 349
    Ruckus says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:
    I’m wondering if there is a biological or cultural reason that a lot of men and women come at this from different directions. I know that when I was a mental health counselor men and women could talk about the same type of issues but would very generally come at them from different directions. Learning to watch for and understand that changed how I look at a lot of issues. One is not better than the other and it is for sure not totally consistent but it was noticeable.

  350. 350
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    I don’t disagree at all with the points made by Suzanne, MomSense, and Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism. I’ve been living with chronic PTSD for a bit longer than four decades so, yes,

    I do feel that we’d better be very damned careful about instituting policies and practices that can easily be used by the wingers to further weaken education in History, Science and the Social Sciences. We also need to be aware that, like the Political Correctness movement, something that is begun for the best of reasons can be carried to illogical extremes that result in the movement becoming a caricature and its advocates the butt of jokes.

  351. 351
    Suzanne says:

    @Comrade Scrutinizer: Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. That because I did not personally survey and count the number of people who are triggered by reading material they find upsetting, despite the fact that there is a large and prominent community of people who participate in a community that provides trigger warnings on reading material, and that this has become an issue on multiple college campuses nationwide (hence the discussion we are having right now), not to mention participants on this very fucking thread, that I am obviously full of shit.

    I could not tell you how many stars there are in the sky, either. I feel fairly comfortable saying “a lot”. But, then again, I’m full of shit.

  352. 352
    Cassidy says:

    Aw man. We gotta be considerate of other people? Why don’t they just shut up and get over it and let me tell my rape jokes in peace? Why, back in my day, before all that political correctness hooey, you could say whatever you want! Thems were the days, yessiree.

  353. 353
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cassidy: Even as a caricature, that is wildly inaccurate.

  354. 354
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Suzanne:

    I could not tell you how many stars there are in the sky, either. I feel fairly comfortable saying “a lot”. But, then again, I’m full of shit.

    You’re better than that and you’ve been around here long enough to know that if you state a number you’d best be ready to back it up. If you had just written “a lot” rather than “tens of thousands” in your comment I wouldn’t quibble with you.

  355. 355
    Ruckus says:

    @Suzanne:
    I see that Higgs asked, was answered and moved on. This one seems like the scientoligists that I know. Data is everything. Without concrete data one can’t make any decisions. With concrete data one can then make absolute decisions. They don’t have to be correct, they don’t have to give a good solution but they are decisions. And making decisions is at all times correct, so for that, one has to have data.

  356. 356
    Cassidy says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Not from where I’m sitting.

  357. 357
    smintheus says:

    @Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity):

    No serious scholar uses the argument from silence with the reckless and immature persistence that guides your speculations on this topic. It is a basic fallacy that you would have been trained out of, if you had done any serious academic work.

    My my, your condescension is impressive, as is your “PhD in the relevant area” whatever that means. As for my non-serious training, I’m a professional ancient historian; my field is classical Greek history.

  358. 358
    Ruckus says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:
    A number like Suzanne’s, tens of thousands is not a huge number and is relatively non specific so as a choice of words and given my experience (I’ve worked in the field of mental health, as I stated above) I can easily take tens of thousands for the more general “a lot.” What do you think the incident of trauma victims or friends/relatives of them would be in a stadium of a hundred thousand people?

  359. 359
    Ruckus says:

    @smintheus:
    Published?

  360. 360
    Suzanne says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: Fair enough. I then amend my statement. A lot of people who have PTSD can be triggered by reading.

  361. 361
    smintheus says:

    @Ruckus: Are you asking whether I’ve published in my field? Are you Morzer?

  362. 362
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Suzanne: “as someone who believes that the proper role of those who have not endured a specific prejudice or mistreatment or trauma is to shut up and listen to those that have, it really is awfully telling that it’s primarily dudes saying that trigger warnings are too much of an imposition into public life.”

    And when, pray, will you follow your own lead?

  363. 363
    Suzanne says:

    @Soonergrunt: I have listened to you. Your position can be summed up thusly: I have PTSD. I don’t want to put in even a minimal amount of effort to accommodate others with the same condition who have said that they want to be accommodated, even though this will in no way diminish the amount or quality of the media I consume.

  364. 364
    MomSense says:

    In a nationally representative survey of adults:
    1 • Nearly 1 in 5 (18.3%) women and 1 in 71 men (1.4%) reported experiencing rape at some time in their lives

    http://www.cdc.gov/violencepre.....heet-a.pdf

  365. 365
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Ruckus:

    I understand where you are coming from. I don’t have your experience, my experience with numbers is that they have very concrete meanings. It’s a matter of perspective and experience, ours differ. As I wrote above, I am very uncomfortable with the negative potentials of this movement and I therefore am wont to scrutinize the arguments used to endorse it.

  366. 366
    Soonergrunt says:

    @MaryQ:

    I always get a hint of knight-in-shining-armor condescension from the men, as well as a sort of -in-your-face feminism from the women…Especially if you insist on treating me like a child.

    Knight in shining armor condescension from both sides, with that added flavor of the unspoken assumption that we’re just one loud noise away from shooting up a McDonalds that vets have to deal with.
    But second part has reared it’s ugly head here as well (it’s the Mnemosyne (iPhone)“>inherently more empathetic women who support this Suzanne“>while “the guys” are against it.)

  367. 367
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Suzanne: That’s not even remotely my position, but you sure nailed the clueless condescension part.
    Good job.
    And the “I’ll do good for you whether you want it or need it or not!” attitude has diminished the quality and quantity of the media I consume. The books I mentioned upthread are just a few of those lost to the general culture, and I’m certain there are others I haven’t read yet but will never hear about that are absolutely lost to me. I suppose the Twilight books are left though for the time being.

  368. 368
    Suzanne says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: The slippery slope argument is the same one used by Frothy Mix to assert that consenting adults shouldn’t be able to marry because it could lead to goats marrying dogs, and other such ridiculousness. It should be regarded with equal suspicion.

    The trigger warning literally costs nothing. It allows some people, some of whom are valued commenters in this space, to engage with the world and to protect their mental health at the same time. Everyone gets to determine FOR THEMSELVES what is in the best interests of their health. The downsides I have seen presented are the fear that other people who don’t truly have PTSD but just don’t want to be offended will use the concept of the trigger warning to avoid exposure to dissenting viewpoints. There is also a fear, for some reason, that it will lead to censorship, even though there is an entire internet full of content of every fashion, and the people asking for trigger warnings are only asking for a warning about what they’re about to see, not to censor it.

    Quite frankly, I am having a hard time seeing a downside to it.

  369. 369
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    inherently more empathetic women who support this

    Actually, it’s more Women who’ve had to talk their friends down after they had a bad/PTSD reaction to a movie or book that triggered bad memories. Maybe it’s one of those male/female differences where women talk about these things among themselves and so know about other women’s reactions, but men don’t and so mostly know about their own reaction in the moment and not their friend’s?

  370. 370
    Suzanne says:

    @Soonergrunt: I’m sorry, I left out the part about how “human history has been going along just fine for thousands of years”, so why try to make an improvement now?

  371. 371
    Sick of the bullshit says:

    @@Suzanne:

    I was raped 15 yrs ago & suffered from PTSD for years (much better now). Attacks were triggered by sounds (sudden noises) or visuals (that guy looks just like the attacker!) that gave me an immediate and overpowering sensation of mortal danger. READING DOESN’T DO THAT.

  372. 372
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Suzanne:

    There is also a fear, for some reason, that it will lead to censorship, even though there is an entire internet full of content of every fashion, and the people asking for trigger warnings are only asking for a warning about what they’re about to see, not to censor it.

    The censorship fear is there because anytime anyone comes up with a list of material that contains something that is disturbing, there are people who want to get rid of that material. It has happened time and time again.

  373. 373
    Suzanne says:

    @Mnemosyne: My best friend and my grandmother were both raped. My mom was snatched and pulled into a van while walking down the street, and she fought back until she was thrown back out onto the street. I was chased down a street by a man with a knife. And almost all of my female friends and family have a similar story of some kind. I don’t have PTSD, but some of them steer clear of certain content because they do. That is their right. They have the right to prepare themselves as they see fit, and trigger warnings are a part of that.

  374. 374
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    Or, to put it another way, how often has a non-military male friend told you about the time he was raped after a movie or TV show freaked him out? I have at least two or three stories I can think of.

  375. 375
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Mnemosyne: “Maybe it’s one of those male/female differences where women talk about these things among themselves and so know about other women’s reactions, but men don’t and so mostly know about their own reaction in the moment and not their friend’s?”
    And people wonder why vets mainly hang out with other vets. Couldn’t possibly be that we talk about our issues with each other. No, that can’t be it at all since most of us are men.

    @Suzanne: The clueless condescension is the part about you assuming that this idea is an actual improvement. I’d prefer to spend the time and resources actually helping PTSD sufferers deal with the world instead of continuing to feed the symptoms of the condition.

