Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Sympathy for the Devil: Is There A Decent Case for "Trigger Warnings" in College Classes?

   So...I've gotten so bent out of shape about the PCs that I haven't even been trying to give them their best case. They're a bad bunch...but they can't be wrong about everythingNobody is wrong about everything... Even the Nazis were environmentalists... They're damned irritating, and they advocate all sorts of crazy, evil things...so...it's not my fault! YOU KNOW HOW HATEABLE THEY ARE!!!!
   Be that as it may...is there a decent case to be made for "trigger warnings"?
   Well...one thing about the PCs is that they have some terrible, infernal knack for generating the dumbest-sounding, most irritating terminology known to man... I should be reasonable enough to ignore that...but I'm not...  So yeah, "trigger warning" (like e.g. "microaggression", "rape culture," "check your privilege," etc.) is just damn stupid, even just qua word. But it's silly to worry much about that. The question is:
   Is there a good case for warning students when you're going to discuss questions that are disturbing?
   Prima facie...why not? It's quick, it's easy... It's really no skin off the professor's...uh...nose? Teeth? What the hell is that figure of speech anyway? Where's the skin supposed to come from? Nose, right?  Teeth is a different thing...
   Now...don't give me all that yeah but this just plays into the hands of the crazy lefties because it won't just be that, it'll also be this.... I want to ignore slippery-slope problems for the time being. Is there anything really, intrinsically wrong with warning students that you're just about about talk about something that some of them might find extremely disturbing?


Blogger The Mystic said...

Isn't the immediate problem in this domain: how do you determine what qualifies as something some of them might find extremely disturbing?

But I hear what you're saying, and I gotta say.. I think we already do this, right? Reasonable adults do tend to warn one another if they're going to bring up something or show one another something which is exceptionally horrible to behold.

As they should.

The problem, as I see it, is that these "trigger warnings" haven't been proposed as a solution to professors dropping horrifying images of dismembered or tortured bodies on hapless, unexpecting students. Rather, the Neo-PC are hurriedly reclassifying everyday unpleasantries as irreversibly traumatizing disasters.

So maybe the lesson is this: when you critique the Neo-PC, be aware of the ghost of a foundation on which they stand (in this case: it is indeed reasonable to warn one another of horrifying content prior to its reveal) and make sure it is perfectly clear that you're not critiquing that poltergeist, for it will become just that to your argument later on when the Neo-PC perform their favorite little trick of yours and attempt to fall back on utterly non-debatable, uninteresting claims as though these were the only claims they ever had.

The truth is, they're babies and they're trying to make sure everyone's allowed to be babies indefinitely. The further relevant truth is that even adults should be protected from some harm, but that's not the issue at hand here.

So to your point, we should make clear that last sentence when critiquing their position.

My two cents have been rendered.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...

As a female who has had common female-type experiences, I don't like being blindsided by things. I don't have a problem with these things existing, or other people watching/listening to these things, I'd just like the choice as to whether I have to read/listen to/see disturbing things. (I actually turn my head when driving/riding past accidents, because I really do NOT want to see pain and suffering.)

I'd just like the ability to change the channel or leave the room; I don't need to see and hear about horrors--I am well aware that the human history is full of atrocities, and my imagination tends to run away with horrible things (As a teenager, I spent months jumping at shadows because I wasn't smart enough to leave the room during a zombie movie.)

Sure, "sensitive listeners/viewers should be aware this (thing) has (bits) they might find upsetting" is nicer, but it's also a long spiel. "Trigger warning" is just a shorter way of saying all that.

Plus, different things bother different people--I'm okay with autopsy pictures and organs in jars and probably even surgeries. But I get very upset seeing pictures of suffering, be it terrorist attacks or close-ups of mourners at funerals or starving children or animals.

I don't see "trigger warning" as a form of PC, I just see it as politeness--allowing people to have a choice.

All of this is a round-about way of explaining why I don't watch TV and very carefully listen to the news. ;)

7:06 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Thanks, MK. Very valuable to hear your thoughts on this.

8:48 PM  

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