Triggers and Parent Censorship in Education

Dear Subscriber,

I’ve never seen this before. But there’s actually a list for horror “trigger warnings” now:

Here are some common triggers: ableism, abortion, blood/gore, body dysphoria, death of loved one, eating disorder, fatphobia/sizeism, gendered language, graphic medical situations, gun violence, homophobia, incest, intimate partner violence, labor/birth, lack of consent, loss of body autonomy, miscarriage, misogyny, needles, police/military violence, post-partum depression, pregnancy, racism, rape, religion, self-harm, sexual assault, stalking/harassment, stillbirth substance misuse, suicide, suicidal ideation, transphobia.

I’m “almost” tempted to write a story that includes all of these.

“intimate partner violence” Is that when the dude you’re living with smashes you over the head with a vodka bottle?

I did turn a story in to the publisher who had these trigger warnings. It was an anthology based on the music of Nirvana. I chose the song Moist Vagina about the smoking of a marijuana joint. I had some gun violence in it, so I put that as the trigger, since the story was mostly a satirical piece about how insane people often smoke THC. They probably won’t accept it because I’m showing the mentally ill in a disparaging light, even though it’s a fact that using THC sometimes causes and/or exacerbates mental illness.

I have a “pet theory” about why publishers of horror are requiring these “trigger warnings” that goes like this: since we are no longer taught to see anything in a “holistic way,” which includes art, the mind is compelled to protect itself from any intrusion while doing the increasingly “time consuming” process of reading. Therefore, society is teaching people that reading itself is a private intrusion on their freedoms because “the author” is, in effect, controlling their brain! They haven’t realized what the visual social media does (yet) because this is the main method of obtaining information today.

This is the only way (side note) I can even imagine in my wildest dreams that somebody like Donald J. Trump might be President of the United States again.Trump’s mouth is a perpetual “lying machine” 24/7! Yet people can’t understand that?

Some people can obviously believe folks who lie constantly. And many people trust octogenarians with tasks that require minutes to decide Armageddon.

I believe what Dr. Gabor Mate is teaching now about the “Myth of Normal.” We live in a toxic culture. So, therefore, anybody who shows that toxicity, like horror writers, is becoming an enemy.

Of course, showing violence is full speed ahead because our society markets violence 24/7.

The War on Critical Thinking in Education

Cricial thinking

The problem of allowing parents or any special interest group into the classroom to determine what’s proper to learn for their child is that there are so many bureaucratic requirements involved, and there’s the fact that the process of learning itself requires the student and teacher to maintain as much of an objective mindset as possible.

This means, as I taught research and advanced argument to college students, that the researcher/arguer must be able to maintain a non-partisan mental state while doing the academic “exploration” of all sides of an issue that’s being focused upon.

Many humans do not have the innate ability to “think in the abstract,” so this task becomes almost impossible for them. In addition, the society at the present moment is so divided by political opinions that maintaining anything like objective thinking is very difficult to maintain without privacy during the research and learning phases of education.

Any person who has attempted to teach others about how to think in the abstract, whether it’s science, math, or humanities, knows that some people just can’t do it very well, if at all. It’s a fact. It doesn’t mean they’re unintelligent. It just means they can’t visualize problems and/or realities in any way other than when it’s presented to them in the “here and now.”

However, our schools are presently requiring all students to learn subjects that require abstract thinking ability. When/if a student can’t accomplish this, and add to this the fact that parents as well, can’t do this, you have the problem teachers face every day.

The problem can exist also if the parents don’t have abstract thinking abilities and the student does. Imagine trying to reason with a parent who can’t understand the logic of studying the history of racism in the United States.

This is positive research for reasons other than segregating by the color of the person’s skin. The abstract term “prejudice” must be explored. In fact, in one “abstract” way of seeing this problem, any person can become a “slave” depending upon the legal rules arbitrarily established by the person in power over the other, including the parent! How many parents would consider the proposition that they could be considered, in the abstract, a “slave master” over their child or even their employee?

However, in order to adequately study the complex problem of racism and prejudice, these hypothetical problems can and do come up during the process of discussion and learning. Many people want simple, either/or answers to complex problems, and it’s just not possible when one is exploring all the possibilities related to a topic.

Thanks for reading, and have a great rest of the shortened week.

James Musgrave

EMRE Publishing

San Diego, CA

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