  376. 376
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Suzanne: Let me ask the practical questions again: What things should get trigger warnings? Is the mere mention of the thing enough to warrant a trigger warning or does it require a graphic description? Who gets to decide?

    FWIW my concerns with this are in an academic context. A blog or discussion group that wants to use trigger warnings can and should if they believe it makes for a better environment for their purposes.

  377. 377
    kc says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    On that subject, I don’t know anyone who has a flashback from a text article. I suppose people like that may exist probably. Most people with PTSD get triggered by sights, sounds, or odors, particularly when under elevated stress

    YES.

  378. 378
    Suzanne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: So far, that is not part of this argument. In the context of the trigger warning, I have never heard anyone advocate for censorship. So it seems that those who oppose this on those grounds are building a nice, tall strawman.

    The thing is that this argument on BJ today, as well as the others elsewhere, end up with this spoken or unspoken sense that those who support trigger warnings are wussy, “laughably absurd”, unintellectual, and literally mentally weak. And maybe it’s because the term came out of explicitly feminist spaces where gender-based violence was common, but the attacks almost always read as patriarchal. Even the assertion that PTSD sufferers should confront their triggers head-on, while possibly true, does not allow sufferers the dignity of determining for themselves what is best.

  379. 379
    Ruckus says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:
    We actually are in agreement here. I was just giving a little leeway because there is/used to be a pretty good lack of real numbers. I look at this thread and I’m just guessing here but the number of commenters I guess is 50 to 100. How many of them, including yourself, have diagnosed PTSD or have been the victims of some pretty severe trauma? A pretty substantial number it seems to me. This is a problem. It is one(among many) that doesn’t get enough attention. If it did this post would probably not be almost 400 comments long. But my fears are the same as yours about the original issue. We do differ in that I see that anything can be a trigger. Text, movies, someone saying the wrong word or phrase, a particular food, and on and on.

  380. 380
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Suzanne:

    In the context of the trigger warning, I have never heard anyone advocate for censorship.

    I agree that no one here has done that. I would also say that I do not believe that anyone participating on this thread would advocate censorship. I do, however, think that the pro-censorship folks who are primarily on the right would use trigger warning labels as a shopping list for books to try to ban. This isn’t a slippery slope argument or strawman; it is a recognition of the nature of people who fundamentally oppose the free exchange of ideas. YMMV.

  381. 381
    Suzanne says:

    @Soonergrunt: I’m not assuming. I’m taking people at their word. You don’t need trigger warnings. Others say they do. You are saying that they don’t, that they are wrong, that they are making themselves worse. That is not your call to make.

    @Omnes Omnibus: I think the first things to get trigger warnings are those things that are pretty common for people to have experienced or to find upsetting. Rape, domestic or child abuse, gore, animal abuse, graphic descriptions or depictions of death and suffering. Community standards may change and can be customized to the participants. I have never suggested that we can hope to accommodate absolutely everyone.

  382. 382
    Suzanne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: That may be true. But I’m not going to let Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter’s opinion on, well, anything sway my thinking.

  383. 383
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Suzanne: I think that Martin’s idea above of students seeking a reasonable accommodation under the ADA is probably the better way of dealing with this. I also recognize the we probably will not agree on this. It doesn’t mean that I don’t believe that there is an issue that should be addressed or that it is important to do so.

  384. 384
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    And people wonder why vets mainly hang out with other vets. Couldn’t possibly be that we talk about our issues with each other. No, that can’t be it at all since most of us are men.

    Yes, but how often do you talk about those issues with your male, non-vet friends? Guys will talk to each other about them if they’re in a safe space, so to speak, but as far as I’ve been able to see, they don’t talk to each other about them in everyday life if they don’t know the other guys are in the same situation. Women do.

  385. 385
    Suzanne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: In an academic setting, I think I agree with you and Martin that that is the best way for a specific person to do what’s in their best interest without censoring discussion and content. However, in a broader cultural sense, I believe that trigger warnings on content that we know to be widely triggering can be a valuable thing.

  386. 386
    Ruckus says:

    @Suzanne:
    I think that what most of those of us on this thread who are worried about censorship are not against trigger warnings per say. But because the list of triggers is basically infinite, how do we go about this? That doesn’t mean we do nothing, I think it means we have to think this through. Is that fair to those suffering until a solution is reached? No it isn’t. How do we balance out the competing notions here? Or do we just go all in? For example I’ve seen warnings on blogs that adult themes and language is used and if you can’t handle that, stay away. Is that sufficient a trigger warning for blogs? I wonder because I actually used something very similar on a my (now unused) blog for a couple of years.

  387. 387
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ruckus:

    I think it’s probably sufficient to hit the big ones: rape, molestation, domestic abuse, animal abuse, murder. You’ll always have someone who’s traumatized by The Great Gatsby because someone in their family was killed by a hit-and-run driver, but that’s too hard to anticipate.

  388. 388
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Suzanne: Then, fundamentally, we do not disagree. Warnings on TV shows and movies make sense. In academia, the calculus is different.

    @Mnemosyne: But isn’t the whole point of a blog like Shakesville and its trigger warnings to provide a safe space?

  389. 389
    Suzanne says:

    @Ruckus: While the complete is probably infinite or close to it, I would be willing to bet that ten topics constitute the vast majority of triggers—all the big ones I listed above. And I think a simple statement like “Trigger warning: graphic description of child abuse ahead” is probably sufficient. Really, it can be no more than a spoiler alert.

  390. 390
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    That’s what I’ve been told, but I don’t go to places like Shakesville because, IMO, they’re too restrictive. Most of the places I go to (like Slacktivist or LoveJoyFeminism) will only use trigger warnings on big things (rape/abuse) or things they know are specific to their audience (religious abuse).

    I think it’s important for people to have safe spaces and for those safe spaces to be respected, but I don’t actually think the entire world should be a safe space. I also don’t think that telling people ahead of time, This book has a graphic rape in it, is a huge imposition on a literature class or academic freedom.

  391. 391
    Suzanne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Sure. But even in academia, just a warning can be enough for people. Feeling too raw this semester to sit through hours of critical discussion of Lolita? Okay, come back next semester or take British literature instead. What I object to is the attitude that trigger warnings are stupid and useless because people should just toughen up and deal and why should we try to accommodate them anyway?

  392. 392
    wasabi gasp says:

    Rather it be a surprise when you’re an asshole.

  393. 393
    Ruckus says:

    @Suzanne:
    OK, do we require it or ask for compliance?

  394. 394
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Suzanne:

    What I object to is the attitude that trigger warnings are stupid and useless because people should just toughen up and deal and why should we try to accommodate them anyway?

    That’s fair. And to the extent that anyone argued the bolded part, they have their heads up their asses. OTOH, people should not be able to avoid material that simply makes them uncomfortable. I can say that when I was a callow undergrad reading Brokeback Mountain would have made me uncomfortable. That doesn’t take away from the literary value of the story and it would be no excuse to avoid reading it.

  395. 395
    Suzanne says:

    @Ruckus: I would think that, if a student went to their campus disability resource center and the professor refused to comply with a reasonable request to pre-screen content, that would be grounds for some sort of disciplinary action. Just as if a professor refused to accommodate a student in a wheelchair. As for other media, I think the best way to handle it is to have it become a community standard. People opt in until it’s so common that no one thinks about it anymore, unless they’re specifically looking for a warning. It just doesn’t help it become a community standard when people like Cole call them “laughably absurd”.

  396. 396
    Suzanne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I think people can choice not to go to college if they don’t want to have their intellectual horizons expanded. That’s a valid choice. A dumb valid choice, but a valid choice nonetheless.

    I do agree that part of becoming educated is engaging with work and content outside of your typical sphere, and I don’t think that one should get to be considered well-educated without doing so.

  397. 397
    Ruckus says:

    @Suzanne:
    I think that most of the comments didn’t have that attitude, just toughen up. Like differing triggers, people have differing coping mechanisms. As I posted up thread my counseling experience showed me that men and women do think differently about the same issues. I don’t know why that is, I suspect that it is not a simple answer, but one with nearly as many variations as there are people. Men, or at least many of my friends my age have been told for most of their lives to suck it up and shut it up. Life runs you over, tough shit, move on. I don’t think women got that nearly as much, at least not the ones I’ve known well. And Mems is right women will seemingly talk about anything among themselves, while men will not. Sports, cars/motorcycles, the boss is an ass, yes those we will discuss. No one will sleep with me, do these pants make my ass look fat, never.

  398. 398
    Kerry Reid says:

    There are people who think students carefully read the syllabus ahead of time? Speaking as a very part-time adjunct — that’s just freaking adorable.

  399. 399
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Suzanne: At this point, we are getting close to violently agreeing.

