Trigger Warnings and the Assumption of Fragility

Readers – –This bhkdfdryek
is an amazing article from The New Republic by Jenny Jarvie
about a phenom called “trigger warnings” — warnings written on blog posts and, increasingly, everywhere else, that tell folks that the material they’re about to read may “trigger” awful thoughts:

Initially, trigger warnings were used in self-help and feminist forums to help readers who might have post traumatic stress disorder to avoid graphic content that might cause painful memories, flashbacks, or panic attacks.

But they kept spreading, and now:

Last week, student leaders at the University of California, Santa Barbara, passed a resolution urging officials to institute mandatory trigger warnings on class syllabi. Professors who present “content that may trigger the onset of symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” would be required to issue advance alerts and allow students to skip those classes…. [Elsewhere]  Warnings have been proposed even for books long considered suitable material for high-schoolers: Last month, a Rutgers University sophomore suggested that an alert for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby say, “TW: suicide, domestic abuse and graphic violence.”

How does this have anything to do with Free-Range Kids?

We are constantly fighting the belief that kids are in danger from everything: “Creeps, kidnapping, germs, grades, flashers, frustration, failure…”And yet, the assumption of fragility pervades our culture, from infrared monitors to watch baby at night — as if SLEEPING is dangerous — to now these warnings on college classes, as if THINKING, or even having a MISERABLE MOMENT is dangerous.

On this blog and in my speeches, I always try to explain that it’s not a million individuals who have suddenly decided to frantically helicopter parent, it’s a society TELLING us that if we DON’T supervise every afternoon at the park, our kids will be snatched, just as surely as if we don’t buy the latest educational toy, or serve exactly the right food, or enroll our kids in the very best program, they’ll end up stunted, illiterate, unloved and unemployable. But the real danger is this:

 By framing more public spaces, from the Internet to the college classroom, as full of infinite yet ill-defined hazards, trigger warnings encourage us to think of ourselves as more weak and fragile than we really are. 

Fight the assumption of fragility. Be strong!  – L.  

Now THIS lady could use a Trigger warning.

Now THIS lady could use a Trigger warning.

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172 Responses to Trigger Warnings and the Assumption of Fragility

  1. BL March 5, 2014 at 8:51 am #

    They’re going to have to call them something other than “trigger” warnings. “Trigger” is a part of a gun, after all. Saying or writing the word “trigger” is almost the same as shooting someone.

  2. Peter March 5, 2014 at 8:57 am #

    I have to assume that none of these college kids listen to any popular music recorded in the last 20 years. Blurred Lines needs a trigger warning.

  3. SOA March 5, 2014 at 9:04 am #

    Oh Lord. So now we get to let people out of attending class if something might be harsh. There goes proper learning of History then because History in its proper form is very harsh. As a History major I know first hand. Nothing makes me madder than seeing people glossing over actual History to make it more PC or offensive. You can’t change the actual facts!

    Sorry but we are going too over the top with this. Because people will take advantage of it and be like “I was almost raped once I am not coming to class” and then get away with blowing off class with a handy dandy excuse.

  4. M March 5, 2014 at 9:05 am #

    I have PTSD and while certain common occurrences do trigger flashbacks, the culture of trigger warnings has reduced sufferers to fragile mental cases who can’t handle the real world. The whole point of recovery is learning to live with the world–a world that may be frightening or triggering. Avoidance is not the answer. After all, triggers are so diverse that if we somehow caught all of them, we couldn’t write a single word.

    PTSD sufferers can and do thrive beyond their trauma, and we need to let them.

  5. Powers March 5, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    Lenore, you’re way way way off base here. PTSD is a real phenomenon. Just because we never realized how many scenarios can produce PTSD in the first place, and trigger its effects years afterward, doesn’t mean it’s some new fragility that has only cropped up in the last several years.

    The difference is that people with PTSD in the past — before it was recognized as PTSD — either had to live life in constant fear or get locked away at home or in an institution for their own safety. Is there anything free-range about either of those options? Surely that’s not the place you want to go back to.

  6. lollipoplover March 5, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    The problem is what we consider PTSD. It is a very real syndrome (ask any war veteran or sexual assault victim) yet nowadays it is diagnosed for just about anything.

    Heck, I could probably could get diagnosed PTSD (and get a script from my doctor) for this horrible winter we’ve had. It’s like The Shining here…trapped indoors with children and dogs that get indoor zoomers, all of us with severe cabin fever, watching ridiculous amounts of bad Disney channel shows, grateful to have power but wanting to take an axe to the TV. Just the theme songs from shows like “Jessie” and “Dog with a Blog” could be my triggers. No, it doesn’t feel like a party every day, hey Jessie. It feels like another [email protected] snow day every day.

  7. Steve Cournoyer March 5, 2014 at 9:26 am #

    “They’re going to have to call them something other than “trigger” warnings. “Trigger” is a part of a gun, after all. Saying or writing the word “trigger” is almost the same as shooting someone.”…… are kidding I hope

  8. BL March 5, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    @Steve Cournoyer
    “you are kidding I hope”

    I am. But I suspect there are people who would say the same thing, and aren’t kidding.

  9. Warren March 5, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    Sorry, if something at college, or anywhere is to traumtic for you, then go cry in your bedroom, and leave the world alone. If things are still triggers, then go get help dealing with them. Do not expect the world to hold your hand for the rest of your life.

    Grow up, get over it, suck it up, and move on.

  10. FreedomForKids March 5, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    @BL: I laughed SO HARD at your comment “Saying or writing the word “trigger” is almost the same as shooting someone”! I understood it because I read this blog. Thanks for making my day!

  11. gap.runner March 5, 2014 at 9:47 am #

    Truth really is stranger than fiction. Just when I think it can’t be any crazier in the States, I read articles like this.

    Here is something that would not fly in the States…Part of the 9th grade history curriculum in the part of Germany where I live is a trip to Dachau. Students are required to go on this trip. On the permission slip there was a sentence about talking to your children if you feel they may be upset, but they are still expected to go. I can imagine Stateside parents trying to find ways to excuse their little Snowflakes from that trip.

    Some of the other things in German schools would require warnings in the States like: teachers using red pens to correct work, most of the topics in history and Latin class, and some of the books that my son has read for both his German and English classes. My son’s German teacher chooses some rather gruesome literature for the class to read because he doesn’t believe that life is all hearts, flowers, and happy endings. I can only imagine US helicopter parents coming after him with pitchforks and torches for making his students read books that could potentially upset them.

  12. Andy March 5, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    Yep, it is thing now. There has already been few “scandals” over this and related issues. I have seen it come up only in female vs male context.

    If you disagree with whatever they say, then you are labeled misogynist. Then of course trolls and real misogynist join the discussion and it all becomes messy.

    Organizers of tech conferences were beaten hard for just allowing offtopic talk about sex and drugs Apparently, it harms women, never mind women was supposed to give that talk.

    I’m kind of happy I see complain about it here, cause I started to doubt myself. I found myself disagree with “feminist” side in each controversy and I considered myself not to be misogynist.

  13. Hayley March 5, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    I’m a huge fan of your blog and your approach generally, which is why I am sad to see this argument here.

    Your perspective – raising kids – is not the only way to view trigger warnings. I very much respect the goal of not treating people as presumptive victims. However, we need to keep in mind that there are many actual survivors of actual trauma among us, and their lives are plenty difficult already without ambushing them with things that could (at best) really ruin their day.

    I would be interested in your response to the article this quote is from:

    To say, “I was triggered” is not to say, as it is frequently mischaracterized, “I got my delicate fee-fees hurt.” It is to say, “I had a significantly mood-altering experience of anxiety.” Someone who is triggered may experience anything from a brief moment of dizziness, to a shortness of breath and a racing pulse, to a full-blown panic attack.Speaking about trigger warnings as though they exist for the purposes of indulging fragile sensibilities fundamentally misses their purpose: To mitigate harm.

  14. Hayley March 5, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    The article that quote is from: … sorry I didn’t get it in there, I thought I would get the chance to edit/preview.

  15. Warren March 5, 2014 at 10:52 am #

    The students want to opt out of classes due to content?

    The moment they do that, fail them. Teach them that life is not the cushy cushy world the Disney Channel makes it out to be.

    You want a college degree, then earn it. You study all the material, not just the material you want. And if you cannot handle it, go work in fast food.

  16. Andrew March 5, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    I wonder: can someone be “triggered” by reading a trigger warning?

  17. Andrew March 5, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    Trigger warning: trigger warnings, questions, history, memory, coincidence

    When were trigger warnings invented? I can’t revall ever hearing about them before this week, but now this is about the second or third time they have come up.

  18. marie March 5, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    Hayley and Powers, Lenore isn’t trying to dispute the existence of PTSD or minimize its effects. She is saying that we should expect sufferers to know best how to handle triggers they encounter, just as we expect diabetics to know whether they should eat the cupcake or not. The warnings imply that we know they won’t be able to handle what’s coming at them. That seems less than respectful.

  19. Andrew March 5, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    Trigger warning: trigger warnings, questions, history, memory, coincidence

    When were trigger warnings invented? I can’t recall ever hearing about them before this week, but now this is about the second or third time they have come up.

  20. Andrew March 5, 2014 at 11:07 am #

    Trigger warning: apologies, mistakes, humility, spelling

    Oh, sorry about the double post. Perhaps Lenore can delete the first one with its typo.

  21. SKL March 5, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    Trigger? What’s a trigger? Oh wait, isn’t that part of a GUN? Are we still allowed to say that?!?! Especially considering what it rhymes with. N- (I know some of you might be too young to know that “N-word” rhymes with “trigger” because you’ve never actually heard the N-word either)…..

    But back to the topic – I think they should ban the word “trigger” because it’s a trigger for gun fears. (And for people who are really, really sensitive to the N-word.)

  22. Coasterfreak March 5, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    Wait a minute…if people are that fragile, wouldn’t simply the words “trigger warning” cause panic? “OMG, there’s a trigger warning! *I* have triggers because of ! Memories conjured! PANIC ATTACK!”

    Like, for instance, the article mentions the use of abbreviations to indicate what triggers may be present (like SI for Self Injury). Wouldn’t simply seeing a warning about Self Injury content conjure up memories of the dark period during which a person intentionally injured themselves and cause pain and panic?

    I am not trying to minimize the seriousness of PTSD, but it would seem to me that there is no way to completely avoid triggers without completely censoring everything of all possible triggers, so that no warning would be necessary. Since that is impossible, I would think the more logical approach would be to counsel people with PTSD to be able to deal with their triggers. You know, like we teach our children to deal with things like disappointment and failure. (and yes, I realize counseling doesn’t always cure the problem)

    Plus, I think it’s a disservice to people who have PTSD to be categorizing every little thing that could bring up an unpleasant memory as PTSD.

  23. Hayley March 5, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    Here’s a similar perspective on a related issue: Please don’t make that gesture.

    I think PTSD sufferers have enough to deal with already, and I’m sensitive enough to take an extra step to mitigate any harm I may cause them in the future.

  24. Juventina Napoleão March 5, 2014 at 11:30 am #

    These “trigger warning” people don’t want to stop at making you warn others, they actively want to shut down discussion they don’t agree with. In other words, they are book burners and we must stand firm against them.

    Last year, Valerie Aurora of the Ada Foundation convinced a technical conference in San Francisco to shut down author Violet Blue’s presentation because it may have contained sexy material that radical feminists don’t want anyone to hear.

    Down with book burners!

  25. SKL March 5, 2014 at 11:38 am #

    Speaking of censorship of certain “trigger” topics, the “Holocaust” comes to mind. Nobody is allowed to ever make any kind of comparison to what the Nazis did (or use the word Nazi), unless every person reading it agrees with the writer’s opinion. If you do, the actual conversation will shut down and the thread will turn to the topic of what a rotten person you are for belittling that tragedy. But of course it is OK to use the word / comparison if your readers agree with you.

  26. Steve March 5, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    Nobody can be absolutely certain about what will or won’t trigger somebody else. Each person’s background programs them for how they will respond to something.

    This idea of trigger warnings sounds like what I’ve been reading in
    books about life in Red China under Mao. And we’re more than halfway there. Read WILD SWANS by Jung Chang. It will change how you perceive what is happening in this country. In fact a lot of what we talk about here deals with our society being unwilling to allow individuals to make personal choices. And it’s a very serious concern for a supposedly free society.


