Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

‘Trigger warnings’ shackle free flow of ideas vital to higher education

July 3, 2014 by DONALD A. DOWNS

 — Free-speech controversy is riveting higher education again. Major schools recently dis-invited graduation speakers whom activists deemed “improper” to their notions of justice. And many institutions have begun formally to institute – or consider instituting – “trigger warnings.”

“Trigger warnings” are verbal or written warnings instructors provide about material that might trigger “trauma” in students who have experienced or witnessed traumatic events, including forms of assault and war, and are sensitive about such topics as race, gender, sexual orientation, colonialism and imperialism – to name a few.

The humane case for trigger warnings is that they allegedly help protect students from re-experiencing the past trauma, which can emotionally harm the student and interfere with his or her ability to learn.

What could be wrong with that? Warnings might make outright censorship less likely, much like the movie industry avoided government censorship by agreeing to use ratings labels for films. This could even enhance freedom of inquiry while protecting emotional wellbeing. And have not many instructors quietly and informally engaged in such practice in the past?

Alas, many substantial problems lurk just beneath the surface – especially when one considers the intellectual climate at many colleges and universities, of which the fate of recent graduation speakers is symptomatic. Let me touch on a few.

read full article: ‘Trigger warnings’ shackle free flow of ideas vital to higher education

censorship, children, education, freedom, ideology, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, political correctness, public policy, relativism, victimization

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Filed under: censorship, children, education, freedom, ideology, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, political correctness, public policy, relativism, victimization

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