  400. 400
    burnspbesq says:

    @PsiFighter37:

    United and Newark ‘Liberty from being a fucking functional non-4th World shithole’ International Airport

    This is news to you? How is that possible?

  401. 401
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @burnspbesq: Well, I have had the luck of only flying into Kennedy or LaGuardia in the multiple flights I have had into the NYC area.

  402. 402
    Ruckus says:

    @Suzanne:
    I haven’t specifically stated it until now but I think most of us are on the same page. I think some of us have some valid concerns about how far this type of thing might be taken by people not concerned about avoiding trauma(they seemingly don’t give a shit about anyone else but themselves and in fact seem to enjoy seeing trauma in others) but in advancing their selfish agendas. You stated you don’t care about them but I think we should, if only to guard against the risk that they will get even crazier, if that is possible. I think the world is a pretty shitty place for an awful lot of people and anything to make it even a little better is OK by me, I just want to do as much as possible to not make it worse.

  403. 403
    Suzanne says:

    @Ruckus: What I objected to is the assertion that because some people don’t need trigger warnings, and in fact are of the opinion that confronting their triggers has been helpful to them, that EVERYONE should do that. A significant minority of people has made it clear that trigger warnings help them. I see no reason why they should not be accommodated.

    As much as I would like to take everyone at face value, I can’t help but think that this is one of those times when men are asserting that what women do is irrational and unserious. Part of it is because, as you noted, men and women have differing cultural expectations placed upon them regarding how to cope with trauma.

  404. 404
    Suzanne says:

    @Ruckus: Allow me to rephrase: I don’t think we should avoid doing the right thing for people because some people might exploit our kindness for their own nefarious ends. I think we can try to anticipate their moves, though.

  405. 405
    moderateindy says:

    Can trigger warnings themselves trigger an episode? If so then how do you deal with that. Someone was being snarky about Cole’s dead cat, but wouldn’t a warning like Violent pet death be pretty bad all by itself?
    Personally, as long as there were safeguards against it leading to censorship, I have no problem with the concept.
    But Omnes makes a solid point about the probability of people wielding it like a cudgel to keep what they consider inappropriate from the rest of society.

  406. 406
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ruckus:

    I do think it’s a cultural difference, weird as that may sound. The restrictions are mostly for straight men (because I’ve had similar conversations with women friends and with gay male friends) and straight men usually have a very small circle of friends they can confide in. From what I’ve read, as far as health goes, the worst situation is for men whose only confidante is their wife, because if something happens to the marriage, then they have no emotional support to fall back on.

    And, yes, women talk about things that men can’t believe they discuss. We have one (1) man in our otherwise all-female Weight Watchers group, and boy, has he gotten an education, because he makes sure to sit very quietly so we forget he’s there.

  407. 407
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Mnemosyne: Firstly, I’ve spent most of my adult life in uniform. I work in a place that is very Vet-heavy. I don’t have any non-Vet friends outside of my family, and this blog. You’ll have to find someone else to ask that question. I’m sure that my life is lesser for the lack of non-Vets, but that segues us back to the fact that there are reasons that Vets (and I’m specifically talking about combat veterans, not your typical peacetime 4-and-out guys) don’t discuss things in our lives with non-Vets.
    What I’m about to say may seem very hurtful to you. I’m sorry about that, but I’ve been trying to massage the language for about 20 minutes now, and I haven’t found a way of saying my truth without sounding mean.
    You don’t understand us, and you don’t want to understand us. Suzanne’s (and to a lesser extent yours) condescending “I know better than you what’s good for you” reactions to what I’ve been saying are examples of that.
    And I wouldn’t expect you to understand any way. I bear you no ill-will, so I don’t want you to ever understand, if you get my meaning.
    As far as whether or not I know any men who’ve been sexually assaulted, yes I do. Both combat veterans who divulged it in my therapy group, where we can talk about anything, whether its combat PTSD related or not. Talk about wives being unfaithful, about committing infidelities, about childhood physical and emotional abuse, and the aforementioned sexual abuse. About promotions at work or being unable to keep a job. Divorces and new marriages. About bosses and coworkers, and parents and children who are afraid of us, and money problems and problems with alcohol and drugs, and suicidal ideation, and our brothers who didn’t come home and our brothers who came home and killed themselves, and the guys who should be in group but aren’t, and for the very lucky very few, about the non-Vets in our lives who want to support us on our terms and let us stand up and make our own way in the world.

  408. 408
    Ruckus says:

    @Suzanne:

    Part of it is because, as you noted, men and women have differing cultural expectations placed upon them regarding how to cope with trauma.

    Not only how to cope but what is a trauma to began with. Not only is it suck it up and move on, but you will be shit upon many times in life, expect it and shut the hell up.
    I did all types of counseling, including marriage, sometimes of people my parents age. With older males always, always the man didn’t even see a problem while the women could go on and on. I think the cultural attitude affects more than just how to cope(or not actually cope) but to not even look at many things as problems because life is always a problem, you are always going to be shit on, you are always going to be a victim. So if everyone is a victim, why should anyone be treated differently? It’s bullshit of course, there are suffers, and then there are victims.

  409. 409
    Suzanne says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    I know better than you what’s good for you

    No one said that, except for you and HBM. My position has always been that if your PTSD can be managed without trigger warnings, good for you. Other people say they need them. They deserve to be accommodated, in my view. You are the one saying that they should just push through. That is telling someone else that you know better. And that is bullshit and if you were being honest, you would own that.

  410. 410
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Suzanne: And this is more of the same. You disagree with me, so what I think is invalid. I don’t get to own my own life because it doesn’t fit into your pre-determined idea of how I and others like me should deal with the world.

  411. 411
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Soonergrunt: FWIW, My grandfather who served in WWII told me a massive pile of stuff that he didn’t tell his sons (neither of whom went into the military). Some of it was valuable advice to me as a junior officer; some of it was simply stories that only I, of his descendants, might understand; and some of it was shit he wanted to get off of his chest and couldn’t tell this kids, his wife, or anyone else who hadn’t served. There is stuff in that third category that I will never share with the rest of my family.

  412. 412
    Suzanne says:

    @Ruckus: I can see that.

    My grandmother was raped while my grandfather was in the Army. While she was in their base housing, another soldier broke into the house and raped her. She told my grandfather, who didn’t believe her, because he couldn’t believe that anyone in the Army would do something so horrible. She got no help, no counseling, not even sympathy from her husband. She stayed away from depictions or discussions of even consensual, loving sex for years.

  413. 413
    Ruckus says:

    @Soonergrunt:
    Being of the same gender and a vet, although as I’ve stated many times they sent me other places, I understand what you are saying. I spent some time as a patient in a navy hospital with wounded Vietnam vets and what you describe is exactly what I experienced. But I, as also stated, was a volunteer mental health counselor for a number of years, who had both women and men clients and worked with both men and women counselors. The inability to talk openly with people with different backgrounds is much more male thing than many realize. I think it is the part cultural, maybe partly biological aspect I discussed above. Women as you seem to well know don’t have that anywhere to the degree most men do. I’m not trying to lecture you or anyone else, just pointing out that it can make it seem like trauma or even just life in general is different for men and women. It isn’t. The causes may be, the results aren’t.

  414. 414
    Suzanne says:

    @Soonergrunt: You can own your own life and how YOU should deal with the world. You do not get to decide for anyone else how they should heal, or what’s best for them. They decide that.

  415. 415
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    You don’t understand us, and you don’t want to understand us. Suzanne’s (and to a lesser extent yours) condescending “I know better than you what’s good for you” reactions to what I’ve been saying are examples of that.

    Right, but in return, you don’t understand us, and you don’t want to. You don’t seem to understand that the things you talk about in your safe space with other vets are things most women talk to each other about all the time, with very little prompting, and sometimes on very little acquaintance. It’s what we do.

    As Ruckus and I were saying above, I think what we’ve run into here is a cultural difference — nothing more, but also nothing less. I don’t want to get all “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” because I think that’s bullshit for the most part, but straight women talk with each other very differently than straight men talk with each other.

    The other part of this equation is the prevalence of sexual assault. I think the most common statistic is that 1 in 4 women will be assaulted before they get to college. The incidence is much lower for men, so among other things, it’s going to be a less common topic of conversation.

    We’re not saying that men are incapable of talking to each other or aren’t empathetic. But you’ve been culturally trained not to have the kinds of conversations with each other that women have with other women. So I’m guessing all of this “trigger” stuff seems to come out of the blue for you, while it seems like most of the women are nodding along because they’ve heard these stories before.

    Here’s one: a friend of mine had to stop a video of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and calm down. Why? Because she was expecting a light comedy and there’s a scene of a young boy being molested by an older man … which reminded her of her own molestation. And she’s not someone who runs around wailing about her victimization, but she was surprised at such an intense scene in a comedy. If she had tried to muscle her way through it and not let the rest of us know it upset her and why, we would have found that reaction to be really … weird.

