Trigger Warnings (Not what I thought they were)

I read an article about the 248th Brown University Commencement and learned something new. (http://www.providencejournal.com/news/20160529/brown-university-commencement-a-force-to-be-reckoned-with)

One of the commencement speakers, Sabrina Imbler, in touting the accomplishments of the Class of 2016, pointed to their demand for “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” as a significant accomplishment.

Here’s a definition I found for safe spaces,

“…anyone can relax and be able to fully express, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe on account of biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, cultural background, religious affiliation, age, or physical or mental ability…” (http://safespacenetwork.tumblr.com/Safespace)

I thought that was the guarantee of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights?

There are those who disagree with others by the use of threats and intimidation. The Constitution and the law are there to prohibit that. It is the foundation of this country.

If the reality doesn’t match the ideal, shouldn’t pursuing it be our goal?

Safe spaces do not bring us closer to the ideal. They are the equivalent of burying one’s head in the sand.

Yet, the Class of 2016 is proud about convincing the school to create these safe spaces. Available, of course, only to Brown students. Sort of a private safe club.

Apparently irony is lost on them. As is reality.

It would be better if they set out to be the example for others. Demonstrate tolerance in their daily interactions, not save it for display in a space barred to keep out the rest of the (real) world. That would be a worthy accomplishment.

Trigger Warnings were new to me. So I did some research. Here’s a definition,

…a statement at the start of a piece of writing, video, etc., alerting the reader or viewer to the fact that it contains potentially distressing material (often used to introduce a description of such content). (http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/trigger-warning)

Originally intended to warn sexual-assault victims that certain writings, which detailed other victim’s experiences, could trigger traumatic memories. Certainly a worthy goal and yet now twisted into something else.

It’s become a rating system for classes that may make you question your beliefs. “Warning this class may challenge your naiveté. You may realize you are misinformed or worse. Attendance may cause you to learn something.”

Now, course content which may clash with a student’s political, religious, or other beliefs must contain warnings that someone might disagree with them.

Are you kidding me?

I disagree with them. This is nonsense. I would expect someone will disagree with me on this article. I don’t fear their disagreement, I welcome it.

I might learn something.

I know full well violence is how some irrational people deal with those who hold a different perspective. But legitimate debate from differing perspectives is not a risk to a complete education, it is a key element of it.

On this Memorial Day, we remember the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for this country. Willing to die to uphold the ideals of this great nation, they paid the tab for the Bill of Rights.

There were no signs on the beaches of Normandy, “Warning. Soldiers with a different perspective ahead who may strongly object to your presence. Seek a safe place.”

We are not a perfect nation.

We have not yet fully achieved the goals of the founders.

The sad state of affairs in this country is, in the eyes of many, not all are created equal or entitled to the same respect.

We let our differences cloud our commonality as Americans and as human beings.

These attitudes arise from ignorance. An ignorance that, if left insulated from debate and criticism, persists. If part of that means making someone feel uncomfortable about their cherished beliefs, so be it.

If the Class of 2016, after four years of study, is proud of successfully demanding “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” but not of helping chip away at the very attitudes they most fear, then they have not been well-served by Brown University.

I disagree with your point, dear speaker, get over it.

Joe Broadmeadow, of Lincoln, is an author and a retired captain in the East Providence Police Department.

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About Joe Broadmeadow

Joe Broadmeadow retired with the rank of Captain from the East Providence Police Department after serving for 20 years. He is the author of the novels Collision Course, Silenced Justice, and Saving the Last Dragon available on Amazon in print and Kindle. Joe is working o the latest in a series of Josh Williams and Harrison "Hawk" Bennett novels and a sequel to Saving the Last Dragon. In 2014 Joe completed a 2,185 mile thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail
This entry was posted in Mind Wanderings, Serious Thoughts and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Trigger Warnings (Not what I thought they were)

  1. Gina says:

    Nothing irks me more than the pompous, self-righteous babble of Brown commencement speakers. Well said Joe, “get over it”.

  2. Karen says:

    Trigger warning? Why go to college if you aren’t willing to open your mind to other points of view. Sound like an excuse for a priveleged perspective.

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