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posted by LaminatorX on Monday May 19 2014, @06:24AM   Printer-friendly

Raw Story summarizes a New York Times report that Colleges across the country this spring have been wrestling with student requests for what are known as "trigger warnings," explicit alerts that the material they are about to read or see in a classroom might upset them or, as some students assert, cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in victims of rape or in war veterans.

The debate has left many academics fuming, saying that professors should be trusted to use common sense and that being provocative is part of their mandate. Trigger warnings, they say, suggest a certain fragility of mind that higher learning is meant to challenge, not embrace. "Any kind of blanket trigger policy is inimical to academic freedom," said Lisa Hajjar, a sociology professor, who often uses graphic depictions of torture in her courses about war. "Any student can request some sort of individual accommodation, but to say we need some kind of one-size-fits-all approach is totally wrong. The presumption there is that students should not be forced to deal with something that makes them uncomfortable is absurd or even dangerous."

Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said, "It is only going to get harder to teach people that there is a real important and serious value to being offended. Part of that is talking about deadly serious and uncomfortable subjects."

A summary of the College Literature, along with the appropriate trigger warnings, assumed or suggested in the article is as follows: Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" (anti-Semitism), Virginia Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway" (suicide), "The Great Gatsby" (misogynistic violence), and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (racism).

Note: The Raw Story link was provided to provide an alternative to the article source, the New York Times, due to user complaints about the NYT website paywalling their articles.

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by gman003 on Monday May 19 2014, @01:35PM

    by gman003 (4155) on Monday May 19 2014, @01:35PM (#45205)

    The original intent of "trigger warnings" was for PTSD - and it was used only on extremely graphic violence or rape scenes, because those are the things people have PTSD about. And I have absolutely zero problem with that - even if you don't have PTSD, it's good to know to expect something like that.

    Now? I've seen Tumblr posts with trigger warnings for "carnivorism". Because some whiny vegans apparently can't even handle the thought that mos people eat meat. The trendy "social activism" that seems to permeate that certain subculture, the "social activism" that's more about words than deeds, and picking up any cause as long as it's a minority, seems to love the idea that you can "accomplish something" just by putting enough trigger warnings in front of stuff, because someone might get upset, and we can't have that.

    Guess what? I'm upset about this. I guess you need to start putting "Trigger warning: Contains trigger warnings" in front of things as well!

    You want to put a trigger warning in front of, say, "All Quiet on the Western Front", because it has a lot of violence in it? Fair enough, although when we read that book way back in middle school, they didn't need a formal list to explain "yeah, this is a book about war, it's gonna get kinda rough". But if you need to start putting "Trigger warning: racism" in front of "To Kill a Mockingbird", you're missing the whole point of both the books, the classes, and the entire purpose of trigger warnings.

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  • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Monday May 19 2014, @02:38PM

    by tangomargarine (667) on Monday May 19 2014, @02:38PM (#45231)

    Just put a trigger warning in front of everything you say or post or anything. If they want to be butthurt about something I say, why should I make it easy for them to find? And if they read it anyway because you put the warning on everything, you can just point at it and laugh.

    "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"