  416. 416
    moderateindy says:

    @Soonergrunt: I’m sorry Soonergrunt but your argument here is invalid. If you are able to cope with your experiences in a particular fashion, then that’s terrific. But if others need something like trigger warnings to cope, then that’s their way of dealing, and is something to be considered. Saying that you’re wrong about something like triggers, in no way invalidates how you process your feelings.

  417. 417
    Ruckus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    My time with Vietnam vets I discussed above, and that’s still going on, I am a patient at the VA, I learned things I didn’t want to know but knowing them I can’t really talk about them. I don’t think anyone would understand them. I was in the room and I don’t really understand them. I know they happened, I know they were bad, I’ve just never experienced them first hand. I know why Sooner will only discuss them with other vets. These are the things that people will never forget. They are the things that they want most to forget. But they can’t, it’s just not possible. Time can ease the pain of what they experienced, discussing it with others that know the pain can ease it. but neither can ever remove it. Only death can do that. I’ll bet everything it’s exactly the same with rape victims.

  418. 418
    Jewish Steel says:

    Warning.

    But seriously, prior to a poetry reading we were playing, the MC nicely told the audience some of the material to be read had “rape triggers” in it. Laudable, but as my wife pointed out, not everyone wants to out themselves as a rape victim in the community.

    “She was probably raped,” everyone is thinking about any woman who walks out.

    Tricky stuff.

  419. 419
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    Also, I’m specifying “how men talk with men” and “how women talk with women” because IMO it’s much easier for men to have conversations about emotional topics with women than it is with other men. And, again, I think that’s for cultural reasons, not because men are less emotional or empathetic or some bullshit like that.

  420. 420
    Suzanne says:

    @Ruckus: When I was a teenager, my grandmother had a stroke that seriously reduced her ability to speak for the rest of her life. She talked to my mother and I about her rape and a stillborn baby she gave birth to, whom she was never allowed to see or hold or name. Those things that happened fifty years before, she held on to her whole life.

  421. 421
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ruckus:

    True, I should probably clarify that — most women don’t talk about their combat experiences with each other, because most women don’t have them. When I was comparing the things Soonergrunt was talking about in his group, I meant the more ordinary things (infidelity, etc.) There fortunately are probably very few people who can directly compare being in combat and being raped.

  422. 422
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jewish Steel:

    You used to be able to stop by the Roy Rogers museum and see Trigger’s stuffed remains, but they seem to have been sold at auction after that museum closed.

  423. 423
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ruckus: I am willing to confide different types of problems to different sets of friends based on my shared experiences with them. My grandfather’s experiences involved some things that he would not have wanted his wife and kids to know, but were provably quite common for people who were in a dangerous environment and away from their families for years. I was initially shocked that he told me, but I realized the he wanted to talk about this for 44 year but did not have anyone that he felt he could trust to hear it. He was kind of an asshole; he treated my dad like shit compared to the younger kids, because he and dad were essentially rivals for my grandmother’s affections. Nevertheless, I am not ever sharing his stories with the rest of the family.

  424. 424
    Ruckus says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    There fortunately are probably very few people who can directly compare being in combat and being raped.

    More than any of us might expect. Maybe not direct intended combat but military service with blood, guts and missing body parts, many more than many want to talk about.

  425. 425
    Jewish Steel says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    (originally named Golden Cloud, 1932–3 July 1965)

    Raw deal on the stage name for the old fella.

  426. 426
    Ruckus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I understand. There are just some things that don’t need to be discussed because doing so just hurts more people. Yes we are bottling them up, but they are second hand stories, they affect us because we know the people, even if as in my case only tangentially. Think of yourself as the safe they are stored in, not the gun used in the murder.

  427. 427
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ruckus: Yep. I am not bothered by the fact that I know these things. Fuck, I am a lawyer, I know how to do it. I think I understand him better than his kids. The background info matters. OTOH, he treated my dad like shit. And that is something for which I won’t forgive him – whether it matters or not. Sometimes, you have to pick a side.

  428. 428
    nwerner says:

    There is so much earnest energy being expended by the pro-trigger warning crowd that one would think a Reddit like community could be constructed ostensibly to provide all the trigger-warnings for wherever their collective eyes might wander. I don’t understand the position where the rest of the world needs to accommodate a fairly nebulous and potentially huge list of PTSD causes.

    Same-same with those trying to force professors and boards of study to disclose trigger warnings. If it is so important, then why not band together to make it happen? Why apply pressure on others to do it for you when it is so obviously obtainable through the collective action of these student activists? Anyone who needed these resources would easily be able to find them through social networks and a short bit of educated research. This would also be in-line with the stated aims of the activists to support one another. Too hard? Easier to bitch about it and post incensed screeds?

    This dynamic smacks of entitlement and hashtag activism. Be the change you want to see in the world and stop expecting others do your work for you. #firstworldproblems

  429. 429
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @nwerner: Hi there, Mr. Clueless.

  430. 430

    @Mnemosyne:

    Also, I’m specifying “how men talk with men” and “how women talk with women” because IMO it’s much easier for men to have conversations about emotional topics with women than it is with other men.

    I may be taking this out of context because I have not read the entire thread, but I can state from personal experiences, you have no idea how wrong you are.

  431. 431
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Mnemosyne: I have a friend at work (there’s that needed common thing) who is not a combat vet (he fixed radar in the USAF for four years) to whom I can talk about many things. It’s very nice to have that.
    But in general, yes, I would agree that I find it easier talking about emotional things (those we CAN talk about) with women than we do with men who have not had similar life experiences.

  432. 432
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @John (MCCARTHY) Cole: She has no idea how wrong she is. We may talk about it differently. but we talk about things with our friends. We need support and help just as women do. The specific wording of the conversations may be different but any assumption that men aren’t emotional and don’t seek out support from their social circle is way off base.

  433. 433
    Soonergrunt says:

    @John (MCCARTHY) Cole:
    @Soonergrunt:
    @Omnes Omnibus: We talk differently about it. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to have good friendships with women and men, and we talk differently to other men than we do to women. And I talk differently with men in my group than I do with men outside my group obviously.
    But we still seek out people who make our lives better, and to whom we can form friendships with everything that entails.

  434. 434

    @Soonergrunt: Yes. It’s different but the same.

  435. 435
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Soonergrunt: As it happens, when my marriage was breaking up, I went to a college reunion. I was able to talk to my old college best friend about what was happening easier than talking to family or more recent friends. That friendship, dormant for years, allowed me to talk freely. What is funny is that particular friend always used to say that friendships formed among drinking buddies were deeper than most others. As it turned out, I could talk to him about shit I would never have mentioned to anyone else.

  436. 436
    Ruckus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    I think she is correct. She stated that we do have the same issues, but we talk about them differently and I think we do. Some of this may be generational, some may be upbringing and it may be changing, a lot of things are. But Sooner has said it and I’ve seen it from both sides, men and women do discuss things differently. We end up in the same places but we have different paths to get there. As well my experience is that a far greater percentage of women will discuss almost any personal issues with each other and men mostly will not. It’s not a cut and dried, men do one thing, women do another, there are wild variations. I have discussed a lot of issues on this blog that others will not. I’ve seen comments that women will make that I can’t believe they discussed openly and I’ll pretty much talk about anything to a point, even if I’m occasionally talking out my ass.

  437. 437
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ruckus: See my comments upthread. We may do it differently, but we do it. We just need the right person with whom to talk. Outside of my family, there are four maybe five people that I would implicitly trust with intimate information. Oddly, this is true as much as I share here.

  438. 438
    Ruckus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    I think that’s sort of Mnems point. You and I and most other men need close friends to discuss things that women generally will discuss with casual friends. We may discuss similar issues with close friends but what will you discuss with casual acquaintances?

  439. 439
    Cassidy says:

    Almost a T unit because people just can’t fathom a little consideration for others. Go Team Liberal!

  440. 440
    different-church-lady says:

    @wasabi gasp:

    Rather it be a surprise when you’re an asshole.

    So you’d also be surprised by the sun rising in the east?

  441. 441
    Sifu Snafu says:

    @Cassidy: I find all this “try-a-little-tenderness” bullshit especially hilarious coming from the douchenozzle that told Cole it was his fault that his cat died.

  442. 442
    libarbarian says:

    I find the extreme proliferation of Trigger Warnings so distressing that I now require a Trigger Warning from anything that discusses Trigger Warnings.

    Trigger Warning: This post discusses Trigger Warnings.

    Seriously. Was that so hard?!

  443. 443
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Soonergrunt: Yes, Sooner, because governments used to simply censor them.

    Let’s go back to traditional society–suppressed books, censorship, and writers being persecuted by ministers and governments!

