I think it was Clint Eastwood who, as Dirty Harry, gave the world’s most famous trigger warning:
I know what you’re thinking: “Did he fire six shots or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?
The punk in question did not feel lucky—because he was well cautioned.
I myself partook in and of trigger warnings. One day back in high school I had a fight with the sheriff’s son (he started it). Later that afternoon, as I strolled down a dirt road, the sheriff himself drove up and invited me to sit in the air-conditioned comfort of his squad car. There I received a colorful but theoretical education about the capabilities of the sheriff’s weapon, an education that he promised would turn practical were I to meet his son again.
Another was while I was breakfasting in my apartment in a rough area of San Antonio. I heard a shot and, being curious, I rushed outside to see what was the matter. Two gentleman wielding guns ran by, and as the lead saw me he asked, “You in the military? C’mon!” I was. I followed. A figure in the distance receded then disappeared. This later proved to be Peepin’ Pete, a fellow who derived perverse satisfaction from peering into the windows of young couples (who are you to judge?). Peepin’ Pete made the mistake of looking into the wrong apartment that morning. But he was fleet of foot and escaped. He was months later caught in flagrante delicto and met his reward.
These incidents show that trigger warnings work, but they are not infallible in the sense that, depending on the circumstance, one caution may be insufficient. Anyway, I took the lessons to heart and joined the National Rifle Association that I might learn more.
And now to show my pride and display my love of education, when asked for an ID on the Upper West Side, a Progressive suzerainty, as a kind of weak trigger warning, I sometimes bring out the badge pictured above (I altered the number here). I do after all sort of look like the man standing in front: tall, hatted, big nose, crooked teeth, appropriately dressed, Caucasian.
This long introduction was necessary to explain why I was initially enthusiastic when I spotted a column by Michael Moynihan which promised a discussion on trigger warnings. I was excited to learn his opinion whether revolvers gave better cautions than pistols, or were .20 gauge bird-shotted shotguns sufficient?
Alas, no. Trigger warnings are no longer straightforward. Yet another term, yet another useful descriptor, has been lost to us.
It seems that certain delicate kiddies which infest our universities worry that they might—I say might—be offended. This very possibility is intolerable to them. So they insist that they be warned with prominent labels on material which might in any way might “trigger” bad feelings in anybody. This way nearly all of Mark Twain, and pretty much all white male authors writing before 1950, can be avoided. Moynihan:
At the University of California, Santa Barbara, the student senate, which appears to be staffed by the only people in the solar system dumber than actual senators, passed a resolution to “begin the process of instituting mandatory ‘trigger warnings’ on class syllabi,” flagging books that could make students feel uncomfortable. One student arguing in favor of the measure commented, with all the grace and wit of Soviet bureaucrat, “I’ve been in this kind of situation before—it sucks; we should pass it.”
There are already many websites listing items which must have trigger warnings. One collection includes “Slimy things”, “Insects”, and, my favorite, “Anything that might inspire intrusive thoughts in people with OCD.” How do you test that one?
It surpasses the imagination to consider how these precious children would behave in the face of real trigger warnings. Apocalyptic tantrum doesn’t come close to covering it. I’d tell these poor darlings to man up, except that that phrase is now deemed officially “offensive” at Duke University. The most depressing poster I’ve seen in decades read “I don’t say ‘MAN UP’ because I don’t believe in gender norms.
The feminismization (not a typo) of America is nearly complete, at least at its higher echelons.
Update This is probably the best place for “Rape, Rape-Rape and Sexual Assault at Colleges: The battle over what constitutes sexual assault on college campuses is reaching new levels of absurdity.“
Okay, since I am biologically a girl (though I own a 50 caliber Smith and Wesson, outmanning Dirty Harry), I can say concerning the rape piece, that if BOTH parties are drunk, holding only one party accountable is flat out punishing males because you hate men. If you can’t consent when you’re drunk, then the guy didn’t consent either–he was just following a primal urge befoer he passed out. If both were flat out drunk, who really knows what happened beyond the fact that intercourse occurred? Maybe getting stupid drunk is not a really good idea, especially with someone of the opposite sex with whom you may or may not want to have sex.
