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General News Racist University of Chicago slam trigger warnings and safe spaces

Discussion in 'Current Events, World News, & LGBT News' started by Robert, Aug 26, 2016.

  1. Ryu

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    As one of the youngest regular attendees of this forum, I feel like making it clear that a lot of the people I know (born 2001/2002) take the piss out of people who believe in safe spaces and trigger warnings. Admittedly, the majority are either entitled brats or people who act like they're 'well ard gangstas innit fam' when they come from [small English village in the middle of nowhere], but still, the point is that not all millennials...

    Balls to it, everbody I know are twats.
     
  2. Nordland

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    I agree with most people posting, i don't think they are racist. There is a massive problem at the moment with students overreacting to people's views and no-platforming them because of it.
     
  3. gasian

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    Racist? Probably not. But here's a thought: how many of you that have posted against safe spaces, have undergone an event that is traumatic, such that you would need therapy, or even have flashbacks back to the traumatic event? My generation is not made up of "special snowflakes" as y'all condescendingly call us. We just like to make sure that people actually understand the fact that others actually might have needs, and make sure that we can take care of those needs. If somebody had a compromised immune system from something like chemotherapy...would you take them immediately to a room full of people with something like smallpox without telling them? Of course not, that would be stupid, and can endanger the person. You'd tell them you were visiting a room filled with smallpox, and let them make the decision if they could go or not. So why in the world, do we do the same thing involving mental health and safe spaces?

    Yes, some people are overreacting. But tell me, can a person who studies rape, really empathize with a rape victim? Can they understand the feeling of violation, of all the whirlpool of emotions that a rape victim goes through? No. They can only sympathize. To quote a facebook post I recently saw:
    " People who argue against trigger warnings almost always employ this creepy ass social Darwinism. They always say that people should be able to deal on their own and that they should be fine encountering content related to their trauma because they're going to have to do it anyway. This chalks up to a misplaced belief in the resilience of the individual. Of course in most cases someone who hasn't experienced a specific type of trauma is going to be resilient to things that bring up that kind of trauma. They're safeguarded by a degree of separation, by distance from the subject. But then they falsely conclude that since they can deal, anyone should be able to because everyone has to in order to walk through the world. Not everyone is resilient to everything, though, and for some people trauma leaves them far less resilient to certain things. Those people still walk through the world, just with a lot more pain, suffering, and distress than those who are more resilient. Trigger warnings in classrooms have nothing to do with preparing people to deal with shit in the real world, it's a moot point. It's an accommodation that allows people to enter a space of learning and effectively learn there. It's a brief respite that allows people to prepare to deal with that content so they have the opportunity to engage with it if they want to. Trigger warnings are a way of providing resilience to people who otherwise might not have it. It's an action we can take as communities to put collective success first rather than perpetuating this idea of competition as the natural order where the "weaker" fall behind. "

    People who require trigger warnings know that they aren't going to be coddled. The world is already filled with trigger warnings for them. Is it too much for them to ask that a professor at least say that they'll be covering rape, so they can be prepared for it? Is it?

    I won't say that everything requires a trigger warning. Slavery occurred so long ago that it shouldn't require a trigger warning. But if you've dealt with racism to such an extent that it caused trauma and required you to go to therapy? That deserves a trigger warning. What about the two gay men who got boiling water poured on top of them in their sleep? Don't they deserve a trigger warning when it comes to talking about homophobia?
     
  4. 741852963

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    Why are you linking the two completely unrelated things in this topic/headline/post?

    What has the alleged racism got to do with this particular story? It does not seem relevant, yet you have connected the two.

    On the topic at hand (safe spaces and trigger warnings): good. Trigger warnings are both awkward and harmful. Stifling free and open discussion, preventing normal interaction with topics, and negative to those who use them (as they can prevent them overcoming their reactions to the "triggers").

    ---------- Post added 27th Aug 2016 at 03:40 PM ----------

    "Buffering" themselves is fine in the short-term, and is often necessary in the immediate aftermath of a tragic event, but is not a long-term solution.

    The people who call for such spaces, trigger warnings etc are typically not those suffering recent major trauma, instead those looking to "protect themselves" from the big bad world.