    I was deeply involved in fanfic over a decade ago when a giant war started raging over “warnings” (not trigger warnings, just warnings) about non-consensual sex scenes, underage, etcet. After every author’s bruised ego got brushed out of the way what remained was that it made fanfic a more user-friendly place when the people LOOKING for BDSM could FIND it without “recs lists” and so on and the people who didn’t want to have their favorite character die in the middle of the story (“warning: major character death”) could skip such stories.

    And this all happened in the fanfic world when it flipped from print zines to online because online everything is published whereas the print zine editors controlled their content and “brands”.

    It’s precisely the democratization of print by the internet that necessitates these “warnings” on online content. Previously there were these gatekeepers called “publishers” which would “spike” or just reject any content that didn’t fit their parameters.

    And of course, before that, governments at all levels were very, very interested in what was being printed and exercised their censorial powers. “Les Fleurs de Mal” was censored. “The Well of Loneliness” was censored. De Sade was censored. “The Children’s Hour”, near the end of the censorship era was censored. One could go on and on.

  444. 444
    Cassidy says:

    @Sifu Snafu: It was and I don’t feel bad for saying it.

  445. 445
    Betty Cracker says:

    Go Team Liberal indeed.

  446. 446
    Jacquie says:

    @ruemara: Jesus, THANK YOU. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills reading this whole damn thread. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and I don’t consider myself to be a delicate flower who gets offended at every little thing. However, some days I *know* I’m not in a good emotional place to deal with vivid descriptions of sexual assault and I don’t appreciate when such descriptions suddently appear in the middle of something unrelated. Trigger warnings, to the extent that they have any value at all, help readers make informed choices about the media we consume, and anyone who feels oppressed or censored by them can fuck the fuck off.

  447. 447
    MomSense says:

    Ok, I am sorry but a bunch of the guys on this thread have been incredibly condescending and judgmental. Strangely, some of the people who self identify as having PTSD have been the worst. Do we really need to pull out our traumas and compare which one is bigger in order to determine for everyone else how they are best managed? Really???? Please go back and read some of your own comments and look for shaming and judgmental words. I know of no suggested therapies for PTSD that suggest shaming or judging as appropriate responses.

    Also, there seem to be a lot of misconceptions about the use of trigger warnings. Trigger warnings do not mean that the person will avoid the discussion, book, film, or other content. It means that the person can prepare themselves to engage in the discussion, book, film, or other content. Is it sooo difficult to understand why being surprised by a discussion of gang rape might be overwhelming but a little heads up might give the person enough of a feeling of control and choice to be able to tackle the subject matter???

    Are the people on this thread not aware of just what the fuck is going on at college campuses right now? Let’s just say that at too many colleges and universities the response to the victims of sexual assault is atrocious. And yes, I do think it would be nice for professors to include in their syllabuses some of the topics that will be discussed especially if they involve sexual assault. Sexual assault is a major problem on college campuses so I would guess, even though I don’t have the specific numbers, that the likelihood of a young woman in your class who has been raped while a student is very high. 1 in 5 American women have experienced some form of sexual abuse, assault or rape. Almost 40% of women experienced that sexual abuse, assault, or rape while in college.

    Where did the idea come from that providing a simple warning about content means that the content will be avoided? That is not at all what it is for. It is just meant to provide someone with information so that he or she can make the decision for himself or herself. Maybe the student will meet with the professor or TA outside of class. Would that really mean that the student is avoiding the issue? Maybe the student will meditate, pray, meet with a therapist, call a friend before the class so she can participate fully in the discussion with her peers. I really do not understand why this could possibly be considered a bad thing.

    Now the whole “we can’t provide trigger warnings because right wingers may apply them to climate science or censor books” is total fucking BS. Right wingers already do this. They already have–many times. Parent groups try to do this, too. Same as it ever was.

    Cassidy has been remarkably accurate in his portrayal of the attitude in this thread. If you think he has been over the top, again I suggest you go back and read through the comments with an eye toward shaming and judging language.

  448. 448
    sharl says:

    @MomSense:

    Trigger warnings do not mean that the person will avoid the discussion, book, film, or other content. It means that the person can prepare themselves to engage in the discussion, book, film, or other content.

    Yep. I remember this John Scalzi post – a grim tongue-in-cheek thank you letter from a rapist to “conservative” politicians” – that came with this note in the banner:

    WARNING: this post is going to be oh-so-very-triggery for victims of rape and sexual assault. I am not kidding.

    Among the huge number of comments were a number from assault and abuse survivors, who noted the trigger warning, and basically decided to proceed anyway, presumably after psychologically “bracing themselves”. Basically, the warning gave them a certain power, and they seemed to be appreciative for both the warning and post itself.

  449. 449
    MomSense says:

    @sharl:

    Basically, the warning gave them a certain power, and they seemed to be appreciative for both the warning and post itself.

    Choice is empowering. I happen to think that is a good thing for everyone especially if you are dealing with a situation where you were denied choice.

    I do remember that Scalzi post–brilliant. I didn’t comment at the time but I did appreciate his advocacy. Brutal–and effective.

  450. 450
    sharl says:

    There have been huge battles on trigger warning issues – including the concepts of “safe space” at conferences – in various professions, including science, journalism, and IT.

    As noted above, victims respond very differently to their assaults. Certainly some of that can be ascribed to the differing nature of the assaults (stranger-vs-family, venue, etc.), but no two of us are alike, so it seems to me a no-brainer that people WOULD respond differently.

    A couple days ago I read a twitter exchange between a couple rape survivors, one of whom was able to (heh/sob) “move on”, while the other was still having problems years after the assault, and was clearly frustrated at not being able to reclaim a significant portion of her former life. The more successful survivor did offer some tips to the other, which will hopefully be of help, but she may need a different solution. She’s a different person! And where trigger warnings are concerned, she may well be in greater need of them in a wider range of circumstances.

  451. 451
    cleek says:

    @TG Chicago:
    don’t be an idiot.

    cover/front page doesn’t make a fucking bit of difference. the issue is that it would have to be done at all.

  452. 452
    sharl says:

    In IT world, an entity called the ADA Initiative was founded by someone, who like the proprietor of Shakesville, seems to have cranked the Trigger Warning power up to ’11’ and broken off the knob (h/t Stephen Colbert).

    She got a speaker pulled from a tech conference at the last moment – complaint was that the talk’s seksual content would be triggering – leaving a very bad taste in the mouths of many hacker folk.

    Old school hacker Meredith Patterson and like-minded souls really resent the ADA Initiative crowd (Patterson has tweeted on this frequently, and has a couple relevant posts available here), but I think that organization gives cover to male-dominated IT orgs, who can simply buy into their agenda entirely, wipe their hands and say, “see there, we’ve addressed the sexual harassment and safe space issue”, while quite possibly doing damage to the free exchanges that might otherwise take place (who knows for certain? I’m not in IT myself, but been fascinated by the discussions).

    It’s a really messy issue for conference organizers, but one that cannot be ignored. And I cannot help but think that it would benefit IT companies and organizations, and the conferences they sponsor, if more women were in the upper ranks of management at these places. It wouldn’t make the problems go away, but (I think/hope/believe) necessary discussions and decisions would more likely be made that would greatly reduce the problems.

    ETA – replaced a word in final paragraph (where did ‘level’ come from in my haid?)

  453. 453
    Betty Cracker says:

    @MomSense:

    Cassidy has been remarkably accurate in his portrayal of the attitude in this thread.

    Really? It seemed to me he was using the general sentiment in this thread that Cole is insensitive on the “trigger” issue as an excuse to be a hurtful prick about Tunch’s demise. It’s not the first time, and I suspect it’s more about his personal butthurt with Cole than any genuine devotion to the cause of trigger warnings. But hey, I could be wrong!

    There’s been a lot of talking past each other going on here, perhaps driven by people arriving at this issue with different understandings of what constitutes a “trigger warning.” I’ll freely admit I may have been off-base about what they are at first.

    My experience with them is mostly limited to sites like Shakesville, which are unreadable to me because I find them boring, preachy and self-righteous. I get that the SV trigger policy allows people a safe space, and I wholly support their right to have it. I’d just hate to see the rest of the Internet — or college campuses — become preachy little playpens.

    I made a distinction — perhaps from lack of knowledge on the topic — between “trigger warnings” and movie ratings systems / student-directed research into syllabus items and requests for accommodation. The former seem like infantilizing shields and the latter like sensible solutions to accommodate highly individual conditions.

    I think 95% of the people in this thread would agree with the notion that clinical, debilitating cases of PTSD are a serious issue and support solutions other than “suck it up” for people who are dealing with that condition. Where we vary is on how to approach the issue, what could usefully be done and what the ramifications would be to the larger group.

    To boil that down to “let me tell my rape jokes in peace” is bullshit.

