Robby Soave of The Daily Caller dissects recent New York Times coverage of the debate over college “trigger warnings.”
Trigger warnings–the authoritarian left’s latest attempt to patrol speech at college campuses–have been on the radar of civil libertarians for some time, but now even The New York Times is upset about them.
In a news article titled, “Warning: The Literary Canon Could Make Students Squirm,” NYT writer Jennifer Medina bemoaned that students at many campuses are eager to force professors to post warning labels on their syllabi. …
… The idea behind trigger warnings is to protect students who may suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. But since anything and everything could trigger a PTSD person, designing a suitably accommodating set of warnings is futile–and even dangerous, said Marc Blecher, an Oberlin College professor and vocal opponent of trigger warnings.
“If I were a junior faculty member looking at this while putting my syllabus together, I’d be terrified,” said Blecher in a statement. “Any student who felt triggered by something that happened in class could file a complaint with the various procedures and judicial boards, and create a very tortuous process for anyone.”
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has long complained that trigger warnings serve an anti-educational purpose, because they shield students from controversial and offensive ideas. But the very purpose of higher education is to provoke discussion and examination of controversial subjects, said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff.
“It is only going to get harder to teach people that there is a real important and serious value to being offended,” said Lukianoff in a statement. “Part of that is talking about deadly serious and uncomfortable subjects.”
Student leaders, however, increasingly support making it harder to teach controversial subjects to their easily offended peers.
The story reminds this observer of Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger’s recent assertion that “America’s colleges and universities have finally descended into lunacy.”