The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

'Trigger Warnings' stifle debate

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/23/2017 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 804 times Debate No: 102158
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"Safe spaces and trigger warnings are being used as a cudgel to promote homogenous thinking and curb dissent in higher academia. College is supposed to be about learning, about perspective, and the free exchange of ideas. Confronting an opinion or worldview that you may not share, or may not have considered is NECESSARILY uncomfortable. This whole notion that anything that would make you uncomfortable needs a trigger warning, or creating physical areas for thought bubble in "safe spaces" is no more than coddling and pseudo-Orwellian conditioning. Do you think it's mature to call off classes, cry, and run into your play-dough and coloring book room because your presidential candidate lost an election? The mental gymnastics to think that these two things are anything but an intellectual blight to academia is farcical.

The issue is when they get used to simply not listen to stuff you don't want to. For example, what if I am Christian. What if I said I got "triggered" by people making jokes about religion or claims to support atheism? That is when trigger warnings are taken to an extreme, but people have been using them in that way.

In some ways, it can be patronizing. For someone who has experienced sexual violence, it could be read as a writer or an editor going, 'hey, you might be triggered by this - you might not be able to handle this'. The worry is that trigger warnings take agency away from the individual. They're absolutely paternalistic.


I will oppose the motion that "Trigger warnings stifle debate".

Pro has fundamentally misunderstood what a trigger warning is: a trigger warning is simply a note to say "I'm about to talk about a potentially traumatic topic, so if you feel unable to participate in that discussion, please leave". It's about more than being "uncomfortable" as Pro puts it, but it's about actual trauma.

For instance, one may feel uncomfortable when talking about evolution, as some people hold sincere religious beliefs that life was created by a deity. This does not, however, warrant a trigger warning, as no matter how uncomfortable that may make someone, it will never be *traumatic*.

Trigger warnings are for topics such as rape, violence, starvation, mental health conditions, and other issues which are genuinely traumatic. Trigger warnings are necessary in order to protect individuals sensitive to those topics- it allows them to choose in advance whether, for instance, a discussion about domestic violence may cause serious issues due to their PTSD after having been a victim of domestic violence.

No academic institution offers trigger warnings for ideas simply because they are controversial- only for ideas which are traumatic. Trigger warnings also don't stop the conversation from happening- that class will still discuss that issue, it's just that individuals who are unable to handle that issue are given a chance to choose not to participate in that discussion.

That is why Pro's claim that "trigger warnings take agency away from the individual." is frankly nonsense- they *give* agency to the individual by giving them the chance to decide whether they feel able to discuss a certain potentially traumatic topic.

No debate has ever been stopped from proceeding by a trigger warning. The motion is not only false, but also ridiculous.

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Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by lua 3 years ago
It's sad that insecure Tumblr kids have adopted the word 'triggered,' when it's an actual symptom of PTSD. It's a very serious issue.
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