Trigger Warnings

September 19, 2016

crying-college-manHave you heard the latest?

College students all across the country are demanding “Trigger Warnings” and calling for certain words to be banned and subjects to be avoided because they may trigger emotional trauma. Yes, you read that correctly. Many students believe they are entitled to prevent hearing or reading things they don’t like.

Some students at Columbia say teaching Greek Mythology needs a “trigger warning” or caution about material that could be distressing to readers because the text “contains triggering and offensive material that marginalizes student identities in the classroom.” And students at Harvard Law School have asked criminal-law teachers to warn their classes that the rape-law unit might “trigger” traumatic memories, and have even suggested that rape law should not be taught because of its potential to cause distress. One millennial student asked a Harvard law professor not to use the word “violate” in class – as in “Does this conduct violate the law?” – because the word was triggering.

While it may be tempting to laugh off this hypersensitivity as the folly of idealistic kids, these are supposed to be some of the brightest of the next generation who will be influencing and making public policy and law in coming years. The real world does not have “trigger warnings” and is full of all kinds of things people don’t want to hear or be reminded of. So what makes this generation feel that they can stifle unpleasantry or that they should receive warnings so they can avoid hearing things they may find distressing? The crazy narrative that “every opinion is valid” has to have had some effect on these kids, likely reinforcing their ephebic beliefs that they should not have to hear anything they don’t like. When combined with the oft-repeated victim narratives from advertisers, politicians, and advocates, it’s not surprising that the generation that did not learn how to deal with the disappointment of not winning a trophy believes they are justified in avoiding all distasteful ideas. Plus the heightened emphasis in recent years on not “offending” anyone has got to contribute to making many sensibilities more delicate.

These are the sad outcomes of the victim mentality that has quietly reached pandemic proportions. I know that Not A Victim is like a faint, insignificant voice in the wilderness, but this stuff is of real import. Recognizing the sources of its proliferation and the negative effects of victim mentality is the first step in reducing its spread and its destructive influence on lives that could otherwise be happy an free of misery. Please consider sharing any posts that resonate with you or may provide any helpful perspective for others.

Thank you.

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