    Regarding PTSD

    I find it fascinating that even though we have the internet and quick ways of finding new information, the general populace, including people here on this blog, apparently don’t realize that PTSD can be taken care of rather easily these days without medication. And I’m talking about lasting relief for very very serious abuse and war trauma. A number of modalities work well: EMDR, TFT, BSFF. But the one I use with my clients is Emotional Freedom Techniques, better known as EFT.

  27. lollipoplover March 5, 2014 at 12:06 pm #


    “I think PTSD sufferers have enough to deal with already, and I’m sensitive enough to take an extra step to mitigate any harm I may cause them in the future.”

    What extra steps would you take to help Keisha’s mother, who checked into rehab for treatment of PTSD?

    And what triggers would need to be avoided around her? Refrigerators? Pressure on her daughter?

    I respect those who have been through a trauma and are healing, I do. But we cannot eliminate every uncomfortable thought, *pressure*, or trigger.

  28. maggie March 5, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

    As an ADULT, she was capable of walking out if she felt uncomfortable. As adults, we all have

    Yes, PTSD is a real condition. But so is OCD, depression, and anxiety. My mom had all 3 and needed accommodations. That doesn’t mean everyone and everything and every place had to accommodate her mental illness. In fact, doing so only increased her OCD. Instead, we worked to stretch her boundaries and comfort zone. If we hadn’t, she would have locked herself in her room and eliminated most human contact.

  29. Claudia March 5, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    I’m not living with PTSD so I know I can’t comment from experience, but I do sometimes wonder if ‘trigger warning’ is overused, and sometimes people are using it in a bit of an attention seeking way ‘Hey everyone, I’m about to say something really serious and scary’

    I think M makes an important point that we mustn’t treat trauma sufferers as incapable of dealing with the real world.

    I’d be interested in whether there has been any research into this? Is there actually proof that traumatised people have suffered as a result of reading something that refers to similar trauma to their own? Can people who’ve experienced trauma not make a call and go ‘I’ll stop reading here’? I don’t mean that in a sarcastic way; I mean genuinely, is this based on any research?

  30. Papilio March 5, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    Yeah, and when I was a kid I got shot multiple times by my brother with a pretend gun consisting of his fingers…
    And now, reading this blog, I get traumatised every time I see that gosh darned gun-shaped capital at the end of each and every post! How DARE you not trigger warn me for that!!

  31. Donna March 5, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    I don’t negate the idea that there are things that victims of trauma would probably prefer not to see or read. Heck, there are things that I would prefer not to see or read and I am not suffering from PTSD or any other trauma-related issue. But if you are in that position, the onus is on YOU to identify them, not the world to try to guess what those things may be and alert you to them.

    If you have particular sensitivities, accept that you may not be able to take every class and then use to basic common sense when registering. Steer clear of classes that are highly likely to delve into topics sensitive to you. When you get a syllabus listing books the class will read, research them. Wikipedia is as in-depth as you will need to go for most major triggers. Then make the decision to either drop the class or explain the situation to your professor. If your film professor pops in A Clockwork Orange, leave the room and explain it to him later if you think you need to. The world need not be as complicated and full of drama as people want to make it.

    And I think that is what much of this is about. Drama. People pushing for things such as this don’t want to just avoid exposure; they want to do it with as much drama and attention as possible.

  32. Captain America March 5, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    I think back to when I was a kid at school, and the old expression, “sticks and stones can hurt my bones, but words will never kill me.”

    So much for free speech! Perchance you may “offend” someone and he falls over with a last gasp!

    AND of course, the more there are “speech codes” and such, the MORE MISperceptions and mistaken hard feelings get generated.

    Let’s hear it for the Thought Control Crowd! And their willing allies (anti-intellectual?) working in schools everywhere!

  33. LTMG March 5, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    Gazing into my crystal ball I see the California Assembly enacting a law requiring written warnings on all class syllabi and to be recited at the beginning of each class. This will work every bit as well as the Proposition 65 warnings that only benefited sign makers. Students of multivariate regression analysis will be confused by this warning causing severe angst and resulting in a sharp rise of visits to the university medical center and dependence on tranquilizers.

  34. Puzzled March 5, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    This is what is happening in education – it’s adopting a hodgepodge of ideas from other modalities (OT, psychology, counseling, etc.) without an understanding of the context, when they apply, and so on. It’s why teachers are all of a sudden being told to put velcro on the bottoms of desks – a tactic used in OT.

    The trouble is – not everyone who is in school, or who is having trouble in school, is sick. In fact, only a sick person can really tolerate a school, but that’s another matter. We’ve medicalized everything that goes on in school, so we need medical means to deal with them – but teachers and administrators don’t understand when those things make sense and when they don’t. Not all students have PTSD.

  35. John March 5, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    Many people here are joking about banning the word “trigger” because it just might imply a gun. Well, remember the Baltimore/Washington Bullets of the NBA? They got rid of their nickname and changed it to “Wizards” for that exact same reason. So the PC police eliminating the word “trigger” from our vocabulary may actually happen!

  36. Michelle March 5, 2014 at 1:28 pm #

    I don’t have PTSD, so maybe I don’t know. But I do suffer from pretty severe, often crippling, anxiety (and crippling depression caused by the anxiety). It sucks A LOT.

    Personally, I don’t want to live in a world where I can’t experience anything that causes me anxiety. That would be a boring, miserable world. At that point, I might as well just completely give in to my anxiety, because the world isn’t worth fighting through it.

    What I want is a world where nothing I experience causes me (pathological) anxiety. That means changing ME, not the world. That’s what I’ve been fighting to accomplish my entire adult life.

    I do appreciate when people are considerate of my anxiety (like the friend who checks on me every hour or so when we’re at a party, to make sure I’m not being overwhelmed). And sometimes I do hide away from the world when I can’t take it. But hiding the world FROM ME is the same as taking it from me, and that’s not helpful.

  37. SOA March 5, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    Coasterfreak nailed it. We are better off treating PTSD victims to learn to deal with their triggers rather then shield them from them. My Stepfather has severe PTSD from Vietnam. He functioned very well with it for most of his life but because he kinda was a workaholic and that kept it out of his mind. Then when he retired and got older and family members started dying and his health started failing it became completely debilitating. Now he spends his days huddled on a porch watching tv and that is about it.

    He can hardly go out in public. He has to sit facing a door at all times or he panics. Things like that. But we don’t expect the world to change for him whatsoever. We tell him either deal with it or stay at home. Because we and the rest of the world cannot 100% cater to that 100% of the time.

    So the best thing to do is get help to deal with the real world.

  38. Michelle March 5, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    Puzzled, velcro under desks? Explain.

  39. SOA March 5, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    Also Donna nailed it. Say you were raped and so you are in literature class. Make sure you research all the required reading to make sure none of it is about rape. If some is, then go to the professor and explain and I am sure they would be willing to give you another book to read or tell you its okay to skip that chapter or whatever. I think it can be handled much easier than what they are doing.

  40. mystic_eye March 5, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

    I guess as long as we can keep bashing rap music, and “Blurred Lines”, and demand more and more censorship of tv and movies then we’ll all be fine as long as no one takes away the ability to upset people with books and blog posts/sarcasm.

    You know what? I skipped Anne Frank in school, my grandfather’s ill advised descriptions of the holocaust when I as too young were enough. I’m not irreparably harmed by being offered the choice, my life is not any less rich for not having read that book, I’m not a holocaust denier or ignorant of the holocaust, and to be frank: had I been raised a holocaust denier it’s highly doubtful being forced to read the book would have helped.

    A trigger warning doesn’t take the choice away from people, it’s not prejudging them to be a victim, to be unable to take it, it’s simply offering them a choice. There’s nothing wrong with offering a choice. Yes, there are those that will abuse it to avoid everything, so they never have the chance to think and grow – the trade-off is the all too many people who have very negative memories from school from subjects taught to early, too graphically, too harshly, that have the potential to change how they feel about school, learning, or reading for a life-time.

    I think we should treat graphic content as graphic content – whether it’s in books or video games. I think we can be adaptive, responsive, and kind, without being overprotective of our children or coddling the “others” we perceive as weak. Some students may be ready to learn from the Great Gatsby in grade 10, maybe some others won’t be until later. Maybe the college kid that moved from a women’s shelter to the dorm isn’t, even though they could have read it in grade 10.

    It’s also not just about choosing not to read things, but it’s also about choosing when. Maybe someone would rather read the blog post with graphic violence at home, instead of on their lunch break, in case they need space. Maybe the college student struggling with domestic violence will do great with the material – but maybe doesn’t need to be around for the class where they may end up having to be advocate and educator (which gets tiring). Also, I’d like to remind everyone that college lectures generally aren’t mandatory to start with.

    It’s a lot easier to make choices when you have information, and I can easily find exactly how many times the word fuck is used in a movie and a description of every act of violence but it’s far less easy to discover if a book is appropriate for my kids. So yes, let’s have “trigger” warnings, or let’s call them something else, but why not subject books, articles, and blogs to the same ratings we use for movies, music, and video games.

  41. Warren March 5, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    NO NO NO.

    You take the course, you study the material like the rest of the class. If you are triggered by the material, get over it, or drop out. If professors and instructors have to start making exceptions and changes for everyone and their feelings, or mental disorders, you may as well close the college doors on alot of programs.

    Who wants a doctor who skipped classes because he or she was triggered by something?

    You want the education, you do the material. If you cannot handle it, then change courses.

    Sick and goddamned tired of every freaking group wanting exceptions and compromises made to accomodate them.

    It is about time these people were told to suck it up, because life ain’t easy.

  42. SOA March 5, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    No, because the professor could give them a much longer or harder book to read instead of that one and that way you know if they are really having a PTSD issue or just trying to get out of work. There are alternate assignments in college all the time for various reasons and I don’t have a problem with that.

    Warren you seem to think there should never be exceptions to rules but that is not how life works. A professor could say “No cell phones in class” but then allow one student to bring his since his wife is almost ready to give birth so she can call him if she goes into labor. There are exceptions and it would be up to the professor to decide whether they want to give them or not and I don’t have a problem with that. Especially because most professors don’t tolerate nonsense and they will make sure you are not taking advantage of them.

    It goes back to do you trust the professors/teachers to handle their own classroom or not?

  43. Donna March 5, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

    Mystic-eye – If you can’t figure out if a book is appropriate for your child via 5 minutes of research on the Internet, then you are not trying. That will tell you as muvh as any “trigger warning” or rating will tell you. The only thing that will tell you 100% is reading the book youraelf.

  44. Warren March 5, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

    Really, letting an expectant parent to carry a phone is the same as letting someone opt of of classes due to triggers?

    You are not comparing apples to oranges here, you are comparing apples to boulders. Way off.

    If you are to mentally disordered to handle the material, take a different course. Because if you cannot handle the material in class you are sure as hell not going to handle it out in the world.

    If things are triggers for you, then get some prof. help, and stop expecting the rest of the world to change for you.


  45. hineata March 5, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    @Hayley – had a look at the post you linked to, and I must be a really hard person, because I am blown away (oh, is that too much aligned with ‘trigger’) that one can align self-harm with PTSD. Maybe this woman’s self-harm is as a result of some traumatic incident (I confess I didn’t bother to read any more of her posts) in which case aligning it with PTSD might be appropriate, but if not, then the two are totally different issues.

    PTSD is a result of awful external stuff happening to a person – self-harm is related to hating oneself, which is sad, but not PTSD. And not doing silly slashed-wrist gestures because it might upset someone who doesn’t like themselves? What utter rubbish. Not doing slashed-throat gestures in front of a former inmate of Japanese or Korean POW camps – fine and humane. Not doing them in front of some
    poor person who, unknown to you, might not like themselves? Not so worried about that one.

    Must be becoming hardhearted…

  46. hineata March 5, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    Actually I probably have traumatised dozens of students. I frequently make the cut throat gesture to my kids when they aren’t behaving in a civilized manner, haven’t done their homework, etc.,etc. Probably throwing out ‘triggers’ everywhere.

    Good grief, can’t imagine why my students aren’t lying on the floor writhing in despair…. (well, some of them are, but that’s more to do with the inanity of some of the work I have to set them, rather than any PTSD ‘triggers’ in my words or actions, LOL!).

