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Back in the Stone Age when I went to college, the professors wrote on either whiteblackboard or projector. Most of us had to go to the Computer Lab to type/print papers, our dormitory rooms had walls of Early American concrete and high cuisine was having a hot pot in those rooms. There was one thing we didn't have that seems to be making its way into contemporary collegiate life: trigger warnings before some classes. I don't know what I think about these yet, so follow me below the orange squiggle of knowledge and muse together,  after a word from our sponsor ...

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Both the New York Times and NPR's On Point addressed trigger warnings recently. Tom Ashbrook, On Point's host, said:

Should college student assigned “The Great Gatsby” be forewarned that it contains scenes of “gory, abusive, misogynistic violence”?  Should undergrads reading “Huckleberry Finn” get a boldprint warning label of racism – and permission to duck it?  A new push on college campuses is calling for “trigger warnings” up front on potentially disturbing readings and more.
As I understand it, the idea is for professors to give warnings before "sensitive" issues such as rape, war, violence, racism, etc are broached in class in order to prevent "triggering" people who may have been traumatized. Combat veterans, rape or abuse survivors, anyone for whom such topics could cause upset or trigger PTSD symptoms.

At first glance, this seems like a very good thing. Preventing those who continue to deal with the aftereffects of violence from having to cover the topics without advance notice sounds like a great way to foster a sense of safety for everyone, right? I can't imagine

Now imagine you're Joe Adjunct Professor teaching an English literature class, or World History 1900-1945, or Psychology 241, The Psychology of Power. Because you really want your reviews to show you as the kind of faculty Prestigious U wants to retain, do you risk upsetting your students with something potentially "trigger-worthy"? If so, how do you decide what is or is not warnable material? Is teaching Evolution in Geology class going to give Miss MyDaddySaysEvolutionIsTheDevil'sWork the vapors? Will a course on Human Sexuality need to include an opt-out clause for those who believe teaching about sexuality goes against their religion?

Please don't get me wrong... I don't want people traumatized, and I think general advisory notes in the course descriptions when it's not obvious that materials or topics may evoke strong feelings in some individuals. But here and now today, the thought of providing explicit content warnings at the collegiate level feels like trying to shield adults (yes adults, even if they've been helicopter parented by Mama Grizzly Bears) from life. My college classes challenged my beliefs on, well... everything. Walking into a class where the day's material covered intense topics was an important part of learning. Had each day come with a list of warnings, I feel that for me much of the impact of that material would have been blunted.

People can't be shielded forever from life. We protect our children from disturbing images and material because they are not yet at a stage where critical reasoning and abstract thinking are developed enough to allow proper processing. Yet even by high school, youth are being challenged to read and consider serious issues via literature, film and other methods.

This year, K1 and the other sophomores read Night, by Elie Wiesel. The book is set in in a Nazi concentration camp and reading it was an intense emotional experience for K1 and her friends. While I got a list of material to be covered at Open House in September, no specific information on this or any other book to be read was given, and I'm OK with that. I am aware of the luxury of thought I have because my family was not affected directly by the Holocaust. Had it been, I might have felt differently about my child reading this book. However, we can't protect our children as adults from these things forever.

What are your thoughts on trigger warning implementation in colleges? Are they good, or do they threaten free speech and the educational experience? Should college be a Designated Safe Space or an Emotional Experience Zone? Do you see a potential for misuse, or can the desire to allow those who need advance notice to participate fully coexist with academic free speech?

The floor is open, let's discuss! But first, let's not forget why we're really here, and peruse the Three Tops, graciously formatted by BeninSC:

Brillig's ObDisclaimer: The decision to publish each nomination lies with the evening's Diarist and/or Comment Formatter. My evenings at the helm, I try reeeeallllyy hard to publish everything without regard to content. I really do, even when I disagree personally with any given nomination. "TopCommentness" lies in the eyes of the nominator and of you, the reader - I leave the decision to you. I do not publish self-nominations (ie your own comments) and if I ruled the world, we'd all build community, supporting and uplifting instead of tearing our fellow Kossacks down.

From CDH in Brooklyn:
This comment by aisb23 in the afterglow of the PA Marriage Equality decision nearly made me santorum my pants!
From aoeu:
A fine response from raptavio.
From Steveningen:
In my diary Tony Perkins' reaction to Pennsylvania marriage equality ruling is comedy gold, Eric Nelson expounds on dogma and the utter failings of those who have used it to their own end.
From Paul1a :
This comment by BbvueDem is as hysterically funny as it is insightful. (I suspect it took a lot more work to create than at first appears.) It's a reminder about language, that using insular discourse within a small clique can damage one's ability to communicate well with a larger public.

(Ed. note: I have never seen a comment like that one, either! EVER!)

From Pam from Calif:
Friend of the court has a perfect response for an idiotic tweet from Pat Sajak.

(This comment was also 'flagged' by julesrules39, but Pam from Calif's direct submission is even better! Most appreciated!)

From Yours Truly, brillig:
In Hunter's Chipotle asks customers to not wave guns around their stores, causing gun nuts to threaten boycott, jfromga brings up the no guns in gun shops tendency. Please also make sure to note and make viral by frequent use Hunter's definition of GUNS as prosthetic genitalia.

NedSparks starts a great thread on what Christie's motivation may be in reducing state pension fund payments to make up for a budget shortfall.

Top Mojo for yesterday, May 19th, first comments and tip jars excluded. Thank you mik for the mojo magic! For those of you interested in How Top Mojo Works, please see his diary FAQing Top Mojo.
  1) Every so often the mask drops for these people by Dartagnan — 130
  2) How the bankers avoided the... by reflectionsv37 — 128
  3) I'm reading Matt Taibbi's new book by Dallasdoc — 125
  4) Eichenwald's last paragraph: by Dartagnan — 102
  5) Well if you examine the results of the Bernie by EliseMattu — 95
  6) The NRA sells freedom by crystal eyes — 95
  7) I commend their call for non-violent protest. by AlyoshaKaramazov — 91
  8) They avoided the pitchforks by snoopydawg — 89
  9) That is amazing! by Colorado is the Shiznit — 87
10) Hmmm... by Pluto — 87
11) I asked a reasonable question in Armando's diary, by PhilJD — 84
12) Great post Bobswern. Did Geithner also just take by HoundDog — 83
13) BRAVO! by Richard Lyon — 80
14) Great diary. by SpecialKinFlag — 79
15) I have yet to see any one of these lunatics by AnitaMaria — 77
16) The question of who is the site's own by Richard Lyon — 73
17) Another Obama pick off of Wall Street by Lefty Coaster — 73
18) bit offthread but I have mentioned several by entlord — 73
19) Cue Jake Blues. by Railfan — 71
20) excellent diary... by joe shikspack — 70
21) Nice tag by angel d — 70
22) It's putting a head on a pike. by Richard Lyon — 69
23) Excellent. by DeadHead — 68
24) Yup excellent diary by Jarrayy — 67
25) ROTFL!! by Colorado is the Shiznit — 67
26) He's not a nice person? by psychodrew — 66
27) Don't forget JANE!! by Tool — 66
28) Re: Poll by bisleybum — 66
29) Exactly, what these people do everytime by angel d — 65
30) 5 court orders by Jeanniebeannie — 65
2014-05-19 Top Comments with Pictures, courtesy of jotter!

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