    The world isn't a nice place, but facing it is what makes people resilient and stronger. Safe spaces can encourage harmful behaviours such as agoraphobia, anxiety, and running away from problems.

    ---------- Post added 27th Aug 2016 at 03:52 PM ----------

    Why?

    Sometimes we need to be faced with ideas and facts we wouldn't choose to go looking for.

    Lets say my school history's holocaust lesson had a trigger warning. I might think "that sounds grim, no thanks" and ignore a vital lesson.

    Or "black history, sounds like it might depress me, no thanks".

    Some of the most poignant lessons in life are triggering. And placing a disclaimer in front of them actually weakens their impact.

    I find that baseless generalisation "triggering", maybe you should have put a warning on it.
     
  5. RainbowGreen

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    Good for the University of Chicago for finally acting like a university.

    You cannot prevent people from expressing their opinion. If their opinion is so wrong, believe, they'll get their views challenged, and if people really are students, they'll challenge them with actual facts and arguments. This is how you convince someone. Not by pushing them away and refusing to hear their side, but by actually showing them why they are wrong.

    Granted, this doesn't work with everyone, but at least, you get to practice your debate skills, and you really have to think about your mindset and if it's worth defending or not.
     
  6. Aussie792

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    I'm going to preface this by saying I fully support the existence of laws against hate speech - for example, I unqualifiedly support s18C of the Racial Discrimination Act in Australia.

    Where speech is an incitement to violence, then it should be banned. Where speech is deliberately designed to make others feel unsafe in a meaningful way, then it should come under the scope of criminal law.

    Where speech is discomforting or merely the exploration of ethically challenging views which do not go beyond the pale, then I cannot and will not support the prohibition of that speech.

    If your opinions are truly abhorrent and without academic merit, they will be unlikely to come out in settings like universities or at the very least you will receive such a backlash from the student cohort that the validity of those views will have to be carefully considered by the university on a situational basis.

    But more realistically, the problem arises when reasonable people could differ. For example, whether abortion relating to disability is permissible or the question of whether there is the moral right to violent protest are issues without objective answers, about which stakeholders can take radically different views. But in order to explore them, in order to fulfil the mission of a university, views which some people will take issue with must be explored. They must be explained and the principle of charity must apply, rather than dismissing views because a left-wing website hysterically says "professor [name] supports killing children with disabilities", followed by protests and general disorder. The discussion never occurs, the ultra-passionate students learn nothing while feeling good about themselves and nobody ends up engaging in serious debate.

    Bye bye to serious academia if we let that scenario transpire.

    Nice strawman, mate.
     
    #46 Aussie792, Aug 27, 2016
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  7. RavenTheRat

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    A friend of mine centered an end-of-year presentation around cultural appropriation and how it made her feel (as an Indian girl). She cried. Hysterically. I've never seen her so upset.
    I never really thought much about cultural appropriation until I saw her presentation. It really made me think about how that kind of stuff effects people. It truly disturbed me to see her distraught like that..

    In this whole mess..... I don't know. I've seen people I know and care about reduced to shaking messes because a class went too in-detail about a topic like abuse or rape. One of my classmates got so upset by a video we had to watch about parents abusing their kid that she actually vomited.
    I don't really see it as.. "special snowflake" to ask for a WARNING about delicate subject matter.

    Now to CENSOR it is wrong on every level of course.
    However the point of a trigger warning is to be a WARNING. Not a censor.
    Like "Warning "This class will discuss topics such as (rape, abuse, alcohol addiction, self harm, etc, etc), discretion is advised".

    ---------- Post added 27th Aug 2016 at 10:18 PM ----------

    I don't think that things like that should be edited out of courses, but I do think people should have the ability to exit class if they really need to (like if they're about to pass out or vomit).

    I dunno. I do understand that a lot of people abuse systems like this just to make it easier for themselves. But...
    Again, I dunno. I just worry that this could lead to a lack of understanding or support for people with actual mental illnesses who need actual help. The idea of "shun the snowflakes" can often bleed into "Let's tell people with mental illness that their mental illness doesn't exist and that they're just pussies." Not much gets to me, but... that hits a nerve so hard it makes me want to cry.
     