  454. 454
    Suzanne says:

    However, some valued commenters here have pointed out that what you see as an “infantilizing shield” is something valuable that allows them to get through their days with less pain. I don’t find that infantile. Plenty of people objected to guardrails and accessible restrooms with the same argument. I think that the consensus here would be that they are wrong. How is a warning, which you are free to disregard, any different?

    A trigger warning, if done properly, is just that—a warning. Like the bumpy detectable warnings on sidewalk corners that alert the sight-impaired that they’re approaching traffic, a trigger warning alerts a reader/viewer about content. That is all it does. Proceed with caution, if you’re vulnerable. Avoid the warning if you don’t need one.

    I am not a fan of Shakesville or Melissa McEwan, but she provides an important safe space for a group of people that too many others are willing to mock, ridicule, and exploit.

  455. 455
    MomSense says:

    @Betty Cracker:
    Here is Cole’s first statement.

    I find the whole concept of trigger warnings to be so laughably absurd that I honestly can’t believe some people are serious about it. It sounds like something Rush Limbaugh would make up to attack the left.

    Later he provides some incredibly helpful solutions.

    Trigger warnings for books? Are you all fucking serious? It’s a book, which means you are reading it word by word. When you start to become uncomfortable, STOP FUCKING READING.

    Unless you all read chapters at a time, I think this is a useful workaround.

    The problem is that once you read or see something–you can’t un- read or un-see it. after the fact. Being caught off guard can be overwhelming. Many people will be able to continue reading or discussing the item, after the warning. Some people might find it is too soon or they are not able to proceed at that time giving them the ability to opt-out. That doesn’t mean that they will avoid it indefinitely.

    Since the context for this whole discussion is the idea of incorporating trigger warnings at colleges and universities when a student may be required to read a particular book or participate in a particular discussion, that is a pretty dismissive workaround. That the larger context for the idea of trigger warnings is the prevalence of sexual abuse, assault, and rape at colleges and universities, the attitude Cole and others demonstrate in this thread goes beyond dismissive. Even just constantly referring to this subject as merely ‘being uncomfortable’ is minimizing what we are talking about. Right now students and the Justice Dept. and other groups are trying to enforce Title IX at colleges and universities where the responses to rape and sexual assault are so inadequate that students are being denied their right to equal and free education.

    I think 95% of the people in this thread would agree with the notion that clinical, debilitating cases of PTSD are a serious issue and support solutions other than “suck it up” for people who are dealing with that condition. Where we vary is on how to approach the issue, what could usefully be done and what the ramifications would be to the larger group.

    Actually, Betty there was a whole lot of “suck it up”, “sensitive fee fees”, and other dismissive language. That is all pretty typical of the trivializing of rape survivors and their experiences that is a part of rape culture so no I don’t think “let me tell my rape jokes in peace” is far off -at all.

  456. 456
    MomSense says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Here’s a peach of a comment.

    Indeed, most “trigger warnings” strike me as handholding, care-bear bullshit for people who are too delicate to make it in the real world.

  457. 457
    Sir Bob says:

    Peaches is dead.

  458. 458
    maryQ says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    There’s nothing wrong with a professor telling people beforehand that a book contains graphic violence of sexual violence or racism or what not. It’s what follows that is so offensive “which could be disturbing to people who have experienced past trauma” that is so off-putting and condescending.

    I followed the hullabaloo at Oberlin pretty carefully. The have recently come to their senses (sort of) and backed off, but they were talking about having faculty reconsider material that “might trigger”, or making it optional. I pictured a room full of militant women and sensitive men deciding on what would be triggering for other people (like those sensitive delicate women in their classrooms) and nixing content. Based on, ya know, what they think.

    I’ve yet to see any studies that show that discussing difficult material in a professional manner negatively impacts anyones learning. No one who is not crazy and immoral thinks it is OK to tell rape jokes or make fun of Holocost survivors or to make light of suicide. But this is not what the trigger warning proponents are talking about.

    Seriously-read what they were intending to do at Oberlin and tell me that there is any places for this
    http://www.insidehighered.com/.....S224a.dpbs

  459. 459
    Cassidy says:

    @Betty Cracker: You would be wrong, but that’s nothing new. You should probably wait for Greenwald to give his opinion on this subject. Don’t get ahead of yourself.

  460. 460
    Cassidy says:

    @Betty Cracker: Also, the point where you go “I may not know what I’m talking about” is about the time you should shut your fucking trap and simply listen to those who do.

  461. 461
    kc says:

    Some people seem to have no clue what clinical PTSD actually is.

  462. 462
    kc says:

    @Cassidy:

    Dullard irony alert.

  463. 463
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Suzanne: If a movie or book contains truly graphic depictions of violence, a heads-up about that is in order, and there already is such a system in place for films, and similar info on books is widely available to anyone with an Internet connection. This discussion started off about real efforts people are undertaking to put trigger warnings on “The Great Gatsby” and “Huck Finn.” Do you think “The Great Gatsby” and “Huck Finn” need trigger warnings?

    @MomSense: I’ll ask you the same question I asked Suzanne: Do you think “The Great Gatsby” and “Huck Finn” need trigger warnings? I realize some folks were really dismissive about the whole “trigger warning” thing, including me, but I think it’s possible we have different concepts about what constitutes a trigger warning.

    Ratings systems for graphic depictions of violence in films? We’re probably all for that — is that a trigger warning? Also, people who are working academics have raised some good points about where all this can lead. I’ve no intention of rehashing it all; my point was that to characterize everyone who isn’t on the trigger warnings bandwagon as insensitive to sexual assault victims is wrong.

    @Cassidy: I invite you to follow your own advice, as it would render you mute.

  464. 464
    Cassidy says:

    @Betty Cracker: Actually, I do know what I’m talking about with the official diagnosis and rating to go with it. So, yeah, how’s your mom? You can stop reading if that triggers anything in you. Just sick it up.

  465. 465
    Aghast says:

    @Cassidy: You should provide trigger warnings before your comments. Your deliberate cruelty caught me by surprise and triggered some very uncomfortable memories.

  466. 466
    Suzanne says:

    @Betty Cracker: The point is not what I think merits a trigger warning—the point is that a significant minority of people have asked for a warning because THEY feel they need it to maintain their mental health. That is all they are asking for. Who am I to say they are wrong? FWIW, I don’t think it’s inappropriate to discuss in advance that Huck Finn contains some potentially triggering language, so be prepared if you are sensitive. I think another thing to remember is that while there’s lots of warnings for a book you might read, it could be a totally different situation in, say, an art history class, where the professor decided an hour before class time what work to present. Content really and truly can be presented very suddenly, and a trigger warning is just time to prepare. Other than a slippery-slope argument (a la Santorum) and people’s general dislike of what they see as nanny-state-ism, no one has presented any real material harm caused by a trigger warning. There is literally no downside.

  467. 467
    Cassidy says:

    @Aghast: I just point the mirror.

  468. 468
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Cassidy: Not surprised you would go there — that’s how you roll. But thanks for demonstrating beyond all reasonable doubt that you’re a gigantic asshole.

  469. 469
    Cassidy says:

    @Betty Cracker: maybe you could use at rigger warning. Just sayin’. ;)

    Like I said, I point the mirror. If you don’t like the reflection, that’s on you.

  470. 470
    Aghast says:

    @Cassidy: So what you’re saying is that when you’re cruel it’s a reflection of your target, not you. And your target just needs to just suck it up and deal with it.

    I repeat my request for you to offer trigger warnings before doing so. That’s how many abusive people think, and it’s triggering memories for me.

  471. 471
  472. 472
    MaryRC says:

    @MomSense:

    Actually, Betty there was a whole lot of “suck it up”, “sensitive fee fees”, and other dismissive language. That is all pretty typical of the trivializing of rape survivors and their experiences that is a part of rape culture so no I don’t think “let me tell my rape jokes in peace” is far off -at all.

    This post started off being about the perceived extreme attitudes towards trigger warnings such as those expressed at Shakesville (where a post about Brown vs Board of Ed. was deemed to need a TW for racism), examples from Oberlin guidelines, and the essay by the Rutgers sophomore who cited the need for a TW for “Mrs. Dalloway”.

    That’s what many of those “fee-fees” comments were addressing.

    Then the thread turned into a discussion about TWs about sexual assault and rape. But don’t pretend that this is how it started out.

  473. 473
    Cassidy says:

    @Aghast: I’m gonna give you a real answer.

    Everyone has their trauma. I’ve got my own story, but I’m not into the litany of pain. While I take extra care and effort not to watch certain movies or put myself in certain situations so as not to trigger certain feelings and anxieties, I am also sensitive to others who ask for just a little bit of fucking help because trauma is subjective. Pain is subjective. While I have been traumatized and brutalized, others who may have experienced objectively less than I, may have been affected a great deal more. When people say “please don’t throw this in my face, please take a moment and consider my needs” we should listen. There are many here who have asked for much support, but don’t want to listen: Betty and her mom, Cole and his cat, Higgs and his “somebody please stop me from killing myself. Seriously, I’m really gonna do it. Any time now”. Everyone has pain. If you’re not willing to be considerate of others, then don’t expect it in return.