  47. hineata March 5, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

    @SKL – why did you mention triggers and guns, and then N* words? I had visions of the N word that rhymes with gun, the one that has traumatised thousands of young people over the years….. (sorry, Sister Julian, only joking!) 🙂

  48. Donna March 5, 2014 at 3:43 pm #


    People have opted out of parts of classes for as long as there have been classes. Full attendance is not mandatory in college. I ditched horror movie day of my film class in college because I detest horror movies. A few people opted out of watching A Clockwork Orange. The professor didn’t care.

    For the most part, we are talking about art classes – film, literature – not medical school. Nobody absolutely NEEDS to read a specific book or see a specific movie to get by in life. We all make choices on those things based on our own tastes. I can name hundreds of classics of both that I have never watched or read. Some I will one day, but many I will not. I am still able to function fully in society.

    So while I agree with you that you probably shouldn’t sign up for a human sexuality psychology course and expect the professor to just let you skip all the questions concerning pedophilia, rape, BDSM, etc. on the exam without penalty because you couldn’t read that material, it is no great accommodation to allow you to opt out of watching 1 of the 30+ movies viewed in whole or part during a semester. Nor do I think an unwillingness for any reason to watch 1 out of 30+ movies means that the entire class should be off limits. Literature class will depend on how focused the class is on that one book. If it is very incidental to the course, then who cares. If it is half the semester, you should probably take a different class.

  49. John March 5, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

    The “trigger” fear mentality, I believe, was the reason Penn State was stripped of all their victories dating back to 1998. Mainly because Joe Paterno coached them to all those victories. Since Mr. Paterno held the most wins of any D-1 coach, stripping Penn State of those wins would dethrone him of that title. So now, Jerry Sandusky’s victims would not have to hear Joe Paterno’s name mentioned as one of the most winningest collegiate coaches of all time.

    Of course, everybody here knows the story and controversy surrounding Joe Paterno in all this mess. Whether you agree with Mr. Paterno’s guilt in this matter or not (I personally believe it was greatly exaggerated), I think stripping him of those victories accomplishes NOTHING for Mr. Sandusky’s victims but is more a sign of vindictiveness instead. Jerry Sandusky is in jail for the rest of his rotten life and right where he belongs so let’s all be happy about that!

  50. Warren March 5, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

    Well Donna,

    Then you wimped out. Don’t like horror movies then don’t take classes that have that material. So you miss out on some of the material you do want to study.

    It is that sense of entitlement that is causing alot of the crap we see today. The whole yes I will take the course, but will only do the material I like, and still expect to get credit.

    Someone working for me wanted to opt out of something because of not liking it, or it being a trigger……they would find their ass out of work.

  51. Papilio March 5, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

    @Mystic Eye: Excuse me if I’m wrong – confession: I never read Het Achterhuis – but didn’t the holocaust part of Anne’s life start AFTER she stopped writing…?

  52. Owen Allen March 5, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    The photo and your caption gave me a great smile. And I also recognised that the woman is probably the horse trainer. Thus her arm up is Trigger’s cue to rear.
    As to the article. If someone or their friends believe they have anxiety disorder, an encouragement to professional intervention is very important, as the ‘looping’ effect of such anxiety makes it a constant dysfunctional state. Learning self management of being in front of ‘triggering’ material is more empowering than pre-empting what will trigger a person. My own anxiety triggers have sometimes been the simple raising of expectations by another. Emotional management and empowerment training is the key, not avoidance. While support is important (and don’t most of us need it?) avoidance would only be necessary for very unwell people and I think it would be doubtful such an unwell person would be able to fulfil academic learning requirements.

  53. BL March 5, 2014 at 5:57 pm #

    “didn’t the holocaust part of Anne’s life start AFTER she stopped writing”


  54. Papilio March 5, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

    (Wow, I hope that Krystin girl will find out some day that future employers read social media too…)

  55. BL March 5, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

    (trigger warning – unfindable name reference)

    “(Wow, I hope that Krystin girl will find out some day that future employers read social media too…)”

    Who’s Krystin? I don’t see that here or in the linked article, including comments.

  56. SOA March 5, 2014 at 7:04 pm #

    It goes back to do you trust professors to handle their own classes and use their own judgment on whether they allow students to opt out of certain things if it triggers their PTSD? I trust professors to be able to make rational decisions regarding that. If the assignment was a huge part of the course, then I could see the professor being like “No, this part is required for all students.” Or being like “Well this other book is just as good, you can read that one instead.”

    Let the professors run their own class as they see fit.

    I had a college professor hand me a short story to do a paper on and it was a certain short story I really just disliked. I had read it multiple times for school in high school and we went over it in class and I just was over it. I asked nicely if she did not mind letting me do another one because I was burned out on that story. If she said “No, you need to do this one.” I would have sucked it up and done it. But she used her judgment and said “Sure and handed me another one.” I don’t see the issue there.

    According to some of you though that professor sucked for running her own classroom according to her own judgment and not making every student do exactly as she tells them with no changes or alterations full stop. Which of course is ridiculous.

  57. Donna March 5, 2014 at 7:53 pm #

    Warren, it is very clear that you never attended college.

    It isn’t a matter of entitlement. It is just a fact that attendance isn’t graded in college, nor is completing assignments (except maybe labs). All that matters is your performance on exams or papers. Attending class and doing assignments certainly helps you with the exams and papers, but nobody makes you do those things and nobody cares if you don’t.

    So, no, a college professor doesn’t care if you ditch a particular class for any reason. He doesn’t even want to hear the reason. He couldn’t possibly care less if you ditched class because you didn’t want to watch Jason chop up people or because you wanted to get drunk with your buddies down by the river or because your grandmother died.

    And I got an A in the film class even though I didn’t watch the horror movies.

  58. Jen (P.) March 5, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

    @mystic_eye ***A trigger warning doesn’t take the choice away from people, it’s not prejudging them to be a victim, to be unable to take it, it’s simply offering them a choice. There’s nothing wrong with offering a choice. Yes, there are those that will abuse it to avoid everything, so they never have the chance to think and grow – the trade-off is the all too many people who have very negative memories from school from subjects taught to early, too graphically, too harshly, that have the potential to change how they feel about school, learning, or reading for a life-time.***

    Why should it be the professor’s responsibility to anticipate what might “trigger” unpleasant memories in some unknown student? Why shouldn’t it be the student’s responsibility to know what his or her triggers are and to investigate the course to find out if there’s likely to be a problem. A student whose mental health issues preclude even that should probably be focused on getting better instead of going to college anyway.

    One of Lenore’s mottos is that you can’t child-proof the world. Well you can’t PTSD-proof it either. There is no end to the list of subjects that would become taboo, and God forbid you miss one when preparing your syllabus.

    The drive in higher education to label everyone a victim and generate unnecessary drama never ceases to amaze. Perhaps tuition prices could come down if we got rid of the administrators who sit around dreaming this stuff up.

  59. Melissa March 5, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

    What ever happened to the idea of “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger“?

    The flip side of PTSD is called Post-Traumatic Growth. By shielding people from triggers, you’re denying them the opportunity for growth that comes from overcoming adversity.

    Instead of investing so much time and thought into shielding them from triggers, that effort would be better spent equipping them with the tools to change their trauma into a growth experience.

  60. Donna March 5, 2014 at 8:10 pm #

    My question is, who the heck is supposed to write the “trigger” warnings on the syllabus? Would a British literature professor be required to also become an expert on PTSD? Should all books and materials have to be passed through the psychology department to identify potential triggers?

  61. SOA March 5, 2014 at 9:08 pm #

    Not all professors don’t care about attendance. I had one professor who did most of my major classes and you lost points any time you missed a class. Don’t matter who died, who is in the hospital, whatever, you miss class, she docks your class participation grade which counts 15% of your final grade.

  62. Reziac March 5, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

    Lenore’s warnings aside… another issue with ‘trigger warnings’ is that increasingly they are used to silence speech that is about something disagreeable — or that the listener disagrees with. This has become very common on forums where the groupthink is geared toward political correctness (ie. “tolerance only for speech I agree with”).

    So not only must the PTSD sufferer be shielded from ‘triggers’, but also anyone who might want to suppress discussion or argument… EVEN IF THE WORD IS NOT A ‘TRIGGER’ FOR THEM.

    “M” is correct. You don’t develop tolerance (that is, become more able to cope) by avoiding the issue. You develop tolerance by facing the issue.

    [And yes, I do also mean ‘with respect to free speech’.]

  63. Reziac March 5, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

    Donna says, “It is just a fact that attendance isn’t graded in college,…”

    Not necessarily. When I was at university, I took several classes where chronic failure to attend was a flunking offense, regardless of your performance on exams. This was very common policy in the hard sciences and engineering departments.

  64. Nicole 2 March 5, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

    I was on one of the websites that started the trigger warnings (I actually chat-moderated there for a while). It was for survivors of sexual assault.

    At the time, and this was over 6 years ago, I stated on the group that I thought they were being misused. It was turning from warning people of graphic descriptions of assault and abuse to warning people of anything that might possibly be upsetting. Upsetting is not triggering. Triggering means it triggers symptoms of PTSD.

    It’s also worth noting that the point of therapy is to learn to cope with triggers. Because life is full of them, and avoidance usually just makes it worse.

  65. Warren March 5, 2014 at 9:52 pm #


    The reason alot of instructors/profs don’t give a rat’s ass about attendance, is because college students are supposed to be adults. And if they want to waste their time and money it is up to them.

    And yes it is a sense of entitlement. You feel you are entitled to opt out of things you don’t like, and you being a lawyer, at least you say you are, should know that is not how life works.
    Like I said, anyone that works for me wants to opt out for desire or trigger, can take option B……..out of work.

  66. Charla March 5, 2014 at 9:54 pm #

    Thanks for posting the great pic of Roy Rogers, his wife Dale Evans and Roy’s famous horse (or one of those so named) Trigger. They lived very near to me in a small town in the desert. The pic was probably taken on their property.

  67. Donna March 5, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

    SKL & Reziac –

    I can count on one hand with fingers left over the number of undergrad professors that I had that even bothered to take attendance, let alone did anything with it. Their stance was definitely “We are here to educate not babysit, so if you want to party instead of going to class, have at it, but don’t whine when you fail.”

    But if you do have a professor who takes attendance, you can still make decisions as to whether ditching is worth the consequence, regardless of the reason for the ditching. I have no problem with a student saying I would rather take whatever deduction is going to happen than watch a particular movie. I do have a problem with one who whines that they should get special treatment and not get the deduction for ditching because of a “trigger.”

  68. SKL March 5, 2014 at 10:16 pm #

    I’m not sure why Donna’s last post was aimed at me, but whatever.

    On the topic of grading attendance in college, profs have a lot of freedom. Many of them do indeed take the “you are an adult” position. Others do not. I remember one prof – the class was Art Survey (basically art history plus a few other things, all of which you could read in the textbook). The prof (part-time) was a laid-off high school art teacher, and he treated us like high school art students. Idiot. He graded attendance and had a lot of other ridiculous demands that had nothing to do with learning or demonstrating knowledge. And this was at a non-traditional campus where most of the students were significantly older than he was.

    And in my law school, attendance counted. Most teachers said on day 1 that attendance was 10% of the grade, presumably because there was a lot of classroom “discussion.” This one teacher, with whom I had a 7:30am class 4 days per week, would make a big show of it EVERY day, and when you walked in a few minutes late, she’d stop her lecture to write you down as tardy. And I can attest that the grades did reflect the fact that I am not a morning person. Blah.

  69. JP March 5, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

    Backwards thinking. No minority actually does nor should it rule the public sphere. The vast majority of people are still quite capable of handling the world as it is.
    Reducing this astounding human trait down to its lowest possible uncommon denominator presents the obvious conclusion: that we would willingly devolve as a species collectively, into our most fragile (or even, perceived – fragile state.)
    Should we ever actually manage to accomplish the above, I would dare say that as a species we would be incapable of taking care of ourselves – including anyone who possesses any disorder whatsoever.

  70. Donna March 5, 2014 at 10:37 pm #


    I don’t know what kind of 100% mandatory life you lead, but I definitely feel sorry for you if that is true. I can’t imagine having no options in life whatsoever.