    #47 RavenTheRat, Aug 27, 2016
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  8. RavenTheRat

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    And just to add on (sorry I'm rambling so much I'm really nervous atm for no reason)

    I'm kind of more pointing out graphic material.

    If someone believes abortion is wrong, and then someone argues their views, and that person then claims that they need a "safe space" or that they're "triggered", just because someone disagrees with them, that's stupid. Actually it's beyond stupid. Of course people need to deal with the fact that not everyone's going to agree with them, and if they think that that entitles them to some special treatment then they really do need to put on a fucking helmet.

    And trust me, I'm all for intelligent debate. I love it. I love having my ideas challenged and I love defending them.

    However I feel that in some special cases, like for those who have actually experienced true trauma, a warning about graphic or disturbing content would be nice at least. There's a difference between "He disagreed with me wah wah wah" and "I was assaulted as a child and still have horrible vivid memories of it".

    ---------- Post added 27th Aug 2016 at 10:45 PM ----------

     
    #48 RavenTheRat, Aug 27, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
  9. Wen

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    i mean, that's not really what i was talking about though?
    i'm talking about racist, sexist, homophobic ideas and "facts" being expressed. i'm a woman for example. i took a history class a few years ago where the teacher showed us a video of a historical figure and it discussed the fact he literally raped his wife and eventually she "enjoyed" being with him. now maybe some people find that kind of thing important to know. but i also think i should have had a choice to watch it or not. and a warning that some of the things in the video can be triggering would have been great, because i sat in that class the rest of the day feeling extremely uncomfortable and upset. the video never talked about how that woman might feel or that things like that are a serious violation of human rights. i already know women had it pretty bad in the past. they were treated as property more than they were as people. so there's one example that a trigger warning would have been helpful.
    trigger warnings and safe spaces are meant to protect marginalized groups in the first place. so you're talking about that black history class that may go into detail about slavery, the people who may need a trigger warning for some of the content would usually be black people themselves. because they experience a lot of racism in america and the kind of thing being taught in the class could cause them to re-experience the trauma.
    also, people have a right to know what they're getting into is my opinion. in the same vein movies, tv shows, and even games have content ratings that say whether there will be violence/blood, sexual content, or just things that may upset someone, i think it's no different to images you view and things you learn in a class. people have a right to know and it's better for them to know so they can prepare themselves.

    lastly, the fact you say that at the end just kinda shows me you don't understand what trigger warnings really are or what they're for. again, they're not just something people do because "omg we don't wanna offend certain people." it's a lot more than getting offended. i'm sure what i said didn't send you into a panic attack, cause you to dissociate, or have an anxiety attack, etc. what i said may have offended you but from what i've seen/witnessed, i find it to be generally true. people against trigger warnings and safe spaces don't understand why marginalized groups need them.

    another experience i'd like to share by the way is of a black friend i have who lives in germany. she has a white teacher who is pretty racist. one day he posed this question to the class, "there's a boat with 15 black men and on the other boat is 15 white women, both are sinking. now we all know the boat with 15 white women is more worthy of being saved, but i'd like you all to explain why." she was the only black girl in that class and absolutely no one said a thing about why that kind of question is seriously messed up and has many racist undertones if not completely racist outright. she was too afraid to even speak up because it was clear no one would have her back. so clearly people in power can express rather racist ideas, and sexist and homophobic ideas therefore aren't off limits. it can and does happen. i think safe spaces would really help those people, and i myself have been in a similar situation with a teacher expressing some rather sexist ideas, "it's okay for a 25 year old man to date a teenage girl, that's how it was in the past."
     
    #49 Wen, Aug 27, 2016
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  10. RavenTheRat

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    "Why?

    Sometimes we need to be faced with ideas and facts we wouldn't choose to go looking for.

    Lets say my school history's holocaust lesson had a trigger warning. I might think "that sounds grim, no thanks" and ignore a vital lesson.

    Or "black history, sounds like it might depress me, no thanks".

    Some of the most poignant lessons in life are triggering. And placing a disclaimer in front of them actually weakens their impact."

