9 comments

  1. It’s my view that like “statements of support” trigger warnings mostly serve as a badly applied bandaid plastered over a gaping wound. At best, it shows you tried, at worst it lets the wound actually go untreated, or lets you get away with further damage!

    There’s no substitute for thoughtful, meaningful dialogue about difficult issues. The key word is thoughtful here, and think the reason trigger warnings exist in the first place is that some people are extremely NON thoughtful when they teach difficult material, which would be upsetting not only to students with mental health issues/specific triggers, but really, any right thinking person. Like if I taught how AMAZING and COOL the Sars-Cov2 Virus was to my class which included several people who lost relatives or were sick themselves. A trigger warning, in my opinion, would not be sufficient to make that OK, so why bother! And if it were taught sensitively, then absolutely no one would be triggered.

  2. I appreciate when I’m warned that I’m about to see graphic images or whatever. I don’t get the arguments that that’s a bad thing. It’s not like it takes much time. It has always seemed to me that arguments against it are like arguments against the War on Christmas. A straw-man being used to push an agenda (usually an anti-liberal one).

    Nobody here has said a word about trigger warnings about covid stuff… that seems silly given we’re currently immersed in the stuff, so I can’t imagine that’s a widespread thing. Maybe one administrator at that one school. But who knows.

  3. If I was using strawmen and pushing an anti-liberal agenda I am truly sorry. I would be so grateful if you could help me understand what I did wrong. I honestly had no idea I was pushing an anti-liberal agenda, but once I figure out what that agenda is I promise to do better and stop pushing it.

    Also, I feel really terrible that I didn’t accurately depict the situation at your school. I was so focused on describing the situation that a colleague and I faced that neglected to depict your institution. That was selfish of me and I resolve to do better.

  4. HAHAHAHA, I just got the joke– you were illustrating with a straw-man argument. Because of COURSE I said that you had to depict my institution when I questioned how widespread it was for universities to demand trigger warnings for covid, given how silly that seems. How funny! Very meta.

    And of COURSE I was saying that you were being anti-liberal when I said (and this is true) that anti-trigger warning people tends to be part of the anti-liberal argument. Very droll.

  5. I never actually said that the trigger warning advice came from the institutional or administrative level. In fact, it came from peers. My critique regards academic culture and the assumptions that some faculty bring to the work, not the policies under which we work.

    And I erred in mocking the anti-liberal characterization. Liberal can mean many things, and thus anti-liberal can also mean many things. Until I know what you mean by that, I don’t know if I’m anti-liberal. I don’t think that my voting record, donation record, volunteer work, or mentoring activity would be regarded as opposed to liberalism by most definitions, but there are those who might characterize my activities as merely centrist. So maybe my actions are liberal by your standards, or maybe not.

  6. By all means, let’s give trigger warnings when appropriate. But it’s alarming if faculty are discouraged from including topics that might be distressing to some or all students. It undermines our expertise, it does a disservice to our students, and it feeds the anti-science hysteria in our country. Covid19, gun violence, climate change … these are all distressing subjects, and I’m sure you can all add to this list. Yes, we should be sensitive to our students’ backgrounds and experiences, but it is our duty to grapple with these difficult subjects head on in class (when appropriate etc etc). If we can’t talk to the students about them, where are they going to get their information? Facebook?

  7. I see trigger warnings as a heads up. If I were a student who had just graduated from a high school where there was a school shooting, I’d appreciate a heads up if one of our readings was about a school shooting so I could be prepared emotionally.

    In terms of the argument that those who need trigger warnings actually need therapy, I hardly see ceasing trigger warnings as having positive impacts on people getting psychotherapy. And the suggestion that if someone has reexperiencing symptoms that they need to take a leave of absence from school is kind of absurd. Maybe school is the place where they are safe? Maybe school is the place they are actually able to get therapy? Maybe they are coping with the aftermath of a rape but are largely doing ok. Maybe they just aren’t ready (therapy isn’t easy – and I say that as a psychologist). It should be up to the individual as to whether or not they take a leave – and when and whether they go to therapy.

    The article seems to suggest that trigger warnings are in some way paternalistic – but saying that if you are triggered there is something wrong with you seems even more controlling.

    Have some calls/pressures for trigger warnings gone too far? Sure. Yes. But I tend to see things like that as a pendulum – we went from never warning people about possibly upsetting content to warning people about almost everything. I think that is normal. At some point, things will settle somewhere in the middle.

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