Literally Geeky discussion

Banned Books and the Right Not To Be Offended

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Ez, The God of Catan (new)

Ez (thevapidwench) | 287 comments Mod
Banned books week is coming up in September, and as usual we'll be celebrating with a banned books month here at the LG Volcano Lair of Doom. I'm just getting a head start... Sort of...

Typically we think of books being censored because their text contains a progressive challenge, but the rise of trigger warnings has created an situation where students (predominantly in the US) are self-insulating against distressing books because they are emotionally challenging. We're not talking hate speech here, but rather classic works of literature, books like The Great Gatsby.

It's a different side to book banning - a softer approach, one that places an emphasis on the fragility of an individual's emotional state, and a premium on the rising movement of the right not to be offended. I'll make a distinction here between being offended and harassed; everyone has the right not to be harassed, but policing offence is quite another matter.

Enough waffling. I found the following article in the Atlantic, rather interesting. I'll leave it here for your perusal :

message 2: by Donovan (last edited Aug 12, 2015 12:32PM) (new)

Donovan Sotam (DSotam) | 64 comments Mod
The problem is there are so many trigger warnings. People get distressed with everything, they are even people that get distressed because people get distressed with themes in books. That article really pinpoints this. Single words can be offensive.

Chinese people got distressed, because animals spoke and acted like humans in Alice.

I can understand to a certain point, removing said books (fiction) from a mandatory reading program (schools), still public and school libraries should be able to have these books for those who don't feel challenged by talking rabbits.

I just realized I just finished reading a banned book last week. Catch-22 got banned because it used the word "whores" apparently. Great book, very serious look on war with the use of humour/surrealism.

Speaking of surrealism, that article is both good and terrifying. Still, it's a good way not to fail a class. "Hey, Math teacher! I'm offended by numbers." and there you go. Really scary.

I just don't understand banning a book, especially fiction. It's not even a smart move, because it's free pulicity. We read Little Brother because it had been banned/challenged.
As for non-fiction things can get a bit more complicated. Australia banned both The Anarchist Cookbook and How to Make Disposable Silencers: A Complete Guide. Should these (similar) be banned?

message 3: by Red (new)

Red Dog (red_dog) | 65 comments Holy crap, that article is depressing! Doesn't half highlight the keen difference between giving offence and taking it though. Also: "The ultimate aim, it seems, is to turn campuses into “safe spaces” where young adults are shielded from words and ideas that make some uncomfortable" - isn't that what universities are supposed to do...? Also, the very concept of "trigger earnings" seems to be appropriating a very real psychological reaction to actual trauma, and devaluing it by putting it in the hands of people who are simply emotionally incontinent

message 4: by Ez, The God of Catan (new)

Ez (thevapidwench) | 287 comments Mod
I agree: Trigger Warnings exist with good intentions: trigger warnings probably make great paving slabs. Especially since they seem to have been appropriated by a litigation-happy culture where an individual's private experience outweighs objectivity.

Admittedly I say this from a comfy chair. Ive not suffered trauma that repels me from certain words, subjects or books (full disclosure, the word Thatcher does makes me twitch). I'm glib, but I'm not without compassion, nor am I without empathy. Some books,some subjects are tough, even when you don't have a personal connection.

However,a safe space is neutral, it's non-judgemental, it's a place for discussion, mutual respect and tolerance. It's not... It's not a domicile, but on the plus side nor is it a boxing ring where someone punches you in the face for the hell of it.

In his 1979 coda to Farenheight 451, good ol' Ray Bradbury said "There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running around with lit matches".

And good intentions.

message 5: by Ez, The God of Catan (new)

Ez (thevapidwench) | 287 comments Mod
Interesting Guardian article presenting the other side of the story: Trigger warnings don’t hinder freedom of expression: they expand it

back to top