Trigger Warnings Before Trigger Warnings

November 26, 2014

By Harvey Silvergate at Forbes

These days it’s hard to talk about controversial issues. Just recently, the civil libertarian writer and social critic Wendy Kaminer was excoriated for certain words she said during a panel at her alma mater, Smith College. Ironically, the panel was about free speech. In her discussion of “hate speech,” Ms. Kaminer discussed what she calls “the growing lexicon of words that can only be known by their initials.”When she got to the example of “the N-word,” she then pronounced the word in full; for this she suffered vile criticism. A student reporting on the panel for the independent student newspaper The Smith Sophian preceded a transcript of the panel discussion with a “trigger warning” to alert presumptively vulnerable readers that they were, if they read on, about to encounter words and ideas that might disturb them...