    Personally, I opt out of things I don’t want to do all the time. In my personal and professional lives. It is the best part about being an adult and being essentially my own boss. There are certainly things in my life, personal and professional, that are important and can’t be avoided no matter how much I want to and things that aren’t and can easily be. A successful well-balanced life and career hinges on the ability to know the difference.

    Frankly, one random college class just isn’t important. If you can’t pass after ditching one class, you weren’t going to pass anyway. I’m just not going to worked up about a rape survivor not wanting to watch a movie in a film class depicting a graphic and brutal rape. Or, heck, any person not wanting to watch a movie depicting a graphic and brutal rape. Now if it starts being several classes and several movies, then there is a problem. (Although I have classes on my college transcript that I never attended between collecting the syllabus on the first day and the final exam so how much of a problem will depend on the class and the person).

  71. Donna March 5, 2014 at 10:51 pm #

    Law school attendance definitely counted to a certain extent. Most of my law school professors still didn’t actually take regular attendance, but if they called on you and you weren’t there, your grade was impacted.

    But my professors also weren’t completely rigid about it. My father was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died my 3rd year. My professors readily worked with me about missing classes. I was allowed to end an externship early to travel to FL to spend time with him before he died. I received tutoring for the classes I missed from a couple different professors. A previous professor volunteered to step in to be my advisor for independent study if I needed it. In my experience, most professors really are genuinely nice and willing to work with students who aren’t just blowing things off. I can’t imagine a single one of my professors in undergrad or law school who would not work around a legitimate issue.

  72. SKL March 5, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

    You know what’s a massive trigger that all kids are required to deal with every year? The MLK day lesson. The in-your-face reminder that not long ago, government institutions were set up to accommodate the prejudices of large populations, basically adjudicating the “fact” that people of color are inferior, stupid, filthy, evil, less than human, etc. Kids of color walk away from this thinking (subconsciously at least), “well, if practically everyone was OK with that, there must be some truth to it.” Or, “white people all hate us. Damn white people.”

    The other thing I have noticed since becoming an adoptive mom is how much great literature is about orphans and their f’d up beginnings. Kids’ movies, too. Every so often I see a “PSA” on the adoption forum about a movie that has an objectionable scene, such as the time one of the characters chose “you’re adopted” as an insult. “Tangled” had a scene that was a “trigger” for my normally very mellow daughter (then 4) – the scene where Rapunzel yells at the witch that “you’re not my real mother, you took me from my real parents and I’ll never speak to you again bla bla bla.” Due to my kid’s reaction, I had to ban that movie in my house for a long time. But that was a rare incident.

    Generally, we just read/watch stuff and talk about it if questions come up. It’s actually good to have a somewhat remote example to try out tough subjects. Like in The Ten Commandments, when Moses realized who his birth mother was, he was conflicted about how to think of both of his moms. I didn’t know this was coming, but when it came up I explained his dilemma in kid-friendly language and let my kids process it. No biggie.

  73. Jen (P.) March 5, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

    Not to stray too far off topic but attendance matters in law school because the ABA’s accreditation standards require it. I’ve taught as an adjunct and was required to keep attendance records that of course no one ever asked to see.

  74. SKL March 5, 2014 at 11:31 pm #

    I should tell you that the surname “White” is a trigger for my eldest. This is because the first time she played Clue, it was Mrs. White, in the kitchen, with the candlestick.

    From now on, I demand a trigger alert attached to anything containing the word “white.” Or “Weiss” or any other word, English or foreign, that could be related.

  75. Warren March 5, 2014 at 11:59 pm #

    Whatever Donna. You are so full of shit it your eyes are brown.

    How many attorney’s get to say no I won’t represent this offender? And if that happens regularly, the firm will definitely can their candy ass.

    Either do the course as it is laid out, or take your whining ass home and cry on Momma`s shoulder. It is time people toughened up, because as it stands the human race is only getting weaker and more timid. Donna is a prime example of that.

  76. SKL March 6, 2014 at 12:08 am #

    Warren, this is odd. You are usually the person saying you are going to do what YOU want and everyone else in the world can kiss your a$$ if they don’t like it. Now all of a sudden you are standing at attention waiting for the next order?

    If it’s true that you haven’t had a US college experience yourself, then why do you insist on telling US college graduates what US college is really like?

  77. bmj2k March 6, 2014 at 12:35 am #

    Wow, so what happens when the trigger warnings cause painful memories? “Oh my god, this trigger warning reminds me of the time I read The Great Gatsby and there was no trigger warning to save me!”

  78. caveat March 6, 2014 at 12:44 am #

    Speaking of trigger warnings who went and triggered Warren?

  79. lsl March 6, 2014 at 1:07 am #

    Oh, thinking IS dangerous, but mostly to those who wish to maintain the status quo. All the more reason to encourage it.

  80. Warren March 6, 2014 at 3:00 am #

    I have never said what college is really like in the US. Maybe had you gone, you would have understood that.

    And I have never said I do what I want when I want. I just do what I do, and do not give a rats ass what you think or feel about it.

    Also, I have always stuck to the ideal, that we have to stop accomodating, altering and changing for every freaking special interest whining group out there. And that includes those that want to do that to course material.

    So SKL, take your attitude and shove it up your ass.

  81. Andy March 6, 2014 at 3:32 am #

    @Warren Common, those movies are not that important. No one has to see them all. It is ok as long as you learn enough to pass exam, then it should be fine.

    I would skip Clockwork Orange in school too. Not because of violence, I have seen more disturbing movies. I would skip it cause it is basically bad movie. A friend of mine watched it in my presence and I ended up reading book most of it. From what I seen from it, it is boring and has annoying style. I would spend most of watching by solving other class problems in head if I would be force to stay in class.

    If you are advocating for being perfect student, there may be something in it. However, skipping movie, unless you study film making or something similar, is just minor time optimizing out less relevant parts of school.

  82. Andy March 6, 2014 at 3:38 am #

    @SKL “Kids of color walk away from this thinking (subconsciously at least), well, if practically everyone was OK with that, there must be some truth to it. Or, white people all hate us. Damn white people.”

    That is very badly organized then. How come teaching about exploitation of blacks in the past end up with “it was ok to mistreat them” message?

    German kids have to go to see concentration camps for precisely opposite reason, so they learn that bad things really happened.

  83. SOA March 6, 2014 at 7:10 am #

    Warren never went to college. He said as much on another thread.

  84. Donna March 6, 2014 at 7:31 am #

    “How many attorney’s get to say no I won’t represent this offender?”! Every single one. In fact, it is mandated by bar ethics. You must turn down any case that you don’t have the know-how to handle or don’t have the time to dedicate to properly representing the client. You also must turn down representation of any client that you don’t think you can properly represent for any reason. Failing to do these things can result in disbarment.

    Obviously public attorneys employed by government agencies (public defenders, DAs) have to take any case that qualifies, but private attorneys pick and choose their clients every day. That said, even as a public defender, I could talk to my boss about him taking over a case that I felt that I couldn’t handle for some reason. We want to give clients the BEST representation and that does not include an attorney who doesn’t feel that s/he can do her/his best. And since we handed some of our cases off to coworkers for trial, I definitely picked and chose which ones I kept and which ones gave away based on whether I liked the case and the client. In fact, one of my biggest regrets as a public defender was opting into a case I should have opted out to a coworker because I hated the defendant by trial time.

    Last week alone I turned down to cases that the court tried to appoint to me because the court dates conflicted with my vacation. I took a 3rd because I knew I could easily change the court date.

  85. Puzzled March 6, 2014 at 8:04 am #

    On velcro under desks – a lot of students have trouble sitting still for 6 hours a day (and of course schools can’t possibly be designed to work for actual, living human beings) and so the idea is to stick velcro under their desks for tactile stimulation and to give them something to do that involves movement – namely sticking and unsticking the velcro.

  86. Emily March 6, 2014 at 8:22 am #

    I think there’s a middle ground. Exempting someone from reading a book with “offensive” content is too much, but sometimes, people can legitimately be traumatized by something. For example, right before I started university, I got sexually assaulted. It didn’t progress to full-on rape (although, he did coerce me into kissing, masturbating on him, and letting him suck on my chest), but that was only because I was able to break free of the guy’s grip on my wrist, and run away. So, I went to university as normal, but still had flashbacks, especially at night. Anyway, during my first semester of university, I took a drama class as an elective. At the beginning of every class, we’d lie on the floor and do a guided meditation, I guess to let go of our “real life” selves, and our inhibitions, so it’d be easier to “become” whatever characters we were playing that day. Sometimes, I’d get flashbacks during meditation, and have to open my eyes and come out of it. So, I told my prof, and he told me that I didn’t have to participate in the meditation if I didn’t want to. I still participated in all of the other aspects of class, and eventually, with some time and counselling, I was able to get through the meditation as well. I still earned my credit in that course, and I still eventually graduated from university. My point is, not everything is black and white. I wasn’t a bad student; I was a good student who was having a difficult time. I didn’t use this as an excuse to get out of anything and everything I didn’t want to do, and in fact, the following year, I started volunteering at the university’s Women’s Centre, and I participated in a production of The Vagina Monologues. If I’d simply been told to “take it or leave it,” and gotten kicked out of that class, or even out of university, because I had flashbacks from lying in the dark, then that would have been a permanent solution to a temporary problem that ended up resolving itself within a few months.

  87. Warren March 6, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    Yes Dolly, we all know that to go along with your many fears and issues, you hate elderly people, and you look down on those that chose not to attend college.

    Then again, if you are an example of what college produces, then I consider myself lucky not to have attended.

  88. SOA March 6, 2014 at 9:17 am #

    Warren, I only brought that up because you were arguing about what college is like and this and that about college and as someone who never went, you are probably not the expert to be arguing about it.

    Your triggers are when anyone disagrees with you. You must be pretty fragile.

  89. SOA March 6, 2014 at 9:21 am #

    Emily, that is a perfect example of what I was trying to say about let the professors handle it on a case by case basis and run their own classroom. I guarantee most of the time it will work out. You may have some asshole professors that are unwilling to help you even if they can, but that is probably a minority and the student could go to the next person on the chain of command in that case like the Head of the Department. So I think we really don’t need a new system. How it has been will probably work just fine.

  90. Warren March 6, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    then you read about as well as SKL. I never said anything about how college is. I have only argued about how we need to stop the weak and fragile from graduating.

  91. SKL March 6, 2014 at 9:56 am #

    Dolly, I agree, Warren seems pretty fragile. Just another of those people who can dish it out but can’t take it.

    Warren, why do you care what they do in college anyway? Never let fragile people graduate? How does that help anything? I mean, unless you’re talking about graduation from boot camp. And of course you’ve expressed that you don’t want fragile people working in blue-collar jobs either.

    What do you propose to do with all the “fragile” people who aren’t allowed to do anything until they get tough? Put them on welfare?

  92. Dave March 6, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    When we start censoring books in college we are in trouble. Part of being educated means dealing with material that might be offensive. People have to learn to deal with their own problems. Because someone may have PTSD doesn’t mean we alter college curriculum for everyone else. Freedom of speech involves the right to be offensive.

  93. Donna March 6, 2014 at 10:11 am #

    Since Warren’s definition of “fragile” appears to be anyone who disagrees with Warren, we would have a lot of people on welfare. In fact, probably the entire country.

  94. SKL March 6, 2014 at 10:26 am #

    Well, back to the point, I think adults in college are old enough to deal with their own issues and quirks on a one-on-one basis. Most of the time, no accommodation is needed. If it is, you are an adult, you go to the prof and talk about it. Or you skip the work and deal with the consequences.

    When I was a teen / young adult, I was a little rebellious, and sometimes I would refuse to do something because I felt it was arbitrary. I took some Bs and it didn’t kill me.

    When I was 20, I took a writing course where the teacher required the students to read their work to the class so it could be critiqued. Though an exceptional writer, I was too self-conscious to read / show my writing to the class for criticism. I wanted to, but I could never bring myself to do it. I turned all the papers in on the last day and took a B.

    A B (or even a C) isn’t the end of the world. I think maybe people are a little too hung up on perfect grades these days. This could be another symptom of our newfound “fragility.” Though I remember my mom being really upset (probably still is) over getting the one and only B of her college career. LOL. And that was 25 years ago.

  95. Warren March 6, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    Oh Donna, so funny I can hardly type for laughing.