In my case, “Little Women” would have to carry a warning–I never did actually manage to read the book all the way through. There’s an easy solution to all of this–just stop teaching people to read and then they won’t read anything offensive.
(Your typing troll is back: (he stared it) or (he started it)?
My enemies grow in strength!
For some reason your essay brought to mind Orwell’s “power of facing unpleasant facts” and images of the Thought Police:
Now I recall where I first saw that! Thanks for the reminder. I used the same image the other day (retrieved from Google).
On the list which included “slimy things”:
– Trypophobia (Link is safe.) http://trypophobia.com/
It’s safe, as in safe for work. But it is not safe. It is indeed troubling, as in you will look at it and not know what it is you’re seeing. But then … then there’s this:
Your trypophobia link. It is not safe as it claims. Anonymous
Thank you for telling us. As soon as I can figure out whatâ€™s keeping me from editing the pages and how to fix it, Iâ€™ll be sure to correct that.
That was a year ago. One year. I couldn’t make this stuff up.
Is being disturbed by people who are Holier Than Thou a form of trypophobia?
From “The Liberal Mind; the Psychological Causes of Political Madness”; at http://www.libertymind.com/book-excerpts_257.html include the following excerpts:
Competent human beings understand that they must respect facts and think logically about people and things. They understand that actions have consequences, that certain actions make their lives better or worse, and that certain rules must govern the behaviors of persons in order to allow for individual freedoms and the preservation of social order.
The ideal of personal autonomy, as evidenced in the capacity to act independently through responsible self-direction, and the ideal of social cooperation, as evidenced in the ability to work with others in pursuit of shared goals for mutual benefit, are threshold developmental achievements in the child’s growth to competence. In a society committed to individual liberty, individual responsibility and individual assumption of risk, and in the interest of minimizing actions that encroach on the persons and property of others, social order requires that children be raised with at least minimal capacities for self-direction and collaborative effort. Expectations that the mature citizen will take care of himself and not coerce others into that duty are consistent with a principle basic to freedom: that in a free society, no one is born into the world with a legally enforceable obligation to take care of persons other than his own children, especially persons whom he has never met. Citizenship in a free society should not entail a legal duty of care to strangers: that is, a statutory mandate that you adopt one or more persons deemed deserving by government officials.
Thus the goals of psychotherapy and the goals of child rearing share the western ideal of individuated man: the autonomous, self-directed and freely choosing but ethical and moral individual, an agent both sovereign and social, who cooperates with others by mutual consent, not by coercion, in a society ruled by law. Here, in language more behavioral than philosophical, is the psycho-biologically based ideal of individualism. The critical question to be asked, then, is whether and to what extent the arrangements for living in a given society are consistent with that ideal. More particularly, we ask whether and to what extent the liberal agenda is consistent with that ideal.
The liberal agenda’s favors seduce the people a little at a time, always playing on their regressive longings to be indulged. Favor by favor, accompanied by the constant drumbeat of entitlement propaganda, the otherwise intelligent citizen is led to an increasingly erroneous conception of the proper role of government in a free society. Like a child molester, the liberal politician grooms his constituents until their natural cautions against yielding power in exchange for favors dissolves in reassurance.
Under the creed of modern liberalism, the individual citizen is not called to maturity but is instead invited to begin a second childhood. Like the child at play, he is given, or at least promised, ultimate economic, social and political security without having to assume responsibility for himself. The liberal agenda requires him to remain in an artificial environment–the daycare program of the grandiose state–where he need not become an adult, take responsibility for his own welfare, nor cooperate with others to achieve what the state will give him for nothing.