  474. 474
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Suzanne: I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on whether or not anyone has presented credible downsides on trigger warnings. I think some folks up-thread made valid points about where it could lead in higher ed, and there are real-world examples like what happened at Oberlin.

    @Cassidy: Oh, so taunting me about my recently deceased mother was actually a public service in the interest of furthering the cause of trigger warnings? Bullshit, you malignant piece of crap. It’s who you are.

  475. 475
    Suzanne says:

    @Betty Cracker: They made valid points about where it *could* lead, if people went far beyond what anyone is currently asking for. A considerate trigger warning is no more intrusive than a “Caution–hazards ahead” sign on the roadside while driving. Even at Oberlin, no one was kept away from great works of literature. No one’s education suffered. Nothing was removed from the library. If any of this happened, I think the censorship hysteria would have some merit. But the actual lived experiences of those who gave testimony on this thread have more weight than hypotheticals.

  476. 476
    MomSense says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I guess I don’t see the harm in offering a trigger warning for books like Great Gatsby or Huckleberry Finn. If the term trigger warning is what is causing the problem, I don’t have a problem with saying “content note” or some acceptable term. Five or six words in parentheses about each book does not seem to me to be a tremendous burden on the professor. Again, it should be voluntary as the Oberlin Resource Guide was. The example given for The Great Gatsby was

    (TW: “suicide,” “domestic abuse” and “graphic violence”)

    That seems reasonable to me. I would also hope that the professor would try to create a safe space for the students and if a student approached her/him with a concern that the professor could encourage the student to read the book and offer writing a reflection or discussing the book privately if absolutely necessary. I had an English professor do this for me. When she gave me a signed copy of her book of poetry (with a verbal trigger warning) I realized that she handled my situation so well because she knew what I was dealing with. I found my voice in that class and I gained tremendous confidence from her example that I could live my life and not just endure it.

    But the professor who said this

    It’s treating people as if they are babies, and studying literature is for grownups at university. You might as well put a label on English literature saying: warning – bad stuff happens here.”

    Yeah that professor is an asshole. You are not a baby if you have trouble coping. As we have learned from people in this community–bad things do happen in real motherfucking life and it takes a lot of strength and support to learn to live with it. I happen to think that people need empathy and compassion so they can gain the confidence and self knowledge to heal themselves.

  477. 477
    MomSense says:

    @MaryRC:

    Then the thread turned into a discussion about TWs about sexual assault and rape. But don’t pretend that this is how it started out.

    Did you read the article to which John Cole linked in the first sentence of his post? It is about the use of trigger warnings at colleges/universities. The first specific example of trauma in the article is rape. And the first mention of a particular type of trauma in the comments was at #4 and it was rape.

  478. 478
    MaryRC says:

    @MomSense: Yes. I read the NYT article, I read the essay by the Rutgers sophomore that the article referred to and I read the blog post by No More Mr Nice Blog that quoted the NYT article that quoted the Rutgers essay (and also took a swipe at Shakesville). The first specific example of trauma in all three articles is not rape.

    Commenters here made the thread about sexual assault and rape, their personal experiences in some cases, and indifferent or hostile attitudes towards the trauma that results. Which is fine, that’s how these discussions go.

    But to retroactively pull out earlier comments, that were made before you entered the thread or before it took the direction that it did, and point to them as cruel and indifferent to the issues that you’re discussing now, is disingenuous.

  479. 479
    Suzanne says:

    @MaryRC: Trigger warnings began in the feminist blogosphere as they became safe spaces to discuss sexual assault. Regardless of who mentioned rape on this thread first, the concept and terminology came about to deal with rape. As such, it is very much on point to discuss rape—no one turned the discussion in that direction.

  480. 480
    MomSense says:

    @MaryRC:

    What is happening on college campuses that has made trigger warnings an issue? Are you following the Title IX cases? The use of trigger warnings comes out of feminist blogging traditions about how to safely discuss issues of sexual assault.

  481. 481
    Cassidy says:

    @Betty Cracker: Nope, it was putting your bullshit back in your face. I treat people how they deserve to be treated. Look, I understand your an entitled pile of shit who tries not to leave your little slice of suburbia, but try and keep your failures to yourself. Deal with your daddy issues with your husband; I’m not interested.

  482. 482
    Betty Cracker says:

    @MomSense: Still glad you called out Cassidy as “remarkably accurate” on this topic? According to the lived experienced of the participants? Just wondering.

  483. 483
    MomSense says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Well I don’t like what he is saying now to you but earlier he was capturing a lot of the sentiments that people were posting on this thread and not that unlike the way people were saying them. Obviously I don’t choose to dialogue that way. Read Ruemara’s comment and Jacquie’s comment. We are not imagining the dismissive/insulting attitudes in a lot of these comments.

    I also didn’t appreciate what you said in your first comment but you were much gentler about it.

  484. 484

    I really hate to upset the plans of the sociopaths in this thread (real classy with Betty’s mom, guys, you fucking assholes) intent of upsetting me to WIN AN ARGUMENT ON THE INTERNET, but I don’t need a trigger warning or anyone to tapdance around my feelings regarding the death of Tunch. He’s dead. We had a good run, I miss him, but you know what, bad shit happens and you grieve and move on. Mentioning Tunch in attempt to irk me is not going to bother me, but will rather explicitly expose you as the doucecanoe you are.

    Yes, people go through awful shit. But when I hear about trigger warnings all I can think about is John Ashcroft covering up a statue’s tits because it put him in a sad place. Life is rough. You’re going to experience some horrible shit that may impact you in a horrifying way. But you don’t get to go around demanding that we cover up great works of art and put warnings on Huck Finn because the word “nigger” was used.

    Sorry. If someone wants to do shit voluntarily, fine. But I will be god damned if I think it is slightly appropriate to demand trigger warnings in an academic setting. The right wing has emasculated college professors for thirty years. I’m sorry about your trauma, but stop being part of the assault on free thinking, free speech, and the academic world.

    Also, go fuck yourself with a rusty pitchfork, Cassidy, you fucking sociopath. I should ban you for that Betty Cracker bullshit, but it is more rewarding to let people look at your words with horror. Plus, Betty Cracker is twice as hard as you, you fucking gutless internet warrior.

  485. 485
    Cassidy says:

    @Betty Cracker: You’ll be awright.

    @John (MCCARTHY) Cole: Keep telling yourself that cat lady.

  486. 486
    Goblue72 says:

    This thread just bukkaked all over itself.

  487. 487
    sharl says:

    @Goblue72: I was thinking more Cleveland Steamer than bukkake, but, um, yeah.

  488. 488
    Betty Cracker says:

    @MomSense: Good to know. It’s so confusing and all with wingnuts trying for mainstream status. Good to know that men who assume women are subservient to husbands, etc, are well represented on the left

  489. 489
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Betty Cracker: dupe

  490. 490
    MomSense says:

    @John (MCCARTHY) Cole:

    guys?? I haven’t said one mean thing to anyone. There have been a lot of really insensitive comments thrown out on this thread and Cassidy crossed all the lines with Betty. And I’m sorry, John but you said some really crappy things, too.

    No one is trying to emasculate professors. Not all professors are even men. No one is trying to limit free speech. The resource guide that Oberlin created wasn’t even a mandate. It was suggestions for professors. There was no proposal to place warning labels on books.

    John Ashcroft covering the statue? There has been zero proposal for any kind of censorship of content. Yes, bad things do happen. Hopefully when bad things happen, communities respond with caring. Since you are part of a university community, surely you are aware of what is happening with respect to the response to incidences of sexual assault on college campuses.

  491. 491

    @MomSense:

    No one is trying to emasculate professors. Not all professors are even men.

    Oh sweet ever loving Jeebus. I quit this fucking thread. Because by “emasculating professors” I meant neutering males and was making a gender related comment and not at all discussing the current reign of bullshit that all faculty have to deal with since the right wing has declared the ivory tower and knowing shit to be the de facto enemy of the state, including shitting on the new indentured servants, adjuncts. Change your handle to Momnonsense. You’re probably one of the people calling the Dean because your son got an F and you are trying to have a faculty member fired because your kid spent the whole semester on ecstasy at the bar.

    How do professionally sensitive people make it through the fucking day? Every day must be like the sensitive guy scene in Bedazzled.

  492. 492
    MomSense says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    What are you even talking about? Subservience???

