Like most writers, when I get the urge to write, it’s usually because I feel strongly about something. I like to think I’m fairly tolerant of many ways of life, understanding of different views and knowledgeable about obvious things that may offend people. I draw the line at this “Trigger Warning” absurdity that’s recently sent my “B.S.-o-Meter” into orbit.
When I had heard enough about this new craze, the first thing I consulted was Urban Dictionary, because that site does a decent job of cutting through the PC crap and cutting to the chase. From what I’ve heard and read about this “warning,” UD appears to have a definition that makes the most sense: Trigger Warning It starts out, “A phrase posted at the beginning of various posts, articles, or blogs…to warn…people who are easily offended that they might find what is being posted offensive in some way.” People who are offended so easily should go wrap themselves in bubble wrap and find a secluded island somewhere with no other people, media, printed materials, audio recordings, or bugs that may cross their paths.
American Aniversity of University Professors has a more diplomatic explanation of Trigger Warnings, which is now threatening to usurp academia and the entire purpose of education: AAUP Trigger Warnings.
So the inmates are running the asylum now? Students don’t want to learn about things that make them uncomfortable or “challenge their beliefs.” (Translation: the beliefs that have been shoved down kids’ throats by parents or religious symbols, or ideas that shared by friends who think the same way they do.) I’m sorry, I thought that’s what education was FOR? Present new ideas and challenge young people to question the status quo, analyze facts compared to their current knowledge, and, oh, I don’t know, THINK FOR THEMSELVES.
What’s worse? Learning about Jack the Ripper and being faced with ideas of violent murder and mutilation or going through life oblivious to the fact that people like Jack the Ripper may live and work among us? What’s worse, watching Karate Kid and being made to “feel bad” about being bullied or refusing to learn self-defense and therefore avoid becoming a target? What’s worse, reading about the atrocities committed by people in power throughout history (Spanish Inquisition, French Revolution, etc.) or being led by the Pied Piper of people in power (wait, that’s a literary reference that may be beyond the reach of the trigger-warning generation because…something about it may be offensive) because of an irrational belief that those in power do the right thing for everyone over whom they hold power?
I was exposed to many things as a youth, much of which made me extremely uncomfortable, but I LEARNED some extremely useful life lessons from them – lessons that I would not have learned any other way. The professors who were the hardest on me made me learn the most and earned nothing but utter respect from me. The other authority figures in my life who I may not have agreed with taught me how things work in the real world so I didn’t naively think my actions wouldn’t have consequences.
Too many people these days think they have a “right” to not be offended in any way. If a person chooses to live in a society that allows freedom of thought, something’s going to offend said person. Repeatedly and often. Just like people who choose to live in a country of laws are subject to those laws themselves. If history offends students, and they can legitimately make professors kowtow to their desires, they will grow up ill-prepared for real life which is the exact opposite what education is meant to do to begin with. Then again, maybe those of us who HAVE learned and continue to do so will have a distinct advantage over the majority of society one day soon. Still, the cost far outweighs such a potential benefit.
Who was the one who said, “Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it?”