The liberal agenda is the liberal neurosis made manifest. It is not a rational program for the organization of human action. It is instead an irrational conglomeration of neurotic defenses which the modern liberal uses for his mental and emotional equilibrium. By attacking the sovereignty of the individual and the institutions essential to ordered liberty, the agenda attacks the very foundations of a free society. In fact, modern liberalism does not seek authentic freedom, despite its historical association with that ideal, nor does it foster the individual’s growth to competence. It does not promote the virtues of individual liberty: not self-reliance, responsibility, dependability or accountability; not cooperation by consent or initiative or industry; not high moral standards or caring or altruism. It does not seek a society of sovereign citizens, but fosters instead a society of allegedly victimized dependents under the custodial care of the state. In keeping with its origins in early childhood, the liberal agenda endorses self-indulgence through short-term hedonism and primitive impulse gratification. In keeping with its ethic of injustice collecting, the agenda seeks ever increasing government regulation to defeat alleged villains, and ever increasing levels of unearned compensation, reparation and restitution to compensate alleged victims. In keeping with its secular tradition, modern liberalism attacks the legitimacy of formal religion, dismisses its historical importance and denies its critical role in maintaining the nation’s moral integrity.
The need to dominate others arises from the tyrant’s need for absolute assurance that the catastrophic loss of dependency or the pain of abuse so devastating to him in his earliest years will not be repeated. In his determination to control the world, he constantly defends himself against what Karen Horney aptly described as the most basic of human fears: being alone and helpless in a dangerous, indifferent world, the nightmare of the abandoned, terrified child. Persons plagued with such fears easily conclude that it is in their greatest interest to dominate others, or to imagine that they can, and to set about achieving that goal through the manipulation of government power.
DAV: “Is being disturbed by people who are Holier Than Thou a form of trypophobia?”
I cannot find a better pun so on the whole I would say yes.
Ken: “Thus the goals of psychotherapy and the goals of child rearing share the western ideal of individuated man: the autonomous, self-directed and freely choosing but ethical and moral individual, an agent both sovereign and social, who cooperates with others by mutual consent, not by coercion, in a society ruled by law.”
I’m ok up to and including “sovereign and social”. I can’t reconcile mutual consent and rule of law. What is law if not a form of coercion imposed upon those who would otherwise act contrary to it?
Many years ago I read a book on the psychological origins of political correctness. The writer gave a neo Freudian explanation which basically came down to they love the mother and hate the father. The mother is seen as kind, generous, nurturing and the father is seen as harsh, punitive and cruel. I left out much explanation so that’s the condensed version. That’s why you see the continued attempts to feminize the culture and ban masculinity. They have a daddy issue. PC is also the belief that you are the victim of persecution, aka paranoia.
I also have the book “the liberal mind” that Ken cited.
“PC is also the belief that you are the victim of persecution, aka paranoia.”
Paranoia is the delusion that everyone is out to get you.
That someone is paranoid is not evidence that no one is out to get them.
I’mjust wondering if the “trigger warning” list on the old testament might be longer than the actual book. Genocide, incest, adultery, bestiality, dietary advice…
Mike: Could be. Remember–these individuals had no history to follow, little experience and needed a great deal of guidance. Plus, it’s pretty apparent that people don’t really look at things they don’t want to be true. So they engage in activities and deny these activities cause the problems that appear. God was making sure the causality was not missed.
Ken makes some good points, on a theoretical level. Just thinking off the top of my head, on a more physical (and condensed) level: In the old days when I was in elementary school, if a small group acted up the whole class would be punished, i.e. missing recess. This would cause the group, acting as a collective, to dictate correct behavior and punish those acting outside the bounds, for the good of all. This of course requires individuals to have the self-confidence to act to maintain the collective norm, i.e. Mattâ€™s Sheriff taking action. Today this type of action is far past being discouraged; only the government is allow to dictate punitive action. The collective must now grit its teeth, puts is head down, and hope for the best. Even when self, family, or friends are threatened the â€œapprovedâ€ action is to hide, call the police, and hope they act before too many people are injured. I know, I know this is far too animalistic for todayâ€™s society, but it can work as long as the collective has good moral character. After all isnâ€™t this what trial by jury was supposed to be, a collective determining if an individualâ€™s actions were within the collective acceptable norm. As enforcing good moral behavior is discouraged, those acting outside the norm have a reduced fear of repercussion, and may even perceive acting outside the norm as their one chance to achieve, in their perspective, social greatness.