    This is totally fucked up. A bunch of people off the bat just insulted even the idea of trigger warnings even though they have been really helpful for a lot of people who are learning to cope with trauma. We try and explain how they can be helpful and then we are told all the ways in which we are not dealing with PTSD correctly, that we are children, overly sensitive, we should just stop reading, etc. Now we are pro subservience, censorship, and emasculation??

    Wow. I do not approve of insulting people, subservience, censorship, limits on freedom of speech or religion, academic freedom, mandated use of trigger warnings, or trying to pretend that bad things happen.

  493. 493
    Cassidy says:

    @John (MCCARTHY) Cole: Is that an example of keeping it classy that I should try to follow?

    You are such a small minded little bitch.

  494. 494
    sharl says:

    @MomSense: Well I never did go all the way through the comments, but for whatever it’s worth, those of your comments I have read seem reasonable to me.

    Assuming global warming doesn’t wipe us out, we may figure this stuff out one day and become a civilized species.

    Have a good evening.

  495. 495
    Suzanne says:

    @John (MCCARTHY) Cole:

    How do professionally sensitive people make it through the fucking day?

    Many of them find trigger warnings helpful in getting through the day, actually.

    One more time: Can someone, ANYONE, explain to me how providing a trigger warning keeps people who want to consume content from consuming it? Can someone, anyone, provide an example of a time or even a plausible scenario in which a trigger warning led to censorship?

  496. 496
    Betty Cracker says:

    @MomSense: My bad — that was clumsily worded. I was trying to make the point that if it’s fair to tar the anti-trigger warning folks with the Santorum brush or to assume that people who objected early on to trigger warnings on “The Great Gatsby” are okay with rubbing rape survivors’ noses in graphic depictions of rape, it’s fair to enroll the pro-trigger side under the depraved asshole banner. The point is, neither assumption is fair.

  497. 497
    Cassidy says:

    @Betty Cracker: Bullshit. The whole useless lot of ya started off right from the beginning with jokes and uphill both ways stories and apocalyptic chicken little stories about how this would lead to the banking of everything. When it was pointed out that assumptions these assumptions were wrong and the intent clearly misunderstood, it switched to ridicule. So fuck you and your cheese dick little fan club and your cat lady in armor for being such entitled twits.

  498. 498
    MomSense says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Betty, I did not say that Cassidy was remarkably accurate on this topic. What I was trying to say, perhaps poorly on this shitshow of a thread from the beginning, was that he was doing in his comments exactly what most of the commenters were doing in the way they were speaking to those of us who see some utility in the idea of using trigger warnings in an academic setting. That you don’t recognize the insulting way commenters were treating those of us who see the utility in trigger warnings as a way of helping people who are dealing with trauma is perhaps because you aren’t that aware of the issue. You don’t have to take my word, or Ruemara’s or Jacquie’s — but I will tell you anyway that it was bad–really bad.

    @John (MCCARTHY) Cole:

    Well you sure put me in my place Mr. Cole proving beyond all doubt how very not emasculated you are.

  499. 499
    MomSense says:

    @sharl:

    Thanks. It was certainly a wild ride.

  500. 500
    Cassidy says:

    And we did it! Good game, everyone, good game. Talk about an act of endurance. Just wow! I am so proud of all of you. Betty, JC, even in the midst of people who’ve been traumatized and trying to help you understand, you stuck to your guns, doubled down on the assholery, and refused to let go of your ignorance. Everyone, a round of applause. Seriously, you deserve it. We couldn’t have gotten here without you.

    I’m so proud of each and everyone of you. Good game.

  501. 501
    Betty Cracker says:

    @MomSense: Hateful, vicious personal attacks that are explicitly designed to exploit others’ pain and vulnerabilities are what Cassidy does all the fucking time, not just in this thread, which is why it’s so ludicrous that he’s attempting to cast himself as the trigger warning spokes-model now or that his vile comments would be deemed a valuable contribution to the discussion. As a would-be trigger himself, he doesn’t give a fuck about trigger warnings, though the topic certainly gave him an opportunity to let his freak flag fly.

    But leaving that festering asshole aside, it still sounds like you’re conflating two different things: 1) being dismissive about Shakesville-stye trigger warnings (Brown vs. Board of Education post — racism TW!) and TW on “The Great Gatsby” and 2) thinking no accommodation should ever be made for people dealing with trauma or that rape survivors should have their noses rubbed in graphic depictions of rape.

    It’s just not the same thing. To the extent that my contempt for #1 was construed as lack of concern about #2, I sincerely apologize. It was not my intent. But can’t reasonable people disagree about what measures would be practical and effective? It sounds like you’re saying no, that anyone who thinks it’s a bad idea to slap a TW on “The Great Gatsby” must just not get how hard it is to deal with trauma. Believe me, I know.

  502. 502
    Cassidy says:

    @Betty Cracker: You chose to dismiss people’s pain. I only treated you the way you advocated for the treatment of others. That’s what you wanted right? Again, if you don’t like the reflection, that’s on you.

    And let’s be clear about something, I do care about people’s issues. I don’t care about your issues or Cole’s. I treat people how they deserve to be treated. Suck it up. You can always stop reading if it’s uncomfortable, right?

  503. 503
    MomSense says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Betty, if you think the characterizations were about the idea of trigger warnings from the outset and not about the people who would find them helpful then there is a lot of dialogue that has to take place before we can get to the reasonable people disagreeing about what measures would be practical and effective. Just to take your first comment in this thread, was

    …I have extra-dainty, exquisitely sensitive fee-fees on some topics.

    about trigger warnings or about the character of a person who might find them helpful? It certainly read to me like it was about the person who might appreciate a trigger warning.

    What about this comment from Digital Amish

    Oh for christ’s sake! Okay, let’s make this simple. Anyone who thinks they need “trigger warnings” just post a sign on all the exits to their domiciles stating “Warning. You are about to enter the world.”.

    Was Digital Amish talking about whether trigger warnings are practical and effective or about the kind of person who might find them helpful?

    Here is how the comments affected Ruemara.

    Man, I’m glad some of you find the concept of triggers so childish. What would people who actually experience them from odd, random occurrences do without you to patiently ridicule, I mean, explain that they’re just trying to baby-proof the world? I swear, much of this thread would be perfectly at home at Yahoo. triggers aren’t censorship, they’re simple warnings. Why? Because you don’t know what can send someone with PTSD off on a spiral. It’s amazing how something simple can just put you back in a space and time that is horrifying. Warnings about book content because it doesn’t subscribe to someone’s religious or political leanings isn’t a trigger warning. That’s what you should be mocking-the idea that your worldview is so tender and delicate that a new idea should come with a warning label lest you think. Trigger warnings for people who’ve experienced stress, disaster, violence, sexual abuse, assault and rape are perfectly sensible and a sign of compassion.

    And this is what Jacqui had to say.

    @ruemara: Jesus, THANK YOU. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills reading this whole damn thread. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and I don’t consider myself to be a delicate flower who gets offended at every little thing. However, some days I *know* I’m not in a good emotional place to deal with vivid descriptions of sexual assault and I don’t appreciate when such descriptions suddently appear in the middle of something unrelated. Trigger warnings, to the extent that they have any value at all, help readers make informed choices about the media we consume, and anyone who feels oppressed or censored by them can fuck the fuck off.

    I would love to have a productive conversation about what measures might be practical and effective but that is not how this issue was presented or discussed in this thread.

    Maybe this article would be a helpful starting point.

    http://www.xojane.com/issues/w.....r-warnings

  504. 504
    Betty Cracker says:

    @MomSense: I’m not going to answer for what anyone else said, but the big clue about whom I was referring to in the sentence you highlighted was the subject of that sentence: me. I’m a person who has experienced trauma, and I don’t find Shakesville-style trigger warnings or slapping a label on “The Great Gatsby” helpful.

    It was a flippant remark, and I’ve since attempted multiple times to clarify what my objections to trigger warnings are and apologized for misunderstandings arising from my flippancy.

    Again, it’s not that I’ve lived such a charmed, trauma-free life that I just don’t understand the need for trigger warnings, nor is it that I think it’s okay to wantonly inflict pain. If you still think that, there’s nothing else I can do to convince you of my sincerity, so we’ll have to leave it at that.

  505. 505
    Sondra says:

    I very much doubt that PTSD can be triggered by a book, a movie or a teevee show: if you think it will be unpleasant, don’t read or watch them.
    The exception would be if it’s school work and required. A trigger warning will just give some people an excuse to not do the work. Just as some parents resist having their kids taught Evolution, so too would be their resistance to almost anything.
    PTSD happens when a real trauma becomes too big to handle without medical help and in my experience, it will be triggered by another real life experience.
    If someone experienced a childhood trauma like being threatened or beaten, the PTSD reaction could be triggered by someone who is yelling and threatening that person in real time. The reaction is the warning and an adaptive device. Reading a book about something unrelated to that would be just another piece of information.
    Someone else will probably say this better than me – it’s a hard concept to explain.

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