    I consider those that cannot deal with course material because they will be triggered, as fragile and weak. And those are people we do not want graduating, using their degree to gain positions in which they can set rules, policies, or laws.

    We do not need weak leaders in public office or in corporate offices. And not being up to facing certain material in school is weak. Weak is weak, and there is no way around it.

  96. Powers March 6, 2014 at 10:51 am #

    Wow, amazing how many people can’t distinguish between “debilitating trauma” and “feeling uncomfortable”.

    Hint: Trigger warnings are for the former, not the latter. They are intended to allow sufferers — those, I should point out, who have not /yet/ had sufficient therapy to ‘deal with’ their trauma to the point of being able to cope with their triggers — the fully informed choice of whether to continue reading or watching the material. /That’s all./

    They are not there so that people can avoid material they find uncomfortable. They are not there so that people can avoid getting help for their PTSD or anxiety disorders. They are there so that people who are healing can make the choice about whether they have healed enough to deal with the material.

    It’s about self-sufficiency and not forcing people to unexpectedly encounter material that would cause significant anguish and pain. A lot of people with PTSD can deal with triggers if they know they’re coming, but not if blindsided with them.

    Why would you deny them the opportunity to make that choice?

  97. SKL March 6, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    Warren, I don’t know about Canada, but in the US, you don’t get into a leadership position just by waving your college degree around. You have to demonstrate your leadership abilities in a work environment first. Well, unless the owner has some reason to give you preferential treatment, in which case, that’s his problem.

    I don’t think the issue at hand is really “weakness” so much as “entitlement.” The idea that one person has the right to control what everyone else does on account of her individual issues. This is a power play, not a true “weakness” in my opinion. We all have things that are hard to think about.

    There will always be “weak” / “fragile” people, and why should I care if they get a college degree? Maybe they are great artists or writers or mathematicians or whatever. I don’t think mental health should prevent anyone from getting an education, unless it requires too much accommodation / interferes too much with other people.

  98. SKL March 6, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    Powers, in real life, what are some actual examples of a college student undergoing “debilitating trauma” over encountering class materials? I can’t think of any. And honestly, if someone is so fragile that she is not going to be able to survive an encounter with course material, then she should probably take a semester off to get some therapy.

    I really don’t think that’s what this “trigger” rule is about, because such a condition would be incredibly rare.

    And if you are in that very tiny population, you can always check out the book list (which will be on the class syllabus and at the college bookstore well in advance), and look up the books on to find out what they are about; or ask on your favorite social media forum, “hey friends, is there anything in these books about ___”?

    Because let’s get real, every serious book is going to have something uncomfortable in it. Death, sex, whatever. I was 16 when I went to college, and I hated the way they had to talk about sex all the damn time. But it’s college. It’s for adults. It’s supposed to prepare people for real life. It’s not supposed to be a treatment center for people having emotional breakdowns.

  99. Jen (P.) March 6, 2014 at 11:14 am #

    @Powers . . . Warren seems to be the only one here arguing that the PTSD sufferer shouldn’t have a choice. But how does saying the burden is on that PTSD sufferer to find out whether the class might involve triggers rather than on the professor to anticipate them for everyone deny anyone a choice?

  100. Papilio March 6, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    @BL: Sorry. I abuse the comment section here sometimes to comment on things going on on Twitter.
    Re Anne Frank: that question was retorical…

  101. Donna March 6, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    Powers –

    Okay, who should be responsible for identifying triggers?

    Does it make more sense for the literature professor to now have to become an expert on PTSD so that he can identify every single potential trigger in every work of literature he teaches?

    Or should the student who has a trigger known to him/her be responsible for researching The Great Gatsby to see what the book is about and/or ask his/her peers or counselors?

    Nobody rational here seems to be saying that people should be forced to read works or watch movies that would send them into debilitating panic attacks. But the onus is on the individual to take care of their own psyche, not on the rest of the world to anticipate all potential triggers and issue random warnings.

  102. SKL March 6, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    Well, I don’t know what happened to my last post. Sorry if this is duplicative.

    Powers, the extreme reaction you are talking about must be very rare indeed. I have never heard of it happening to anyone. The only person I ever saw losing it on a college campus was the nanny student who had come to the realization she’d participated in a drunk sexual orgy with multiple men. And it wasn’t a book that made her upset.

    If you are in such a fragile state, only you know what your triggers are going to be. You don’t look to the profs to protect you from your own mind. You get the booklist and check out the books on the internet and decide whether they are OK for YOU.

  103. anonymous mom March 6, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    Trigger warnings are nonsense. People managed for most of human history without them. I have panic disorder, and I can have a panic attack “triggered” by things like reading about a serious illness. I don’t expect warnings, thanks. It’s my job to get the help and coping skills I need to manage in the world, not for the world to cater to any phobia or fear a person might have.

    If you aren’t psychologically capable of reading The Great Gatsby, you need help beyond “trigger warnings.”

    Of course, the reality of these warnings is that they most often function as click-bait. Nobody actually stops reading something because it’s triggering: it’s just a way to make your subject seem more titillating. It’s like old warnings about how a certain movie made women pass out in the aisles: it’s not a real warning, just a way to generate interest. “Wow, that movie/blog post must be super shocking if it needs a warning; I’d better check it out!” So, from that perspective, maybe putting “trigger warnings” on classic books would be the best way to get people to read them!

  104. anonymous mom March 6, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    @maggie, “Yes, PTSD is a real condition. But so is OCD, depression, and anxiety. My mom had all 3 and needed accommodations. That doesn’t mean everyone and everything and every place had to accommodate her mental illness. In fact, doing so only increased her OCD. Instead, we worked to stretch her boundaries and comfort zone. If we hadn’t, she would have locked herself in her room and eliminated most human contact.”

    Yes. There are a myriad of mental illnesses that affect people. I have panic disorder that, in college, often resulted in just being in a classroom setting–I situation that I interpreted as hard to “escape” from without causing myself embarrassment–being difficult. The burden was on ME to deal with it or negotiate accommodations, not for all of my classes to be changed to online sections lest I have to venture outside my comfort zone.

    But, there is good reason to think that PTSD has been too broadly defined and overdiagnosed. I know that several studies have been done showing that, if diagnostic criteria isn’t very rigorous, pretty much anybody who has suffered any trauma or loss can be diagnosed, because really the only thing that differentiates PTSD from typical grief responses is the interference with normal functioning. And, there’s good evidence that the best treatment involves encouraging a person to NOT dwell on their trauma but to move forward and focus on performing the tasks of daily living they need to perform. As a person with an anxiety disorder, I can attest to the necessity of focusing on the tasks at hand rather than your thoughts. It does seem like that, at least online, there is a culture of PTSD that is incredibly unhealthy, with people being encouraged to continually reexperience trauma, to dwell obsessively on their thoughts and feelings, and to accept the idea that they are permanently damaged. I don’t think we are doing anybody any good with those ideas.

  105. anonymous mom March 6, 2014 at 11:43 am #

    Ugh, I’m serial posting again. Anyway, if you are interested in the debate over PTSD, much has been written. Paul McHugh’s Try to Remember is a good book that describes the debate within psychology, and particularly how the debate over defining PTSD was tied to the same actors and issues that arose in the debate over “repressed memory” (something that we now know flies in the face of how memory works).

    Much of the theory around PTSD is based on ideas about human memory that are simply wrong. That is not to say that some people might not have responses to trauma or loss that are extreme and require professional help. But, there’s a huge political component to PTSD (with much of the push for its legitimization coming from anti-war groups, even though the vast majority of Vietnam-era PTSD claims involved people who had never seen combat, many of whom had psychological issues prior to any claimed trauma, and some of whom hadn’t been in the military at all, and then later from some feminists who felt that PTSD would make people take things like sexual abuse and domestic violence more seriously) that shouldn’t be ignored.

  106. BL March 6, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    “Re Anne Frank: that question was retorical”

    I wondered about that. You said you hadn’t read the book, but then again you knew the title in Dutch …

  107. Papilio March 6, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    @BL: I *am* Dutch 🙂 Plus, even though Anne’s diary is not required reading here, WOII is an important subject in the general history curriculum. So it’s hard to NOT know who Anne was and what happened to her. Or what the title of her book was.

  108. SOA March 6, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

    Yeah just what this country needs more people on welfare because they have PTSD and were capable of overcoming it through therapy while they went to college at the same time with a few minor adjustments, but nah, let’s just pay them to sit on their butts and collect a welfare check.

    FYI my Stepfather is severely PTSD plus has physical health issues and he cannot even get full disability and he is a veteran! He only gets 50%! So yeah, I am sure this country can afford to pay for all these people. Oh wait, we are not even taking good care of our veteran who have PTSD because we sent them off to war! Oops!

  109. anonymous mom March 6, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

    @Powers, I keep thinking about this whole issue, and one question I have is if this idea of having “trigger warnings” so that people can AVOID potentially upsetting material is something ANY therapist recommends? I’m asking because, as somebody who suffers from panic disorder and, at times, panic disorder with agoraphobia, I have seen many psychiatrists and therapists over the years and not a single one has EVER recommended avoidance as a coping technique I should employ. Not a one. Believe me, when I was younger, I would have LOVED if I had a therapist who said, “You just need to identify what makes you anxious, and then avoid it.” But, of course they didn’t give that advice, because you will never recover that way.

    In anxiety disorders, avoidance is the worst possible way to cope. Every time you avoid, you strengthen the fear. So, I find it extremely hard to imagine that any therapists are going along with this idea that people should just avoid anything that “triggers” them. I mean, let’s say somebody’s been in a bad car accident, is now suffering from PTSD, and is taking a college lit course where there are reading J.G. Ballard’s Crash. That would be triggering, no doubt. I don’t think a therapist would say, “Get permission to read that book, because reading it would be dangerous and awful!” They’d say, if they are anything like any therapist I’ve ever encountered, something like, “This is a great opportunity to practice some coping skills. You can do it!”

    So it really seems like this idea of avoiding triggers is coming from people who 1) may never have even had a formal PTSD diagnosis and are simply diagnosing themselves, 2) are not under the care of a therapist or even a good self-therapy program and have no interest in doing so, or 3) are on disability and have no interest in getting better. But it’s certainly not a productive way for people to handle PTSD or any other anxiety disorder, and it seems like most people who have PTSD and an interest in getting better know that and do not try to avoid “triggers” but instead learn techniques for coping with them.

  110. anonymous mom March 6, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    This also makes me wonder, as a college instructor, of a common-but-dreaded assignment: presentations. If you want to talk about something “triggering,” tell a class they need to give a 10-minute presentation. Public speaking is the #1 fear of many people.

    Should public speaking assignments be barred, lest a student feel anxious? I mean, sure, if a student has a documented issue–maybe a severe speech impediment or a severe case of social phobia–then accommodations can be made. But, again, the onus is on the student to seek both documentation and appropriate accommodations (and generally they come up with those accommodations in conjunction with a therapist, not based on personal preference), not on the instructor.

  111. Donna March 6, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    anonymous mom –

    Personally, I’m not a fan of the presentation. Sure in a speech and communication class, it is necessary, but there is no real reason that you need to be able to give a presentation to learn any other subject and the inability to speak in public doesn’t actually indicate in any way, shape or form your ability to do any of the millions of jobs in the economy that don’t require public speaking ability.

    A long ago roommate of mine failed high school freshman English twice because he can’t give oral book reports. Finally on the 3rd time, he got a teacher who actually realized that being able to speak in front of the class is not actually a prerequisite to understanding literature and let him do all written reports. He got a B in the class.

    I suppose to you and the Warrens of the world think that he should have been made to continue to fail freshman English until he dropped out of high school in frustration so that he could then live the rest of his life on welfare. Luckily he had a reasonable teacher that allowed him to graduated high school, go to college and he is now a computer network administrator with a wife and 3 kids, although he still can’t speak in public to save his kids’ lives.

  112. Warren March 6, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    Talk about an arrogant bitch. Dolly, you are saying that without college one ends up on welfare?

    Give you a clue, didn’t go to college, but do have college grads working for me. I would also bet that my annual income far exceeds alot of college grads.

    Like I said Dolly, if you are what US college grads are like, no wonder your country is screwed.