    That's not what triggering is supposed to mean, though. Say you're a rape victim. Say a course goes into graphic detail about rape. You'd want to avoid that, especially if you have PTSD, recurring nightmares, etc. That's the point of a trigger warning.

    ---------- Post added 27th Aug 2016 at 11:02 PM ----------

     
    #50 RavenTheRat, Aug 27, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2016
  11. Wen

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    i hope you don't mind me responding, but really, thank you for this post and sharing it.
    trigger warnings and safe spaces aren't meant to be censoring anything.
    the fact people think like that already shows they don't understand from the hurting marginalized person's point of view. all we're asking for is a warning. we have a right to know if something could you know, actually trigger us and send us into an attack.
    here's the thing, i constantly hear people saying, "no way that would send you into an attack or cause you to reexperience trauma," but guess what people, that's not your place to say/determine. i think people would know the kind of content that would seriously upset them. and again, maybe it wouldn't cause you to have a panic attack, hyperventilate, etc. but for many people who deal with trauma differently, it would.
    i've sat in class before shaking uncontrollably and feeling sick to my stomach because my teacher randomly went into a spiel about how someone got their head chopped off and explained in detail about the blood loss, etc. again, some kind of warning would have been nice for that. that's literally all marginalized people are asking for.
     
  12. RavenTheRat

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    I totally agree with you :slight_smile: And as for what may cause a panic attack... you're right, no one can really tell you what would cause an attack.

    For me, strange as it might seem, it was dancing. My new choral teacher had us dance (even though it wasn't in the course description) and I had panic attacks every single day in class. I cried, hyperventilated, and nearly passed out.

    That kind of goes to show, it's just.. not something you can control, and it's not trying to be special. It's uncontrollable.

    And that's the thing. "special snowflake" or not, I would kill not to have the mental illness that makes me a "special snowflake".
     
    #52 RavenTheRat, Aug 28, 2016
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  13. Wen

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    yeah, that's pretty messed up. :/
    and you know, people who don't understand panic attacks, anxiety attacks, etc. would of course say to just get over it. well unfortunately that's not how panic attacks and others like it work. it's completely out of your control. i'm sorry you experienced that.
    personally i think you shouldn't have had to dance. it's a choral class, it should be about singing. for example, we had a kid in my gym class in elementary school who was excused from running because when he did he'd get an asthma attack. i view those things in the same vein. and personally, if you've experienced a panic attack, you'd know they work very similar to an asthma attack. it can make breathing very difficult, your chest feels heavy, you feel like your heart isn't beating as much. i actually went to a doctor one time thinking i had a heart attack when it was really a panic attack, because they literally can feel like a heart attack. i mean everyone experiences it slightly differently but it's very scary and isn't something to make light of. people would understand the situation with the kid in my class who has asthma but then scoff at people who experience attacks related to anxiety and mental health. :/
     
    #53 Wen, Aug 28, 2016
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  14. Aussie792

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    Three points points to make.

    First, one of the reasons the discussion has unfolded like this, both specifically within this thread and more generally, is that the concept of trigger warnings also comes with demands that universities engage in 'no-platforming' and that 'safe spaces' be extended to encompass a much broader area than they reasonably should. The original post referred to multiple issues, including trigger warnings, as one, rather than treating trigger warnings as a discrete concept. Several of you explicitly stated that you believe that certain speech should be forbidden from campuses without specifying exactly what speech qualifies for that censorship and tying the concepts of trigger warnings and censorship together quite clearly.

    To separate the issues now seems odd.

    Second, even if I accepted that trigger warnings came with no discussion-limiting side-effects, even if I trusted you and those who share your opinions to come up with a reasonable framework to include trigger warnings in academia, I don't think you're providing a solution to the problems you're identifying - either it's irrelevant to the problem or there's already some form of warning in place.

    On the first of those sub-points, some of the examples given simply can't be solved with trigger warnings. They come down to simple issues of equity and unprofessional behaviour:

    Without context, I'll take you at your word, but that question seems so egregiously wrong that it sounds more like a test, possibly poorly executed, to challenge the intuitive assumption a class of white Germans might make about whom to save, rather than a genuine belief of the teacher's.

