For John, BLUF: You know, there are just some topics that can't be mentioned around some people. Nothing to see here; just move along.
TRIGGER WARNING—Reading this blog post may cause the empathetic to blow a fuse.
Growing out of small movements on a number of college campuses we have the new "Trigger Warning" movement. Students wish to be warned if some assignment will include viewing material that might trigger strong emotions. An example cited in a recent article in The Atlantic is a victim of rape reading Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles.♠ The person, previously raped, felt traumatized by the incidents in the novel.
Blogger and Law Professor Ann Althouse takes this issue on at this post. Ms Althouse quotes the last paragraph of the above mentioned Atlantic article.
Flannery O’Connor—a writer whose works are rife with warning label-worthy violence—famously said that sentimentality always leads to the gas chamber. Without any external anchor in law, mores, or trusted guides—or any openness to being challenged in one’s thinking—empathy turned inward will lead each of us to our individual prisons of the self.It is fair to say, I believe, that showing too much deference to the fears and phobias of others will provide a very limited and stunted society. While some consideration must be given for the sensitive, by and large we need to face reality as it is, and as it is portrayed in art. I am not made stronger by being shielded from a naked Madonna (no, not THAT Madonna) or the Piss Christ. Nor am I necessarily edified by such works. But, no one person, or no group of people should be allowed to be the standard by which we judge the visions (and art work) of others. That is a point lost on those who would censor speech in all its forms.
Hat tip to Ann Althouse.
Regards — Cliff
♠ I have to admit to never having read Tess of the D’Urbervilles, so I haven't been traumatized by it.