Intellectual Places can never be Safe Places.
I don’t like the concept of ‘trigger warnings’, ‘safe places’ or ‘microaggressions’. I don’t like them because they cloister people in chambers of entitlement and victim-mongering that nurse fragile and adolescent psychologies. These new terms to the tumblr activist nomenclature are here to police speech and silence dissenting opinions from what has become a deluge of patho-adolescent victim obsession.
Each of these terms I will address and incisively show why we should erase them as quickly as possible from all circles concerned with intellectual growth and development. Moreover I will assert and prove why it is harmful and intellectually regressive to take them seriously. We will begin with microaggressions.
Microaggression is the American activist word for an insensitive comment that was likely innocuous or well-intentioned but poorly phrased. Examples include any time a white person says something that a feminist can (and inevitably will) construe as a racist, homophobic or sexist comment. Explanations are never forthcoming. Instead of contextualizing the commentary or even requesting clarification said activist will use it as an opportunity to feel ‘triggered’ (activist word for offended). Let’s consider this for a moment.
What purpose does it serve to assume that everything comes from a place of malice as opposed to a lack of awareness? What purpose does it serve to exist in a constant state of confirmation bias in which you are obsessively scavenging for opportunities to feel offended and oppressed? What purpose does it serve to sacrifice intellectual rigor on the altar of personal feelings?
Inventing a term like microaggression is irresponsible if only because it arbitrarily ascribes an intent to an act that is evidenced by nothing more than one’s personal and clearly invidious vantage point. It does not resolve bigotry. It does not offer insight into it. Instead it creates an uncomfortable and even hysterical social atmosphere in which people struggle to communicate and be understood out of fear of being accused of malicious chauvinism. It is an amorphous term with no clear, fixed definition. It is entirely subjective and yet is foisted upon the accused as though it were a divine mandate.
Trigger warnings are probably the most contemptible of these terms. Universities must now issue trigger warnings due to the overwhelming number of fragile psychologies that exist in America today. Instead of teaching students to engage opposition and conflict with vigor they are teaching them to run, hide and cry foul. Truth is no longer a matter of facts and reasoning but rather anecdote and feelings.
If you have suffered at the hands of anything as mild as a racist comment to something as profoundly terrifying as rape you are now entitled to silence those around you to avoid both hurt feelings and anxiety. You are no longer responsible for your actions or choices, instead everyone else must cater specifically to you and your emotional needs even at the cost of their own.
Now let’s unpack this one. How can any discussion on any serious matter be had if people are entitled to shut down the conversation because their feelings are hurt? Or because they are suddenly and inexplicably uncomfortable? Why is one entitled to police the speech, intent and actions of others because of their personal experiences? How does this improve understanding? How does it encourage dialogue? Surely there is a medium between that of the absolutely vulgar and that which is unpleasant to discuss. But beyond all this one is NOT entitled to go throughout life without anxiety or hurt feelings. If a discussion or place makes you uncomfortable then leave. Do not force your immaturity and fears onto others.
As for ‘safe places’ what does that mean? If by a ‘safe place’ you are referring to a public space where people are not allowed to disagree with you or speak a word you lack the wherewithal to hear, then I am afraid life may be too much for you to handle, in which case you should seriously consider spending the remainder of your days in a monastery.
How, under these conditions, could a person travel to another country and deal with it? How, under these conditions could a person have even a mild disagreement and talk it out? How, under these conditions could a person risk going onto the internet or into a library and reading anything?
It seems the essence of social activism in America today has less to do with identifying real problems and more to do with victimizing oneself and others as much as possible while silencing anyone who dares disagree. It is little wonder the adherents of such a philosophy find the world such a stressful place given their inability to maturely engage even the mildest of social scenarios.