    But if it is seriously intended, the statement assumes as a premise that black men's lives are less worthwhile than white women's lives. That is unquestionably a nasty thing to believe. But I'm going to ask you how trigger warnings would prevent such a situation from arising. Is a racist going to give you trigger warnings before she makes a racist statement? Is a teacher who makes uncomfortably sexist statements really cognisant of triggering the fears or past experiences of female students?

    Both situations don't seem to be solved by trigger warnings. Instead, a series of legitimate routes to address those issues tend to exist already. Formally complaining to that teacher's superior is more likely to bring about an actual result, lobbying schools to include equity and diversity training for teachers is more likely to change how teachers fundamentally behave.

    What isn't going to do anything about those sorts of circumstances is setting up ineffectual trigger warnings that won't be practiced when they're needed, because those responsible won't care about them. Those who cause triggers will not warn about them in the examples you're giving. You just get people barking up the wrong tree rather than pursuing genuinely effective responses to equity problems like the examples you gave.

    The same goes for safe spaces. Where they exist already, I'm sure they're effective. But to broaden them means one of two things. Either they cause some form of censorship, because I think we all acknowledge that safe spaces mean more than just polite discourse - they mean the absence of opposing discourse for the sake of their participants' mental health. And while that's totally legitimate in certain contexts, to broaden it unavoidably stops reasonable debate. The alternative, then, is that they're ineffective when broadened. If an entire university were to become a safe space, then people would simply fail to follow its rules and its purpose would be defeated. You're simply not presenting a fantastic solution when you advocate these things. They either already exist, so the argument wastes everyone's time, they'd be ineffective, or they'd perversely impact on academia, which I'll get to in my last point.

    Where there are triggers inherent to academia, these things will already be explicit or implied. Anyone studying criminal law will go into that course knowing full well that there is no way to avoid uncomfortable topics. Enrolling in a psychology degree means the student has impliedly consented to be taught about emotionally difficult issues, because that's inherently what psychology entails. The same goes for genocide studies, most areas of history, philosophy and so on.

    If I genuinely believed all you wanted was to have teachers say 'this class will be particularly concerning for some students', which to an extent is already done or at least any reasonable person could infer it, then I would be fine with that. But I think there's a broader cultural issue at play which has been expressed quite strongly in this thread, which leads to my next point.

    Third and finally, even conceding that the absence of or minimal emphasis on trigger warnings does cause some form of discomfort or revives certain trauma, I still think the perverse impact it has on academia is a greater harm to society than individual triggers.

    A line I have continually brought out in this debate is that academia is inherently triggering. Concepts in education cause discomfort. Real life trauma is analysed and dissected clinically, its components presented in terms that certainly don't warm the heart or provide comfort. Not because to do so is callous, but because the purpose of a university is not to coddle but to provide research and to stimulate ideas.

    You can always do more with trigger warnings - it starts with the status quo, where they are implied (and if you cannot infer that certain topics are going to be discomforting, then that's not really the university's burden) or briefly mentioned at the commencement of a course. But demands readily start to go down the slippery slope - the language of the course is requested to be changed to be gentler, the content is watered down in response and ultimately the educational outcome is weakened. And again, I emphasise that the status quo already provides for some form of implicit or often explicit content warning that people have ready access to. You either are debating a moot point or you are advocating for something more - something that begins to go down that slippery slope.

    These demands inevitably call for the removal of ideas and people who can cause discomfort. It would be a travesty for the University of Melbourne to get rid of the deeply controversial Peter Singer because many disabled people are 'triggered' by his views on euthanasia and abortion in relation to severe disability. It is too easy to claim that his views cause real mental harm and that such a trigger should not be permitted on campus. That erodes academic freedom, politicises campuses and segregates viewpoints so that the campus can become a monolith of views that belong to a very particular branch of the left.

    When you remove that discussion and that controversy for mental health reasons, then you weaken the arguments and the practice in debate that you should want, if you are progressive and desire that universities produce educated, persuasive members of the social and political progressive movement. To allow universities to become echo chambers deprives them of their purpose and prevents the people you should want to be more eloquent and convincing from learning to do those things. That's not desirable.