  113. Warren March 6, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    Really Donna? A freshman in high school has no idea if in the future he/she will need to speak infront of people. So yes, he should have had to do it.

    I am really worried about the future of this world with people like Donna in it. No longer will people be required to overcome their fears, they can just give into them.

    Not a bright future at all.

  114. Librarymomma March 6, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    I had problems with depression, anxiety, etc., etc. until I started attending a self-help group that taught me how to minimize my symptoms in situations that “triggered” them.

    The group is called Recovery International. Its website is I strongly urge people who feel they can’t bear the idea of facing strong symptom producing events to explore this program. I remember some of the first meetings I attended, people spoke of having to leave theaters, shopping malls, markets, you name it — anything could trigger symptoms (and in RI, we usually didn’t discuss our diagnosis).

    I can see both sides of the argument, but if we consistently coddle people’s symptoms, especially young adults about to start college, they will never learn how to bear an uncomfortable situation and will treat their symptoms as dangerous when they are not. For instance, a panic attack is not dangerous once you learn how to manage the symptoms, which is taught in RI. I’ve had some pretty good ones and lived to tell the tale. I made a fool of myself several times, but I survived nonetheless.

    Sorry this is so long, but I don’t often get the chance to promote this program, which I have attended for the last 15 years and has changed my life so dramatically, I can’t help but shout out its praises.

  115. anonymous mom March 6, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

    @Donna: No, I don’t think a person should fail a course for not being able to give a presentation. But, I do think they should need a reason beyond not wanting to, or even being scared to. If a person has a phobia about public speaking–a relatively common task in many workplaces–so severe that they cannot give a presentation even when required to pass a class, and doesn’t have some other documented problem, like social phobia, they should be working with somebody to overcome that fear. There are ways to deal with the fear of public speaking–such as creating a hierarchy of situations (first give a presentation to just the teacher, then to the teacher and a small group, then to the whole class, etc.)–beyond just saying it’s something you cannot do. And, it’s probably better for the student to have a teacher and other school personnel–a school counselor, for example–come alongside them and help them deal with the situation than to avoid it. Because, again, avoidance breeds fear. Every time a person with a fear of public speaking avoids public speaking, they are making their fear of public speaking more severe and difficult to overcome. Wouldn’t it be better to have support to overcome that fear in a caring, support environment when young than, as an adult, to potentially have to turn down job opportunities or promotions because you have developed a deeply-entrenched fear of public speaking?

  116. SKL March 6, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    I also had an extremely hard time speaking to a group. Even when I was doing my MBA in my early 20s, I remember shaking so much during a presentation that I put my hand on a table to steady myself, and instead the table started shaking. At some point I learned how to control that. Though I still hate speaking in front of a group, I accept that I am going to go do a mediocre job and be done with it, rather than have an extended panic attack over not being perfect. I have also noticed that it’s a lot easier to talk about a topic I actually care to share with people. It might also vary with whether it’s a full moon, whether I’ve had enough sleep, whether it’s morning or evening…. Anyhoo, I really sympathize with the feelings people have about presenting, but I think the thing to do is get up there and do it. We can’t all be great at everything, and we need to get over it.

    One of my kids gets stage fright. She can’t stand being up there. I put her in activities that occasionally require her to be up there. In the kiddy theatre last summer, she (then age 6) did great in the 2 weeks of classes, then couldn’t say her lines or sing up on the stage. It wasn’t the end of the world, at least she got up there and the other kids covered for her. In church, when they’d make the little kids sing in front, she used to just stand there. Eventually she would sing. Last year (nearly 6yo) she volunteered to sing a “solo” (actually it was 2 kids singing together). When it came time to sing, she just mouthed the words. It was a good thing they had 2 kids up there. About a month later, they did the same song again, and this time her voice rang out and she was applauded. She’s still shy, but it’s a process and I think that once it really matters, she’ll be better off than I was.

    So I’m agreeing that even though it’s very unpleasant for someone like me to have to get up there and talk, it needs to be done. At least the person needs to realize that it won’t kill them. 😉

  117. anonymous mom March 6, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    @Librarymomma: Yes! Part of the problem I have with “trigger warnings” is that they give panic attacks too much power. Panic attacks cannot hurt a person. They just can’t. They won’t kill you, they won’t physically harm you, they won’t psychologically devastate you. They are a normal physiological response–one that is actually self-protective–that happens at an inappropriate or inopportune time.

    They are extremely unpleasant, for sure. As somebody who has had many, many severe panic attacks in my life, I would not wish panic disorder on my worst enemy. However, as unpleasant as they are, if you do suffer from them, you can’t avoid them. You MUST learn to stop fearing them.

    These “trigger warnings” just increase the fear of panic attacks by making it seem as if having a panic attack is an experience so dangerous and devastating that people must avoid it at all costs. And it’s the fear of a panic response that is often a huge maintaining cause of the problem in the first place. The only productive response to a panic attack, or a situation that might trigger one, is “So what?” “So what if I have a panic attack? So what if reading or doing or hearing something makes me feel anxious? My anxiety cannot hurt me and I’ll be okay.” We are teaching people the opposite when we cater to their fears by allowing them to avoid or even encouraging them to do so.

  118. Donna March 6, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    anonymous mom – I guess that I don’t see the rational behind forcing people to speak in public who have no interest in doing so. Do we all have to learn how to play the piano and ballroom dance too? It is simply not a skill that one absolutely needs to be successful in life anymore than playing the piano or ballroom dancing is. It isn’t a skill that the vast majority of the population even uses in life beyond high school. Besides we have enough loud mouths in this world who won’t shut up and I have no desire to create more.

  119. anonymous mom March 6, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    @SKL, I also hate public speaking. I teach, so I’m in front of a class regularly, but I hate having to give formal presentations. When I have to, I feel like I’m going to pass out, have a heart attack, and puke all at the same time.

    But, I can do it. I don’t enjoy it, and I’m not great at it, but I can do it if asked, and that’s what matters. Students don’t need to become amazing public speakers or learn to enjoy it, but they do need to know that, like other relatively common tasks they might be asked to perform at work–like writing a report–it’s something they can do.

    I also don’t think we should underestimate how many things might cause people anxiety. I’ve had students tell me they had test anxiety so severe that they could not take a test. Should schools not make exams required because of that? I’ve had students tell me they were unable to write a paper because they felt overwhelming anxiety about the project (not based on subject matter, but just on the actual task of researching and then writing).

    The thing about anxiety is that its root is in the brain of the sufferer, not the actual task. You can never create an anxiety-free environment, because people can feel anxious about nearly anything. The best thing to do is to create a supportive environment where people learn that they can tackle projects and activities that cause them anxiety and survive them, rather than creating a culture of avoidance where people learn to allow their anxieties to control them.

  120. Donna March 6, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

    SKL – Why does it have to be done (speaking in public)? I know many people who live very happy, completely fulfilled lives without ever getting on a stage or speaking to large groups of people. If it is something that you WANT to do and feel less than because you can’t, it is absolutely a hurdle that you should work to overcome, but why exactly should EVERYONE work to overcome it if public speaking is something that they have no desire to do?

    What other skills MUST we all have despite the fact that we have no interest in them whatsoever?

  121. Donna March 6, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

    Wow, Warren, I knew that my friend who grew up in Czechoslovakia was ordered into a career by the government, but I wasn’t aware that that was happening in Canada too. You’d think that would make the news around here us being so close.

  122. SKL March 6, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    Donna, I’m not sure what is meant by “speaking in public.” No, I don’t think we all need to be prepared to go stand in a football stadium and give an inspirational speech. But yes, there are times when we have to present to a group.

    Don’t you have to give closing arguments in jury trials? That would be one example.

    I’ve had to do it many times. In my professional job, when I was specializing in a particular type of tax consulting service, I had to present the concept to the rest of the tax and audit managers/partners so they would be able to promote it to their clients. When I was in negotiations with the IRS or Revenue Canada, involving rooms full of people from various parties, I had to present my argument as to why the taxpayer’s allocation of income was reasonable. When I was volunteering for a literacy organization, I presented to elementary school kids on career day, and I presented my dad’s story of dyslexia at a volunteer appreciation banquet. As a member of an international professional group, I presented on international tax considerations that might be of interest to the members. If I wanted to promote change in the community or school system, it would be good if I could get up and explain myself in a town meeting. If I’d invented a new product or process that could help others, it would be good if I could present it to a group. The time when my brother had to go to court for his kid’s zero tolerance suspension, he had to talk to a roomful of strangers. The time his son had to accept his Eagle Scout decoration, he had to speak. When someone very close dies, you might even need to speak at his funeral. It’s a life skill.

  123. SKL March 6, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

    A couple of other real-life examples: having to advocate for your child at an IEP meeting with 20 adverse parties on the other side. Or having to advocate for your child’s medical needs at a meeting of health professionals.

  124. anonymous mom March 6, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

    @SKL: I currently teach the first in a two-semester technical communications sequence required of all college of engineering students at my university (which includes all of the engineers, as well as the comp sci majors and a couple of business programs). My course is about written reports, the second is about giving individual and group presentations. Now, if I were to think of a career path that didn’t need public speaking, I’d probably put engineering and comp sci high up on the list, but apparently the college of engineering, which determined the standards, felt that public speaking was an important enough skill in the field to warrant a full semester class.

    Much of what we do in school is artificial. Students also won’t be writing research reports very often, if at all, in the workplace, but we assign them because they will gain skills that will transfer. In many positions, I’d say that presentations more directly transfer than many other skills. I have never, in the workplace, been asked to write anything that resembled the papers I wrote in school, but I have been asked to give presentations very similar to ones I gave.

    Now, do I think people need to give hour-long speeches to hundreds of people? No. I also don’t think they need to be able to write 250-page research studies. Those are things most people will not be doing in their careers, and we don’t need everybody to do them. But, is the ability to communicate in a clear and coherent way to groups an important skill in many jobs? Yes, just as much as being able to write clearly and coherently (and perhaps moreso). While a class presentation is a somewhat artificial way of learning that skill, I’d say it’s no more artificial than many of the other ways we teach skills in school.

  125. SKL March 6, 2014 at 5:12 pm #

    And, I don’t think that being able to speak in front of a group makes one a loudmouth. 😉 Some of the nicest people I know are great presenters. Others are not. 😉

  126. anonymous mom March 6, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    @Donna, on a side note, there are also legal issues with accommodations like allowing somebody to not do an oral presentation. I ran into this one term when I was teaching a class that required an oral presentation and I had a student with a very severe stutter who was obviously going to great lengths to avoid having to speak in class. I was wondering aloud to a colleague if I should offer him an accommodation, so that he wouldn’t have to do the presentation, and she told me absolutely not, that unless he came to me with a documented disability, either offering or allowing an accommodation could be seen as discriminatory as well as unfair to the other students, who are bound by the syllabus as written.

    Anyway, I’m certainly not tied to the idea of every class needing a presentation component–I very rarely include them unless required to–but I also see the rationale behind them and think that, when they are required, it’s nearly always best to give the students the support they need to successfully complete them, rather than exempting them.

  127. Donna March 6, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

    anonymous mom – You can’t really compare your mental illness to a recent trauma victim. I highly doubt that there is a therapist in the world who tells a recent rape victim “just go out and watch a bunch of movies with graphic depictions of rape and that will get you over all your problems.” The trauma sufferer needs to process the actual trauma and that is not going to happen in a matter of hours or days or weeks.

    Further, I’m not sure again why a reticence to view graphic depictions of rape is a “problem” that anyone must overcome. If you have a panic attacks upon viewing, you should work on that. But a total lack of desire to read and view such things hardly seems like something we should insist that rape victims, or anyone else, must strive to overcome.

    Is your attitude just one that any fear must be overcome? If so, I guess I don’t agree with that theory. Fears that negatively impact your life or make you unhappy absolutely should be worked on. Fears that are irrelevant to you seem like a really weird thing to spend time and money defeating. For example, I have a fear of falling. I would rather do anything in the world than sky dive or bungi jump. So I don’t do those things. I am perfectly content with my life that excludes sky diving and bungi jumping as hobbies. I don’t look at them longingly. I don’t want to do them in the least. Not sure why I should go to the expense and repeated misery of hurling myself out of planes until I overcome a fear that I don’t care that I have and has absolutely no impact on my life. If at any point I am in a situation where hurling myself out of a plane is necessary, I will discover if my fear of death is greater than my fear of falling. Until then, I’m good.

