Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language: Trigger

Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language: Trigger

Article excerpt

A notion is going about that, just as readers of film reviews receive spoiler alerts, so readers of anything should get a trigger warning . Otherwise something nasty in the woodshed might trigger post-traumatic stress disorder or worse.

'I use the phrase trigger warning myself,' wrote Kate Maltby in a Spectator blog the other day, 'to warn Facebook friends that they may not wish to click on a link because it is likely to automatically "trigger" flashbacks for survivors of trauma.' That's kind, and luckily I am not triggered by split infinitives. But she and fellow admirers of the classics are shocked by a demand from four students at Columbia University for tutors to issue trigger warnings before asking for certain authors to be studied. Ovid's Metamorphoses , the students say, 'contains triggering and offensive material that marginalizes student identities in the classroom'. The great interest is in rape (not incidents with firearms, after which you might think a trigger warning would be alarming).

My interest is language, though as a mature woman I am angry at the childish passive-aggressive mentality of the Columbia Four. …

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