Daily Archives: 28/05/2014

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WickedWednesday: Trigger Warnings, a Post From the Heart

WickedWednesday again. Unusually, I found it easy to come up with my response this week. I was greatly influenced by Molly’s, which is well thought out.

I should start out by stating that I am generally against mandatory trigger warnings, whether it be on text books, or anything else. I feel quite strongly that there is a continuum, with “Oh, are we OK with this?” at one end, and book burning at the other (sometimes, as history shows us, by people burning/gassing/disappearing etc.).

Mandatory warnings are along that continuum.

But, despite the continuum, my stating that I am against mandatory trigger warnings is a little black and white. Allow me to explain.

I was bullied at school. Bullied to the point where there were days I was scared, really scared, to go.

People who know me currently find this difficult to believe, because today I am a confident person who is happy to lead if that is required. It took years in Sea Cadets as a teenager, followed by more in the Royal Air Force, to change me.

I went to high school in the 1970s. Anybody remember The Goodies? They were hugely popular in the UK at that time. They recorded a song, Funky Gibbon. The school bullies thought it a great wheeze to make the weak perform that for them. This was just one of the things they inflicted on those they perceived as being weak. All this at a time when there was no point reporting the bullies because the official response was “Just ignore them and they’ll stop and/or go away.”. They didn’t.

I’ve forgiven the bullies, but I don’t forget. I sometimes wonder whether they have kids, and how they would react if they were bullied. Would they have the tools to help their kids? I fear the worst. Do they ever think about the bullying they did? I don’t know. Fuck ’em.

Presumably as a result of my being bullied, I do not like books/movies/TV shows that feature it. A recent example is Silverdrop persuading me to watch the general greatness that is the TV series from a few years ago: Jekyll. This series is wonderful, and masterfully written by Steven Moffat (Doctor Who writer and producer). However, a couple of the episodes feature bullying and made me feel very uncomfortable. I mostly enjoyed watching it, but have no desire to watch again.

But, and it is a big but: I have no desire to put trigger warnings on the DVD case and I absolutely do no want them banned.

These days, I wouldn’t hesitate to step in if I witnessed bullying. How times have changed for me.

Like so many moral issues, the one of trigger warnings is not black and white – there are many shades of grey and opinions regarding them. Now you know mine.


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