  128. anonymous mom March 6, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    And, just so you know that I’m not a monster ;), that semester, due to that student as well as a few others who approached me letting me know they really, really didn’t want to do a class presentation, I ended up making the presentations optional for everybody. Because, I’m a huge pushover. However, I don’t think it was like the objectively right choice, and I do think that the students would have been better off if, instead of taking the easy way out, I’d provided them with some support and guidance in tacking the presentation.

  129. SKL March 6, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    I think part of it is that if you hire someone who graduated from college or MBA or law school or whatever, you have an expectation that they have certain abilities, or at least know what certain things are. That includes the ability to write a variety of types of papers, and to give some sort of presentation. If you go up to a degreed professional and ask them to prepare a presentation for a client meeting, marketing meeting, whatever, you don’t expect the person to look at you like, what’s a presentation? How do I do that? It may make him nervous, but he has a general idea of what it entails.

    As for engineers not having to present, I really disagree. Engineers develop stuff that has little value if it is not shared. Writing is one way to share, yes, but a good presentation can accomplish more in less time. One has to remember that even as some people prefer to write rather than talk, some of their intended audience takes in information better through listening than through reading (and vice versa). The ability to communicate an idea in multiple ways adds value to the idea by spreading it further and more effectively.

    Of course if you can team with someone who is a great speaker, that is even better, but I think people should have to at least play with it in school so they have a feel for what it is and what it can (and can’t) do.

  130. SKL March 6, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

    But when I was in school myself, I would have been the happiest person if I never had to do a presentation. 😛

  131. SKL March 6, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

    Are there profs who require students to watch videos of violent rapes? If so, why would that be considered a good idea in the first place?

    I remember when I was in some Sociology course and the teacher showed a video of a Chinese woman who was coerced into having an abortion by injection. That was pretty horrific to me, but I simply turned around and stared at the other wall until that was over. I still got an A in the class. That was the only time I recall having a potentially traumatic video played in class.

  132. anonymous mom March 6, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

    @Donna: I don’t think anybody is suggesting that we should be showing The Human Caterpillar in English 101 courses. That’s not what’s at issue. Nobody is being forced to watch graphic depictions of rape.

    The complaints are about things like being asked to read The Great Gatsby. If somebody is so delicate that they cannot handle reading Gatsby without falling to pieces, then frankly they probably do not belong in college, at least at the current time in their life. The complaints are about colleges having statues of men in underwear (which makes me think of Greek art). If somebody cannot view an image of Michaelangelo’s David without spiraling into panic they can’t pull themselves out of, then, again, they probably don’t belong in college at the present time.

    That’s not cruelty. If you are dealing with trauma that recent or psychological issues that severe, you are not going to be getting much out of your education, anyway. You are better off taking a leave and developing some coping skills, and then returning later. Because, college life is triggering. People discuss serious things. Classes tackle tough topics. Students read books that are hard, both intellectually and emotionally. That’s how it should be. Yes, professors shouldn’t expose students to gratuitous materials just for kicks, but that does not seem to be what’s happening.

    What seems to be happening is students objecting to depictions of sex, violence, suicide, and nudity in what we’d consider classic films, books, and works of art. I don’t think it’s expecting to much to say that, if you have such a level of fear that you cannot read The Great Gatsby or watch a classic film about the Holocaust without trauma, you need to either take steps to overcome your anxiety or leave college.

  133. anonymous mom March 6, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

    @SKL, the only graphic video I ever watched in college was also a movie showing an abortion, part of a presentation by an anti-abortion advocate that was part of a debate series in a Women and Law class I took.

    I’m not aware of any college professors who include depictions of graphic rapes in their courses, and the material people are asking to be labelled “triggering” is not that.

  134. Donna March 6, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

    “Don’t you have to give closing arguments in jury trials? That would be one example.”

    Absolutely. I speak in public all the time. I don’t have a great fear of public speaking. I’m nervous at first but once I get rolling, I’m fine. But being a criminal defense attorney or a litigator or even a lawyer is a choice. It is a choice that would not interest you in the least if you have no interest in public speaking on an almost daily basis.

    The fact is that ALL the things you mention are choices, not mandatory parts of life. You can live a perfectly happy life without doing any of them. Heck, I’m not afraid of public speaking but I still haven’t done most of the things you mention because I have no desire to do them.

    As I said before, if your fear of public speaking bothers you or if you feel that there are things that you would like to do that you can’t, you absolutely should work to overcome your fear. But it seems like a waste of time to spend a lot of it working to overcome a fear to allow you to do things you don’t want to do anyway.

    Nor do we stop evolving at 18. I used to be far more bothered by public speaking than I am now. I was in my 30s before I decided to become a public defender and realized that would require regular public speaking so I worked on it then. I didn’t need to work on it at 14 so that I could decide 18 years later to be a public defender.

  135. anonymous mom March 6, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

    The movie I’ve seen people object to is The Color Purple. In college. The Color Purple is a PG-13 movie. It does depict rape, but not graphically. I do think it’s appropriate to show in a college classroom, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that if a student can’t either handle watching the movie or just turn their head when the rape scene occurs, they probably do need some help learning coping skills.

    Part of what I find ironic about this supposedly “feminist” move toward “trigger warnings” is that it would largely remove a lot of feminist work from the classroom. A lot of literature by women, particularly by women of color, depicts violence, both sexual and physical, because that is a reality of their lives. Saying that we must silence the real experiences of these women so that some upper-class white college women don’t have to read anything that makes them feel squeamish is not right or fair or feminist. Tell a young woman living in the inner city, who has no choice but to every single day wait at the bus stop at a corner where she watched a friend get gunned down, that we should attached “trigger warnings” to works of classic literature, especially those by black women. The level of privilege and entitlement in this really does offend me.

  136. Donna March 6, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

    SKL – The original complaint in the letter was from a woman who claimed that she was made to watch a video of a rape in a class of some sort. And, as I said, we watched A Clockwork Orange in our film class and that involves a pretty violent rape.

    That said, I am not advocating trigger warnings. I think they are stupid and should not be done. I was responding to anonymous mom’s statement that the treatment for PTSD should be exposure to the stimuli. I don’t think it would be the prescribed treatment in the case of a serious trauma like rape, especially right away.

  137. anonymous mom March 6, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    @Donna, it’s important that we distinguish between experiencing a traumatic event and having PTSD. The two are not the same thing. Many people experience a trauma without going on to experience PTSD; PTSD isn’t just the experience of trauma, but an unhealthy response to it that interferes with a person’s daily living.

    So, would a counselor suggest that a person who has just been raped immediately go around exposing themselves to images of rape? Of course not. But, if a person has PTSD, and being “triggered” by everyday images and conversations and books they encounter–not being forced to sit down and watch snuff films, but doing the regular course readings for a college lit class–is causing them so much distress that they cannot function in daily life, absolutely their therapist is going to use exposure therapy to help them be better able to cope.

  138. SKL March 6, 2014 at 8:08 pm #

    That’s interesting that The Color Purple is one of the concerns. When I was 18 was around the time that book came out, and my mom bought me the book for Christmas. I’m pretty sure she didn’t know some of the stuff that was in the book. I read the book, but I didn’t particularly like it. I don’t think it would be a good college assignment but whatever. Profs have a lot of freedom, because they are dealing with adults who are there voluntarily.

    I also read the Great Gatsby for my high school term paper at age 16. I am not sure what the fuss is. At all. Maybe I’m just dense.

  139. SKL March 6, 2014 at 8:14 pm #

    Donna, we’ll have to agree to disagree on whether being able to speak to a group is a life skill. I agree that it’s a choice to say no to all of those things, but it would be a harmful / hurtful / limiting choice in many of those cases.

    Even in 2nd grade, my kids are doing some stuff that they may choose not to ever use in adulthood. With that logic, I guess they might as well be able to opt out of math after about 4th grade and never have to do a book report or research paper, and why on earth do they need to know about the inside layers of the earth, when most people don’t grow up to be geologists?

  140. baby-paramedic March 6, 2014 at 9:05 pm #

    I use trigger warnings on my wall. For the reason that I have some friends who I know are still in that immediate stage after something horrific (for example, a sexual assault). Some days they will be feeling strong enough to read what I post. Some days they will not and this gives them an opportunity to skip past the post.
    PTSD rates amongst paramedics is, according to some recent studies, higher than that in the armed services. I think only police are up there with us. So, we do sometimes need a bit of extra care. Although that doesn’t mean plastering TRIGGER WARNINGS everywhere, it means sometimes your colleagues will go “Hey, I’ll take this job” or park their car around the back after a colleague goes to a horrific car accident with the same colour make and model as yours for a few weeks.

    I have PTSD. I know my very specific triggers, and I have successfully been able to put the fear to one side to do my job (although I was a wreck for a few weeks afterwards). My specific triggers are not covered by common trigger warnings, and that is ok for me. I am not in that acute phase, it is just something I need to live with now. However, I know paramedics in that acute phase at the moment, and triggers during that phase can cause a regression in progress.

  141. Jena March 6, 2014 at 9:27 pm #

    Donna seems to believe that we should all live by the results of her personal anecdotes – rather illogical thinking for a trained lawyer.
    I follow a lot of education news and these trigger warnings are not about the few cases of very serious disorders, they are part of a culture of excuse-making for getting out of doing anything that is not super easy.

    Dear Donna – your personal experiences cannot be extrapolated to fit the whole world. Perhaps you went to a large university. I went to a very small private college where attendance was absolutely mandatory. Try not to freak out about it.

  142. Warren March 6, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

    Public speaking in school is the basis for a life skill. Those that are too shy or too scared to speak infront of groups will not be heard, and be passed up for alot of things.

    Donna you want another skill that should be mandatory….swimming.

    And what in the blue hell are you talking about with the Czech story? Way off base, and moronic even for you.

  143. Donna March 6, 2014 at 10:44 pm #

    Warren – Whatever. Since your opinion of anything is less than meaningless to me, it isn’t worth it to try to explain it to you.

  144. Donna March 6, 2014 at 11:18 pm #

    SKL –

    I don’t really have a problem with presentations. I loved them in school. A written paper required actual work. An oral presentation I could do on the fly with minimal effort.

    I also think public speaking is a good thing to know. I don’t think it is a skill most people really need very often, but it is not a bad skill to have just in case.

    But I do think this group can be as quick to foist the banner of mental illness on others as everyone else in the world. People should stretch their limits, but no amount of stretching is going to make some people give oral presentations and many of them are fine with that. While it is certainly a phobia (just like my fear of falling and Warren’s fear of snakes), I don’t see a need for them to spend hundreds of dollars and countless hours in a psychologist’s chair so that they are able to do things that they have no interest in doing in order to please other people or live up to someone else’s standard. Unless they feel limited by it, it isn’t a problem. The fact that you think that they should feel limited is truly irrelevant.

  145. Donna March 6, 2014 at 11:50 pm #

    And, SKL, you are certainly more intelligent than should be equating learning something mundane with doing something. I don’t think any kid has ever spent stayed up all night throwing up because they had to learn the layers of the earth the next day. I know several who have done that before having to give an oral presentation. I don’t see any life advantage in making a child physically ill to pass classes in school. I see a great reason to hate school for that child.

  146. SKL March 7, 2014 at 12:34 am #

    Donna, then you’d be wrong. You must have heard of test anxiety. My eldest daughter cried all through a recent written test (science or social studies), even though she aced it. On the other hand, she welcomes spoken presentations. I also have a very charismatic, successful friend (former classmate) who would freak out over having to write an essay (her dad wrote her papers when she was a kid and young adult). For that matter, she freaks over having to write an email that is more than a sentence long. Everyone has their own issues.

    I didn’t say anything about people getting counseling so they can embrace spoken presentations. I don’t even think everyone has to be good at it. I think it’s a part of life and people just need to get through it once in a while. Kinda like going to the doctor. Believe me, I was one of the most adverse to it when I was young, so if I could get over it, almost anyone can. I still don’t like it and I still get nervous and I definitely don’t go looking for an opportunity to speak. For that matter, I get anxious if I have a conference call coming up in the next 24 hours. I’m a loon when it comes to that. But I would not advise a student to avoid the occasional speaking task. I’d acknowledge the feeling but advise her to get up there and just do what she can.