    The question that then arises is what duty of care universities have over their students' mental health, and to what extent such a duty can coexist with the rigorous education I talked about.

    Mental health is a legitimate concern. That is why funding counselling and advocating outreach in mental health is important from universities as institutions. But academically, the course cannot cater to people of particular backgrounds where their unique circumstances would change the educational outcome for everyone. Duties of care exist in a broad sense - and the harm caused must be a harm to the reasonable person within a class of persons the university has a duty of care over. Where everybody would be reasonably traumatised by the content of a course (eg. an execution video), special attention must be drawn to that and the possibility of harm must be explained. Mental illness and past trauma are not uncommon - but they definitely don't meet the requirement to establish a duty of care in the delivery of academic content. Not where it changes the content of courses and not where other students are then faced with the encumbrance of having material taken out.

    In terms of the statement that those opposing you don't understand, I have had panic attacks and fairly strong anxiety related to academia. Those are my burden, not the university's (from an academic standpoint - I still believe they have other duties) and not the rest of my cohort's.

    And if you tell me that's not the point you're making, then you've just conceded that you're only asking for what already exists and that there's no debate to be had.

    TL;DR: Trigger warnings are not requested in isolation from more radical demands, these warnings already implicitly exist, safe spaces are inherently limited in scope and can't be broadened, where trigger warnings don't exist they're just not the right mechanism to solve the problems we're talking about and demands that go beyond merely the content warnings that already exist cause academia to suffer when they're consented to.
     
    #54 Aussie792, Aug 28, 2016
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  15. iiimee

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    Sorry, but I still have to disagree. I mean, I'm fine with trigger warnings to some extent- if you yourself want to warn somebody about potentially disturbing material within your speech/lecture/etc, you have the right to do so, which is one of my only worries about this rule. Still, safe spaces, or what is essentially somebody saying "You can't talk about this because it might be disturbing to this or that person" is stupid. I feel bad for anyone who has experienced anything close to sexual assault, but if I am the teacher in the classroom and the topic today has content that mentions one form or another of sexual assault, or a student has a question relating to sexual assault that is also relevant to the class discussion, I will not censor them in order to promote a "safe space". I also think that, outside of the classroom, students should be able to talk about whatever they want, so long as they're not planning something illegal or anything like that. :/ Campuses, I especially feel, should have this rule, because unlike a classroom, a campus is at least semi-public and out in the open: It's a place where you should have to find a way to cope with people, whether that be avoiding them, communicating with them, or any other way that won't break the college's rules. Maybe that does sound a LITTLE Darwinistic, but I don't really think so. Instead, I think it's like slowly exposing your puppy to other puppies so they learn to get along. :/ Really, safe spaces aren't necessary in a classroom, though "trigger warnings" are fine so long as you don't censor anyone with them. Seriously though, they're just warnings- can't we call them that?
     
  16. DoriaN

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    You'd think things like these are common sense.



    Freedom of expression or speech, is not freedom of repercussion.

    You're free to say something stupid, racist, or even hateful, just expect that you might 'freely' get your ass beat.

    Most of the time people are sensible and want the same things, understanding these base and moral notions I think people sensationalize the issue at hand when it comes to PC culture or other modern buzzword issues.

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  17. Shorthaul

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    Exactly. No where does it say you have a "right not to be offended".

    If you are in college you are an adult, adults some times disagree. Don't like the invited speaker, don't go listen to them.
     
  18. LeticiaTheLesbo

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    Happy that this problem is finally being addressed. I side with the school on this!
     
  19. Anthemic

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    LOL, "Why should they stop an invited speaker because tumblr doesn't agree with them?" That's exactly what I was thinking. All this trigger warning/safe space stuff is making the LGBT community look like a bunch of crybabies. If it's not a hate speech, then they should be allowed to discuss what they want.
     
  20. Formality

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    Trigger warnings and safe spaces?
    I find both of these things ridiculous. If you want a safe space you should stay in bed. If you need trigger warnings, maybe you have some psychological issues that you should resolve by talking to a therapist.

    Universities have to be open spaces where any opinion can be heard and discussed on equal grounds. I find censorship of any kind appaling, at a university even more so.