Can it be they are considering putting what amounts to warning labels on literature? This comes from a piece this week by Conservative columnist, Rich Lowery, who by the way I would not consider an irresponsible “bomb-thrower: or even a reactionary. I would say he’s very much a deliberative columnist. He wrote this piece, titled, “Warning: Literature Ahead” taken here from National Review Online.
The latest politically correct fashion on college campuses is just insipid enough to catch on.
It is the so-called trigger warning applied to any content that students might find traumatizing, even works of literature. The trigger warning first arose on feminist websites as a way to alert victims of sexual violence to possibly upsetting discussions of rape (that would “trigger” memories of their trauma) but has gained wider currency.
I guess it arose innocuously enough, but now taken to the academic level, it amounts to putting warning labels on every work of literature.
The student government of the University of California, Santa Barbara, passed a resolution calling for professors to include trigger warnings in their syllabi. The New York Times reports that students at schools from the University of Michigan to George Washington University have requested the warnings. A student at Rutgers University proposed a trigger warning for The Great Gatsby about “a variety of scenes that reference gory, abusive, and misogynistic violence” (not to mention binge drinking, reckless driving, profligate spending, and gross social climbing).
I think that last parenthetical comment is Lowery just being snarky. But whoa. Are they kidding me?
Yes, the Chinua Achebe anti-colonial novel Things Fall Apart is a “triumph of literature that everyone in the world should read,” according to the guide. But there’s a downside — it could “trigger readers who have experienced racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide, and more.”
I don’t know if I should laugh or cry. This is absolutely absurd. This is the Nanny State taken to the ultimate, idiotic conclusion. College students don’t crumble if they are exposed to real life drama. They are adult enough to be given be given free contraception, practically induced to go have sexual experiences, and abortions without any parental consent if they get pregnant, but they are not old enough to read works of literature without some inane warning label?
Lowery then goes on to imagine what warning labels would go with Tony Morrison’s Beloved, Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, Virgil’s The Aeneid, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, William Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner, William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huck Finn. You can go over and read it.
What I’d like to do now is celebrate this battiness by having a little fun and come up with my own warning labels for some classic works. How about…
Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote: Warning, possible trigger for those suffering with mental delusions and pudgy sidekicks who just won’t leave.
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations: Warning, possible trigger for orphans, children who suffered from abusive stepmothers, jilted fiancés, and rejected lovers.
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary: Warning, possible trigger for cuckold husbands and lonely wives who read erotic Romance novels.
William Shakespeare, King Lear: Warning, possible trigger for those suffering from domestic, elderly abuse and those who have had their eyes plucked out.
D. H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers: Warning, possible trigger for boys with domineering mothers and who have had girlfriends that try to pry them from their parents.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: Warning, possible trigger for those tempted by satanic wishes.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov: Warning, possible trigger for those who have been wrongly accused of patricide and those who are profligate with their money.
George Orwell, 1984: Warning, possible trigger for those who get cold sweats thinking that Big Brother Government is trying to manipulate your minds, such as in these asinine warning labels.