  147. anonymous mom March 7, 2014 at 9:18 am #

    @Donna, while I do sympathize with what you are saying, the problem is that avoidance makes anxiety worse, not better. The student who is throwing up because they are so afraid of oral presentations in fifth grade is not going to be well-served in the long run by being excused from the presentation that is making them anxious. Because there will always be a next presentation, and the experience of having avoided the first one is going to make facing the next one even harder, because it’s just reinforced their view that they are incapable of public speaking. It’s a truism of anxiety that the worst part is always the anticipatory fear. People with phobias, who face them, will always tell you that the fear they feel in the hours, days, and weeks they are worried about a feared event is always worse than the experience of actually going through with the feared activity.

    Avoidance does nothing to help the student manage their fear, and it’s amazing how quickly things like fear of public speaking can grow and really become a central, limiting part of a person’s life. The student can be excused from one presentation, but they’ll be anticipating the next one. They may successfully be excused from every oral presentation their entire school career–with all of the attendant anticipatory anxiety that will bring–and they’ll still end up fearing public speaking in other contexts: what if they are called upon to speak at work, in church, at a funeral or celebration? There will always be some future public speaking event to anticipate, and that will bring fear. And if they’ve always avoided facing their fear, they’ll have more anticipatory anxiety than they’d have if they knew that, while they feel some anxiety and it’s not pleasant, they will be able to get through it if needed without coming totally undone.

    I am not, as I’ve said, advocating just forcing a student who is truly terrified of public speaking and lacks any coping skills for dealing with their anxiety to give an hour-long speech to a packed auditorium. That would be cruel. But, a school environment can be an ideal setting for helping a student learn the skills they need to manage the task, the same way we’d provide a student with other difficulties with skills they need. They can work with a teacher and/or school counselor to figure out a plan for giving presentations that is manageable for them, like starting with presenting to one person, then a small group of friends, then a slightly larger group, and working up to a full class, perhaps over a period of years. That student will leave school feeling like public speaking, while something they may never enjoy or be particularly great at, is something they can handle.

  148. anonymous mom March 7, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    Just to add, learning to manage fear and anxiety is an extremely useful skill that many people lack. I think there are far less useful things students can learn at school, and the fact that we now have college students demanding “trigger warnings” before reading classic literature or watching PG-13 movies leads me to believe that learning to manage one’s emotions, particularly anxiety, is a skill we should be more directly teaching young people.

  149. Warren March 7, 2014 at 9:57 am #


    LOL!!! You won’t even admit when you are wrong, will you? No, you will say whatever and issue one of your veiled insults.

    I said that a freshman in high school does not know if his or her future career will require speaking to groups. And you went to Czech mandatory service?

    So ya this leap of paranoia deserves an explaination.

  150. SOA March 7, 2014 at 10:52 am #

    I am going to have to agree with others about public speaking. Sorry it is a skill everyone needs to have some practice and experience with. I don’t understand and just want to yell at people to get a grip when they freak out over public speaking. I could get up right now and talk in front of 100 strangers. Just start rambling. Because I have been on stage and been the center of attention since 3 years old. That is one thing people bash about pageants but they teach little girls how to be not afraid to get up on stage in front of people and talk. I always nailed the interview questions.

    Public speaking is a pretty important skill. Yes, I guess you could kinda slide through life without ever doing it, but honestly let’s just face that it happens a lot in life so you better just learn how to do it. Whether it be giving a best man toast at your brother’s wedding, speaking at church, speaking at a business meeting, etc it does come up and people need to feel like they can do it and it is no big deal. Or at least be able to do it even if it makes them nervous.

    What I am more worried about is like this one episode of Road Rules I watched once. One guy was just having a disagreement with one of the girls and he barely even raised his voice. It was fairly civil and she started freaking out and screaming “I was almost RAPED!!! AHHHH!!!!” Like that was her get out of jail free card. Like that excused her from ever having anyone disagree with her or argue with her or tell her “No” ever. Nope, does not work that way. Go to therapy and deal with it. People can certainly not make you watch a movie about someone being raped if that will bother you really bad, but you don’t get to get out of doing anything or everything you might not want to do because of it either. If you are that incapable of functioning you need to go to a mental hospital.

  151. buffy March 8, 2014 at 6:14 am #

    “I went to a very small private college where attendance was absolutely mandatory.”

    I’m going to hate myself for joining this conversation, but what about illness? A death in the family?

  152. Warren March 8, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    Basically college courses should be held to the same standard as employment.

    An acceptable reason to miss work = an acceptable reason to miss class. It is that simple.

    And I hold my employees to a higher standard for missing work than alot of people think is acceptable.

  153. Emily March 8, 2014 at 11:37 pm #

    Just putting it out there; “a lot” is two words, not one.

  154. Natalie March 8, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

    Interesting topic.

    I second the assertion that as adults you can choose to do something (or not) based on your level of comfort and the consequences that you face.

    A perk of living in a wealthy, Democratic country. It’s not life and death. Certainly not that big a deal.

    Also that professors rarely care about class attendance.

    This post should have had a trigger warning. Why so upset? JEEZ.

  155. Warren March 9, 2014 at 1:00 am #


    Yes as adults we can choose to do or not do things based on comfort. But there is something known as commitment. You sign up for a course or whatever, you sign up for it all, not just parts of it.

    If you are not comfortable with it, don’t sign up. If it is a requirement, then get you sorry ass to class. Being an adult also comes with responsibilities, and that includes honouring commitments.

    And Emily, in casual forums alot is acceptable. Thanks Alot.

  156. Natalie March 9, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    Yes Warren, as adults, we can certainly choose to do or not do something, and then make the commitment in accordance with that decision.

    I think you’re catching on now.

  157. Natalie March 9, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    Also, you don’t understand how college works.

  158. Warren March 9, 2014 at 9:20 pm #


    Yes I do understand how college works. Does not mean I have to like the fact that they are bending over backwards to make accomodations for every little whiner out there.

    For every person that an exemption is made because of feelings, triggers or sensitivities we are just one step closer to becoming the weakest species on the planet.

    I know all the touchy feely ones in here hate to hear it, but there is something to be said for being told to suck it up Princess. Once you are an adult, if you cannot either get the help to overcome issues, then toughen up and get over it or drop out. Either of the three is completely acceptable to me. What is not acceptable is always wanting to be treated as special, and wanting the world to accomodate you. Try accomodating the world for a change.

  159. Emily March 10, 2014 at 8:26 am #

    @Papilio–I loved that cartoon about bad grammar; particularly the part about the “alot” as a mythical creature. Thanks for sharing it. 🙂 Funny story, when I was in grade seven, our teacher had had enough of students in the class (other than myself) writing “alot” as one word instead of two. Just so this makes sense, we had blackboards all the way along the front wall, and one side wall. So, he wrote a giant “A” that was over a foot high, on the furthest corner of the side blackboard, and a similarly sized “lot” on the furthest corner of the front blackboard, then he got all our attention, and read “A” out loud, in a very exaggerated tone of voice, RAN all the way over to “LOT,” and read it in the same tone of voice. He repeated this process probably about two or three times, until he was sure that everyone understood.

  160. Natalie March 10, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

    Whaaaaaaat are you going on about, Warren?

    You don’t know how college works.

    That’s all.

    No need to rant.

    I skipped the entirety of organic chemistry 2, crammed a week before the exam, and aced it. The professor had no idea who I was. He didn’t need to know. I was one exam in a thick stack of papers that his RA probably graded anyway.

    In your theoretical world, that should be cause for getting kicked out of class. And maybe some professors would make attendance mandatory. But then I wouldn’t have skipped class, would I?

    And everything turned out ok. It was a measured choice on my part to save time. And it was a good decision. The world is still turning. And kids still make the decision to skip class on occasion.

    College is a different world, you know?

  161. Natalie March 10, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

    I like the dude with the Emo haircut next to the “Alot” monster.

    Also, it took a few attempts to evade my auto correct to write “a lot” as one word.

  162. Papilio March 10, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

    @Emily & Natalie: I liked the Alot saying nothing scarier than ‘MEOW’ 🙂 Not quite the sound I expected from such a large dangerous looking animal!
    I didn’t mean to make anyone feel bad about their spelling btw (who am I to correct native speakers?), but this was just funny.

  163. SKL March 11, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    When I was young, I used to think that people with perfect attendance at college classes must be the dumb ones. Or the OCD ones. Because nobody with any brains needed to have perfect attendance in college, except in the odd class taught by anal retentive teachers. So if you were freaky about attending every class, you must be either hoping the teacher would feel sorry for you and bump up your grade for “effort,” or afraid to miss one single word lest that detail make the difference between passing and failing the next test.

    Law school was a different animal. And I can’t speak for any other specialty. I know when I taught a grad school tax class, most of the students were pretty conscientious – they would at least tell me if they were going to skip. And the dumb guy – he was a model student. Early every class, showed excessive respect, asked questions (to no avail), made his presentation, turned in every homework, did his (pathetic) darnedest on the tests. I have to admit I did bump up his grade.

  164. Christi March 11, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

    When I was in college my father passed away from a stroke. I was in a first aid class that semester and the day I returned to class after being gone for a week the subject was strokes. Talk about a trigger for a painfull hour. But I lived and I wouldn’t have expected them to not discuss the subject. As it stands now, if you are in a class and something triggers you, get up and leave, then talk to the professor. Don’t just skip because it might be uncomfortable.

  165. PJ March 11, 2014 at 6:01 pm #

    In a college media law class, we were given a trigger warning that we would have the option to view child porn magazines in the 2nd half of the class. If we wanted, we could leave the 2nd half of class with no penalty. The professor told me later that I was the only student in 5 years of teaching who left the class – kind of creeps me out to know that everyone else looked. Moral of the story – glad the professor gave this trigger warning, but can’t think of anything else I was every exposed to in high school or college that would have needed a trigger warning.

  166. SKL March 11, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

    PJ, I wouldn’t call that a trigger warning, but more of a “very disturbing” warning.

    Isn’t it illegal to possess or show kiddy porn?? I wouldn’t have looked either.

  167. ebohlman March 12, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    I urge everyone who hasn’t read all of the comments posted to Jarvie’s article to read the ones by the poster “anonymousmom” who makes the really important point that making it easier for sufferers of severe anxiety disorders (she has panic disorder herself) to avoid anxiety-inducing stimuli does not help them; it actually worsens the disorder.

  168. Natalie March 12, 2014 at 11:15 am #


    In my experience, people with ESL generally write and speak in a more grammatically correct fashion than natives.

    So correct away. I see no reason for someone to be so insulted and made upset unless that person’s intelligence/honor/ego is so easily threatened by merely pointing out a grammatical error.

    My PhD advisor was from Taiwan, and upon correcting a journal article that I was writing, told me that I had a problem with spliting my infinitives, a few dangling participles, among other things. He said he didn’t expect to have to do so many corrections for a student for whom English was their native language.

    Dangling participle… that term still makes me laugh.

  169. Natalie March 12, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    @SKL –
    I agree completely.

    College is a huge exercise in time management because unlike gradeschool – attendance isn’t mandatory, or expected (in most situations).

    I remember frequently skipping a lecture in class A because I needed to study for a quiz in class B. Then I just copied the notes from class A and tried to catch up before the next lecture. for me, it was a good strategy.

    Stuff happens. I think that realizing that these imaginary “rules” don’t exist is part of becoming an adult. Determing what’s important and what isn’t. Managing time. managing tasks. Determining what is more urgent, what is less urgent, etc. What’s more important, what’s less important.

    Doing everything so anal retentively… just because… why? That’s not how the world functions at all.

  170. ebohlman March 15, 2014 at 7:36 pm #

    Somwhat apropos to this issue is a post by Rob Tisinai at Box Turtle Bulletin and the comments on it (quick summary: a student group at Stanford denied funding to an event featuring several anti-gay speakers. While there were several potentially good reasons to deny the funding, the ones actually offered were, as Tisinai put it, appalling).


  1. Maggie's Farm - March 10, 2014

    Monday morning links

    A good website: Ask A Naturalist Dear society: kids cry, deal with it. Dear parents: kids cry, stop bringing them to grown-up movies Kids:  Trigger Warnings and the Assumption of Fragility Tammy Bruce: War on Boys Attempt to ‘Create S